Ornaments You Can Eat: Cookies to Decorate Your Christmas Tree

by in Recipes, December 16th, 2012

Stained Glass Cookie OrnamentsGingerbread houses aren’t the only way to decorate with cookies around holiday time. Classic cut-out cookies make quite handsome ornaments. But what makes them even better than other handmade ornaments — like paper stars or pipe cleaner snowflakes — is that you can eat them (best the same day you bake them, of course). So if you’re bored of the same old decorations every year, why not try baking your own ornaments? Your only limitation is your imagination — or the size of your cookie cutter collection.

These Stained Glass Wreath Cookies make the perfect hanging ornament for your tree. The recipe from Sandra Lee uses store-bought sugar cookie dough to make it even easier. The colorful centers are created using hard candies that melt in the oven to replicate the look of stained glass. For an extra dazzling touch, use icing to affix silver dragees. Whatever you do, don’t forget to cut a hole at the top of each cookie using a large straw after they come out of the oven. It will make hanging them much easier.

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VOTE: A Next Iron Chef Strip Steak Showdown — Rival Recipes

by in Shows, December 15th, 2012

A Next Iron Chef Strip Steak Showdown - Rival RecipesLast Sunday night, the first part of the Next Iron Chef rivals’ road to redemption came to an end when they moved from their home base of sunny Los Angeles to Las Vegas to begin the second half of the competition. For Chef Nate Appleman, this transition proved to be a moment of mini redemption, as in Season 2 he was sent home just one episode prior to the chefs traveling to Tokyo, while for others the change of scenery was nothing remarkable, just another city in which to cook. “Regardless of the setting, I’ll do what is good food and what is my style,” Chef Jehangir Mehta said.

This week’s installment of Rival Recipes celebrates this shift in the season with a play on one part of Sin City in particular: the Strip. In Las Vegas, the Strip is known to be a bustling, tourist-heavy area packed with hotels, casinos and entertainment venues of all kinds. But in the culinary world, the strip is understood to be a marbled slab of beef that is deliciously tender and juicy. Chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Tim Love, two rivals who didn’t make the cut to travel to Vegas, have brought their best beef to the battle and are prepared to face off in a strip steak showdown with a New York in Cast Iron and New York Strip Steak With Serrano Lime Butter, respectively.

VOTE NOW

Book-Smart: Food Network Stars’ Favorite Cookbooks

by in Food Network Chef, Food Network Magazine, December 15th, 2012

Favorite Cookbooks

Food Network stars reveal their favorite cookbooks. Give one (or all!) to the chef in your house.

ALTON’S PICK:
The Fireside Cook Book
Alton Brown’s most beloved cookbook, written by James Beard, isn’t about food science or crazy gadgets — it’s an old-school American classic. “It’s a clear portrait of American cuisine at its post World War II height, before the rise of California or fusion cuisine, or any cuisine for that matter,” he says. $30, Simon & Schuster

MARC’S PICK:
The French Laundry Cookbook
Iron Chef Marc Forgione loves Thomas Keller’s fine-dining bible as much for how it looks as for what it says. “When I first picked up this book, I realized I had never seen food look like that before,” Marc says. “Reading Keller’s stories about ingredients, purveyors and staff helped me confirm that I wanted to be a chef.” $50, Artisan

Keep reading for more Iron Chef picks

Ron Ben-Israel’s Holiday Favorites

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 15th, 2012

Ron Ben-Israel, host of Sweet GeniusWe caught up with Ron Ben-Israel, host of Sweet Genius and the mastermind behind Ron Ben-Israel Cakes in New York City, to chat with him about some of his holiday favorites. As he’s known for creating some of the country’s finest couture cakes, we weren’t surprised when we asked him about his favorite holiday dessert and he named an old-fashioned classic that, when finished, is a spectacular conversation piece.

What’s your favorite holiday dessert?
I love some of the old-fashioned desserts that have now disappeared from restaurants. Things you used to get at a tea parlor, like at the Plaza Hotel. Something that is elaborate and beautiful and nostalgic for me is baked Alaska. I’m also crazy about baked egg whites, which is really what meringue is. I used to be fascinated seeing my mother whip egg whites into a foam for baked Alaska or for mousse. Watching them gather up air and triple in volume to become white peaks was fascinating. You can mix dollops of egg whites with sugar and make the most amazing baked kisses. For an easy baked Alaska, take ready-made ice cream, shape it into a dome, cover it with swirls of meringue and brown it. The crunchiness on the outside and billowy soft layer underneath — it’s not hard to do. You can add a layer of cake for an interesting effect, or pour some liqueur around it and ignite the whole thing for flambe. Bring that to the holiday table and it’ll be spectacular.

More from Ron Ben-Israel

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Captain Brown — The Next Iron Chef Caption It

by in Shows, December 14th, 2012

Alton BrownOn last Sunday’s episode of The Next Iron Chef, the remaining rivals packed up their knife kits and flew east to Sin City after five weeks of challenges and showdowns in Los Angeles. For the chefs, the move to Las Vegas proved to be a turning point in the competition, a sign that they are one step closer to claiming the only title that matters.

For Alton Brown, however, the move to Vegas was an opportunity to dabble in matchmaking — ingredient matchmaking, that is. With an altar of savory delicacies and sweet confections, he created a series of odd pairs like squid and marshmallows, chicken livers and peppermint candies, and bone marrow and fruit candies, which forced the rivals to think beyond the ordinary and create harmonious marriages out of culinary confusion.

Looking ahead to this week’s episode and the sneak-peek image above, it may seem as though Alton is once again experimenting with something new: flying. It turns out, however, that he is a frequent flier, and not just in the passenger sense. For more than 10 years, he’s been operating his own private airplane and only relies on commercial flights when there’s no other option.

Write your best captions

How to Build Your Own Gingerbread House

by in Holidays, December 14th, 2012

Gingerbread HouseWith the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in full swing, it can be tempting to take shortcuts for the sake of simplicity. This year, we’re all about doing whatever it takes to make this holiday your easiest, best one yet, but when it comes to building your own gingerbread house, you can skip the store-bought, pre-assembled kit and create your own one from scratch in flash. Believe it not, the gingerbread house pictured above comes together in just 1 hour and 30 minutes thanks to a fuss-free recipe with clear, step-by-step instructions. Learn the basics of making gingerbread houses below, assemble and decorate this simple, seasonal structure with your family, then post a picture of the finished product to Food Network’s Facebook timeline.

Chill Out
The beauty of this gingerbread dough in particular is that it can be made entirely in one bowl. After creating a stiff mixture of wet and dry ingredients, however, it’s important that the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour. This will make it less tacky and far easier for you to roll out.

Measure twice, cut once

What to Watch: Episodes to Get You Through the Holidays

by in Shows, December 14th, 2012

Trisha Yearwood's Foods to GiftWhen it comes to the holidays, you must have a strong resolve to get through the rigors of gift giving, meeting the day-to-day demands of a hungry household, and entertaining a crowd. Let Food Network help you out with all three.

Don’t know what to do about gifts this season? Let Trisha show you how to make your own treats and package them. If you’re looking to refresh your winter recipe repertoire, get five brand-new ideas from Rachael. And don’t get stuck in a rut when entertaining a crowd this holiday. The chefs of The Best Thing I Ever Made are here to show you how to do it right.

Trisha’s Southern Kitchen: “Trisha’s Favorite Foods to Gift

Trisha and her friend Kim get together in the kitchen for the classic Southern tradition of making edible gifts for the holidays. There’s Hot Corn Dip to snack on while they cook and assemble the gifts. Trisha uses nostalgic recipes like Margaret’s Raisin Bread, Slow Cooker Chocolate Candy and Peanut Brittle. You can’t go wrong with a homemade gift.

Tune in: Saturday, December 15, at 11am/10c

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Rugelach — The Weekender

by in Holidays, December 14th, 2012

RugelachMy Great-Aunt Doris made the best rugelach. A nurse who preferred baking to hospital work, Aunt Doris never turned down an opportunity to help cater her charity functions, Temple’s holiday dinners and family gatherings.

Her instinct to feed continually vexed her sister, because no matter how clear my grandmother was that the dinner party menu was entirely handled, Doris would show up with a Saran-covered platter of freezer strudel or rugelach. At the end of the meal, my grandmother would be forced to watch as her guests gobbled up the party-crashing treat and ignored her own carefully selected pastries.

Because I grew up a country away from my Aunt Doris, I only got to see her once or twice a year. As soon as we landed in Philadelphia, however, she’d march me up to my grandmother’s apartment (they lived in the same building), slip an apron over my head and pull a stool over to the counter so that I could help her roll the dough. We’d make cinnamon twists, Mandelbrot and rugelach.

Before you start your dough, read these tips