Polenta Vegetable “Lasagna” — The Weekender

by in Recipes, March 16th, 2012

polenta vegetable lasagna
Until just a few years ago, I thought that all polenta came precooked and wrapped firmly in plastic. When I was in college, my roommates and I would occasionally buy it packaged that way. Once we sawed through the wrapper, we’d cut it into thick rounds and cook those slices in butter until they were crisp and warmed through. Topped with some jarred marinara sauce, we thought it was QUITE the sophisticated meal.

There is nothing wrong with that kind of polenta, but once you taste the freshly cooked kind, all creamy and enriched with Parmesan cheese and a dab of butter, well, there’s no going back. It’s one of my pantry staples, because it can help unify a few leftover odds and ends into a really good meal. My favorite thing to do is top polenta with some pan-wilted spinach and a couple poached eggs. It’s an almost-instant dinner.

I’ve also found that polenta dishes are excellent to share with new parents. They reheat well, last for days in the fridge and are edible comfort for the sleep-deprived.

Get the recipe

5 Ways to Cook With Beer

by in Holidays, Recipes, March 16th, 2012


No St. Patrick’s Day party is complete without beer, especially Guinness, a dark Irish stout beer. Sure, you could just enjoy it straight from the can or bottle, but you could also cook with beer, incorporating it into sweet and savory dishes, such as ice cream sundaes, chocolate cupcakes, burgers and more. Below are five stout-centric recipes that are bursting with bold, full flavors, but are still easy enough to make for tomorrow’s Irish-themed festivities.

Reduce sweetened Guinness beer on the stove until it’s thick and syrupy, and drizzle it atop classic vanilla ice cream to create Food Network Magazine’s easy Guinness Sundaes (pictured above).

More St. Patrick’s Day recipes

On the Blogs: Meatloaf Birthday Cake, Marilyn Hagerty and Pizza Roulette

by in Community, March 15th, 2012

meatloaf cupcakeThe Daily Meal: Presidential candidate Mitt Romney prefers meatloaf cake for his birthday. Will meatloaf cupcakes be at your next celebration?

Eater NY: Who is Marilyn Hagerty? Following her Olive Garden restaurant review, the North Dakotan food critic is now a celebrity.

Food Beast: A New Zealand-based pizza chain dares diners to play a round of Pizza Roulette featuring the “hottest chili known to mankind.”

Saveur: Chimney cakes are tubular pastries from Eastern Europe. One glance at them will make you wonder why they aren’t more popular here.

CNN Tech: Introduced at SXSW, Tweet-A-Beer is a new app that lets you gift a pint to a friend over the Internet.

 

$7 Brings You Instant Wine Coolness on St. Patrick’s Day

by in Drinks, Holidays, March 15th, 2012

wine for st. patricks dayIf you crave coolness, sometimes the best plan is to swim against the stream. Everyone eating steak? Order the shrimp scampi. Friends dressing up? Go ahead, wear your ripped jeans.

And with St. Patrick’s Day being so famously beer-soaked, your against-the-grain cred will come from drinking wine. Not any old vino, mind you, but one particularly suited to this casual, joyous occasion: Vinho Verde (VEEN-yoh VEHR-day), a light white wine from various native grapes in Portugal.

Here are five reasons why

Ron Ben-Israel Talks Season Two of Sweet Genius

by in Shows, March 15th, 2012


As the host of Sweet Genius, the sugar-packed competition series in which four chefs bake their hearts out for a chance to earn $10,000, it is master pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel’s job to maintain a stoic and, at times, intimidating persona. In the second season of the show, viewers can expect much of the same from the Sweet Genius, though they also will get to know Ron the person and find out why he’s so enthusiastic about pastry. I caught up with Ron at his welcoming New York City bakery, and we chatted about the show over cake and tea.

Comparing the previous season to the upcoming one, Ron explained, “We featured a certain angle — a little bit of a Dr. Evil. The idea was that the chefs would be very scared — as they should be, because for $10,000, you better be scared — and we kept it. Some people loved it, and some people hated it. But a lot of what makes me funny, what makes me excited was not seen. In the second season, you definitely see what makes me passionate and what makes me upset.” New episodes will show that Ron is as quick to dismiss the contestants’ creations as he is to praise them. “When something was great, I really loved it. But when something was not so good, I told them if they were wasting their time,” he said.

Ron shares a bit of insider information

Individual Shepherd’s Pie — Simple Soirées

by in Entertaining, Holidays, March 15th, 2012

individual shepherd's pie
St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and this year I’m celebrating with a classic Shepherd’s Pie. It’s basically my go-to dish for this yearly celebration, along with a few Irish-inspired cocktails and beer.

My favorite Shepherd’s Pie recipe comes from Mr. Alton Brown.

It’s a foolproof recipe that will knock your socks off. I jazzed it up a bit by adding some Dubliner cheese into the potato topping to give it that extra Irish kick. What makes this even more special is that rather than making a big casserole dish of Shepherd’s Pie, I turn this into individual portions by make the pies in a muffin tin. How perfect is that for a fun St. Paddy’s-themed evening with your friends? Grab a mini Shepherd’s Pie and a Guinness and call it a night.

Get the recipe

Restaurant Revisited: Valley View

by in Shows, March 14th, 2012

restaurant impossible valley view

As of February 2012:

Three months later, new General Manager Kelly says the freshness of the new dining room has not waned for her.

Kelly now holds employee meetings to train staff on food safety and proper customer service. She and Kim also meet weekly with their newly hired chef, Matt, to go over any kitchen issues.

Chef Matt has become Kim’s right-hand man. He’s helping to bring in more fresh ideas, and today there are very few frozen items on the menu. Kelly is excited for Chef Matt’s new menu to roll out — she can’t wait to see customers’ reactions.

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