- Horray for Hollywood-decorated cupcakes (image from Food Network Magazine)
What, no ticket to the 2011 Oscar Awards this Sunday? Consider it a lucky opportunity to view the red carpet from the best seat anywhere: your couch. You’re free to heckle the stars (their attire, hair, dates) as you wish, and shout out loud with excitement or disappointment when each winner is announced. And without a slinky dress or monkey suit to starve yourself into, you can enjoy a nominee-themed menu without worry.
Check back here every day this week — we’ll be posting menu ideas for all of the Best Picture nominees so you can eat along with your favorite film, or pick and choose from each to create your own award-winning menu. Today, Black Swan and The Fighter; two movies about battling foes both internal and actual. For tense dramas like these, popcorn just won’t do.
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Chefs (and Boot Camp Sergeants) Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine let us in on their candid conversation about the two Worst Cooks finalists, Joshie and Georg.
Anne on Joshie: If you had asked me at the beginning if Joshie was going to win, I would have said no way. But at the same time, I had a little glimmer that this was going to be my Rachel Coleman [last season’s winner]. You know, I really did. I said it on the first day, Robert, when you put him on my team.
He got it together after a while of me being like “Dude, take this seriously.” He came in to do his flambé or something and he’s like “I’m not going to that…” and I’m like “You’re what?” And he’s like “I mean, I AM going to do that.” His girlfriend was like “Wow, how did you get him to do that?” I whipped him into shape. I put the fear of Chef Anne into him. He grew not to irritate me.
I wouldn’t say that Joshie and I are going out to drinks anytime soon, but at the beginning I thought I was going to kill him. He kind of grew on me like a wart. He was not the crowd favorite, the team favorite, or my favorite. That he could transform himself and buckle down and take it seriously, I have to applaud him for that. I think he really wanted it; his eyes were opened up to so many different things. On the first day, when he was making his mess of a dish and brought it up to us, he said “I feel bad because my station was so messy and someone had to come behind me and clean it up.” I thought, that right there is the door opening. That right there, that is my Rachel Coleman. I can probably do something with this kid if he can get out of his own way.
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- Georg Coleman stuck it out all the way to the finale and became a confident cook with stellar knife skills — and she came into Boot Camp afraid of knives!
Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
When I initially found out that I had been nominated by my beloved wife, I did not believe that I needed to be on Worst Cooks in America. After giving a grand attempt at cooking for the audition process, my perception quickly changed. The chefs were eager to point out that processed foods are not of the greatest quality for my family, especially my toddler. They also helped me see that cooking with only myself in mind (my likes/dislikes) might actually be contributing to the tension in my marriage around domestic responsibilities and that my wife might actually have a valid point. I now realize that I still prepare foods and eat like a bachelorette – that I really need some guidance in how to be a better partner and mom when it comes to cooking. I have always liked food prepared on the caramelized (burnt) side – and have set off many a fire alarm to prove it. If I did not get on WCIA, there is a good chance that my marriage would have been doomed.
What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Robert?
I learned so many valuable tips and tools from Chef Robert. Three things are most prominent in my mind from my experience on WCIA. One of the most important pieces of advice he gave was how to keep my fingers out of the way when cutting, chopping and preparing foods to cook. I am still not the greatest at this… but have a lot more awareness. A second tidbit of information that was emphasized and reemphasized during the show was ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ regarding keeping our stations clean. However, the most valuable tip I personally received from Chef Robert was to cook with confidence… no matter how it all turns out!
What did you take away from the experience?
I took away so much more from this experience than I ever bargained for. I went into the show thinking that I would learn some great cooking skills from the top chefs on the Food Network, that I would have at least a few days in NYC, and that I would possibly meet some cool people. What I came away with was a new perspective on cooking, my family and life overall. I walked away from WCIA a transformed person in many ways. Being in such intimate circumstances with virtual strangers forced me to bring forth compassion, understanding, tolerance and acceptance in ways I have never known before. I have been married for 5 years… and this was a more intimately challenging situation that lasted a lot less than 5 years. That being said, I developed friendships that will last for a very long time as a result of mutually sharing such a bizarre and awesome experience. I would not be able to adequately articulate what I experienced to anyone who was not there to share it with me. It was the experience of a lifetime and one I am so grateful to have had.
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- 36-year-old Joshie Berger of Brooklyn is the Season 2 Worst Cooks in America winner. "It sounds cliche, but this experience was really life-altering," he says.
Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I really needed to be on Worst Cooks because of my background and personality. I grew up a Hasidic Jew, so I was limited to eating only strictly kosher foods. While the community I grew up in did a reasonable job (considering the limited ingredients available) in presenting edible food, in no way did it prepare me for the range of food options I was presented with when I entered the normal secular world. Additionally, I have a childish palette that prefers chicken fingers and french fries. Combine all this with a healthy dose of A.D.D. and sprinkle in some A.D.H.D. for good measure and you can understand the horror that is me in the kitchen. I would love nothing more than to overcome my idiotic food issues and confront my fears of strange foods. My relationship and social interactions literally depend on it.
What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Anne?
The turning point for me in boot camp was when it Chef Anne finally got it through my thick skull that I can have fun in the kitchen without needing to resort to my usual shenanigans. Preparing food and adjusting recipes can incorporate all of a person’s creative energies without the need to be a comedian or clown. Focusing my positive energies on producing restaurant quality meals is a great challenge and the results are a lot more rewarding than the laughs I know I can get elsewhere. Bottom line: if you’re having fun in the kitchen, the food will reflect that.
What did you take away from the experience?
It sounds quite cliche, but this experience was really life-altering. Cooking, and food in general, is such an important part of our lives and having confidence in preparing delicious meals changes you in so many ways. I am an extremely extroverted and social person, and making meals and preparing dinners is something that I love doing routinely. I have very little patience at restaurants and always preferred to eat at home, but ordering in was usually the method employed in the past. Being able to now sit around and entertain and chat while preparing food is a wonderful aspect of hosting. When my girlfriend comes home after a long day’s work, she can rest while watching me cook for her. This is something I cherish and find cathartic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still fun and loud, but it’s a lot more tolerable when I’m producing great results.
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Every week in this spot, FoodNetworkFans.com will give you the latest dish about chefs on the web.
We love to watch our favorite chefs on the Food Network, but celebrity chefs are about so much more than their restaurants and TV shows. Being a fan is so much easier these days with chefs updating us about their lives on Facebook and Twitter. Faithful followers can find out what they are having for dinner in their own homes, the specials running in their restaurants and who they pick as their favorite sports teams.
Bobby Flay’s Horse Habit You already know Bobby is fast in the kitchen, but did you know he races horses? In November his horse, “More Than Real” won the $1 Million Juvenile Fillies Turf at the Breeders’ Cup. In this HULU video he shares the details of his stable. He and his wife have been spotted at the Kentucky Derby and you can watch a YouTube video of Chef Flay calling a race at Saratoga. Bobby credits his grandfather for developing his love of horse racing. “My grandfather first took me to Belmont one summer and then took me to Saratoga, where I really fell in love with racing” he said. “Most people who go to Saratoga for the first time become fans for life. The magic of Saratoga does that to you.”
Food Network Banned? Recently the AFP reported that Iranian state run television has banned cooking shows that feature western cuisine. According to the report, cooking shows are very popular with the Iranian people and many shows featuring foreign foods and cooking styles have aired on daytime television. But in an effort to fight “western influences” any show featuring non-Iranian dishes will be banned. Perhaps they fear the demand for butter would become too great if Paula Deen makes her debut?
We at Food Network Fans are constantly looking for info and sharing links on where we can find our favorite stars, discuss our favorite show, visit a book signing, or see an appearance in other venues. We invite you to stop by and visit with us at FoodNetworkFans.com
- Giada’s Grapefruit, Onion, Basil Salad
In the Southern portion of the U.S., the fall and winter months are prime time for citrus growing, with orange, grapefruit, and lemon crops at their peak from September/October until June. Despite the colder-than-normal temperatures this year, the USDA still expects Florida citrus trees to put forth around 19.6 million boxes of grapefruit, 4.4 million boxes of tangerines and a whopping 138 million boxes of oranges. Make these fruits the star of your meal — they’ll add refreshing bursts of flavor sure to liven up the drab winter months.
One slice into a juicy blood orange and you will see where these radiant red fruits get their name. Make a sweet-and-tangy, crimson-colored reduction out of them for Food.com‘s Baby Lamb Chops With Blood Orange Sauce.
Giada’s Grapefruit, Onion, and Basil Salad is an inventive twist on the summer fruit salad. Salty black olives and crunchy red onions pair perfectly with sweet balsamic vinegar and tangy grapefruit.
Fresh juice from ripe tangerines add zesty flavors to Food2.com’s Tangerine and Cardamom Glazed Roasted Winter Vegetables. Serve this alongside the Lamb Chops With Blood Orange sauce for an elegant and creative dinner.
To end your meal, try Emeril’s Lemon and Blueberry Tea Cake from The Cooking Channel. This cinnamon-spiked sweet treat is a cinch to make.
- This week, the win went to Ron for his "cupcake-rockin', lights-a-blazing, show-stopping, gravity-defying Vegas-style display," says Candace.
Cupcake Wars judge Candace Nelson is the founder and pastry chef of Sprinkles Cupcakes, the world’s first cupcake bakery. She joins us on the FN Dish each week to recap all the sweet details of the competition from her seat at the judges’ table. Here’s what she had to say about last night’s episode, Cirque du Soleil.
It is only fitting that the Cirque du Soleil Cupcake Wars would be a spectacular ride. This was truly a show of “firsts,” starting with the oxtail cupcake in round one. When people ask me about the most unusual cupcake I have come across in Season Two, it’s this one. Not only does Shaunda claim this distinction, but also the additional distinction of being the first contestant to use every ingredient on the challenge table. This round required two ingredients and she used seven. Wow.
Stephanie, who blew us away with a truly artful vanilla bean-ginger, caramelized pear and Thai basil cupcake in round one, got even more ambitious in round two and didn’t finish in time. It was another Cupcake Wars first. The judges weren’t even allowed to try her beautiful cupcakes. She was disqualified for not completing the challenge.
And, finally, in round three, Ron went all out, giving us the first levitating cupcakes we’ve seen on Cupcake Wars. The win goes to him for his all out, cupcake-rockin’, lights-a-blazing, show-stopping, gravity-defying Vegas-style display!
Bake up a batch of Ron’s winning Oatmeal-Raisin Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting and check out FoodNetwork.com for more about Cupcake Wars, plus dozens of our best cupcake recipes.
- Bake Ina's Outrageous Brownies for the ultimate share-able sweet.
Sure, lots of brownie mixes are good, especially when dolled up with special touches. (Paula, Giada and the Neelys all have short-cut, dressed-up mix recipes.) So why bother baking from-scratch, homemade brownies – measuring, melting and mixing with precision? Your brownies will be different. . . in a good way. Just browse recipes and start making choices: cakey or fudgy, bittersweet or semi-sweet, melted bars or cocoa powder, nuts or no nuts, chips or no chips? In a crowd of boxed brownie taste-memories, yours will stand out from the crowd. So get baking!
- No need to halve a brownie recipe -- leftovers travel well and are always appreciated.
Our Top Brownie Recipes:
Ina’s Outrageous Brownies (pictured above)
Alton’s Cocoa Brownies
Ina’s Peanut Swirl Brownies
Ellie’s Slimmed-Down Brownies
Nigella’s Triple Chocolate Brownies
Bobby’s Peanut Butter Caramel Swirled Brownies
Paula’s Toffee Brownies
Chocolate Brownie Crunch
Giada’s Espresso Brownies
What’s your favorite brownie recipe?
- The Whoopie Pie and its Great Divide
What’s the Big Whoop? Pie-minded folks in Pennsylvania are in a heated debate with their compatriots in Maine over which states’ residents created the first whoopie pie. Throwing a wrench into both of their half-baked arguments is a food historian, who tells the Wall Street Journal that the original documented fluffy cookie sandwich is actually from Massachusetts. Will we ever know for sure? [wsj.com]
A Diet of Processed Foods Linked to Lower IQ: A recent study published by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reveals a link between diet in early childhood and IQ. Of the 14,000 children studied, those who consumed a predominately processed food diet before the age of three (the brain grows fastest up to this age) exhibited a lower IQ at the age of 8.5 than those who took a more health-conscious dietary approach. [sciencedaily.com]
Better School Lunches Do Indeed Exist: There’s been a ton of hullabaloo in the news about the non-nutritious state of school lunches, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to see that some educational institutions might be getting it right. Here, the Huffington Post shows how public schools in New York City, Chicago and Atlanta are benefitting from a farm-to-table lunch program. [huffingtonpost.com]
The Food Processor Turns 40: The appliance we’ve grown to know as the food processor was introduced 40 years ago in Paris. It was originally coined the Magimix, and it took about a decade for the machine to catch on. Since then, home cooks have discovered “wicked things” they can make with one, and a few of these appliance-enthusiasts are gushing about it all to the Chicago Sun Times. [suntimes.com]
Here’s our round-up of food news, trends and happenings across the web. Check back for more, and tell us what else you’re loving in the comments.
- Food Network's Milissa Tarquini demonstrates the recipe search function on the ITK app. (Photo 2011©Alexander Bitar)
Last week was social media week in New York City — a chance for New Yorkers to learn about the latest trends in social, mobile, gaming and more across categories like food, entertainment, music and fashion. At an event called Eats & Apps, put on by MouthoftheBorder, the latest apps were presented to food lovers (professionals and enthusiasts alike). And by apps, we mean -etizers and -lications. Sliders, mac and cheese, veggie chili and fries from build-a-burger joint 4Food were passed as party-goers chatted with the creators of the newest products marrying tech and food. Attendees had the opportunity to try out the new apps and talk to the creative minds who brought them to life, as well as mingle with food writers, bloggers, editors and home cooks. Food Network’s In the Kitchen App for iPad, iPhone and Android was there, joining the ranks of the latest, greatest must-have food and cooking apps of the moment.
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