The Afterlife of a Vanilla Bean

by in How-to, May 23rd, 2012

vanilla beans
Every year in the restaurant and out in the field, I use a truckload of vanilla beans. To me, they are as important as flour, sugar, butter and eggs. I consider the vanilla bean the fifth essential ingredient.

So imagine gallons of ice cream flecked with pounds of vanilla beans. Yummers! And how about custards by the kilo with an equal amount of this decadent vanilla sprinkled through every last bite?

So what do you do with pods that served their duty, sometimes even double duty? I could throw them away, but that wouldn’t be prudent. They are extremely expensive and too special to sit in a landfill somewhere in Florida, never really enjoying the fruits of their labor.

A flashbulb went off in my brain. No, not the same magical 60 watt summoning to life the Easy-Bake Oven of my childhood, but a bigger and brighter new fangled one. I realized if I washed the used pods and dried them slowly in the oven on very low heat, I could grind them in a spice or coffee grinder and have the most wonderful vanilla dust.

Get Hedy’s Vanilla Dust recipe

Behind the Booklet: 50 Tacos

by in Food Network Magazine, May 23rd, 2012

tacos
Coming up with 50 of anything for Food Network Magazine’s monthly 50-recipe booklet can be daunting — in the past, the booklet has featured 50 things to make with bacon, 50 brownies and 50 grilled cheeses — but this month, Food Network Kitchens tackled taco night.

The 50 Tacos booklet is full of fun new ideas you can whip up in no time. For instance, tucked into the Chicken Tomatillo recipe (No. 14) is an incredibly easy tomatillo salsa. It’s just 32 words long and as easy as can be, but I promise you it’s a killer salsa that is just as delicious in hot chicken tacos as it is served with tortilla chips.

Puree 1 pound fresh husked tomatillos with 1 jalapeno, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup each chopped onion, cilantro and water.  Fry in 2 tablespoons oil until thick.

And of course it’s not the only one. There are tons of great salsas all throughout these recipes. Explore, find your favorites and mix and match to create your own tacos, nachos and more!

Team Bobby’s First Farewell

by , May 22nd, 2012

Team Bobby was riding high after taking home the first win of the season, only to come crashing back to reality in Episode Two. On their food tour of Harlem, caterer and fitness guru Kara Sigle hoped a strong presentation would distract from her lifeless chicken and waffles. Unfortunately, she stumbled, lost focus and completely forgot to tell the crowd — and the judges — about her dish at all. She wasn’t surprised to end up in the Producers’ Challenge, going head-to-head against Judson to create the ultimate potato dish and make it memorable.

When Bob and Susie decided that Team Alton’s Judson was the better gamble to keep around another week, he was the one who shed tears. Kara left the competition with her head held high and still hopes to see Team Bobby come out on top. “They become your family immediately,” she said of her team. “I think they’re going to go all the way. That’s the final four right there.”

Hear more from Bobby, Susie and Kara in her exclusive exit interview. Do you think she deserved to go home so soon?

Read more

Liquid Gold: Regional BBQ Sauces

by in Food Network Magazine, Holidays, May 22nd, 2012

Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce

Upgrade your barbecue sauce with help from six legendary pit masters.

Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce (pictured above)
Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous (52 South Second St.; 901-523-2746) is famous for its spice-rubbed ribs, and John Vergos, son of founder Charlie, still smokes them the way his father did when he opened the place in 1948: He cooks the pork ribs over oak charcoal briquettes, bastes them with a mix of vinegar and water, and seasons them with a paprika-heavy spice blend before serving with the sauce on the side. “Our sauce is not too heavy,” he says. “I like the little mustard and vinegar bite.” The recipe is a long-held family secret, but chefs in Food Network Kitchens ordered a few bottles and reverse-engineered the recipe.

Get more regional BBQ sauces

American Macaroni Salad — Meatless Monday

by in Holidays, Recipes, May 21st, 2012


Ready to eat in just 30 minutes, Food Network Kitchens’ creamy, vegetable-packed pasta salad (pictured above) is a no-fuss addition to your Memorial Day menu. This naturally meatless bowl boasts fresh parsley, crunchy celery and a touch of red onion and is tossed with a smooth mayonnaise-dry mustard-sour cream dressing. Easy to store, pack and serve, this traditional side dish is a must-have at holiday picnics or any other gathering.

If you’re hosting a backyard cookout or weekend get-together, complete your spread with Dave Lieberman’s grilled Veggie Skewers, strung with colorful bell peppers, fresh zucchini, squash and more. Before skewering, Dave marinates the vegetables in a simple olive oil-garlic mixture, allowing them to adopt that rich, bold flavor.

Get the recipe: American Macaroni Salad

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.

Tilapia Cooked on a Cedar Plank

by , May 21st, 2012
cedar plank tilapia

Robin's Cedar Plank Tilapia With Fresh Chimichurri

I thank Kyle, my 10 year-old son, for introducing me to cedar planks. If it weren’t for his palate, I wouldn’t have made a desperate dash to get the planks and learn how to cook with ...

Read more