So often on Chopped we see chef contestants open their mystery baskets to find such odd, uncommon and downright scary ingredients — pre-cooked pig snout, pickled beef tongue or grasshoppers, anyone? — that it can seem nearly impossible for home cooks to put them to work in everyday meals. On other episodes, however, the ingredients are far less intimidating yet not quite familiar. That’s where we come in. Each week during the brand-new season of Chopped Champions, FN Dish will break down the whats, hows and whens of an approachable, family-friendly ingredient and share deliciously simple recipes for using it, so that you can show off your best culinary chops at home. Following last Tuesday’s round-four competition, the focus is now on Greek yogurt, which made an appearance in the dessert basket alongside maraschino cherries, canned espresso and corn nuts.
Tangier than traditional yogurt, the Greek variety has undergone an extensive straining process so it’s noticeably thick and creamy, not watery in the least. Since it’s not too sweet, Greek yogurt is an easy substitute for sour cream in traditionally decadent recipes, plus it’s packed with protein so it’s a good-for-you alternative that doesn’t sacrifice flavor or texture.
by Melissa d’Arabian
You know my rules: 30 seconds to decide. Longer to write (but not much).
Appetizer basket: sour-apple martini mix, mortadella, white asparagus and fennel
I love this basket and don’t want to overthink it. The asparagus and mortadella make me think of a chopped salad and I stick to the idea. I peel the tough outer part of the asparagus and poach it in salty water, brown sugar and white wine. I get the fennel sliced up with some cubed onion and tart apple (which will bring play against the sour-apple martini mix that I plan to use in the dressing), tossed with a little olive oil and get them roasting to bring out its earthy sweetness. I fry up the mortadella and chop, making my own take on bacon bits. I chop up some greens from the pantry (arugula or watercress). I make a reduction from the apple cider vinegar and sour-apple martini mix. I assemble the salad: chop all the prepped ingredients, toss with olive oil and a bit of cider vinegar. Top with a bit of goat cheese and drizzle with the apple martini reduction.
This season of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off puts the celebrity contestants in different situations every episode with challenges that test their culinary know-how. This past episode had the celebrities serving out of food trucks. But the next challenge will have the two remaining finalists cooking a dinner for VIPs.
In the above sneak-peek photo, Dean and Carnie are taking a moment’s respite after serving their dinner guests. It appears Dean is talking to Carnie about something, but Carnie is interjecting and pointing. But what is Dean saying? Why is Carnie interrupting? Did someone have a point to prove? Did the two have a disagreement?
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Whether you’re looking to get your chocolate fix or just some simple dinner ideas, or you love watching cooking competitions that may include alien creations, celebrities and vengeful chefs, then tune in to Food Network this weekend.
Start Saturday morning with a chocolate-filled menu from Paula Deen, who’s in the kitchen with actress Angie Harmon. Afterward, Ree is celebrating with all the foods she loves. On Barefoot Contessa, Ina’s reinventing a lobster salad, learning the secrets to a chocolate cake and more. Right after on Giada at Home, Giada’s showing her love for chocolate with a chocolate-inspired menu. In the afternoon, on Sugar Dome, teams of artists are creating edible creations inspired by outer space.
On Sunday morning, Guy’s making a delicious dinner of stuffed peppers and for dessert, churros. Later, on The Best Thing I Ever Made, there are more chocolate recipes to satisfy even the biggest chocoholic. In the evening, the finalists on Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off take on a celebrity dinner party challenge to determine who wins it all. And on Iron Chef America, it’s a heated rematch between Iron Chef Morimoto and challenger Chef Cantu.
Read about the shows
At Mirabelle restaurant in Hollywood, owners George Germanides and Justine Giannini (George’s daughter) decided they needed help after a recent failed overhaul. They asked Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team to help them find a chef who could infuse new life into the aging establishment. Anne brought in four candidates, and after some grueling tests, an offer was extended to Drew Ison.
On the show, Chef Ison proved he understood what the owners wanted by creating flavorful dishes in the restaurant’s cooking style. Though he let time constraints get to him during dinner service, resulting in some dishes being sent back and worrying the owners that he wouldn’t pull through. In the end Chef Ison was offered the position because of his vision of fusing Mediterranean and California cuisines as the new concept for Mirabelle.
“Chef Ison is doing an amazing job. He truly understands Mirabelle’s customer base,” says George. Longtime customers continue to support the restaurant and there is also a steady rise in new customers because of Chef Ison’s menu changes.
FN Dish caught up with Chef Ison since the show taped. Watch the video above to find out what it was like doing the show, what winning meant and how his confidence has improved since becoming the new executive chef of Mirabelle. He also talks about how his life used to be filled with negativity and that his tattoos are a reflection of that, but this new opportunity has brought him a lot of positivity. Chef Ison is very excited about all that he can do for Mirabelle.
To celebrate the season finale of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, which airs this Sunday, February 10 at 9pm/8c, FN Dish is giving away a prize package in yellow to one lucky reader. It includes an oval saute pan, 3-piece spoonula set from Rachael Ray and 2-piece knife set from Guy Fieri.
You can assemble your own cook’s starter package by individually purchasing a Porcelain Enamel Nonstick Oval Saute Pan, Tools & Gadgets Spoonula Set and Knuckle Sandwich Knife Set from the Food Network Store or enter below in the comments for a chance to win the items. To enter, let us know in the comments which celebrity you want to win, Carnie or Dean. The contest starts at 12 p.m. ET today and ends on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 12 p.m. ET.
Read official rules before entering
by Justin Warner
Too many times I see chefs label themselves, to their demise. A Chopped champion is one who can abandon his or her style and cook according to the ingredients in the basket. Sometimes the most rebellious thing a chef can do is to be conservative and make simple fare. Having a set point of view should not be equated to wearing blinders. If anything, a POV gives a chef a different vantage point, so as to differently survey what is necessary to put food on the table.
Appetizer basket: sour-apple martini mix, mortadella, white asparagus and fennel
Sour-apple martini mix is disgusting stuff. It doesn’t taste like apples; it tastes like green candy. I don’t know where in its evolution sour apple decided to taste like something unrelated to apples, but overcoming this challenge is why I’m here. Mortadella, white asparagus and fennel can all play together — it’s just a matter of getting that bottle of green treacle to play nicely, as well.
This past Sunday’s episode of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off drastically cut the competition in half with a double elimination. Hines and Kathy were cast off in a tasting challenge that had the bottom three making food on a stick. Carnie won the challenge with her beef kebab dish, which Rachael and Guy determined to be the best overall. But each dish had some criticisms — even Carnie’s, which was found to be too large of a portion. Kathy’s fruit skewers, on the other hand, were too small of a portion. And Guy found the shrimp in Hines’ surf and turf kebabs to be undercooked.
There were a lot of things each contestant could have done differently to win the challenge, but what FN Dish wants to know is what you would have made to impress Rachael and Guy. Do you have a special recipe that would have floored the judges/mentors? Share your best recipe for kebabs, skewers or any food on a stick.
More From Rachael vs. Guy:
Episode 5 Recap (Video)
Watch the Full Episode (Video)
Episode 5 Highlights (Photos)
Hines’ and Kathy’s Exit Interviews
SHARE your best food on a stick
In an all-new season of Chopped Champions, 16 chefs, each with a previous Chopped win under his or her belt, are returning to the kitchen to face off for a second time in the ultimate multicourse cook-off. Although they’re no strangers to mystery baskets, these chefs are under more pressure than ever, as they’re competing not just for Chopped glory but also a spot in the finale where they can ultimately claim a $50,000 prize and the coveted title of Grand Champion.
Each week, four chefs will take their places in the kitchen and battle it out in the hopes of outlasting the chopping block once again. While three will crumble beneath the demands of Champions cooking, one will prove his or her culinary chops for a second time. Check in with FN Dish every Tuesday night after the episode to hear from the latest winner.
SPOILER ALERT: Find out who won
A brand-new season of Worst Cooks in America premieres in a few weeks — on Sunday, February 17 at 9pm/8c — and you may be wondering just how disastrous this year’s crop of culinary recruits really is in the kitchen. Do they know how to deglaze a pan, or are they such beginners that they’ve never seen a skillet? Are they familiar with basic kitchen utensils like the mandolin? What’s their understanding of spices?
We were asking ourselves these questions and others, and decided to put the recruits’ kitchen knowledge to the test. Watch the video below to find out how the contestants fared in our exclusive culinary quiz and see them answer — often with hilariously shocking responses —some of the most seemingly basic cooking questions. Click the play button to hear what they had to say, then tell us in the comments: Are you rooting for Team Anne or Team Bobby this season?
Watch the video now