Salted vs. Unsalted Butter and Self-Rising Flours — Your Baking Questions Answered (Part 1)

by in How-to, January 15th, 2013

Baking 101Home bakers often ask, “Why can’t I use salted butter in a recipe that calls for unsalted butter, especially when salt is listed as a separate ingredient?” Right? I totally get the question. Why wouldn’t you just use salted butter and call it a day?

First, let me say that I never use salted butter. Not to bake with, on my toast in the morning or for any recipe that calls for butter.

Call me a control freak; however, the reason is that the salt added to salted butter varies depending on the brand you buy. All salted butters are not created equal. So why take your chances when baking? Just buy unsalted butter and start with a clean slate.

This leads me to the next most-asked question:

“Why can’t I use self-rising flour for all baking?” I totally comprehend this question too. It sure would eliminate buying a variety of flours, right?

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Vacuum-Fried Snacks — The Next Best Thing You Never Ate

by in News, January 15th, 2013

Vacuum-Fried Snacksby Vince Camillo

What’s the next best thing you never ate?

The staff of Food Network Kitchens might know. We see (taste and smell) ingredients and products just before they make themselves known to the national palate. Sometimes one of our on-air chefs brings them into our kitchen, sometimes we find them during restaurant dinners or in grocery stores, at home and away. Each month we’re going to share one with you, along with tips or recipes. And we know that many of you devote a good amount of time to exploring, tasting or simply getting dinner on the table, so let us know what you find that might just be the next best thing we never ate.

If you’ve ever eaten a vacuum-fried banana chip (or any vacuum-fried fruit or vegetable), you may have been staring into the bag of the next big thing. Though the bag you remember was likely empty, because once you eat one of these puffed little disks of pure banana essence, you’ll realize that you can’t stop — the most important indicator of a successful snack.

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10 Interesting Facts About Scotch Whisky

by in Drinks, Shows, January 14th, 2013

Iron Chef America Battle Scotch WhiskyLast night’s Iron Chef America battle between Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Michael Chiarello brought one of my favorite tipples to the forefront: Scotch whisky. Instead of breaking down the ingredient like I usually do, here are 10 interesting facts that you may not know about this Secret Ingredient:

1. The term “whisky” is actually derived from the Gaelic words uisage beatha, which in turn came from the Latin Acqua Vitae or “water of life.” It’s thought that the name refers to the fact that these spirits were first used by monks for medicinal purposes.

2. The oldest reference to the production of whisky is not in fact in Scotland, but in Ireland, where it is believed that monks began distilling spirits as far back as the fifth century. The first reference from Scotland is found in the Exchequer rolls, the accounting records for the royal finances in 1494, where an allowance was made for “eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae.”

Keep reading for more facts

An Entree Salad You’ll Enjoy Eating — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, January 14th, 2013

Big Greek SaladHow many times have you gone to a restaurant with a deliciously full menu of tempting offerings only to order that healthful, lower-calorie salad you think you should eat instead of what you really want? At the end of the meal, you’re still craving fettuccine Alfredo and now are a bit cranky because that bowl of lettuce leaves just didn’t fill you up, right? The same scenario likely plays out at home, too, as you wrestle with hankerings for pizza and instead tuck into an everyday tossed salad.

Now that the healthy-eating season is in full swing and it seems like everyone is committed to making smarter food and fitness choices in the New Year — well, at least in the month of January — it’s time to master the entree salad: that flavor-packed dish of not just lettuce and lemon juice but also other, more filling ingredients that surely won’t leave you feeling deprived. The key to enjoying a salad as a meal is to incorporate creamy cheeses, crisp vegetables, crunchy crackers, good-for-you grains and just about anything else you have on hand so that it becomes something substantial that you look forward to eating.

Keep reading for the recipes

What to Watch: Chopped Champions

by in Shows, January 14th, 2013

Chopped ChampionsNo strangers to mystery baskets, unusual ingredients or opinionated judges, four previous Chopped winners are putting their reputations on the line one more time tomorrow night as they compete in the first round of the five-part tournament of Chopped Champions. While these chefs may be returning to familiar settings in the kitchen, they’ll face more pressure than ever as the stakes are now higher than they were in their last battles — on the line this time is a $50,000 prize and the ultimate Chopped title: Grand Champion. Since all of the competitors know what it takes to avoid the chopping block and are used to the sweet taste of victory, each must bring his or her A game if they want to be crowned a two-time champion and score a coveted seat in the grand finale.

Chefs Sylvain Harribey, Kenneth Johnson, Sean Scotese and Lish Steiling are the first four contestants to face off in the tournament, and they’re bringing with them memories of past battles and grand plans for showcasing their culinary chops once again. Flip through this photo gallery to find out more about the Chopped Champions contestants, and be sure to tune in Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 10pm/9c to find out which of these chefs has earned a place in the finale.

An Interview With the Latest Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Castoff

by in Shows, January 13th, 2013

Dean and Cornelia
Rachael vs. GuyEvery Sunday night, FN Dish gives you the exclusive exit interview with the latest castoff from Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, the competition show that features celebrities cooking their way through challenges for a chance to win the title of Cook-Off Champion and $50,000 for their chosen charity. This season will have the celebrities facing real-life situations — far from the glamour of the red carpet — and will test more than just their cooking skills.

On tonight’s episode, the seven remaining celebrities took a trip to Underwood Family Farms. The challenge required them to cook a meal for the farm’s employees utilizing freshly picked produce. The one catch? The celebs themselves would have to pick the vegetables directly from the fields. As expected, not all of them were happy to trade in the red carpet for fields of dirt, but some took to the challenge surprisingly well. Two strong competitors, however, ended up in the bottom two.

Find out which celebrity was eliminated