All Posts By Guest Blogger

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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Melissa’s Take on the Chopped Basket — Champions Round Four

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, February 8th, 2013

Melissa d'Arabianby Melissa d’Arabian

You know my rules: 30 seconds to decide. Longer to write (but not much).

Appetizer basket: sour-apple martini mix, mortadella, white asparagus and fennel

I love this basket and don’t want to overthink it. The asparagus and mortadella make me think of a chopped salad and I stick to the idea. I peel the tough outer part of the asparagus and poach it in salty water, brown sugar and white wine. I get the fennel sliced up with some cubed onion and tart apple (which will bring play against the sour-apple martini mix that I plan to use in the dressing), tossed with a little olive oil and get them roasting to bring out its earthy sweetness. I fry up the mortadella and chop, making my own take on bacon bits. I chop up some greens from the pantry (arugula or watercress). I make a reduction from the apple cider vinegar and sour-apple martini mix. I assemble the salad: chop all the prepped ingredients, toss with olive oil and a bit of cider vinegar. Top with a bit of goat cheese and drizzle with the apple martini reduction.

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A Winning Salad, Halloumi Steaks and a Cherry Americano — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, February 6th, 2013

Chopped judges Alex Guarnaschelli and Amanda Freitag
by Justin Warner

Too many times I see chefs label themselves, to their demise. A Chopped champion is one who can abandon his or her style and cook according to the ingredients in the basket. Sometimes the most rebellious thing a chef can do is to be conservative and make simple fare. Having a set point of view should not be equated to wearing blinders. If anything, a POV gives a chef a different vantage point, so as to differently survey what is necessary to put food on the table.

Appetizer basket: sour-apple martini mix, mortadella, white asparagus and fennel

Sour-apple martini mix is disgusting stuff. It doesn’t taste like apples; it tastes like green candy. I don’t know where in its evolution sour apple decided to taste like something unrelated to apples, but overcoming this challenge is why I’m here. Mortadella, white asparagus and fennel can all play together — it’s just a matter of getting that bottle of green treacle to play nicely, as well.

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Melissa’s Take on the Chopped Basket — Champions Round Three

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, January 31st, 2013

Melissa d'Arabian on Chopped All-Starsby Melissa d’Arabian

Last week was fun. So now I’m back, this time playing virtual Chopped 30,000 feet in the sky (I forgot my headset and how many times can I see Arbitrage anyway?), so here goes. My 30 seconds to plan starts now!

Appetizer basket: smoked eel, cream cheese spread, quince paste and haricot verts

Smoky eel, cream cheese and sweet quince all work well together, but how to get the green beans in on the act? I first think of my daughters’ favorite, “crunchy green beans,” which is a nice way of saying batter-dipped and fried. A fritto misto it is. First I’ll get the oil heating. Then I take inspiration from crab puffs and create a little dumpling out of wonton skins (I’m pretty sure they have those in the pantry, but if not, then some other kind of dough or bread rolled super thin) filled with the eel and cream cheese, a little onion and a touch of smoked paprika.

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Risky Business With Haricot-Schmear, Frog Legs and an Araucana Juicy Lucy — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, January 30th, 2013

Chef Tanaka Chopped Champions
by Justin Warner

According to a legend, nearly a mile beneath the foundation of Food Network headquarters in Chelsea Market, there exists a culinary lab of the most peculiar type. Comestibles from all over the world are gathered and transported here. The ingredients are tasted by robotic tongues. The flavor data is analyzed and each ingredient is classified by its ability to fuse with other ingredients.

Some play nicely. The humble egg frolics with oils, citrus and tiny mustard seeds. Cutesy strawberries jump with glee on a bed of goat cheese.

Some are more clique-ish. The ever-attractive artichoke only associates with the briniest of morsels. And some don’t play at all. They sulk in the corners of our gastronomic playpen. These are the palate destroyers — the over-powerers. They are preserved. They are fermented. They are canned. They are weird.

Each week, one of the most elite of Food Network’s team of sustenance scientists hand-selects four edible elements. They are placed into a sturdy black basket and transported to the surface. The baskets are presented to the most-talented chefs in the land to assemble. From what appears to be a picnic of pain emerge glorious dishes, never before seen! They are crafted with ingenuity. Upon their judgment they sing palate-pleasing songs forgotten since childhood.

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