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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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A Sandra-Style Thanksgiving

by in View All Posts, November 19th, 2009

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This year the SC is hosting Thanksgiving. One word, people: STRESS. So what could be better than running into the bright-eyed host of Sandra’s Money Saving Meals, Ms. Lee herself, in the elevator here at work? I took the opportunity to ask her for some quick holiday tips. Here’s what she offered:

1. Think smaller. For the turkey, that is – about 10 to 12 pounds. Sandra says, “It’ll eliminate the stress and time it takes to cook a 24 pounder. If you have a larger family, buy two smaller turkeys. Trust me.”

2. Create an edible tablescape. “If you have two smaller turkeys have them book ending your dessert. You could take three premade cheesecakes and put them on top of each other. Spread on a gorgeous cranberry chutney. I like using food as the focal point of my table. Nothing is going to waste.”

3. Try cornbread stuffing. “Cornbread stuffing is a staple in my house every Thanksgiving. I make it the day before. My recipe is so easy! I stuff my bird. I don’t cook the stuffing on the side.”

The cornbread stuffing will be tested in the SC’s personal kitchen tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes. For tips to make your holiday meal delicious, affordable and effortless check out the upcoming Sandra’s Money Saving Meals, Sundays at 12pm/11c and Mondays at 2pm/1c

Eat Well – The SC

Inside Scoop: Bargains for the Highest Bidder

by in View All Posts, November 13th, 2009

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Studio A at the Chelsea Market offices regularly changes faces for the filming of Iron Chef America, the Next Food Network Star Finale and a ton of in-the-kitchen shows, from Guy’s Big Bite to Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. But this week, for one afternoon, Studio A was transformed into a kitchen wonderland, a dream world for cooking-enthusiast bargain shoppers. It was a charity auction for Share Our Strength, and it was beautiful!

Studio A as AuctionItems on sale were leftover from shows, equipment from the kitchens and Kohl’s products donated by the culinary department. At high noon, Food Networkers (including Sunny Anderson!) swarmed into the studio and started grabbing (mostly politely) and bidding – small items priced as marked and larger items auctioned off to the highest bidders.
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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

by in View All Posts, November 5th, 2009
brentscheese1
My friend's farm: Rachael's destination

What do you cook when Rachael Ray’s coming to dinner? That’s what I asked my pal Brent Ridge when I heard Rachael Ray visited his farm to film a Food Network special, Rachael’s Vacations: Farm to Table, which airs tomorrow at 11 pm EST/10 C. I’d lean on comfort, just to make myself comfortable: Something seasonal, mac-n-cheese or chili, probably. But whose? Would making my own offend? Would making hers be odd? Brent had a different approach, one I appreciate. Menus must be more clear from the outset when you spend days growing your own food and minding your own herd of goats, which beget luscious creamy goat cheese.

A few years ago Brent, a physician, blogger and all-around interesting guy, and his partner, Josh Kilmer-Purcell, parlayed their New York City love of terrace-grown tomatoes into an ex-pats’ paradise Upstate called Beekman Farm. Their “experiment in seasonal living,” as they call it, has become a full-on way of life, with 60 acres of land to tend, dozens of animals and 110 different kinds of heirloom veggies to sow, grow, harvest, can, freeze, pickle and share.

brentsfarmBrent’s always cooking up something fun, but I’m sure he had a few moments of panic at the idea of entertaining Food Network.  “Sharon Springs is a very, very small town,” Brent says, “and of course the news that Rachael was coming couldn’t be kept a secret…”

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Do You Have the Chops? Wii Do.

by in View All Posts, November 2nd, 2009

Most secretaries don’t count testing video games as part of their job responsibilities. But Food Network has high standards and everything gets tested plenty–even our new Wii game, which hits stores tomorrow, Cook or Be Cooked! We Food Networkers all wear many hats, so when I was asked to try out the new game, I got my nunchucks waxed and ready to go. I loved having a sneak peek and I corralled a few colleagues to play with me in one of our television-filled lounges (sorry, those pictures are top secret!).

In seconds, VP of Marketing and The Next Food Network Star judge Susie Fogelson and Food Network Kitchens chef Mory Thomas came to life before us, explaining how to play the game and how we’d be judged. Funny how something that looks so simple and seamless on screen took hours and days and weeks and months of planning! They’d be watching how we cooked, of course, including timing, seasoning, multitasking and temperature of several different dishes. Then, they’d give them a taste. The pressure was on! The idea is to start with simple dishes and cook your way through dozens of culinary treats until you’re master of a Food Network-worthy virtual kitchen. Read more

Our Spooky Spread

by in View All Posts, October 30th, 2009

Ghost Brownies

The Foodnetwork.com staff — and pals from our sister sites Food2, Recipezaar, Fine Living and Healthy Eats — kicked off the wicked weekend with a Halloween sweet swap.

The FN Dish’s own Secretary Confidential led the sugar charge with these ghastly goodies (above). She claims she’s no cooking pro, but these chocolate-y brownies, drizzled with icing in the shape of ghosts, tasted frightfully good. (Try making similar treats with Ina’s Outrageous Brownies.)

graveyard cake
Our resident baking goddess, Alexis, built this clever graveyard cake from her mom’s chocolate cake recipe and homemade chocolate frosting. Then she used assorted candies, marshmallows and shortbread cookies to make spiders, ghosts and tombstones. (By the way, we were mesmerized by the new Blood Orange Dots candies she found at the market.)

See more of our tricky treats »