Bending the Rules on Summer Vacation

by in Food Network Chef, August 1st, 2013

Bending the Rules on Summer Vacation - Melissa d'ArabianBack-to-school ads are already airing and we’ve only just started our family vacation (anyone else?). I’m writing this blog from the balcony of a rental on Balboa Island.

Since we’re on vacation, we are bending the rules. The other day the girls and I all ordered lemonades with our lunch, instead of our normal tap water. (I am not the Ten Dollar Dinners lady for nothing.) Another rule I’m bending: Instead of planning our regular reasonable snack every day about 3pm, the whole family is venturing around the corner to Dad’s Original Frozen Banana shop and indulging in a chocolate-dipped, sprinkle-nut-brickle-laden frozen banana. (I say “bending” the rule and not “breaking” because I often use frozen bananas and cocoa in my smoothies.)

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Best 5 Kebab Recipes

by in Recipes, August 1st, 2013

Build-Your-Own Shish KabobsOne of the easiest and most versatile grilled dishes you can make, kebabs are the ultimate family-friendly dinner because they can be built to each person’s individual tastes without trouble, and they take just a few minutes to prepare. If you’re cooking for both die-hard meat eaters and vegetarians, simply skip the beef, chicken or fish, and stick with vegetables alone for some of the kebabs. Little ones, however, may likely appreciate kebabs without any veggies at all, choosing instead simply grilled chicken or steak alone. In both cases, the kebabs will turn out hearty, seasonal dinners that are easy to prepare on a weeknight but satisfying enough to entertain with. When making kebabs, it’s up to you to decide whether to use wooden or metal skewers; just keep in mind that if you opt for the wooden variety, you’ll need to soak them in water before stringing on the ingredients. The liquid will help prevent the wood from flaring up and ultimately disintegrating on the grill. Check out Food Network’s top-five kebab recipes below to find five-star dinner inspiration from some of your favorite Food Network stars, like Ted Allen, Melissa, the Neelys and Tyler.

5. Thai Beef Skewers with Pickled Cucumbers — Soy sauce, mirin and rice vinegar come together to do double duty in Ted’s easy recipe: The sweet and salty mixture is both a marinade for the beef and a dipping sauce for serving.

4. Fish Skewers with Basil Chimichurri — Melissa prefers to use a firm white fish, like cod, haddock or halibut, to make these herb-topped skewers, strung with seasonal zucchini and cherry tomatoes.

Get the top three recipes

Geoffrey Zakarian Named Culinary Director at The Plaza Hotel

by in Food Network Chef, July 31st, 2013

Geoffrey ZakarianAs the chef at New York’s The Lambs Club and The National restaurants and the leader of dining services at The Water Club in Atlantic City, N.J., and Ocean Blue aboard The Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship, Chopped judge and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is surely not one to sit still. This Kitchen Stadium superstar works best when his plate is full of projects, and it’s a good thing he does, because just this week he earned another title: the Culinary Director at The Plaza hotel in New York City.

One of Manhattan’s most iconic hotels, The Plaza boasts a prime location in the heart of the city, a 100-plus-year tradition of luxury and a reputation for culinary excellence that Geoffrey will only serve to improve upon in his new role. He’ll be in charge of the hotel’s Palm Court and Oak Room restaurants, plus the Oak Bar, The Champagne Bar and The Rose Club, in addition to its in-room dining menus. The Palm Court will likely be the first to see modifications, but they’ll be subtle. “I want to leave as much as we can in place, the way they do with the great old restaurants in Paris,” he told The New York Times.

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5 Unsung Sides of the Summer Peach — Summer Fest

by in In Season, July 31st, 2013

Rosemary-Mustard Pork with PeachesCan you believe it’s already August? With this sultry month come many lovely things — most importantly, the ripe, in-season peach. As we transition from the inaugural crates of summer strawberries, these golden kaleidoscopes of gold and red are so juicy they dribble down your chin. And with a velvet fuzziness on the outside and an ambrosial sweetness on the inside, peaches are deep summer’s most lusted-after loot.

Peak peaches deserve to be the highlight, the reason everyone’s at the table. That’s why FN Dish has assembled a list of the finest peach recipes. These unconventional dishes run the gamut and show us all the pretty peach is capable of — and, goodness, are they good.

1. Your mother wouldn’t be happy with us, but let’s start at dessert, the most iconic peach player of all. We all love Peach Cobbler, but unconventional desserts like Peaches and Cream Oatmeal Cookies, Caramel Peach Upside-Down Cake and Food Network Magazine’s Peach Cobbler Ice Cream Cake will raise eyebrows. Even something as simple as Food Network Magazine’s Hot Peaches and Cream can show the tender peach in all its glory.

More peach recipes from friends and family

Mentors’ Restaurant-Style Meals to Make at Home

by , July 31st, 2013

Chicken CacciatoreEven if you’re a frequent restaurant diner, there are surely times when you want to dig in to dinner in the comfort of your home, and on these nights, you shouldn’t have to settle for average, predictable dishes. You can indeed turn out restaurant-style meals — like the ones the finalists reinvented during last week’s Star Challenge — with quick, simple recipes. This week, Food Network Star mentors are sharing their can-do versions of a few of the meals the competitors made over at Phil Trani’s restaurant. Try Giada‘s, Bobby‘s and Alton‘s top-rated recipes for chicken cacciatore, salmon and steak to enjoy professional chef-quality plates in your own kitchen.

Rodney transformed the chicken cacciatore at Phil’s into a pie, but Giada’s Chicken Cacciatore (pictured above) is a tried-and-true classic that’s full of traditional flavor and texture. After quickly browning chicken breasts and thighs, Giada simmers them in a bold white wine-tomato sauce with sweet bell peppers, onions and briny capers until the meat is cooked and tender.

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No-Bake Desserts — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Recipes, July 31st, 2013

Frozen Peanut Butter BitesI sometimes question my own sanity when I crank the oven to bake pies, cakes and cookies during the summer. When the temperatures reach record-breaking highs, though, as we happen to be experiencing here in New York City, even I come to my senses. That doesn’t mean I give up on cooking from scratch, or on sweets — life is too short to skip dessert.

Sliced fruit or berries macerated — chef-speak for marinated — along with sugar, are perfect paired with fresh whipped cream. Ice pops are an easy go-to summer dessert, too. I recently made watermelon ones reminiscent of Jolly Rancher candies. Cherry Slushies are another favorite of mine and require no chilling time. You simply puree cherry conserves with ice cubes in a blender. What are your favorite ways to stay cool and still indulge?

Try these no-bake recipes

Host-Turned-Competitor Ted Allen Joins the Battle — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, July 30th, 2013


Although he’s overseen hundreds of rounds of Chopped, Ted had never before cooked in the kitchen, and he didn’t know the experiences of manipulating mystery ingredients, running through the pantry or competing against the clock firsthand. Until tonight, that is. In his first foray into battle against the Chopping Block, Ted went head-to-head-to-head with Marc and Maneet in an After Hours competition, while Chris filled his hosting shoes for the day. Ted and the judges watched three chef-competitors attempt a basket of crab legs, sweet vermouth, green asparagus and Mexican wedding cookies, before they, too, tried their hands at those ingredients with only 30 minutes on the clock.

Ted may have been the rookie contestant in the kitchen, but that didn’t stop him from tackling an ambitious dish of crab cakes, especially since the crab was frozen at the start of the battle. He quickly boiled it, making the meat easier to work with, before getting started on a vermouth vinaigrette. As is often the case among the chefs, he faced a potentially damning problem with just minutes left to cook, when his vinaigrette broke in the blender. Per the advice of peer and guest host Chris, however, Ted remade the mixture, and in the end, “it totally made the dish,” according to Chris.

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