A Coffee-Gulping Parrot, Artisanal Toothpicks and a Beer Cooler You’ll Really Dig

by in News, May 29th, 2014

ToothpicksFowl Brew: Polly can keep her cracker. Kyara, a parrot owned by Portland, Ore., resident Charlene Fugel, wants a grande two-pump mocha, diluted and poured from a venti cup. The caffeine-craving bird has been drinking coffee — about a tablespoonful about twice a month — for the past seven years. (Her vet apparently said it was OK.) “She’s crazy about coffee, and she’ll drink it any way you give it to her,” Charlene told KATU News. “Cold, hot — she doesn’t care. Sugar, none …” Watch a video of Kyara downing her unusual beverage of choice here. [KATU.com]

Cold Brewskies: Wondering how to keep your beer cold during all those backyard barbecues? Forget the schlep to the kitchen fridge. Never mind the ice-filled cooler. Four thirsty Danish inventors have come up with a convenient, environmentally friendly, electricity-free way to cool your beer year-round — underground. The eCool earth cooler is a patented contraption you embed in the earth below your yard or terrace that uses the naturally lower temperatures below ground to chill your beer (or, one imagines, sodas and juices). Stock it with up to 24 cans and retrieve them, one by one, using a simple hand crank, as your thirst dictates. Ingenious! [eCool via Gizmodo]

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Twice as Nice: Learning to Love Leftovers

by in Recipes, May 29th, 2014

Twice as Nice: Learning to Love LeftoversLove ‘em or leave ‘em — that’s how I used to view leftovers. Aside from pasta heated in a skillet, or pizza, leftovers never left me feeling excited about eating.

That all changed once I took them a step further, beyond the reheat-and-eat approach. I cooked more white rice than expected one night, and discovered a few days later that cold, cooked rice is the best kind to use for making a tastier homemade version of Chinese takeout.

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Exclusive: Alton Previews the First-Ever Cutthroat Kitchen Judges’ Battle

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 29th, 2014

Alton BrownFor the first time on Sunday night (at 10|9c), the contestants taking their turns on Cutthroat Kitchen won’t be everyday chef-competitors; instead the judges, Antonia Lofaso, Geoffrey Zakarian, Jet Tila and Simon Majumdar, will enter the throes of sabotage and battle against each other for Cutthroat glory. Although the group is most familiar with simply tasting the aftermath of a challenge, they’re keenly aware of the kinds of evilicious obstacles Alton‘s been known to auction off. Just ahead of this weekend’s special episode, FN Dish checked in with Alton to find out what he has planned. Read on below to hear from Alton in an exclusive interview and learn his thoughts on the competition plus his advice for the judges.

Regardless of who’s competing — contestants or judges — what is one key piece of advice you think everyone should know before beginning a Cutthroat battle?
Alton Brown: Shop for the unexpected. It’s easy to grab ingredients for a specific dish, but remember … in Cutthroat Kitchen you never know what sabotages might be coming your way. Don’t just load for bear; load for monsters.

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Dig Into Easy Summer Casseroles — Summer Soiree

by in In Season, May 29th, 2014

Dig Into Easy Summer CasserolesIt’s about that time that we switch gears from spring eating to something more suited for the warm weather. When you think summer eating, visions of ketchup-laced hot dogs, smothered-in-sauce ribs and other staples are likely to come to mind. Casseroles, on the other hand, likely aren’t at the top of your brain. But maybe they should be. When you incorporate seasonal ingredients, this potluck power player can go well beyond the tired tuna casserole. Take your pick of Food Network’s best casseroles, from creamy sides to complete dinners.

Like tacos, loaded Beef and Cheddar Casserole (pictured above) is a dish with major staying power on your family’s weeknight dinner roster, especially since it’s ready in just under an hour. Simply pour beefy tomato sauce over wide egg noodles and bring on the cheese.

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The Magical All-Purpose Broth

by in Food Network Chef, May 29th, 2014

That Magical All-Purpose BrothLast week I shared tips on stocking the fridge with some of my favorite waistline-friendly foods. Today I’m sharing an easy recipe for my secret weapon: a fast, healthy and flavorful meal in just about no time. I call it All-Purpose Broth. The star ingredient? Miso paste.

Before I dive into the greatness that is the All-Purpose Broth, let me start by giving you a very basic miso primer: Miso is fermented soybean paste used in Japanese cuisine and it has a salty, savory, slightly nutty flavor and is full of glutamates, which imparts umami (savory flavor). The lighter the color in miso paste, the milder the flavor. White miso paste is milder than yellow, red or intense brown varieties. I usually buy white or yellow, which are both mellow and delicious — and readily available at most neighborhood supermarkets. (But try other versions, too, for a deeper, more intense flavor, and try out the miso soup at high-end Japanese restaurants to explore artisan miso pastes that you won’t find on your average grocery store shelf.) The exact health benefits of miso paste are somewhat debated, but proponents tout its levels of vitamin B12 and antioxidants, as well as its positive impact on the immune system. Others swear by its ability to alleviate common cold symptoms. In any case, I love it as an easy go-to pantry item for lean and tasty meals on the fly, which brings me back to my All-Purpose Broth.

Here’s how it works: Basically I load up each individual serving bowl with whatever I have on hand (leftover chicken breast, a spoonful of quinoa, shredded veggies, a piece of grilled fish or maybe I’ll cube up some tofu). I make a quick broth and then pour it over the contents of the bowl. And then I eat it, with a smile, patting myself on the back for making a meal that is thrifty, fast, delicious, healthy and versatile.

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Restaurant Revisited: The Writing on the Wall at Bama Q

by in Shows, May 28th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleBefore Robert Irvine got to work on the failing Big Jim’s Bama Q in Hammondville, Ala., he talked with Big Jim himself, who, while no longer the owner of the restaurant, was able to tell Robert stories of a once-successful venture at the barbecue-focused eatery, ultimately proving that the business could be profitable. The new owner of Big Jim’s, Daniel Millican, had failed to make the business his own, leaving nearly all of the original leader’s menu, decor and practices in place. With time, Daniel had become disconnected from the restaurant after spending much of his time away at his other business, a sawmill, and Robert questioned whether Daniel wanted to be involved going forward. It took Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team two days and $10,000 to inspire Daniel, overhaul the mismatched design, establish new processes for tuning out authentic barbecue and, in perhaps the most-dramatic update, change the name of the business to simply Bama Q. Read on below to hear from Daniel and his sister-in-law, Carolyn, the former assistant manager of the restaurant, in an exclusive interview and find out how his business is faring today.

Bama Q is earning almost $1,000 more per week than before its Impossible transformation, and Carolyn notes: “Everyone loves the inside of the restaurant. A lot of people are responding to the floors, the tables, the chicken wire. … It feels much more open and welcoming.”

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Babka and Bagels, Hot and Haute — Trending

by in News, May 28th, 2014

Babka and Bagels, Hot and HauteBagels are hot. No, really. And though babka and matzo ball soup and brisket don’t conjure haute cuisine, they’re hot too. It’s true: Jewish-American foods that highlight tradition (and remix it) — are pushing Dominique Ansel’s latest trendy treats to the side. (So says BusinessWeek.com.)

In April, Black Seed opened in New York’s East Village, and the lines of fans awaiting everything-poppy-sesame-topped cream-cheese-schmeared Montreal-style bagels stretched to rave reviews. But the growing love of Jewish food doesn’t end with breakfast. In yesterday’s New York Times, Julia Moskin detailed the renewal of excitement around innovative Jewish fare, citing the famous Russ & Daughters Cafe, which serves smoked fish and herring but also, she notes, updates like whitefish chowder and halvah ice cream with salted caramel. Julia described hot spots in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle where familiar Jewish-American foods and newfangled ones are enjoying a hip-factor heyday, respecting traditions but also building upon them.

“We are always conscious that we are taking care of a piece of history,” Niki Russ Federman of Russ & Daughters told Julia. “But we can’t run only on nostalgia.” Katherine Alford, senior vice president, culinary, here at Food Network, agrees: “That is how we run here too. We love these rich and cherished traditional foods, and it’s so exciting that they are getting their well-deserved moment.” But, she says, it’s more than a passing fad. “When something is really good, it never goes out of style. Who doesn’t want babka now and always?” You don’t have to head to an old-school new-school chic restaurant to get babka. The next trend might just be staying home and making your own Jewish-American foods for family and friends — no lines!

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Catfish Po’ Boys Get the Extra-Crispy Treatment with Tortillas

by in Recipes, Shows, May 28th, 2014

catfish po' boysFor this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient catfish. They determined that its sweet, flaky flesh was perfect for frying, and in this case, the fish doesn’t get fried in just any kind of breading. Using pulverized corn tortillas in this Tortilla-Crusted Catfish Po’ Boys recipe is not only a good use for leftover tortillas from taco night, but also a great way to add lots of texture, more than you could ever get from breadcrumbs. A mixture of buttermilk and Cajun-seasoned flour functions as the glue. Serving the catfish as po’ boy sandwiches is the perfect Southern twist and a great way to enjoy a fun meal with the family.

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