Roasted Tomato Basil Soup — The Weekender

by in Recipes, September 28th, 2012

roasted tomato basil soup
Ask someone about their favorite rainy-day meal and chances are they’ll share with you childhood memories of eating tomato soup and grilled cheese on a chilly, drizzling Saturday afternoon. It’s a classic combination in our culture, though it’s one that I didn’t personally try until I got to college.

My parents weren’t trying to deprive me; the truth of the matter is that if they’d tried to serve me tomato soup during my fledgling years, I would have looked at them with absolute horror. I spent the bulk of my first two decades desperately trying to avoid tomatoes in their many forms. They were particularly egregious when raw, but I wasn’t interested in large amounts of any tomato-based substance. Tomato soup would have immediately reduced me to tears.

By the time I was 18, however, and away at school, I was beginning to open up a little to tomatoes. I don’t know if my palate had changed or if I was generally more mature in my approach to food, but slowly I started to understand the tomato’s many virtues.

Now I’m all in when it comes to tomatoes, and I particularly love a good bowl of tomato soup. In my book, there’s no tomato soup recipe better than Ina Garten’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup. It’s been my go-to version since I first made it more than eight years ago. It starts by instructing you to roast three pounds of plum tomatoes and finishes with four cups of fresh basil leaves. It is deeply flavorful, and while not as silky smooth as the canned kind, still goes incredibly well with a grilled cheese.

Before you start roasting your tomatoes, read these tips

On The Blogs: A Bacon Shortage, Beer Shampoo and Gourmet Beef Jerky

by in Community, September 27th, 2012

peach beer cocktailL.A. Times: Worries of a looming pork shortage have bombarded the Internet and caused anxiety for soaring bacon prices in 2013.

U.S. News: Beer may be the secret to healthy, shiny hair. How do you feel about shampoo and conditioner made with boozy suds?

The Salt: Food labels affect how much we eat. But what happens when the definition of a “small” serving varies across the board?

New York Times: It may be the season for pumpkin and squash, but the blue crab is still around and better than ever.

Wall Street Journal: Beef jerky brands are experimenting with gourmet flavors.

 

Best 5 Butternut Squash Recipes

by in Recipes, September 27th, 2012

caramelized butternut squash
Butternut squash is a fall favorite. Try one of these top five recipes that are filled with classic autumn flavors from Food Network chefs.

5. Beef and Butternut Squash Stew – This stick-to-your-ribs stew is perfect for a chilly fall day. Lots of chunky vegetables, along with the beef, make it hearty enough for a one-pot meal. Serve with crusty bread alongside.

4. Roasted Butternut Squash Salad With Warm Cider Vinaigrette – For a salad full of fall flavors, serve roasted butternut squash on top of baby arugula with a few shavings of nutty Parmesan cheese.

Get the top three recipes

I’m Just a Kid: Turning Childhood Favorite Treats Into the Ultimate Desserts

by in Recipes, September 27th, 2012

popcorn and peanut barkI’m just a kid at heart. Some of my fondest memories of being a chubby kid were all based on eating junk food. Prepackaged little cakes, movie theater popcorn and candy were my best friends. Cracker Jacks — with its secret little toy — made me very happy. Actually, popcorn anything makes me giggle with delight. I have been known to forgo a meal in order to justify eating a large bucket of salty buttery corn.

Fast-forward to today. Always thinking about my past, I re-create versions of all my favorite childhood treats.

In my new book, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors, on bookshelves in just five days, I toss buttery, salty popcorn with rich melted chocolate and peanuts for a quick, rich and amazing treat (recipe below).

Halloween was (and still is) my favorite holiday. I remember competing with my big brother Steven to see how much candy we could gather. As kids, we would dump overfilled candy-laden plastic pumpkins on to a bed sheet covering the carpet in our living room. At the end of the night, we’d count up all the pieces of candy and, based on sheer volume, declare a winner. Hands down, my favorite was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Mom would let us keep a few and take the extra to work — or so she said.

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POLL: Which Team Makes a Better Ball?

by in Shows, September 27th, 2012

meatball vs kimchi rice ball
For the final two teams, Nonna’s Kitchenette and Seoul Sausage, the secret to Food Trucks success has come in the form of balls — meatballs and rice balls, that is. The ladies of Nonna’s have followed their grandmothers’ no-fail recipe for authentic Italian meatballs made with cheese and herbs, while Seoul has cooked up a deep-fried concoction of kimchi, rice and Korean spices.

Both teams’ creations have won rave reviews from customers and judges alike, but we want to know which dish you’d most like to taste. Do you think that the saucy, beefy meatballs from Nonna’s would be the best bite, or would you prefer the flavors of Korea nestled inside a crispy, crunchy coating?

Tune in to the Season 3 finale of The Great Food Truck Race on Sunday night at 9pm/8c to find out whether Nonna’s Kitchenette or Seoul Sausage will keep their keys.

All About Sprouts

by , September 27th, 2012

sprouts
Sprinkled on a salad, tossed in a stir-fry or stuffed in a sandwich, sprouts are tasty seeds that pack a nutritional punch. There is a sprout for every taste preference, including bean, alfalfa, pea, clover and broccoli sprouts, to name a few, as we...

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Restaurant Revisited: The Maple Tree Cafe

by in Shows, September 26th, 2012

Restaurant: ImpossibleRookie restaurant owner Ashley Robertson needed Robert Irvine’s help to successfully run her Las Vegas restaurant, The Maple Tree Cafe. In just two days, Robert tackled poor food quality and disorganized management in order to give The Maple Tree Cafe the transformation it deserved. We checked in with Ashley a few months after the Restaurant: Impossible renovation to see how her restaurant is doing today.

Ashley reports that since Robert left, sales at The Maple Tree Cafe have more than doubled.

The restaurant’s food, she says, “is coming out great,” and she credits a recipe book in the kitchen with ensuring that all dishes are made the same way every time. She says that she has “completely delegated the prep duties to everyone in the kitchen,” and makes sure to “spend time watching plates go out.”

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