What Online Restaurant Reviews Reveal About Those Who Write Them

by in News, April 12th, 2014

RestaurantOnline reviews on sites like Yelp (not to mention Chowhound, Urban Spoon, Zagat, TripAdvisor and others) presumably tell us a lot about restaurants. They also tell us a lot about the people who write them, a new study concludes.

For the study, published by the peer-reviewed online journal First Monday, Stanford University linguistics professor Dan Jurafsky and his co-authors examined 900,000 online restaurant reviews using computational linguistics and “sentiment analysis” to ferret out “the meanings that are hidden in the way people use words and connotations,” Dan explained in the Stanford Report.

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Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding — Down-Home Comfort

by in Recipes, April 11th, 2014

Banana pudding is the epitome of old-fashioned country cooking. Yet it’s based on the English dessert called trifle made of layered cake, custard and fruit, often served in a special footed glass serving dish. There are no fancy dishes used for banana pudding. The iconic banana pudding receptacle is a square-shaped Pyrex glass baking dish. Practically every “meat-and-three”-serving restaurant, old-school cafeteria and BBQ joint across the South has a shallow aluminum pan or Pyrex dish of silky banana pudding on its cold line ready to serve up. Nothing fancy, no ordeals — just easy and delicious. Read more

The West’s Tyler Florence Reveals His Mentoring Strategy — America’s Best Cook

by in Shows, April 11th, 2014

TylerFN Dish is counting down until the premiere of America’s Best Cook on Sunday at 9|8c. On the new show, four Food Network chefs representing the four regions of the United States mentor teams of exceptional home cooks in a competition to find America’s best cook. The winner walks away with the title and $50,000 in prize money. But which region will that winner be from? It could be North, South, East or West. The final result will be a testament to the mentor who coached the winner. Ahead of the premiere, FN Dish spoke with each of the mentors to find out more about the competition, mentoring strategies, what makes a good home cook and more.

On America’s Best Cook, Tyler Florence is representing the West. Tyler started out in the South and then worked for many years in New York City, so he’s got experience with three out of the four regions. But as a chef who has made his home on the West Coast and runs establishments there, Tyler is more than qualified to represent the West. He’s previously mentored home cooks and budding chefs on the shows Food 911, The Great Food Truck Race and Food Court Wars, and he’s ready to do the same again.

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Butternut Squash and Watercress Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette — The Weekender

by in Holidays, Recipes, April 11th, 2014

Butternut Squash and Watercress Salad with Champagne VinaigretteWhen I was growing up, Passover wasn’t a holiday we celebrated with any regularity. My mom was Jewish, but she had grown up in a very secular branch of the family. Occasionally we would attend a Seder at our Unitarian church (they were very into the world religions back in the 1980s), but it was not an annual thing.

Once I moved to Philadelphia, however, I found myself surrounded by family that, while still pretty New Age and multicultural, was far more observant when it came to the Jewish holidays.

And so Passover has become a staple holiday on my yearly calendar, second only to Thanksgiving in terms of eating. The meal is coordinated by my mom’s first cousin Amy, and she distributes dish assignments at least a month prior to the meal (so that people can practice and get things just right).

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5 Ways to Eat More Alterna-Grains

by , April 11th, 2014

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Rice is over. Couscous is passe. It’s all about alterna-grains these days. But don’t just stock your pantry with these exotic-sounding carbs and hope for the best. Those wheat berries won’t cook themselves! Here’s what to do with you...

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What to Watch: Damaris and Giada Welcome Spring with New Recipes and the Premiere of America’s Best Cook

by in Shows, April 11th, 2014

America's Best CookOn Saturday, Ree is putting on a big Cajun-style party for her father-in-law, and on Heartland Table, Amy is bringing back the supper club. Sunday morning, tune in to Rachael for a week’s worth of meals prepared in one day. Later Damaris helps her uncle create a spring lamb feast. Then Giada makes an Easter luncheon for her family. And Guy’s Big Bite is all about one of Guy’s favorite comfort foods: hot dogs.

On Sunday evening, tune in to a new episode of Food Court Wars — one team specializes in sub sandwiches, the other team focuses on comfort food. Then on the premiere of America’s Best Cook, 16 cooks from four regions compete for just eight spots. Mentors Alex, Cat, Michael and Tyler will each pick the two home cooks they think will best represent their region (East, South, North and West, respectively) during competition. Only one home cook will walk away the winner of $50,000 at the end of six weeks. Then on a new Cutthroat Kitchen, one chef must use a cement mixer while making a layer cake.

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Why Nuke Peeps, Who Was General Tso, and What Decadent Drink Will Starbucks Devise Next?

by in News, April 11th, 2014

General Tso ChickenPeeps — Puffed: If microwaving Peeps — those sugar-covered marshmallow birdies that show up in stores every spring — and watching them do their “best Bruce Banner-meets-Jabba the Hutt impression” is something you’ve never done, the food scientists behind the site Decoding Delicious want you to know you’re missing out. “It’s the closest thing you’ll get to a toasted marshmallow without a bonfire,” they write, adding that it’s also “totally fun to watch” and a good way to make stale Peeps “palatable” again. But why do marshmallows puff when you nuke ‘em? Because they are “basically thousands of minuscule air bubbles surrounded by thin walls of gelatin and sugar syrup,” Decoding Delicious explains. “When microwaved, the water molecules in that syrup begin to vibrate and heat up. They quickly turn to steam and fill the air pockets in the marshmallow, causing them to expand.” It works for kosher marshmallows, too, by the way, so those who celebrate Passover need not miss out on the marshmallow-puffing fun. Learn more ways to put Peeps to work by checking out videos of Whoopeeps and homemade Easter chocolate bowls, and save the leftovers for Easter Candy Bark. [Decoding Delicious]

Tso Intriguing: A feature-length documentary set to screen at the Tribeca Film Festival this month looks to answer two age-old food questions: Who was General Tso? And why are so many people eating his chicken? For The Search for General Tso, director Ian Cheney traveled to Hunan and Shanghai hoping to discover how the sticky-sweet, crispy-tender dish became such an American staple, appearing on the menu of virtually every Chinese restaurant in the United States. “Did he love chicken?” one of the people Ian spoke with asks in a trailer for the film. “We don’t know. Nobody knows.” Ah, a mystery. Check out the film’s website here. [Food Republic]

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The South’s Cat Cora Reveals Her Mentoring Strategy — America’s Best Cook

by in Shows, April 10th, 2014

CatFN Dish is counting down until the premiere of America’s Best Cook on Sunday at 9|8c. On the new show, four Food Network chefs representing the four regions of the United States mentor teams of exceptional home cooks in a competition to find America’s best cook. The winner walks away with the title and $50,000 in prize money. But which region will that winner be from? It could be North, South, East or West. The final result will be a testament to the mentor who coached the winner. Ahead of the premiere, FN Dish spoke with each of the mentors to find out more about the competition, mentoring strategies, what makes a good home cook and more.

On America’s Best Cook, Cat Cora is leading the South, a region she knows a lot about, especially since she grew up there. As the first female Iron Chef, she took to the heat of competition and isn’t afraid to pull out all the stops now. Coming up as a chef, she had some of the best mentors, including Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, and she’s ready to pay it forward, passing on her knowledge and skill to her team of home cooks with the hopes of bringing home the win for the South.

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Side Dishes Your Kids Will Love — Sensational Sides

by in Family, Recipes, April 10th, 2014

Side Dishes Your Kids Will LoveWhen it comes to growing your kiddos into the best eaters they can be, it’s all about baby steps. And, if you’re asking us, your side dishes are perhaps the best place to start. With sides come the veggies, the strange textures and the other tough sells. But don’t you fret. These winning kid-friendly sides expose your little ones to new tastes without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That way, your kids will go from full-on picky eaters to budding food connoisseurs in no time.

Little morsels of toasted orzo are so easy to eat, your kids won’t even realize all of the big-kid, Mediterranean ingredients they’re devouring. Rest assured that the “big kids” (cough, cough) will love Toasted Orzo Salad (pictured above) on their plates too.

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