Feasting on fresh fruit is always a summertime ritual, but try roasting some of that just-plucked bounty or throwing it onto the grill until it’s nice and charred. Intense heat adds rich new layers of flavor, deepening and caramelizing sugars....
Thanks to a winning combination of one of the best production crews in the business and the #Evilicious leanings of its host, Alton Brown, Cutthroat Kitchen has not only become a huge hit, but it has also provided me, as a judge, with one of the most-fun jobs I’ve had since I moved over to this side of the pond.
Dozens of people ask me what it takes to succeed on the toughest culinary show on television. So, just in case you’re ever called upon to stand face-to-face with Mr. Brown, here are my top 10 tips on how to win in Cutthroat Kitchen.
1. Shop Smart: As I found in my one appearance behind the stoves to date, you don’t need Alton Brown to ruin your day in Cutthroat Kitchen; you can just as easily do it yourself. A bad showing in the pantry can easily lead to an early exit. Be sure not only to make a mental list of basics for the dish you are asked to prepare, but also grab some staples like eggs and flour, ingredients that can get you out of a bind if the bidding goes against you.
Butter is ready for its close-up — and gets it on this week’s cover of Time magazine, where a solitary, sensuously lit shaved curl of golden deliciousness poses alluringly against a black background.
“Eat Butter,” the attending coverline directs in a bold yellow font, adding, in smaller, whiter type, “Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.”
Inside, senior writer Bryan Walsh declares the “war on fat” — “for decades … the most vilified nutrient in the American diet” — to be over. Even as we sought to reduce our intake of saturated fats in the name of good health, in the 70s and 80s, Bryan notes, the rates of obesity and diabetes in the United States skyrocketed. That, he contends, is because we were replacing those fats in our diets not with healthier foods, like fruits and veggies, but rather with carbs, sugar and processed foods, which turn out to be far fiercer public health foes.
Ketchup, mustard, maybe some relish and sweet, saucy onions. These classic toppings surely get the job done when it comes to making an everyday hot dog, but for a next-level cookout, try dressing up your favorite franks with nontraditional fixings. On this morning’s episode of The Kitchen, Katie, Marcela and Jeff introduced their creative takes on hot dogs with their West Virginia-Style Hot Dog, Mexican-Style Hot Dog and Depression Dog with peppers, respectively. This summer, follow the co-hosts’ leads by experimenting with unexpected toppings; just stick with your favorite ingredients and try to choose flavors that you know complement one another. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite ways to build a better dog below, then browse Food Network Magazine’s roundup of 50 All-Purpose Condiments complete with must-see ideas for adding finishing touches to your grilled greats.
While Jeff’s Depression Dog from The Kitchen may have been deliciously simple, his Chicago-Style Hot Dog with Homemade Relish (pictured above) is perhaps the ultimate in hot dog indulgence. He starts with beef franks and tops them with white onions and yellow mustard, plus homemade pickles and golden-brown french fries flavored with celery seed. Jeff recommends building the dogs, then letting them steam for a few minutes before serving.
Just as your dad has his favorite dish, so do the dads of Food Network. This Father’s Day, in lieu of the standard wrapped-and-ribboned gift, treat Dad to a meaty, homemade dinner inspired by Tyler, Pat, Geoffrey, Bobby and more of your favorite chefs. Hey, if it’s good enough for these guys, odds are that your dad will dig it too.
A dry-aged, bone-in rib-eye steak is perhaps the most extravagant way to show Dad some love. Tyler Florence’s El Paseo Porterhouse Steak is broiled to give it a gorgeous crust without singeing it on the grill, and he lets it rest in a clarified-butter bath for extra decadence. Tip: Since it’s his day, let Dad have the honor of nibbling off the bone at the very end.
At its simplest, squash casserole consists of thinly sliced tender summer squash and a cheese sauce to bind it all together, perhaps with a smattering of crispy, buttery crumbs strewn on the top for crunch. But, as with many favorite dishes, there are a whole lot of opinions about which recipe is the absolute best. Variations include those with homemade white sauce, those with sauces made with familiar red-and-white cans of cream of fill-in-the-blank soup, decadent heavy cream and cheese-laden versions crowned with smashed sleeves of crackers and pats of butter, and mayonnaise-cream cheese dump-and-stir versions. The truth is, nearly all are foolproof, crowd-pleasing favorites, because nothing, absolutely nothing, spells Down-Home Comfort like a casserole. Read more
As the weather heats up and spring sweaters get swapped for sleeveless summer tops, many java lovers trade their piping cups of joe for iced coffee. The clinking cubes bring a coolness and comfort to our daily caffeine fix on sizzling days, the straw a sense of beachy fun and festivity.
This year the excitement about cold caffeinated beverages is more than simply seasonal: Iced coffee (not to mention its fancier cousin, iced latte) is suddenly hot — enjoying an undeniable moment in the sun.
“This is a good era for iced coffee,” Oliver Strand asserts in a New York Times article about the “exquisite,” “carefully formulated and fastidiously made” iced lattes on offer at high-end Los Angeles coffee bars Go Get Em Tiger and G & B Coffee. (The bars’ iced almond-macadamia milk latte, Oliver contends, is “one of the best iced coffees in the United States and almost certainly the best latte.”)
Saturday evening was meant to be our anniversary celebration. Philippe and I were planning on grilling outside with our four daughters, ending the evening with s’mores around the firepit and an exchange of traditionally themed gifts (steel for year 11; I went with beverage bins). The kids were upstairs showering after our (sandy) beach afternoon. I hummed along to the music the girls had put on the stereo, grabbed the long, skinny lighter and headed outside to start the barbecue. I opened the (steel!) hood and placed the lighter on the ignition burner, and through the grates small, beady eyes looked up at me. I froze. A grayish-brown puff starting running wild around the inside of the grill, searching for an exit, making tiny scratching sounds that gave me the chills and basically made me want to scream. I didn’t, but only because I now I have kids and I can’t scare them. (This never-let-them-see-you-sweat instinct to put their needs before my own comes from parenting.)
I hollered upstairs to Philippe, doing my best to convey a sense of calm and confidence while infusing just enough controlled urgency so that he would run downstairs and catch the mouse before it ran into the house. (I think it’s understood that I didn’t close the back doors when I raced into the house?) But kids are smart and know when something’s up. They raced downstairs even faster than Philippe, screaming in half-fear, half-delight at the possibility of a mouse-in-house crisis. There was talk of keeping him and naming him Snowflake. (Did I mention he was dingy brownish gray?) Or maybe Cuddles. The girls jumped up on the couch, squealing out of fear that the mouse would run over their feet.
Marisa McClellan’s newest book, Preserving by the Pint, is a love letter to small-batch preservers of all levels of experience. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at preserving but were too overwhelmed by all the details and chemistry involved, Marisa is here to help you get your feet wet. At the same time, her inspired flavor combinations are fresh and creative, perfect for experienced canners looking to change up their seasonal preserving roster. My favorite thing about her recipes is that they’re incredibly approachable. The chapters are organized by season, making the book easy to browse and navigate. The recipes call for small quantities of seasonal produce, which I found makes them pleasantly, almost surprisingly, affordable. Her recipes are quick and easy to put together, and they pack huge flavors into tiny containers.
Marisa captures the bright, hopeful flavors of spring, the warm, sun-kissed flavors of summer, the earthy, deep flavors of autumn and the rustic, hearty taste of winter. If you’ve ever found yourself wistfully wishing you could bottle the magic of summer sunshine, give the Peach Jam with Sriracha recipe (below) a try. One taste and you’ll agree that it’s summertime in a jar. I’m not one to wish away the summer days, but I do look forward to the cold January evening when I pull a jar of this off the shelf and treat myself to a tropical vacation with breakfast.