Hors d’oeuvres and appetizers are often the best part of a meal to me. Maybe it’s because finger foods are just more fun to eat or because they’re usually paired with a cocktail. When Food Network Kitchens were coming up with ideas for 50 Easy Appetizers (page 166) for the November issue of Food Network Magazine, the possibilities seemed endless.
Her fame may be relatively quiet — she doesn’t have a line of cookware, there isn’t a namesake restaurant — but make no mistake: Ina Garten is a powerhouse celeb chef.
Fans know her story well: From a White House budget analyst to specialty food-store owner, her path to stardom has been slow and steady. In 1978 she bought the Barefoot Contessa in East Hampton; after 20 years she quit and sold it to the employees, only then embarking on cookbooks. Her first was published in 1999.
Now, with her eighth cookbook (Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof ) out and her show entering its 11th year, the publicity-shy chef has plenty to dish about. Here are the highlights from her (packed) appearance at the New York City Wine & Food Festival‘s Grand Tasting event.
10 things you didn’t know
One of the most recent additions to the Food Network website is the addition of product guides, guides in which readers are offered insight into some of the products that editors believe are among the best in helpful cooking tools, tabletop items and edibles available online. A lot of these product guides are tied to the season, like Food Network’s Summer Cookbook Guide. In August the editors began working on our fall product guide. Thanksgiving may be several weeks away, but we have to start working on these guides as early as the summer months to make sure that every edible product that gets selected for the guide has been tested (i.e. eaten) and approved by our staff.
For about two weeks, our office was flooded with an array of samples — from gourmet marshmallows to specialty cocktail mixes and Thanksgiving gumballs (turkey-flavored included!). After organizing a formal tasting within Food Network’s digital department and consuming probably 20 times more than our daily allowance of sugar, the most-popular products were chosen.
Keep reading for our final picks
Food Network Kitchens celebrate National Pancake Day by seeing how many flapjacks they can stack at once; click the play button on the video above to watch.
Tell us in the comments: How many pancakes do you think were stacked before the tower toppled?
Pancakes are a great way to personalize breakfast and dinner, too. From bacon and corn to triple chocolate, they’re so versatile. Here are five of our new favorite ways to make pancakes: Reinvented: Pancakes 5 Ways.
It’s a sunny Thursday in May at the Charles Krug winery in St. Helena, Calif., and Guy Fieri is giving Robert Irvine a shoulder massage.
In a few minutes, Robert will be marrying his girlfriend of three years, professional wrestler Gail Kim, and Guy, one of Robert’s best men, is giving the usually unshakable Restaurant: Impossible host a rubdown to calm his nerves. Just a half hour earlier, Robert was singing a different tune: “I feel the calmest I’ve ever been. I haven’t screamed, not once,” he said as he looked over the grounds where the cocktail hour and reception would take place. This whole wedding is his brainchild — conceived, planned and executed with the same military efficiency Robert brings to the massive two-day restaurant overhauls on his show. But today it won’t be a restaurateur who is dazzled by his work; it will be Gail. Robert has kept her in the dark about the details of the party, including the main event: the food.
“No one goes in there until I say it’s OK!” Robert barks, pointing to the venue. (So much for not screaming.) Satisfied with how everything looks, he throws back a beer in five gulps and keeps moving; the ceremony is about to start.
With Guy at his side, Robert beams as his daughters, Annalise, 15, and Talia, 11, read poems to the crowd, then he lets out an audible sigh of relief when Guy produces the ring and he exchanges vows with Gail.
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Each month, Food Network Kitchens chefs put more than 100 recipes to the test for Food Network Magazine. Dreaming up gelatin desserts for the July/August issue proved no easy feat: We wanted the bites to be fresh and elegant, yet whimsical and maybe a tiny bit kitschy (a concept we jokingly referred to as “jell-egance”).
The gelatin squares on page 90 of the July/August issue have a sleek modernist edge, but they originally started as a kid-friendly trompe l’oeil dessert (pictured above). We used the rind of a sugar baby and mini chocolate chips to give them their fun watermelon look.
Re-create it at home by pouring and setting the watermelon gelatin mixture in the hollowed-out half of a sugar baby watermelon. Make sure it’s completely set before cutting it, then apply the chocolate chips just before serving so they don’t turn to mush.
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Food Network Kitchens celebrate National Ice Cream Sandwich Day by seeing how many of the sandwiches they can stack at once — click the play button on the video above to watch.
Tell us in the comments: How many ice cream sandwiches do you think were stacked before the tower toppled?
To add a little more fun to your summer barbecues, bring along some sandwiches of the sweet variety. All you need is either store-bought or homemade cookies and several pints of ice cream in your favorite flavors — then scoop away! Read Squeezed in the Middle for ice cream sandwich recipes and inspiration.
Last year, Food Network made the exciting announcement that it was partnering with Wente Vineyards to unveil entwine, a portfolio of California wines intended to inspire food lovers to dive into the vast and sometimes overwhelming world of wine with ease. The four varietals fans can get their hands on now include Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Earlier this month, Executive Chef Rob Bleifer and Culinary Writer Rupa Bhattacharya from Food Network Kitchens traveled to California to visit fifth generation winemaker Karl Wente from Wente Vineyards to conduct a blending session for the newest bottles of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. While I’m surrounded by food all day long, I was curious to learn more about the winemaking process, so we asked Karl and Rupa to break down several of the basics.
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Dress up your margaritas with flavored salt. A bold flavor on the rim is a fun, easy way to gussy up a classic. In a recent issue of Food Network Magazine you’ll find three awesome variations, but I wanted to share one more favorite that we didn’t have room for this time around: a mixed-berry salt.
The tartness of the freeze-dried fruit goes perfectly with a margarita. And of course, feel free to experiment with whatever fruits you like!
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Coming up with 50 of anything for Food Network Magazine’s monthly 50-recipe booklet can be daunting — in the past, the magazine has featured 50 tacos, 50 brownies and 50 grilled cheeses — but this month, chefs in Food Network Kitchens tackled the ultimate way to cook out: in foil packs.
Sure they included the usual suspects — chicken wings and various vegetables — but it’s dishes like Paella (No. 12), Gnocchi (No. 11) and Upside-Down Cakes (No. 47) that up the wow factor.
Traditionally, paella was cooked on an open flame, says Claudia Sidoti, Food Network test kitchen manager. Cooking paella in the foil pack resembles that traditional style, bringing a nice crunch to the rice, she adds.
Read tips our chefs picked up after making dozens of foil packs