Macaroons for Passover, or Anytime

by in Holidays, Recipes, April 5th, 2012

Passover Macaroons
Like most of our family gatherings, Passover in my house is all about the food. No one misses bread when you’ve got steaming bowls of matzo ball soup, homemade gefilte fish (never the slimy kind from a jar), fork-tender brisket and half a dozen sides. But come dessert time, I used to wish for the flour and leavening agents that are forbidden on Passover.

My grandmother was an excellent baker throughout the rest of the year, but her annual spread of kosher-for-Passover cakes and cookies left something (okay, a lot) to be desired. And for some reason, back when she and my grandfather hosted the Seder, the macaroons always came from a can.

This was a travesty. The flourless coconut macaroon is a staple of Passover — it might as well be on the Seder plate next to the horseradish and shank bone. But those canned cookies always smelled weird and had an odd, waxy texture. I grew up thinking I didn’t really like macaroons and left them untouched. French-style macarons — yes, please. Jewish-style coconut macaroons — no thanks.

Chocolate-Dipped Passover Macaroons

All Fluff: How to Make Marshmallow Pops

by in Food Network Magazine, Holidays, How-to, April 4th, 2012

marshmallow pops
Peeps get all the glory this month (just check out this Peep Cake), but their plain-old marshmallow cousins can get dressed up for Easter, too. We found this fun trick in the new cookbook Sugarlicious ($18; Harlequin) by Meaghan Mountford: Insert lollipop sticks into marshmallows, then submerge one marshmallow at a time in water. Blot off the excess water with a paper towel, hold the marshmallow over a plate and shake sprinkles over it to coat. Prop up in a cup or foam block to dry.

(Photograph by Charles Masters)

Passover, Vegetarian-Style — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Holidays, April 4th, 2012

quinoa pilaf
Recently, I was talking with a friend about Passover, which starts at sundown on April 6. I asked him how he navigated dinner since he doesn’t eat meat and brisket is the traditional main course. It turns out he’s not the only pescatarian and vegetarian in his family, but it still got me thinking about how other vegetarians handle family holiday dinners. The simple solution would be to bring a hearty side dish instead of dessert or wine, which is the usual go-to item.

Some of the classics are easy to give veggie makeovers. Matzo Ball Soup, a must-have at every Seder, is an easy fix — just use vegetable broth. Here are some more ideas for making sure everyone feels welcome at your Passover table this year.

Moroccan Carrot and Spinach Salad (I paired it with the quinoa recipe below for a filling meal)

Matzo Brei (This is a traditionally more of an appetizer, but it’s very filling and the eggs are a good protein boost, too.)

Quinoa Pilaf With Cremini Mushrooms

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Alex’s Easter Leg of Lamb

by in Food Network Chef, Holidays, April 4th, 2012

leg of lambOddly, my most vivid memory of a leg of lamb comes from my years of living in France and not my childhood kitchen. I was strolling in an open-air market and stopped in fascination in front of a rotisserie. There, in the midst of tables of fresh vegetables, I stood, transfixed. An enormous leg of lamb was slowly turning and was the deepest golden brown. At the bottom were various fingerling potatoes and onions that clearly had been cooked in the drippings. I honestly wasn’t sure what looked better, the meat or the vegetables.

I have been imitating that experience ever since. I save the rosemary to be mixed in with the vegetables and the cooking juices once the meat is cooked. I find that when rosemary is cooked too long, it tastes medicinal instead of herbaceous and fresh.

Get Alex’s recipe

Food Network Magazine’s Chopped Challenge

by in Food Network Magazine, Shows, April 3rd, 2012

chopped basket
Can you make an entrée from this Chopped mystery basket? Try your luck, then see what host Ted Allen made.

The Challenge: Create an entrée using peanut butter, chicken breast, sauerkraut and frozen cherries. You must use all four mystery ingredients, plus any others you’d like.

The Prize: The inventor of the best recipe using the mystery ingredients will win a $1,000 gift card to foodnetworkstore.com, plus a Chopped gift basket. Go to foodnetwork.com/choppedchallenge by midnight tonight to enter your recipe.

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Ricotta Cheese — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, April 3rd, 2012

ricotta crab bites
When it comes to food, “recooked” isn’t generally a term met with much affection. The dairy world, however, gives us a fine exception in ricotta cheese.

Ricotta — Italian for recooked — isn’t exactly a stranger to most Americans, who tend to love it in their lasagna and stuffed pasta shells.

But as cheeses go, its versatility is vastly underappreciated, mostly because few people realize how it’s made, or why that matters for how they use it.

So let’s start there. Ricotta got its name because it is made literally by recooking the liquid left over from making other cheese, often mozzarella. This is possible because when the mozzarella or other cheese is made, most but not all of the protein is removed from the liquid, usually cow’s milk.

That leftover protein can be recooked and coagulated using a different, acid-based process (a rennet-based method is used to make the first batch of cheese). The result is a soft, granular cheese with a texture somewhere between yogurt and cottage cheese. The taste is mild, milky, salty and slightly acidic.

Get the recipe for Ricotta-Crab Bites

5 Healthiest Restaurant Kids’ Meals

by in Uncategorized, April 3rd, 2012
kids menu

Think beyond grilled cheese when dining out with your kids.

Trying to feed your kids healthy options when dining out can be stressful. Most restaurants offer the usual chicken fingers, mac and cheese, hamburger with fries or grilled cheese, but the c...

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April Food Festivals

by in Events, April 3rd, 2012

asparagus
For some, April — like T.S. Eliot notes in The Waste Land and the seasonal severe weather shows — is the cruelest month. Those poor folks would change their tune if they could partake in any of the pabulum parties below. This month’s culinary treasures are sweet, spicy and creamy.

Tater Day, Benton, Ky., April 2: While this festival celebrated on the first Monday in April is 169 years old, it wasn’t until approximately 1960 that the Kiwanis Club gave the festival its current form. Local growers still gather to trade sweet potato slips (shoots grown from mature potatoes) and related wares. They also congregate to fete the town’s favorite starchy tuber with a parade, pageants, eating competition (perfect after a spin on a carnival ride), horse races and the Barbeque Kookoff. Of course, folks will vie for a chance at winning the title of largest sweet potato.

More April food festivals around the country

Pasta Primavera — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 2nd, 2012

Celebrate the bright colors and bold flavors of spring by cooking this light and fresh pasta dish. After adding sweet cherry tomatoes to al dente noodles, sugar snap peas, crunchy carrots and a bell pepper, gently mix in chopped mint, nutty Parmesan and silky goat cheese until combined. Ready to eat in just 30 quick minutes, this seasonal recipe guarantees that you can get dinner on the table in a flash.

Complete your Italian-inspired dinner by serving Food Network Magazine’s Almond Caesar Salad, featuring red-leaf lettuce tossed with a garlic-Dijon dressing and cheesy baked croutons.

Get the recipe: Pasta Primavera from Food Network Magazine

Meatless Monday, an international movement, encourages people everywhere to cut meat one day a week for personal and planetary health. Browse more Meatless Monday recipes.