Since Derby Day traditionally happens in the beginning of May, I always associate it with the beginning of summer. Is it because the horse race is affectionately referred to as “the most exciting two minutes in sports?” No, it’s because I love so many of the traditions that come with it. I love that the winner is presented with a “blanket” of 554 roses. I love fiddling with a version of “burgoo,” a beef and pork stew traditionally served on this day. Burgoo is one of those recipes that can be left open to interpretation. It is traditionally made with whatever meats (beef or pork) and vegetables (lima beans, corn or okra) are available. My best results came from braising some cubed-up brisket and stirring in some corn, fava beans and peas to give it that touch of spring. With all this cooking, a cooling drink seems only fitting. The mint julep happens to be one of my favorites. It reminds me of a snow cone, the fruity, icy cone I used to get from ice cream trucks as a kid. This provides a fun drink for kids instead of a more traditional Shirley Temple.
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While guacamole is an obvious choice for Cinco de Mayo, it’s also a tasty one. It’s simple to prepare, fresh in flavor and loved by all. Sure, it’s the safe choice, but ultimately you want to make something that your guests will enjoy, not fear.
I’m a minimalist when it comes to guacamole — because avocados are naturally creamy and indulgent, simpler is better in my book. Bobby’s recipe is foolproof and includes only four extra ingredients: red onion, fresh jalapeño, lime and cilantro. Just chop, mash, squeeze and in 10 minutes, you’ve got the perfect party dip. The diced onion adds texture to the velvety avocado and the jalapeño brings a touch of heat and warmth. The MVI (Most Valuable Ingredient) of the dish, however, is the lime. It makes each bite refreshing and bright and will keep your guests digging in for more.
Here in Food Network Kitchens, we love simple, classic recipes. We are also paid to think about food all day. So we’ve taken classic foods and drinks and reimagined them into three, four or five different ways. No standard recipes here, just the occasional technique and pictures. Think of it as a picture recipe.
Sometimes a basic pico de gallo isn’t enough. Check out these four spins on the classic.
I have a dear friend who loves to perfect recipes. While I’m content to try something once and then move on to the next cooking project, Cindy will make a dish over and over again until she’s absolutely nailed it. Her pursuit of excellent food has benefited me many times over in the years I’ve known her, because I’ve often been one of her food testers.
There was a spaghetti Bolognese year, a winter of beef stew and a six-month stint during which she served a lot of cioppino. My very favorite was the summer when she was trying to make the perfect fish taco.
My sister and I were at her house the night she declared the winning fish taco. Served in warm corn tortillas, the fish was lightly breaded and fried and topped with a quick coleslaw and a spicy, creamy sauce. There were slivers of avocados for garnish and limes for a hint of acid. Whenever I eat fish tacos, I remember that warm night in her back garden.
Though I love fish tacos, I rarely end up making them at home, because of the frying step. My kitchen has no range hood, just a feeble exhaust fan that helps spread greasy splatter all over my cabinets. Recently, someone pointed me to Bobby Flay’s recipe for Fish Tacos, which has you grill the fish instead of frying it. I had to try it.
Earth Day is this Sunday, April 22, and with that comes the chance to rethink our approach to clean, smart eating and cooking. This weekend and into the spring season, try to incorporate more wholesome, plant-based foods into your everyday meals. Joining the Meatless Monday movement is an easy way to lower your intake of animal products — just eat meat-free one day a week, Monday or any other. In celebration of Earth Day, we’ve rounded up a collection of natural recipes that feature fresh, seasonal ingredients like carrots, potatoes, rhubarb and more, so that you can enjoy what you’re eating and feel good about it too.
If you can’t find rainbow carrots like those pictured above, stick with the classic orange beauties when preparing Food Network Magazine’s Coriander-Glazed Carrots, made with fresh citrus, crushed coriander seeds and a sprinkle of cilantro. This quick-cooking side dish complements simply roasted seafood, grilled chicken and more.
Easter brunch is one of my favorite meals of the year. Yes, Thanksgiving and Christmas are great. And my birthday is high up on the list, too. But Easter has always been special for me.
When I was growing up in Tucson, Ariz., my family and I would head up to the club for brunch, participate in some extreme Easter egg hunting (I’d always win) and then I would basically stuff my face. Homemade omelets, pounds of roasted potatoes and smoked salmon galore. You name it and I probably ate it. But let’s be honest here — the best part of brunch really has to be the desserts. There are a few in particular that stand out, but in my opinion a truly phenomenal carrot cake tops then all.
I know making a fresh carrot cake can be a little time-consuming because you actually have to grate carrots. Gasp! I know, I know. It’s tough. But trust me, it’s worth the extra prep time.
My Aunt Doris made canapés the way other women garden or take tennis lessons. She was always on the hunt for a new recipe or a source for discounted Pepperidge Farms thin-sliced white bread, and was never happier than when she had eight or 10 dozen hors d’oeuvres wrapped in aluminum foil and tucked into her basement chest freezer.
She often spent Saturday afternoons practicing a recipe, lining up assembly stations all across the kitchen counters, leaving no square inch unutilized. When my mom and her cousins were young, they were often used as foot soldiers in these battles of woman versus cornichon, pimento and caper.
Aunt Doris would lay out large rounds of rye at the kitchen table, almost as if she was setting up a meal with edible plates. Each child was given a pastry bag that Aunt Doris filled with whipped and flavored cream cheese or chicken liver pâté. They would take their positions standing behind a slice of bread and with militaristic precision, would pipe a circle of cream cheese or pâté onto the bread, using the outer crust as a guide.
No matter how much candy you may find in your Easter basket or waiting for you in dozens of hidden eggs, on Easter Sunday there always seems to be room for another piece of something sweet, right? This holiday, after you finish another successful dinner of roast lamb or glazed ham, celebrate creative and traditional treats by baking up a few of Food Network’s favorite Easter desserts, like Coconut-Covered Bunny Cake, Hot Cross Buns, Carrot Cake and more. Kids and grownups alike will enjoy these after-dinner indulgences, and you’ll be pleased because they’re a cinch to put together.
A go-to, last-minute dessert, Food Network Kitchens’ Easter Bunny Cake (pictured above) is a no-bake recipe that can be made in just one hour, thanks to pre-baked or store-bought cake. After building the bunny and covering it in creamy buttercream frosting and sweet coconut, embellish it with any extra Easter candy you have on hand, like licorice and jelly beans. Check out how the Kitchens assembles their realistic-looking rabbit.
A holiday staple in many homes, Easter Egg Bread is light, flaky and bursting with a refreshing light lemon flavor. Food.com’s recipe yields a golden-brown loaf that is dotted with colorful shelled eggs and drizzled with a sweet citrus glaze. Save leftover slices of bread for breakfast tomorrow and spread each with a thin layer of room-temperature butter before enjoying.
Like most of our family gatherings, Passover in my house is all about the food. No one misses bread when you’ve got steaming bowls of matzo ball soup, homemade gefilte fish (never the slimy kind from a jar), fork-tender brisket and half a dozen sides. But come dessert time, I used to wish for the flour and leavening agents that are forbidden on Passover.
My grandmother was an excellent baker throughout the rest of the year, but her annual spread of kosher-for-Passover cakes and cookies left something (okay, a lot) to be desired. And for some reason, back when she and my grandfather hosted the Seder, the macaroons always came from a can.
This was a travesty. The flourless coconut macaroon is a staple of Passover — it might as well be on the Seder plate next to the horseradish and shank bone. But those canned cookies always smelled weird and had an odd, waxy texture. I grew up thinking I didn’t really like macaroons and left them untouched. French-style macarons — yes, please. Jewish-style coconut macaroons — no thanks.
Peeps get all the glory this month (just check out this Peep Cake), but their plain-old marshmallow cousins can get dressed up for Easter, too. We found this fun trick in the new cookbook Sugarlicious ($18; Harlequin) by Meaghan Mountford: Insert lollipop sticks into marshmallows, then submerge one marshmallow at a time in water. Blot off the excess water with a paper towel, hold the marshmallow over a plate and shake sprinkles over it to coat. Prop up in a cup or foam block to dry.
(Photograph by Charles Masters)