Wine: How to Store It, Pour It — and Enjoy!

by in Drinks, News, August 1st, 2014

Wine: How to Store It, Pour It and Enjoy!Americans may be drinking more wine these days than we used to — especially in Washington, D.C., where, it may not surprise you to learn, more wine is consumed per capita than in any other state or district. But that doesn’t mean we know how to properly store and pour it. At what temperature should it be served? How full should our wine glasses be? And are we really supposed to decant?

Here are a few rules of thumb:

Be Chill (But Not Too Chill) About Storage: Ideally, bottles of wine should be stored (preferably, though not necessarily, on their sides) in a cool, dark place — like a basement or closet, if not in a dedicated wine cooler — at temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees F, with 55 degrees F being the sweet spot. Exposing wine to temperatures above 70 degrees F could speed aging or even flatten out the flavors and aromas, Wine Spectator warns. It’s cool to keep wine in your kitchen fridge short term, but don’t leave it there for months on end, as the low temp could damage the corks and, in turn, the wine. Aim to avoid extreme temperature fluctuations and long-term exposure to bright lighting when storing, but don’t freak out if they happen, especially if you’re planning to drink the wine sooner rather than later.

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The Family Cooks — Off the Shelf

by in Books, August 1st, 2014

The Family Cooks CookbookIf you have a family to feed, I have the cookbook for you. Laurie David’s The Family Cooks was written with the goal of assembling delicious, nutritious meals that will keep everyone at your table full and happy, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I think it knocked it right out of the park.

Overall, the most-enjoyable thing about the book is its empowering message and tone. It encourages readers to take their family’s food choices into their own hands. It gives you all the information you need to make delicious snacks, meals and treats at home. The recipes are sympathetic to both the time and budget constraints many families face today without shortchanging flavor. It has a fail-safe guide to get you in and out of the grocery store in one piece, an ingredient rundown that’ll have you cooking with more flavors in no time, and a buy-and-store guide that’ll help you cut down the amount of food you purchase and then discard because it’s past its prime. The recipes in the book are broken down by course, starting with breakfast and working through lunch, soups and salads, dinner, snacks and drinks, sides, condiments, and sweets.

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What to Watch: Plan the Perfect Party with The Kitchen and Break Some Bread on Barefoot Contessa

by in Shows, August 1st, 2014

The KitchenFrom party favorites to inventive new dishes, Food Network has you covered this weekend. First, join Ree and Charlie as they create a picnic-friendly menu on The Pioneer Woman on Saturday morning. Then, take your party to the next level with some help from the hosts of The Kitchen and special guest Sabrina Soto.

On Sunday, learn how to bake bread with Ina and the guru himself, Eli Zabar, on Barefoot Contessa. Next, Bobby’s fixing up a fish taco extravaganza on Barbecue Addiction: Bobby’s Basics to prove that taco night isn’t just for Tuesdays anymore. Finally, sit back and relax on Sunday night with three hours of all-new episodes of your favorite competition shows – Guy’s Grocery Games, Food Network Star and Cutthroat Kitchen.

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Cold Soups for Hot Days (Mainly Made in a Blender)

by in Recipes, July 31st, 2014

Cold Soups for Hot Days (Mainly Made in a Blender)Soup isn’t for just the winter months and it’s not fit for just veggies either. These recipes (most made in simply a blender) will keep you cool all summer long by putting fresh summer produce and even a few in season fruits to work.

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How to Plate Your Food Like a Pro

by in News, July 31st, 2014

How to Plate Your Food Like a ProWhen it comes to serving food, presentation may not be everything — there’s taste to consider, after all — but studies have shown it can have a surprisingly big impact on how the foods we prepare are perceived. When we cook and plate to please the eye, as it happens, we also please the palete.

This week’s news that Red Lobster, in order “to be seen as a purveyor of quality seafood,” would stack food “higher on plates, as is the style at fancier restaurants,” as the Associated Press put it, brings that point home. Whether arranging the same food — fish, rice and vegetables — vertically, rather than spread out on the plate, will boost the seafood chain’s bottom line remains to be seen. Still, you may find in it the impetus to experiment with your own meal presentation.

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Sip Your Way Through Summer — Summer Soiree

by in Drinks, July 31st, 2014

Summer Cocktail RecipesSummer may not be the only time for drinking, but it is most definitely, absolutely and the best time. Outdoor barbecues are met with a cold beer. Afternoons on the porch are complete with spiked lemonade. A day spent shading yourself by the pool necessitates a frozen margarita just as much as your favorite pair of sunnies. This week, check out Food Network’s complete guide to summer drinking, and get a rundown of the most-thirst-quenching sips of the season. Hey, even if you’re attached to a blaring AC unit all summer long, you could probably use a cold one.

Sangria is best fixed by the pitcher. Depending on what kind of vino you’re into, Rachael Ray’s White Sangria — complete with ripe peaches, green apples and raspberries — is crisp and refreshing. If you typically go for red, Bobby Flay’s Red Wine Sangria is deepened with brandy, triple sec and pomegranate juice, before orange and apple slices, blackberries and pomegranate seeds are stirred in. Prepare both recipes ahead so the ingredients have time to meld together.

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Beyond Ketchup: 5 Transforming Toppers Kids Can’t Resist

by in Family, July 31st, 2014

Beyond Ketchup: 5 Transforming Toppers Kids Can't ResistEver tried to serve your kids something new? I write a blog about cooking for kids — about cooking one dinner, about raising kids who appreciate real food, about trying again when it doesn’t work out — so we eat a lot of new stuff around here. And when our group of four little ones (all under the age of 6) are skeptical about my latest culinary experiment, I try to bridge the gap with familiar, and beloved, flavors. No, the kids don’t all like the same things, but there are a few universally loved flavors. These are my heavy hitters, the MVPs of the kitchen and our best flavor ambassadors.

Fresh Lemon: Squeezing lemon on anything instantly makes my kids intrigued. Does it work for fish? Yes, of course, but there’s also roasted potato wedges and steak. Even greens like sauteed spinach, Swiss chard and kale are wonderful with a splash of juicy citrus. Plus, squeezing the juice is fun for the kids to do themselves.

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