20 Most-Memorable Restaurant: Impossible Missions

by in Shows, April 9th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWith more than seven seasons’ worth of Restaurant: Impossible renovations behind him, Robert Irvine has seen all manner of filth in eatery kitchens, encountered interior decor ranging from the plain and simple to the cluttered and confused, and met owners who have welcomed him wholeheartedly and those who have fought to accept his expertise. He sticks to his goal of transforming businesses and improving lives no matter how difficult the mission, but surely some updates have proved more shocking, some owners more demanding and some reveals more emotional.

Browse insider photos to look back on some of the most-unforgettable challenges Robert has faced on Restaurant: Impossible, then hear from the owners of those eateries to find out how their businesses are faring today.

Read more

The East’s Alex Guarnaschelli Reveals Her Mentoring Strategy — America’s Best Cook

by in Shows, April 8th, 2014

AlexFN Dish is counting down until the premiere of America’s Best Cook on Sunday at 9|8c. On the new show, four Food Network chefs representing the four regions of the United States mentor teams of exceptional home cooks in a competition to find America’s best cook. The winner walks away with the title and $50,000 in prize money. But which region will that winner be from? It could be North, South, East or West. The final result will be a testament to the mentor who coached the winner. Ahead of the premiere, FN Dish spoke with each of the mentors to find out more about the competition, mentoring strategies, what makes a good home cook and more.

On America’s Best Cook, Alex Guarnaschelli leads the East, a region that she grew up in, lives in and runs restaurants in. As a judge on Chopped, Alex knows what makes a good cook, and as the most recently named Iron Chef, she’s got the fire to lead. Having learned the trade in France, Alex owes it all to Guy Savoy for giving her the confidence to become a chef, but she also looks up to fellow Food Network chef Bobby Flay for inspiration when it comes to blazing a path.

Read more

Best 5 Scalloped Potato Recipes

by in Holidays, Recipes, April 8th, 2014

Scalloped Potato GratinEaster is just a few weeks away, and while you may already know that a crowd-pleasing ham or juicy lamb chops will be the star of your spread, it’s time to focus on the all-important side dishes to round out the meal. Both simple to prepare with everyday ingredients and endlessly family friendly, scalloped potatoes are a holiday staple, and whether you stick with a classic rendition featuring cheese and cream, or dress them up with fresh vegetables or meat, they’re sure to wow guests this spring. Check out Food Network’s top-five scalloped potato recipes below from The Pioneer Woman, Bobby, Tyler and more Food Network chefs to find out how they serve this tried-and-true indulgence.

5. Scalloped Potatoes and Ham — Follow Ree’s lead and beef up big-batch scalloped potatoes by layering diced ham among thinly sliced russets and creamy Monterey Jack cheese.

4. Scalloped Potatoes with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers — After quickly broiling the fresh vegetables to bring out their natural sweetness, tomatoes, peppers and onions are baked in a rich potato casserole with a breadcrumb-Gruyere topping for an added crunchy texture and a nutty flavor.

Read more

5 Cake-Mix Confections You Need to Try

by in Recipes, April 8th, 2014

Store-bought boxed cake mix can make a lot more than birthday cake in a pinch. The recipe developers in Food Network Kitchen came up with five delectable treats that use cake mix as a base. They’re perfect for parties, brunches and after-school snacks – and no one will ever guess your shortcut secret.

Read more

Thwarted Cronut® Cravings, Smiley-Face Tip Trick and the Dirt on Dirt

by in News, April 7th, 2014

TippingDelayed Gratification for Cronut® Cravers: After being shuttered by the New York Department of Health on Friday for a “severe mouse infestation” — apparently one little critter was recently videotaped darting across the bakery floor as workers went about their business — Dominique Ansel Bakery, home of the Cronut®, did not open its doors on Monday, disappointing hungry hybrid pastry fans. But after the staff “worked tirelessly” to reconstruct, re-cement and re-fortify, the bakery passed its DOE inspection late Monday and was given the go-ahead to reopen on Tuesday morning. As a nod to its triumph in the face of adversity, the bakery is serving a special Rocky Cronut®, which Eater describes as “a black passion fruit caramelia chocolate Cronut® with a gold star on top.” In a Facebook post, the bakery team said it had listened to the movie theme song all weekend as it did its work. [Gothamist/Eater]

What Turns Us Into Big Tippers: In response to an apparent increase in restaurants with no-tipping policies, the New Republic looked at the ways in which, according to various studies, patrons’ generosity when tipping has little to do with the service they receive. For instance, people tend to tip more when the server touches them or crouches next to their table, when the server is blond, and when a female server wears a hair ornament, wears red or draws a smiley face on their checks. Interestingly, while waitresses who drew smiley faces got bigger tips — :) — male servers who did the same got smaller ones. :( [New Republic]

Read more

How to Make Butter — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in How-to, April 7th, 2014

How to Make ButterMy inspiration for cooking is spurred by many things, one of them being curiosity. That’s what led me to make my own butter almost five years ago. My intention was not to start whipping batches of homemade butter for cooking or baking; that would be a far too expensive endeavor. I simply wanted to know if it was as easy as it sounded, and how different it would taste compared with what I could easily buy at the supermarket.

Inevitably, making butter from scratch brings out the kid inside of us all too. Imagine pouring a container of heavy cream into a food processor and watching it magically transform from one ingredient into another. There’s no magic, of course; it’s all science, but that doesn’t take away from the wonder of it all.

What about the taste? I’ll never be able to 100 percent replicate the butter I gorge on in France, simply because the cream here in the U.S. is different in flavor. I can get pretty darn close, though. All I need are two key ingredients: good-quality heavy cream from a local farmers market and fleur de sel. The result is a rich, yellow-hued fresh butter, laced with crunchy bits of salt. It’s the perfect companion to a crusty baguette and it even elevates ordinary toasted white bread.

Read more

Crispy Tofu with Vegetables — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, April 7th, 2014

Crispy Tofu with VegetablesFor many meat eaters, dinners often highlight a piece of meat, but if you’re maintaining a vegetarian diet, it can seem as though every meal focuses on vegetables and vegetables alone. Food Network Magazine is changing that, however, with a go-to dish that puts not meat or vegetables but rather hearty, satisfying tofu in the center of the plate.

In its recipe for Crispy Tofu with Vegetables, seasonal, family-friendly produce, including mushrooms, carrots and peas, indeed makes an appearance, but it’s no longer in the spotlight; instead, satisfying tofu is the star of the supper, and rice and veggies are merely supporting players that round out the meal. If you’ve never before cooked with tofu, know that it’s able take on rich, full flavors easily and can stand up to high-temperature cooking methods like grilling and deep-frying. Food Network Magazine pan-fries lightly coated blocks of tofu until they boast a golden-brown crust on the outside, and then pairs them with ginger-laced vegetables and scallions. Since this complete meal can be on the table in only 40 minutes, it’s a timesaver that you can deliver on even the most-hectic weeknights.

Read more

Enter for a Chance to Win a Copy of Surprise-Inside Cakes

by in Books, Contests, April 7th, 2014

Enter for a Chance to Win a Copy of Surprise-Inside CakesAmanda Rettke, FN Dish contributor and founder of the I Am Baker blog, is serving some of her most-beautiful confections yet in her first cookbook, Surprise-Inside Cakes. In Amanda’s book, there’s no such thing as an ordinary chocolate or vanilla cake with frosting (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Just like opening up a gift, the element of surprise is within each baked good, whether it be a heart, football, smiley face, stripe or house (yes, a house). Simply put, if you want to wow guests at your next gathering, make one of Amanda’s cakes.

What caught FN Dish’s eye? The entire book. Each page is more colorful than the one before, and there’s a surprise-inside design for every occasion: celebrating holidays, family, love and life events (like moving to a new home). Have a cake recipe you’ve perfected? Great. Because Amanda encourages using tried-and-true recipes, but she’s provided a few of her favorites too.

At first glance some of the cakes may seem like a challenge, but Amanda’s included step-by-step photos and instructions for each one. And be wise: Don’t start out with the most difficult design!

You can buy a copy of Surprise-Inside Cakes here, or you can enter to win one for free from FN Dish. We’re giving five lucky, randomly selected readers each a copy, and all you have to do to enter to win one is leave a comment below telling us your favorite Food Network cake recipe. You must include the recipe URL in your comment to be entered to win (find cake recipes here).

Read more