Iron Chef Marc Forgione Off the Clock

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 9th, 2013

Iron Chef Marc ForgioneDuring Season 3 of The Next Iron Chef, I probably gave Chef Forgione more grief than both of the other judges combined did and called him out a number of times for various reasons.

Despite that, he managed to make it all the way to the finale, where his superb take on a Thanksgiving dinner made him my clear winner. Since then, Iron Chef Forgione has gone on to prove himself a very worthy addition to the culinary pantheon.

Here are 10 questions and answers that will hopefully give you more insight into the youngest of their order.

Your father, Larry Forgione, is often called “The Godfather of American Cuisine.” Was coming from a family of such astonishing culinary provenance a help or a hindrance as you climbed the ladder?
MF: A little bit of both. I think it definitely helped open doors for me, but at the same time everything I did was a lot more closely watched. There’s nothing worse than getting yelled at by a chef and then having them say to me, “Do you think your father would be happy with that?”

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Chopped Mystery Basket Weirdest Ingredient Bracket Tournament — Announcing the Winner

by in Shows, May 8th, 2013

Chopped Bracket FinalsSome of the mystery basket ingredients that get used on Chopped are pretty unusual, to say the least. But the culinary producers who come up with them don’t just draw them out of a hat — though sometimes it does seem that way! They take their time to decide on the ingredients, making sure the basket components are just right and actually manageable. FN Dish queried the culinary producers to find out the top 16 weirdest basket ingredients they’ve had on the show. The list of ingredients ranged from goat brains to gummy eggs over easy — almost no ingredient is off-limits.

Now, Chopped fans, in the past four weeks, you’ve been voting in this Bracket Tournament to determine the weirdest mystery basket ingredient ever used in the show’s history. What started out as 16 ingredients was narrowed down to just one. Today, FN Dish is revealing your winner.

Find out which ingredient you voted the weirdest!

Vivacious Pasta Salad Sides — Sensational Sides

by in In Season, May 8th, 2013

Tuscan Pasta Salad With Grilled VegetablesAt this point in the year, we can utter the word “summer” without feeling jipped. May is here, and things are only going to get hotter. That’s why FN Dish is compiling a list of pasta salad sides that are perfect for the warm weather. These recipes are anything but boring, and they also carry their fair shares of spring produce. Spoon a heap next to a grilled protein, pack some in Tupperware for outside eating, or enjoy it at home at your first barbecue of the season. No matter how you choose to enjoy it, we’re all about pasta salad on this May day.

Standard pasta salads are often creamy, but not much else. Go further with Food Network Magazine’s Pasta Salad With Asparagus, Corn and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, which is spiked with lemon, garlic and Parmesan cheese. American Macaroni Salad, too, is creamy in all the right ways, and it’s crunchy with diced celery and red onion.

The Neelys’ Lemon Pasta Salad nixes the creamy contingency for a lemony Dijon vinaigrette. With radicchio, fennel and baby bell peppers, Food Network Magazine’s Tuscan Pasta Salad With Grilled Vegetables (pictured above) is as bright as they come. Paula’s Italian Pasta Salad is fixed with bow ties and an easy balsamic vinaigrette.

Get more salad recipes from friends and family

Spatula Love — The Product Puree

by in Family, May 8th, 2013

Spatula LoveWhat’s your favorite piece of kitchen equipment? I’m not talking about your fancy stand mixer or mega-speed blender. I’m talking about the thing that time and time again assists in the smallest of kitchen tasks. For me, hands down, it’s a spatula. But the difference in all the brands on the market can make a mega-watt difference. I’ve used spatulas that heated up to the point I could almost wipe the outside coating of plastic off after it hit something hot, like soup or a sauce, so always make sure to use ones that are heat-resistant to 500 degrees F. I’ve also tried those oversized spatulas that should be used only when trying to mix 50 gallons of cookie dough in an industrial kitchen.

And how about getting the remaining mustard or ketchup out of a jar or bottle? It says there’s 9 to 15 ounces inside, but I would guarantee you toss out a good 2 ounces each time because it’s so challenging to figure a way to get the remaining spoonfuls out.

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Transforming the Familiar — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, May 7th, 2013

The Chopped judges have seen their share of odd, uncommon ingredients come out of the mystery baskets — haggis, goat brains and shad roe sack, to name a few. But sometimes what trips up the competitors more than any strange products is a selection of ordinary ingredients, like eggs, flour tortillas and apples. If the competitors are judged on their abilities to use the basket ingredients, they’ll have to think beyond omelets, tacos and fruit salads, for example, if they want to avoid the Chopping Block.

On tonight’s all-new episode of Chopped, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Maneet Chauhan and Marc Murphy welcomed four moms to the kitchen with baskets of familiar ingredients that home cooks would likely use. In the entree round, that meant a spread of mustard greens, pork butt, red quinoa and carrot baby food — products that, while perhaps difficult for these nonprofessional cooks, should have been a cinch to prepare for the chef-judges, who later tried their hands at this very basket.

Alex admitted that, with the exception of the baby food, “It’s like a nice, innocent little basket.” But that didn’t stop her and the rest of the panel from facing some of the same challenges the moms did, like how to make a tough piece of pork tender and how to quickly cook quinoa with limited time. During their friendly face-off, Marc resorted to using a meat grinder to break down the pork and make it into meatballs. Maneet incorporated the meat into a casserole-style dish, and Alex took advantage of almost every second of the competition to fully cook her quinoa.

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Make Juicier Pork

by in Food Network Magazine, May 7th, 2013

Pork ChopsThin cuts of pork can dry out quickly, so try giving them a quick brine first. Pierce chops, cutlets or other thin cuts with a fork, then soak in heavily salted cold water for 15 to 30 minutes; drain and pat dry before cooking. You can add vinegar, sugar, herbs or other flavors to the brine, too. Just remember to go easy on the salt when you cook the meat.

Give it a try with this recipe: Pork Chops With Bean Salad (pictured above)