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  • Bloody Marys for Badasses? 18 Apr 2014 | 12:29 pm

    The arrival of spring always gets me excited about brunch: the blooming roses, the fresh fruit, eggs of various types, and of course, brunch cocktails. In one of my blog posts recently, I said something like “I prefer spicy Bloody Marys,” and apparently, this phrase triggered a response from The God of Spicy Bloody Marys: Crazy Steve. Continue reading →

  • Melissa’s Produce and The Great Chile Pepper Cookbook 15 Apr 2014 | 3:50 am

    The book should come with a warning: ‘Do not look at this book if you are hungry…’ You could start chewing on the pages! Continue reading →

  • Hell, yeah, we talk about Fight Club 12 Apr 2014 | 6:06 pm

    Hog Heaven, located adjacent to Centennial Park in downtown Nashville, is literally a hole in the wall BBQ joint. While there are a few “outdoor” tables most of the business is takeout with folks enjoying the hickory-smoked meats in the park. What makes Hog Heaven unique is they make a white barbecue sauce that is absolutely fantastic for poultry. Continue reading →

  • Spicy Chocolate Frappe 11 Apr 2014 | 5:26 pm

    One thing I love to do at the Fiery Foods Show is prowl the floor looking for new ways to combine products. This Spicy Chocolate Frappe is the best result I've ever had. It's a frozen spicy red wine concoction teaming Nectar of the Vine's Natural Chocolate Martini Frappe mix with CaJohn's Frostbite Hot Sauce and Sweet & Saucy's Chipotle Chile Fudge. All three are very tasty in their own rights. When I spliced them together, though, the results were better than I expected. Continue reading →

  • Hot News 9 Apr 2014 | 8:01 pm

    Big news from the World Food Championships for all of us home chefs. Even if you can't make it to one of the WFC qualifiers before the WFC November 12-18, you can still backdoor your way into competing through the #FoodChamp Challenge.Grab your favorite recipe (category appropriate) and hit submit to present your best case to the World Food Championships’ panel of judges and you just may earn your spot in Las Vegas. The #FoodChamp Challenge series, in partnership with Kenmore, will be hosted on cookmore.com. The fun begins on May 1. Get more information here. Continue reading →

  • The Challenge: Elevating Classic Dishes — America’s Best Cook 18 Apr 2014 | 2:00 pm FN Dish – Food Network Blog

    Home CooksLast week on America’s Best Cook, airing on Sundays at 9|8c, the four regional mentors selected their teams of two home cooks each, leaving just eight competitors in the competition. This week, the competition officially begins. At the start of each episode the cooks will be given a cooking challenge, with their resulting dishes getting judged by a guest Food Network chef. This time the challenge is all about elevating classic dishes. With that in mind, the home cooks must reinvent and modernize a traditional dish — pulling out all the stops for creativity. But not everyone’s dish will be a success. Some will reach too far, others not far enough.

    FN Dish wants to know: If you had to reinvent a classic dish, which one would it be? Vote in the poll below and get a sneak peek at the challenge.

    The home cooks must choose from sloppy joes, mac and cheese, spaghetti, fish sticks, tacos, chili or tuna casserole. Vote on which one you would want to reinvent, and in the comments, let us know your creative angle.

    View Poll

  • Chocolate Pound Cake — The Weekender 18 Apr 2014 | 12:00 pm FN Dish – Food Network Blog

    Chocolate Pound Cake - The WeekenderI am so grateful that spring is finally here. I live in Philadelphia, which is in that part of the country that was viciously walloped by this winter’s polar vortex, and so I was starting to wonder if the cold weather was here to stay. Fortunately in the last couple weeks, the weather has warmed, there’s a bit more sunlight each day, and I can feel hopefulness radiating off of everyone I pass.

    To my mind, there’s no better way to celebrate the return of this more-hopeful weather than with a homemade treat. If you feel the same way, let me suggest Trisha Yearwood’s Chocolate Pound Cake. It’s indulgent, but the texture is lighter than you find with other pound cakes, which makes it both celebratory and perfect for this time of year.

    Whether you’re baking for an Easter celebration or just in need of something sweet with which to welcome the warmer weather, this cake is an ideal Weekender project.

    Chocolate Pound Cake BatterBefore you start baking, read these tips:

    — Make sure to beat the butter, sugar and shortening together until they are truly fluffy, as it will give your cake lift and lightness. I let mine go in the mixer for a good three minutes.

    — This is a big cake, so make sure to use the 10-inch tube pan Trisha recommends. If you don’t have one, scope out the bakeware section at your local thrift store: you can almost always find one or two there.

    — Make this cake at least one day before you want to serve it. I found that the flavors deepened with an overnight rest.
    Chocolate Pound Cake
    Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her second cookbook, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces, is now available.

  • Could a Snack Save Your Marriage? 18 Apr 2014 | 11:01 am FN Dish – Food Network Blog

    Peanut Butter CookiesHere’s some satisfying news for those who get super crabby when they’re hungry and take it out on their spouses (if not for those poor, long-suffering spouses themselves). Scientific research has now determined that being “hangry” — hungry plus angry — is actually a real phenomenon, which means you have a total excuse to storm around and fume about random trivial things until someone — Anyone? Hello! — hands you a cracker or a piece of fruit. Or, well, if not an excuse, at least an explanation for that altogether charming behavior.

    “People are often the most aggressive against the people to whom they are closest — intimate partners. Intimate partner violence might be partly a result of poor self-control. Self-control of aggressive impulses requires energy, and much of this energy is provided by glucose derived from the food we eat,” researchers explain in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) under the headline “Low glucose relates to greater aggression in married couples.”

    The authors gauged 107 married couples’ glucose levels over a period of 21 days, which sounds straightforward enough. But how to measure “aggressive impulses”? Funny you should ask. They gave each study participant a voodoo doll representing his or her spouse and asked each to stick zero to 51 pins into the doll in accordance with his or her level of anger. Ah, science. But wait, that’s not all. The researchers also gave study participants headphones through which to torment their spouses with loud, unpleasant noises, again in accordance with their anger levels.

    “Participants who had lower glucose levels stuck more pins into the voodoo doll and blasted their spouse with louder and longer noise blasts,” the authors found.

    Maybe instead of throwing rice at weddings, we should all throw sugar.

  • Down-Home Comfort — Fresh Easter Ham with Roasted Sweet Potatoes 18 Apr 2014 | 10:00 am FN Dish – Food Network Blog

    Fresh ham is nothing like the boozy bourbon-soaked and smoked holiday ham or the candy-sweet spiral wonder. It’s essentially a pork roast with a bone — a rather big pork roast with a bone — but a pork roast nonetheless. It’s simply the upper hind leg of a pig, not processed or cured using salt or brine, nor smoked as most hams are. Fresh ham tastes like a really moist pork loin or center-cut pork chops. And, when prepared and roasted properly, a fresh ham is capped by an exquisite, burnished-gold piece of crispy skin. It’s the perfect marriage of a bone-in pork chop and cracklin’ pork belly. Fresh ham means down-home comfort, especially when served with roasted sweet potatoes.

    How did serving ham for Easter become a custom? Mediterranean celebrations, including the Jewish Passover, traditionally call for lamb at spring feasts. However, in northern Europe, pigs were the primary protein and ham was often served instead for special meals. Pigs were slaughtered in the fall and the meat was salted, smoked and cured over the winter. The resulting hams were ready to eat in the spring. At the point when refrigeration became widely available and curing hams wasn’t a necessity, someone came up with the grand idea of cooking fresh ham. I am glad they did.

    It’s still a bit early for spring produce in most parts of the country, so I suggest that you pair Easter ham with roasted sweet potatoes. You may not recognize these sweet potatoes either. There’s not a marshmallow in sight! Instead, it’s a simple combination of brown sugar, butter and spice that marries wonderfully with the herbal flavors and aromas of the fresh ham.

    A whole ham will typically weigh 18 to 20 pounds and includes both the butt end and the shank end. The butt end is the upper part of the leg, literally, the rump of the pig. The shank end is the lower end. Fresh hams can be a bit unwieldy in size and are best served for grand feasts with lots of friends and family. To carve a fresh ham, place the widest side of the ham on a cutting board, preferably one with a groove. Start at the large end and use a carving knife to cut thin slices perpendicular to the bone. Then, after cutting several slices, run the knife parallel to the bone to cut the slices free. Finish carving that section of the ham and then turn it and slice another side.

    Bon Appétit, Y’all!

    Get the Recipes: Fresh Easter Ham and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

    Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.

  • Chefs’ Latest Vegetable Obsession? The Easter Bunny Would Approve. 18 Apr 2014 | 8:00 am FN Dish – Food Network Blog

    They simmer in stocks, accentuate pot roast and stand in as a crunchy, good-for-you snack between meals. But in the hands of deft chefs, taken-for-granted carrots are fast becoming the highlight of the dinner table.

    “Carrots have a nice bright flavor, sweet, with the slightest bit of bitterness and astringency,” says Rob Marzinsky, executive chef of Fitler Dining Room, in Philadelphia. At the restaurant he combines a melange of carrots — yellow, white, Purple Haze and Kyoto red among them. The baby ones are roasted with whole spices and coffee beans, while the larger varieties are sauteed in shallot, ginger, jalapeno and the North African spice mixture, ras el hanout. Marzinsky then pairs them with farro from nearby Castle Valley Mill that’s dressed in ginger-carrot vinaigrette, a “pesto” made with carrot leaves and tangy yogurt.

    Why is the humble carrot such an appealing draw for chefs? Marzinsky points to its versatility: “As one of the foundations of French cooking, carrots can be blanched, roasted, sauteed or glazed and are wonderful raw and pickled,” he says.

    The intriguing carrot preparation above, served at British-inspired The Coachman, in San Francisco, was cobbled together organically, says chef Ross Wunderlich. “We started off with a dill, parsley and creme fraiche pan sauce, and just started throwing things in it until we landed on the carrots and lentils with a ton of herbs,” he says. “While we were doing that we were also putting things in our smoker. Dates kept reappearing and it made sense to make a jam out of them.”

    Before guests turn their attention to the classic steak frites at French Louie, the New American–French mash-up in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood, it behooves them to order chef Ryan Angulo’s roasted carrot and citrus salad, in which he slow roasts baby rainbow carrots in coconut oil, then melds them with Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges and grapefruit that get lightly bronzed with a torch. Marinated in pistachio vinaigrette, the carrots are then placed atop a salad comprising the charred citrus, endive, baby greens and coconut yogurt.

    The crunchy vegetable sticks  ”complement many flavors, like orange, coconut and ginger — think of carrot cake,” Angulo says. “They are so easy to transform into something delicious.”

    Food Network recipes: 

    Carrots with Orange-Hazelnut Vinaigrette

    Orange-Glazed Carrots
    orange-glazed carrots

    Roasted Carrots
    roasted carrots

    Honey-Glazed Carrots
    honey carrots

    Alia Akkam is a New York-based writer who covers the intersection of food, drink, travel and design. She launched her career by opening boxes of Jamie Oliver books as a Food Network intern. 

    Carrot and lentil photo (top) courtesy of The Coachman. 

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