The Multipurpose Potato — Summer Fest

by in In Season, September 19th, 2012

four cheese scalloped potatoes
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 the past weeks, we’ve 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. For the last installment of Summer Fest, we’re exploring potatoes.

Taken straight from the sack, potatoes are pretty bland. But with just a little love — and butter — they become a force to be reckoned with. And let’s face it: They’re as versatile as they are comforting. Yukon gold or russet? Baked or smashed? Now that the most satisfying crop of all is in season, there’s no telling what could end up on your dinner table tonight.

If you grow your own potatoes, did you know they can keep for upwards of six months or more? Fresh potatoes can be eaten immediately and are prized for their tender, new skins. But potatoes can also be cured in a dry, room temperature space to allow skins to slightly desiccate. Keep them in the dark and they can store for upwards of six months. For more great tips like this one, be sure to check out HGTV Gardens.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, there’s something to be said for a quality baked potato. You know, the kind that’s sliced down the middle, perfectly moist on the inside and inundated with toppings. Food Network Magazine’s Twice Baked Potatoes pack in leeks and chive-and-onion cream cheese, while the Neelys’ Twice Smashed Baked Potatoes recipe goes the broccoli and double-cheese route.

Get more potato recipes from family and friends

Robert Irvine Takes on His Next Challenge: ChefVille

by in Food Network Chef, September 19th, 2012

robert irvine chefville
Fans of the popular social game ChefVille and Robert Irvine fanatics can rejoice — the two are coming together on a culinary adventure as they tackle a series of tasty to-dos.

Beginning today, Robert will face his biggest challenge yet as he helps ChefVille players enhance the in-game establishments they have designed by mastering dishes from around the world, while improving their restaurants.

Throughout the next two weeks, ChefVille players can go on a series of quests cooked up by Robert — everything from ingredient cultivation and specialization, dish mastery and customer service — without the actual growing pains of owning a real restaurant. Similar to his role on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert will guide ChefVille players along the way, providing tips and tricks — and a little tough love when necessary.

Read more

A Celebration of Desserts at the 2012 Vendy Awards

by in Events, September 18th, 2012

2012 Vendy Awards

If you’ve ever been to New York City, then you know that there is no shortage of places to eat here. Michelin-starred, James Beard-awarded, see-and-be-seen hot spots? We have plenty. Hole-in-the-wall joints with just 20 chairs and one server? Yes, they’re here, too. One of New York City’s most-beloved eating traditions, however, takes place not inside a room or at a table, but rather behind the windows of the street carts and food trucks that line the streets of almost every neighborhood in the city.

Every summer New York comes together to celebrate the city’s best sidewalk vendors and street food of all kinds at the Vendy Awards, an afternoon food festival that brings together big-time vendors and newcomers alike to support The Street Vendor Project, “a membership-based non-profit organization that stands up for vendors’ rights.” Vendors set up shop then dish out signature plates to lines of hungry locals while entering their food in one category to win the Vendy Cup, People’s Taste Award or the title of Best Dessert, Rookie Vendor of the Year or Best Market Vendor. This year’s awards took place last weekend on Governors Island, and we were there to taste the very best bites.

Savory plates of deliciously salty and spicy Mexican tortas, all-American cheesesteaks, Asian-style noodles, meaty kebabs and more filled the outdoor space, but it was the sweeter treats, the sugary, creamy and chilled desserts that wowed us the most.

Read more

On the Road: A Tour Through Music City, USA

by in Shows, September 18th, 2012

on the road nashville
This week the final four trucks of The Great Food Truck Race took a small detour to Pottsville, Tenn., before cruising into Nashville. There they met on a farm owned by country musicians Joey and Rory Feek. Instead of sending the teams to sell, host Tyler Florence immediately introduced the week’s Truck Stop cooking challenge.

Once the teams pulled up to the curbs of Nashville, they then had to deal with an unprecedented Speed Bump: The lead cooks on each truck had to sell with two students from the International Culinary School at The Art Institutes, not their teammates, who were forced to watch the action from afar.

For the next couple of weeks, we’re following the Food Trucks city by city with our guide of the best eats, compiled by the On the Road app and website. Today we’re exploring the best that Nashville has to offer. Come back next week for our picks in Cleveland.

Bongo Java
Start your day at Bongo Java, Nashville’s oldest coffee company. It gained notoriety in 1996 when an employee discovered a “nun bun,” a cinnamon bun that looked remarkably like Mother Teresa. You can order a breakfast of bagels, burritos or baked goods, plus a hot cup of their fair-trade coffee.

Get more picks in Nashville

Breakdown: Frozen Treats

by , September 18th, 2012

ice cream
Even a frozen treat connoisseur like myself can get confused with all the icy options out there. Grab your ice cream maker, you’ll be itching to make something after you read this.

Ice Cream
The classic: sweet, velvety, delish. Ice cream is typica...

Read more

The Power of School Lunch

by in Family, September 18th, 2012

school lunch box
My daughter played “What food am I?” in preschool the other day. When I came to pick her up, her teacher gave me an odd look. “What happened?” I asked. “All of the kids had to describe what kind of food they were today,” she began. “Most kids said apples, celery, oranges, hamburgers, tomatoes, etc., but your daughter told us she was a mix of quinoa and gooseberries…”

Good or bad? I wondered to myself. Probably some of both.

In my mind, that definitely tells me I’m going to be “that mom,” the one whose kid constantly feels embarrassed about. And “that mom” was originally my mom: the mom who dares to be different when, among other things, it comes to packing a school lunch.

My mother lovingly packed soggy, lopsided and sometimes grease-stained paper bags carrying oddball sandwiches or various leftovers from dinner.

Delicious? Totally. Awkward to eat? Totally. Not like any of the other kids’ lunches at a time when you did not dare to be different? Totally.

What was a classic lunch for me?

Keep reading

10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Pasta

by in Shows, September 17th, 2012

iron chef america battle pasta
Everybody has their favorite memory of a perfect pasta dish. My own came during a visit to a small restaurant in Rome where I was presented with a plate of Bucatini All’Amatricana, made with the tubular pasta and a spicy sauce containing guanciale (cured pig jowls). As I travel the globe eating the weird and the wonderful, it is often this comforting bowl of pasta that I recall and crave the most.

Pasta is such a familiar ingredient in the United States that it is often all too easy to take it for granted. There are few people who don’t have at least one type of pasta in their store cupboard and if you were to walk down the aisles of any supermarket, you would have to take off your shoes and socks to help you count the fresh and dried varieties now offered.

Despite its ubiquity, however, there is something about a beautifully prepared pasta dish that is very hard to beat and I hope you were as excited as I was by the way that the Iron Chef and their challenger brought a new spin to such a classic ingredient last night.

Given that pasta is, I suspect, so familiar to everyone who will read this, I thought I would stray from the normal format for these features and instead give you 10 interesting things you may not know about pasta.

Read more