Cupcake Wars: Love, Wine, Flowers, Chocolate!

by in Shows, February 9th, 2011
Marilyn's winning cupcakes

Cupcake Wars judge Candace Nelson is the founder and pastry chef of Sprinkles Cupcakes, the world’s first cupcake bakery. She joins us on the FN Dish each week to recap all the sweet details of the competition from her seat at the judges’ table. Here’s what she had to say about last night’s episode, Valentine’s Day.

I love Valentine’s Day. A holiday devoted to love, wine, flowers and CHOCOLATE seems just too good to be true. And what could be sweeter than a Valentine’s Day episode of Cupcake Wars devoted to just those themes, plus a little cheese? Add Fabio as guest judge and you’ve got the perfect, romantic setting for our contestants to bake their hearts out!

Fabio joined Candace and Florian as guest judge for this episode.

And so they did. Both Marilyn and Bill impressed me from the start. Marilyn with her complex yet delicate cupcake of white wine, pineapple, ginger, goat cheese and sugared almonds… and Bill with his simple and yummy chocolate-Pinot Noir with goat cheese buttercream. But Krista ran into trouble in round one. She had trepidation about her cupcake because she doesn’t drink and was unfamiliar with the challenge ingredients, but what sent her home was a technical baking issue: The cake was missing body and literally sunk under the weight of the frosting.

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Pretty in Pink: Valentine’s Day Brunch

by in Recipes, February 8th, 2011
Smoked Salmon
Smoked salmon on a pink hot salt plate makes for a pretty Valentine's Day presentation.

Every Valentine’s Day I try to make an elaborate dessert for my sweetheart, but this year I have been invited to a Ladies’ Valentine’s Day brunch. Instead of bringing chocolate love, I am going to take a savory approach to the food, with beautiful bubblies alongside for sipping.

I am making Blinis with Crème Fraiche and Smoked Salmon from the elegant brunch master, Ina Garten. This petite platter will includes my favorite Norwegian smoked salmon from the local fish market, a dollop of crème fraiche, cucumbers and a green scallion or dill garnish. To dress up the salmon I plan to serve  it on a pink hot salt plate creating a very pretty-in-pink Valentine’s Day presentation that will surely impress the ladies.

A few dazzling daytime sparklers I’m considering that’ll pair well with the foods are Tyler’s classic Cranberry Champagne Cocktails and Giada’s prosecco Bellinis.

What are you making for Valentine’s Day?

—Reena Mehta

Side Dish: More Food on the Web

by in News, February 8th, 2011
Pretty Sweet Treats - Image Courtesy

HEARTy Plates: Instead of traditional heart-shaped Sugar Cookies this Valentine’s Day, treat your sweetie to a decadent dinner of braised Vermont beef heart ravioli or duck heart tartare next Monday night. That’s right, this Valentine’s Day restaurants across the country will serve up more than just heartfelt portions of oysters and chocolate cake. Supper in Philly and Incanto in San Francisco are among those restaurants featuring blue plate organ specials on their Valentine’s Day menus. In our opinion, however, if you want to keep your Valentine around until spring, you better stick with flowers and chocolates.  []

Introducing: Hand-Held Lasagna: Just when you think we’ve already transformed all possible foods into their bite-sized counterparts (I mean, how can you top Edy’s Dibs?), an LA catering company is cooking up Lasagna Cupcakes. These savory treats aren’t frosted but rather filled with classic Italian cheeses, vegetables, and béchamel sauce. Matt Poley, a partner in Heirloom-LA, says that “As long as they aren’t scalding hot, you can eat them with your hands. In fact, we encourage it. You might get some spillage, but not a lot.” []

Every Day is Meatless Monday: Last February, one self-proclaimed “hard-core omnivore” took the plunge – into veganism. Oregonian Grant Butler initially committed to a one-month challenge, but one year later, he is still embracing his protein-packed vegan recipes. Find out here how he fared during a trip to his meat-loving hometown outside of Kansas City, MO. And as Butler says, “No meat, no eggs, no dairy? Turns out it’s no problem.” []

Let’s Hear it for the Boys: The New York Post is reporting that thanks to Food Network’s popularity and the current economic climate, more NYC men are donning chef hats in their own kitchens. Some local women are finding themselves won-over by these eligible foodies, what with their ultra-fierce knife skills and culinary creativity. Definitely can’t argue with that!  [ via]

Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Ty Miller

by in Shows, February 7th, 2011
"I took away from the experience that cooking can be fun when you're not burning everything," says Ty.

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
I was the worst cook in America because when I cooked no one enjoyed it, me included.

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from Chef Robert?
I learned that not cooking everything on high will not burn the food.

What did you take away from the experience?
I took from the experience that cooking can be fun when you are not burning everything.

Will you continue to work on your culinary skills?
I will continue to cook and get better and better. You may see me on The Next Food Network Star soon.

If you could have a do-over of the challenge that sent you home, what would you do differently?
I would not change a thing about my last dish. I cooked it with love and had a good time making it.

When you presented your final dish, how did you feel about it?
I felt great about my last dish because when I got to boot camp, I never could have made it.

What advice would you give to future Worst Cooks competitors?
The advice I would give to future competitors is to relax, have a good time and enjoy the experience as much as possible. And listen to your chef.

What was the first dish or meal that you attempted to cook back at home after being eliminated? How did it go?
When I got home, I made fried fish and potatoes with steamed broccoli. My whole family actually ate it! Priceless.

What was your most memorable or funniest moment while shooting the show?
My best feeling during taping was making football dishes and talking with the Jets players. They liked my food, so I liked them. Also, Joshie eating the seafood. That was hilarious because he was scared of the shrimp.

Find out more about Worst Cooks in America and catch the show on Sundays at 9pm/8c.

Worst Cooks, Episode 6: He Said, She Said

by in Shows, February 7th, 2011

Kat was "traded" to the Red Team mid-season. "If I had her from the beginning, she might have won," says Chef Anne.

After each elimination on Worst Cooks in America this season, chefs Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine share their candid impressions of the booted recruits with the FN Dish. This week, they bid farewell to Kat from Robert’s Team and Ty from Anne’s Team.

Anne on Kat: When we had to swap team members, I was really scared about Kat. She had done terribly before that. And all of a sudden, she came on my team and suddenly she turned a corner. Now I feel good about having her on my team, and I had really high hopes for her. If I had her from the beginning, she may have won. I did not have enough time with her. She made a big transformation on my team. Sometimes she’d just give up. In the game day challenge it was profiteroles she was making and she was going to give up; I told her she had enough time. She didn’t get sent home on that one. In the seafood challenge, the funniest moment was when Kat was cleaning the calamari and the little fish fell out! It was giant dirty calamari; they must have gone to the ends of the earth to find the dirtiest calamari that they could. This little fish came flying out and I happened to be standing there right when it happened. It was hilarious. I was bummed to send her home.

Ty's food failed to impress Chef Robert in last week's game day challenge, but the football players saved him. This week's undercooked okra was his final downfall.

Robert on Ty: Some women can deal with women better than they can with men. Kat was much more comfortable with Anne and much more confident with Anne. Ty, this guy wouldn’t shut up! I get the team-building and cheerleading and all of that, but come on. He was a character; he was funny. He was saved the week before because the football players actually liked his food. When you get six or eight big dudes liking your food, who’s going to argue with a football player?

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Worst Cooks recruit in our Fan Vote, up to 10 times per day.

Worst Cooks Exit Interview: Kat Rose

by in Shows, February 7th, 2011
After her elimination in the seafood challenge, Kat returned home to cook her kids something other than PB&J.

Why did you need or want to be on Worst Cooks in America?
My kids were tired of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that they have been eating for dinner for the last 5 years of their lives. There is really no good reason for why I am such a terrible cook; my mother tried to teach me and I have never given up on the desire to be a great cook. However, every time I got the nerve up to cook, the results of my cooking were inedible, disgusting and embarrassing. I have very low cooking self-esteem…I really stopped believing that it was possible to present a meal to my family that they will be excited about, so I just served the one thing I knew they would eat…P.B. and Jelly.

What was the most valuable tip or piece of advice that you received from your Chef?
The most valuable advice that I learned from my team leader was how to use fresh herbs in my cooking, as well as how to cut up and prepare the herbs.

What did you take away from the experience?
I took away better cutting skills, more confidence in the kitchen and a lot of great memories!

Will you continue to work on your culinary skills?
Worst Cooks was only the beginning of my cooking education. I will continue to practice my cooking skills until I can present a decent meal without embarrassment to friends and family.

If you could have a do-over of the challenge that sent you home, what would you do differently? I wish I could change a few things on my last challenge. For starters, I would have cut the calamari on a clean cutting board…no ink in the stuffing. Second, I would have taken more time on my eggs and sprinkled paprika on them instead of dumping it on them.

When you presented your final dish, how did you feel about it?
When I presented my final dish to the chef, I believed that I had done a pretty good job. I thought I was going to make it to the next round.

What advice would you give to future Worst Cooks competitors?
I would tell future Worst Cooks to take good notes and enjoy cooking…don’t over-think the food; just enjoy the process of cooking.

What was the first dish or meal that you attempted to cook back at home after being eliminated? How did it go?
After returning home I attempted to cook roasted chicken, and to my surprise it was pretty good. Not one of my boys asked if they could make a P.B and jelly sandwich instead of eating the roasted chicken!

What was your most memorable or funniest moment while shooting the show?
My most memorable moment was when I pulled out a little guppy from the squid’s guts….so gross! One of the funniest memories was when Kelsey tried to kill us all by over-seasoning her dish. We could hardly talk or keep our eyes open.

Find out more about Worst Cooks in America and catch the show on Sundays at 9pm/8c.

Super Bowl Nacho Showdown

by in Recipes, February 5th, 2011
Sunny Anderson, Kelsey Nixon and Claudia Sidoti judged all of our nachos, picking their faves.

Some of us like to think of every day as Nacho Day but Super Bowl is a good excuse for a Texas-sized crowdpleasing nacho celebration. We hosted a Throwdown-worthy nacho-off in our Chelsea headquarters Friday, with Food Network, Cooking Channel and competing, cooking up bags and bags of crunchy, melty, meaty (and some veggie) nachos. Who judged? Sunny Anderson, Kelsey Nixon and the Food Network Kitchens’ nacho expert Claudia Sidoti stopped by, ate all of our creations and huddled to choose the best.

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Alton’s Perfect Buffalo Wings

by in Recipes, February 3rd, 2011
Alton Brown's Buffalo Wings
Dive into Alton's playbook for Buffalo Wings that can't be beat.

For Super Bowl Sunday, try tackling hot wings Alton-style, with a little science in your back pocket and a trick play up your sleeve. You’ll score a perfect touchdown, guaranteed, with these crispy-skinned wonders. Here are some of his hot wing secrets, step-by-step.

Steaming?: First, Alton loads up a steamer basket (yes, the one you usually use for broccoli) with the raw chicken wings and steams them for 10 minutes. Why would you do this? The extra fat will melt off and drip away into the pan, so you’ll be able to cook them at a higher heat later without smoking up your kitchen. And high heat = crispy skin.

steaming wings
Alton links a few steamer baskets together to fit all the wings. You could work in batches.

Drying: The steamed wings get spread onto a cooling rack set over a half sheet pan lined with paper towels, and the whole thing hangs out in the fridge for an hour. The cool air from the fridge dries out the skin completely, so a crisp cook-up is imminent.

Baking: Then the wings are baked, not fried. They contain enough fat to fry themselves when cooked at a high temperature, so no need to heat up vats of hot oil. And yes, they’re baked, but not at all healthy, light or slimmed down.

Saucing: Alton tosses the baked wings in a simple, classic hot wing sauce of melted butter and hot sauce (my favorite is Frank’s Red Hot Sauce). If you want the sauce to stick to the wings, make sure to do this step right away, while the wings are still hot out of the oven. And don’t worry, the super crispy skin won’t get soggy soon.

Hot Wings
Browse more hot wing recipes from Sunny, Guy and more FN chefs.

If you’re searching for the most amazing + easy + classic-tasting hot wing recipe ever, Alton’s is it. But you can also check out top versions from Paula, Sunny, Guy and more Food Network chefs here. Or browse our entire collection of 100 hot wings or even more game-day apps, from top guacs to tater skins.

What hot wings are you making for the big game?

Tater Tots, All Grown Up for the Big Game

by in Recipes, February 2nd, 2011
Crab Tater Tots
Follow Michael Symon's step-by-step and serve up Iron Chef-style tater tots at your big game bash.

Tater tots are hot this year, the coolest football-watching food for people in the know. And why not? They’re nostalgic, retro and unexpected. So tot it up like an Iron Chef with Michael Symon’s Crab Tater Tots (a recipe from his cookbook Live to Cook), a grown-up riff that’s totally doable with the help of Symon’s step-by-step how to.

Michael Symon's Live to Cook
Get more of this Iron Chef's best recipes.

Cook up more of Michael Symon’s football party picks:

  • Greek Meatballs: Spice up lamb meatballs with coriander, cumin and a touch of cinnamon.
  • The Lola Burger: Take burgers to the next level by layering on flavor – cheddar cheese, bacon, a sunny-side-up egg, pickled red onions and spicy ketchup.

More tots to try:

The big game game plan: For more tater inspiration, browse Food Network Magazine‘s NFL potato skins, with one skin for each of the 32 teams. Or just dive into our playbook to find more big game snacks.

Texas Chili Potato Skins
Texas Chili Potato Skins are team-neutral and just celebrate this super Sunday in Dallas.

What snacks and apps are you planning to make for the big game?

Essential Snow Day Supply: Chocolate Chips

by in Recipes, February 2nd, 2011
Hopefully you bought a bunch before your store sold out.

Are you snowed in? Hope you’ve got a shovel and have stocked up on ice melt, bread, toilet paper and . . . chocolate chips. With every big storm warning, local stores always sell out of chocolate chips! Is everyone trapped inside making cookies? Let us know what you’re making besides snowmen today; here’s some chocolate chip inspiration to get you started.

With nearly 800 reviews, Alton Brown’s The Chewy is the most popular chocolate-chip cookie on Food Network. Have you made it?

The best-loved chocolate-chipper on Food Network, and possibly, the world.

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