All Posts By Guest Blogger

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

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, January 24th, 2013

Melissa d'Arabian and Ted Allenby Melissa d’Arabian

I have to admit that watching Chopped actually stresses me out so much that if I watch when it airs late in the evening, I find that I can’t sleep. My husband thinks it’s “fun” to press pause and spit out quickly what he would do if he were getting the basket. Clearly he has never been in the Chopped kitchen himself. I can’t watch Chopped without feeling like I’m the one who actually has to pull off a culinary miracle in minutes, but for you, dear readers, I will take one for the team. I will give myself 30 seconds for each round to come up with a menu. Thirty seconds; that’s it (I’m on the honor system here, I realize). Time starts — now.

Appetizer basket: Fruitcake, shad roe sack, vodka and Tokyo scallions

I imagine opening the basket on that first course and pulling out fruit cake, my mind racing to the brandy-soaked monstrosity that my mom used to make for months leading up to the holidays. (Is this the Chopped basket where all fruitcakes go to die?) My mind would be spinning in despair, but not for long because the rest of the basket has potential — shad roe sack is amazing when simply sauteed, vodka and Tokyo scallions for the most part fit into the flavor profile. Even our (fr)enemy the fruitcake can play along nicely, adding some sweetness to play off the richness of the roe sack (think seared fois gras with berry compote). The biggest challenge for me is getting the onion not to overpower the rich roe sack.

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Fruitcake Blinis and “Semifreddo” Sandwiches — Rebel Remix

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

Chef Walter D'Rozario - Chopped Champions Round 2
Every Wednesday, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star, Season 8, is 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

I’ll be frank: sometimes I don’t know everything. Sometimes I call it a steamer and you’ll call it a sloppy Joe. Sometimes I call it a clam and you’ll call it a steamer. Sometimes you don’t know what the heck is in the basket and you just have to taste it and roll along. Even the most complex things in the food world are made of simple things. It’s when you don’t know the simple things that you should be worried about what’s in the basket!

Appetizer basket: Fruit cake, shad roe sack, vodka and Tokyo scallions
Fruit cake — fahruit cake — fahhhruuit cake. Let’s face it: it’s sweetened bread. Salt and lemon will shut it up. It’s pre-made bread though, right? With caviar? And vodka? And onion? This is a gift basket if you ask me.

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Devils on Horseback, Cookie Dough Pasta and Tostones — Rebel Remix

by in Shows, January 16th, 2013

Chopped Champions Round 1
Every Wednesday, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star Season 8, is remixing the Chopped Champion baskets as seen in the episode the night before in pure Justin Warner-style: edgy, intense, passionate and full of witty. 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

I play the Chopped game differently from most. My goal is not to transform things but to find the simplest way to make them work together. I’m not a magician or a craftsman — I’m more like a negotiator or ombudsman. I also try to think of the ingredients as something other than what they are. Yes, they might be duck tongues, but it’s easier to play with them if you think of them as chicken tenders. Make sense? With all of that said, here’s what I would do with the baskets from last night’s episode.

Justin breaks down the Chopped basket

Top 10 Genius Inspiration Interpretations From Seasons 1 and 2

by in Shows, January 10th, 2013

Sweet Genius, Season 2By Ron Ben-Israel, contributions by Kate Kenny and Nikki Junda

Ron Ben-Israel has raised the bar on the newest season of Sweet Genius with more unusual techniques and inspired flavor combinations. That made the Sweet Genius team think back to the previous seasons. After revisiting the best moments from old episodes and the 10 best ingredient inventions, they also decided to narrow down the 10 best inspiration interpretations from Seasons 1 and 2.

1. Mauricio Santelice
Dessert: Chocolate Unicorn Emerging From an Ostrich Eggshell With Pate a Choux Swans
EPISODE 101/Disco Genius
Inspiration: Unicorn

When Chef Mauricio Santelice presented me with an entire mythological scene of dessert creations inspired by a unicorn, I knew that he was an ambitious and talented chef. Chef Mauricio’s dish, with its chocolate unicorn leaping from an open ostrich eggshell and scrumptious pate a choux swans, made me feel as if I were given an edible surrealist painting. Inspired by my vision of a fantastical unicorn, Chef Mauricio’s dessert transported me to another place.

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Holiday Baking Disaster Recovery: What Happens When a Cake Flops?

by in Holidays, How-to, December 20th, 2012

Holiday Bake Disaster RecoveryBy Ron Ben-Israel

I once made a few cakes for dessert — some coffee cakes. The recipe that I tried was not accurate; it said butter the pan, but should have said butter then flour the pan. Half the cake came out and half of it didn’t, and it had a big crack on the side.

So if a cake flops, what can you do to save it? If the cake is supposed to be frosted, then don’t worry about it. Just cover it with frosting. It will still be delicious. If it’s like a coffee cake, which doesn’t get frosted, preslice and serve it plated with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and berries.

Always remember this rule of thumb

Sweet Genius Surprises to Come in Season 3

by in Shows, October 18th, 2012

ron ben-israel sweet geniusBy Ron Ben-Israel, contributions by Kate Kenny and Nikki Junda

In this new season of Sweet Genius, the chefs I invited into my kitchen really raised the bar with unusual techniques and inspired flavor combinations. Candied vegetables? Champagne candies? Pizza dough Rocher? Why not.

The path to genius is never ordinary.

And speaking of unusual techniques, smoking ingredients isn’t just for barbecue anymore. Some of the chefs in my kitchen found imaginative applications for my smoke machine in their desserts. My palate will never be the same.

The competition is fierce and so are my inspirations. Find out what wild new wonders I have in store for the chefs this season. It will be anything but tame.

Being a pastry chef is hard work, but when I’m in the kitchen I like to have fun too. Tune in this season to find out what inspired me to wear a tutu and red nose.

New Season Premieres Thursday, October 18 at 10pm/9c.

Top 5 Kitchen Gadgets of the Past 10 Years, $10 or Less

by in Shows, May 10th, 2012

invention hunters

by Steve Greenberg (pictured right)

As an Invention Hunter (aka product scout), I’m always searching for the next great kitchen gadget. For the purpose of this blog, let’s define “gadgets” as those inexpensive must-have tools that fit in your kitchen drawers. Here are my picks for the top five kitchen gadgets under $10:

Norpro Egg Rite Timer ($5) — Throw out your grandmother’s egg timer: This high-tech egg timer, isn’t really a timer at all. Shaped like an egg, you place it in the pan with your eggs and it calculates cooking stages by temperature, not by inaccurate time. It automatically adjusts for the number of eggs, amount of water and even the altitude. Egg-cellent, huh?

Mastrad Silicone Steam Cooker ($10) — Forget the old iron or aluminum steam cookers of yesteryear, silicone is today’s go-to kitchen material. This steam cooker is super convenient because you don’t have to use water or add oil to cook your food. All you have to do is stick it in the microwave for a few minutes and you get a quick, healthy meal.

Get the top three kitchen gadgets

Dos and Don’ts: Accommodating Dietary Needs at Dinner Parties

by in Entertaining, March 7th, 2012

dinner party
So, you’re hosting a dinner party and one (or more) of your guests has a food allergy. What do you do? How do you manage this? Some people do not accommodate special dietary needs at their dinner parties. And while I understand the frustration with the myriad of food needs out there, the question I would ask before I make that decision is: Do I want all my guests to feel welcome? If the answer to that question is yes, then here are a few dos and don’ts to help you navigate this social minefield:

Do:

• Share your menu plan (including a full ingredient list) with your food-allergic guests. If you are using prepared food, like sauces or spice mixtures, save all the ingredient lists for those as well. Ask them to bring up any concerns they might have.

More dos and don’ts