All Posts By Guest Blogger

The Sophomore Effort

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, January 12th, 2014

The Kitchen - Behind the Scenes, Episode 2by Jeff Mauro

What a blast it was watching the premiere of The Kitchen along with all of you. The twitter action was bonkers. I was up in the air on my way back from the 14th annual Mauro Mexico Family Trip (25 Mauros strong this year!). I was sad because: A) The vacation was a bit of a bummer because it rained five days straight, I lost my iPad and my mom got a terrible case of strep throat*, and B) I wasn’t able to watch the live airing of the premiere of our new show on TV. Luckily, we had in-flight Wi-Fi and I got to engage in the episode via Twitter. Overall, the response was very positive, which is always reassuring. Twittertown can be a rough and tumble joint (keep reading, you’ll see what I mean), and it is seriously not for the meek. But in this case, it seemed like the people really liked us. Phew.

Episode 2 was a blast to shoot. We hit the field energetic and, with a couple practices and a solid game under our tight belts, more confident. We had our first guest during Cookbook Club — the highly talented pastry guru, author and legitimate Chicago native Jenny McCoy (win a copy of her book now). She gave an effortless interview in which I totally blew it and forgot to ask her my favorite question ever (see photo below). Jenny then demoed some of her award-winning desserts with the girls, and GZ and I promptly got kicked off set. This gave us a bit of a “union break.” I enjoyed a necessary dose of Jersey sunshine with GZ (which I guess was highly necessary, considering I received several tweets, one claiming I look “pretty pale” and another asking “What’s with Jeff’s alabaster skin? It’s gross.”). Noted.**

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Sunny Dishes on Episode 1 of The Kitchen + Offers Behind the Scenes Photos

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Chef, Shows, January 6th, 2014

The Kitchen Episode 1by Sunny Anderson

Haaaiii! It’s Sunny Anderson on the FN Dish check-in. On behalf of Katie Lee, Marcela Valladolid, Jeff Mauro and Geoffrey “GZ” Zakarian, as well as the crew, set design, culinary staff, producers and more — welcome to The Kitchen. I’ve been asked to share some behind-the-scenes bits. Make sure to come back next week when Jeff shares what’s really happening on set!

I hope you enjoyed the show and found it to be something you can put to work in your very own kitchen. This is the first of what we hope to be many episodes that will share recipes, quick fixes and fun chats about all things food and entertaining. Speaking of entertaining, I am too excited that I got to share the Lotus Flower Candle with you today. I’ve been holding it for months wanting to blab all about it on social media. In a world where I tweet cute pics of my cats sleeping, it’s easy to say keeping this cool entertainment “gadget” to myself for so long was hard. I really like this show for that reason — it’s truly host driven, with a huge help of a production staff. We all bring ideas from our personal lives to share with you. It reminds me of show-and-tell in grade school. I still don’t know how the crew disabled the flower so it wouldn’t play the costly “Happy Birthday” song. Just know if you look for them online, all of the ones I’ve found play the tune, so hopefully you get it for someone’s birthday cake or you know someone crafty who can disable the music. Where’s MacGruber when you need him?

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The World’s First Elvis-Inspired Soft-Shell Crab Double Down — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 7th, 2013

Chopped All-Stars Finale
Every week, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star Season 8, is back remixing the Chopped All-Stars baskets as seen in the episode Sunday night in pure Justin Warner style: edgy, intense, passionate and full of wit. If you’ve ever watched an episode and found yourself yelling at the TV, “I would have made this and that instead!” then these are the posts for you.

by Justin Warner

Welcome to the final installment of the Chopped All-Stars Rebel Remix. It is bittersweet to pen this, as it signals an end to a really fun five weeks of shouting at my TV, but as you are about to see, the finale is where one retires the pea-shooter in favor of the potato cannon, and I really love potato cannons.

Appetizer: soft-shell crabs, sake, crunchy peanut butter, sea beans
I spent most of my formative years and adolescence in the great state of Maryland, where we enjoy soft-shell crabs whenever possible. Nothing is more gratifying than a sandwich with crunchy legs sticking out of a nice potato roll. If you’ve never had the treat, head to your local sushi bar and order a spider roll. Don’t be scared, it’s 100 percent cooked and 110 percent spider-free. You’ll notice it has a crunchy texture that reveals silky sweet meat with a whisper of funk. That’s the mustard, aka the guts, highly prized among many. Fancy chefs here in Brooklyn are smearing crab guts on brioche and charging as much as a whole crab would cost. Anyway, the soft-shell crab is a very tasty morsel I hold in very high regard. To prep them, cut off their faces without hesitation. Flip them over and pull open the key. This will open up the body for you to remove the feathery gills. Voila.

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Cinco de Mayo Across the Country — On the Road

by in Holidays, Restaurants, April 30th, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Across the Countryby Amanda Marsteller

Satisfy your Cinco de Mayo cravings at Food Network-approved Mexican eateries across the country. These savory and spicy stops will perk up your palate, from poblano-style cemita sandwiches in Chicago to Guerrero-style fish tacos in San Diego. Grab a margarita and celebrate Mexico’s rich culinary heritage stateside.

1. Avila’s – Dallas
This Tex-Mex menu showcases specialties like chile relleno, pollo con calabaza — a Mexican chicken stew with squash and corn — and brisket tacos that Guy raved about on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Stop and savor the brisket, slow-cooked in red wine, garlic and onions until tender and juicy.

2. Cemitas Puebla — Chicago
At the Windy City’s only restaurant serving cemitas, you’ll find authentic poblano sandwiches on sesame rolls slathered with avocado and adobo, then stuffed with meaty fillings like breaded pork chops or more adventurous options like pata, aka cow foot. No wonder they sell 300 cemitas a day.

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Vacuum-Sealed Chicken, Matzo Pancakes and Passion Fruit, Three Ways — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 29th, 2013

Chopped All-Stars Round 4 Entree Basket
Every week, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star Season 8, is back remixing the Chopped All-Stars baskets as seen in the episode Sunday night in pure Justin Warner style: edgy, intense, passionate and full of wit. If you’ve ever watched an episode and found yourself yelling at the TV, “I would have made this and that instead!” then these are the posts for you.

by Justin Warner

Welcome to the fourth installment of the Chopped All-Stars Rebel Remix, wherein I attempt to give you drilling rights on my brain as I attempt to assemble an array of exciting edibles from four seemingly incongruous ingredients.

Appetizer: vanilla cupcakes, chicken tenders, avocados, kochujang
I’ve been doing this “write about Chopped” thing for a little bit now, and this basket is just too freaking insane. Cupcakes? Really? Before assembling these ingredients, I would look around: I want to know which contender offended the Basket Curators in a previous life. This is a bad, bad basket. Personally, I also abhor chicken tenders. They are too perfect, too cookie cutter. Meat should have personality and character! I digress. Kochujang, or gochujang, is a Korean pepper paste. It’s got earth and funk and a little heat. I’ve seen a few Korean grandmas dilute it with lemon-lime soda, and in my restaurant I use it to glaze frog’s legs. Avocados are no biggie. What isn’t good with a slice of avocado? This leaves the cupcakes. Why?! It’s like someone is trying to cause grief and pain. At least they are vanilla, which is a great flavor with chicken. Before you get bent out of shape, consider that bourbon chicken sounds delish and that bourbon often contains vanillin, which is the chemical compound for which vanilla was named, so vanilla and chicken are best buds. Capish?

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Butterflied Sea Marshmallows, Capon and Waffles, and French Toast Garlic Bread — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 23rd, 2013

Chopped All-Stars Round 3 Dessert Basket
Every Tuesday, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star Season 8, is back remixing the Chopped All-Stars baskets as seen in the episode Sunday night in pure Justin Warner style: edgy, intense, passionate and full of wit. If you’ve ever watched an episode and found yourself yelling at the TV, “I would have made this and that instead!” then these are the posts for you.

by Justin Warner

Welcome to the third installment of Chopped All-Stars Rebel Remix, where the things I shouted at my TV last Sunday are written for all to see.

Appetizer: harissa, diver scallops, pink grapefruit, speck
When I compose a dish, especially an appetizer, I like to consider the components in their most basic forms and build from there. A great dish has all of our tastes (salt, sweet, sour, bitter, capsaicin, umami) some exciting texture, a great aroma and visual appeal. Harissa is spicy, scallops are sweet, grapefruit is both sour and slightly bitter, and speck is as close to salty and savory as it gets. The only way the dish resulting from this basket could be horrible is via technical difficulties, or from a cook failing to realize that these guys don’t need much coaxing to play nicely. We aren’t dealing with a mound of veggie terrine that looks like it has already been digested. We are dealing with four gems of gastronomy, and all we have to do is make a nice crown to hold the gems in place. Let’s go.

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Introducing the Croque Señor — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 16th, 2013

Chopped All-Stars Round 2 Appetizer Basket
Every Tuesday, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star Season 8, is back remixing the Chopped All-Stars baskets as seen in the episode Sunday night in pure Justin Warner style: edgy, intense, passionate and full of wit. If you’ve ever watched an episode and found yourself yelling at the TV, “I would have made this and that instead!” then these are the posts for you.

by Justin Warner

Welcome to the second installment of Chopped All-Stars Rebel Remix. In the space below, you will find my woulda-shoulda-coulda of Sunday’s showdown. Just so you know, I give myself no more than 45 minutes to write these little posts. It gets pretty intense. I actually sweat, a little.

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Veggie Croquettes, Hunter’s Pie and Waterloo — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 9th, 2013

Justin Warner on Rebel Eats
Every Tuesday, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star Season 8, is back remixing the Chopped All-Stars baskets as seen in the episode Sunday night in pure Justin Warner style: edgy, intense, passionate and full of wit. If you’ve ever watched an episode and found yourself yelling at the TV, “I would have made this and that instead!” then these are the posts for you.

by Justin Warner

Welcome back to the Rebel Remix, where yours truly will attempt to simulate via text what I would do in the chef shoes of this week’s contestants.

Appetizer basket: Veggie terrine, galangal, banana bread and mango juice
Oh, veggie terrine, you hideous mess. Flavor-wise you aren’t a danger, but what can we possibly do to divert the judge’s attention from your repulsive pigmentation? The answer: Put a banana-bread bag over your head. This basket has a definitive tropical feel to it, aside from the veggie terrine, but the terrine’s carrot flavors will work very nicely with the galangal (kinda like a wicked stepmother of ginger), and banana bread will fit in with mango juice like the Chiquita banana lady would fit in at Carnival. Start by freezing the terrine so we can cut it into batons more easily. Next we’ll make a sauce by chopping up the galangal and adding it to the mango juice. Put this mix on the stove and get it reducing ASAP.

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Melissa’s Take on the Chopped Basket — Champions Grand Finale

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, February 16th, 2013

Melissa d'Arabianby Melissa d’Arabian

It’s the finale, so I’m tempted to give myself longer than 30 seconds to pick my menu. But I won’t. So here go the final Chopped Champions baskets:

Appetizer basket: pig ears, ramps, pine nuts and apple strudel

Two tricky ingredients in this one – pig ears and ramps. Just kidding. Apple strudel? Yikes. My mind races first to April Bloomfield’s gorgeous cookbook A Girl and Her Pig, and I am inspired to fry up the pig ears. How will they get tender so quickly? By boiling, slicing very thinly, dipping in batter and frying. I get the ears into the boiling water, which I salt. And then I turn my attention to the strudel. I make a quick decision to separate the phyllo from the apple filling and turn it into two ingredients. I crisp up the phyllo in the oven and make strips for a panzanella (bread salad). I caramelize the ramps, toast the pine nuts and blend up the apple filling with apple cider vinegar and olive oil for a vinaigrette. Chop up bitter greens, toss with the pine nuts, ramps, dressing and maybe some sweet yellow tomato if available. Top with my strudel strips and fried ear “cracklings.” Simple.

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Dirt Tots, Egg-Based Burritos and Mini Goat Cheese Pies — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, February 13th, 2013

Chef Vinson Petrillo
Every Wednesday, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star, Season 8, has been remixing the Chopped Champion baskets as seen in the episode the night before in pure Justin Warner style: edgy, intense, passionate and full of wit. If you’ve ever watched an episode and found yourself yelling at the TV that you would have made this or that instead, then these are the posts for you.

by Justin Warner

Congratulations blog viewer, you’ve made it to the finale! If you’ve made it this far, I’m not going to bore you with the details of making a mother sauce.

Appetizer basket: pig ears, ramps, pine nuts and apple strudel

The appetizer round is really getting me ramped up. I feel like I’m on a rampage. Want to hear something my gramps told me? He taught me that allium tricoccum (say it out loud three times and you’ll remember easily), aka ramps, are delicious wild onions from all of Appalachia. They are the most wonderful, glorious and wildest of leeks. Like a leafy spring onion, it’s entirely edible, although its flavor is a bit more pronounced. In the good old days in Terra Alta, West Virginia (where I spent time with Gramps and ramps), folks celebrated the ramp by cooking it in a multitude of ways. These “ramp festivals” are a great event for couples because if you eat ramps and your partner doesn’t, you’ll be asked to sleep outside, lest your glorious oniony eau de parfum permeate the house for a bit. So sayeth my gramps.

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