Tag: ultimate recipe showdown

Hometown Showdown: Southern Comfort

by in View All Posts, April 22nd, 2010
Competitor Cory Anthony's Catfish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw and Chipotle Cream

Sunday night’s Hometown Favorites round marked the finale of Ultimate Recipe Showdown‘s third season. Contestants put their spins on recipes inspired by their towns and regions, and there was clearly a lot of pride in the kitchens. Southern food dominated this year—competitors hailed from Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Kentucky—but the diversity of dishes showed that there’s a lot more to it than biscuits and gravy.

Katherine Alford, Vice President of Food Network Test Kitchens and a fixture on the URS judges’ panel, loves this round: “It incorporates great American regional foods and each cook’s personal food story. I think it’s great when the contestants put their spin on a regional classic.”

If you missed Hometown Favorites or any of the other Showdowns this season, you can still catch them on Food Network—check our schedule for dates and times. Today, Katherine chats with us about the very personal food prepared in the Hometown Favorites round and reflects on this season.

FN Dish: If you were to enter this round as a competitor, what would you make?
Katherine Alford: Oh my. That’s a good one. My hometown now is New York, but I grew up all over from Cape Cod, Washington DC, Florida to California. So given all that coastal living, it’s got to be a fish or shellfish dish. I’d say my take on a clam bake or crab boil. But maybe  grilled oysters, lobster rolls or something with beach plums. There are too many choices!

FN Dish: After sampling all the food in this round, which hometown region were you most inspired to visit?
KA: I think they all had a Southern flavor to them, which I love. I think there is nothing better than driving the back roads of the American South and eating at small local restaurants. But what is great is about this round is, we get to see what folks are cooking in their homes.

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$25K Dessert? Sweet! The Showdown

by in View All Posts, April 15th, 2010
Competitor Andrea Gaskins's Apple Crisp Bread Pudding

After four weeks of savory showdowns, bakers finally took the spotlight on Ultimate Recipe Showdown last Sunday. The Cakes and Desserts competition was a sweet tooth’s fantasy: Layer cakes, cupcakes, crisps and cobblers, brownies (topped with cookie dough!) and more.

Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford, our in-house URS judge, is back this week to share some tips for baking perfection. And for those days when there’s barely enough time to preheat the oven, she gives her favorite quick and simple dessert ideas.

FN Dish: This round can be tough timing-wise, since most of the cakes have to bake and then cool down enough to be frosted. Any tips for speeding up this process when you’re in a time crunch and need to get the frosted cake to a party?
Katherine Alford: Cakes really do need time to ripen. Not just for icing, but also for flavor. Smaller is better obviously, like a cupcake—they cool down quicker. But always cool a cake on a rack out of the pan, and cool the layers separately. Pop it in the fridge first to cool it down and then move it to the freezer.

FN Dish: Cupcakes are huge right now. Can you make any cake recipe into cupcakes, or are there some that don’t work as well? What should you keep in mind when using a cake recipe to make cupcakes?
KA: Simple cakes often work as cupcakes, but not always. I think chocolate works better. Don’t over-fill the molds and bake for less time. Sarah Copeland, one of our recipe developers and a cupcake expert, suggests, too, that dense cakes (like carrot cake) make better cupcakes. The airy sponge cakes just get flat and tend to leak over the sides. Thick cake batters (dense cakes) hold their shape better and sometimes even dome a touch in muffin tins.

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25K Burger Showdown: Family Feud!

by in View All Posts, April 7th, 2010
Competitor Michael Cohen's Northern Italian Trattoria Burger

Any food-lover knows that burgers are all the rage these days, showing up on menus everywhere from dives to fancy four-star restaurants. Food Network chefs are all about them—Bobby Flay just opened up his fifth Bobby’s Burger Palace, this one in Philadelphia, where fellow Iron Chef Jose Garces also has a terrific burger joint. On Ultimate Recipe Showdown this week, the competitors showed that home cooks can also make some killer burgers.

The burger episode was even more intense thanks to a heated battle-within-a-battle: Father versus Son. Michael Cohen went up against his dad, Harold, the reigning champ of last season’s burger showdown.

The eight burgers presented were diverse in their toppings and flavors, and the judges pronounced many of them excellent. Today Katherine Alford, Vice President of Food Network Test Kitchen and URS judge, shares her expert insight on how to achieve burger perfection at home.

FN Dish: Many of the burgers in this competition had a lot going on, from salsas to dressings to herb butter to grilled lettuce. For you, what are the key components of a great burger?
Katherine Alford: For a classic, it’s all about perfectly cooked, juicy, full-flavored quality meat. You need a bun that contrasts with the meat’s texture but doesn’t get in the way and holds up to a mess of personalized toppings.

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Hot and Spicy Showdown: Holy Mole!

by in View All Posts, March 31st, 2010
Steak Tacos Mole Recipe
Competitor Julie Merriman's Chipotle Rubbed Steak Tacos Mole

The heat is always on in the Ultimate Recipe Showdown kitchens, but it got even hotter this week with the Hot & Spicy competition. The contestants’ fiery flavors spanned the globe, from Thai chicken soup to Indonesian salad to Mexican tacos.

Once again, we sat down with Katherine Alford, VP of Food Network Test Kitchen and veteran URS judge, to get her tips on cooking (and eating) spicy foods.

FN Dish: Is a dish ever “too spicy” for you? Were you worried at all that one of the contestants might overdo the heat in this round?
Katherine Alford: Yes, a dish can be too spicy, if it’s hot just for the sake of being hot and taking your head off. The best spicy food has more than just incendiary heat. Even dishes that use habaneros, the hottest chile, should be balanced to play up its fruity quality. A good hot and spicy dish should have enough going on so that the heat is part of a larger taste.

FN Dish: The dishes in this round represented many diverse cuisines. What are some of the best international cuisines for spicy food lovers to experiment with?
KA: Of course the first that comes to mind is Mexican, as well as a wide range of Asian cuisines such as Szechuan, Vietnamese and Thai, Indian…or Indonesian like our runner-up. But what is interesting is that spices and chiles can be found in many cuisines…one of my favorite peppers is the Aleppo pepper that is used in Turkish and Lebanese food. It’s smoky, almost meaty, and it packs a punch.

Try Bobby Flay’s recipe for Tuna Crusted with Aleppo Peppers.

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Party Food Showdown: Margaritas All Around

by in View All Posts, March 24th, 2010

The mood was festive on Ultimate Recipe Showdown Sunday as four competitors showed off their best party recipes. This week’s personalities were as fun as the food—we had a black-belt Grandma, a young clothing designer who poured himself a cocktail during the competition, a TV news reporter and a former rocker. Throwing a party with the four of them—plus fun-loving URS host Guy Fieri, of course—would surely be a good time.

Like last week, we sat down with Katherine Alford, Vice President of Food Network Test Kitchen, to get her take on the Party Food theme.

FN Dish: What makes party food a little more special than everyday meals?
Katherine Alford: This is when you pull out all the stops. You want a little wow and are willing to go the extra mile to make your friends feel special. Cooking for friends is such a generous act.

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Comfort Food Showdown: All About the Carbs

by in View All Posts, March 17th, 2010

Ultimate Recipe Showdown Season 3 kicked off with the Comfort Food round on Sunday, and we’re already quite jealous of the judges. While host Guy Fieri runs the show and checks in with the competitors, these three folks with esteemed palates get to sit back, watch the live cooking action and taste eight dishes perfected by home cooks. Who wouldn’t want that job?

After each episode this season, we’re sitting down with Katherine Alford—Vice President of Food Network Test Kitchen and URS judge—and asking three questions about the week’s theme. Today she shares her insights on comfort food.

FN Dish: What makes a dish “comfort food”?‪
Katherine Alford: Something that hits an emotional cord, soothing, nurturing and generous. Comfort also can be inspired by who cooks for you, like a favorite friend or relative. Comfort food can come in a myriad of forms… but most likely at its base it’s got a serious carb thing happening, like mac and cheese, grilled cheese, or my favorite, a buttery baked potato. Read more

Follow My Fork – Recipe Testing

by in View All Posts, May 29th, 2009

Enjoy my third installment of Follow My Fork. If you didn’t see where my fork led me for my first two adventures, you can still catch them here:

Follow My Fork – Into the Kitchens
Follow My Fork – On set

Until next week. Here’s to Eating Well!

Yours Truly,
Secretary Confidential

Please Do Not Touch!

by in View All Posts, May 22nd, 2009

I’ll admit. I occasionally nibble at the Whole Foods buffet before paying, you know, to test out my options. And of course, my hands find their way into many a platter here at FN, which might be a bit on the restricted side. But when my handy little camera caught this warning: Ultimate Recipe Showdown Pantry. Please Do Not Touch!, I knew better than to pick, but not even a few exclamation points can keep SC from prodding for answers.

What did I find out? The test kitchens are in the midst of testing recipes for the new series, as the sign indicated, Ultimate Recipe Showdown. Apparently thousands of submissions came in from all over the country, and now the FN recipe testers have to narrow each category (comfort foods, hot & spicy, desserts, etc..) down to just 4 contestants for each show. By the looks of the pantry (dark chocolate chips, boxes of brown sugar, molasses, cupcake tins…), I think they’re in the middle of testing for the desserts episode. Maybe they need help taste testing? I’m available!

Here’s to Eating Well!

Yours Truly,
Secretary Confidential

Next Iron Chef Logo

The Rumors Are True…

by in View All Posts, April 21st, 2009

Yes, I am here to tell you that Food Network WILL, in fact, be premiering an entire series with Brian Boitano this August.

Yes, Brian Boitano the figure skater.

Yes, THIS Brian Boitano:

Image Credit: www.skateworld.co.uk

The series is tentatively titled, What Would Brian Boitano Make? You may be thinking to yourself, “that sounds vaguely familiar…” And, I’m here to confirm that YES, the inspiration came from the famous South Park song, “What Would Brian Bointano Do?” (There is no official confirmation yet, but I’m pretty sure there will be less cursing from the Food Network version.) Here’s the description from our programming department:

WHAT WOULD BRIAN BOITANO MAKE?
Everyone knows Brian Boitano won an Olympic gold medal in figure skating. What they don’t know: Brian is an accomplished cook who loves to entertain! In this new series, Brian takes viewers on a reality cooking adventure as he creates amazing food for a new event in each episode. Funny, knowledgeable and irresistible, Brian brings himself and so much more to What Would Brian Boitano Make?

And now that I have your full attention (and in some cases, full confusion), check out the rest of the 2009-2010 Food Network line-up that was announced just this afternoon:

CHEFS VS CITY (WT)
Premieres: July 2009
Acclaimed chefs Chris Cosentino and Aaron Sanchez are pitted against two local foodies in a winner-takes-all race through a different city each week, through the most fascinating, unusual food locations. Each team begins with a clue leading them to their first food challenge. Challenges could include everything from wine stomping to the eating the spiciest chili west of the Mississippi to diving for sea urchins! The five challenges take the chefs and foodies on an adrenaline-charged, food-lovers tour of each city, and once complete, it’s a sprint to the finish line to see if the locals can protect their home turf or if the Food Network chefs can conquer a new city.

EXTREME CUISINE WITH JEFF CORWIN
Premieres: September 2009
Renowned for his expertise in wildlife and conservation, Jeff Corwin sets his sights on exploring human culture through regional cuisine in his first Food Network endeavor: Extreme Cuisine with Jeff Corwin. With an open mind (and mouth), this thrilling primetime series follows the passionate foodie and anthropologist as he tears through countries like Thailand, Mexico, Greece, and Peru on radical culinary adventures. Learning from the natives, he samples the exotic foods and local customs that mold each community. Jeff enjoys countless surprises and unforgettable flavors during this fun-filled culinary quest – all in a day’s work!

CONTINUE READING

Sunny’s Last “Ultimate Recipe” Party

by in View All Posts, View Video Only, February 16th, 2009

Sunny Anderson gets the behind-the-scenes dish from the “Hometown Favorites” episode of Ultimate Recipe Showdown.

Do any of you FN Dishers have the ultimate recipe? Food network is now taking submissions for the next season of Ultimate Recipe Showdown, so be sure to ENTER YOUR RECIPE HERE!