For 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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Much 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.”
Change — 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.”
Casseroles 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.”
When you’ve nearly exhausted all of your usual go-to meals, it’s time to update your recipe repertoire with a fresh set of flavors. Think of it as a spring cleaning of sorts, celebrating the change in season with family-friendly dinners, salads and treats that showcase the best tastes the warm weather has to offer. Check out a few of Food Network’s favorite innovative springtime recipes below to find must-try ideas from Melissa, Giada, Ina and more chefs.
5. Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad — Dressed with a sweet and tangy mustard-mayonnaise vinaigrette, Melissa’s top-rated salad is tossed with crispy bacon for extra indulgent flavor.
4. Spring Peas with Dates and Walnuts — The beauty of this quick-fix side dish is that it boasts a mix of textures, including the trio of tender English, snap and snow peas, crunchy nuts and chewy dried fruit. Plus, it’s a big-batch recipe, so it’s sure to feed a crowd when you’re entertaining.
Sweet Home Alabama: Archibald’s, a family-owned barbecue joint in Northport, Ala., near Tuscaloosa, has famously served up pit-smoked ribs and sliced pork butt since 1962. While slow-cooking and hickory smoke from the carefully tended fire give the meat its sweet flavor and plain white bread adds to the down-home style, the true secret ingredient in this barbecue is love. In a new short documentary film, Archibald’s, part of Southern Foodways’ Southern BBQ Trail series, director Wes Wages pays tribute to the modest Alabama food landmark. Watch it here. [Southern Foodways Alliance]
$1,000 for Ranch Dressing? When a Redditor using the handle Brostach posted a picture taken at Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso, which showed a bottle of ranch salad dressing behind glass and a framed sign reading “Side of Delicious Ranch Dressing $1,000,” some commenters accused the VPN-certified eatery of elitism and arrogance; others rose to its defense. Proprietor Jay Jerrier wants both sides to know he was just kidding. “Dude, it’s a joke. Relax,” he recently told Eater, adding that he doesn’t get many requests for ranch dressing on pizza, a combo he says “seems weird” to him, but he deals kindly with those who ask. “It was pretty funny how people did take it really seriously and were super offended,” Jay added. “I guess it’s the Midwest. They love them some ranch.” [Eater]
Traditional banana pudding and Italian tiramisu may hail from drastically different places — compare an Italian trattoria to the kitchen of your Southern grandmother — but, trust us, these two go together without a hitch. Maybe it’s the layering, maybe it’s that inspired combination of coffee, bananas and cream. All we know is that with a comforting dessert mash-up like Banana Pudding Tiramisu, there’s never been a more pressing reason to whip out those trifle dishes.
Check out a step-by-step how-to for this banana and espresso cream bliss. Assemble yours the night before for the best results.
For years Marc Summers was the face of Food Network’s Unwrapped, pulling back the curtain on some of your all-time favorite snack foods and exposing just how they come to be in the factory. But come this spring, he’ll go one step further in the world of munchies by judging a snack food showdown on Rewrapped. Just in time for next month’s premiere (on Monday, April 21 at 8|7c), FN Dish caught up with Marc to learn a bit more about his own cooking habits, plus some of his favorite foods and go-to late-night bites. Read on below to hear from Marc, then find out more about the host of Rewrapped, Joey Fatone.
Do you cook at home? If so, what’s your signature dish?
Marc Summers: I do, but my wife is a better cook than I am, so, not that we’re ever in competition, but she’s just so darn good at it that I don’t do it much. When I’m in California … I like to barbecue. So I’m the king of barbecue in L.A., but the rest of the time my wife is cooking.
Trying to make something bigger — not to say better — than the next guy is almost as American as hot dogs. So there may be little quite so American as the gargantuan frankfurter served up Friday at the Miami-Dade County Fair with the goal of grabbing the Guinness record for the world’s largest commercially available hot dog.
The humongous wiener tipped the scales at 125.5 pounds, including the huge bun and heaping portions of ketchup, mustard, relish and sliced onions, according to the Miami Herald. Devoid of bun and condiments — “naked,” as the newspaper put it — the dawg weighed 51 pounds.
Created by Juicy’s Outlaw Grill, whose founder already holds the Guinness World Record for the largest commercially available hamburger, the ultra-large link was cooked for three hours on a 100-foot-long, 20-foot-tall, 27-ton mobile grill. (You can see the giant dog, which has yet to be certified by Guinness, cooking on the grill here.)
Hearty greens like kale, chard and collards are delicious in salads, but you’ll want to soften them so they aren’t so tough and chewy: Thinly slice the leaves and toss them with dressing (choose one that contains an acidic ingredient, like vinegar or lemon juice, which acts as a tenderizer). Let the greens sit, dressed, until they soften, about 10 minutes.