I think it’s about time we in the test kitchen came clean: We’re obsessed with freeze-dried fruit. You will find it in our awesome Strawberry Cereal Treats (pictured above) in the October issue of Food Network Magazine, and you’ll see it in some upcoming issues too. Freeze-dried berries, peaches, pineapple and other fruit are popping up in more and more stores across the country. The packages can seem a little pricey considering they contain only about an ounce of fruit, but when you consider how much the fruit must have weighed before it was freeze-dried, the price really isn’t so bad. And believe me when I say that each little fruit packs a ton of flavor — it’s intense.
Many recipes tell you to test fish for doneness with a fork: If it flakes easily, it’s ready. But sometimes that’s too late. Instead, watch the fish carefully and pull it from the heat just when it changes from translucent to opaque, or even a moment before, as we did for Food Network Magazine‘s Thai Fish Curry. The fish will continue cooking after you take it off the heat.
Serve a candy corn-inspired cheese platter for Halloween.
To create this candy corn cheese platter, we molded goat cheese into a triangle to look like the tip, then we formed the middle with cubes of orange cheddar and the bottom with sliced havarti. Serve with crackers, or just replace the bottom layer with slices of pumpernickel bread — it’ll look like a piece of Indian-candy corn.
Nothing signals the beginning of the holiday season more than pumpkins do, and just as they start showing up on front porches across the country, they make their way into our kitchens too. Of course it’s possible to cook using fresh pumpkin, but I think that for almost every application, canned pumpkin puree just works better. Fresh pumpkin tends to be a little watery, but canned puree is smooth, rich and flavorful every time. Canned pumpkin is a delicious addition to all kinds of dishes, sweet and savory, and Food Network Magazine’s October booklet has 50 inspiring canned pumpkin recipes for the holidays.
The Pumpkin Pasta Alfredo (pictured above) and Pumpkin Oatmeal are two of my top picks, but another of my favorites didn’t make the list: Curried Pumpkin Ketchup. This spiced ketchup is really easy to make and is truly delicious. In the test kitchen, we sampled it on fries and loved it, and I think it would taste great slathered all over a meatloaf sandwich.
Ground spices lose flavor after about six months, but you probably won’t use a full jar of nutmeg that quickly. Buy whole nutmeg instead (it stays potent for two years) and grate just the amount you need each time. Use a fine grater and add the nutmeg sparingly — it will taste stronger than the pre-grated kind.
Apple pie and cheddar cheese have been paired up forever, but we’re not entirely sure why cheddar has been the exclusive partner. Apple pie tastes great with almost any cheese melted on top — it’s like a cheese course and dessert in one. Try one of the types shown here: Just put a thin slice on a piece of pie and melt in the microwave or under the broiler.
Clockwise from bottom left: Blue Cheese, caraway Havarti, Gruyere, brie and aged Gouda
When frying eggs, crack them one at a time into a cup or small bowl — not directly into the pan. If the yolk breaks, you can save that egg for another dish. We pre-crack eggs for cookies and cakes, too, so we can pick out any bits of shell before they end up in the batter.