Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Recap, Round Three

by in Shows, March 20th, 2011
The third round of Chopped All-Stars featured four culinary heavy-hitters.

Now this is stone-cold talent: For the third episode of Chopped All-Stars, three of our four celebrity chefs have competed in the culinary Super Bowl that is Iron Chef America: Chefs Beau MacMillan, Anita Lo and Nate Appleman. And one of them, Chef MacMillan, in a battle I was lucky enough to judge, actually won there, an incredibly difficult feat. The remaining competitor, lovable Frenchman Jacques Torres, is one of the most famous and successful chocolatiers in the world—a force to be reckoned with in any dessert competition. But could he get there?

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Behind the All-Star Chopping Block With Nate Appleman

by in Shows, March 18th, 2011

On Chopped All-Stars this Sunday, Nate Appleman faces off against three other well-regarded chefs. Read on to find out who he considered his biggest threat.

This Sunday’s episode of Chopped All-Stars features four celebrity chefs with serious culinary chops. Anita Lo is a longtime fixture on the New York City restaurant scene, Beau MacMillan helms an applauded restaurant in Phoenix, pastry chef Jacques Torres is often credited with creating the best chocolate chip cookie on the planet and Nate Appleman has run successful restaurants on both coasts and has a James Beard Award (for Rising Star Chef) under his belt.

In anticipation of his Chopped appearance, Nate sat down to chat with us about competing for his son, how this experience compared to his run on Season Two of The Next Iron Chef, and what motivated him to recently make the move from an upscale restaurant kitchen to…Chipotle? That’s right — visit New York’s Chelsea location and you just might score a burrito made by a celebrity chef.

Did competing on Chopped bring back memories of your experience on The Next Iron Chef, Season Two?
It did, it brought back a lot of memories, just the competition aspect of the whole thing. By doing The Next Iron Chef, I realized how much I missed competition like that; I mean like when you’re a kid and you compete in games or whatever it is. It brought back that desire to want to compete. It was just really fun to do.

Was Chopped very different from NIC?
The timing of everything is very different, not only that Chopped is just one day but the timing of the battle, it’s 20 and 30 minute rounds versus…I think the shortest Next Iron Chef challenge was 45 minutes. It’s also different because on The Next Iron Chef I felt like I was really competing for myself. This time I was competing for everybody out there who went through the same thing I went through with my son. I did it to raise money for his disease through the Kawasaki Disease Foundation. I felt like I was doing it for everyone besides me.

Was Chopped harder than you expected?
It is at least twice as hard as The Next Iron Chef. It truly, truly is. Here, they open the basket and go. It was mind-blowing. I was trying to peek in the basket to see what was in there; it is a real surprise. I’ve always been a fan of Iron Chef, so watching that and Chopped, I’d think, what would I do with that as quickly as possible? That ended up being something that helped me; I was used to thinking that way, in a very quick manner. Then again, actually putting that to the test is very different from sitting on your couch watching.

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Paula, Paula Everywhere

by in News, March 17th, 2011
Paula and fans gather for a photo, and some Food Network Magazine treats.

Paula’s been busy y’all! She was in New York City all day yesterday, first co-hosting the Today Show, then making a stop at Food Network Magazine’s treats truck. Did you catch her on Today or spot her in the city? Get a recap of her appearance on the show and see what else Paula’s been up to. Read more

Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day With Irish Soda Bread

by in View All Posts, March 17th, 2011
Ina Garten’s Soda Bread

Whether you’re cooking up corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew to celebrate the Emerald Isle this March 17, one thing’s for sure: you’ll need something to sop up all those delicious juices. The answer: Irish soda bread. Thanks to baking soda, it’s as quick to make as banana bread, yet as hearty and satisfying as bread that took all day to bake. Here are some of our favorite versions.

Make soda bread tonight »

SXSW Festival: Sushi From a Truck & BBQ

by in Events, March 17th, 2011
Raw fish from a truck? Why not?

I have a few rules about eating. Almost all of which I broke in Austin. For one: I try to avoid seafood when I’m far from the ocean. Once you’ve lived on a coast, it’s easy to get spoiled by price and proximity. However, when I spotted this cute little trailer in a food truck park, I was drawn in like a cat following a piece of string.

The verdict: Sushi from a truck and classic Austin BBQ »

Cupcake Wars: 170 Cupcakes and Counting

by in Shows, March 16th, 2011
Candace and her cupcake wars colleagues, fellow judge Florian Bellanger and host Justin Willman.

Whew! What a season! Let’s see… 13 episodes, 13 cupcakes per episode. Then throw in a few more tastings after giving comments…that’s over 170 cupcakes tasted in Season Two of Cupcake Wars. By the way, did anyone notice I was pregnant? Seven-and-a-half months pregnant, to be exact. You’d better believe my little baby is going to have a passion for cupcakes!

And what a range of cupcakes I tasted. Everything from the standard red velvet to an exotic oxtail cupcake. We had pros like Hollis and Chloe return, and they baked cupcakes that made Florian and I swoon. And then there were first-timers who got spooked by the clock (remember the unfrosted vanilla cupcake?). Don’t forget the cupcake that never even showed up on the table… our first disqualification ever.

Season Two of Cupcake Wars was full of drama, surprises and wonderful creations. As we gear up for Season Three, I can only expect our contestants to be more prepared and more driven to win. But…how many more times are we going to see bakers get tripped up by kiwi? My best advice for the next batch of contestants: Do your homework and learn what we judges do and don’t like!

I can’t wait to see everyone for new episodes this summer. Until then… stay sweet….keep baking… and keep eating cupcakes. XO, Candace

Craving more Cupcake Wars? Check out behind-the-scenes videos and try your hand at winning cupcake recipes from Season Two.

Ten 10-Minute Desserts and a New Cookbook

by in Books, News, Recipes, March 15th, 2011
Cheesecake Pops: dessert in less than 10 minutes. No joke.

There’s always room for dessert, but there’s not always time. Who has hours of free time on a weeknight to whip up a fabulous cake or parfait? Enter Food Network Magazine‘s new cookbook, Great Easy Meals; it’s a brand new cookbook (on sale today!) that’s full of easy weeknight meals from the magazine, including main dishes, sides and super-fast desserts. The April issue of the magazine offered a peek at a few of the 50 new dessert recipes from the book — check out a few of our favorites. And yes, they can really be made in 10 minutes, often with grocery items you already have at home.

Cheesecake Pops (above)

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Unlikely SXSW Stars: Queso Cats

by in Events, March 15th, 2011
Troy the cheese carver (left) of "I Can Has Cheezburger." (Photo by Jack Plunkett)

Sure, Austin has enough melty queso to spread across the great length of Texas, but for a moment at South By Southwest on Saturday night, it was also home to a 640-pound block of cheddar sculpted into famous internet cats. Friskies, celebrating the launch of their new cheese-flavored cat food, Tasty Treasures, tapped the folks at I Can Has Cheezburger and master cheese carver Troy Landwehr to curate and create a monument in the likenesses of YouTube sensations “Standing Cat,” “Nora the Piano Cat,” “Gizmo the Flushing Cat” and “Monorail Cat.”

Friskies Cheese Sculptures at I Can Haz Cheezburger's SXSW Interactive Festival party. (Photo by Jack Plunkett)

Indeed, the whole affair, with four regal kitties chiseled from an unlikely source, looked a little like the Grand Canyon of cats. And, given the precision, you’d never guess it was Landwehr’s first time fashioning felines. “The most interesting part of the carving process was getting to know the cats, getting to understand their ‘cat-dom,’ ” he told us. “Plus, my sister’s cats vouched for [their authenticity], so it was all gouda.”

Today in Food: Bake a Pi(e), Eat Some Chips

by in News, March 14th, 2011
Happy Pi(e) Day, Happy Potato Chip Day

March 14th in this nation is a day to eat pie and potato chips. Pie, because March 14th is National Pi Day, as in π, or 3.14 (3/14, get it?) and since numbers are better for crunching than munching, pie is the logical gastronomical leap to make here.

So in the spirit of mathematics, get baking, and if it makes you feel better, go ahead and calculate the circumference of your quiche. Read more

SXSW Festival: Eating Austin

by in News, March 14th, 2011
downtown burger
Cheap, fast and delicious

A few members of the Food Network team hightailed it to Austin, Texas this week for the South by Southwest media conference. I’m happy to report Austin is an excellent food town, so while we’re learning ways to make your experiences on our site even cooler, we’re also going to be reporting on what we eat.

burger
It's screaming "eat me" isn't it?

Austin is a food truck and trailer town, and Downtown Burger was (wisely) dishing out burgers, french fries and beer across the street from the convention center. A line of hungry hipsters extended to the sidewalk.

wine and cheese
What's better than wine and cheese? Nothing.

After attending a few panels, I headed over to Whole Foods corporate headquarters for a wine and cheese tasting with the Techmunch team. The tasting featured wines from the Bordeaux region, and all of the featured bottles were under $20 and selected by Doug Bell and Jeff Ryan, Whole Foods global wine buyers. If you are near a Whole Foods, I’d recommend the Chateau La Fleur Dallon Cotes de Bordeaux Rouge, a well-balanced medium-bodied red.

Still hungry, a few of us walked over to Sandra Bullock’s well-known restaurant, Bess Bistro. I’m a huge fan of her acting, but none of us where sure what to expect. It was a delight. We shared a dished of perfectly fried artichokes along with fried green tomatoes over fresh crab meat. My meal was two lamb sausage patties that had that perfect lamb richness. The restaurant is in the lower floor of an old house, and was cozy with brick-lined walls and charming waitstaff. We polished off our meal with beignets dipped in hot fudge, which is how I would like to finish all meals really.