All Posts By Alex Guarnaschelli

Every week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

Alex Eats: Peppers of All Kinds

by in Food Network Chef, How-to, September 20th, 2011

pepper variety
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

Sometimes I like to enjoy the full blast of a chile pepper and sometimes I want a mellower version. Hot peppers can be tamed by removing the seeds and slicing the ribs off the interior flesh. Try not to learn this lesson the hard way if you can help it: Wear gloves to protect your hands when cleaning chiles of their ribs and seeds. If you’ve ever touched the chile and then touched your eyes, you know what I’m talking about.

On one end of the heat spectrum, habaneros and scotch bonnet peppers are two of the hottest varieties. They are small and appear in various hues of green, yellow or red. Because they are so spicy, I use them sparingly in their raw form. I also love to slice and cover them with olive oil — it’s like a bottle of spice that naps in my fridge until I need it. Cooking them can also offer that tamed flavor. Sometimes I marvel at how floral spicy peppers can be underneath all that heat. A few paper-thin slices can brighten (and spice up) a light butter sauce for grilled fish or a hot marinade for other vegetables, such as eggplant, or meat.

Jalapeno, serrano, bell and wax peppers »

Alex Eats: Tangy Creams

by in Food Network Chef, How-to, September 13th, 2011

tangy dairy creams
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

As a lover of all things dairy, I especially like sour cream, yogurt, crème fraiche and buttermilk because they add “tang” to my cooking. They get their base flavor from friendly bacterial cultures that actively convert the natural sugars in milk lactic acid through fermentation. So if each of these four tangy dairy variants gets its signature acid zip the same way, what makes them different?

Sour Cream: Take cream, add those miraculous cultures, allow fermentation to partially run its course, and voila. It’s has such a thick texture, it can stand on its own. A dollop of sour cream on a baked Idaho or sweet potato is just delicious. I love adding sour cream to blue cheese dressing instead of mayonnaise. Hot blueberry pancakes topped with cold sour cream? It’s so creamy against the fruit.

Yogurt, crème fraiche and buttermilk »

Alex Eats: Plums

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, September 6th, 2011

plums
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

I love plums. I am always impressed with their sweet flesh and slightly tangy skin. However, I am also often disappointed with their texture — sometimes pasty, mealy and overly firm. Here is my solution:  I buy under-ripe plums and toss thin slices with roasted beets or cherry tomatoes. I appreciate the almost green, tangy flavor the plums have. When I find riper, but firmer plums, I enjoy a recipe like the one below. The vinegar adds a surprising brightness to the flavor.

Get the recipe for Cinnamon-Ginger Plums »

Alex Eats: Tomato and Ginger Salad

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, August 30th, 2011

tomatoes and ginger
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

If you had asked me to make this salad combination a few years ago, I would have been horrified. Ginger and tomatoes may seem natural to some people, but to a closet Francophile, the ginger feels like a senseless crime against tomatoes. It took eating a salad with these elements to convince me I was wrong. I never considered the almost-spicy heat that ginger contains. I love fresh chiles with the sweetness of tomatoes and how ginger functions in virtually the same way. Celery also offers an amazing crunchy texture.

What kind of tomatoes do I use? I love all tomatoes and buy whatever looks best. I will admit, I particularly love Sungold tomatoes — they are so sweet and have a great texture.

Get the recipe for Alex’s Tomato and Ginger Salad »

Alex Advises: Pots and Pans in the Kitchen

by in Food Network Chef, How-to, August 23rd, 2011

pots and pans
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

I cook at home a lot of the time. Now, as a professional chef, I’d be lying to you if I said I always did. Sure, I grew up in a house where almost everything was made from scratch, but after a 15-hour shift at the restaurant, my first instinct wasn’t always to run home and bake a lattice-topped apple pie from scratch. In the past couple of years, that has definitely changed.

For me, cooking at home has been a great way to build better eating habits.  When I shop at the green market for the restaurant, I now pick up a handful of vegetables for myself. I don’t always have the time to cook the way I’d like to, and I also don’t have a lot of room in my Manhattan kitchen. That makes my choices all the more important — I don’t want to deal with kitchen clutter.

Alex shares her ideal collection »

Alex Eats: Salad

by in Food Network Chef, How-to, August 16th, 2011

lettuce
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

Choose lettuces that are bright green and firm — saggy, browning leaves are the hallmark of vegetables on their way to the compost pile. If the outer leaves of a head of lettuce are ragged, peel away a layer or two to see if the heart is worth saving. To make lettuce last longer, keep it dry and cool in a dark place. It’s important not to wash or mix lettuce with anything acidic (lemon or vinegar) until right before eating.

Iceberg: I really love iceberg lettuce. I love a good wedge with blue cheese; it makes me feel American. I also love chopping iceberg and mixing it with scallions, fresh chiles or a really vibrant dressing. It has a great, juicy texture and, on its own, is pretty bland. To me, it’s nice to have a lettuce that can meld with bold flavors.

Watercress, mustard greens and frisee »

Alex Eats: Herbs

by in How-to, August 9th, 2011

herbs
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

“Never put parsley on green beans,” one of my mentors whispered ominously to me one night in his kitchen. A young cook at the time, I dutifully heeded his advice. Years later, I was absent-mindedly sprinkling chopped chives on some green beans when I realized it was actually chopped parsley. A chill crept up my spine. Parsley with green beans. Help! I looked around to see if anyone was watching. The coast was clear. I tasted it. Delicious. It occurred to me I had never even asked why parsley and green beans don’t make a good match. The truth is, whatever you like is all that matters.

Read her suggestions for basil, dill, sage and tarragon »

Alex Eats: Fresh Corn

by in Recipes, July 26th, 2011

fresh corn on the cob
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

It’s hard to beat the taste of corn bought from a roadside stand — just driving past a cornfield makes my mouth water. I imagine taking the corn off the grill and watching the butter melt over the kernels — the salt, the first bite. Nothing beats it. Here are some of my favorite tips for purchasing and preparing corn:

1. I always pick corn where the husk clings tightly to the cob; they are the most freshly picked. Similarly, I avoid buying cleaned corn wrapped in plastic or trimmed on both ends for “easier” eating. They tend to be dry and less fresh. The more “whole” you buy your vegetables, the better.

Find out how to grill corn after the jump »

Alex Eats: Radishes

by in Recipes, July 19th, 2011

easter egg radishes
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

I love the sharp, mustard-like bite of radishes and I almost put them in the spicy food category. Let’s face it, when up against such voluptuous supermarket contenders like corn, asparagus and tomatoes, you have to ask yourself, “Why buy them?” For many reasons. Here’s one: Daikon and watermelon radishes are sweet and very juicy. They have an amazing texture, adding a low-calorie, flavor-packed punch to any salad. The more common types, Breakfast or Easter Egg radishes, are more peppery. I love mixing them with fresh chiles or topping a steak or fish with slices of radish (or roasted whole) for a change of pace.

Read more

Alex Eats: Fresh Peaches

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, July 12th, 2011

fresh peaches
alex guarnaschelliEvery week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.

What is it about a peach that is so seductive? They look so juicy to me. When I see them in any market, they shout to me, “Hello! Over here. Dig in!”

But how do you pick out a good one?

1. Don’t be seduced by the brilliant red color that covers a large part of the fruit. That will change from variety to variety of peach. It is actually the yellow or white areas where you should seek a rich color. A deep yellow hue tells the story of a good peach.

Learn how to pick the perfect peach »