Hey there! Welcome to my new column, “Relax, It’s Just …” (fill in the blank). Every month I’ll share a new recipe, something that many people feel intimidated about making at home, and demystify the pants off of it. There will be detailed instructions, but written in language that even a novice cook can easily understand, and lots of tips so that you will feel confident and end up successful. And step-by-step photos so you can see what is supposed to be happening when. The goal of this “Relax” column is to help you become more comfortable in the kitchen, and I would love to hear what dishes you’d like to conquer. No judgments here! Just the pleasure of learning to be a more self-assured cook. Read more
Milk Bar was founded in 2008 by James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award-winner Christina Tosi; you may have heard of some of the bakery’s more popular items, like Cereal Milk ice cream, Compost Cookies and Crack Pie. With five locations in New York, one in Toronto and another opening in Washington, D.C., later this year, Milk Bar is becoming its own dessert empire. But it’s the eatery’s Birthday Cake that has won my heart and my stomach. It’s a modern take on the classic Funfetti cake, and it makes an appearance every year when it’s my birthday (and also when it’s not). The key to the moist cake layers in this towering treat? A soak of whole milk and clear vanilla extract. That’s right: It’s like a tres leches cake gone birthday bonkers, in the best way possible. We stopped by Milk Bar’s test kitchen location in Brooklyn to see how the masterpiece comes together.
In the early 1930s, the Ferrara Candy Company created the famous Red Hots cinnamon candies using the cold panned candy method. The inventors probably never imagined that the candies, which have become a Valentine’s Day staple, could be used in so many ways. All of these ideas utilize one 6-ounce theater box of the candies. Browse the full gallery for all 11 spiced-up homemade Valentine’s Day treats.
Red Hot Strawberries
Red Hots melt perfectly into a smooth syrup that can be incorporated into a variety of recipes, including these candy-coated strawberries (pictured above). Boil 1 box of Red Hots with 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar to 300 degrees F (hard crack stage). Use a candy thermometer to monitor. Carefully dip skewered strawberries into the candy. Let cool completely.
Start the music! Light the lights! Get the party going with an edible centerpiece tonight! These fun, creative projects are sure to be the star of any holiday party, and they’re easy enough for kids to help with. Use them as a single element, or in a group on a buffet or dinner table. Check out the full gallery for step-by-step instructions for each centerpiece idea.
“I guess I’m a baking nerd,” says Dorie Greenspan with a sly smile. The award-winning cookbook author is standing in the middle of Food Network Kitchen, whisk in hand and talking about her latest book, Baking Chez Moi. “I’ve come to think of myself as a baking evangelist. I want people to have the satisfaction of making something themselves. So when I write, I try to imagine I’m talking to a newbie.” Dedicated to the home cooking she delights in during the four months a year she spends in Paris, Greenspan’s newest book is friendly and approachable, straddling both the high (Bubble Éclairs) and humble (Chocolate Chip Cookies). Her Custardy Apple Squares are an ideal mix of the two, and Greenspan happily demonstrated how to whip them up during her visit. “I love this recipe,” she says. “It’s so easy, so unfussy, so French.” Follow Dorie’s step-by-step how-to to make them at home.
For many sweets lovers, Greenspan’s name is synonymous with one thing above all: amazing cookies. So we couldn’t let her go without asking her to share a few of her best cookie tips, too. Here’s what we learned. Read more
Chores like peeling potatoes can make kids start to feel like they are on KP duty, and though that may be fun for a while, it can quickly turn to drudgery. This Thanksgiving, let everyone share chores so they go by faster, then set your kids up with one of these fun projects. Even little kids can roll cheese balls and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and older kids can do more-complicated projects like creating a turkey-shaped veggie platter. These projects are win/win/win! They teach kids how to use creative thinking in the kitchen, they take some of the work off parents’ hands, and they keep kids occupied. Plus, the results look and taste good enough to meet the standards of your most-persnickety guests.
Decorating a cake can be super-easy and stress-free, so celebrate life’s special occasions, no matter how small, with a festive decorated cake. No need for piping bags and sugar flowers: All of these ideas can be done in minutes using supermarket staples, and they’re as much fun to make as they are to eat. Use them as a jumping-off point to pique your imagination and to discover easy cake decorating ideas from your own supermarket aisles. Read more
Summer is the season of spontaneity — when a passing neighbor can become a last-minute dinner guest, and the plump tomatoes and zucchini you picked up at the market turn into the centerpiece of brunch. And when it comes to go-with-the-flow entertaining, there’s nothing better than a grill: It’s fast, cleanup is a snap, and practically everything tastes better with the smoky, crispy char you can get only from a fire. The following supermarket staples make it easy to improvise at the grill, no matter if you’re cooking T-bones, plums or potatoes. Stock up and you’ll be prepared, whatever the mood brings.
The Olympics are a big deal in my house — and not just during the official biennial games. A couple of summers ago, my 11-year-old daughter and her aunts came up with their own version of the sporting competition and recruited the whole family to participate. The events were varied — think obstacle courses through the woods, round-robin volleyball matches and paddleboard balancing contests — and the rivalries fierce. At the end of the weekend, the victors were presented with first-, second- and third-place medals my daughter had created from construction paper, glitter and striped ribbon. You can’t underestimate the pride each winner took in wearing the fluttering tokens. (Athletic triumph, even in the backyard, is still a triumph.)
Flash forward to this winter, when all of us at Food Network Kitchen were plotting our Olympic-themed offerings. “What can we make that both parents and kids would like?” I asked my daughter when I got home. “Cookie medals!” was her response. And behold the tasty creations we came up with in the Kitchen. You can duplicate them with pretty much any sturdy sugar-cookie dough; the one in our recipe will hold up to the handling of even the most-enthusiastic junior chef. And because these medals are easy to make in multiples (unlike the paper variety), you can bake enough for fourth-, fifth-, even sixth-place competitors (or those who are cheering them on). In other words, with these cute cookie trophies, everyone can be a winner (and victory is, indeed, sweet).
Check out the recipe and our step-by-step tips below for cookies that truly take the gold.