Fried chicken is as Southern as sweet tea and kudzu. It is so iconic, in fact, that it has nearly become a stereotype. Fried chicken was once called Gospel Bird. This phrase isn’t another wispy bit of food myth shrouded in fiction and perpetuated by the Internet. I remember very well my own grandfather calling it Gospel Bird when I was a little girl. It was called that because it was most often served on Sundays, once a week.
It’s officially birthday season in the d’Arabian household: Two of my daughters, my husband, my brother-in-law and two nephews (who live a few houses away) all have birthdays within a three-week period. (Come to think of it, maybe we just have a big family?)
Birthdays are a celebration of another year — a year filled with loving one another, laughing, good times, tough times and being connected. The candles on the cake remind us that life is in session and we are participating. And the number of candles isn’t the only reminder (“Mom, your cake has so many candles it’s going to catch fire!”). How we celebrate also speaks to the passage of time. It seems like just yesterday we were lighting a “1” candle on a cupcake that my daughter couldn’t have cared less about and giving her gifts that she lacked the dexterity to open. The princess party years breezed by, although if you had asked me as I stood in line, yet again, at Disney Store for the latest sparkly costume, I was sure they wouldn’t. Last week, a new milestone: our first “real” boy/girl party. Valentine turned 9 and wanted an evening party, including dinner and a dance area on our patio.
In an all-new, five-part Chopped competition premiering on Sun., March 9 at 9|8c, athletes, RvG alums, comedians and actors will compete for a chance to win a $50,000 grand prize for charity. Over four themed episodes, celebrities will face the dreaded mystery basket ingredients and cook in three rounds — appetizer, entree and dessert. One celebrity from each of the four episodes will advance to the finale on Sun., April 6 at 9|8c. One lucky competitor will walk away with the grand prize and bragging rights as the Chopped Tournament of Stars champion.
I have a bad habit of isolating myself this time of year. Part of it is practical. My busy work season is April through November, so during these chilly months, I like to hunker down and get some neglected projects and tasks accomplished. But after spending long stretches of time working from home, with only my husband to break the quiet, I find that I need a little socialization. That’s when I put the out the potluck call.
All it takes is a quick email to a bunch of friends and, suddenly, a communal meal comes together. Sometimes we plan to do a Sunday morning brunch. Other times it’s a basic shared meal on a Thursday evening. It’s as much about contact and community as it is about the food.
I do have a couple of guidelines when it comes to cooking for a potluck. If I’m hosting, I always like to provide a dish that contains both a protein and a vegetable. That way, if the only other things on the table are wine, bread and dessert, I still feel like it’s a fairly balanced meal.
As you begin your weekend with a brand-new episode of The Kitchen (Saturday at 11a|10c), log in to Twitter during the show and follow along with @FoodNetwork‘s tweets, because co-host Sunny Anderson will be taking over the account to give fans an insider’s perspective of the show.
Saturday’s show is all about kicking off game-day preparations, and as the ultimate football fanatic, Sunny will be sharing her signature tailgating tips and ideas, plus dishing on behind-the-scenes moments on set. On the episode, she, Geoffrey, Jeff, Katie and Marcela are going to indulge in classic football fare like hearty sandwiches and dips, as well as refreshing cocktails, while they build the ultimate snack platter — an over-the-top snackadium featuring party-ready munchies. Tune in to watch the snackadium come to life, and tweet @FoodNetwork to chat with Sunny about The Kitchen or to ask her questions about your big-game bash — she just may give you an answer.
The Chopped Dinner Challenge is a series of recipes showing you how easy it is to cook like a winning Chopped competitor. Every week, FN Dish will showcase a recipe created by Food Network Kitchens that uses at least one of the Chopped basket ingredients, plus basic grocery goods and simple staples. Consider it your very own Chopped challenge. Just take this frequent tip from the judges: Don’t forget to season!
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchens chose to feature the basket ingredient seitan, a popular meat substitute. The goal of this challenge was to disguise the seitan enough so that meat eaters wouldn’t even know the difference. Frying it in a cola batter and serving it with lots of tomato sauce and cheese in hero rolls seemed to do the trick. Your family does not have to be vegetarian to try these Vegetarian Parm Heroes. The flavors are classic Italian, but the preparation gives it a modern spin. Prepare these heroes for your next vegetarian night.
It’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.
Although he’s a relatively new addition to Kitchen Stadium and recently launched a brand-new series, The Kitchen, with four other co-hosts, Geoffrey Zakarian is a longtime Chopped judge, having been part of the panel since the show’s premiere season in 2009. Now recognized equally for his dapper ensembles and his harsh critiques at the Chopping Block, Geoffrey is a no-nonsense judge, able to note the intricacies of a competitor’s dish and offer constructive reviews on how to better it in the future.
A pillar of the restaurant industry, Geoffrey has two eateries in Manhattan, serves as the culinary director for The Plaza Hotel in New York City, and has ventures in Miami and at The Water Club at Borgata in Atlantic City. Despite these commitments, however, and his dedication to serving only the finest cuisine at his restaurants, Geoffrey connects to viewers with ease and shares quick-fix, crave-worthy recipes that home cooks can surely replicate. His Caesar Salad with Red Romaine is a hearty, simple salad that can be on the table in a quick 20 minutes, and just this month on The Kitchen, Geoffrey offered a recipe for Italian Chicken Pasta Salad that takes advantage of store-bought rotisserie chicken.
The casserole doesn’t necessarily have the most-fashionable rep around. (Tuna casserole, we’re lookin’ at you.) But don’t let that misconception hold you back. The modern casserole really is a one-dish wonder, one that comes nice and bubbly from the oven. It can take you from oven to table with no effort at all. And when you’re buried under scarves and sweaters, the thought of easy-to-access comfort food should warm you on its very own.
Classic lasagna may be the most-popular Italian one-dish wonder, but just consider it a starting point. Trisha fixes her vegan Black Bean Lasagna by layering black beans, homemade tofu ricotta and fire-roasted tomatoes between sheets of lasagna noodles.
Many casseroles come with a base of rice, but Rachael’s Make-Ahead Paella Casserole is definitely the most vibrant. For a one-pan dose of Spanish comfort, Rachael simmers rice in an infusion of saffron before joining it with chicken, chorizo, fish and even shrimp.