Pizza is the perfect food for entertaining — a crowd-pleaser with unlimited options for sauce, cheese and toppings. We started with one basic dough recipe and explored some creative combinations of ingredients that celebrate spring. If you’re willing to break with corned-beef-and-cabbage tradition, the naturally green pizzas are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day gatherings. Read more
We’ve nearly made it to spring, and after the treacherous winter seen from coast to coast this year, it’s about time to celebrate with a piece — or two? — of cake. While springtime cakes surely are indulgent, they’re not heavy like the meaty chilis and casseroles of winter, and each is packed with refreshing colors and flavors. Go ahead, treat yourself to a weekend of dessert decadence with these best-ever takes on cake from Ina Garten, The Pioneer Woman and more of your favorite Food Network chefs.
Strawberry Poke Cake — True to its name, this buttermilk-laced cake (pictured above) boasts plenty of poked holes in the top so the ruby-red strawberry gelatin can gently seep into it. After chilling the cake in the refrigerator, “let it sit out to warm up a bit while you whip the cream for the topping,” explain the chefs in our Food Network Kitchen.
If April showers bring May flowers, what do Mayflowers bring?
Yes, Mayflowers do bring pilgrims, as this grade school riddle so memorably illustrates, but May flowers bring joy — the kind of joy that inspired me to break out my brushes so that I could paint and capture what I saw on … cookies!
Not only is it easy and fun to celebrate spring with these hand-painted watercolor flower cookies, but you can do your pretty decorating without the use of artificial dyes and additives. Herbs, fruit juice and plant dyes all can be used as food coloring, and companies like India Tree even make premade versions available for purchase. What other natural food colorings can you come up with?
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.
Spring is here. I’ll admit that when I lived in colder climates such as Vermont or Paris, the arrival of spring was more anticipated (“When can I put my boots away?!”). I remember in Burlington, Vt., we had the tradition of breaking out our swimsuits on the first day that it hit 50 degrees F, a temperature that would have me snuggling up to the fireplace now. Even in San Diego, I’m excited about spring for two reasons. First, my daughters’ spring break is around the corner, and we are hunkering down for a family staycation here in San Diego (all the family time and fun, none of the stress of travel!). And the second reason I’m eager for the end of winter is — traditional spring food! Yes, I know these days we can get many ingredients year round, but they are lackluster compared to their in-season versions. Quite simply, there are certain flavors that are just better in that magical shoulder season between winter and summer.
Here’s my ideal springtime menu, featuring seasonal ingredients that you can get at any supermarket right now:
Asparagus: I’ll start here because it’s perhaps the quintessential spring vegetable, with its tender stalk and earthy flavor. While you can get asparagus many months of the year, the flavor (and the cost!) both tell you that spring is the time to indulge. I buy several bunches a week in peak season. My methods of cooking asparagus are almost exclusively roasting or grilling: a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and about 10 minutes in a hot oven (or seven minutes on a hot grill) is all it takes to bring out the natural sweetness and earthiness. Roasted asparagus can be served hot, at room temperature or cold (toss it with a tangy mustard vinaigrette for a fresh spring salad as in my Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette). Or cook for even less time to make a fresh soup (try my Almost-Raw Asparagus Soup with Yogurt and Almonds — it couldn’t be easier to serve spring in a bowl).
Tomorrow marks the first day of spring, and just as you may be getting ready to transition your wardrobe from heavy snow coats to light jackets, so, too, are you likely longing for a change in everyday meals. Gone are the cravings for warming stews and comforting casseroles; it’s all about bright, fresh flavors that make the most out of this brand-new time of year. Check out Food Network’s top-five recipes for the season below, and celebrate the first days of spring with an abundance of crisp vegetables and juicy fruits of all colors.
5. Roast Chicken with Spring Vegetables — With this all-in-one supper of juicy chicken, hearty potatoes, and colorful carrots and radishes, you no longer have to prepare separate protein, starch and vegetable components to offer a complete meal.
4. Green Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette — Consider Rachael’s fuss-free recipe the ultimate go-to salad, as it requires just a few minutes to assemble the lettuce with fresh berries and a tangy dressing.
I learned to make basic vinaigrettes when I was in my early 20s. It was my first summer in Philadelphia and I was living alone in my grandmother’s old apartment. She had always been more of an entertainer than a cook, so my inherited kitchen featured every kind of cocktail glass, but not much in the way of durable cookware.
Her library of cookbooks was equally paltry. There was a community cookbook compiled to raise funds for the Philadelphia Orchestra, a coffee table tome from local celebrity chef Georges Perrier and a copy of the The Frog Commissary Cookbook (the Frog and the Commissary had been a pair of innovative Philly restaurants in the ’70s and ’80s that my grandmother had loved).
I found that I never had much use for those first two volumes, but Frog Commissary rapidly became my cooking primer. I turned to it at least once a week for guidance on soups, salads, muffins and desserts. I was most drawn to the 15 pages of vinaigrettes and dressings because the recipes were written clearly and gave me nearly endless options for improving my salads. I learned how to make a basic vinaigrette and how to enhance it with herbs, spices and aromatics. Eleven years later, the things I absorbed from that book stay with me.
Kids don’t always love eating the green stuff. But instead of offering less of it, one of my favorite techniques is adding things they do like to any given dish. Take asparagus. Our toddler loves lemons, so it’s a go-to trick for encouraging her to try new foods. (It also works for previously refused foods, but I’m sure that never happens at your place.)
1. Our favorite way to make asparagus is sauteed in a pan with olive oil and a handful of peas. Add a few shavings of salty Parmesan cheese on top and let the kids squeeze their own lemon at the table.
2. Or try asparagus on homemade pizza with big drops of fresh ricotta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.
3. Never underestimate the power of roasting veggies. A pan of asparagus with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of salt will be amazing after 10 minutes of roasting at 425 degrees F. You might even get a cheer, but I always settle for at least a bite.
Have you done your spring cleaning yet? Well, whether you’ve cleaned house or not, Oh So Beautiful Paper is here to help you get at least one thing perfectly organized this season: your grocery list. Planning weekly menus (like the one pictured above from Mavora Cards) and making shopping lists will certainly help save you money and stay on track while weaving through the aisles at the store or market. These pretty little notepads are the perfect tool for getting you started.
Perhaps most often enjoyed alongside strawberries in a flaky pie crust, rhubarb is a seasonal produce commonly available from springtime through early summer. Although it may be thought of as a fruit, rhubarb is in fact a vegetable, boasting long celery-like stalks and large leaves, plus a slightly sour, tart taste. Since it’s naturally stringy and potentially fibrous, most recipes recommend cooking it slowly until it becomes tender and pairing it with something sweet, like sugar or fruit, to offset any bitterness. If you’ve never before cooked with rhubarb, pick up a ruby-colored bunch the next time you’re at the market, and put this fresh favorite to work in classic and creative dishes alike. Check out Food Network’s top-five rhubarb recipes below from some of your favorite chefs, like Ina, Guy and Iron Chef Marc Forgione, for a mix of traditional and deliciously inventive ideas for letting this in-season pick shine.
5. Lemon Bundt Cake With Berry Rhubarb Glaze — A make-ahead dessert that’s ideal for weekend entertaining, this crowd-pleasing cake is laced with fresh lemon juice plus tangy sour cream for moisture, and it is finished with a crimson topping of red berry jam and chopped rhubarb.
4. Rhubarb Compote — The secret to making this springtime recipe quickly and easily is letting the microwave do the work for you; after just a few minutes, the rhubarb will have broken down and become soft, ready for a topping of ice cream and crispy cinnamon-scented cereal.