Secrets to Flourless Cakes, Starches and Desserts for Passover

by in Holidays, March 21st, 2013

Flourless Red Velvet CakeIt’s no surprise to see an abundance of flourless chocolate cakes and incredible matzo bark covered in chocolate and butter during Passover — leavened products are forbidden during the holiday, so decadent substitutions are available. In the most-recent issue of Food Network Magazine, the Test Kitchens prepared five cakes without using all-purpose flour (pictured above is Flourless Red Velvet Cake, get more recipes below) to try at home and the results were tremendous. That led us to picking baker and co-owner of Breads Bakery in New York City Uri Scheft’s brain, to dive a little deeper into the subject. The world of starches, flours and desserts is so vast and can be overwhelming — so we turned to an expert.

What would kosher potato starch do to a cake? What type of cakes would you use this substitution in?

Uri Scheft: Potato starch sucks all of the liquid out, but because of the lack of gluten, it doesn’t really bind the ingredients. It leads to a more crumby, more dense cake that hasn’t risen as much. It is good for brownies because they don’t need to rise a lot. Additionally, they are better when not cooked completely through.

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Geoffrey Zakarian’s Top 10 Tips for Making a Better Burger

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, March 21st, 2013

Geoffrey ZakarianWhen it comes to building the ultimate hamburger, Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian is doing things a little differently. Forget about everything you know to be true about barbecuing, seasoning and flipping the meat. Chef Zakarian is introducing an all-new method that will wow you with its simplicity and tried-and-true results, so much so that you won’t be tempted to return to the dry, flavorless patties of burgers past. Chatting with fans at a recent event at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, he demonstrated his flawless technique and shared can’t-miss tips that are easy enough for the home cook to master — and you don’t even have to wait until grilling season to try them.

10. Cook hamburgers on a cast-iron skillet indoors, instead of on an outdoor grill.

9. Opt for corn-fed ground meat that features about 25 percent to 30 percent fat.

8. The ideal blend of freshly ground meat includes equal parts chuck, rib eye and either flank steak or brisket.

7. Let meat come to room temperature before you cook with it.

6. Preheat the skillet until it’s screaming hot — only then should the meat be added.

Get Chef Zakarian’s top 5 tips

Best 5 Passover Recipes

by in Holidays, March 20th, 2013

Matzo Ball SoupAs you gather your family members to celebrate the Passover Seder, offer them a taste of something new this year by switching up your usual holiday dishes and introducing creative takes on traditional recipes. We’ve rounded up Food Network’s top-five Passover picks to help you pull off an entire meal — complete with casual drinks, showstopping main dishes, a sweet-tooth-satisfying dessert and everything in between — with ease. Check out our favorite recipes below, then tell us in the comments what meals your family will be enjoying this Passover.

5. Flourless Walnut-Date Cake — Rich and indulgent, Food Network Magazine‘s fuss-free cake boasts a smooth glaze of bittersweet chocolate and honey, and, best of all, it an be ready to enjoy in less than one hour.

4. Spiced Tea Punch — If you’re hosting young guests this holiday, leave out the rum from this light, fruity sipper, made with apple spice tea, bright orange juice and bubbly ginger ale, and garnished with a fragrant cinnamon stick.

Get the top three recipes

From Hot Cross Buns to Braided Loaves: 5 Easter Breads to Bake This Holiday

by in Recipes, March 20th, 2013

hot cross bunsToday is the first day of spring, which means Easter isn’t far behind. Both the season and the holiday celebrate renewal. So it’s fitting that one of the symbols of the Easter holiday is bread, for the fact that it rises from the use of yeast. Sweet yeast breads are a tradition around Easter time and can take the form of buns, rolls and even braided loaves studded with multicolored Easter eggs. These beautiful baked goods are great for breakfast, brunch or an after-meal sweet treat with coffee or tea.

You may think that baking bread is hard. Well, yes, it does take some time to knead the dough and then there’s the period when you’re waiting for it to rise, but, the end result is worth the effort. Plus if you’re only baking bread once every year, then why not just jump in and do it? Food Network has five great Easter bread recipes that are sure to make your holiday that much more special.

Get the Easter bread recipes

Hedy Goldsmith’s Nontraditional Approach to Desserts

by in How-to, March 20th, 2013

Hedy Goldsmith's Desserts at the South Beach Wine & Food FestivalAs the executive pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, Fla., the author of Baking Out Loud, a frequent guest on Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets and FN Dish’s own resident dessert extraordinaire, Hedy Goldsmith isn’t your average sweet tooth. She’s been known to put a homemade red-velvet twist on traditional Twinkies and even bake pies in jars, so when FN Dish visited Hedy at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival last month, we knew we’d be in for a treat — and it turns out that we were greeted with an entire plateful of treats.

Speaking to a packed room at the Shelborne South Beach Hotel, Hedy along with Josh Wesson, a New York City-based sommelier and the co-founder of Best Cellars, offered guests an interactive seminar on the pairings of desserts and beverages, both wines and liqueurs. They agreed that the key to blending any food and drink is finding among them elements that are similar and contrasting, an idea that’s similar to what Hedy follows when making her confections.

Known for expertly bridging the gap between sweetness and saltiness — the combination of which she describes as “the story of my life” — her signature creations are not typical desserts in that they’re not overly sweet, and they utilize seemingly eccentric and out-of-place ingredients. To Hedy, baking is all about “checks and balances,” not just between the amount of sugar and salt in a recipe, but also the flavors of the other ingredients she uses.

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Matzo Magic — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Holidays, March 19th, 2013

Matzo for PassoverI didn’t grow up eating matzo, but I was always intrigued by it, almost jealous in a way because it wasn’t part of my Catholic upbringing. I can see all of my Jewish friends rolling their eyes as they read this. One bite of matzo and you soon realize, on its own, there’s nothing to write home about.

What makes matzo so special is the significance it carries during the Jewish holiday of Passover, in which leavened products are forbidden (read more about why here). Matzo is made using just flour and water, resulting in a thin, very crisp cracker essentially. It became a part of my culinary world when I met my husband, Mikey, who was Jewish, 18 years ago. While he wasn’t observant, the holidays were rituals he celebrated regardless. And so, each year as Passover came around, matzo became a part of my cooking repertoire. In its most-simple form, I love eating matzo slathered with butter and a drizzle of some good honey.

Make matzo bruschetta