The Stars Came Out and Gloves Came Off at Guy’s Food Fight

by in Events, October 16th, 2016

Friday night a slew of well-fed food fans were drawn to the late-night party emceed by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host Guy Fieri at the New York City Wine & Food Festival. The first iteration of the late-night trivia event, pitting star against star, appeared at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in February. Guy was proud to announce that this was Round 2, only bigger, better and with more booze. Guy’s ever-present energy ricocheted off the walls as he riled up the crowd for the panel of Food Network stars, distributing drinks personally before introducing the two teams. Carla Hall, Josh Capon and Valerie Bertinelli faced off against Chopped judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy and Scott Conant. Food Fight with Guy Fieri was a rare chance for the attendees to see the Food Network stars unedited and unfiltered.

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How (and Why!) to Roast a Pumpkin

by in Recipes, October 16th, 2016

Even before what I’ll refer to as the Great Pumpkin Controversy of 2016 (which Snopes fact-checked and says originated when “a viral social media rumor suggested the pumpkin in pumpkin pie is secretly produced from other squash”), there was one very good reason to roast your own pumpkin instead of buying it canned: It simply tastes better.

Sure, roasting a pumpkin is an extra step when making pie, but the fresh flavor makes it totally worthwhile. (And it’s an essential skill to have to make a whole slew of amazing recipes that call for whole pumpkins or pumpkin chunks.) Plus, when you roast a pumpkin at home, you also get the bonus of being able to roast the seeds to make delicious, toasty snacks.

So whether you’re test-driving a pumpkin pie recipe to make for Thanksgiving dinner or you want to mix up your tired salad routine with chunks of perfectly roasted pumpkin and toasted pepitas, here’s what you need to know. Also, get the recipes for some of our favorite fresh pumpkin dishes.

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Midnight in Harlem: Breakfast and Jazz with Patti LaBelle

by in Events, October 16th, 2016

Closing out Saturday night’s festivities at the New York City Wine & Food Festival was Patti LaBelle and Carla Hall’s Midnight Jazz Breakfast at the Harlem hot-spot The Cecil. Guests were dressed in their Sunday best — this was a midnight party, after all — and ate good food, drank wine aplenty and danced to a live jazz band.

If I were to walk you through the night, I’d say it felt like an intimate house party that started in 2016 and ended in 1938. Though at first it might seem hard to believe that such a large party as one hosted by Ms. LaBelle herself could fit into the nooks and crannies of a local Harlem restaurant, The Cecil was an ideal venue for such an event.

First I was greeted by a bar — with familiar pours like bourbon on the rocks and a dry Prosecco, both ideal ways to start a meal. But then the bartenders offered a handful of vintage drinks as well, such as the classic sidecar — a sweet, citrusy cognac-based cocktail owing its origins to the Ritz Hotel in Paris, circa 1922.

After a drink or two, I headed into the main dining room for a bite or six. To a contemporary backdrop of Beyoncé, Jay Z and Kanye, I started with an unctuous jumbo shrimp and grits, studded with jalapeno, applewood bacon and a hefty supply of sharp cheddar cheese, from Chef Carlos Swepson of BLVD Bistro.

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Weeknight-Friendly Rosemary Chicken — Most Popular Pin of the Week

by in Community, October 16th, 2016

Skillet Rosemary ChickenWhen it comes to family-friendly dinners, few meals get the job done quite like chicken. Easy to make, quick cooking and endlessly versatile, the humble chicken can be transformed into a bold, flavorful supper with just a few staple ingredients, like it is in this top-rated recipe, this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week. Bone-in chicken breasts are coated in a simple mixture of garlic, lemon juice and rosemary, then seared in a skillet and roasted with hearty potatoes and mushrooms to round out the meal. Perhaps best of all, this all-in-one meal can be on the table in just 40 minutes.

For more chicken dinner ideas, check out Food Network’s Let’s Cook: Main Dishes board on Pinterest.

Get the Recipe: Skillet Rosemary Chicken

Rooftop Chopped Brought the Competition Even Closer to Fans at the New York City Wine & Food Festival

by in Events, October 16th, 2016

Chopped castAt Rooftop Chopped, a brand-new event for the New York City Wine & Food Festival, fans of Food Network’s long-running competition cooking show were treated to a special experience: an insider’s look at the show. Following the format of the show, participating chefs, among them former Chopped competitors, cooked their choice of either appetizer, entree or dessert, and the eventgoers had the chance to taste and vote on their favorite dishes from among 30 in total. And of course the cast of judges and host Ted Allen were on hand to try the dishes and present the awards for both their judges’ pick and the people’s choice.

“We are taking our participation in the Festival to a completely higher level,” said Ted of the highly anticipated event. “I am excited for the food, for the competition. It’s like Chopped Live,” he said of the new format. And this time Ted had the chance to taste the dishes — something he doesn’t get to do on the show. While the festivities were going on, fans could also audition. “We’ve never done an event where people could come and apply to be on the show,” Ted said of the unique opportunity. “It’s like they’re participating in a live, large-scale version of our competition.”

Get a look at some of our favorite dishes and find out which won.

Ayesha’s Street Eats Proves That the Best Food in New York City Comes from a Cart

by in Events, October 16th, 2016

Michael Mina and Ayesha CurryIf you’ve ever visited New York City and bought a hot pretzel from a cart on the corner, then you’ve experienced an important Big Apple tradition: street dining. Though the city’s traditional dining options are seemingly limitless — from hole-in-the-wall bakeries and grab-and-go delis to fast-casual diners and elegant sit-down dining rooms — it’s the food trucks, stalls, kiosks and carts that help make up the one-of-a-kind culture for which the city is loved. On night three of the New York City Wine & Food Festival, Chef Michael Mina of Mina Group fame and Ayesha Curry, whose Food Network series, Ayesha’s Homemade, is set to premiere on Oct. 22, came together to honor this Big Apple tradition by hosting Street Eats. This walk-around tasting featured some of the best bites to come from a truck, stall, stand or cart in NYC, plus a few from brick-and-mortar joints that pay homage to classic street food. We joined the crowds of hungry fans on Saturday, bellying up to the tables to experience all of it, and below are our picks for the best savory and sweet street eats that were up for grabs.

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Chefs’ Picks: Pumpkin Spice

by in Restaurants, October 16th, 2016

Spice Baked Apples from Kripalu
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.

With the arrival of autumn comes the annual craze for the PSL (pumpkin spice latte), whose avid fan base just can’t seem to get enough of the seasonal beverage. Its star ingredient is much more versatile than many people realize, however. Innovative chefs around the country are elevating the status of pumpkin spice by taking it out of the paper cup and incorporating it into dishes that are far from basic. Read on to find out the surprising ways the pros are using the flavor of the season.

Jeremy Rock Smith, Executive Chef, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
In addition to filling your home with that distinctive autumnal scent, pumpkin spice actually has many health benefits. Though the ingredient inevitably conjures up images of overly sweet beverages and treats, Smith weighs in on how he brings pumpkin spice together with better-for-you ingredients at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Mass. “Pumpkin spice has really become synonymous with being unhealthy — [because] it’s often paired with a ton of white sugar,” Smith explains. “My favorite way to use pumpkin spice is by pairing it with healthy fall items, such as apples. When used this way, its flavor takes center stage and is highlighted, rather than smothered, without canceling out any of the benefits by adding the processed sweeteners.”

 

Pumpkin Spice Churros from Sons and Daughters
Jon Bignelli, Executive Chef, Sons & Daughters
For some people, fall is their favorite season — be it for the food or nostalgia. It’s a scientific fact that certain aromas can trigger the deepest memories, and Bignelli taps into this idea via pumpkin spice at newcomer Sons & Daughters in New York City. “I love pumpkin spice. It triggers all of those familiar fall feelings and nostalgic embraces,” says Bignelli. He incorporates the ingredient into the restaurant’s dessert menu by way of a seasonal spin on churros that features pumpkin spice. “It draws out the recollections of corn mazes, haunted houses, tricks, treats, misfit Thanksgivings, foliage and homecomings,” Bignelli says of the autumnal ingredient. “It makes you want more — and helps you to never forget those memories.”

 

Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns from Amy's Bread
Amy Scherber, Owner, Amy’s Bread
When it comes to baked goods and pumpkin spice, Scherber is churning out a new favorite — Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns — at her popular New York City bakery. “Chewy and crusty, our Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Bun is made with white and whole-wheat flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, spices, toasted pecans, and plenty of butter to make it rich and decadent,” Scherber says, noting that her sweet creation can be enjoyed in more than one way. “Depending on your mood, you can have it with a smear of cream cheese frosting or just plain, so you can savor all that wonderful pumpkin and spice.”

 

Rebecca Weitzman
Rebecca Weitzman, Executive Chef, Chalk Point Kitchen
There’s farm-to-table, there’s sustainable, and there’s multicultural; Chalk Point Kitchen in New York City is known for the trifecta. The restaurant’s global influence comes into play in Weitzman’s spin on pumpkin spice that takes it in a different direction than pie or sweets. “I think that fall pumpkin spices, if you remove the maple sweet factor, are very similar to madras curry seasonings with the ginger, allspice and cinnamon,” she says. “I really like to use them with lentils, as well as other legumes like chickpeas, during this time of year. Look … for a spiced heirloom pumpkin hummus coming to our new fall menu at Chalk Point!”

 

Kelly Liken
Kelly Liken, Executive Chef and Owner, Harvest by Kelly Liken
In Edwards, Colo., just down the street from Vail, Harvest by Kelly Liken is known for its unique yet approachable menu. You can count on Liken, then, to incorporate pumpkin spice into her seasonal fare in a rather creative and unexpected way: “I love to use pumpkin spice in pickling,” says Liken. “I’ll pickle pumpkin with a sweet and tangy liquid infused with pumpkin spice. The pickled pumpkin makes a great addition to an arugula salad dressed with a little extra virgin olive oil.”

Photography courtesy of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Sons & Daughters, Amy’s Bread, Chalk Point Kitchen and Harvest by Kelly Liken

The 10 Most-Comforting Fall Flavors We Tasted at Katie and Marcela’s Harvest Party

by in Events, October 16th, 2016

New York City Wine & Food FestivalNow that fall has officially arrived, you could celebrate the return of colorful leaves, crisp air and comfy sweaters with a trip to the orchard or perhaps an apple pie. But on Saturday during the New York City Wine & Food Festival, Katie Lee and Marcela Valladolid hosted a Harvest Party that brought together all the best sights, smells and flavors of the season — including pumpkin pie, instead of apple, as it turns out.

Guests gathered inside the seasonally decorated Highline Stages in New York City not just to taste fall fixings like butternut squash soup, turkey sandwiches and that creamy pumpkin pie, but also to meet the hostesses. When we caught up with Katie and Marcela recently, they both said how eager they were to mingle with fans of The Kitchen at their event. “I’m excited because it’s the one time a year that we get to be in the presence of the fans — of the people that are being supportive and the people that watch the show and the people that take their time out of their way, of their schedules, spend money to buy a ticket to come and see us,” Marcela explained. “And that’s kind of huge. And I’m super grateful and I’m super excited to get the opportunity to actually be with people face to face.”

As for the food, Katie told us: “I just love fall harvest season in general. I love the food that comes along with it. It’s warm; it’s cozy.” She also noted that she was excited to have one vendor in particular in attendance, Carissa’s Breads, from East End, N.Y. “It’s my favorite bread,” she said. And we quickly realized why. Her offering made our list of the best fall bites of the Harvest Party. Read on to get all the details.

Sweet Potato Soup (pictured above): We’d heard positive rumblings from guests about how stellar this soup from Primal Cut was, and after trying it for ourselves, we realized just how right the others were. Luxuriously smooth and creamy but oh so light, this soup had subtle tang from mascarpone cheese. The toppings of crispy, salty pancetta and sweetened pecans were bonuses in the flavor and texture departments. Primal Cut also served a sweet side dish — Pumpkin Infused Caramel Cheesecake — which featured a similarly silky filling.

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Chopped Junior-Inspired Lunchboxes: Turkey and Cheese Mummy Kebabs

by in Recipes, Shows, October 15th, 2016

Mummy KebabsBy Angela Carlos

A recent Halloween episode of Chopped Junior wasn’t exactly business as usual. We’ve seen some pretty outrageous mystery basket ingredients over the many seasons of Chopped and Chopped Junior, but a vile of vampire blood? That certainly was a first.

Neither the zombie scabs (jerky) nor the bloody guts (pastry dough with raspberry jam) slowed down the young contestants, who fought for the $10,000 prize and cooked their way through the spooky mystery basket ingredients.

For this week’s Chopped Junior-inspired lunchbox idea, we borrowed from the haunted, crafty theme to make turkey and cheese mummy kebabs.

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8 New Spooky (and Silly!) Desserts for Halloween Night

by in Holidays, Recipes, October 15th, 2016

Halloween is a particularly playful holiday — even costumes and decorations meant to spook us are all in good fun. And we like Halloween treats that strike a similar balance. These new desserts are inspired by the holiday ghouls and goblins, but they really just make us smile.

Stuffed Candy Corn Cake (above)

The tricks in this treat are two-fold. First, there’s the candy corn surprise in the center. And second, thanks to a clever frosting pattern, each slice actually looks like a giant piece of candy corn. Watch how to make it here.

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