Celebrated chefs from around the country have entered Season 4 of the Chopped All-Stars tournament for a chance to walk away victorious. For many it’s not their first time setting foot in the hallowed kitchen, but for others it’s their first attempt at cooking with and transforming mystery basket ingredients. On the line is the largest prize yet, $75,000 for charity. In Part 1 Art Smith, Brian Malarkey, Eric Greenspan and Madison Cowan brought their best game to the competition, but in the end it all came down to the one who dealt best with the baskets. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the Part 1 winner.
Forget about the soggy, egg-logged pieces of French toast you may be used to, because with the help of these best-ever breakfast recipes, you can turn out a hearty morning meal that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. In terms of flavor in your French toast, that largely comes from the custard in which the bread soaks. While a sweetened vanilla mixture is perhaps the most classic, you can dress up the original to include fresh citrus, like Ina Garten does, or add melted chocolate for next-level richness, as is the case in Melissa d’Arabian’s recipe. Read on below for these how-tos, plus more creative French toast picks.
Challah French Toast — Consider this your ultimate French toast workhouse recipe. Ready to eat in a hurry, Ina’s big-batch breakfast (pictured above) is made with thick-cut challah bread and becomes rich and moist thanks to a soak in a citrus-laced vanilla custard. When it comes to toppings, stick with classic maple syrup, or opt for raspberry preserves and a dusting of sugar — or pile on all three fixings for a decadent finish.
By Aaron Hutcherson
The third annual New York International Olive Oil Competition took place this month, where a panel of 15 expert tasters spent three days evaluating nearly 700 different olive oils.
Seven hundred olive oils? Yes. A lot of variations exist in the world of oil. The first kind that likely comes to mind is “extra virgin,” which signifies more nutrients, less refinement and a more nuanced flavor. Many experts liken olive oil to wine in terms of its breadth of flavor. Olive oil can range from sweet to bitter or smooth to astringent, and it can have any combination of floral, fruity or grassy notes.
Here are a few things I learned at the competition that will help you shop for, store and cook smarter with oil:
Does the local pizza joint know your order the second they realize it’s you on the phone? It might be time to branch out and try something out of your comfort zone. After all, pizza comes in lots of different styles. From Chicago’s deep and cheesy to the classic New York slice, we’ve got your ideal pizza style.
Hey, baking fans! It’s spring and it’s time to … bake? Yeah, that’s what I said too! I bake all year long and mark my calendar by the treats that are coming out of my oven. I know it’s time to start buying presents when I have baked the last pecan pie for Thanksgiving. I know it’s Super Bowl time when I bake my brother’s birthday cake. Spring, though, I had to think about. It’s not as obvious as Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hanukkah. But as I prepared for Spring Baking Championship, I started seeing some really familiar desserts, and that got my wheels turning.
Chiffon cake, buckle, lemon anything, rhubarb, trifle, pavlova — all these desserts are the pastry chef’s expression of baking in the spring. They are all light, with delicate textures and fruity flavors that are perfect for shrugging off that winter coat and getting ready to be outside a lot more. These were the challenges that the bakers faced in creating these sweets, and Lorraine Pascale, Nancy Fuller and I we were super excited to be tasting flavors and textures that we ourselves were gearing up to use.
While breakfast for dinner may be part of the usual suppertime routine in many homes, you most likely look to a standard stack of pancakes or a platter of eggs and bacon to get the job done. But the options for morning meals at dinner indeed go beyond the traditional. Think Food Network Kitchen’s cinnamon-scented Coconut-Almond French Toast Casserole, Food Network Magazine’s Mushroom-Spinach Baked Eggs laced with nutty Gruyère cheese, or the Scrambled Egg Subs (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine.
Instead of featuring scrambled eggs alongside toast, this quick-fix recipe has them stuffed inside buttered hot dog buns for a heartier dish. The secret to turning out soft, fluffy scrambled eggs — and not tough, dry ones — is to not overcook the eggs. Here the eggs come together over medium heat, so they’re not scorched right away, and only when they’ve begun to set is it time to add the fresh herbs and melty cheese, like Havarti or Muenster, for over-the-top gooeyness. A handful of fresh scallions in the eggs promises a subtle, welcome bite, while a cool side salad of radishes and celery rounds out the fuss-free meal in a hurry.
Every afternoon was the same at my house: tired kids running around, alternately asking for snacks, playing and fighting. I was distracted in the kitchen trying to get a fresh meal on the table — something that didn’t come out of a sack and something that would nourish us. Then I discovered how to use my freezer to cook dinner.
Now when I’m prepping dinner, I can double (or split) it into two portions, one for now and one for later. Not every recipe will cooperate, but these family-friendly dishes work beautifully for just such a job:
Honey-Mustard Chicken: If you try nothing else, try this one that our kids love. Chicken thighs (or breasts) bake in a simple sweet sauce; double the recipe and throw half into a baking dish for dinner and the other serving into a zip-top bag bound for the freezer. Serve both over your favorite grain to soak up all that juice.
Giada De Laurentiis’ Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables: A one-pot meal brimming with fresh veggies like zucchini, summer squash and peppers sounds perfect for spring, but Giada’s penne goes the extra kid-friendly mile with two kinds of cheeses. Prep the entire recipe and pour into two pans (or double it for large groups); cook one pan and cover the other with foil for the freezer.
By now Cutthroat Kitchen superfans know that when it comes to evaluating the plates before them, judges assess just three elements of the offering: its taste, its presentation and whether or not it reminds them of the challenge dish at hand. While that indeed seems simple enough, Alton Brown and Jet Tila discussed a common mistake chefs make when facing off in battle: muddling their dishes with non-essential components.
During tonight’s installment of the After-Show, the two looked back on Heat 2 of the Cutthroat Kitchen: Evilicious tournament and a sabotage that introduced what Alton deemed to be “a distraction” to chefs’ dishes. The sabotage at hand afforded one chef sole control over the ingredients needed to make chicken-fried steak and another chef control over the required tools. It was up to them to share both sets of items, considering what they wanted to keep for themselves and what they’d be willing to part with. As for the cornmeal Jet found within the ingredient basket, Alton explained, “That’s a distraction, ’cause what it says is ‘Hey, make a side.'” Jet agreed, adding that the distinction between what’s required of the test at hand and what isn’t is a key to success in this contest. “That is a huge tip,” Jet noted. “Make the challenge and don’t go crazy.”
If you had to plan your perfect day of eating, where would you go?
That’s the question we pose to Food Network stars and guests on the new Web series Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Wonder where Melissa d’Arabian gets her morning fuel in San Diego? Or which Los Angeles restaurants could make tough-as-nails critic Simon Majumdar smile? This new series reveals perfect meals from coast to coast.
When it comes to Mexican night at home, tacos often steal the show, but with the help of this week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week, you can dig into your favorite flavors and ingredients in an all-new way. Just like a taco, the tostada features a corn tortilla base, but instead of being folded and filled, it’s kept flat and then fried so you can pile on the toppings. This recipe starts with a smear of refried beans, then layers lime-marinated chicken, cool lettuce and a mix of classic fixings, like creamy avocado and fresh-tomato salsa, for an over-the-top bite.
For more dinner ideas, check out Food Network’s Let’s Cook: Main Dishes board on Pinterest.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Tostadas (pictured above)