It’s no surprise to see an abundance of flourless chocolate cakes and incredible matzo bark covered in chocolate and butter during Passover — leavened products are forbidden during the holiday, so decadent substitutions are available. In the most-recent issue of Food Network Magazine, the Test Kitchens prepared five cakes without using all-purpose flour (pictured above is Flourless Red Velvet Cake, get more recipes below) to try at home and the results were tremendous. That led us to picking baker and co-owner of Breads Bakery in New York City Uri Scheft’s brain, to dive a little deeper into the subject. The world of starches, flours and desserts is so vast and can be overwhelming — so we turned to an expert.
What would kosher potato starch do to a cake? What type of cakes would you use this substitution in?
Uri Scheft: Potato starch sucks all of the liquid out, but because of the lack of gluten, it doesn’t really bind the ingredients. It leads to a more crumby, more dense cake that hasn’t risen as much. It is good for brownies because they don’t need to rise a lot. Additionally, they are better when not cooked completely through.
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As you gather your family members to celebrate the Passover Seder, offer them a taste of something new this year by switching up your usual holiday dishes and introducing creative takes on traditional recipes. We’ve rounded up Food Network’s top-five Passover picks to help you pull off an entire meal — complete with casual drinks, showstopping main dishes, a sweet-tooth-satisfying dessert and everything in between — with ease. Check out our favorite recipes below, then tell us in the comments what meals your family will be enjoying this Passover.
5. Flourless Walnut-Date Cake — Rich and indulgent, Food Network Magazine‘s fuss-free cake boasts a smooth glaze of bittersweet chocolate and honey, and, best of all, it an be ready to enjoy in less than one hour.
4. Spiced Tea Punch — If you’re hosting young guests this holiday, leave out the rum from this light, fruity sipper, made with apple spice tea, bright orange juice and bubbly ginger ale, and garnished with a fragrant cinnamon stick.
Get the top three recipes
I didn’t grow up eating matzo, but I was always intrigued by it, almost jealous in a way because it wasn’t part of my Catholic upbringing. I can see all of my Jewish friends rolling their eyes as they read this. One bite of matzo and you soon realize, on its own, there’s nothing to write home about.
What makes matzo so special is the significance it carries during the Jewish holiday of Passover, in which leavened products are forbidden (read more about why here). Matzo is made using just flour and water, resulting in a thin, very crisp cracker essentially. It became a part of my culinary world when I met my husband, Mikey, who was Jewish, 18 years ago. While he wasn’t observant, the holidays were rituals he celebrated regardless. And so, each year as Passover came around, matzo became a part of my cooking repertoire. In its most-simple form, I love eating matzo slathered with butter and a drizzle of some good honey.
Make matzo bruschetta
Is it possible to ascribe narcissism to a foodstuff? Do ingredients have egos? Is there vanity in a vegetable? The curious world of single-subject cookbooks suggests “yes!” Broccoli, did you really need an entire book? Hemp, wouldn’t a magazine feature have sufficed? Foods on sticks, where is your modesty?
Eggs are another story. There is no egotism in an egg book, not when you consider the crucial role eggs play in nearly every aspect of cooking, from breakfast to dinner, sweet to savory. Yes, eggs deserve a book — books! And books they’ve gotten. One online source lists 405 cookbooks on the subject.
At the Food Network Library, we keep a mere half dozen, but each is so wonderful in its own way that we just had to share. Here are four favorites from past and (recent) present: the best, the most-charming and the most-beautiful egg books from Food Network’s shelves.
The chefs in Food Network Kitchens had so many favorites for Food Network Magazine’s 50 Twists on Mac and Cheese (page 118, March issue) that we couldn’t print them all. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, whip up this extra-Irish macaroni and cheese recipe.
St. Paddy’s Day Mac
Make Classic Mac, steeping the milk with 1 tablespoon pickling spice wrapped in cheesecloth instead of the bay leaf, and use all Irish farmhouse cheddar instead of regular cheddar. Stir in 3/4 cup chopped corned beef and 1 1/2 cups chopped boiled cabbage. Transfer to a casserole dish. Top with an additional 1/4 cup grated Irish cheddar. Broil until melted, 1 minute.
When you think of St. Patrick’s Day, what comes to mind? Beer, corned beef, cabbage, crowded bars and more beer. Kid-friendly favorites? Not so much.
This weekend, instead of forgoing a St. Paddy’s day celebration simply because you have kids in tow, tweak your celebration to make it friendlier for young party guests. The key to planning a bash that both kids and grownups will enjoy is offering a menu centered not on the mature tastes of traditional Irish delicacies like colcannon and shepherd’s pie, but rather on the signature color of the Emerald Isle: green. Let green be the theme of your dishes by getting creative with your meal choices and incorporating naturally vibrant ingredients — plus a bit of food dye — into crowd-pleasing eats and drinks. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite deliciously green recipes below, then tell us in the comments how you’ll be spending St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow.
Instead of saving the party until late in the day, start the celebration in the morning with a St. Paddy’s Day brunch. A casual, relaxed get-together that’s ideal to host with other families, this simple meal is a cinch to pull off, especially when you make it a potluck so you can split cooking duties with other parents. No matter what dishes your friends bring, Paula’s Green Eggs and Ham (pictured above) will be the talk of the table: this easy scramble features fluffy eggs that are made wonderfully green with the help of a few drops of food coloring. Don’t look to green bottle to do the trick, however. It’s the blue dye that will mix with the yellow eggs and emit a green tint in seconds. Incorporate diced ham to add heft and texture to the eggs, and serve with a side of shaped buttery toast to transform this 25-minute plate into an all-in-one meal.
Keep reading for more recipes
In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, beer takes the kitchen spotlight each March. Even if you’re not much of a beer drinker, this sudsy ingredient adds a wonderful depth of flavor without overpowering a recipe. I love the idea of adding a splash to Corned Beef or Irish Stew, but this year my mind was set on cupcakes.
I enjoy a light lager on game day or a crisp IPA with my Friday night pizza, but, to me, stout is the ultimate treat. I’ve never been to Ireland, and I am no connoisseur when it comes to how to pour the perfect pint, but I can appreciate its deliciousness all the same. With its smooth chocolate and coffee notes, stout will be your next secret weapon in baking.
Dave Lieberman’s Chocolate Stout Cupcakes are the perfect treats to please a party crowd. The taste of stout beer is subtle but becomes delectably more noticeable with each bite. Even if you can’t distinguish the actual beer flavor, it enhances the chocolate and makes for a rich, not-too-sweet cupcake. Top it off with velvety cream cheese icing and you’ve found your pot of gold.
A few things to consider before making this recipe
St. Patrick’s Day is simply about food, drinks and having a good time. It’s a day to celebrate with your friends, be a little silly, and eat and drink until your heart’s content. Most years we have a group of friends over for an early St. Patrick’s Day dinner, and then we hit the town. With that said, I always try to feed my friends and family a good foundation of food to handle the rest of the night’s activities.
This year I’m making a few of my favorite green-ish appetizers and then several main course options. That way people can pick and choose what they want, and I get the benefit of having leftovers for a few days after the celebration.
Irish Grilled Cheese (pictured above) is what we’re eating to kick things off. These are super easy, especially because I can pre-assemble them, and then everyone can use the panini press to make them as they please. Simple, delicious and fun.
Get the recipe: Irish Grilled Cheese
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Irish or not, beer lovers around the world rejoice when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around. Even if Guinness isn’t their brew of choice, March 17 provides the perfect excuse to cheer with a pint. For those of you who are looking forward to St. Patty’s for just that reason, we’ve rounded up some well-crafted stationery that you can enjoy year-round (like Red Cruiser’s food and drink calendar pictured above), long after the green beer is no longer on draft.
Browse through Kelly’s picks
When I was in high school, I went through a period where nothing I ate sat right with me. My parents took me to our family doctor, trying to figure out what was the matter. I was tested for celiac disease, IBS, Crohn’s and other illnesses that can sometimes cause digestive distress and they all came back negative. It wasn’t until a family friend who was also a naturopathic doctor suggested I take a break from eating wheat-based foods that things began to improve.
This was back in the mid-’90s, before everyone was eating wheat-free and gluten-free. The available rice pasta was terrible and the spelt bread sold at our local co-op was dry and crumbly. I ate a lot of my mom’s homemade granola and gave up a lot of the things I most liked to eat for a time.
Happily, I found that it was enough for me to take occasional breaks from wheat to keep my belly happy and so every couple months, I’d take a week or two off from bread, pasta, cookies and anything else with wheat in the ingredient list.
Over this past weekend, I realized that it was time for another such wheat-free period. I did a little meal planning and made a shopping list of things that would ease the shift (though it’s so much easier to do these days than it was nearly 20 years ago).
Before you start cooking, read these tips