A Few Good Apples: 7 Apple Varieties and the Best Uses for Each

by in Recipes, September 30th, 2015

There’s no doubt about it: When it comes to fruit, Americans prefer apples — not just for their taste and versatility, but for their robust health benefits and year-round availability, too. A recent study found that apples account for 29 percent of the fruit consumed by U.S. kids daily. To keep up with the demand, growers have begun reviving long-gone heirloom varieties, and high-tech breeders are creating new strains for every taste — tart apples, sweet apples, apples that don’t brown after cutting. But a quick trip to the grocery store can easily turn into an ordeal when faced with the dozen or so varieties in rotation at any given time. While this is nothing compared with the tens of thousands of apple varieties available in the U.S. at one point, it’s still a lot when you consider how heavily modern agricultural practices have streamlined our choices.

As we enter prime apple season, it’s important to keep in mind that not all breeds are created equal. While some varieties were destined to star in your Thanksgiving apple pie, others are better suited for applesauce, salads or eating fresh out of hand. If you’ve been underwhelmed by previous attempts to cook or bake with apples, the problem may have nothing to do with your kitchen skills and everything to do with your choice of fruit. The following are just a sampling of the countless breeds you’ll find in markets every fall, with tips on the best uses for each variety.

As a general rule, Fujis are too juicy for baking, but they’re great for eating fresh. Use them to add a touch of sweetness in salads and slaws — or, slice them up and use them as a sweet-crisp complement to your fall cheese board, as Rachael Ray does in her recipe for Warm Brie with Fuji Apple, Pear and Melba Toasts. However, if gently simmered on the stovetop, Fujis can make a wonderfully sweet and supple topping for fresh baked goods, as you’ll find with Food Network Kitchen’s Souffle Pancake with Apple-Pear Compote (pictured at top).

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Valerie Bertinelli Is Inviting Fans Back Into Her Kitchen for a New Season of Valerie’s Home Cooking

by in Shows, September 30th, 2015

Valerie BertinelliValerie Bertinelli is back to share more of her mouthwatering recipes in the second season of Valerie’s Home Cooking, premiering Saturday, Nov. 7 at 12:30|11:30c. Whether it is a fun poker night, an irresistible Thanksgiving feast or just a simple Sunday dinner, Valerie offers useful tips and tricks for preparing crowd-pleasing, homemade dishes that everyone will enjoy.

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Keyboard Waffle Iron Makes Breakfast for Every Type

by in News, September 30th, 2015

Keyboard Waffle Iron Makes Breakfast for Every TypeWhy did nobody come up with this idea before: a waffle iron that makes waffles in the shape of a keyboard? Well, no matter. Now, thankfully, someone has.

Actually, Brooklyn-based graphic artist and designer Chris Dimino first created the prototype for the Keyboard Waffle Iron while he was a student at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Assigned to take an old item and modify it to give it a new function, he turned a vintage Smith Corona typewriter into a very cool breakfast tool. (Bing!)

Dimino’s prototype was featured in a group show and got a lot of attention back in 2007, but it wasn’t until last year that he put his concept up on Kickstarter in hopes of raising the cash to manufacture the Keyboard Waffle Iron on a broad scale and make it available to the QWERTY-waffle-hungry masses. Dimino hoped to raise $50,000. Thanks to 850 keyboard-shaped-waffle-craving backers, he raised $66,685.

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6 Ways to Upgrade Vanilla Pudding

by in Food Network Magazine, Recipes, September 30th, 2015

vanilla pudding

Pudding is perfect for just about any mood. Whether you’re grumpy or happy, pudding offers a cupful of comfort. It’s also super-easy to whip together at home.

To make your own (without the packet), start with Food Network Magazine’s basic vanilla recipe, which calls for just a few of ingredients you likely already have on hand.

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3 of a Kind: Kombucha Cocktails

by in Restaurants, September 30th, 2015

Betony 3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

Part fermented potion, part hippie-joke punchline, kombucha existed long before yogis and hipsters caught on to it. The ancient beverage — made with fermented tea, sugar and scoby, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast — has now started popping up on cocktail menus. It’s beloved by bartenders who combine it with juice, beer and spirits to create thoroughly modern cocktails.

Marco Polo, Betony, New York
At Betony, kombucha is made with a scoby that is four or five years old. Inspired by the explorer of the same name, the Marco Polo is a tour of the world: The drink combines refreshingly sour tea (which originated in China) with bittersweet amaro from Italy and an IPA representing India. The drink is garnished with cucumber and is great as an aperitif. Kombucha is also served with a variety of seasonal ingredients, such as cranberry, tobacco or chamomile.

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Q&A with Halloween Baking Championship Judge Carla Hall

by in Shows, September 29th, 2015

Carla HallOn the new show Halloween Baking Championship, expect to be blown away by some of the extremely creepy creations the bakers make, but even more than that, be ready for probably the scariest panel of judges you will ever see, and a host who’s not afraid to deliver some deadly news to eliminated bakers. Judges Carla Hall, Ron Ben-Israel and Sherry Yard will be dishing out critiques, while Richard Blais will be sending home those bakers who don’t meet the spooktacular criteria of the $25,000 competition show. Before you tune in for the premiere on Monday, October 5 at 9|8c, get to know each of them a little better.

Before becoming a chef, Carla was on the path to becoming an accountant, until traveling awakened her passion for cooking. She’s appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars, and currently is a co-host on ABC’s chat-and-chew daytime show, The Chew. She recently opened Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen, a fast-casual restaurant in Nashville.

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Banana Snack Cake with Coconut, Chocolate and Pecan Streusel — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in Recipes, September 29th, 2015

You know what drives me nuts? Bananas. Have you noticed how a whole bunch of bananas will always become ready to eat on the same day? I fight a losing battle with my bananas every week. I want to eat one every day. But it never works out that way. Inevitably I end up having to down five ripe ones in one afternoon. I’ve tried to rip apart bunches of varying ripeness and assemble the perfect hybrid bunch at the store. But I don’t think supermarkets condone that kind of behavior. And I’m a timid rule breaker.

Thankfully, the overripe banana is the baker’s best friend. Unlike wilted lettuce and mealy apples, squishy brown bananas make for fabulous baked goods. I keep them in a big plastic bag in the freezer, adding super-soft specimens weekly. They can hang out there for months, just waiting for their opportunity to shine.

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Scarlett Can Really Cook: Get to Know the Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-Off Winner

by in Shows, September 29th, 2015

Scarlett, winner of Rachael Ray's Kids Cook-OffYou’ve probably never seen an 11-year-old with better knife skills than Scarlett. Self-taught, this little culinarian was inspired by Food Network and the internet to get cooking because she just wasn’t getting the kind of food she wanted at home. Now after winning Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-Off, she’s gone on to film her own Web series, This Cali Kid Can Cook. But she’s not resting on her laurels. She’s recently been staging at restaurants in Los Angeles, perfecting her craft before she moves on to her next adventure, which may be culinary school or business school.

FN Dish caught up with Scarlett on the set of her Web series to chat about her cooking inspirations, her favorite dishes to cook and the effect of her winning the series.

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You’re Never Too Old for Cereal Treats

by in Family, Recipes, September 29th, 2015

The magical combination of cereal, marshmallows and butter is nostalgic for many of us, but that doesn’t mean cereal treats should be reserved for the kids. And why stick to just one kind of crispy rice cereal, cut into boring old squares? Get creative in the cereal aisle and try out different shapes, molds and clusters. The possibilities for these timeless crowd-pleasers are limitless, and they’re still one of the easiest no-bake treats around. Read more

How to Make Ghoulish Goodies and Creepy Cupcake Toppers — Halloween Baking Championship [INFOGRAPHIC]

by in Shows, September 29th, 2015

Halloween Baking Championship