All Posts By Food Network Kitchens

Warning: Baking Yeast is For Baking

by in View All Posts, October 22nd, 2008

A month ago, I decided to experiment in the Food Network kitchen and take my first stab at brewing. I chose to make mead, one of the oldest — and, by all accounts found online, easiest – brewing methods around. The basic technique is to combine water, honey and yeast, allow the yeast to eat the sugars in the honey, convert them into alcohol and ta-da! You have a tasty meady treat to drink outside on mellow Saturday afternoons.

After careful research I pulled together ratios for honey to water to yeast from various brewing websites, then went searching in the kitchen for the needed ingredients. 3 pounds of honey…… ok, found a pound of lavender honey, should taste good, then 1.5 pounds of clover honey, tastes good to me; then the last half pound was more problematic… Maple syrup, why not? It’s sweet and sugary and might lend an unexpected twist to the final product. Tea. Apparently the tannins in tea are good for mellowing the sweetness of the honey. Fine. I steal two bags of Russian Country (tannic, smoky, fun) from under Jake’s desk; he’ll never know. Finally yeast. Well, yeast is yeast right? Great, there’s baking packets in the bakers’ pantry. Done.

All is mixed together and after two months of painstaking care and twice daily releasing the nonstop production of carbon dioxide (or rather begging my co-workers to do so while I’m away shooting Tyler Florence for three weeks), the mead is ready. Yay! A glass for everyone!

No, really, that's mead.
Tastes like bread… but gives you a good buzz!

But leave the baking yeast in the baker’s pantry, unless you want everything to taste like bread.

Charlie Granquist, Food Stylist

Some Changes for the Library

by in View All Posts, October 20th, 2008

This is a small corner of our library, admirably manned by research librarian Jonathan “Jon the Plumber Librarian” Milder:

No, none of those people are Jonathan.

The following, however, is a library in La Gloria, Colombia, where librarian Luis Soriano and his two donkeys Alfa and Beto bring via “biblioburro” a rotating selection of 4800 books to about 300 people in a remote corner of the country.

Photo: Scott Dalton for the New York Times

Photo: Scott Dalton for the New York Times

We think our library could only benefit from a couple helper burros. We just don’t know where we’d keep them at night. What do you think?

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Old School and New School in One Night

by in View All Posts, October 17th, 2008

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Two nights ago I had the opportunity to eat the food of two great chefs. Started the night at Chanterelle in Tribeca, the restaurant of Carol and David Waltuck. They threw a party for their new cookbook, with some good food being passed around, but some of the guests were like vultures, they wouldn’t let the waitstaff make it 5 inches from the kitchen before their trays were empty. Kicked back some bubbly and heard what David Waltuck had to say before getting out of that packed place. While listening, I realized that the lady standing next to me trying to stay away from the crowd was my girl Martha — Martha Stewart that is. She rocks.

We left the old school, on to the new school. Govind Armstrong, who is opening his restaurant Table 8 in the new Cooper Square Hotel, hosted a tasting. Went up the elevator and next thing I knew I was in a sweet loft apartment with endless amounts of good food. Didn’t stay long because I was still recovering from the NYC Food and Wine Festival, like most of New York is. That’s all I got.

Dave Mechlowicz, Culinary Purchasing Manager

Vendy Awards 2008!

by in View All Posts, October 16th, 2008

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So, for the past couple of years, I’ve been on the board of the Vendy Awards, a celebration of street vendors, an Iron-Chef-style cookoff, and the major fundraiser for the Street Vendor Project, a nonprofit organization that helps out vendors legally and politically.

It’s this coming Saturday in Brooklyn Bridge Park, from 3pm – 7pm. Vendors have already been nominated, so all that’s left is the showdown. (And, for the first time, we’ve added a People’s Choice dessert category, made up of all the new dessert trucks now dotting the NYC landscape.)


Tickets can be bought here, and include both all the cart food you can eat as well as beverages to wash it down.

Hope to see you there!

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Grand Tastings for All

by in View All Posts, October 15th, 2008

This weekend, the first annual New York City Food Network Food & Wine Festival was in full swing with samplings of fantastic food and drink from talented chefs and restaurants as well as special events from Food Network hosts and celebrity chefs, including Guy Fieri, Tyler Florence, The Neelys, Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray. From Burger Bashes, Cocktail Clinics, Grand Tastings and late night parties, the fun, food, and drink just kept on coming. Spirits were high and stomachs were full while attendees enjoyed the spectacular New York City fall weather while supporting hunger relief programs offered by Share Our Strength, a Food Network partner, and The Food Bank for New York City. 100% of the money raised over the three days supports much needed community based programs.

Food Network’s newest talent Alex Guarnaschelli dishing up Cavatappi pasta with Spicy Lamb Sausage and Yellow Tomato Sauce at the Grand Tasting

Claudia Sidoti, Recipe Developer

Apples with Maddy

by in View All Posts, October 15th, 2008

It’s October, and when you live in the Northeast and have an almost 4 year old, that means apple picking. We picked Northern Spy, Macoun and Ida Red apples. While the picking and farm was lots of fun, my daughter was really excited about what happened after the farm — pie!

If you’ve ever tried to bake a pie with a preschooler, you know it’s a lesson in patience. There’s really no telling them that if you squish the dough too much the crust will be tough. We used the Northern Spy apples for the pie because they have a nice balance of sweet and tart and hold up well when baking. My daughter liked using them because she thought the name was funny. Slightly tough crust aside, the pie turned out great. What else are we going to do with the bushel of apples we have? Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • The Ida Reds will be made into applesauce for little brother (he’s 9 months).
  • The Macouns into butternut squash and apple soup that will be for dinners, the lunchbox, and the freezer for those days when I can’t possibly get dinner on the table by 6:30.
  • Some peanut butter yogurt (plain yogurt, honey and peanut butter) to dip fresh apple slices in for snacks.
  • And lastly, an apple slaw with a hoisin glazed pork loin.

Any apples left after all that will come to work and be up for grabs.

Jill Novatt, Executive Culinary Producer

Junior Chefs

by in View All Posts, October 10th, 2008

Recently, I was asked to judge a culinary competition in Sacramento put on by Jr. Chef Central, an organization that teaches cooking classes for kids between the ages of 10 and 15.

The competition was part of a larger “Culinary Convention” that included classes for about 200 kids on the subjects of pasta, baking, sushi, grilling, and pizza. In addition to those classes, all of the kids attended seminars on food styling, nutrition, farm to table, table setting and etiquette, and knife skills. There were even parent education classes to loop parents in on what the kids were learning. The convention was open to all kids, not just kids in the program.

I had no idea what to expect when I flew 3,000 miles to be a part of this. I was totally blown away by what I found.

The competition part involved 5 teams of students from the classes: each team had 3 regular students, 1 Master Jr. Chef (a kid who’d been through every level of the program) and 1 Chef Mentor from a local restaurant. The teams had the same themes as the classes. Each team had to make 3 dishes based on the theme as well as a mystery ingredient: figs.

While the kids were cooking, the judges (myself, Elaine Johnson from Sunset Magazine, and 1 of the Master Jr. Chefs) got to walk around and see how the kids were working together, assess their skills, and make sure they were following safety and sanitation guidelines. I simply couldn’t believe how talented and comfortable these kids were in the kitchen. I walked by the sushi team at one point and 1 of the girls was making an unbelievable rose out of a cucumber. I asked her if her Chef Mentor taught her how and she said no, she read about how to do it online. Wow.

All in all, we tasted 15 courses prepared by the kids. They were judged on presentation, content, teamwork and sanitation. There were 2 awards, Best Dish and Best Team Overall. There was a tie for winning dish: a Fig Crostata with Basil Ice Cream from the Pizza Team and a Grilled Fig Pizza with Raspberry Sauce, Mascarpone, Fresh Mint and Caramel Sauce from the Grilling Team.

The winner: fig crostata with basil ice cream

The Best Team Overall was the Pizza Team and they prepared the Crostata mentioned above, Pizza Poppers with mushrooms, pepperoni, and a fig dipping sauce, and a Fig, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula. If I hadn’t been watching these kids make all the dishes, I would never have believed that this food was made by 10 to 15 year olds!

The idea of 200 young teens in one place at one time can be a scary one, but these kids were incredibly poised and dedicated. They were so proud of what they accomplished (win or lose) and I was so proud of them. Karla Lacey Minors, who runs Jr. Chef Central, is amazing and so is her program.

Jill Novatt, Executive Culinary Producer

Breaking the Fast with Food Network

by in View All Posts, October 10th, 2008

Food Network’s Executive Chef Rob Bleifer serving up shrimp and grits at Chelsea Market After Dark kickoff event.

Breaking fast is a tradition after fasting for the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. It consists of a light meal of bagels, spreads and smoked fish.

Well, last night I changed it up. The first ever Food Network New York City Wine and Food Festival kicked off last night, and what a kickoff it was. It started at 7pm sharp up in the Food Network studios with a VIP party. Everywhere you looked there were Food Network faces, the Neelys, Nigella, Anne Burrell, it goes on and on.

Let’s get to the food: didn’t see any bagels or spreads around the room. What I did see was amazing food that the Food Network Kitchens put out. Upside down lobster pot pie, mouthwatering pate, falafel bites, crusted lamb with fig mostarda, and house-cured smoked salmon (OK, so there was some smoked fish). The night continued downstairs with Chelsea Market After Dark, where we put out some shrimp and grits and tender duck confit.

The festival continues all weekend and it’s going to rock. Anyone going to the festival? Let us know what you thought. I have to say, it was definitely a good way to break the fast.

Dave Mechlowicz, Culinary Purchasing Manager

Peanut Butter & Jelly All Grown Up

by in View All Posts, October 6th, 2008

Some special clients were coming in for a lunch and I wanted a really special dessert. For an event last fall, I made a peanut butter ice cream with a homemade concord grape jelly swirl, but this time I wanted a plated dessert rather than just a scoop.

I was discussing with Miriam, our Sous Chef, and Anthony, a freelance cook, and their ideas immediately made me think about using a classic Kentucky jam cake as the base, putting more grape jelly on top, then topping it all off with peanut butter ice cream. When testing the cake recipe, we didn’t have enough grape jelly, so I had to use fig preserves, which made the most incredible cake.

Some Syrah wine grapes were available in the market and they made the best grape jelly we had ever tasted. The dessert came together with some toasted peanuts and a sprinkle of flaked sea salt. Not a crumb was left on the plates!

Peanut butter & jelly — who knew it could be a decadent dessert for grown-ups?

Recipe Developer Sarah Copeland taste testing

Rob Bleifer, Executive Chef