Family meal is usually simple, but sometimes there’s a reason to make it more elaborate. This week we planned on combining Family Meal with a baby shower for one of our food stylists, Morgan. But sometimes with baby showers, the guest of honor finds it a better idea to stay close to home when she starts to have contractions. That’s what happened in this instance. Luckily, Mory Thomas, Charles Granquist and I are all Pisces, and we all had birthdays within the past couple of weeks, so we stepped in as emergency guests of honor. (If you had to interact with us on a daily basis, you would figure out our Pisces-ness pretty fast).
All Posts In Behind the Scenes
The family meal. What is it, you ask? It’s a meal that is prepared for restaurant staff before their dinner service starts, providing them with necessary nutrients before their busy shift. Here at Food Network, ours takes place at lunch-time. Starting now, I will be giving you a sneak peek at what we feed our staff in the Food Network Kitchens on a weekly basis.
Yes, we do eat in Food Network Kitchens, and yes, it’s really good. Family meals are always interesting. They consist of different types of meat or poultry pulled out of the freezers, as well as vegetables, filling salads and an occasional dessert. These items are left over from various shows and recipe developments for Food Network. This week, Esther Choi (pictured above), took charge of Family Meal and asked our new intern Emily to assist her (more like an initiation). Esther is especially good at making Korean food.
The menu: Duck Lettuce Wraps With Kim Chi Pickles and grilled cheese sandwiches.
People are, understandably, very particular about their Christmas cookies. For many, the baking of holiday cookies is a ritual and tradition passed on from generation to generation.
For the December 2011 issue of Food Network Magazine, the editors at the magazine decided on a red-and-green cookie story. We in the test kitchens immediately got excited and started spurting out cookie-coloring ideas (doing our best to avoid the expected royal icing with food coloring): “green tea,” “dried cranberries” and “pistachios.”
By the next day, we were churning out colorful, delicious cookies. We made green mint-swirled meringues, lime buttons, dried cranberry butter cookies, green tea shortbreads and pistachio sables. But as the days progressed, we began to notice the cookies, although beautiful on their own, were not beautiful as a collection.
The slow cooker is our friend in the test kitchen, and we’ve discovered some helpful tips to create the perfect dish every time:
1. Pick the Right Cut of Meat: Use cuts of meat that are best for slow braising, like pork shoulder, and try to avoid leaner cuts, like pork tenderloin, that don’t hold up as well.
2. Spend Some Time Up Front: All you need is 30 minutes or less to brown your meat. Make a quick pan sauce or reduce wine before adding to your slow cooker — it makes a big difference in flavor.
3. Choose Your Alliums Wisely: Onion, garlic and shallot all belong to the same genus and when they’re added raw to a slow cooker, sometimes they create a metallically after-taste. We prefer to use leeks (also in same genus), which are milder. We also love to toast thinly sliced garlic in butter or oil and stir in at the end (like in Food Network Magazine’s Vegetable and Lentil Slow Cooker Soup, pictured above).
Coming up with 50 of anything for Food Network Magazine’s monthly 50-recipe booklet can be daunting — in the past, the booklet has featured 50 salads, 50 pizzas and 50 cookies — but this month, Food Network Kitchens tackled a single ingredient: bacon.
To dream up dishes such as Bacon Guacamole (No. 1), Bacon-Beer Mussels (No. 22) and Bacon Muffins (No. 32), testers went through hundreds of ideas. “We don’t put things in for shock value,” tester Leah Brickley says. “The recipes always taste good and have appeal.”
The chefs developed their own version of the trendy Bacon Explosion (see the original here), but in the end, decided it was a little too over-the-top to make the cut.
You’ve likely seen the name Food Network Kitchens featured in many our most popular recipes, such as Oven Fried Chicken, Baked Ziti and Creamy Tomato Soup. But have you ever wondered who the chefs are or what exactly goes on inside Food Network Kitchens? Food Network Test Kitchen Manager Claudia Sidoti recently offered some fun facts about the expansive and well-stocked kitchen of Food Network headquarters in New York City to Grub Street.
Split between two separate working kitchens, one for testing and the other for camera-worthy plates, the space features a rustic table large enough to seat a crowd, several stove stations and a whopping 18 refrigerators, including one walk-in and three freezers.
Microwaveable snack pockets are one of those foods people love to hate on. They’re often thought of as a last-resort after school snack or a guilt-laden solution to the midnight munchies. The comedian Jim Gaffigan even has a pretty hilarious skit about them (watch it here). But the truth is a lot of people secretly love them. It’s not hard to understand why. I mean, they’re hearty, easy to eat and convenient.
Here in the Food Network Kitchens, we wanted to capitalize on all the great things about snack pockets and fix all the bad things — like the processed, overly salty, not-so-good for you fillings and often soggy crust.
For recent story on old-school fruit leather roll-ups in Food Network Magazine’s September issue, chefs in Food Network Kitchens tried all sorts of combos, but apple-ginger, spicy mango and raspberry-vanilla were clear favorites. Don’t ask for pineapple, “No matter how many times recipe developers tried it, it just wouldn’t set.”
Last month, fans of Food Network Star had the chance to get up close and personal with Susie Jimenez, Mary Beth Albright, Whitney Chen, Vic “Vegas” Moea and the Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro, during the Food Network Star: The Official Insider’s Guide Book Tour.
We were there to snap memorable moments, including an unforgettable autographed sandwich signed by the Sandwich King himself.
With any half-hour episode of Crave, there are hundreds of facts and thoughts I don’t get to share. If you watched this past Monday, thank you. If you missed it, well, suffice to say, your chicken knowledge is in serious decline.
Fried Chicken Facts and Thoughts
FACT: Chickens are the closest living relative to T. rex. They got the short end of that evolutionary stick.
THOUGHT: I realized that my ultimate fried chicken would be crossbred with a spider so that it would have eight drumsticks.
FACT: In China, KFC sells Irish Fried Chicken dipped in Bailey’s liqueur. Next time you’re at a local watering hole, ask for a drumstick in your snifter.