When I was younger the thing I loved most about the holiday season was the dizzying array of cookies, candies and breakfast cakes that would suddenly appear in the our house. A practiced food sneak, I’d spirit away frosted sugar cookies and waxed paper-wrapped caramels and eat them in the luxurious privacy of my bedroom closet.
My parents were on to my sugar-seeking ways and would do their best to conceal the best of the treats from me so that I didn’t eat them all in a single day (I’ve since learned much about moderation). The one thing they never needed to tuck behind the cereal boxes on top of the refrigerator was the gingerbread. A yearly gift from our next-door neighbor, it was dense, heavy and smelled just slightly of bourbon. It was clearly not a cake for kids.
But as so often happens in life, my tastes have evolved over the years. The cookies I once craved now seem disgustingly sweet and that gingerbread I scorned appeals to me more than ever. That original recipe is long since gone (our neighbor died when I was 13), but I’ve spent the last few years searching out a similarly solid, barely sweetened cake to make and give out during the holiday season.
Everyone has their own personal wish list of gifts when it comes to holiday time. You know, it’s that list you keep in the back of your mind of gifts you hope your friends and family members will get you. It’s that hope for a gift you’ve wanted that makes the receiving of it even more special and exciting — even if it took a lot of hint dropping.
Food Network celebrity chefs are no different — they too have wish lists that include culinary gadgets, tools and appliances that they’re hoping to get under the tree on Christmas. FN Dish caught up with some of them to find out what’s on their wish lists this year, what kind of gifts they’ve loved receiving in the past, and what items they would give as gifts.
I once made a few cakes for dessert — some coffee cakes. The recipe that I tried was not accurate; it said butter the pan, but should have said butter then flour the pan. Half the cake came out and half of it didn’t, and it had a big crack on the side.
So if a cake flops, what can you do to save it? If the cake is supposed to be frosted, then don’t worry about it. Just cover it with frosting. It will still be delicious. If it’s like a coffee cake, which doesn’t get frosted, preslice and serve it plated with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and berries.
Yesterday we posed this question to readers: What do you traditionally serve up around the holidays? Thanksgiving is all about turkey and Easter is all about the ham. But what meat do you serve on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
FN Dish went to the meat master, Pat LaFrieda, Jr., to chat about alternative meats for Christmas, and as always, he didn’t let us down. Keep reading for tips on standing rib roasts, get Pat’s recipe for stuffing and find out what his favorite holiday meal is.
Standing rib roasts are delicious, but some people may be nervous to try and cook one. Do you have any suggestions? How many pounds/ribs per person? PLF: Always figure on 1 pound of meat, in the raw form, per person. That should yield 12 ounces of cooked meat. Try the recipe pictured above: Paula’s Foolproof Standing Rib Roast
There’s no doubt about it that turkey is synonymous with Thanksgiving. Maybe this year your family ate something other than turkey, like ham, but the bird really does symbolize the holiday no matter how you look at it. But what about Christmas? Is there a food symbolic of Christmas? Not really. Everyone does something different; maybe that’s what is so special about the holiday.
Often when hosting holiday parties, so much thought goes into ensuring that the food for each and every course is as perfect as it can be that other aspects of entertaining, like home decoration, fall by the wayside, trumped by other, seemingly more-pressing concerns. This year, no matter how casual or elegant your get-together is, set the scene with seasonal centerpieces made from accessible, everyday products, like candles, flowers and fresh fruit. Food Network’s collection of easy holiday centerpieces features 11 must-see designs that aren’t just easy to recreate in your home, but also classic ideas that can be adapted or added upon, depending on your personal taste. Check out a few of our favorite settings below, then browse the entire centerpiece guide to find welcoming scenes to complete your sit-down dinner table, plus kitchen island countertop, buffet and coffee table.
Let seasonal herbs star in more than just your holiday roast by using fragrant varieties as the focal point of your table. The rosemary trees pictured above are light, inexpensive, and add a pop of freshness to the warm indoors. For the containers, use any small pots you have on hand. The metal vessels pictured above are quite elegant, but if you happen to have terra-cotta pots left over from spring and summer planting, put them to work here.
Coming up with creative holiday gifts for kids can be a real challenge, but to my surprise, several kids I know have been asking their parents for cooking equipment this year. Why not? Half of the tools in my kitchen are better than toys in some respects. Just this morning my son turned my trussing string into rope for his crane to lift my favorite whisk.
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box idea that will keep kids excited about and engaged in cooking, here are a few things I’ll be giving this year:
When it comes to decking the halls, you can be sure that your favorite Food Network stars have no-fail recipes, easy entertaining tips and party-ready menus to help you host your best holiday ever. But have you ever wondered how these chefs celebrate the season when they’re away from the cameras? Among them, which are known for an infectious Christmas spirit, and who prefers to spend a casual holiday enjoying non-traditional eats and drinks? Do they like to curl up in front of the fireplace with their families, or are they drawn to the hustle and bustle of the season? We recently caught up with Paula Deen, Sunny Anderson, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and more Food Network favorites to find out the answers to these questions and more, and what they told us may surprise you.
Test Your Knowledge: How FN Stars Celebrate the Holidays
Think you know how the chefs celebrate the holidays? Take this quiz to find out, and learn about their plans for this season, memories of holidays past, ultimate Christmas menus and more bits of seasonal trivia.
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Who owns a full-size leg lamp similar to the one that's featured in the classic holiday film “A Christmas Story”?
One Christmas when she was a child, Sunny Anderson was given an extra-special teddy bear that she still has today. What did she name that teddy bear?
For Trisha Yearwood, the perfect holiday meal includes baked ham, green beans, coconut cake and what other dish to honor her late mother?
Which two stars have experienced holiday cooking disasters involving raw turkeys?
Alton Brown and Bobby Flay
Trisha Yearwood and Rachael Ray
Sandra Lee and Alex Guarnaschelli
Paula Deen and Robert Irvine
Flannel pajamas and mismatched socks are part of whose Christmas morning wardrobe?
Giada De Laurentiis
“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is whose favorite Christmas song?
How many Christmas trees does Sandra Lee set up in her home during the holiday season?
Jellyfish, dumplings and seafood-stuffed pineapple are often what you'll find which star enjoying on Christmas?
"Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate" is what this star said is part of her perfect holiday meal.
Giada De Laurentiis
Which two chefs consider “It's a Wonderful Life” to be their favorite Christmas movie?
Paula Deen and Alex Guarnaschelli
Robert Irvine and Rachael Ray
Sunny Anderson and Bobby Flay
Sandra Lee and Giada De Laurentiis
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We caught up withRon Ben-Israel, host of Sweet Genius and the mastermind behind Ron Ben-Israel Cakes in New York City, to chat with him about some of his holiday favorites. As he’s known for creating some of the country’s finest couture cakes, we weren’t surprised when we asked him about his favorite holiday dessert and he named an old-fashioned classic that, when finished, is a spectacular conversation piece.
What’s your favorite holiday dessert?
I love some of the old-fashioned desserts that have now disappeared from restaurants. Things you used to get at a tea parlor, like at the Plaza Hotel. Something that is elaborate and beautiful and nostalgic for me is baked Alaska. I’m also crazy about baked egg whites, which is really what meringue is. I used to be fascinated seeing my mother whip egg whites into a foam for baked Alaska or for mousse. Watching them gather up air and triple in volume to become white peaks was fascinating. You can mix dollops of egg whites with sugar and make the most amazing baked kisses. For an easy baked Alaska, take ready-made ice cream, shape it into a dome, cover it with swirls of meringue and brown it. The crunchiness on the outside and billowy soft layer underneath — it’s not hard to do. You can add a layer of cake for an interesting effect, or pour some liqueur around it and ignite the whole thing for flambe. Bring that to the holiday table and it’ll be spectacular.
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in full swing, it can be tempting to take shortcuts for the sake of simplicity. This year, we’re all about doing whatever it takes to make this holiday your easiest, best one yet, but when it comes to building your own gingerbread house, you can skip the store-bought, pre-assembled kit and create your own one from scratch in flash. Believe it not, the gingerbread house pictured above comes together in just 1 hour and 30 minutes thanks to a fuss-free recipe with clear, step-by-step instructions. Learn the basics of making gingerbread houses below, assemble and decorate this simple, seasonal structure with your family, then post a picture of the finished product to Food Network’s Facebook timeline.
The beauty of this gingerbread dough in particular is that it can be made entirely in one bowl. After creating a stiff mixture of wet and dry ingredients, however, it’s important that the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. This will make it less tacky and far easier for you to roll out.