Summer is the time for get-togethers and cocktail parties. While having friends over on warm and sunny evenings is always fun, it can be a bit daunting when you find yourself strapped for time when guests plan to come over at the last minute. To help with that, Giada De Laurentiis has a plan. From a list of ingredients to keep on hand to a bunch of quick and easy recipes, here are Giada’s best last-minute party tips.
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As one of Bobby Flay’s first-ever special guests on his all-new series Beat Bobby Flay, Michael Symon was tasked with finding a rival that could outcook the host; after all, no one knows Bobby and his cooking style quite like his longtime colleagues. While Bobby and Michael work together, they’re also close friends and have been known to spend time together offscreen. FN Dish recently caught up with Michael on the set of Beat Bobby Flay to learn more about their friendship and to get an insider’s look at what the famed Iron Chef Flay is like off the clock.
Fans know that you and Bobby are great friends. How did your relationship start?
Michael Symon: Originally we met on my first Food Network show — in 1998 — with Wayne Harley Brachman. Wayne was Bobby’s pastry chef for, like, 15 years, so Bobby and I met then, and we’ve been friends ever since.
What are some things about Bobby that viewers might not know or see on TV.
MS: He’s a pretty quiet guy. [There’s] the personality they see on TV of Bobby — he’s very outgoing on television, obviously — but in real life he’s a pretty quiet guy. Pretty to himself, quiet guy. Very thoughtful guy — a great friend.
Cutthroat host Alton Brown knows the ultimate grilling sabotage. “Easy,” he says, “a dirty grill. When grills get dirty, they don’t conduct heat properly. Food will wind up sticking to the surface and will take on the flavor of the grill.” Proper grill cleaning and upkeep will prevent this from happening. If your food does get stuck, though, get the grill hot, then lightly saturate a paper towel with oil and, using tongs, swipe it gently over the surface of the grate. Brush your grill down well once you’re done cooking every meal so you’re not stuck cleaning right before dinner next time.
Just two losses after nearly 10 battles — that winning record could be earned only by Bobby Flay, a famed Iron Chef and the master of the throwdown, who first challenged hopeful chefs to head-to-head competitions on Beat Bobby Flay last year. This summer, Bobby’s bringing his A-game yet again for an all-new season of Beat Bobby Flay (premiering July 31 at 10|9c), and with his reputation on the line, the stakes will be higher than ever. FN Dish caught up with Bobby recently and chatted about what he’s looking forward to in this upcoming batch of face-offs. Read on below for an exclusive interview, and find out Bobby’s most-memorable battles, plus his strategy for securing victory after victory.
What are you most looking forward to in Season 2?
Bobby Flay: Being pushed to the edge. I want it to be really challenging ’cause that’s what keeps my edge going.
What are some of your most-memorable moments from the first season?
BF: When I lost the taco [battle] — that was memorable. One of my favorite dishes I made was the meatloaf with the Korean-style kimchi in it, ’cause I’ve only made meatloaf a couple times in my life, really, and I’m not that big of a meatloaf fan. So when they said meatloaf, I was like, Oh, brother. But it actually turned out to be really tasty.
Fourth of July is coming up soon, which reminds me of that time we almost set the house on fire. No, not the time my little brother got into the fireworks when we were vacationing in Nags Head in the early ’80s. I mean last year.
I’ll back up and remind us all: No one is perfect. Even a Food Network star will hit a snag in the kitchen every so often. But the savvy cook knows how to deal with these mistakes and smooth over a tiny hiccup so that no one will even notice. Overcook a roast and I’ll show you how to turn it into French dip sandwiches with lots of au jus.
But what about the bigger blunders? The ones that can’t be covered up with an extra ladle of sauce? I invite you to think about your biggest culinary mistake, ever. And now, prepare to feel better about yourself in the kitchen.
Alton Brown may be spending most of his time on the set of Food Network Star or Cutthroat Kitchen, but there’s always time for a cocktail. He gave us the low-down on his favorite drink for summer, told us which trends he is totally over and answered how you can best stock your at-home bar.
What cocktail trends are you over?
Alton Brown: I’m over anything that involves a cheese-stuffed olive because I don’t like cheese in my booze.
Rigatoni, Burrata, mozarella — as much fun as Italian food is to cook, it’s even more fun to say, and Giada De Laurentiis would agree. In true Giada fashion, she’s even added a section on pasta pronunciation at her first restaurant, Giada, in Las Vegas. Click play on the video below to hear a few more terms from Giada herself, as well as recipes for each.
In a YouTube video this week, Alton takes on the fruit that is seemingly impossible to cut — the mango. In a comedic parody (including a massive amount of faux blood), Alton walks food fans through two bad ways to cut this fruit, then he describes the best tactic: Remove all the peel from the mango except for two circles in the center of each cheek. Holding this skin for support, you can then slice the mango easily on each side of the seed. The skin will provide a tough grip so you don’t drop the mango and cut yourself.
Alton is of course no stranger to unique mango recipes. He gives mangoes an Indian twist in this Mango Chutney recipe, and he puts them in a tangy Fruit Salad with Vanilla Dressing. He stuffs a curried mango filling into his Pocket Pies, and he dries mangoes in this Dried Fruit recipe for a sweet and healthy snack. Below are five more ways you can incorporate this delectable fruit in your favorite recipes.
1. Give your favorite dip a fruity twist with this Mango Salsa recipe.
Saturday evening was meant to be our anniversary celebration. Philippe and I were planning on grilling outside with our four daughters, ending the evening with s’mores around the firepit and an exchange of traditionally themed gifts (steel for year 11; I went with beverage bins). The kids were upstairs showering after our (sandy) beach afternoon. I hummed along to the music the girls had put on the stereo, grabbed the long, skinny lighter and headed outside to start the barbecue. I opened the (steel!) hood and placed the lighter on the ignition burner, and through the grates small, beady eyes looked up at me. I froze. A grayish-brown puff starting running wild around the inside of the grill, searching for an exit, making tiny scratching sounds that gave me the chills and basically made me want to scream. I didn’t, but only because I now I have kids and I can’t scare them. (This never-let-them-see-you-sweat instinct to put their needs before my own comes from parenting.)
I hollered upstairs to Philippe, doing my best to convey a sense of calm and confidence while infusing just enough controlled urgency so that he would run downstairs and catch the mouse before it ran into the house. (I think it’s understood that I didn’t close the back doors when I raced into the house?) But kids are smart and know when something’s up. They raced downstairs even faster than Philippe, screaming in half-fear, half-delight at the possibility of a mouse-in-house crisis. There was talk of keeping him and naming him Snowflake. (Did I mention he was dingy brownish gray?) Or maybe Cuddles. The girls jumped up on the couch, squealing out of fear that the mouse would run over their feet.
On his all-new series Barbecue Addiction: Bobby’s Basics (Sundays at 11a|10c), grill master Bobby Flay is putting away his recipes for involved, complicated meals and focusing on those essential summertime favorites all of us should have in our arsenals. Each week he’ll break down the how-tos for various authentic plates and share his secrets for turning out the most-authentic true barbecue, which are largely dependent upon his grilling commandments. Read on below to learn Bobby’s 10 must-know pieces of advice for all things grilling, from juicy burgers and smoky barbecue sauce to entertaining tips and the ultimate pantry ingredients.
1. Direct/Indirect Heat: Set up your grill with two zones — one for direct heat, and the other for indirect heat. Use the direct heat to sear meats and veggies, and move them to the cool side to allow the food to finish grilling without overcooking.
2. Lid On or Off? That Is the Question! My rule of thumb is to leave the lid off for ingredients that cook quickly like shrimp and vegetables and put the lid on for longer-grilling items like poultry and steak, to use the grill like an oven and prevent burning or overcooking.