Easy Appetizers for Spring Entertaining

by in Entertaining, Recipes, May 18th, 2012


Appetizers. Hors d’oeuvres. Starters. Nibbles. Snacks. Whatever you call pre-dinner eats, you can be sure that they will make a meal, offering your dinner guests early tastes and textures and a sneak peek of what’s to come in the later courses. As the spring season winds down, invite friends and family over to celebrate the warmer weather and serve a simple, quick-to-prepare spread of first-course munchies. Food Network’s no-fuss appetizers below are ideal for relaxed, casual entertaining, and include charred lemon-scented shrimp, velvety deviled eggs and bacon-wrapped veggies. Check out our recipe selections and tell us what you’re cooking up this weekend. 

Robert Irvine’s Antipasto Platter With Grilled Vegetables (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine is a go-to pre-dinner pick when you’re pressed for time or if guests stop by unexpectedly. This tray can be customized to any size party or taste preference, though some staple snacks include a mixture of hard and soft cheeses, buttery prosciutto, fresh vegetables, crusty bread and more.

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Burnt Orange Bread Pudding — The Weekender

by in Recipes, May 18th, 2012

burnt orange bread pudding
My maternal grandmother, Della, wasn’t much of a cook. Forever dieting, she invested far more time into maintaining her dress size than she did perfecting her brisket recipe. However, when pressed into kitchen service, there were a few dishes that she could make tolerably well. She knew how to cook a pot of oatmeal so that it was thick and creamy, had long ago mastered the art of broiling a steak and made the best bread pudding around.

Bread pudding was a staple during Della’s childhood. After being orphaned, she and her siblings were raised by an aunt and uncle. The pressures of feeding three growing children meant that food had to be inexpensive and filling. Stale bread cooked in custard and sweetened with dried fruit checked both boxes and tasted good to boot.

Throughout her later years, bread pudding was the one thing that my grandmother just couldn’t resist. Any time my grandparents would eat out and it was on the menu, my grandfather would order it as his dessert. When it arrived, he’d nudge the dish my grandmother’s way. She’d insist that she was entirely satisfied with black coffee and then proceed to eat half the serving in small bites.

Before you start whisking your custard, read these tips

Want Better Biscuits? Alton to the Rescue

by in Food Network Chef, Recipes, May 18th, 2012

alton brown biscuit festival
Biscuits hold a special, fluffy, buttery place in Alton Brown’s heart. His grandmother made the best biscuits every day for more than 50 years, and re-creating those legendary biscuits took him 10 years of science projects, oven temperature readings and failed attempts.

So it’s only fitting that he kicked off this weekend’s International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, Tenn., with a talk on all things biscuit, including how he finally cracked the recipe and what you should and shouldn’t (read: yogurt) mix into your biscuit dough.

“Biscuits aren’t food, they’re currency for the soul,” Alton says. That’s because they’re all about tradition. After trying literally everything — including mimicking the barometric pressure and humidity of his grandmother’s mountain home in his Atlanta-area residence — to re-create the family biscuits, Alton finally learned that a difference in technique was ruining batch after batch. His grandmother kneaded with her fingers straight, while he kneaded with bent hands. For this reason, he says, “You can only learn biscuits from a direct transfer of one to another.” (Watch Alton make biscuits with his grandmother.)

No biscuit-savvy grandmother in the family? Continue reading for some of Alton’s tips to baking better biscuits.

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Channel Your Inner Sweet Genius

by in Shows, May 17th, 2012

ron ben-israel sweet genius
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, chances are you’re a fan of Sweet Genius, now in its second season. Back with more whimsy and wonder, each episode has four of America’s premier pastry chefs competing against one another through three rounds of challenges judged by Master Pastry Chef Ron Ben-Israel, testing their creativity, ingenuity and imagination. The chefs are given surprise ingredients, inspiration and a limited amount of time; with those three elements as a guide, they must create a delectable chocolate, candy and cake dessert. The winners from each round advance for a final test, with Ron crowning the remaining chef Sweet Genius and awarding them a $10,000 cash prize.

Now we need your help and inspiration for the third season. Have you thought of a surprise ingredient or challenge that would be perfect for Sweet Genius?

Get creative: We’re hoping to see suggestions that include live animals, colorful objects, items with moving parts (think the robot from this season or our bubble machine) or wacky things like a baby doll or ventriloquist’s dummy. Tell us your suggestions in the comments below and they may be featured in the upcoming season.

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On the Blogs: The Truth Behind Pepper, a Vegetarian Shark and the Best Beer

by in Community, May 17th, 2012

black peppercornsThe Salt: Is black pepper the secret ingredient to weight loss? A recent study claims yes, but actual benefits may be minimal.

Tree Hugger: There is one shark you don’t have to be afraid of in the water. Six-foot Florence is the world’s first vegetarian shark.

New York Times: Need incentive for improving your eating habits? A new invention promises cash rewards for healthy eating.

LA Weekly: The new scrapbook-esque children’s book, The Delicious Life of Julia Child, is a quirky and fun read for kids and adults.

Slate: Is there such a thing as the “best beer in the world?” Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Younger has taken the title according to BeerAdvocate.com.

Best 5 Cucumber Salads for Spring

by in Recipes, May 17th, 2012


Light and refreshing yet filling and satisfying, cucumber salads are easy-to-prepare, quick-cooking side dishes that complement any spring menu. The key to crafting a cucumber salad is to start with fresh, firm cucumbers — like those pictured above from Food Network Magazine — and add simple, clean flavors. Check out Food Network’s top five cucumber salad recipes below to find a mix of creative and traditional takes on this classic spring dish.

5. Grilled Red Onion and Cucumber Salad With Yogurt-Mint Dressing — Bobby completes his 20-minute side by sprinkling tangy feta cheese on top.

4. Fresh Cucumber Salad — Made with English cucumber, cool honeydew and jalapeno, Claire Robinson creates a no-fuss salad that is both sweet and a bit spicy.

Get the top three recipes