The 2014 Winter Olympics are officially underway in Sochi, Russia, and even if you don’t have slope-side seats, you’ll still need some cozy meals to keep you warm while you watch the snowy events unfold on television. In the spirit of international competition, we’ve rounded up the top foods from the highest-medaling countries around the world to help you plan out an Olympics-ready menu. No matter who takes home the gold medal, you can be sure that these dishes are all winners. As a tribute to the home team, start off the opening ceremonies with Bobby’s all-American Perfect Burger, a blend of ground chuck and turkey that can be cooked on the grill or in a saute pan, making it the most-versatile way to cheer on the United States.
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Why is it that so many comfort food classics start with a chicken in a pot? Chicken and dumplings is quite possibly the best cold-weather comfort food combination — thick, hearty stew married with fluffy, tender dumplings. There are two primary schools of thought when it comes to dumplings: dropped or rolled. Dumplings are essentially biscuits simmered in broth. The broth flavors the dumplings and the flour from the dumplings helps to thicken the stew.
My grandmother’s dumpling recipe was basically her recipe for biscuit dough rolled out and cut into strips. She started with a whole chicken and the entire process took a couple of hours; it was time-consuming. Frankly, when I am in need of comfort food, I often find my patience can wear a bit thin and I’m not into “time-consuming.”
Dumplings can be a bit tricky. It’s easy to wind up with heavy, pastelike dough balls. Ugh. There are recipes out there using canned biscuits, but with these easy-breezy dump-and-stir drop dumplings you can have wholesome, homemade, down-home comfort in a snap — made with ingredients you can pronounce. The secret is using warm milk. The heat expands and sets the flour so that the dumplings don’t as readily absorb the chicken stock in the stew.
I discovered risotto when I was 27 years old. Before that, my only experience of anything even remotely risotto-like came from a box or involved a can of cream of mushroom soup. For a time, I made it every week as a way to stretch leftovers.
Lately I’ve been trying to eat more whole grains and fewer things that are blindingly white. I thought this meant that I’d need to give up my risotto habit entirely, but I’ve discovered that white rice isn’t the only grain with which one can make a savory pudding that stretches the end of a roast chicken into a brand-new meal.
I’ve tried it with barley, wheat berries and even oat groats, but the grain that has come out on top is definitely farro. Though some people argue about what farro is exactly, most typically believe it’s the whole-grain version of cereal crops known as einkorn, emmer and spelt.
A risotto made with farro won’t be quite as creamy as one made with rice, but it is worth making nonetheless. I really enjoy the sturdiness and texture of the grain. Unlike traditional risottos, this version reheats beautifully (though sadly, that means there’s no need to make risotto cakes).
To us, nothing says Olympics like a pie on fire. On Friday, one of the most-epic torch relays in recent memory comes to an end at the opening ceremonies in Sochi, Russia. If you’re feeling inspired to follow along, here’s some food to set alight in the privacy of your own home.
Chicken got its crown as the darling of the dinner table for a reason. It’s lean, versatile and easy to cook, and it also lays the foundation for some of our favorite comforting recipes. Your mother’s chicken noodle fixes you up like nothing over the counter ever could, and a spicy Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili proves that comfort foods don’t have to be dull. Whether you’re cutting into a full chicken, nibbling it by the wing or taking in tender shreds with a spoon, these comforting chicken recipes are stick-to-your-ribs good.
This time, what’s comforting is what’s crunchy. Pat and Gina’s Oven-Fried Chicken skips the deep-fry dunk for a lighter dose of home-cooked goodness — without forsaking that vital crispy exterior. For another oven-baked main, Ina’s bright Lemon Chicken Breasts are boneless, but she keeps the skin intact for added flavor.
When it comes to comfort, a big bowl of soup is the name of the game. For some, a steaming bowl of Matzo Ball Soup or Ree’s Chicken and Noodles is a weekly necessity. For others, Southern-style recipes like Sunny’s Easy Chicken and Dumplings bring it all home.
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient grapefruit. The goal of this challenge was to use the sweet-sour taste of the citrus fruit to its full advantage by pairing it with hearty salmon. Not only is grapefruit in season during winter, but it’s a great way to enjoy a bit of brightness during the dreary season — and it’s packed with vitamin C to fight off colds and flus. This Grapefruit-Honey Salmon is easy to put together, with only seven ingredients, and takes just 25 minutes in total. It’s a recipe your family is sure to appreciate for its sweetness and savoriness.
Whether it’s an after-school snack or a silky spoonful of dessert, vanilla pudding is always a sentimental treat that can instantly channel the flavors of childhood. To re-create this creamy comfort food from scratch, toss out the powdery boxed mix and whip up Food Network Kitchen’s old-fashioned Vanilla Pudding recipe that tastes just like Mom’s used to. Once you’ve whisked together this sweet bowl full of nostalgia, start experimenting with mix-ins to give your pudding a modern twist. From crushed cookies to ice cream-inspired candy combos, these imaginative additions only enhance the basic pudding, allowing the classic flavor to shine through.
Rocky Road Pudding: You won’t have to worry about this bowl of rocky road melting: Vanilla pudding stands in for the ice cream scoop but delivers the same classic flavors when mixed with semisweet chocolate chips, toasted walnuts and miniature marshmallows.
Whether you’re a true Southern sweetheart who enjoys biscuits every Sunday morning or you only encounter biscuits atop the occasional pot pie, there’s no denying that these buttery, flaky beauties are a comfort food classic that can shine in meals anytime of the day. The secret to baking up light, moist biscuits is not overworking the dough. When you’re incorporating ingredients, take care to mix them only until they’re combined; any more than that and they run the risk of being too tough. Check out Food Network’s top-five biscuit recipes below to find crave-worthy bites from some of your favorite Food Network chefs, like Giada, Trisha, The Pioneer Woman and Alton.
5. Nonna’s Lemon-Ricotta Biscuits — Featuring a few drops of almond extract, plus creamy ricotta cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, Giada’s quick-fix biscuits are topped with sliced almonds for subtle crunch and can be served either warm or at room temperature.
4. Daddy’s Biscuits — Trisha’s 30-minute biscuits are made with only a handful of ingredients and can turn out as soft or crisp as you like depending on how close together or far apart you bake them.
The Olympic rings symbolize peace, goodwill and global solidarity. Get into the spirit of the winter games in Sochi, Russia, by celebrating with these cute and colorful Olympic-ring cookies.
I used my tried-and-true gingerbread recipe after experimenting enough to learn that most sugar cookies, including those made with store-bought premade dough, spread out too much in the oven. Gingerbread also adds a touch of warmth to these games set in a snowy winter wonderland. This recipe is almost as easy to make as with a prepared mix, though it does take a little muscle to roll out. Pressing the dough thin before refrigerating helps to reduce some work later.
With game day mere hours behind you, chances are you’re probably chock-full of all things saucy, snacky and deep-fried right now. Today, instead of succumbing to more indulgent dishes, start the week off on a fresher note with a simple salad.
With kale all the rage these days, recipes using this good-for-you vegetable are seemingly everywhere. But while some may suggest you cook kale as you would other leafy greens, the experts at Food Network Kitchen explain, “Antioxidant-rich kale is even better for you when eaten raw.” In its top-rated, quick-fix recipe for Kale and Apple Salad (pictured above), the Kitchen celebrates a myriad of textures, plus light, zesty flavors. Start by making a simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, then add sliced kale and let it rest for about 10 minutes so the leaves have a chance to absorb the flavor. Since kale is a sturdier green than romaine or iceberg lettuces, you don’t have to worry as much about it wilting quickly. For added texture and a bit of heft, add in crunchy sliced almonds and chewy dates, plus crisp apple slices and pecorino cheese to round out the taste.