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Not Your Bubbe's Kosher Cookoff

by in View All Posts, February 26th, 2009

Having grown up in a kosher home, with 4 generations of Jewish home cooking under my belt, I was excited to be one of the “chosen people” last week — chosen to be part of a panel of judges for the 3rd annual Manischewitz Cook-off, that is.

The six finalists, competing live for a $25,000 grand prize package, were picked from hundreds of applicants. Their objective was to make a creative, attractive and delicious dish using Manischewitz products.

The finalists:

  • Ruby Red Risotto with Pistachio-Basil Pesto and Garlic Herb Goat Cheese
  • Laced Lamb with Figs
  • Marvelous Mediterranean Falafel Sliders
  • Meaty Manischtroni
  • Sloppy Moses
  • Mani Meatloaves

The falafel sliders, using ground turkey, caramelized onions, lettuce, tahini, and falafel mix, came out unanimously on top. It was impressive to the judges how moist and flavorful they were. As far as I’m concerned, this one-handed sandwich parted the sea and said, move over Sloppy Moses!

Maybe I should enter my meshuggenah matzah balls next year…

Jake Schiffman, Purchasing Assistant

Food & Finance – A rule to live by

by in View All Posts, February 26th, 2009


Hi readers! Two weeks have quickly gone by and it’s time for another food frugality pep talk. But this time I need one! You know, writing the food shopping rules and tips you read in this column is a lot easier than abiding by them 24/7. Last week I had a major setback.

What happened? I violated a personal rule. I hadn’t included this rule in my inaugural column about “How to Shop” but last week’s debacle made it clear to me that this tip must be shared right now, so here it is…

Click ahead for Roni’s vital shopping rule.

Food Network Action Figures? UPDATE!

by in View All Posts, February 25th, 2009


Looks like Food Network Chefs are getting into all the action these days….or rather, becoming all the action. A fellow Food Network cohort just sent me a link to Mario Batali’s new action figure. It even has mini crocs! With Ace of Cake’s Duff Goldman releasing his own Duff minimate last year, I’m beginning to think this might be a trend!

Any bets on what chef will be next to dive into the toy realm? Any wishes? Personally I loved to see a Paula Deen doll, fully equipped with a butter stocked fridge and a mini fryer.

UPDATE:
Damon in the comments inspired me to do some googling for an Alton Brown toy, because surely someone has to be making an Alton Action figure with all of his little gadgets. Although I didn’t find an Alton Brown toy for purchase, I did come across the cutest crocheted Alton on Flickr. Check out the mini okra and motorcycle to boot! Big thanks to Concetta Phillipps for letting us re-post her art work on FN Dish!

Rachael
Associate Producer, The FN Dish

Talent Tests

by in View All Posts, February 24th, 2009


Sometimes I feel as though as our Studios A & B never sleep. 

Right after Secrets of a Restaurant Chef (or as we call it: SORC or Secrets) wrapped up last week in Studio A, a few of the producers and I headed over into Studio B for a quick run of Talent Tests.  Studio B, as most studios, wear a variety of hats.  Just by redirecting the lights away from Next Food Network Star’s (aka: NFNS or Star) lounge like set (don’t worry, you’ll see those orange walls soon enough) and setting up some monitors and cameras, we were ready within a few hours with what looked like a completely new set! 

The 3 ladies came in the next day, did a fantastic job… and now Studio B is back to being NFNS ready!  It still amazes me how versatile a blank canvas can be, sometimes completely unrecognizable from week to week. 

Next up on my plate: another Talent Test shooting in our Kitchens (any reason to hang with Rob Bleifer is enough reason for me to come to work) and then Guy’s Big Bite in the end of March!!

A couple of important notes: 

1. On the Rob Bleifer front, I did his makeup last week for a webisode!  Ok, I put a little bit of powder on him (courtesy my friend Kathleen who is our Make-Up Artist) – but STILL!  It was awesome.

2. Congrats to a new Good Food Garden that went up over the weekend in South Beach!!! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you better check out the link!)  Way to go, Sarah!

 

Cheers!

Kendra, Operation Foodie

Happy Fat Tuesday

by in View All Posts, February 24th, 2009
(image courtesy flickr user CTB4)

In celebration: what seems to be the best-worded king cake recipe on the Internet, excerpted from the original 1901 version of the Picayune’s Creole Cookbook.

As an aside — the level of culinary knowledge/fortitude assumed in this recipe is fascinating, especially when compared to similar recipes from now.

As another aside, yes, every Tuesday at FN is essentially Fat Tuesday, but I’ll thank you not to mention that.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

Wine Manifesto: Part 1, with lessons forthcoming

by in View All Posts, February 23rd, 2009

At dinner last night at a new Italian restaurant near where my parents live (which is otherwise impeccable and a gift to the region), I had a fairly bizarre wine-ordering experience. I told the well-meaning woman tasked with wine service that I was looking for a red from Trentino, it didn’t have to be from Trentino but I like a more-restrained, Austrian style, that I’d had one of them on the (incredibly long and well-chosen) list and liked it, and what would she recommend along those lines? She told me that if I liked the wine I’d had before, I should have it again, or, if I would like to try something new, “everything on the list is good.” The list, mind you, is more than a hundred bottles long.

Ok. Shift gears. New tactic. I like the Sylvaner from this producer on your list, known for sort of wacky, interesting wines; can you recommend something similar in style, but red? After mis-correcting my pronunciation of Sylvaner, and expressing both surprise and slight disdain for my enjoyment of said Sylvaner, she recommended first a Supertuscan and then a Rosso di Montalcino, the sort of wines that are basically the exact opposite of everything I’d been asking for.

Later in the evening, we overheard her loudly telling the table next to us that “knowing about wine is pretentious” and she didn’t believe it was necessary.

Well, clearly.

But, and this is something that I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about, as a large part of my job involves wine education — the first thing I usually tell people is to find a trusted expert, whether it’s a wine store with a well-curated selection and a friendly staff, a sommelier at a restaurant you go to regularly, or even an importer whose tastes match yours. Once you have a grounding, and a general idea where your preferences lie, it’s a lot easier to get make sense of a hundred-bottle wine list or giant wine store.

I guess my question is what responsibility a restaurant has to its customers when its list is a) incredibly long and b) not cheap. I’m sure you could make the argument that by curating their list well, the restaurant has fulfilled their obligation — but man, no wonder the most common question I get is how not to be intimidated by a wine list.

So, announcing wine lessons, to be posted here with some sort of recurring regularity. Keep your eyes peeled.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

What we’re hiding in the basement

by in View All Posts, View Video Only, February 23rd, 2009

Follow Ask Aida’s Noah Starr into the underbelly of the Food Network studios, and meet Design Director, Wendy Waxman.

Hand-Pulled Magic

by in View All Posts, February 20th, 2009

To do our jobs, we have to be a little obsessed with food—okay, maybe a lot. My latest obsession is all things Chinese, especially hand-pulled noodles. This amazing process turns a lump of supple dough into ethereal noodles in a matter of minutes, just by repeatedly pulling and stretching the dough by hand. I eat them as often as I can. Bob goes a step further; he tries to make them at home!

Recently, with the introduction of Michael Gray, a Sinologist friend, we were invited into a Fuzhou noodle shop, Eastern Hand-Pull Noodles, at 28 Forsyth Street (formerly at 27 Eldridge Street) in New York’s lower Chinatown.

Mrs. Gao, the co-proprietor, and Mr. Wong, the cook, demonstrated the technique: it’s a magical combination of taffy pulling, towel snapping, and lasso twisting. As often as I watch this, it’s impossible not to be awed. Mr. Wong stretched and slapped the dough until it miraculously turned into 128 noodles in less than 3 minutes. While Mr. Wong manipulated the dough, Mrs. Gao prepared the pork, beef, and vegetable toppings. The noodles were divine, but as delicious was the generosity of these talented cooks sharing their craft. Even though we didn’t share a language, the noodles gave us a common ground.

Katherine Alford, VP, Test Kitchen

Sound Off with Mr. Music

by in View All Posts, February 20th, 2009

Have you ever been surprised when you find out your work friends (the friendly people you have water cooler time with) have a life outside of work? I really don’t like the work phrase “in my prior life,” but sometimes you run across those rare peeps that really had an interesting prior life. Neil Perry, FN Sound Designer/ Music Composer, is the perfect example of this.

Click ahead to see what celebs Neil HASN’T worked with.