Cupcake ATM, Artisanal Ice Cubes, Why Beer Belongs at Your Barbecue

by in News, March 28th, 2014

CupcakesCupcake Lovers’ Dream Come True: Sprinkles bakery, which has installed 24/7 cupcake dispensers in Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Beverly Hills (celebs apparently love ‘em), has now brought the sweetly convenient concept to the city that never sleeps (and consequently never stops craving baked goods). New York’s first Cupcake ATM opened for business Tuesday on the Upper East Side, dispensing frosted treats to the hungry hordes for $4.25 a pop. On Tuesday night, David Letterman used the news as grist for his Top 10 list, sharing “things overheard in line for the Cupcake ATM.” No. 7: “My PIN number is also my cholesterol level.” Ba-dum-bum. [Gothamist]

No Ordinary Ice Cube: There’s a new trend in the cocktail biz: artisanal ice cubes. The Half Step cocktail bar in Austin regards the ice in its drinks as a work of art, hand-cutting every piece of ice it serves using special equipment and storing the “harvested” ice in a dedicated shed. The bar’s founder, Chris Bostick, tells Zagat that a well-cut cube is the key to making “a three-ingredient cocktail memorable.” Watch the Half Step’s handcrafted ice take shape here. [Zagat]

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All-New on Sunday: Testing the Cutthroat Kitchen Sabotages

by in Shows, March 28th, 2014

Alton BrownFans have noticed from watching more than two seasons of Cutthroat Kitchen competition that some sabotages appear simply too evilicious to ever be allowed, and Food Network has heard your curiosities. It turns out, however, that even the most-demanding challenges have been vetted and approved by the show’s culinary team; that’s what makes them acceptable for the contest. Before Alton auctions off any sabotage to competitors, the Cutthroat crew tests it to see if it is, in fact, possible to work with during the allotted 30 minutes. And beginning this weekend, you’ll be able to watch some of those tests unfold in a series of brand-new Web-exclusive videos.

Visit Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen headquarters after Sunday’s episode to watch the first Testing the Sabotage video, then mark your calendars for the below dates to catch even more clips in the future.

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Geoffrey Zakarian’s Brunch Essentials

by in Shows, March 27th, 2014

Geoffrey ZakarianWhen you imagine brunch at an Iron Chef’s house, you might picture a lavish affair complete with an overflowing spread of all manner of croissants, made-to-order omelets, thick-cut French toast and the bubbliest Bellinis. But according to Geoffrey Zakarian, “less is more” when it comes to this midmorning meal, and it can be surprisingly easy to execute. As he explained, “Everything at brunch is done the day before.” FN Dish recently caught up with Geoffrey in Miami as he hosted his own brunch event, and we chatted with him about what it takes to pull off the ultimate crowd-pleasing meal. Read on below to learn his top tips for entertaining and thoughts on classic brunch picks like eggs, waffles and mimosas.

What’s a go-to rule of thumb to remember when preparing brunch?
Geoffrey Zakarian: I always say less is more. What people do with brunch is they overwhelm you with too much stuff that’s, like, throwaway. They pile breads and pastries and all this stuff, and no one eats it anyways. You end up throwing it away. So I say just be very focused and really edit what you’re going to do. Do seven, eight things maximum. Make people just eat those things, and make them really delicious and different, and it’ll be a very successful brunch.

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Elevate Escarole with a Tex-Mex Spin

by in Recipes, Shows, March 27th, 2014

escarole quesadillaFor this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient escarole. Most often used in Italian cooking, escarole is a slightly bitter lettuce that you’ll commonly see in soups and sometimes salads. But there’s more to this leafy green than meets the eye. A quick saute in some oil and garlic turns it into a simple side dish, but using it in these Escarole Quesadillas along with cheese transforms it into main dish territory. Try making them for your family the next time you have Tex-Mex night at home.

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Inside the Beat Bobby Flay Kitchen

by in Shows, March 27th, 2014

Beat Bobby FlayMuch like you probably prepare to cook an important meal by stocking up on any ingredients and specialty tools you may need, so, too, do the culinary teams on Food Network shows before filming begins. Shopping for goods to stock the pantry and refrigerator is up to them. For the all-new series Beat Bobby Flay, the team was tasked with readying the kitchen with enough food and equipment for not one round of cooking, but two, and the selection had to be great enough to ensure that the guest chefs and Bobby would be able to make whatever dish they wanted.

FN Dish was on the set of Beat Bobby Flay recently and caught up with the show’s culinary producer, Danielle LaRosa, to find out more about what it takes to make the series happen. Read on below to see insider photos of the kitchen and learn some of the most-popular ingredients on set from Danielle.

“We have at least 200 items in our pantry daily for both contestants and Bobby to have access to,” Danielle said. “Some of these 200 items include 30 kinds of spices (plus more as the season has gone on), 80 items in the dry pantry (including breads, vinegars, dried fruit, etc.), [and] 45 different kinds of fruits and vegetables.”

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Restaurant Revisited: NY State of Mind at Mama Della’s N.Y. City Pizzeria

by in Shows, March 26th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleChange — or a lack thereof — was at the foundation of Robert Irvine‘s mission at Mama Della’s N.Y. City Pizzeria in Baton Rouge, La., a Big Apple-style parlor specializing in family recipes. While Robert indeed identified several issues with the menu at Mama Della’s and noted that its interior decor was “very nondescript,” perhaps the most-critical problem plaguing the business was owner Barry Kalt, who Robert deemed “one of the most-cantankerous owners I have ever come across.” Given his long-standing beliefs in how true dishes and ingredients should be prepared and served, Barry was hesitant to make any meaningful updates to his business practices, which ultimately resulted in his son Andrew, a former cook at Mama Della’s, leaving the restaurant. It took a serious lesson from Robert for Barry to fully realize the error of his ways, and he soon committed to improvements in the future. After two days of renovations on a $10,000 budget, the Restaurant: Impossible team reopened Mama Della’s, and FN Dish has the exclusive update from Barry on how his business is faring today.

“Mama Della’s saw a significant increase in customer traffic for the one-month period after the shoot,” Barry said. “Sales have increased by 30 percent over the same period in 2013.”

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The Casserole Takes Its Turn in the Spotlight

by in News, March 26th, 2014

Chicken Noodle CasseroleCasseroles have gotten such a bad rap in recent years, dismissed with sneers about soup cans, that those who love casseroles (and who, secretly, doesn’t love a good casserole?) may have felt compelled to keep their comfort-food cravings to themselves.

Now, finally, casserole fans can come clean: The humble one-dish meal has found a champion to defend its honor and bring it the respect it needs.

New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark writes that the casserole, though cozy, is not, inherently, “dowdy in its DNA,” nor must it be “bland or one-note,” and it “does not have to contain even a single strand of melted cheese, or be dusted with crushed potato chips.”

In fact, she suggests, “The casserole can be nuanced and urbane, with room for fresh ingredients, clever details and a vivid palette of flavors,” adding that “there’s nothing wrong with baking assorted ingredients together in a dish” and that “when done just right, the elements merge in the oven’s heat, building on one another until the flavors unite into a delicious whole, preferably one with a golden top and appealingly moist center.”

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Game-Changing Shortcut Dinners

by in Recipes, March 26th, 2014

30-Minute Coq Au Vin

In life, we don’t always recommend you cut corners. But, hey, in the kitchen? Now that’s a different story. Feast your eyes on some of the best kitchen shortcuts to grace mankind — and we’re not talkin’ sliced bread or the can opener. Thanks to some handy store-bought ingredients, restaurant-worthy dishes known for toil and trouble are ready in no time. Here are three of our favorites:

30-Minute Coq au Vin —This classic French dish typically takes hours on end to prepare. Thing is, dinner needed to be on the table a half-hour ago. Don’t go giving up on the craving though, because at a supermarket near you, juicy rotisserie chickens are already rotating to plump perfection. Take one home, get a red wine sauce simmering— think bacon, mushrooms and frozen (plus pre-peeled!) pearl onions — and slip in pieces of chicken when no one’s looking. Read more