Star-a-Day: Kenny Lao

by , May 10th, 2014

Kenny LaoKenny Lao, 36, grew up making Chinese dumplings with his mom, and his passion for that signature dish led to the creation of his fast-casual restaurant business. He wants to take the intimidation out of cooking and share how to make food that is simple but delicious. Read on below to hear from Kenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Kenny: Fast and casual

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Kenny: I love playing games, and I love puzzles, and I love competitions and sorting things out. Not even the takeaway, but just the experience itself is so awesome — just to be into this intense, totally immersive game.

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State Snack Attack: N.Y. Senate’s Yogurt Battle Yields Yuks

by in News, May 9th, 2014

NY Senate's Yogurt Battle Yields YuksDoes your state have an “official state snack?” Utah has Jell-O. (The state’s residents consume more of it per capita than any other state in the U.S., The Wire notes.) In South Carolina, it’s boiled peanuts, a “truly Southern delicacy.” In Texas, tortilla chips and salsa have been so honored for their popularity and proud tradition. Illinois adopted popcorn as its official snack in 2003.

Now New York is taking steps toward designating its own official state snack: yogurt. On Tuesday, members of the New York State Senate engaged in a spirited, comically protracted debate over the spoon-able fermented dairy product’s worthiness to wear the “state stack” mantle.

Given that yogurt production is big business in upstate New York and that the state is now, as the bill notes, “the number one processor of yogurt in the country,” you might expect it have slid smoothly through the Senate. In fact, after the bill, initiated by a class of fourth-graders (awww), was introduced for a vote by its sponsor, State Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, things got a little messy.

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Make-Ahead Sausage and Cheese Grits Casserole — Down-Home Comfort

by in Recipes, May 9th, 2014

While working on my first cookbook, I got into a squabble with my editor over a recipe title. I had created a grits casserole recipe called “Funeral Grits,” and my Harvard-educated, California-residing editor was appalled. She said no one would want to cook something associated with a funeral. I countered her argument, noting that a bowl of grits after a funeral would evoke comfort, not sorrow.

Who wouldn’t want a bowl of creamy, comforting grits when feeling sad? Comfort food means safety, satisfaction and simplicity. Grits are easy to prepare, can be a main meal or a side dish, will hold for hours in a low oven and reheat wonderfully as leftovers, even in the microwave. I’m suggesting this Grits Casserole for Mother’s Day breakfast or brunch. It’s easy enough that Dad can help the kids make it the day before or that morning. And, worst-case scenario, if the lady of the house has to cook her own Mother’s Day Grits Casserole, it can be made ahead by her too! Read more

A Comeback for Cans, Old Bay’s New Fame and Morrissey’s Fondness for Cheese

by in News, May 9th, 2014

A Comeback for CansWhat’s in Your “Cantry”? When you think of health food, you probably don’t think of reaching for your can opener. The Canned Food Alliance, a consortium of steel producers and can makers, is trying to change that. The alliance is in the midst of a full-on push to reposition canned foods as a convenient, healthy option; to lobby to ensure canned foods are included in federal programs; and to commission nutritional studies to underscore the wonders of canned food, sales of which have waned over the last decade. The industry wants consumers to embrace a new word, “cantry,” which it would like to see replace “pantry” in Americans’ vocabulary. “Cantry”? Well, I guess they can … try. [Reuters]

Everything Old Bay Is New Again: Old Bay Seasoning, now celebrating its 75th anniversary, is poised to break free of its Mid-Atlantic regional confines and claw its way, crablike, into the national spotlight. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog crunched the numbers on the spicy Maryland pantry (er, cantry?) staple and found that interest in it seems to be spiking. In fact, in recent years, Google-search interest in Old Bay Seasoning “has caught up to and appears to be surpassing interest in Tabasco for the first time,” Wonkblog reports. Impressive. Here’s hoisting a Flying Dog Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale in your honor, Old Bay. Yes, now you can get a beer that tastes like summer in Baltimore. No crab mallets needed. [Washington Post]

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White Bean and Arugula Salad — The Weekender

by in Recipes, May 9th, 2014

White Bean and Arugula Salad - The WeekenderMother’s Day is always a touch bittersweet for me because I live a country away from my own mom. I moved to Philadelphia from Portland, Ore., in my early 20s, intending to stay just a couple of years. Instead I made friends, went to grad school and eventually met my husband. As much as I miss the West Coast, Philly has become home.

So these days I celebrate Mother’s Day by packing up a box of goodies, shipping it to my mom and scheduling a Sunday morning Skype date so I can “be” there while she opens it up.

The distance doesn’t stop me from planning an imaginary Mother’s Day meal. (Other people play fantasy sports. I fantasy meal plan.) To start, I’d put out some softened chevre, a few baguette rounds and a jar of rhubarb chutney. The main event would be a roast chicken with lemon, and with it I’d serve Ina Garten’s White Bean and Arugula Salad, good crusty bread from a local bakery and some broiled asparagus.

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What to Watch: Special Mother’s Day Recipes and the Season 2 Premiere of Guy’s Grocery Games

by in Shows, May 9th, 2014

Melissa and GuyThis weekend on the Food Network is all about Mom, with a range of cooking shows offering recipes all geared to please Mom on her special day. Then, on Sunday night, it’s competition time as a new season of Guy’s Grocery Games kicks off the evening with four moms behind grocery carts.

This Saturday on The Pioneer Woman, Ree is cooking for Ladd’s grandmother. Then on Farmhouse Rules, Nancy’s having three moms over for a special celebration. And on The Kitchen, the co-hosts cook Mother’s Day brunch recipes. On Sunday, it’s all about pasta on Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day. Later in the morning, on Southern at Heart, Damaris has the ladies over for afternoon tea. On Giada at Home, Giada cooks a Mother’s Day lunch for her sister. Right after, Guy’s cooking his mom Penny a Mother’s Day meal on Guy’s Big Bite.

In the evening, come back for more Guy with the Season 2 premiere of Guy’s Grocery Games in a heartwarming Mother’s Day episode. Right after, watch America’s Best Cook: The home cooks must face dreaded ingredients to create chef-worthy dishes for guest judge Marcel Vigneron. Finally, in a new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, the chefs must cook Sloppy Joes with mystery meat.

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Star-a-Day: Emma Frisch

by , May 9th, 2014

Emma FrischEmma Frisch, 30, is the girl next door who has traveled the world, and she has family members on five continents. Now residing in upstate New York, Emma is a food blogger and business owner, and she believes anyone can become a good cook. Read on below to hear from Emma, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Emma: My culinary point of view is that anyone can become a more natural and confident cook by learning how to make American comfort food and freshening classic recipes with their own twists. And the way they learn how to do that is simplifying their shopping and finding the best-tasting ingredients at the best prices and freshest ingredients.

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Pamper Mom with Homemade Spa Products, Kitchen Style

by in Holidays, Shows, May 9th, 2014

Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro, Sunny Anderson, Marcela Valladolid and Geoffrey ZakarianMother’s Day is just a few days away, and surely no one deserves a relaxing afternoon at the spa more than Mom. While it may be too late to score her an appointment at your local spa, there’s indeed time to pamper her at home — and with goods you likely already have on hand in your kitchen.

On tomorrow’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts are celebrating moms with brunch, dinner and dessert ideas worthy of the day, plus a few homemade spa products. These easy-to-do concoctions — all created with edible goods like egg yolks, orange juice, sugar and olive oil — will help fortify and repair Mom’s nails and smooth her skin. Check out the simple how-tos below, then tune in to The Kitchen tomorrow at 11a|10c to watch Katie, Sunny and Marcela try out these products on two willing spa subjects: Jeff and Geoffrey.

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