4 Flag Desserts for a Festive Fourth

by in Holidays, June 27th, 2015

Who needs fireworks when you can celebrate America’s birthday with a sweet bite of red, white and blue? These flag desserts will make the perfect patriotic conclusion to your backyard gathering with family and friends.

Ina Garten’s Flag Cake (pictured at top)
Topped with rich cream cheese frosting and seasonal summer berries, this cake is the best centerpiece for your July Fourth celebration. Make the easy vanilla sheet cake ahead of time, and decorate it with berries and frosting just before serving.

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U.S. Coffee Consumption Goes Down, While Spending Goes Up

by in News, June 27th, 2015

U.S. Coffee Consumption Goes Down, While Spending Goes UpCall it the Keurig effect. Thanks in large measure to the rise in single-cup brew pods, Americans are consuming less coffee — although they are also spending more on it than ever.

U.S. coffee consumption is projected to decline from 24 million to 23.7 million 60-kilogram bags in 2015-2016, down for the first time since 2009-2010, according to a newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

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How to Make Dairy-Free Ice Cream with a Creamy Coconut Base

by in Recipes, June 27th, 2015

Cool and creamy, light yet rich, ice cream has the ability to satisfy your cravings without filling you up. It’s these qualities that make frozen treats the perfect ending to just about any meal.

Making dairy-free versions of traditional desserts often involves a few extra steps, from making a nut-based milk or cream to replacing an egg by mixing ground flax seeds with water. These additional steps can put home cooks off, as they take extra time and ingredients, and create more dirty dishes, too. This recipe for vegan ice cream is the exception — it’s actually easier and faster than ones with traditional dairy and egg ice cream bases. It can easily be done by beginners and experienced ice cream churners alike. There’s no extended time spent over the stove awaiting the moment the custard thickens and no reason to worry that you’ll scramble the eggs if your mixture cooks too long. All you need to do for this ice cream is warm coconut milk and thicken it with a little dissolved arrowroot powder before cooling and churning — it’s that easy! Infusing the milk with vanilla bean adds great flavor but can be skipped in a pinch. This ice cream is the perfect base for a variety of mix-ins, and some of my favorites are included below.

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A Slew of Slaws for Your Cookout

by in Recipes, June 26th, 2015

While a classic, creamy coleslaw fits in at any summer gathering — topping picnic sandwiches and sidling up next to smoky, barbecued meats — sometimes you want to serve a slaw that really stands on its own. The classic bagged cabbage-and-carrot mix often wilts over time, succumbing to the flavor of the mayo-vinegar sauce and languishing in a pool of it. But if you add in other ingredients — including, say, firm, crunchy jicama — and make the dressing a little more interesting, your slaw can more easily mingle with Asian-inspired grilled chicken or street-style Mexican corn.

Asian Slaw (pictured above)
In Alton Brown’s recipe, thinly sliced cabbage finds company with red and yellow bell peppers, grated carrots, bias-cut onions and chiffonade-sliced cilantro and mint, forming a rainbow-hued slaw with a medley of interesting textures. The classic Asian dressing imbues salty, nutty flavor, and serrano chiles add a healthy amount of heat.

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The Top Picnic Mistakes to Avoid, and How to Fix Them If They Happen, Plus Boozy Bubbles to Pack in the Basket

by in Books, In Season, June 26th, 2015

The PicnicWhen it comes to summer picnics, you’ll be hard pressed to find better resources for tips, tricks and menus than Marnie Hanel, Andrea Slonecker and Jen Stevenson of the Portland Picnic Society. They’ve assembled the only picnic guide you’ll ever need in their new book, The Picnic. The Picnic has everything from the rules for common lawn games and 99 uses for Mason jars to delicious recipes and menu ideas. The book is perfect for the novice picnicgoer, with guides for packing your basket and how big a blanket to get, and a list of essential tools everyone always forgets.

One of the most-useful parts of The Picnic is the crisis-aversion section of the book, where 10 common picnic disasters are triaged proactively for you. Planning a picnic before you can snag your own copy of the book? Keep the following details in mind.

1. Bathroom Break: Nothing ruins a picnic like having to go, with no relief in sight. Scout the state of your picnic site’s restrooms upon arrival. If they’re locked or loathsome, search for the nearest coffeehouse and inform your friends of its location.

2. Beat the Heat: If it’s a real sizzler of a day, surprise your fellow guests with a Mediterranean-scented cooldown: Add a few drops of rose, citrus or lavender oil to chilled miniature spray bottles of water and distribute them to the crowd. (Paper fans work, too.)

3. Battle of the Bugs: Summer bugs are a picnic plague. Bring an arsenal of citronella votives and bug spray. To keep unwelcome sweet-tea swimmers at bay, try this easy trick for transforming a Mason jar: Remove the lid and set it aside. Take a square of decorative paper, punch a hole in it, lay it over the lip of your jar, replace the ring and poke a straw through the hole. Drink elsewhere, bugs.

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Cold Brew & Beyond: 5 Coffee Trends to Look for This Summer

by in News, June 26th, 2015

Whether you rely on a big chain or a neighborhood cafe for your daily dose of caffeine, by now you’ve noticed that cold brewed coffee is getting a lot of attention — and for good reason. Unlike traditional iced coffee, which is made by brewing hot coffee at double strength and pouring it over ice, cold brew is steeped for a long time — up to 14 hours, if you wish — at room temperature. The result? A balanced and distinctively smooth cup of joe that’s both chocolatey and low in acidity.

Recently, this barista-approved method has inspired a number of innovative and experimental renditions of summer’s quintessential pick-me-up, like coffee-flavored sodas and beers, and plenty of regional twists on the basic cold brew recipe of ground coffee plus cold water. So the next time a caffeine craving strikes, reach for one of these five trendy takes on the thirst-quenching beverage.

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Caption It: Start Your Engines

by , June 26th, 2015
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Food Network StarStars, stripes and fireworks — they're all set to be on display this weekend as the finalists leave Food Star Kitchen behind and head outside for a 4th of July cookout. Though of course all of the rivals are seeking individual Stardom, once again t...

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What to Watch: Festive Party Bites on Trisha’s Southern Kitchen and a 4th of July Cookout on Food Network Star

by in Shows, June 26th, 2015

Food Network StarWhen it comes to showing someone how much you care about them, a home-cooked meal can be just the right gesture. This weekend, tune in for all-new recipes and episodes on Food Network, where stars like Ree Drummond and Trisha Yearwood cook for their family and friends. On Saturday morning, catch up with Ree as she makes Breakfast Biscuits for her husband and son, who are working on the ranch. Next, join the birthday celebration at Trisha’s house, where she and her friend Glenda are making fun finger foods like Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars for their costume party. On Sunday morning, Daphne Brogdon takes you around the world with an internationally inspired menu that features sticky ribs with a homemade banana sauce and a soba noodle salad.

The competition heats up on Sunday night, first with a summer celebration on Triple G. Watch the chefs channel their creativity as they turn cherry pie ingredients into a chicken dinner worthy of a $20,000 prize. Next, jump-start your patriotic festivities with Food Network Star, where the finalists cook for a 4th of July cookout. The weekend wouldn’t be complete without a few evilicious challenges from Alton — don’t miss an all-new Cutthroat Kitchen at 10|9c.

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Japan Can Now Dine at a Super Mario Bros. Cafe

by in News, June 25th, 2015

Japan Can Now Dine at a Super Mario Bros. CafeBelieve it or not, it has been 30 years since Nintendo released the seminal video game Super Mario Bros. in Japan, in 1985. The game came to North America the next year, but Japan is getting a jump on celebrating Mario’s big three-O — and Tower Records Japan (a throwback concept in itself) is taking full advantage of its head start.

To mark the occasion, the retail music chain’s three Tokyo locations — in the city’s Shibuya, Omotesando and Ebisu districts — are launching a limited-time-only Super Mario Bros. pop-up cafe, featuring a panoply of character-themed dishes. You got your Blooper’s Squid Ink Pasta, Banana Block Tira Misu, Mario Latte and Underwater Stage Drink. Or you can dig into a Super Star Rice Omelet, Ground Stage Waffle, Mario Latte and Piranha Plant Soda.

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7 Ways to Win at Potato Salad — Summer Soiree

by in Recipes, June 25th, 2015

Mesa Grill's Southwestern Potato SaladWhen you’re cooking a spread in the name of summer, you better bet a side of potato salad will make the cut. For your next cookout or backyard bash, load up on our favorite takes on this American great. Each of these summery recipes comes with an edge that separates it from the rest.

1. Make it spicy.

Potato salad is even better when you counter its creamy vibes with the heat of chipotle pepper puree and cayenne. Bobby Flay shares Mesa Grill’s Southwestern Potato Salad (pictured above), which strikes a perfect balance of cool creaminess and Southwestern spice.

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