On the Blogs: Babyccinos, Michelle Obama and Parisian Hot Dogs

by in Community, February 16th, 2012

cappuccinoEater: Babyccinos (decaf cappuccinos for toddlers) are popular in Brooklyn, creating a new generation of java drinkers. How soon is too soon?

Saveur: Need a kick of flavor? A dollop of this North African sauce may be the answer.

Inside Scoop SF: California chefs respond to the upcoming ban on foie gras.

CNN Opinion: Michelle Obama speaks about positive strides in the fight against child obesity.

NY Times: Hot dogs can be classy, too. Three-star Michelin chef Yannick Alleno gives them a Parisian twist.


Instant Coffee — Off the Beaten Aisle

by in How-to, February 16th, 2012

bourbon java steak tips
Most of us have to be suffering from a pretty mind-blowing caffeine-withdrawal migraine before we’ll reach for instant coffee.

Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy some. Because while instant coffee makes a generally lousy cup of java, it can do astounding things for your cooking.

And that is why it is such an overlooked and underappreciated ingredient.

First, an instant-coffee primer.

Coffee hounds have been tinkering with versions of instant coffee since at least the late 1700s, but it wasn’t until just before World War II that it became widely available.

Those early varieties were made by spraying brewed coffee into heated towers and drying it into granules. By 1964, a freeze-drying method had been perfected, which boasted superior aroma and body.

Get the recipe for Bourbon Java Steak Tips »

Shortbread Cookies — The New Girl

by in Recipes, February 16th, 2012

shortbread cookies
I’m the new girl. As a Food Network assistant and wannabe chef, I’m just starting to find my way around the kitchen. This is what I’ve learned so far.

1) Success not only takes hard work, but patience and time as well.

2) Graduating college didn’t immediately launch me to Barefoot Contessa status.

I’ve finally accepted that it is okay to be new. However daunting it may seem, I have to start somewhere — in work, in the kitchen, in the inescapable “real world.”

When I need inspiration, I think back to where my interest in cooking began. Unbeknownst to her, Ina Garten has had a great influence in my life. Watching the Barefoot Contessa in between classes at school helped me to discover my passion for food.

This past weekend my boyfriend and I escaped the city for a relaxing visit with his parents. I wanted to bring something simple, sweet and transportable, so I thought to myself, “What would Ina do?” My answer: shortbread cookies.

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Sweet Potatoes — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Family, Recipes, February 15th, 2012

sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes get lots of love during the holidays, but there’s good reason to be thankful for them year round: They’re an excellent source of vitamin C, beta carotene and fiber. Their naturally sweet, candy-like flavor also makes them a favorite among kids — or so I hear. Truth be told, my oldest is potato-phobic. I recently tried making oven-fried sweet potatoes and even those garnered thumbs down. I didn’t take this personally. It’s not me, it’s her — but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to give sweet potatoes a pink slip.

One thing I’ve always believed in is not dumbing down dinner just to get my daughters to eat it. I cook for my own enjoyment as much as their nourishment, which is why we have a one-bite policy: You can’t have an opinion about what’s served unless you actually taste it. That rule is usually my wild card and gives me license to keep playing with different sweet potato recipes in hopes I’ll come across one she eventually likes. Bacon being among her favorite foods, this recipe for Sweet Potato and Beet Hash is one I can’t wait to try. And since she loves guacamole, maybe there’s hope for Sweet Potato Fries With Avocado Dip, too.

More sweet potato recipes »

Win These Granola Clusters!

by in Uncategorized, February 15th, 2012
KIND granola

You could win these.

Staying healthy when you’re constantly on-the-go is tough. Often, it’s easier just to grab something from the vending machine or the nearest fast food joint. Keeping a bag of snacks nearby can not only satiate afterno...

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5 Things to Know About Your Refrigerator

by in How-to, February 15th, 2012

refrigerator safetyA refrigerator in tip-top condition provides prime storage conditions for your perishables and stops odors and bacteria from flourishing.

1. The temperature should remain between 30 degrees F and 40 degrees F. While freezers should clock in at zero or below, a refrigerator that hovers no higher than 40 degrees F is safest for food storage, as it inhibits bacterial growth.

2. Your refrigerator and freezer need to be cleaned each season. Freshen up the fridge and its contents by doing away with odors and lingering germs. Remove everything from inside, weeding out items that need to go. (Put edible odds and ends to use in everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salads, pizzas or soups.) Replace open boxes of baking soda, then take a bucket of water combined with a few spoonfuls of the replaced baking soda (it’s still effective as a household cleaner) and wipe down every surface.

Refrigerator door shelves are where it’s warmest »

Choc-Tail Hour: Chocolate Cocktails From Food Network Magazine

by in Drinks, Food Network Magazine, February 14th, 2012

s'mores martini
Some restaurants let you have your chocolate and drink it, too.

The Peninsula, Chicago

When The Peninsula needed a cocktail to complete its chocolate buffet spread, bartender Aaron Johnson developed three, and all of them ended up on the regular bar menu. This S’mores Martini (pictured above) causes the most fuss: Patrons smell the barkeeps toasting the marshmallow rim and can’t help but order one for themselves. 108 East Superior St.; peninsula.com

More chocolate cocktails »

Double-Duty Gadgets in the Kitchen

by in Shows, February 14th, 2012

erica weidner
Even though we’re only one episode into the new season of Worst Cooks in America, there’s one contestant in particular that’s caught my eye: Erica Weidner. Playing for Team Bobby, she’s quirky, ready to learn and hilarious.

For the Baseline Skill Challenge, the contestants were asked to cook a dish that would “explain who they were.” Erica, whose family has dubbed her an impractical cook, thinks she’s just resourceful. We saw this come to play when she used scissors to cut up a bell pepper. In the past, she’s also used disposable razors to peel turnips and plyers to remove giblets from a frozen chicken.

This got me thinking: What other gadgets have people used to cook up a dish in the kitchen? Tell us in the comments below. The person with the most unique double-duty gadget technique will be featured in an FN Dish post next week.