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.

Gnocchi With Potato Skins — Alex Eats

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, March 22nd, 2012

I have always been a fan of other people’s gnocchi. Somewhat dense and coated with layers of grated Parmesan cheese. My favorites are the ones that taste so intensely (and purely) of potato and provide the perfect companion to many of the spring vegetables I look forward to devouring in the coming weeks. From Swiss chard to the first little parsnips to fava beans to baby spinach, gnocchi makes them all taste even better than they do on their own. After many bad batches, I settled on this recipe as my absolute favorite. Like pancakes, your first batch may not be your best.

It takes time to try your hand at this. This recipe, to me, is worth that culinary leap of faith.

Get the recipe

Add Fruits and Veggies to Your Super Bowl Menu

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, February 1st, 2012

fruits and vegetables
The Super Bowl is such a great athletic event. It’s also a day that honors another great sport: cooking. People get out their smokers and their spicy chicken wing recipes. Others grab their salsa recipes and tortilla presses. It’s definitely a day to bust out some of your favorite all-American recipes. What I find people struggle with is something to put out on the table that’s relatively light, something with vegetables or fruit. Are we looking for something to replace those wings or hot dogs? Absolutely not. Just something else that can complement it.

Here are some suggestions and tips for that “light” (albeit out of place) touch for your Super Bowl spread:

  • Fruit can be a great guest at your party. Skewer some tomatoes and grapes and serve them with bowl of yogurt flavored with a few spoonfuls of honey, a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Or just serve them plain.
  • Make a vegetable platter. What are my favorite vegetables? Raw carrots, cucumbers, celery, red bell peppers and cauliflower. Veggie platters allow people to nibble.

More tips for a lighter Super Bowl spread »

Reduce the Amount of Food Waste — Tips From Alex Guarnaschelli

by in How-to, Shows, January 19th, 2012

food waste
Participating in The Big Waste on Food Network was as eye opening for me as it was to watch it. I consider myself fairly well-informed in matters of buying, selling or, most simply, eating what I buy for my restaurants and home. In short, I didn’t think there would be much to learn doing this show. Or at least that there wouldn’t be much I hadn’t already seen. I was wrong. There were small amounts of precious, expensive things wasted, like chocolate, espresso and prosciutto. There were the stunning amounts of vegetables like corn, in bulk quantity, that I was surprised to learn would never “make the cut” and have a chance to even be bought.

Here are a few things we can all think about when shopping and cooking that can help reduce the amount of food waste:

1. Don’t pick through an entire pile of tomatoes to find the biggest, most perfect one. Settle for a few of the nice, small ones on top. Moving the pile around and shifting the fruit can bruise them and increase the likelihood than people will leave those other bruised fruits behind. Same goes for peaches.

Five more tips to reduce the amount of food waste »

Alex Serves: New Year’s Eve Cocktails for All

by in Drinks, Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 30th, 2011

New Year's Eve CocktailsThis is a time of the year when my drinking rules and all “house” policies go out the window. I want something new. I will drink a cocktail through the cocktail hour and the dinner party instead of switching to wine. I sip smoky, tabacco-y scotch. I indulge in a snifter of brandy. Sometimes I mix drinks. Here are a few I’m enjoying this year for New Year’s.


I really like this flavor — it rides the perfect line between bitter and sweet. It goes well with salty snacks or with a full meal. Make sure everything (including the glasses) are as cold as possible.

Get Alex’s cocktail recipes »

Alex Makes: Chilled Beet Soup for the Holidays

by in Food Network Chef, December 22nd, 2011

This soup is really simple to make. It’s really a matter of cooking the beets and garlic together and allowing the flavors to meld. Once that part is done, it’s simply a matter of adding the tangy element of the creme fraiche and the pleasing crunch of the cucumber. I find a chilled soup so refreshing and wonderful when paired with something like a braised meat. The other great thing is that you can make this entirely in advance and simply ladle it into the bowls when ready. For me, when I’m having people over, I love serving the appetizer effortlessly and getting the main course done. The goal is to make great food but to get out of the kitchen and have fun with my friends.

Get Alex’s Chilled Beet Soup recipe »

Alex Makes: Skillet Potato Cake

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 21st, 2011

The skillet potato cake is a lot like a potato gratin and, in my opinion, easier than making a lot of individual latkes. It has tremendous flavor and goes really well with other lighter dishes that adorn your holiday table. Let’s face it: Who doesn’t love a scoop of some kind of potatoes this time of year? I love to give people what they want. Last week, while I was cooking at my restaurant, we were making various sauces for pasta and all I could think of was a simple tomato sauce. This potato cake serves the same purpose.

Get Alex’s Skillet Potato Cake recipe »

Chef Alex to the Rescue — The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs Finale

by in Shows, December 19th, 2011

I have to say, if you’re not going to win a competition show, being recruited to help cook by the last two standing is a pretty decent consolation prize. As was true for the entire duration of this series, I learned a lot on that day. Elizabeth and Geoffrey have very different styles of cooking and very different work methods. The hardest part? Going out to sit in the audience with my fellow competitors and knowing that I was soon going to have to join each team for 15 minutes. Wow. That’s like joining Gene Kelly in the middle of one of his tap-dancing routines without rehearsal. That Chairman doesn’t know when to quit, does he?

I started out on Team Geoffrey. After years of working together on Chopped, I know that we share a great love of French food and impulsive cooking. Geoffrey seemed as if he hadn’t completely decided what he was making and in his shoes, I would have been in the same position. “Take the cranberries the Chairman just gave us, the rice and sake and make me risotto as one of the dishes,” he shouted above the din of the kitchen noise. Make an entire dish? For him to serve to the Iron Chefs? I cooked some onions and butter in some sake and added the arborio rice. I stirred the rice, added some more sake, a sprinkle of sugar and a pat of butter and let the mixture simmer. Separately, I cooked the cranberries until tender with some spices (not too heavy) and set them aside for Team Geoffrey to reheat to their liking. The key to cooking food in a context like this is to get everything close to how you want it and perfect it at the last minute. The pressure was unreal. What if that ended up being the one dish the Iron Chefs didn’t like?

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Spa Treatments for Kohlrabi

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

Kohlrabi comes from the German words “kohl” (cabbage) and “rabi” (turnip). It tastes like a slightly peppery mixture of turnip and radish with a pinch of Brussels sprout. The bulbs are at their best when they’re around the size of a baseball or softball. If much bigger, they tend to have a tougher texture. I found that both light green and purple kohlrabi don’t taste dramatically different. Maybe the purple was a touch sweeter? You be the judge. How do you eat it?

Raw: The simplest choice. Simply peel the outer layer of skin off with a vegetable peeler and grate the kohlrabi raw over a salad.

Get my dressing recipe for a crisp kohlrabi salad »

Alex Makes: Indian Pudding

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, November 29th, 2011

alex guarnaschelli
This is a classic New England dessert my mother would make during the fall months. She would always make it in a deep, small dish, but I like a shallow (about 2-2 1/2 quart capacity) baking dish. The caramelized apples give the dessert a lighter, fruitier touch. I chose some of my favorite apple varieties for their flavor and ability to hold their shape while cooking. At my local farmers’ market, the guys always have great apple suggestions, and every season I like to pick a new apple variety and make it my “apple of the season.” Last year, I got stuck on the Mutsu for its tart, but also somewhat sweet-when-cooked flavor and crisp texture. This year, I am in search of the perfect cooking apple. What would that entail? An apple that would hold its shape when cooked and also retain a lot of flavor. Not an easy task. I am currently experimenting with Braeburn and Empire apples.

Get the recipe for Indian Pudding »

Alex’s Turkey Day

by in Holidays, November 23rd, 2011

turkey dinner
Every year, I pull out my giant roasting pan (with fitted rack) and thus begins the annual ritual of cooking a giant turkey for Thanksgiving. What kind of turkey did I make last year? How did I cook it? Though I consider myself a fairly well-seasoned cook, learning how to cook the perfect turkey is something I take care to re-learn every year.

So, where to begin?

A few preliminary questions I always ask:

1. How big does my turkey need to be? I usually estimate about 1 pound of turkey (factoring in the carcass as part of that weight) per person.

2. What kind of turkey? Like a lot of poultry these days, there is quite a variety of turkeys (all raised in different ways, fed different foods) to choose from. You know, this is a difficult question to answer. I don’t think I have ever cooked the same turkey two years in a row. I love Heritage brand the most, but those types of birds are raised in such a way that the meat is leaner and can be slightly tough. I also love a good ol’ supermarket turkey. I say, whatever suits your personal taste.

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