Tag: chopped champions

Beyond the Chopped Basket: What to Make With Pine Nuts

by in Shows, February 17th, 2013

Roasted AsparagusSo often on Chopped we see chef contestants open their mystery baskets to find such odd, uncommon and downright scary ingredients — precooked pig snout, pickled beef tongue or grasshoppers, anyone? — that it can seem nearly impossible for home cooks to put them to work in everyday meals. On other episodes, however, the ingredients are far less intimidating yet not quite familiar. That’s where we come in. Each week during the brand-new season of Chopped Champions, FN Dish will break down the whats, hows and whens of an approachable, family-friendly ingredient and share deliciously simple recipes for using it, so that you can show off your best culinary chops at home. Following last Tuesday’s Grand Finale competition, the focus is now on pine nuts, which made an appearance in the appetizer basket alongside pig ears, ramps and apple strudel.

As you may have guessed, pine nuts do in fact come from pine trees, as they’re the tiny (think pinky-nail size) seeds that grow inside pinecones. Untoasted pine nuts are a light yellow-cream color and boast a buttery, slightly chewy texture. After warming in a pan, however, pine nuts become a golden hue and offer a crunchy bite to greens, grains, pasta and more. Given their small size, pine nuts are often left whole when mixed in salads or served atop vegetables, but they can also be ground into sauces or vinaigrettes. Read on below to find traditional and creative ways to cook with this must-try ingredient, then browse these insider photos from the Champions finale to relive each course of the battle.

Food Network Magazine‘s simple Roasted Asparagus (pictured above) turns out deliciously tender every time, but thanks to a topping of pine nuts, parsley and lemon juice, this top-rated recipe features a crunchy texture and fresh, vibrant taste as well. Serve this in-season vegetable with light fish, hearty meat and more to complete your meal in only 20 quick minutes.

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Melissa’s Take on the Chopped Basket — Champions Grand Finale

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, February 16th, 2013

Melissa d'Arabianby Melissa d’Arabian

It’s the finale, so I’m tempted to give myself longer than 30 seconds to pick my menu. But I won’t. So here go the final Chopped Champions baskets:

Appetizer basket: pig ears, ramps, pine nuts and apple strudel

Two tricky ingredients in this one – pig ears and ramps. Just kidding. Apple strudel? Yikes. My mind races first to April Bloomfield’s gorgeous cookbook A Girl and Her Pig, and I am inspired to fry up the pig ears. How will they get tender so quickly? By boiling, slicing very thinly, dipping in batter and frying. I get the ears into the boiling water, which I salt. And then I turn my attention to the strudel. I make a quick decision to separate the phyllo from the apple filling and turn it into two ingredients. I crisp up the phyllo in the oven and make strips for a panzanella (bread salad). I caramelize the ramps, toast the pine nuts and blend up the apple filling with apple cider vinegar and olive oil for a vinaigrette. Chop up bitter greens, toss with the pine nuts, ramps, dressing and maybe some sweet yellow tomato if available. Top with my strudel strips and fried ear “cracklings.” Simple.

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Dirt Tots, Egg-Based Burritos and Mini Goat Cheese Pies — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, February 13th, 2013

Chef Vinson Petrillo
Every Wednesday, Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star, Season 8, has been remixing the Chopped Champion baskets as seen in the episode the night before in pure Justin Warner style: edgy, intense, passionate and full of wit. If you’ve ever watched an episode and found yourself yelling at the TV that you would have made this or that instead, then these are the posts for you.

by Justin Warner

Congratulations blog viewer, you’ve made it to the finale! If you’ve made it this far, I’m not going to bore you with the details of making a mother sauce.

Appetizer basket: pig ears, ramps, pine nuts and apple strudel

The appetizer round is really getting me ramped up. I feel like I’m on a rampage. Want to hear something my gramps told me? He taught me that allium tricoccum (say it out loud three times and you’ll remember easily), aka ramps, are delicious wild onions from all of Appalachia. They are the most wonderful, glorious and wildest of leeks. Like a leafy spring onion, it’s entirely edible, although its flavor is a bit more pronounced. In the good old days in Terra Alta, West Virginia (where I spent time with Gramps and ramps), folks celebrated the ramp by cooking it in a multitude of ways. These “ramp festivals” are a great event for couples because if you eat ramps and your partner doesn’t, you’ll be asked to sleep outside, lest your glorious oniony eau de parfum permeate the house for a bit. So sayeth my gramps.

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Chatting With the Winner of Chopped Champions

by in Shows, February 12th, 2013

Chefs Rob Evans and Jun Tanaka With Chopped Host Ted AllenIn an all-new season of Chopped Champions, 16 chefs, each with a previous Chopped win under his or her belt, are returning to the kitchen to face off for a second time in the ultimate multicourse cook-off. Although they’re no strangers to mystery baskets, these chefs are under more pressure than ever, as they’re competing not just for Chopped glory but also a spot in the finale where they can ultimately claim a $50,000 prize and the coveted title of Grand Champion.

Each week, four chefs will take their places in the kitchen and battle it out in the hopes of outlasting the chopping block once again. While three will crumble beneath the demands of Champions cooking, one will prove his or her culinary chops for a second time. Check in with FN Dish every Tuesday night after the episode to hear from the latest winner.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who won

Chatting With the Chopped Champions Runner-Up

by in Shows, February 12th, 2013

Chopped Champions Grand FinaleIn an all-new season of Chopped Champions, 16 chefs, each with a previous Chopped win under his or her belt, are returning to the kitchen to face off for a second time in the ultimate multicourse cook-off. Although they’re no strangers to mystery baskets, these chefs are under more pressure than ever, as they’re competing not just for Chopped glory but also a spot in the finale where they can ultimately claim a $50,000 prize and the coveted title of Grand Champion.

Each week, four chefs will take their places in the kitchen and battle it out in the hopes of outlasting the chopping block once again. While three will crumble beneath the demands of Champions cooking, one will prove his or her culinary chops for a second time. Check in with FN Dish every Tuesday night after the episode to hear from the Chopped chefs.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who’s the runner-up

Beyond the Chopped Basket: What to Make With Greek Yogurt

by in Shows, February 9th, 2013

Greek YogurtSo often on Chopped we see chef contestants open their mystery baskets to find such odd, uncommon and downright scary ingredients — pre-cooked pig snout, pickled beef tongue or grasshoppers, anyone? — that it can seem nearly impossible for home cooks to put them to work in everyday meals. On other episodes, however, the ingredients are far less intimidating yet not quite familiar. That’s where we come in. Each week during the brand-new season of Chopped Champions, FN Dish will break down the whats, hows and whens of an approachable, family-friendly ingredient and share deliciously simple recipes for using it, so that you can show off your best culinary chops at home. Following last Tuesday’s round-four competition, the focus is now on Greek yogurt, which made an appearance in the dessert basket alongside maraschino cherries, canned espresso and corn nuts.

Tangier than traditional yogurt, the Greek variety has undergone an extensive straining process so it’s noticeably thick and creamy, not watery in the least. Since it’s not too sweet, Greek yogurt is an easy substitute for sour cream in traditionally decadent recipes, plus it’s packed with protein so it’s a good-for-you alternative that doesn’t sacrifice flavor or texture.

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Melissa’s Take on the Chopped Basket — Champions Round Four

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, February 8th, 2013

Melissa d'Arabianby Melissa d’Arabian

You know my rules: 30 seconds to decide. Longer to write (but not much).

Appetizer basket: sour-apple martini mix, mortadella, white asparagus and fennel

I love this basket and don’t want to overthink it. The asparagus and mortadella make me think of a chopped salad and I stick to the idea. I peel the tough outer part of the asparagus and poach it in salty water, brown sugar and white wine. I get the fennel sliced up with some cubed onion and tart apple (which will bring play against the sour-apple martini mix that I plan to use in the dressing), tossed with a little olive oil and get them roasting to bring out its earthy sweetness. I fry up the mortadella and chop, making my own take on bacon bits. I chop up some greens from the pantry (arugula or watercress). I make a reduction from the apple cider vinegar and sour-apple martini mix. I assemble the salad: chop all the prepped ingredients, toss with olive oil and a bit of cider vinegar. Top with a bit of goat cheese and drizzle with the apple martini reduction.

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A Winning Salad, Halloumi Steaks and a Cherry Americano — Rebel Remix

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, February 6th, 2013

Chopped judges Alex Guarnaschelli and Amanda Freitag
by Justin Warner

Too many times I see chefs label themselves, to their demise. A Chopped champion is one who can abandon his or her style and cook according to the ingredients in the basket. Sometimes the most rebellious thing a chef can do is to be conservative and make simple fare. Having a set point of view should not be equated to wearing blinders. If anything, a POV gives a chef a different vantage point, so as to differently survey what is necessary to put food on the table.

Appetizer basket: sour-apple martini mix, mortadella, white asparagus and fennel

Sour-apple martini mix is disgusting stuff. It doesn’t taste like apples; it tastes like green candy. I don’t know where in its evolution sour apple decided to taste like something unrelated to apples, but overcoming this challenge is why I’m here. Mortadella, white asparagus and fennel can all play together — it’s just a matter of getting that bottle of green treacle to play nicely, as well.

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Chatting With the Round-4 Winner of Chopped Champions

by in Shows, February 5th, 2013

Chefs Rob Evans and Jean-Louis GerinIn an all-new season of Chopped Champions, 16 chefs, each with a previous Chopped win under his or her belt, are returning to the kitchen to face off for a second time in the ultimate multicourse cook-off. Although they’re no strangers to mystery baskets, these chefs are under more pressure than ever, as they’re competing not just for Chopped glory but also a spot in the finale where they can ultimately claim a $50,000 prize and the coveted title of Grand Champion.

Each week, four chefs will take their places in the kitchen and battle it out in the hopes of outlasting the chopping block once again. While three will crumble beneath the demands of Champions cooking, one will prove his or her culinary chops for a second time. Check in with FN Dish every Tuesday night after the episode to hear from the latest winner.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who won

Beyond the Chopped Basket: What to Make With Haricot Verts

by in Shows, February 2nd, 2013

Haricot Verts With Shaved ParmesanSo often on Chopped we see chef contestants open their mystery baskets to find such odd, uncommon and downright scary ingredients — pre-cooked pig snout, pickled beef tongue or grasshoppers, anyone? — that it can seem nearly impossible for home cooks to put them to work in everyday meals. On other episodes, however, the ingredients are far less intimidating yet not quite familiar. That’s where we come in. Each week during the brand-new season of Chopped Champions, FN Dish will break down the whats, hows and whens of an approachable, family-friendly ingredient and share deliciously simple recipes for using it, so that you can show off your best culinary chops at home. Following last Tuesday’s round-three competition, the focus is now on haricot verts, which made an appearance in the appetizer basket alongside smoked eel, cream cheese spread and quince paste.

While haricot verts sounds fancy, it actually translates to something we all know and enjoy: green beans. These French string beans are similar in color and shape to their American cousins, but they’re longer and slimmer, are slightly more tender and boast a more robust flavor than the standard variety. They stand up well to a host of cooking techniques including boiling, roasting and grilling, and because they’re so thin, haricot verts can be cooked in mere minutes. Just as the Chopped Champions chefs demonstrated in dressing their haricot verts with the cream cheese spread or a light vinaigrette, these green beans pair well with a mix of tastes and textures, though they can surely be enjoyed with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of seasonings. If you’ve never cooked with haricot verts before, pick up some at the grocery store (they’re found in the produce aisle near the standard green beans), then try them out in the easy recipes below, each ready in just 30 minutes or fewer.

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