Celebrating My Favorite Fall Ingredient: Coconut Oil

by in Food Network Chef, November 7th, 2013

Coconut OilSome of you know that I live in San Diego, which I love. You may also know (if you read my post on pumpkin puree) that I feel a little left out of the fall rituals that I cherished during my years living back East — pulling out the cardigans, folding up and putting away all my “summer clothes,” switching to roasted dinners, eating winter squash (I just had perfect watermelon, and it’s November!). But I had a glimmer of a cold front arriving the other day. I hopped out of the shower, grabbed my jar of coconut oil, and it was solid. You see, coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F, so it has been probably 10 months since I’ve seen solid coconut oil in my home. I can officially join the rest of the country celebrating autumn. Solid coconut oil is my personal version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte — it lets me know it’s OK to start my holiday shopping.

Coconut oil is perhaps the most purchased and used oil in my house, because I use it in the kitchen and as a beauty product; I have one jar in the pantry and one in my bathroom. This versatile oil is solid at comfortable room temperature, but its low melting point means it is usually on the brink of melting. This is actually a huge plus, because it can act like solid fats (butter, shortening) in a cool room, but just adding a few more degrees of heat will enable you to treat it like almost any other oil (with an amazing subtle taste). So if you want to cook with it as a solid (try replacing some of the shortening or butter in crust), then you would likely want to chill it a little in the refrigerator (or just keep your kitchen cold). If you want to cook with coconut oil as a flavorful substitute for other oils (try sauteing carrots in coconut oil with some shallots and chipotle powder), then you can just spoon out the oil and let it melt in a pan — or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds. To use coconut oil as a beauty product, I just scoop out a little and place it in my palm, where it melts from my skin’s heat within seconds.

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Comforting Cauliflower — Fall Fest

by in In Season, November 7th, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower RisottoIt’s November, and for all we know, you’re already knee-deep in beef stew, spaghetti and meatballs, and chicken noodle soup. We get it. Fall means comfort: stews so tender the meat is falling off the bone and casseroles so cozy you get knocked into a nap at the last bite.

Here’s the thing: Comfort food doesn’t need to be synonymous with meat. Believe it or not, even the most unassuming veggies have the power to cure us of all our woes. Leave it to cauliflower — and these recipes — to bring you all kinds of comfort this season.

Stir a pot of risotto to sultry completion, this time with roasted cauliflower florets and sliced almonds adding that extra crunch. Food Network Magazine’s Roasted Cauliflower Risotto (pictured above) can work as a rich main dish, or as a smaller side.

Get more cauliflower recipes from friends and family

#TBT: Ina Garten

by in Food Network Chef, November 7th, 2013

Ina GartenIt’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.

Before Ina Garten was known as the Barefoot Contessa, she was working in Washington, D.C., at America’s most famous address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. While at the White House, she focused on nuclear energy policy; it wasn’t until later that she learned she was destined for a life in food. In 1978 Ina and her husband, Jeffrey, bought Barefoot Contessa, a specialty food shop in the Hamptons on Long Island. After years under Ina’s leadership, the once-tiny store had been transformed into a thriving business with dozens of employees and a stellar local reputation. She eventually sold Barefoot Contessa in 1996, but the nickname stuck with her, so much so that her first Food Network show premiered with that title in 2005.

When it comes to cooking, Ina has a passion for creating feasts that are at once familiar and fancy with the best, freshest ingredients available, which is something she’s tried to instill in her fans as well. Each week on Barefoot Contessa, Ina highlights a theme, event or ingredient that’s particularly relevant to her, and she features it in recipes that are not only accessible and easy to prepare but deliciously satisfying as well. Some of her most lauded dishes include Engagement Roast ChickenMac and Cheese and Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, but she’s known to create dressed-up plates as well, like Salmon with Lentils and Croissant Bread Pudding. No matter the cuisine and meal, however, Ina’s sure to incorporate can-do techniques and handy tips to help viewers re-create her recipes with ease.

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Restaurant Revisited: His Way or the Highway at The Windsor 75

by in Shows, November 6th, 2013

Restaurant: Impossible“This might be a lost cause,” Robert Irvine said while working with the Calos family at their seven-year-old restaurant, The Windsor 75. Owners Therese and George and their two sons needed Robert’s help to not only update what he deemed “blah” decor and improve their menu but also ease the tensions and end the bickering between them. With just two days to work and a $10,000 budget, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team accomplished their mission to relaunch The Windsor 75 and set up the Caloses with the tools they need for future success. FN Dish checked in with Therese a few months after the renovation to find out how the eatery is doing today.

Since The Windsor 75 reopened, Therese says, business has increased nearly 10 percent, and they tweaked their hours and offerings, now closing on Monday and serving breakfast only on the weekends. To her, perhaps the most-impressive aspect of the transformation is the updated design. “It is open, airy, and filled with life and hope for the future,” Therese tells FN Dish. “Truly words cannot express how we feel about the decor. Our hearts are bursting! There are too many wonderful elements.”

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Best 5 Thanksgiving Stuffings

by in Holidays, Recipes, November 6th, 2013

Sourdough Bread StuffingSecond perhaps only to the centerpiece turkey on Thanksgiving, stuffings and dressings are some of the most-craved and comforting dishes on your Turkey Day table. Whether you stuff your bird or not, these bread-based casseroles are both simple to prepare and versatile enough that you can suit them to your family’s tastes and whatever ingredients you have on hand. If you’re cooking for a few vegetarians this year, a naturally meatless stuffing will surely please them and your meat-eating guests alike. And if you happen to find yourself with a few extra carrots or celery stalks, put them to good use in a stuffing, as vegetables of all kinds work well with nearly all types of bread bakes. Check out Food Network’s top-five stuffings below to find celebration-worthy recipes that you’ll want to add to your Thanksgiving menu.

5. Homemade Three-Meat Stuffing — Packed with chopped hard-boiled eggs, bell peppers and olives, this pork-, beef- and sausage-based stuffing boasts more meat than it does white bread and will feed up to a whopping 14 people.

4. Holiday Cornbread Stuffing — Follow the Neelys’ lead and take advantage of a deliciously simple shortcut: store-bought cornbread stuffing mix. Pat and Gina combine this ready-to-go good with crispy bacon and crunchy pecans for texture, plus fresh vegetables and herbs to round out the dish.

Get the top-three recipes

Food Network Kitchens’ Waffle Iron Hits and Misses

by in How-to, November 6th, 2013

Food Network Kitchens' Waffle Iron Hits and Missesby Heather Ramsdell and Rupa Bhattacharya

While we were working on the waffle project, we got really into waffling. We were waffling foods left and right to see what waffling’s magical crispifying effect improved (and what it didn’t). Here are some of their stories:

Keep reading for more hits and misses

Spiced Coconut Pot Pies for Cold-Weather Comfort

by in Recipes, Shows, November 6th, 2013

Curried Pot PiesChopped Dinner ChallengeThe Chopped Dinner Challenge is a new series of recipes showing you how easy it is to cook like a winning Chopped competitor. Every week, FN Dish will showcase a recipe created by Food Network Kitchens that uses at least one of the Chopped basket ingredients, plus basic grocery goods and simple staples. Consider it your very own Chopped challenge. Just take this frequent tip from the judges: Don’t forget to season!

On this week’s Chopped: Redemption, four former competitors returned to the Chopped kitchen to try their luck again with mystery basket ingredients. In the dessert round, two chefs faced off and cooked with bubble tea, papaya, coconut butter and chocolate-covered bananas. But for this Chopped Dinner Challenge, the featured item is coconut butter, which takes a savory turn in this recipe for Curried Pot Pies. Serve these personal-size pies to your family for a comforting dinner on a chilly fall day.

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