All Posts By Sara Levine

Sara Levine is a Senior Online Editor at FoodNetwork.com and a culinary-school-trained home cook. Several years ago she quit her magazine job to go to Le Cordon Bleu, which led to a stint in Food Network Kitchen. Although cooking professionally wasn’t her thing, she loves frequenting restaurants and putting her own amateur culinary skills to work in her tiny kitchen.

Dishing with Sandra, FN’s Queen of Halloween

by in View All Posts, October 22nd, 2010

To get in the Halloween spirit, the Dish took a few minutes to chat with Sandra Lee while she baked up mini pumpkin bundt cakes in Food Network Kitchens. Sandra’s Semi-Homemade Cooking Halloween special airs this Sunday at 11:30am/10:30c, and believe us, you don’t want to miss it. The theme is Renaissance Faire, the costumes are amazing, and there are some surprises, including … Sandra as Cher?

Semi-Homemade is now in its 14th season on Food Network — “I think Friends was only on for 10 seasons!” she says — and to celebrate, Sandra worked with Food Network to publish Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook, stocked with 1,000 recipes.

Read on for Sandra’s dish on the new book, Halloween tips and buy bid-worthy tablescapes.

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Next Iron Chef Logo

Next Iron Chef: Culinary Fun Facts, Episode 3

by in Shows, October 21st, 2010

After the shoot, the crew took home 35 quarts of various pickles from the Secret Ingredient challenge

Food Network’s culinary production team is in charge of everything food-related on the set of The Next Iron Chef. Executive culinary producer Jill Novatt shares some behind-the-scenes tidbits from the Resourcefulness episode of Season 3.

Secret Ingredient Challenge (Pickles): “We had pickled garlic, pickled tomatoes, pickled chiles, whole dill, hot pickle chips, bread and butter chips, kosher halves. After the shoot, we gave away over 35 quarts of various pickles to the crew.”

Chairman’s Challenge (Fishing): “There were 42 crew members on both boats (the one the chefs fished on and the “follow” boat!) Eight crew members got seasick. We picked up our live sardine bait from a bait boat anchored out beyond the harbor. One of the crew members of the boat who was also fishing actually got “stung” on his hand by one of scorpion fish. The Next Iron Chef medic who is on set for every challenge fixed him up!”

Check out our behind-the-scenes gallery for more about this episode of The Next Iron Chef.

What do Alton and the Chairman have in store for the next challenges? Tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c.

Who’s the Guest Star on Guy’s Premiere?

by in View All Posts, October 15th, 2010
Two Next Food Network Star winners ham it up on Guy’s set in L.A.

Guy’s Big Bite is back with all new episodes starting this Sunday, and that’s season 6 Next Food Network Star winner Aarti Sequeria hanging out with him on set. You’ll see her “stopping by” on Sunday’s episode—and no, this was not staged!

Guy‘s show was filmed in Los Angeles this year so he could be closer to his California home, and one morning L.A. native Aarti decided to stop by to say hello to him and the production team. They’d met during NFNS season 6 and got along instantly. Before she knew it, Guy had asked Aarti to cook with him on camera.

Sunday’s show is all about one of Guy’s favorite activities: Tailgating. We know Guy is a major Raiders fan…does Aarti also have football loyalties? Don’t miss Guy’s Big Bite this Sunday at 11am/10c to catch the two Star winners making game day grub.

NYWFF: Sunday Brunching with Paula

by in Events, October 11th, 2010

Paula welcomes fans at the Plaza

Hey y’all, Paula was at the festival too! Ms. Deen brought some Southern hospitality to NYC with a Sunday Gospel Brunch at the iconic Plaza Hotel. Naturally, Paula made sure that the spread at this classy affair was still totally over-the-top.

Paula's mac-and-cheese

Guests were treated to a buffet stocked with dozens of sweet and savory dishes, but the crowd favorite seemed to be Paula’s classic mac-and-cheese. We’re not sure which recipe she used, as she has several, but you can’t really go wrong with any of them: Try Paula’s Creamy Macaroni and Cheese or The Lady’s Cheesy Mac.

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NYC Wine & Food Festival: Alton After Dark

by in View All Posts, October 8th, 2010
The crowd at Chelsea Market After Dark is psyched to party with Alton

A star-studded, food-filled weekend of festivities officially kicked off last night with numerous events around New York City. Along with hundreds of fans, we noshed, sipped and chatted with Alton Brown after hours at Chelsea Market—which happens to be Food Network’s headquarters.

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Free Association: Meat and (Lots of) Potatoes

by in View All Posts, September 23rd, 2010
Can you tell this is Rahm Fama's dream job?

Rahm Fama, host of the new Food Network series Meat & Potatoes, is a self-proclaimed meat nerd. “If you’re a car nerd, you know as much as you can about cars, but you’ll never know everything. You’re always willing to learn more,” the enthusiastic carnivore explains. “I am consistently and always excited to learn about new meat.”

On Meat & Potatoes, Rahm travels the country, checking out (and, naturally, tasting) the best and most interesting meat and potatoes America has to offer. It’s a dream job for a guy who grew up working on his family’s cattle ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico and then became an established restaurant chef.

To get everyone in a meaty mood for Friday’s premiere of his new show (10pm/9c), we played a little meat-and-potatoes word association with Rahm. His pairings will undoubtedly induce cravings, so try them out at home with some top Food Network recipes…

Let’s start with a classic. French fries and ________?
You know, I’m actually not going to go with a burger. I’d do steak au poivre with pommes frites.

Braised short ribs and _________?
Short ribs go great with pureed potatoes.

Potato gratin and _________?
I’d do a grilled filet mignon—gotta have those char marks.

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Creamed Corn-Off: Battle of the Southern Cooks

by in View All Posts, August 4th, 2010
Claire's Creamed Corn
Bacon is the secret ingredient in Claire's creamless creamed corn
Summer Fest
We’re teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.

Forget those green cans! It’s summertime, and that means creamed corn made from fresh, sweet ears. Though all four of these easy from-scratch creamed corn recipes come from Food Network chefs with Southern roots, they offer very different takes on this classic side dish. Whose is your pick for summer corn season?

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This Farmer’s a Star

by in View All Posts, June 8th, 2010
Farmer Jones is this blogger's newest Facebook friend.

Celebrity chefs are everywhere these days, but I think I’ve just met my first celebrity farmer. Farmer Lee Jones supplies vegetables to top chefs all over the country, but he’s a star in his own right, always decked out in his signature bow tie-and-overalls ensemble. Check him out on Facebook—he’s got 4,832 friends!

If you caught Battle Cauliflower on Iron Chef America a couple of weeks ago, you may recognize Farmer Jones. He provided the secret ingredient straight from the farm, and also joined in on the judges’ panel. Chefs Michael Symon and John Fraser produced some incredible cauliflower creations, using not just the familiar white florets, but also Farmer Jones’s purple, orange and romanesco varieties. Notoriously finicky judge Jeffrey Steingarten called it “the most amazing battle ever.”

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Sampling an Iron Chef’s Burger

by in View All Posts, May 7th, 2010

Jose Garces makes a mean burger

Jose Garces has a big Iron Chef America battle coming up Sunday night, but he’s already a winner in my book. Our newest Iron Chef hails from Philadelphia—a city I love dearly (I went to college there). Garces opened his first restaurant, Amada, in Old City just a few months before I graduated, but it quickly became one of my favorite spots. His mini-empire has proliferated since, with restaurants all over Philly and one in Chicago.

Just a couple of months ago, he opened up a new gourmet market/cafe called Garces Trading Company, and he’s got more ventures in the works. You may have seen him this week on Nightline, talking about Cinco de Mayo and his Latin roots. With all this plus his Next Iron Chef win last fall, I’d say Garces has experienced a pretty successful five years.

On a recent trip back to Philly, I was psyched to lunch at one of his latest ventures, Village Whiskey. While all of Garces’s other restaurants are Latin-inspired (Amada does tapas, Distrito is Mexican, Chifa has Peruvian influences…), Village Whiskey is unapologetically American. Think burgers. Pulled pork sandwiches. Lobster rolls. Chicken-fried steak.

Inside, the narrow space has a speakeasy feel, with white-tiled walls, dark leather banquettes and wooden fans spinning overhead. Obviously, there’s a long list of bourbon and Scotch. But we came for the food. Specifically, for the burger—the Philadelphia Inquirer has called it the city’s best.

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20 Questions for the New Spice Girl

by in View All Posts, April 23rd, 2010
Janet Johnston cooks spiced-up dishes on her new show, Spice & Easy

Janet Johnston’s road to Food Network started two years ago, when Pat and Gina Neely headed to Denver for an episode of Road Tasted with the Neelys. They stopped in at Savory Spice Shop, which Janet owns with her husband, Mike.

The Johnstons and the Neelys hit it off right away, and since then Janet and Mike have guest-cheffed on episodes of Down Home with the Neelys and Paula’s Best Dishes. It soon became clear that Janet’s delicious spice-inspired food deserved a show of its own, and the idea for Spice & Easy was born. The new show premieres tomorrow morning at 9:30am/8:30c.

The Colorado shop owner and home cook films in her home kitchen as well as in the nearby Denver outpost of Savory Spice Shop. Janet couldn’t be more excited to share her love of spices and cooking with Food Network fans: “We’re having a little viewing party with our employees…It was my husband’s excuse to buy a 55-inch TV!”

To get to know FN’s newest star, read our 20 Questions for Janet Johnston.

1. What are five spices everyone needs in their pantry?

Can we eliminate salt and pepper? That just has to be a given; they are such important ingredients! Okay, then I’d start with a really good fresh ground cinnamon. I don’t know if this is cheating, but seasonings and blends are really important—I’d do an Italian herb blend and a paprika-based barbecue blend. A really good vanilla extract. Lastly, a good seafood blend like some kind of a citrus pepper or garlic pepper—a pepper-based blend. Those are some great basics that will get you there. I carry almost 500 products so this is really hard for me!

2. What did you have for dinner last night?

I made leftovers with my carrot risotto. Wow, I’m glad I made a good dinner last night…if that was my frozen pizza night I would have been embarrassed! I made the risotto two nights ago for dinner, so with the leftovers I made patties that I folded around mozzarella cheese. I floured and panko-breaded them and gave them a light fry. Mike had three of them and they were the size of burgers!

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