It’s off to the races this weekend at Churchill Downs for the 142nd annual Kentucky Derby. Though the race itself is only a matter of minutes, Derby fanatics turn it into the biggest party of the year. Right up there with finding the floppiest hat you can wear without tipping over is pinning down your viewing party menu. We’ve got dessert covered on race day, with boozy and minty sweet treats inspired by the Southern cocktail favorite the mint julep. Trust us, even after the horses cross the finish line, you’ll find any excuse to down these refreshing, bourbon-spiked desserts.
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Silky mashed potatoes, pulverized peas and more smooth sides spell out pure comfort, and it’s no wonder why these stick-to-your-ribs instances of mashed glory line our holiday tables year after year. Really anyone can eat them (we mean it, even babies can), but just because you can mash something to a different state of matter, doesn’t mean you always should. Before obliterating your veggies beyond recognition, those who dig more texture in their food should exercise some restraint and adopt a chunkier approach: what we like to call the “smash.” And we’ve got the most-smashing ways to do it right here.
Pounding and pureeing and ricing potatoes works when your side of mashed will hold a lake of gravy, but going the smashed route imparts the root veggie side with a whole lot more character. Rachael Ray doesn’t get carried away with the mashing of her Cheesy Smashed Potatoes, which are loaded with cheddar, sour cream and chives for the ultimate year-round side.
Last time we chatted, I shared how a typical morning unfolds as we judges prepare for heading to set to film the actual show. So if you missed Part 1, click here.
Lights, Camera, Action
The chefs are introduced and then jog through the grocery store to join Guy in front of the kitchens, just as you see on TV. The chefs are told which game they are playing, and they scoot around to their carts. At that point, we stop down (stop filming) for just a minute or two to make sure the chefs truly understand the rules of that particular game. But that lasts only moments, which is woefully too short to plan out a menu. Guy then counts them off and they run with their carts. Here’s a little inside scoop: The chefs always head down Aisle 6 first, so the cameras can capture that cool shot of all the chefs racing with their carts together. So even if they want to go to produce first, for instance, it’s only after they hit the magical Aisle 6. One thing that was a huge surprise to me when I cooked on GGG for a charity episode is how physically exhausting it is to run around that HUGE store! If you need something in Aisle 9, you’d better remember to get it while you’re there, because running back may not be an option timewise!
If you’ve been looking forward to Cinco de Mayo since last May 6, we suggest you go big (or, er, go home?) this year. It’s likely you’ve already planned after-work margaritas and tacos, but don’t miss out on the perfect occasion to grab Mexican flavors for breakfast, snack time and dessert, too.
Huevos Rancheros (above)
This classic zesty dish subscribes to a cooking notion we’ll always agree with: Put an egg on it.
With Cinco de Mayo just one day away, we’re already busy chopping cilantro and chiles for our favorite salsas and guacamoles to serve with big bowls of crisp, salty tortilla chips. But when it comes to the drinks menu, there are too many craveable Mexican-inspired cocktails to pick just one. From tart margaritas to fruity aguas frescas and spicy eye-openers like the michelada, Mexico’s many drinks are as vivid, flavorful and satisfying as the foods they accompany. Here are some of our favorite Mexican and Mexican-inspired refreshers for your Cinco celebration.
No tricks here — just the staples of a classic margarita: Tequila, lime juice, orange-flavored liqueur, salt and sugar. Add a touch of homemade simple syrup if you like yours on the sweeter side.
Mother’s Day comes once a year and we (the moms) love it. It’s our day to get pampered and appreciated; we’re treated like queens. It’s the one morning per year that we’re given undisputed permission to sleep in. We revel in it. That said, we want to help you (and ourselves) get the very most out of this special holiday. You may think that cooking us breakfast or a sweet treat is a good move, and we wholeheartedly agree that it is, but we have a few tips. When cooking for Mom, follow these seven rules to make this the sweetest Mother’s Day yet.
You’ve bought all the tortillas you’ll need for the tacos and enchiladas, and you’ve readied the blender for frosty margaritas. But have you considered what to offer in your spread of starters? Look no further than this collection of party-ready dips ideal for Cinco de Mayo (or any other bash), complete with both classic and creative picks like creamy queso, tangy salsa and even something sweet.
Chile con Queso
The Pioneer Woman bulks up the tried-and-true chile-laced cheese dip with crumbled sausage for meaty, comforting heft.
3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.
Tequila, mezcal, micheladas, even Mexican Coke: Mexican beverages are having a moment. Surfing the wave of south-of-the-border sips is rice-milk-based horchata. All across the U.S., creative bartenders are mixing the traditional drink into boozy, cinnamon-scented concoctions.
What is a tortilla chip but a mere vessel for delivering ample amounts of seasoned meat and melted cheese to our mouths? If you don’t care for tortilla chips — or can’t eat them, perhaps due to a corn allergy — that doesn’t mean nachos are out of bounds. We’ve expanded our definition of nachos by applying popular topping combinations, such as meat, cheese, avocado and salsa, to other foods — think baked sweet potatoes, crunchy sweet peppers and more. Purists will balk at the suggestion of nachos sans corn chips, but try these no-chip recipes and you’ll find that the best part is the toppings.
We invite anyone who believes you can’t have nachos without tortilla chips to try Food Network Kitchen’s cheesy Zucchini Fry Nachos. The crisp fried zucchini offers a juicy quality that you can’t get from corn chips. For toppings, we recommend diced shredded cheese, avocado, lime juice and pickled jalapenos for the right balance of fresh and comforting flavor.
Chefs took center stage last night to celebrate the 2016 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards, which are two years into a three-year stint at Chicago’s Lyric Opera. Hometown pride was on full display, with Chicago’s high-concept culinary temple Alinea taking home the Outstanding Restaurant award. Mayor Rahm Emanuel helped kick off the evening, kidding, “Chicago is known for cuisine and the way we count ballots, so you might as well all go home — we won.”