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Super Bowl Party Picks: For Saints Fans

by in View All Posts, February 2nd, 2010

emerils-wings
I’ve got lots of family in New Orleans, so we’re pulling hard for the Saints to bring home their first-ever Super Bowl victory. I’ll be watching at home in New York, but my Big Easy-inspired Super Bowl party menu is all set, courtesy of Food Network Magazine.

The January/February issue has dozens of great game day recipes, plus a Mardi Gras-themed feast. No matter where your football loyalties lie, it’s hard to deny that New Orleans has the culinary advantage! Here’s my plan for a delicious Super Bowl spread:
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Muffuletta Potato Skins: The next best thing to the original sandwich from the French Quarter’s Central Grocery.

Emeril’s wings: These may not be very Cajun, but a version of Emeril’s Vietnamese-flavored wings is on the menu at his excellent restaurant NOLA.

Pimiento Cheese Dip (#9 of 50 Dips): It’s popular throughout the South, but always reminds me of my visits to Louisiana.

New Orleans Cocktails: Sazeracs will class up our football party (yes, there will also be beer!)
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Bourbon Praline Cake: A festive dessert to break out after the Saints win!

Colts fans: Check back in with the FN Dish later this week for our Indy-themed menu picks.

Impartial? For a taste of the tropics, try our Miami-inspired menu.

–Sara Levine

Separated at birth

by in View All Posts, February 2nd, 2010

Apologies for the long hiatus — what better to come back with than this, via the New York Post, on potential new careers in the culinary world, and our very own Dave:

courtesy Michael Sofronski/NYDN
Image courtesy Michael Sofronski/NYDN

Which is sort of oddly reminiscent of old careers available in the culinary world, by virtue of this shot from former ICA challenger Ludo Lefebvre‘s cookbook:

Image courtesy Stephen Wayda/Crave
Image courtesy Stephen Wayda/Crave

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Worst Cooks in America. . . Really.

by in View All Posts, January 9th, 2010

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If you’re a reality show addict like I am, you’re sure to love Food Network’s newest, high-drama competition show, Worst Cooks in America (Sundays at 10pm/9c). Chefs Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan lead two teams of aspiring cooks through culinary boot camp and into competition. For the best of the worst: a grand prize of $25,000. I caught up with Anne and Beau recently to chat about what Beau calls “one of the most drama-filled, suspense-filled, exciting shows in the history of Food Network.”

Kirsten: What advice do you have for people who think they’re bad cooks?

Anne: Get a cookbook, get a good one and then use it. Don’t just wing it because if you’re not a good cook and you know you’re not a good cook, writing recipes – you’re not going to be good at it. Use it, love it, learn it.

Beau: You’ve gotta have desire. People fail once and all of a sudden they’re a bad cook. We’ve been in this business our whole lives, and you’re a student every day you walk into the kitchen. You can be humbled very quickly, so don’t give up on yourself. It’s not going to happen overnight.

Kirsten: What three ingredients would you give a new cook?

Anne: I’d give them my holy trinity, which is salt, olive oil and bacon. Those are the flavor basics to any good dish.

Beau: Swine is devine; it’s where it’s at. Anne says bacon makes everything better, and I totally agree.

Anne: That’s where I live, in bacon land.

Kirsten: Tell me a little bit about the competition between the two of you in this show.

Anne: I was unprepared for the reality of reality. So, when contestants started to cry or get so nervous, I was unprepared for that. But I was also unprepared for my own feelings of super competitiveness between me and Beau. It was really real and serious, and there was no way I was letting things slide.

Beau: You see these competitors come in and they have to compete, but the same type of [competitive] feelings build between us as well. As a chef you’re a control freak and you’re in control at all times, but in this situation you have to rely on your team. It was hard on Anne and me because you can only instruct, you cannot help. It became very stressful for us.

Anne: There was definitely very real competition and there were times when we had some smack talking. People might have thought that was staged, but no, that was very real. There was some smack going on and I think the contestants definitely noticed.

Kirsten: Why do you think this show is a must-watch? What’s the best part about the show?

Anne: There’s a crazy cast of characters, between the chef-testants and the chef chefs, but also, it really shows the inner strength that people have and the will and want to succeed. You really want to root for the underdog.

Beau: Yeah, I remember day one, Anne and I were sitting there critiquing the food and we though “Wow, Food Network did an awesome job of picking these people, but it’s got to get better than this,” but it just kind of crashed. But it’s funny, whenever I talk about the show, the biggest reaction I get from people is “I should be on that show. I should be a worst cook.” And I’m like, I didn’t know there were so many of you guys out there? I think it can relate to a lot of people.

Anne: It’s interesting because so many people know that they’re bad and they put themselves in a situation where they know they can learn. People really want to learn.

For me, the train-wreck qualities of this show make it a can’t miss. The first episode premiered last weekend, but you can see it again Sunday at 6pm/5c. New episodes air on Sundays, 10pm/9c. Check out our Worst Cooks in America show page for recipes, sneak peeks, contestant bios and more about Anne and Beau.

- Kirsten, Web Editor

Backstage With The Ace of Cakes

by in View All Posts, January 8th, 2010

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As a major sugar junkie, I’ve been watching Ace of Cakes for years. And like with most reality shows, I feel like I got to know its stars—especially Duff Goldman, the bad-boy baker and owner of Charm City Cakes. So when my boss told me I’d be going backstage to see Duff’s band play a concert at the House of Blues and write a story about him, I was excited (Yes! Maybe he’ll make me a cake shaped like my face!), though a tad confused (he has a band?). I was also a little nervous, since on the show, Duff can sometimes be the serious guy who cracks the whip on his wisecracking staff. . .so what if he was too serious about the “craft” of his music to let loose and have some fun?

FNM_DuffBand008.PSDWell, I didn’t need to worry about that. It’s true that Duff’s songs are moody, atmospheric, and all-instrumental (listen to one of his songs here); it’s not the hyper pop music you might expect from someone who spends his entire day swimming in sugar. But hanging out with him and his bandmates was fun and upbeat. Once they finished their sound check, we piled into to a private room in the House of Blues bar, which was decorated with red velvet booths and gold Buddha statues. After ordering a round of Yuenglings, Duff kicked up his neon-yellow sneakers and the goofing around began. The guys gave each other noogies (luckily, visiting journalists were exempt) and Duff teased the youngest member of the group: “Remember when we messed with you by painting your guitar pedal hot pink?”
FNM_DuffBand086.PSD

Download a free copy of one of the band’s songs (to download as an MP3, right click on the link and select “Save Link As. . .”). Plus, enter for a chance to win a free CD of Duff’s album, signed by Duff himself. See the full story about Duff’s band from Food Network Magazine.

—Sarah Z. Wexler

From the Magazine: Last-Minute Picks

by in View All Posts, December 23rd, 2009

White-Bean Soup Shooters

Life as a Food Network extern certainly has its perks…a big one being the chance to taste some of the delicious food that the test kitchens put out on a (several-times) daily basis.

But here at Chelsea Market, recipe testing for the magazine‘s December issue took place back in August, while I was still chopping away in culinary school. Since I missed out on the cookie madness—50 recipes made the cut; dozens more were tested—I’m psyched to bake some of recipe developer Sarah Copeland’s treats for friends and family over the holidays.

Don’t let the culinary degree fool you…I’m always looking for quick, no-fuss recipes to make in my miniature NYC kitchen. We don’t have room for a dining table, so finger-friendly appetizers and desserts are always my friends.

To snack on during impromptu holiday get-togethers, right now I’m thinking about making Ted Allen’sWhite Bean Soup Shooters with Bacon and Crostini with Thyme-Roasted Tomatoes. Ted’s appetizers are great for grazing and look restaurant-style impressive, but the recipes are straightforward as can be.

For libations, I’ll stir up a pair of cocktails in festive Christmas colors, both super-simple: the cucumber-infused Mama’s Little Helper and a strawberry-cranberry concoction called the Wally World.

I’m also intrigued by the Lightened-Up Eggnog; it too may make an appearance this week.

The first but not last batch of Butterscotch Blondie cookies, a perfect snow-day treat.
The first but not last batch of Butterscotch Blondie cookies, a perfect snow-day treat.

Chocolate chip cookies are non-negotiable—I’m leaning toward the Chip Chubbies with big chunks of good chocolate—and for the chocolate-haters in my life (they’re crazy!) I’ll make Sarah’s addictive Butterscotch Blondie variation. Two batches, minimal work—and the best part? Most of the ingredients are already in my (very small) pantry.

–Sara Levine

Duff Has His Cake, Eats It Too

by in View All Posts, December 17th, 2009
"Meat" Duff's cake
"Meat" Duff's cake

What is the one thing the Ace of Cakes has always wanted? A Meat Cake! Dreams do come true: Duff Goldman was presented with a breakfast cake this morning at FN headquarters in New York City, in honor of his birthday.

The icing on the cake: Happy Birthday, Duff!
The icing on the cake: Happy Birthday, Duff!

Skip the buttercream and pass the prosciutto. Happy Birthday Duff! (We included the original diagram in case you want to try this at home.)

–Margie Gilmore and Norina Li

Chefs Give Back: Share Your Season

by in View All Posts, December 15th, 2009

snowflake-cookie
I’m always dazzled at how the holidays bring out the impulse for people to give to others. And I love the fact that the Food Network community takes part in giving good causes, too. This year, Food Network and our partner Share Our Strength are sponsoring Share Your Season, a program that aims to help end childhood hunger in America. As part of the festivities, we asked some chefs to share favorite holiday memories. Maybe Boston restaurateur Chef Andy Husbands’ reminiscences below will spark some of your own-and to share them with others. Enjoy!

Having a four-year-old niece is the best thing ever. I adore Tessa and this year I am looking forward to spending the holidays with her (and, of course, the rest of my family) in Seattle.

Seattle invokes memories of my childhood. I grew up there. It’s where I learned to make doughnuts in the fourth grade, watch my mom make popovers, and spent long days picking blackberries until my hands were stained reddish black with the sweet-and-sour juices of the best berries ever. It’s where I started to develop a passion for food.

Little Tessa loves to spend time in the kitchen with me and I with her. Maybe one day she’ll be a chef, but if nothing else I’m sure she’ll have a love for food, a passion for cooking. She’s fascinated by dough, stirring, and of course anything sweet.

This year I am planning to make sugar cookies with her. I bought ‘gingerbread’ people, snowflake, and snowmen cookie cutters; green, gold, pink, and silver sprinkles; and we’ll make sticky white icing. No matter how they look, they will be beautiful; and whether they are burnt, undercooked or perfectly done, they will be delicious. Because we made them.

This will be the best present I can give my niece. In return, I will have my time with her. Kids and holidays are the gifts that keep giving. . .

I wish everyone the best holiday,
Andy O.C. Husbands
Chef/Owner
Tremont 647
Boston, Massachusetts

gingerbread-cookiesHungry for cookies, thanks to Andy’s inspiration? Here are a few to bake and savor in this week before Christmas.

Eye of Newt, Neck of Duck

by in View All Posts, December 14th, 2009

I don’t dine out much. But recently, upon the advice of Rupa B., I found myself in a wonderful Swiss restaurant, accompanied by mom, dad, and girlfriend. The momdad was in town on a brief visit. Parents and girlfriend were meeting for the first time. Ice was being broken, jokes were being cracked, good feelings were in the air. Menus were passed.

I immediately zeroed in on an appetizer that Rupa had been singing hymns to for months, the dish that in truth, though unbeknownst to anyone else at the table, had landed us there in the first place: braised, breaded, and fried duck necks. Not legs, not breasts, not even livers. Necks. Rupa had described it in its crispy, bony, messy glory as a sort of ennobling of the Buffalo wing, which was more than enough to sell me on it. My mother scanned the menu and honed in on the same. Somewhere a needle spun wildly.

My mother, you must know, is a woman of strong opinions, strenuously expressed. Her moral compass is nothing if not a sensitive instrument. I have known this for 38 years. I have also known that it can chart some very odd courses. And yet somehow one is prone to forgetting. Until something comes up. In a restaurant. Something like duck neck.

I was on the verge of ordering the vertebral morsels when my mom got wind of it and went…BALLISTIC. It was as if the chef had put the contents of his shower drain on the menu under the cynical supposition that someone would be idiot enough to pay for it-and that someone turned out to be her own flesh and blood.

“Ridiculous! $8.50 for DUCK NECK!? There’s no meat in it! This is Depression food! No, worse, shtetl cuisine!  Your great grandparents did not come to America for you to eat duck neck. Leave the duck necks in Kiev! Blechhh!!!”

The notion that a restaurant would show such little regard for its customers as to attempt to serve them the NECK of a DUCK; and worse, the idea that her son would show such little self-regard, would actually encourage the practice by ordering a DUCK’S NECK, produced paroxysms of maternal indignation that nearly derailed the entire evening and resurfaced in blood pressure-raising spasms throughout the weekend. I’ve long been fascinated by the ways different cultures value types and cuts of meat, the ways meaning gets inscribed in meat, such that animal anatomy can be read as a kind of map of a culture. But tonight was not the night to engage in a discussion of cultural relativity, sociology, or the ethics of offal-eating. The duck neck would have to wait.

Until last night, that is, when I returned with Rupa. This time around the menus were unnecessary. We sat at the bar, we drank good ale, and we gnawed our duck necks with extreme relish, in peace and without compunction. They turn out to be extremely, um, skeletal. And delicious.

Mom, you missed out.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Great Garces! Congrats, Next Iron Chef

by in View All Posts, November 23rd, 2009

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When the Chairman announced last night that Chef Jose Garces was The Next Iron Chef, the victor didn’t look battle worn for his winning moment. He looked mighty proud, despite a rough-and-tumble battle against runner-up Chef Jehangir Mehta. He seemed ever so slightly overwhelmed, too—who wouldn’t be? Check out what he had to say about his victory in the clip above.

Garces, the owner of several restaurants in Philadelphia, brings a Latin pedigree with an eye on the world, looking to excite viewers and judges alike as he joins the ranks of Michael Symon, Cat Cora, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Masaharu Morimoto, who will continue to defend their titles in the coming weeks and months. I can’t wait to see what Garces creates with the exotic secret ingredients that come his way, but also what they dream up with familiar ingredients I can use in a new way in my own kitchen.

Much as I loved the drama (for more, see what Alton had to say), I was psyched over the weekend to see Battle Thanksgiving on Iron Chef America—I won’t give away who won in the standoff between Team Morimoto/Cora and Team Flay/Symon, but I know that my Thanksgiving feast will include a cranberry, citrus, vodka and bubbly concoction modeled after what I saw Symon make. Maybe over the weekend I’ll whip up Chef Garces’s signature recipe, too. Next big headline to watch for, Iron Chef-wise, is the upcoming Iron Chef Super Battle in early January. Next big headline to watch for at my house is the upcoming post-Turkey Day battle—who will use Thanksgiving leftovers best?

–Deb Puchalla
Editorial Director

Iron-Clad Interview: The Last Battle

by in View All Posts, November 21st, 2009

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Forget New Moon’s team Edward versus team Jacob, Red Sox versus Yankees or even vanilla versus chocolate. In the green room, we’ve caught up with Mehta versus Garces. You can cut the tension between these last two rivals for The Next Iron Chef with a santoku knife. Not really, since grace under pressure is a quality they share, one that helps make them the only remaining contenders to become the next chef to join the roster at Kitchen Stadium.

Stovemates since the top of the season, Chef Jose Garces and Chef Jehangir Mehta boast innovative culinary styles but also a full menu of Iron Chef qualities, including fearlessness, integrity and a gut instinct for innovation. No wonder the final battle for Sunday night’s season finale (9pm/8c) is between them, a world of flavor with a jolt of competitive spirit. Check out the video above for their take on the competition, portion sizes and how the show has changed their cooking; go here if you want to see what they talked about during a live Facebook chat earlier this week.

Garces, executive chef and owner of several Philadelphia restaurants, says Chef Mehta would bring a “refreshing approach” to Kitchen Stadium. Mehta, executive chef and owner of New York City’s Graffiti restaurant, is equally gracious: “Chef Garces would be an excellent Iron Chef.”

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