Instead of fighting the crowds of couples at hot spot restaurants on Valentine’s Day, treat your sweetie to an extra-special dinner and dessert at home on Thursday. Food Network’s one-stop Valentine’s Day destination has everything you need to plan a savory meal for two, while Chopped judge and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian has the ultimate confection for an unforgettable supper — a showstopping dessert that’s by far more impressive looking than it is difficult to prepare, even for the most novice bakers among us.
FN Dish caught up with Geoffrey during a live cooking demonstration at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J., and he shared his tried-and-true Flourless Raspberry Souffle recipe from his cookbook, Town/Country: 150 Recipes for Life Around the Table. He’s the first to admit that most people are “freaked out by souffles,” but he promises that there’s no reason to be. A master of souffles himself, Geoffrey first began making them in his earliest days as a chef at New York City’s Le Cirque restaurant. “That was my first job in the kitchen,” he told us. “I was a souffle chef.” There he’d prepare nearly 150 souffles every day, and he quickly picked up “all the tricks of the trade.”
Whether you’ve dabbled in from-scratch souffles before or are new to making them, Geoffrey explains that there are a few must-know secrets to pulling off this dessert successfully. Check out his top-five tips for baking up light, fluffy souffles every time, then read on to find his can-do recipe.
Geoffrey’s souffle tips and recipe
Raise your hand if you’re not into going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. I know I have my hand straight up in the air. It’s not that I don’t love restaurants; I honestly do. But it’s always such a zoo and I would much rather stay home with my honey and make us a memorable dinner spread in the comfort of our own home.
This year I’m jazzed about our menu: it’s fun and comforting and I know my husband is going to love it.
First I’m going to make a cheese plate, complete with lots of crackers and fruit — a cheese plate is the perfect way to start a nice meal at home. Read these tips from Food Network and head to the market to pick out several great varieties of cheese.
After that, we’re going to have salad from Giada (pictured above). I love beets, goat cheese and arugula, so this is the perfect salad. Plus it’s light so it won’t be too filling.
Get the recipe: Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad
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Courtesy of Besh Restaurant Group
Louisiana native and Next Iron Chef finalist John Besh has been celebrating Mardi Gras since he was a young boy. He remembers, “Night parades were for the older crowd but Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday) was getting together and eating jambalaya on Saint Charles Avenue with my parents and all of their friends and spending the whole day eating and enjoying friends and family. We’d be on the hunt for a Zulu coconut from the first parade to run that day.” That tradition continues with his wife and kids by visiting the parade routes throughout Mardi Gras and on Fat Tuesday eating red beans and rice, fried chicken and jambalaya.
And, of course, beginning on Kings Day, everyone starts eating King Cake. As a kid, Besh recalls, “You’re eating King Cake in class least once a week if not more until Fat Tuesday and with every slice you’re thinking about the excitement of Mardi Gras Day.” With all this King Cake consumption Besh has definitely found his fair share of the porcelain figures called feves, one of which is hidden in the cake. The custom requires the finder to supply the next year’s cake, and we’re betting that everyone is pretty happy when Besh gets that job.
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Chinese New Year celebrations are filled with time-honored traditions, fun festivals and superstitious beliefs, but the one thing that connects all of them and brings everyone together is the food. But it’s not just any food — it’s good luck food.
The dishes served during Chinese New Year, which lands on February 10 this year, are eaten because of what the ingredients signify or sometimes what the Chinese names can mean. You’ll find seafood, chicken, duck, pork, sausage, noodles and lots of vegetables on the traditional menu. These foods can symbolize abundance, prosperity, togetherness, wealth and more.
Get the Lucky Recipes
There is something so appealing about a hi-hat cupcake. It brings me back to childhood summers when we would sit outside the ice cream shop and desperately try to lick up the ice cream as it melted down our arms. Cherry-dip was always my favorite, but I was always outnumbered by the chocolate lovers.
With Mardi Gras around the corner, I thought I’d bake up something the whole family can enjoy. New Orleans is known for many institutional cocktails, but these sweets will allow the little ones to participate in the fun too. You can’t go wrong with a delectable yellow cupcake covered in sweet clouds of frosting and gently dipped in chocolate. That first bite is transcendent, the second so satisfying.
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If you’re stuck in a dinner rut, try introducing simple, comforting fondue to your weekday recipe repertoire. Packed with deliciously soft, creamy cheeses, Food Network Magazine‘s Perfect Fondue (pictured above) recipe is a must-try for both first-time fondue makers and experienced cheese-melters alike.
The beauty of this recipe is that you get to pick what cheese is used based on your tastes and the ingredients you have on hand. If you have cheddar left over from game-day nachos, use that, but if you happen to be cooking for a cheese monger, it may be best to melt a creamy Brie or Gouda instead. No matter which cheese — or combination of cheeses — you choose, just add it to a garlic-rubbed saucepan simmering with white wine and lemon juice and finish with a few tablespoons of flour. This binding flour will help thicken the fondue and ensure that the end result is deliciously thick and creamy. Served alongside an array of dippers like crusty bread, fresh or roasted vegetables, grilled polenta and French fries, this 10-minute recipe is the ultimate in complete, go-to dinners. Although a fondue pot may add to the wow factor of presentation, it’s not necessary to pull off a successful dish; a standard slow cooker set to low will do the job just as well. To maintain a meatless meal, skip the meaty dippers like meatballs and prosciutto.
What’s that saying? “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I’d venture to say the way to anyone’s heart may just be through his or her stomach, and if you agree, you’ve come to the right place. With Valentine’s Day coming up fast, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite Valentine’s cards (like Egg Press’ pictured above) and gifts for you to say “I love you” to your better half — the salt to your pepper, the peanut butter to your jelly. Well, you get the point.
Click here for Kelly’s picks
OK, I have a confession: I don’t understand football. Never have. Never will. It’s just the way I was made. I do, however, love throwing Super Bowl parties. You wouldn’t actually find me watching the game, but I love to have all my friends over and cook a big feast and let everyone else enjoy the game while indulging on great food.
The key to a great big-game soiree is to have lots of finger foods — things that are easy to eat while you’re on the couch watching TV and screaming for your favorite team. You also need recipes that are simple to make so you don’t spend the whole day in your kitchen.
The big game may be tomorrow, but there’s still time to organize a feast. Here are a few of my favorite recipes that always make an appearance at my party:
Alton’s guacamole. I once heard a fact that some obscene amount of guacamole is consumed every year during the Super Bowl — something like two football fields’ worth. But since guacamole is awesome, I can believe it.
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When it comes to sporting events, I’m really only in it for the food. As a kid, when I went to baseball games with my dad, my mind was on killing time until the seventh-inning stretch, when I’d be allowed to have ice cream. In high school, football games were all about the soft pretzels (and flirting, of course). And to my mind, Super Bowl Sunday is about snacks, dips and wacky commercials.
While there’s nothing wrong with classics like queso dip (made from only the very best processed cheeses) and blender salsas, I do get a kick out of making fancied-up versions of traditional dippy dishes. I’ve entertained a number in recent days and two that have bubbled to the top of my big game hit parade are Trisha Yearwood’s Hot Corn Dip and Alton Brown’s Onion Dip From Scratch.
The Hot Corn Dip is one of those addictive creations where you mix up a few ingredients, scrape the whole mess into an ovenproof bowl and bake it until bubbly (I’m drooling a little just thinking about it). It can be prepped ahead of time and baked off just before the game starts. Served with tortilla chips, it’s a good snacking time.
Before you start cooking, read these tips