All Posts By Food Network Kitchen

Let Them Eat Cake

by in View All Posts, August 17th, 2009

For years, I’ve listened to all of my older relatives rave about my long-deceased great grandmother Rose’s graham cracker cake. I never had the opportunity to taste it, as she passed away while my mother was pregnant with me, but everyone loved how pudding-like, dense, and delicious the cake was.

Rose never shared her secret of how to make it with anyone, but did leave behind a very cryptic recipe card with no instructions other than “beat egg whites separately.” Several relatives had tried it, but none could duplicate the pudding-like consistency. One of my cousins recently e-mailed me a scan of the card and I found the challenge to be irresistible.

CONTINUE READING

It Came From The Library: Julie & Julia Edition

by in News, August 14th, 2009

As noted by the sharp media critics over at EatMeDaily, the real star of the culture storm that is Julie & Julia turns out to be a book. Check the numbers: Since the film’s opening, Julia Child’s seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 has been Amazon’s overall number 1 (now 2) bestseller. Which leads one to wonder whether, in addition to rekindling America’s love affair with Julia, Julie & Julia will also mark a resurgence of interest in French cuisine. Is the movie likely to alter in a significant way the place of French cuisine in American culture? Does Julie & Julia shut the door on the era of the freedom fry?

The latter, a bit, perhaps. Maybe the film will make a tiny dent in our national Francophobia. But as for restoring French hegemony to matters of cooking and dining: very unlikely. While there have been anecdotal reports of cooking classes selling out (a trend the recession started) and bistros filling-up, the social forces behind the declining status of French cuisine — the globalization of taste, the democratization of fine dining and international travel — are just too broad and well-established. Today’s center of culinary gravity lies solidly in the Mediterranean, somewhere between Rome and Barcelona, perhaps inching in the direction of Athens, and for all their butter-drenched magnetism, neither Julia nor Julie nor Julie & Julia are likely to move it.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Seed Saving

by in In Season, August 14th, 2009

Now is a great time to start thinking about saving seeds for next season, which will make next year’s crop an even bigger bargain. It’s also one of the smartest ways to encourage an increasingly healthy and abundant garden year after year, since seeds you save from this season are naturally engineered toward your distinct climate and soil.

Different seeds have different needs (for example, tomato seeds need special processing), but here are a few basic tips to help you get started:

  • Chose fully ripe, healthy, blue ribbon veggies from your garden as seed saving candidates. Save seeds from peppers that have reached their final color, squash that is fully grown, healthy, and ripe, and mature, evenly-shaped beans.
  • Separate seeds from the fruit or pulp if necessary, and rinse well in a strainer. Lay the seeds out in a single layer to dry completely for two to three days. A fully dried seed should crack in half easily (discard broken seeds). Beans can be dried in their pods on the plant. Then pick, open, and drop seeds into a pouch.
  • Save seeds in an envelope in a dry, cool place, well-labeled with instructions for the next season.

Use your seeds within one year for best results, and swap them with your friends and neighbors for an even more diverse garden next season.

For a plant-by-plant guide for best seed saving practices, visit the International Seed Saving Institute at SeedSave.org.

Sarah Copeland, Recipe Developer and Good Food Gardens Spokesperson

Ike Jime: It Only *Looks* Like a Snuff Film

by in View All Posts, August 13th, 2009

The French Culinary Institute (my culinary alma mater, though I do have to admit it was not nearly this cool when I was there) has a fascinating two-part article up on their site today about the Japanese Ike Jime method of killing fish, and its effect on fish’s neurobiology (and thus taste and texture).

It’s a little CSI: Fish, but entirely worth the read: Part 1 and Part 2. [via]

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

This

by in View All Posts, August 12th, 2009

is why I live in fear of messing up at work — wouldn’t you, if this were your boss?

grrrrrDanielle LaRosa, Assistant Culinary Producer

:(

by in View All Posts, August 11th, 2009

Soylent Green is Sustainably-Raised People

by in View All Posts, August 10th, 2009

So I’ve been moving further and further into this strange, semi-justifiable food-fascist bubble, and it’s really started to color the way I see things. Since the vast majority of my groceries come from my CSA, the Union Square greenmarket, or Chelsea Market, my occasional trips to regular — or even bougie — grocery stores have turned me into the sort of person, usually a recent arrival from a Communist country, who shuffles around awkwardly in the produce aisle, baffled by the phenomenon of choice.

Except so: I write this as I try, as I have been trying for the last 13 minutes, to stir chocolate-flavored soy protein isolate into water in a manner such that it doesn’t clump. This appears to be well-nigh impossible, or at least out of my reach. Why am I drinking chocolate-flavored soy protein isolate? Because, well, recently-acquired weightlifting obsession = massive, gigantic protein needs. Would it be delightful to be able to fulfill my protein needs with trust-fund chicken from Violet Hill? Of course. Can I afford that? No. Is chocolate-flavored Soylent Green preferable in my mind to non-trust-fund chicken not from Violet Hill or similar? Hate to say it, but yes.  And so chocolate-flavored Soylent Green it is.

Though this office is a weird place to be drinking chocolate-flavored Soylent Green. I’m debating a brown paper bag for my next round.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

It Came From The Library: On Fat

by in News, August 7th, 2009

Fat, the kind we carry around, is big news of late. A study of the astronomical price of obesity-related chronic illnesses just published in the journal Health Affairs has been focusing attention on the public costs of personal decisions and injecting obesity into the debate over healthcare reform.

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein frames the urgency of the issue thusly:

“If trends continue, health-care costs will chew up 100 percent of the gross domestic product by the end of the century. And estimates suggest that half to two-thirds of that growth is coming from chronic diseases related to diet. We’re eating our way through the national budget.

In other words, inaction is something we as a nation can no longer afford. But what is to be done? What will it take for us to eat less? That is the subject of another report making rounds. That study, from Urban Institute, suggests that obesity poses a public health crisis of such severity that it’s now time for some tough love:

“America’s state and federal policy makers may need to consider interventions every bit as forceful as those that succeeded in cutting adult tobacco use by more than 50%”

Such ‘interventions’ would include tough labeling laws, tax subsidies to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption, and stiff excise or sales taxes on fattening foods. All of which would generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue, enough to pay for a whole lot of healthcare. And all of which, unfortunately, sounds more than a little pie-in-the-sky (if you will), considering the enormous political obstacles to enacting such measures.

Furthermore, if Slate’s Daniel Engber is right, the tough love prescribed by the Urban Institute is crippled by a false premise: that the fat are more of a drain on the public coffers than the rest of us. If anything, Engber argues, they save us money by sparing us the cost of all the expensive illnesses we suffer in our golden years:

“While it’s true that someone who’s grossly overweight might rack up bills for obesity-related ailments like diabetes and hypertension, those added costs would be more than offset by his shorter lifespan.”

Morbid stuff. You can follow this argument a little further here.

Policy aside, one can’t help but wonder how we got here in the first place. How, in a mere 30 years, has the average weight of an American male has grown by 17 lbs and an American female by 19 lbs? What’s changed? A spate of recent books surveyed in a must-read New Yorker article tackle just this question. Explanations range from the economic–fattening foods have become a lot cheaper–to the evolutionary-biological–we’re hard-wired to pursue the maximum calories with the minimum of effort–to the neuroscientific-corporate conspiratorial–companies have reformulated processed foods to exploit this hard-wiring.

Interestingly, as fat is demonized in Washington policy circles, ‘fat acceptance’–bolstered by recent medical studies suggesting that overweight is (contra Engber) actually ‘a protective against mortality’–may be making inroads into popular culture, according to a recent NYTimes article. Who knows, perhaps Lifetime’s plus-size heroine in “Drop Dead Diva” and Fox’s new reality show “More to Love” represent the shape of things to come. If so, it’s unlikely to faze Food Network viewers, who’ve known all along that beauty comes in all sizes.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian