A Gold Medal-Worthy Grilled Cheese

by in Events, Recipes, August 2nd, 2012

double grilled cheese with avocado and tomato
Grilled cheese is my jam. When I was younger, my dad would make my sister and me a grilled cheese sandwich every day after our morning swim practice. It was basically the best treat in the world. Stuffed with Colby jack cheese and buttered to perfection, my dad would slice it in half on a diagonal, rather than a boring down-the-middle cut, and we would gobble it up with big smiles on our faces. But those were my picky eater days. Now I stuff my grilled cheese sandwiches with lots of fun ingredients.

And what better event to pair with an all-American jazzed-up classic, like the grilled cheese, than the Olympics? So I’ve decided to share my grilled cheese — Olympic edition. It’s loaded with two kinds of cheese, juicy tomatoes and sliced avocados, then slathered with a healthy dose of butter and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and grilled to perfection. Try serving this tonight for the Olympic swimming matchups — invite your friends over and tell them to bring over their favorite ingredients for a grilled cheese sandwich soiree.

I’ve taken a classic recipe from Tyler Florence and made additions to it.

Click here to get Gaby’s Double Cheese Grilled Cheese recipe

Restaurant Revisited: Italian Village

by in Shows, August 1st, 2012

Robert Irvine at Italian Village

At Italian Village in Milmont Park, Pa., Rob Mellon Sr. and his son Rob Jr. desperately needed Robert Irvine’s help to return their 30-year-old restaurant to its early glory days. It was a big job: Robert and his team not only had to overhaul the menu and dark interior, but also remedy long-standing issues between father and son that were hurting the business. We checked in with the owners a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible intervention to see how the restaurant is faring.

Since Robert and Restaurant: Impossible visited, sales at Italian Village are up 18%.

The owners took Robert’s advice and reduced the number of menu items to about 30. Robert’s recipe for Drunken Penne remains on the menu and is a big hit: “Almost every night, somebody orders it,” says Rob Sr.

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Go Shopping at Your Local Hardware Store for Baking Tools

by in How-to, August 1st, 2012

hardware store tools
Sometimes inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places, like the neighborhood hardware store. I like to shop for kitchen “tools” like a DIYer hungry to tackle their project of the month. Strolling the aisles, I’m like a kid in a candy store with ideas for repurposing the contents of a handyman’s tool chest. Here are some tools that can pull double duty in the kitchen.

Blow-torch: This impressive-looking tool can be used for much more than soldering metal. It’s super-cool to use to toast meringue and usually cheaper than torches sold at expensive kitchenware stores. Think of me the next time you whip up a baked Alaska — it will be stunning.

PVC pipe: Just ask your friendly (and hopefully cute) hardware specialist to trim down one of those 700-foot white tubes you see lining the aisle. Let’s say you want to form individual ice cream cakes that are 3 ½ inches wide by 2 ½ inches tall. Go for it. Once you decide the size of the dessert you want to make, it’s easy to select the right pipe for the job. Ask your buddy to trim some into the exact number of servings you’re planning.

Get more double-duty tool tips

Give Pasta a Whirl

by in Food Network Magazine, How-to, August 1st, 2012

Broken Lasagna Tomato and Zucchini Pasta

Hot tips from Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:

As soon as you add pasta to boiling water, stir it vigorously for about 5 seconds to keep it from sticking, like Food Network Magazine did with the Broken Lasagna With Zucchini-Tomato Sauce. Each piece should be able to tumble freely in the pot. Don’t add oil to the water as is often suggested: It can prevent sauce from clinging to cooked pasta.

Tomatoes Go Beyond Salads — Summer Fest

by in In Season, Recipes, August 1st, 2012

heirloom tomato pie
We’re teaming up with food and garden bloggers and our friends at HGTV Gardens to host Summer Fest 2012, a season-long garden party. In coming weeks, we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. Today we’re exploring tomatoes.

Come August, tomatoes — heirloom, beefsteak, cherry and more — hit their peak. Plump and juicy, they scream summer with their sweet, slightly acidic flesh and bright hues. Perfect for summer salads, there’s arguably no combination more classic than a simple caprese brimming with ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fragrant basil. But, tomatoes’ versatility far surpasses the realm of summer salads. In fact, they’re fantastic in soups, pies, pastas and sides. Just give one (or more!) of these easy cooked tomato recipes a try.

If you plan on planting your very own tomato patch, be sure to check out HGTV Gardens for great tricks like mulching tomato plants heavily with hay or leaves, and tips like pulling off stem tops to prevent puncturing fruit when stacking. Before you get cooking, be sure to choose firm, noticeably fragrant and richly colored tomatoes that are free of blemishes. Store them at room temperature and use them within a few days.

Hosting a casual garden party? Pass around Rachael’s Roasted Tomato Bruschetta for a simple hors d’oeuvre. Ina’s Roasted Tomato Basil Soup and Roasted Tomato Caprese make for a sweet start to any meal. Food Network Magazine’s Heirloom Tomato Pie (pictured above) serves as a bright main that needs nothing more than a leafy green salad in accompaniment.

Get more tomato recipes from family and friends

Grilled Pizza With Spicy Sausage — The New Girl

by in Recipes, August 1st, 2012

grilled pizza with spicy sausage
This grilling season, classic cookout fare is getting revamped. Think Bruschetta Dogs and grilled desserts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still perfectly content with a good old burger. But with all the buzz around new foods that look great with char lines, I had to join in on the fun. Toss a pizza on the grill? I’m on it.

Pizza has become a go-to meal for my beau and me. It’s a no-fuss dinner that tends to be forgiving to newbies like us. Add too much cheese? No such thing. Trouble rolling the dough? Call it art. We’ve even taken off the training wheels and come up with our own topping combos and techniques, without relying on recipes. However, when the decision came down to grilling the pie for our next date night, I wanted the guidance of an expert. And who better than the grill master himself, Bobby Flay?

This Grilled Pizza With Hot Sausage, Grilled Peppers, Onions and Oregano Ricotta is a mouthful to say, and a mouthful to enjoy. Though it takes a hefty dose of prepping, don’t let that scare you away. It’s well worth the effort. Serve it on a night when you’re looking for a major ego boost, as each of its elements is sure to impress.

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Melissa d’Arabian Dishes on her First Cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners

by in Books, Food Network Chef, July 31st, 2012

melissa d'arabian ten dollar dinners cookbook
In just two weeks, Melissa d’Arabian’s first cookbook will officially be available — Ten Dollar Dinners the book is packed with tips to elevate simple, fresh meals any night of the week along with 140 mouthwatering recipes. We caught up with Melissa on the set of her show to talk about what makes her book stand out, several key takeaways and the home cook’s best friend — the pantry.

Towards the beginning of the book, you talk about strategies for saving and list your top 10 commandments of Ten Dollar Dinners. If you had to pick just three strategies for saving money, what would they be?

1. Incorporate bean night once a week: Contrary to the title, that doesn’t mean just beans, it’s any sort of inexpensive protein. If you have a few recipes in your pocket that you know are very inexpensive and are driven by an inexpensive protein you will automatically see savings in your grocery bill every month. Think about beans, eggs, pizza or a meatless meal.

2. Try clear-the-pantry week: This is a week when you really don’t buy any other groceries — you dig into your pantry and you really try to stick to the food you already have. You’d be amazed what you can get away with. It’s a great opportunity to see what you have lurking in the pantry — and who doesn’t have frozen meats tucked away in the freezer? Let’s face it, if you don’t use it, it’s going to go bad and that’s wasting money.

Find out what Melissa uses the most in her pantry

Cold War: Austin Ice Cream Festival

by in Food Network Magazine, July 31st, 2012

Austin Ice Cream Festival

The average high in Austin this time of year is 97 degrees, so it’s no wonder the city’s ice cream festival was an instant hit when it started in 2007. Nearly 12,000 people showed up that summer, and now the all-day event (taking place August 4, $10; www.icecreamfestival.org) is an annual affair, with an ice cream eating contest, Popsicle-stick sculpting and, most important, an ice cream making competition. It’s an intense battle: Contestants have to bring their own machine and churn out their creation on-site for a panel of four locals and four discerning kids. We asked champions from past festivals to hand over their winning recipes.

Get the winning recipes

The Craziest Diets Ever

by , July 31st, 2012
grapefruit

Remember the grapefruit diet?

I’ve read over 200 diet books and some of the advice I’ve come across is just plain wacky or even worse, dangerous to your health. Here are some of the nuttiest plans out there and suggestions on how to choose the ri...

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