Nothing signals the beginning of the holiday season more than pumpkins do, and just as they start showing up on front porches across the country, they make their way into our kitchens too. Of course it’s possible to cook using fresh pumpkin, but I think that for almost every application, canned pumpkin puree just works better. Fresh pumpkin tends to be a little watery, but canned puree is smooth, rich and flavorful every time. Canned pumpkin is a delicious addition to all kinds of dishes, sweet and savory, and Food Network Magazine’s October booklet has 50 inspiring canned pumpkin recipes for the holidays.
The Pumpkin Pasta Alfredo (pictured above) and Pumpkin Oatmeal are two of my top picks, but another of my favorites didn’t make the list: Curried Pumpkin Ketchup. This spiced ketchup is really easy to make and is truly delicious. In the test kitchen, we sampled it on fries and loved it, and I think it would taste great slathered all over a meatloaf sandwich.
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Who doesn’t love corn? It’s sweet, crisp, fun to eat and says summer like no other food. We also love corn for its versatility: It’s as delicious boiled as it is grilled, on the cob or off, sauteed or stirred into batters. We created corn recipes of all types for Food Network Magazine‘s July/August booklet, and although I enjoy corn in all its forms, I’m a purist at heart. I like it best simply grilled or boiled, with ample butter and a generous dusting of kosher or sea salt.
When I’m in the mood for a little more pizzazz, I mix up a flavored salt like the jerk or lemon-pepper seasoning in the booklet, both of which are extremely easy to prepare and transform classic corn on the cob into something exceptional. Here are two more recipes for amazing flavored salts. The bacon salt is a perfect complement to grilled corn served alongside burgers and hot dogs; the lemon coriander one tastes great on buttery boiled corn at a clam bake.
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Slaws are the ultimate summer salad: They are fresh and crisp, can be prepared hours in advance and make the perfect companion to grilled foods. In Food Network Magazine‘s June booklet, you get 50 awesome slaws to fulfill all your summer needs. But because we here in the Test Kitchen have too many ideas for our own good, we had a few slaw recipes left over that just couldn’t fit into the booklet. One of them is particularly special because of its longevity: It’s delicious in the summer, but transitions wonderfully into the cooler months. The combination of pear, endive, red cabbage, maple, cranberries and pecans will feel as at home on your Labor Day table as it will in your Thanksgiving spread.
Pear Endive Slaw With Maple Dressing: Combine (4-5 cups) 1/2 head thinly sliced red cabbage with 1 tablespoon kosher salt for 1 hour. Rinse well and pat dry. Whisk 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar, 3 tablespoons maple syrup; add 1/4 cup oil. Toss on cabbage with 3 sliced endives, 2 sliced pears, and 1/2 cup each dried cranberries and toasted chopped pecans.
I have to admit that the April booklet, 50 Salad Dressings, was a crowd favorite in the Food Network Test Kitchen. As much as we love indulging in chicken wings, macaroni and cheese and all the other delicious dishes we’ve recently covered in our 50 Booklets, it was a welcome change to have tastings that involved salads and vegetables. We love greens in any form and what’s great about these recipes is that they aren’t just for lettuce: They can also be drizzled over steamed asparagus and sauteed broccoli rabe, or used for dipping steamed artichoke leaves. Here is an extra dressing recipe that didn’t make it into the booklet, but is a favorite of mine. It gets a complex, floral flavor from chamomile tea and has a slight sweetness that goes really well on sturdier, slightly bitter greens like frisee and escarole.
Creamy Chamomile: Steep 2 chamomile tea bags in 1/4 cup hot cider vinegar 10 minutes; cool. Blend vinegar with 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 large egg in a blender; gradually add 1/2 cup vegetable oil until creamy.
The chefs in Food Network Kitchens had so many favorite muffins in Food Network Magazine’s 50 Muffins (page 100, December issue) that we couldn’t print them all. Pick up the issue to see the ones that made the cut — then try this extra Mini Rumball Muffin recipe for a new twist on an old cookie classic.
Mini Rumball Muffins
Combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup each finely ground vanilla wafer cookies and walnuts, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg and fine salt. In another bowl, whisk 3/4 cup each whole milk and vegetable oil, 2 large eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Fold the milk-egg mixture into the flour mixture. Divide among 36 to 48 mini muffin liners. Bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Heat 1/2 cup each rum and dark brown sugar and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Poke holes in the warm muffins and drizzle with the rum mixture. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
When the Food Network test kitchens first conceived of the “50 Things to Make With Apples” booklet from the October issue of Food Network Magazine (page 160), we thought we would use apple in all its forms, including applesauce and cider.
Ultimately, we decided to only include recipes with fresh apples — but I had already developed this easy recipe for cider-glazed bacon. You’ll be amazed by how much of the cider flavor actually comes through. And if you want to take it over the top, use the bacon to make a BLA — a BLT with sliced apples instead of tomatoes.
Simmer 1 cup apple cider down to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Lay 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon on a rack on sheet tray; brush with half the cider; bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, flipping and brushing again halfway through.
Coming up with 50 of anything for Food Network Magazine’s monthly 50-recipe booklet can be daunting — in the past, the booklet has featured 50 things to make with bacon, 50 brownies and 50 grilled cheeses — but this month, Food Network Kitchens tackled taco night.
The 50 Tacos booklet is full of fun new ideas you can whip up in no time. For instance, tucked into the Chicken Tomatillo recipe (No. 14) is an incredibly easy tomatillo salsa. It’s just 32 words long and as easy as can be, but I promise you it’s a killer salsa that is just as delicious in hot chicken tacos as it is served with tortilla chips.
Puree 1 pound fresh husked tomatillos with 1 jalapeno, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup each chopped onion, cilantro and water. Fry in 2 tablespoons oil until thick.
And of course it’s not the only one. There are tons of great salsas all throughout these recipes. Explore, find your favorites and mix and match to create your own tacos, nachos and more!