Brownies: Whether cakey or fudgy, milk or dark chocolate (or blondies), they’re a treat even the pickiest of eaters can get behind. The next time you whip up a batch, think outside the box. Use your favorite brownie recipe (or try one of Food Network‘s) and check out these five ways to keep brownies the main event at the dessert table.
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Perhaps the most-famous shortcake dessert is strawberry shortcake. Depending on where you are in the United States, shortcakes can either be sponge cakes or sweet biscuits. These shortcakes are split and the bottoms are covered with a layer of strawberries and whipped cream. They are divine down-home comfort.
What’s the secret to a light, tender shortcake? This is where down-home comfort meets food science. Wheat flour contains two proteins, glutenin and gliadin. When you combine flour with water, the proteins create a strong and elastic sheet called gluten. Flours vary in their protein levels, which affects the texture of baked goods. Gluten gives structure to yeast breads but is not recommended for tender sponge cakes, biscuits and quick breads. All-purpose flour milled in the South is from soft red winter wheat, which has less gluten-forming protein. It is typically bleached, which makes it whiter, but this does not affect the protein. My family has always used White Lily flour, a staple across the South; another dependable Southern brand is Martha White.
We have friends who host an annual Cinco de Mayo party. Because of my book tour schedule, we’re not going to be able to make the hour plus drive out for the festivities this year. I’m sad to miss the chance to catch up with them and to dig in to the exceptionally good spread of food they always cook up.
Since we’re missing out on carne asada and the largest bowl of guacamole I’ve ever seen, I’ve been plotting a substitute meal. It won’t be as festive and community-oriented as our gathering of friends, but it will calm the worst of the Tex Mex cravings.
As my starting place, I’m using Ree Drummond’s recipe for Brisket Tostadas. She has you marinate and then braise a large hunk of brisket until it’s tender and shred-able. Once the meat is ready, layer it on toasted corn tortillas with cheese, black beans, salsa and cubed avocado. Perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration and your very next Weekender.
Before you run in the opposite direction, we aren’t suggesting you eat a salad as your meal and call it a day. In fact, these green salads are sideshows for a reason. In between bites of something more substantial, they work as a nice recess, countering the heartier notes of your main dish with exciting freshness.
Fetch your salad tongs and the biggest bowl you can get your hands on. These recipes — and the homemade salad dressings that adorn them — stray far from the salad bar.
It may be a Simple Green Salad, but Food Network Magazine relies on uncomplicated ingredients that shine. All you need is a crunchy heart of romaine and Bibb lettuce along with a drizzle of lemon-mustard vinaigrette and a scattering of fresh chives.
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient cube steak. The key to cooking with cube steak is not overcooking the meat, because it can get tough. Typically used for chicken-fried steak, cube steak is often tenderized with a meat mallet to produce a thin cutlet, which makes it easier to cook and eat. But the technique the chefs came up with for making these Steak and Black Bean Chalupas was to sear the thinly sliced meat in a screaming-hot pan, and then simmer it in broth briefly to eliminate the need for tenderizing. Paired with mashed black beans — a take on refried beans — and a tangy chili-lime mango salsa, these open-faced tacos are filling and refreshing, perfect for Cinco de Mayo or a simple Mexican Night any day of the week with the family.
Mother’s Day is just a few weeks away, and if you haven’t yet decided on a gift for Mom, there’s still time to commit to making her an extra-special meal at home. While holiday dinners carry with them a certain level of pressure, daytime get-togethers can be casual and relaxing, which makes Sunday brunch an ideal time to celebrate Mom. For a go-to brunch option that can feed a crowd, try making hearty quiche; it’s an egg-based main that’s often baked, so there’s no need to cook guests’ scrambles or over-easy eggs to order. Plus, quiche is endlessly versatile, as you can add nearly any cheese, vegetable or meat you happen to have on hand. Check out Food Network’s top-five quiche picks below to find deliciously satisfying recipes from Alton, Trisha, Bobby and more of your favorite chefs.
5. Mini Chorizo Quiches — Start with buttery crusts and fill them with a bold mixture of chorizo, Manchego, potatoes and eggs to create individual servings of Marcela’s Mexican-inspired quiche.
4. Crepe Quiche Lorraine — Instead of baking his bacon-and-cheddar-laced quiches inside a tart crust, Alton builds them inside herb-studded crepes, which support the egg-based center when assembled in a muffin tin.
Hearty, quick to make and guaranteed to please the whole family, pasta’s a go-to dinner on even the busiest weeknights, and it’s a Meatless Monday mainstay on account of how simple it is to swap out the meat in most recipes. But when everyday marinara night has become a tired ritual at your table, look to dressed-up sauces to spruce up supper. Pesto, primavera and rich cream sauces are all tried-and-true picks, as are tomato-based sauces that become extra special when mixed with bold, fresh ingredients.
A top-rated fan favorite that is as easy to prepare as it is strikingly presentable, Food Network Magazine’s Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Almond Tomato Sauce (pictured above) is made with just a handful of ingredients. The secret to this sauce lies in the food processor, which will help in making the two-part sauce: After blending roasted almonds with garlic, add olive oil and basil to create a smooth pesto-like mixture, and later whirl tomatoes in the same food processor until they, too, are pureed. Tender broccoli adds a welcome hefty bite to the sauce, which is best served with long noodles.
Sure, a microwave is great for reheating leftovers, but did you know your countertop appliance was originally invented as a quick-cooking replacement for the conventional home oven? Research on radiation during World War II resulted in the realization that microwaves could cook food faster than regular ovens. Most microwave recipes are developed for units with 800 to 1,200 watts. The higher the wattage, the faster things will cook, so if your microwave is super powerful, it will cook your food significantly faster. Of course there are definitely a few foods you should never experiment with in the microwave: whole eggs, grapes and raisins, and chocolate-hazelnut spread (the high fat content makes it spark), but there are also many things the microwave does incredibly well. These recipes and tricks will inspire you to use your appliance for more than just reheating.
There seems to be a requirement for comfort food that it is simple, unpretentious and modest. There is a natural humbleness to home-cooked foods from the wild. Sure, chefs all over are foraging and turning bits of moss into foams and gelees, but long before the old became new again, people were gathering food from the wild and harvesting from the seas, lakes and rivers.
Fried fish and hushpuppies are quintessential examples of such simple country cooking. If you had a hook and a line and a little cornmeal, you might have dinner. (Well, then there’s the whole idea of noodling — catching catfish with your bare hands — but that’s just crazy.) A fish fry would not be complete without a hushpuppy. Hushpuppies are traditionally made from the seasoned cornmeal used to coat the fish (often mixed with beer) and fried in the oil used to cook the fish. Nothing is wasted — another hallmark of down-home comfort.
At least once a week, I try to make something for dinner that helps me clear all the odd bits out of my produce drawers. During the colder months, I make huge pots of soup that serve as the basis of quick meals all week long. When the weather starts to warm up, however, I turn to salads to use a handful of mushrooms and the last skinny stalks of celery from the very center of the bunch.
No one really needs a recipe for this kind of use-it-up salad, but sometimes it’s nice to see how other people approach their clean-out-the-fridge meal. I can easily fall into a rut, so a little bit of outside inspiration is just plain nice.
This is where Jeff Mauro’s Garbage Salad and Champagne Vinaigrette comes in. It’s not a recipe that’s reinventing the wheel, but it does pull together a nice assortment of complementary flavors that are outside my regular, well-trod paths. The vegetable base is a motley collection of romaine, iceberg, carrots, celery, mushrooms and pepperoncini. The brain wave is that he also includes blue cheese, sliced deli turkey and oil-packed anchovies. That means there’s enough protein in that salad for it to pass for a full-on meal (at least in my house).
It’s good for Sunday afternoons or whenever your Weekender craving may strike.