Rice is over. Couscous is passe. It’s all about alterna-grains these days. But don’t just stock your pantry with these exotic-sounding carbs and hope for the best. Those wheat berries won’t cook themselves! Here’s what to do with you...
What to Watch: Damaris and Giada Welcome Spring with New Recipes and the Premiere of America’s Best Cookby Joseph Erdos in Shows, April 11th, 2014
On Saturday, Ree is putting on a big Cajun-style party for her father-in-law, and on Heartland Table, Amy is bringing back the supper club. Sunday morning, tune in to Rachael for a week’s worth of meals prepared in one day. Later Damaris helps her uncle create a spring lamb feast. Then Giada makes an Easter luncheon for her family. And Guy’s Big Bite is all about one of Guy’s favorite comfort foods: hot dogs.
On Sunday evening, tune in to a new episode of Food Court Wars — one team specializes in sub sandwiches, the other team focuses on comfort food. Then on the premiere of America’s Best Cook, 16 cooks from four regions compete for just eight spots. Mentors Alex, Cat, Michael and Tyler will each pick the two home cooks they think will best represent their region (East, South, North and West, respectively) during competition. Only one home cook will walk away the winner of $50,000 at the end of six weeks. Then on a new Cutthroat Kitchen, one chef must use a cement mixer while making a layer cake.
Peeps — Puffed: If microwaving Peeps — those sugar-covered marshmallow birdies that show up in stores every spring — and watching them do their “best Bruce Banner-meets-Jabba the Hutt impression” is something you’ve never done, the food scientists behind the site Decoding Delicious want you to know you’re missing out. “It’s the closest thing you’ll get to a toasted marshmallow without a bonfire,” they write, adding that it’s also “totally fun to watch” and a good way to make stale Peeps “palatable” again. But why do marshmallows puff when you nuke ‘em? Because they are “basically thousands of minuscule air bubbles surrounded by thin walls of gelatin and sugar syrup,” Decoding Delicious explains. “When microwaved, the water molecules in that syrup begin to vibrate and heat up. They quickly turn to steam and fill the air pockets in the marshmallow, causing them to expand.” It works for kosher marshmallows, too, by the way, so those who celebrate Passover need not miss out on the marshmallow-puffing fun. Learn more ways to put Peeps to work by checking out videos of Whoopeeps and homemade Easter chocolate bowls, and save the leftovers for Easter Candy Bark. [Decoding Delicious]
Tso Intriguing: A feature-length documentary set to screen at the Tribeca Film Festival this month looks to answer two age-old food questions: Who was General Tso? And why are so many people eating his chicken? For The Search for General Tso, director Ian Cheney traveled to Hunan and Shanghai hoping to discover how the sticky-sweet, crispy-tender dish became such an American staple, appearing on the menu of virtually every Chinese restaurant in the United States. “Did he love chicken?” one of the people Ian spoke with asks in a trailer for the film. “We don’t know. Nobody knows.” Ah, a mystery. Check out the film’s website here. [Food Republic]
FN Dish is counting down until the premiere of America’s Best Cook on Sunday at 9|8c. On the new show, four Food Network chefs representing the four regions of the United States mentor teams of exceptional home cooks in a competition to find America’s best cook. The winner walks away with the title and $50,000 in prize money. But which region will that winner be from? It could be North, South, East or West. The final result will be a testament to the mentor who coached the winner. Ahead of the premiere, FN Dish spoke with each of the mentors to find out more about the competition, mentoring strategies, what makes a good home cook and more.
On America’s Best Cook, Cat Cora is leading the South, a region she knows a lot about, especially since she grew up there. As the first female Iron Chef, she took to the heat of competition and isn’t afraid to pull out all the stops now. Coming up as a chef, she had some of the best mentors, including Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, and she’s ready to pay it forward, passing on her knowledge and skill to her team of home cooks with the hopes of bringing home the win for the South.
When it comes to growing your kiddos into the best eaters they can be, it’s all about baby steps. And, if you’re asking us, your side dishes are perhaps the best place to start. With sides come the veggies, the strange textures and the other tough sells. But don’t you fret. These winning kid-friendly sides expose your little ones to new tastes without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That way, your kids will go from full-on picky eaters to budding food connoisseurs in no time.
Little morsels of toasted orzo are so easy to eat, your kids won’t even realize all of the big-kid, Mediterranean ingredients they’re devouring. Rest assured that the “big kids” (cough, cough) will love Toasted Orzo Salad (pictured above) on their plates too.
With spring in swing, it’s the time to welcome warm weather but also a bounty of new ingredients — like spicy radishes, buttery lettuces and beans and sweet peas. Which means you can give your spice rack a break and make natural flavors ...
On Food Network’s new show Kitchen Casino, Mondays at 9|8c, host Bill Rancic doles out gambling-themed games to chefs competing to win the $30,000 jackpot. Bill isn’t new to television. He got his start as the first winner of The Apprentice, and he and his wife star in their reality show Giuliana and Bill. When he’s not busy in front of the camera or looking after the restaurant group he’s a part owner of, behind the scenes Bill’s a simple guy who loves simple food.
Bill knows his way around a kitchen, and he loves cooking Italian food. He does admit that he has had some not-so proud moments in the kitchen, but that hasn’t lessened his appreciation for food or stopped him from trying new things. You might be surprised to learn that he got started in the food business at the age of 10, when he had his own secret restaurant at home — and he’s been a savvy businessman and foodie ever since.
Get to know Bill Rancic better in FN Dish’s exclusive interview.
Veg Out: Do you like vegetables? So does the guy who wrote this rap. Singer-songwriter Parry Gripp and animator Yusuf Iqbal have teamed up to bring the world “I Like Vegetables.” Sample lyrics: “Call Dr. Phil and warn Oprah. I’m gonna eat up all of the okra! I’m notorious. I’m nefarious. I don’t spare one spear of asparagus.” Listen, laugh and then go out there and get crazy on a Brussels sprout. [Parry Gripp via Mashable]
Everything but the Grill? Finally, the long winter is over and it’s getting on toward grill season. If you’re shopping for a new grill on which to cook your meat, fish or veggies (perhaps some nefarious asparagus?) and looking for guidance, AmazingRibs.com, a website dedicated to “the science of BBQ and grilling,” has doled out its Best Value Awards to the 10 charcoal grills, 10 gas grills and 10 backyard smokers it considers the “best of breed in their price category.” Helpful. And once you get your grill, you’ll for sure want to check out Food Network’s Grilling Central and FN Dish Grilling and BBQ posts for recipes and ideas to get you fired up. [AmazingRibs.com via Huffington Post]
Part eatery and part entertainment space, Urban Roots in Oklahoma City, Okla., offered little in the way of quality food when Robert Irvine arrived. He found jumbled dishes and a weak staff, plus owner Chaya Fletcher, who was struggling to maintain her interest in her job. With only two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team transformed the interior of Urban Roots and updated the menu, ultimately reopening the business to a packed house. Read on below to hear from Chaya and find out how Urban Roots is doing today.
“Since the taping, revenue is up 15 percent,” Chaya says. “Customers are really happy with the design and love the new menu changes.” She adds that both food and entertainment are now proving to attract customers.