Summer is the season of spontaneity — when a passing neighbor can become a last-minute dinner guest, and the plump tomatoes and zucchini you picked up at the market turn into the centerpiece of brunch. And when it comes to go-with-the-flow entertaining, there’s nothing better than a grill: It’s fast, cleanup is a snap, and practically everything tastes better with the smoky, crispy char you can get only from a fire. The following supermarket staples make it easy to improvise at the grill, no matter if you’re cooking T-bones, plums or potatoes. Stock up and you’ll be prepared, whatever the mood brings.
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Remember the days when your ice cream cake yearnings could be realized with only a trip to the freezer section? Yeah, those days are long gone. It turns out that you don’t need to coax a store-bought ice cream cake from a cardboard box for all of the “Whoa, is that an ice cream cake?!” pandemonium to ensue. With just a few store-bought ingredients (or homemade ingredients, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious), you can make a showstopping centerpiece for your next birthday party or special occasion, stacked with ice-cold layers of cake, ice cream and all kinds of goodies. Here’s how:
There are some ingredients that just scream luxury. Think of these ingredients as examples: caviar, lobster, truffles and Champagne. While we may know small bits of information on these products, if pressed for more info, we might struggle to give a detailed description of what they are, where they come from and what makes them so special (and so expensive).
This new feature will put on a spotlight on some of my favorite luxury ingredients. But I hope that when you read these articles, you will be inspired to seek out the best of the best and discover why your favorite Food Network chefs love them so much.
Let’s begin with that sweetest of seafood delicacies: langoustines.
The right dip recipe can get you through anything. The kids surprised you with a houseful of small-but-hungry friends? Bring out the chips and dip — vats of the stuff. A friend’s going through a breakup? There’s no better method for sopping up their tears than doing so over a bowl of guacamole. Perhaps most importantly, however, a solid dip recipe can help hit your cookout or picnic out of the park, especially this time of year. Before you peel open a tub of sorry store-bought dip, witness how these dip giants can come together in a flash, especially with a little how-to help.
Whether you’re vacationing in New England or elsewhere, summer is the time for an authentic, sea-soaked clambake on the beach. With the right grill setup and loads of salty seaweed, this seaside feast can be reproduced on just about any sandy shore — barbecue laws permitting, of course. Head down to the water’s edge to collect the seaweed the old-fashioned way, or get it from your local fishmonger. From there, it’s all about assembly. Here’s how to build the quintessential clambake, layer by layer.
Cold beers are great and all, but you’ll really raise your summer party game this weekend with these boozy ideas. Take the watermelon keg to the next level by turning it into tequila shot skewers, make summery sangria right in your cooler, and stock the ultimate DIY margarita bar with an array of citrus juices and mango puree. See how it’s done below, and check out more cool ways to win summer. Read more
If April showers bring May flowers, what do Mayflowers bring?
Yes, Mayflowers do bring pilgrims, as this grade school riddle so memorably illustrates, but May flowers bring joy — the kind of joy that inspired me to break out my brushes so that I could paint and capture what I saw on … cookies!
Not only is it easy and fun to celebrate spring with these hand-painted watercolor flower cookies, but you can do your pretty decorating without the use of artificial dyes and additives. Herbs, fruit juice and plant dyes all can be used as food coloring, and companies like India Tree even make premade versions available for purchase. What other natural food colorings can you come up with?
Let’s talk steak. Just the thought of a thick, juicy slab of perfectly cooked beef will make the mouths of enthusiastic carnivores water. (Those who don’t eat meat may want to just move along to the next post.)
New York Times dining reporter Julia Moskin fills in her readers on her tried-and-true method for cooking steak on the stovetop: Forget the talk about dry rubs and marinating, she advises. Buy your meat from a butcher. Choose thinner, boneless cuts — marbled, about 1 inch thick. Keep the meat refrigerated until about a half-hour before you’re ready to cook, then pat it dry with paper towels. Use a cast-iron skillet (unoiled) and turn the heat up “insanely” high. Salt the pan (not the steak) and heat it some more. Lay down your meat, wait about a minute, then flip it every 30 seconds until – 4 or 5 minutes later – you have a perfectly cooked steak. It’ll be crusty on the outside, pink on the inside.
“If it’s good quality steak and you don’t cook it for more than five minutes per inch, you really can’t mess it up,” Richard Schatz of New York City’s Schatzie the Butcher reassures Julia’s readers. “Steak is nothing to be scared of.”
It’s one of the few meals out there associated with a sound. The gratifying sizzzzle of a piping-hot skillet loaded with tortilla-ready add-ins signifies the arrival of one of our favorite hands-on dishes: fajitas. Lay out grilled veggies, cheese, pico de gallo and more on the table, and let your guests assemble the taco of their dreams. Along with salt-rimmed margaritas, bowls of guac and more, there is no better headliner for your Cinco de Mayo menu.