All Posts By Guest Blogger

Paula’s Cupcake Palette, Naturally

by in View All Posts, February 11th, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcake
I recently befriended a pastry chef, who inspired me to try my hand at baking. While her idea of baking includes creating pastel-colored French macaroons from scratch to perfection, I thought I would start simple. My husband’s favorite: Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cupcakes for Valentine’s Day! I have always loved Paula’s butter-filled recipes.

But who knew it would be next to impossible to find real red food dye in New York City? After searching in below-freezing temperatures I finally found red natural food dye. I seriously thought if Mr. Ace of Cakes Duff could find vibrant colors for Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, my NYC search would be a breeze. Whole Foods to the rescue. Not exactly the bright red I was hoping for, but perhaps a more romantic crimson? I started combining the ingredients for the batter, which surprisingly include cocoa, white vinegar and buttermilk. How appropriate for Paula: buttermilk. She’d have it no other way.

Lastly, I added the 2 full tablespoons of dye the recipe called for, which made the batter not red but…FUCHSIA! I was mystified, and when my husband entered the kitchen he wondered aloud what inspired me to make hot-pink food for him on Valentine’s Day. He knows I am absurdly girly but this was taking things to the next level. I still decided to pop them in the oven, hoping for a 20-minute miracle of luscious red deliciousness.

The cupcakes came out more maroonish than red (think Jersey Shore tan, a la Snookie). Once they cooled, amid a few bumps in the otherwise creamy cream cheese icing, I smoothed on the frosting and voila! Next time maybe I’ll use regular food coloring. Paula Deen’s Red Velvet cupcakes had gone slightly south but my loving husband ate them with his eyes closed, promising they tasted not only delicious but red.

—Reena Mehta

Backstage With The Ace of Cakes

by in View All Posts, January 8th, 2010

FNM_DuffBand075.PSD
As a major sugar junkie, I’ve been watching Ace of Cakes for years. And like with most reality shows, I feel like I got to know its stars—especially Duff Goldman, the bad-boy baker and owner of Charm City Cakes. So when my boss told me I’d be going backstage to see Duff’s band play a concert at the House of Blues and write a story about him, I was excited (Yes! Maybe he’ll make me a cake shaped like my face!), though a tad confused (he has a band?). I was also a little nervous, since on the show, Duff can sometimes be the serious guy who cracks the whip on his wisecracking staff. . .so what if he was too serious about the “craft” of his music to let loose and have some fun?

FNM_DuffBand008.PSDWell, I didn’t need to worry about that. It’s true that Duff’s songs are moody, atmospheric, and all-instrumental (listen to one of his songs here); it’s not the hyper pop music you might expect from someone who spends his entire day swimming in sugar. But hanging out with him and his bandmates was fun and upbeat. Once they finished their sound check, we piled into to a private room in the House of Blues bar, which was decorated with red velvet booths and gold Buddha statues. After ordering a round of Yuenglings, Duff kicked up his neon-yellow sneakers and the goofing around began. The guys gave each other noogies (luckily, visiting journalists were exempt) and Duff teased the youngest member of the group: “Remember when we messed with you by painting your guitar pedal hot pink?”
FNM_DuffBand086.PSD

Download a free copy of one of the band’s songs (to download as an MP3, right click on the link and select “Save Link As. . .”). Plus, enter for a chance to win a free CD of Duff’s album, signed by Duff himself. See the full story about Duff’s band from Food Network Magazine.

—Sarah Z. Wexler

Food and Wine Fest, After Dark

by in View All Posts, October 9th, 2009

nywff-crowd
I knew last night was going to be huge night for me. After all I live, breathe and sleep everything Food Network. Like hundreds of other fans I arrived an hour early with the hopes of being first in line for Chelsea After Dark, one of the kickoff events for Food Network’s second annual New York City Wine and Food Festival. My fingers were crossed that I’d spot a few FN hosts making an early entry into Chelsea Market but what I saw outside was nothing compared to what I’d experience inside.

nywff-with-melissaIt was a fan’s dream, come true: Once inside I would actually have the opportunity to meet and hang out with some of my favorite FN stars like Alex Guarnaschelli, Aaron McCargo Jr. and Next Food Network Star winner Melissa d’Arabian. Each FN host was down to earth and genuinely delighted to chat with fans, which only reinforced my love for all things Food Network (if I sound like a kindred spirit, check out the I Love Food Network blog).

nywff-sandra-picShortly after entering Chelsea Market we were greeted by none other than Sandra Lee. Let me tell you, she was incredibly radiant. She was cheerful and gracious as she signed autographs and snapped photos with fans (including me!). The sweet scent of freshly baked goods like red velvet cake from Ruthy’s Bakery and savory aromas of the Lobster Place’s chowder filled the air, pulling me through the market. Chelsea Market was filled to the brim with casually dressed fans and foodies alike but to my surprise I never waited more than a few minutes at each tasting or food station.
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