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.
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Justin Warner doesn’t play by the rules. He eats jellyfish on Thanksgiving, serves cold-pizza terrine at his Brooklyn restaurant and writes rap songs about wine. But when Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay had to choose their teams of aspiring stars for the most recent season of Food Network Star, Justin’s unconventional approach caught Alton’s eye. Alton picked Justin for his group, and throughout the season Justin was a rebel, presenting wild combos like peanut butter–stuffed dates topped with seaweed. In the end, after 4.5 million viewers voted, Justin emerged as the winner. He says Alton’s guidance made all the difference. “It was a true mentorship,” Justin says. “Day one, Alton said, ‘No apologies.’ That’s how you win.”
Although Justin has been busy planning his new show (coming this fall), we managed to pull him aside for a quick Thanksgiving assignment: Come up with a fun new way to use leftover mashed potatoes. Justin took an old-fashioned candy idea and turned it on its head. Traditional mashed-potato candy is made with peanut butter, but Justin added umeboshi paste (Japanese plum paste) as a twist on peanut butter and jelly. Try the recipe (pictured after the jump).
Hot Tips From Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:
Smashing whole garlic cloves is the best way to peel them: Place the cloves on a cutting board, hold the flat side of a chef’s knife on top and give it a firm whack with the heel of your other hand. Use just enough force to split the skin and crack open the cloves; if you pulverize the garlic with a heavy-handed thud, it will be harder to peel.
(Photograph by Lara Robby/Studio D)
Each month, thousands of Food Network Magazine readers submit clever names for the back page’s Name This Dish contest. Previous dishes include tricolor potatoes (winning name: “United Tates of America”), a hot dog sandwich (“Triple Dog Dare”) and even a portable treat (“Berried Treasure”). In the October 2012 issue, we asked you to dream up names for this autumn wrap (pictured above). Some of our favorites were:
Fall Tied Up!
Desert Hills, Ariz.
Having a hard time deciding what pie to make for Thanksgiving dessert? Take a departure from the traditional and try Food Network Magazine’s Pumpkin Spice Cake With Chocolate-Pecan Filling from page 112 of the November issue (pictured above). We took our favorite parts of pumpkin, pecan and chocolate pies and layered them together to make this centerpiece cake.
Not a chocoholic? Skip the chocolate glaze and opt for this easy pumpkin cream cheese frosting instead:
Beat together 1 pound room temperature cream cheese, 1 stick room temperature unsalted butter, 1/3 cup pumpkin purée, 1/4 cup carrot baby food, 1 teaspoon each vanilla extract and orange zest, and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg on medium-high in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer) until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Adjust the speed to low and add 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar, in batches, until the frosting is smooth. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before frosting your cake. (Cake can be frosted and refrigerated up to 2 hours before serving.) Enjoy!
When the Food Network test kitchens first conceived of the “50 Things to Make With Apples” booklet from the October issue of Food Network Magazine (page 160), we thought we would use apple in all its forms, including applesauce and cider.
Ultimately, we decided to only include recipes with fresh apples — but I had already developed this easy recipe for cider-glazed bacon. You’ll be amazed by how much of the cider flavor actually comes through. And if you want to take it over the top, use the bacon to make a BLA — a BLT with sliced apples instead of tomatoes.
Simmer 1 cup apple cider down to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Lay 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon on a rack on sheet tray; brush with half the cider; bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, flipping and brushing again halfway through.
America’s obsession with sweets isn’t always a bad thing. We’re eating more vitamin-packed sweet potatoes than ever: about seven pounds a year per person, up from only 3.8 pounds in 2002. It helps that fast-food restaurants, including Wendy’s and Burger King, have put them on the menu. And celebrities are touting them, too: Oprah Winfrey says they’re one of her favorite foods, and Glee‘s Matthew Morrison follows a sweet potato-only diet before photo shoots. Get your fill with Guy Fieri’s Whiskey-Glazed Sweet Potatoes and Ree Drummond’s Soul Sweet ‘Taters, then vote for your favorite.
Hot Tips From Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:
Next time you cook a steak on the stovetop, place a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan on top of the meat while it’s cooking. The extra weight will prevent the steak from curling around the edges and help give it an even sear. If you don’t have a heavy pan, you can use a regular one and weigh it down with a few cans of tomatoes or beans.
(Photograph by Christopher Testani)
In the Mexican Fish Supper weekend dinner from Food Network Magazine’s October issue (page 132), I created a recipe for a quick Cilantro Rice with Sweet Plantains (pictured above). To make things even easier, I call for frozen fried sweet plantains. They aren’t quite as good as homemade, but they’re pretty good and very easy to prepare.
If you have a little more time and a few plantains on hand, make your own. Make sure your plantains are extremely ripe — even bordering on mushy. If they’re not, the results will not be as yummy or gooey as you really want them to be because the natural sugars inside the plantain haven’t fully developed.
We’re big cauliflower lovers in the Food Network test kitchen, but we understand not everyone shares our enthusiasm. To recruit more fans for our cruciferous friend, we steamed and pureed it for the Super-Stuffed Baked Potatoes on page 70 of Food Network Magazine’s October issue. We didn’t have to use sour cream because of the creaminess of the cauliflower. Plus, it added fiber, calcium and vitamin C. We also turned to cauliflower to replace the meat in the Spicy Vegetarian Chili from the magazine’s January/February 2012 issue, page 106: We coarsely grated it raw and stirred it in at the end. Use pureed cauliflower to thicken soups, or add it to a dip to replace some of the fat.