Lentil Soup — The Weekender

by in Recipes, December 30th, 2011


Like so many others, when the new year approaches, I begin to entertain thoughts of healthier eating. I imagine spending all of December 31 sweeping out my refrigerator and pantry, getting rid of the crackers, chocolate (even the baking kind) and oozy cheeses, and replacing them with kale, flax seed meal and dried beans.

Most years I don’t actually tackle such extreme measures. Instead I just take steps to add a few more virtuous items to our regular menu. Come January the number of leafy greens found in my kitchen will outnumber the cheeses (sadly, not the case at the moment) and I’ll start packing more lunches for my husband and me.

One way that I fill our lunch bags is with homemade soup. I cook up a batch at the beginning of each week and portion it out into microwave-safe containers each night before I go to bed. That way it’s easy to grab come morning. These soups are often bean and vegetable based. Some weeks I do a black bean soup from dried beans; other weeks I stick to pantry basics like canned white beans and boxed stock.

Recently I’ve been making a simple Lentil Soup using Alton Brown’s recipe as my guide. It makes a generous amount, is incredibly cheap to make (good if you’re watching your wallet as well as your waistline) and can happily simmer on the back burner on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. All these things make it perfect for The Weekender.

Before you start simmering, read these tips »

Lucky New Year’s Foods

by in Holidays, Recipes, December 30th, 2011

On New Year’s Eve in my house, there exists no particular ritual as one year comes to a close and another is ushered in, apart from popping champagne at midnight, that is. However, various countries and cultures practice habits of their own to mark the occasion and to celebrate the year, particularly by eating certain foods in the hope of securing a bit of luck in the months ahead. Epicurious featured an article detailing New Year’s food traditions around the world and explained the origins of them. Check out below various customs of eating Lucky Food for the New Year and find corresponding recipes so you can bring these practices into your home.

For many, pigs represent progress and growth in life, so pork dishes are common on New Year’s menus from Cuba to Austria. Food Network Magazine offers a Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (pictured above) that is sure to feed a crowd and takes just over an hour to prepare. Sautéed cremini mushrooms, fresh parsley and crispy bacon are wrapped inside a lean, butterflied tenderloin, then grilled until thoroughly cooked.

More lucky New Year’s recipes »

Our New Favorite Ingredient: Mustard — 2012 Predictions From Food Network Kitchens

by in News, December 30th, 2011

mustardFood Network Kitchens has come up with its annual list of the top trends that will define 2012 in food. Check out one of the trends here, then visit Food Network’s Healthy Eats and Cooking Channel’s Devour for the rest of the list.

Mustard in its many forms — from condiment to vegetable, spice to cooking oil — is about to get its moment. Heat is hot, and this multifarious member of the cabbage family represents a vast, underexplored source of culinary heat. Look for sharp, peppery Indian mustard oil, spicy-salty Sichuanese pickled mustard greens and pungent-sweet Italian fruit mustards. We’re all about to learn that this genuinely global ingredient is much more than a hot dog condiment.

In 2012, condiment mustard will be made from scratch (it’s so easy) by more home cooks and chefs, mustard seeds will be pickled and scattered over all things rich and porky; mustard oil will move beyond Indian (and Korean and Chinese) kitchens, becoming a common cooking and seasoning oil (it makes a great salad dressing); and the greens, so healthy and so long neglected, will be next year’s kale.

More Top Food Trends of 2012:

How to Outsmart New Year’s Eve With Bubbly at Home

by in Drinks, Holidays, December 29th, 2011

New Year's Eve Champagne at HomeThere’s so much pressure to have fun on New Year’s Eve that it’s easy to find yourself overpaying at a restaurant or bar for the right to experience tepid beer, viciously thumping music and the crush of overindulging strangers. Happily, you can easily outsmart this New Year’s outcome by having the kind of home bubbly celebration described here:

Bubbles of Any Kind: Whether it’s real Champagne from France or one of the less expensive types I call “bubbly stunt doubles” — Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain — bubbles are the cornerstone of a home New Year’s celebration.

Throughout the Night: The key is not to save the bubbly for the midnight ball drop, but to drink it throughout your festive night. A lighter-style blanc de blancs Champagne (from white grapes) works perfectly as an appetite-stoking aperitif or with lighter bites, such as Ted Allen’s Crudo on the Half Shell. But a richer, people-pleasing Prosecco or American sparkler would provide a cleansing lift to entrees such as Alex Guarnaschelli’s Oven “Fried” Pizza.

Learn how to saber a bottle like a pro »

Smoked Fish — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, Recipes, December 29th, 2011


Several thousand years ago, people discovered that exposing fish to intense amounts of salt and smoke was a great of preserving the catch for later.

Today, our smoking techniques are considerably more refined, and we do it more for flavor than as a means of preservation.

Which makes it a shame that more people don’t think to reach for smoked fish as an effortless way to add gobs of flavor to the foods they love.

But first, a primer on smoked fish. There are two ways to smoke: cold and hot. Salmon, trout, haddock and mackerel are the most common choices.

In cold smoking, the fish are brined in a heavy salt solution, then exposed to cool smoke (85 degrees F max) for up to several days, then frozen to kill parasites.

Get the recipe for Smoked Trout Noodle Soup »

Best 5 New Year’s Eve Recipes

by in Recipes, December 29th, 2011


This weekend, whether you’re hosting a huge bash, an intimate dinner party or just watching the ball drop in your pajamas, ring in 2012 with dressed up eats and drinks to celebrate the New Year. We’ve gathered Food Network’s top five New Year’s Eve recipes, so your final hours of 2011 will be filled with hearty appetizers, simple snacks, special cocktails and more.

5. Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Shrimp — These bite-sized sweet and savory shrimp are sautéed with bright pineapple chunks and crispy bacon slices.

4. Brie En Croute — As easy to prepare as it is impressive looking, this crowd-pleasing appetizer features smooth brie and cinnamon-scented walnuts baked inside a store-bought puff pastry until the dough is golden brown.

Get the top three recipes »

Recipes With Color: Grape

by in Recipes, December 28th, 2011


The season’s usual hues are red, green, silver and deep blue, but this December HGTV’s Color of the Month is glamming it up with grape. It’s a juicy pick to add to our palates and this beautiful berry color is among my favorite shades.

You may be thinking of a particular recipe that bears this color, something with grapes or wine. Sure, I love the sweet and tart orbs, but this grape-toned dish of Sauteed Cabbage and Apples by Melissa d’Arabian is my go-to comfort food. Delightfully, it does include a generous splash of red wine. My mom’s version, which I called “the purple cabbage stuff,” is a staple in my family, requested at Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday dinners.

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Happy New Year From Bobby Flay

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 28th, 2011

Bobby FlayBobby shares some holiday fun facts and lets us in on his New Year’s resolution:

FN Dish: How can cooks be less stressed during the holidays?
Bobby Flay: Cook from within yourself at your skill level. Don’t try to conquer the world with your holiday meal.

FN Dish: What’s your favorite holiday food memory?
BF: One Christmas morning I tried to find a turkey because the Cornish game hen I had planned to cook had gone badly.

FN Dish: What do you cook just when it’s just you?
BF: Homemade nachos with a white American cheese sauce.

FN Dish: What’s your 2012 New Year’s resolution?
BF: To reopen my restaurant in New York City, Bolo. It’s time. It’s like a broken heart that I need to mend.

Read more

Best 10 Side Dish Recipes of 2011

by in Recipes, December 28th, 2011

Roasted Brussels SproutsWhat’s a burger without fries? Fried chicken and no greens? A lonely steak without a baked potato? Side dishes aren’t merely second string players of a meal, they often complete the dish and can be as impressive as the main event. Check out Food Network’s top 10 side dish recipes of the year and cook up a few to balance your favorite mains.

10. Red Beans and Rice — Fresh herbs and a pinch of cayenne add flavor and subtle spice to Emeril’s Creole-inspired dish.

9. Collard Greens — This traditional southern side is the ideal accompaniment to crispy fried chicken.

8. Broccoli Salad — Broccoli, onions, raisins and sweet cherry tomatoes are tossed in a mayonnaise-based dressing to create a veggie-packed salad in just 15 short minutes.

7. Sauteed Kale — Olive oil and sliced garlic bring classic Italian flavor to this leafy green dish.

6. Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes — Alton uses starchy russet potatoes to yield a smooth and creamy mashed mixture, laced with fresh garlic and nutty parmesan cheese.

Get the top five recipes »

Go for the Gold: How to Make Gold-Leaf Brownies for New Year’s

by in Food Network Magazine, Holidays, December 27th, 2011

Gold Leaf BrowniesWe’re not in the business of doling out financial advice, but we hear gold is up in value — all the more reason to buy some for your next batch of brownies. Get a booklet of “transfer” edible gold leaf (about $40 for 15 three-inch-square sheets; lagoldleaf.com), then brush the top of already-baked brownies with warm honey and, starting in one corner, place a sheet gold side down on top. Gently rub the paper until the gold transfers onto the brownies. An 8-inch-square pan takes about $14 worth of leaf — a downright bargain for a gift of gold.