Chatting with the Chopped Ultimate Champions: Amateurs, Part 2 Winner
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
For the first time on Chopped, professionals and amateur cooks will go head-to-head at the end of the five-part Ultimate Champions tournament. But they’ve all competed on Chopped before: They’ve tasted what it feels like to win, and they’re hungry for more. On tonight’s second round, four amateur home cooks battled to determine which one would move on to the grand finale, where there’s a chance to win the largest prize in the show’s history: $50,000, with a brand-new car to top it all off. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the winner from Part 2.
Appetizer: cheese blintzes, salsa, ground pork, poblano peppers
Entree: Wagyu rib-eye steaks, jalapeno chips, pink pearl sedum, mangoes
Dessert: cookie spread, creme anglaise, grapefruit, microwaved mug cupcake
First round: Marisa Biaggi
Second round: Dinah Surh
Final round: Elda Bielanski
Winner: Keith Young
Judges: Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, Aarón Sánchez
Father and firefighter Keith Young came into this tournament a little bit more timid than he did in his last appearance on the show. He could have let his competitors faze him, and he almost did, but his not-so-successful appetizer dish proved to be his wake-up call. After that, he came back with full force, showing professional chef-like potential in his successive courses, which impressed the judges. And even when faced with some tough competition from grandmother Elda, Keith kept his cool. In the end Keith made himself proud and his family proud, and surely his late wife would have been proud. Along with professional chef Giorgio from Part 1, Keith moves on to the Ultimate Champions finale on September 23.
What was different competing this time vs. last time?
Keith Young: I feel like the competitors were definitely 10 notches up from the other guys. The other guys were great. It’s just that this is a weed-out process. And I actually felt like I was the weakest one, especially after the first round.
What were your goals coming into this competition?
KY: I mean, my goal was to win. If I could win that $50,000 it would really do some things business-wise for my family, helping us financially. It’s a huge, monumental thing if I would win; plus, having a car on top of it, it’s unbelievable.
So what happened with the grill pan? What’s the real story?
KY: That was a whole lot of drama over a grill pan. I felt my dish going toward a Latin influence, but with Aarón there I thought maybe I should rethink it, but I went to grab the grill pan anyway. Dinah got there first. I got there second, but as soon as I was grabbing it Elda was like, “No, it’s mine.” She grabbed it from me, which is fine. I really could have let her have it, but I think I was being a bit of a knucklehead. I just wanted to mess with her. I do feel bad about that.
Do you think it turned out to be a happy accident?
KY: Absolutely. I had to go away from the Mexican idea, and I thought about that beautiful rib eye and what I could do to transform it. Since I had to do it in a pan, I thought I’d finish it with a pan sauce, like a steak au poivre. So I thought I’d make a peppery sauce. Then I thought I’d have to completely counterbalance that. I wanted to use arugula. Since I was using Dijon mustard in my sauce, I wanted to keep the mustardy, spicy theme going with my greens. I added the mango to that and some cilantro. I almost made a mango salsa. But I wanted to keep the salad very light, very piercing with the lemon vinaigrette, something that would cut through all the cream and heaviness. Thank God I was able to accomplish that and make it look good on the plate.
What did you think when Alex said your steak looked like it was cooked by a professional?
KY: I felt relieved. I felt happy and I thought, “All right, they kept me for the right reason on this.” I literally thought I was going home after the first round. I hated my presentation on that. I had to redeem myself. That was my redemption, that dish.
What was the most difficult basket for you today?
KY: The appetizer basket, because you’re kind of coming back, you kind of know what they expect, but at the same time, you’re just getting in there. I didn’t take time like I did the first time I was here. Then, I kind of stopped and actually looked at the basket and thought out in my head what I was going to do. This time, I just went and started doing without really thinking about what I wanted at the end. Also, I thought I had to use every bit of those cheese blintzes, even the outside. So I thought, “Let me repurpose it and reuse it,” but that was not the way to go, appearance-wise. I didn’t have a nonstick pan, because my meat was in that. So I was lucky. Let’s put it that way.
What’s your strategy going into the finale?
KY: I need to be so focused, I need to be so opened up and I need to get rest right now. I am definitely sleep-deprived, burning the candle at both ends, trying to make both ends meet at home. I’m getting home after being gone for 24 hours and then I’ve got to cook and clean at home, you know, for my kids, and get them off to school. It’s tough. My daughter is trying her best. She’s 20 and works a full-time job. I just need to focus more and get the rest I need, and then go back in. I need to read and go over some recipes and get a couple of different ideas in my head of things I can do and be creative with repurposing everything that I get.
Feast Your Eyes on These Sushi Socks
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Rooting around in your sock drawer probably doesn’t make you hungry, but it might if you stocked it with socks that look like sushi.
Yup. Feast your eyes on Sushi Socks. Rolled up, they look remarkably like giant versions of the stuff your local sushi restaurant would present to you on a platter. (Deluxe, natch.) Unrolled, they’re a bit more like sashimi.
Tokyo Otaku Mode Premium Shop, which sells the Japan-manufactured polyester-cotton-blend socks for $5.39 a pair and $28.99 for a six-pair set and ships internationally, touts them as “comfortable and durable,” noting, for those as particular about their socks as they are about their raw fish, that the “sushi detail is knitted into the sock with colored thread instead of being printed.”
The socks are available in seven toothsome-looking styles: Masuzushi (trout sushi), Shrimp, Octopus, Red Caviar, Tuna, Salmon and Egg. There’s no word on how they’ll hold up if you dip them in wasabi and soy sauce.
Honestly, I’m feeling famished just looking at them. Somehow, I never noticed before that just one letter separates foot and food.
Photo credit: Tokyo Otaku Mode Premium Shop
7 Peanut Butter for Lunch Recipes
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
It’s time to pack the kids up for school again, and that means making mounds of school lunches. But PB&J sandwiches can take you only so far. For a new twist on a classic ingredient that kids and adults love, look no further than the Peanut Butter series on FN Dish. For the next three weeks, we’ll be giving you inventive recipes that let you incorporate peanut butter into all your meals — from breakfast to dessert — for the entire family.
Here are ways you can sneak a little peanut butter into your midday meal: lunch. And don’t forget to check out last week’s breakfast post here.
1. Instead of a mayonnaise-based chicken salad, try it with a touch of peanut butter with Bobby Flay‘s Chinese Chicken Salad with Red Chile Peanut Butter recipe (pictured above).
2. Mole, a Mexican sauce traditionally made with peppers and chocolate, gets a nutty twist in this Slow-Cooker Turkey Mole Tacos recipe.
3. Skip the spaghetti Bolognese and try a tangy twist on noodles with Ina Garten‘s Crunchy Noodle Salad recipe.
4. Jeff Mauro creates a Thai-style delicacy in this Shrimp Spring Rolls recipe.
5. Beat the heat on those exceptionally warm fall days with Claire Robinson‘s easy recipe for Chilled Peanut Soba Noodles.
6. Bring the takeout home with this inventive Chicken Summer Rolls recipe.
7. For a sweet-and-savory take on a classic PB&J sandwich, try this Crunchy Fried PB and J recipe, complete with potato chips and bananas.
To learn how to make your own flavorful peanut butter without all the additives, click play on Alton Brown‘s video below.
Uniquely Austin Eats — On the Road with The Great Food Truck Race
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
This week on The Great Food Truck Race the food truck rookies found themselves moving from the Southwest into the heart of Texas. Because Austin is known for “keeping it weird,” Tyler Florence decided to pull some interesting tricks on the teams. On Day One he had them partner up, which produced some odd pairing, e.g., Let There Be Bacon and Middle Feast. Later all the teams moved to a dating event, where they had to work their charms on selling food to singles, which had some mixed results. And in one final eccentric challenge, Tyler instituted a Truck Stop truck swap. You can imagine how weird that was for the teams.
In the end, many of the teams found it difficult selling in Austin, just because they were competing against some of the best restaurants and established food trucks in the country. And Austin has got a little bit of everything in that regard: tacos, barbecue, comforting classics, international specialties and more. Find out all that Austin has to offer.
At Green Mesquite, the BBQ gets its spectacular smoky flavor from the spot’s namesake: mesquite wood that is seasoned. The popular ribs are made with brown sugar, paprika, cayenne, onion and garlic. Other favorites include brisket, pulled pork and chicken-fried steak.
Foreign & Domestic
At Foreign & Domestic, it’s a culinary wedding of flavors. The husband-and-wife team has been turning foreign dishes a little domestic and vice versa. The result is a menu with savory, eclectic standouts, like fideos pasta with eggplant butter and their signature Gruyere Popovers.
Noble Pig Sandwiches
At this sandwich shop, the meat is smoked on-site and the bread is baked fresh daily. The duck pastrami has the perfect balance of fatty and smoky flavors. The signature sandwich, The Noble Pig, is made with bacon, ham and pulled pork. The Knuckle Sandwich is dipped in au jus.
Luke’s Inside Out
At this food truck, you never know what kind of sandwich you’ll get. There’s The Rabbit, made with rabbit meat, tater tots, kimchi, Sriracha and their secret sauce. The Shrimp sandwich has a tasty shrimp patty paired with blue cheese, baby spinach, onions and apples.
Casino El Camino
This late-night spot is home to one of the best burgers in town. Juicy and tender, the 12-ounce monsters come topped with everything from cheese and thick-cut bacon to roasted serrano peppers and Texas-hot Buffalo sauce. For a spicy side, pair your burger with Verde Chili Fries.
A cozy, comfortable diner, Counter Cafe specializes in comfort food like pancakes, burgers, and biscuits and gravy. In addition to the classics, the 26-seat eatery offers up scratch-made Curry Chicken Burgers and a one-of-a-kind breakfast combo of quail and eggs.
Locals can’t wait for Magnolia Cafe’s giant gingerbread banana pancakes, and lucky for them, they don’t have to. The menu is packed with everything from chipotle hollandaise sauce on eggs Benedict to jambalaya stuffed in red peppers.
Austin’s 24 Diner is, as the name implies, open 24 hours a day, but the chef-inspired, locally sourced comfort food is far from typical around-the-clock fare. Try the boneless fried chicken, served on a plate-sized waffle with brown sugar butter and real maple syrup.
To taste the funky and weird side of Austin, visit Taco Xpress, with its bright murals and good cheap eats. In the morning, order the popular migas breakfast tacos. But for dinner, it’s all about the Pollo Guisado Plate: chicken tacos made with a smoky chipotle sauce.
Flip Happy Crepes
Try Flip Happy’s Strawberry Nutella Crepes, it’s one of their most popular. They also offer savory crepes with ingredients like tarragon mushrooms and caramelized onions. The crepes here have become an Austin landmark, and the eatery has turned into a go-to spot for both tourists and locals.
Find more recommended restaurants around the nation with Food Network On the Road.
Beat the Afterschool Slump with Kid-Friendly Snacks
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
The end of summer is a big deal for kids. If your young ones have already gone back to school, they’re transitioning from camp and family vacations to rowdy rides on the school bus, binders filled with homework and snacks before soccer practice. If they haven’t gone back yet, those days are coming up fast. This school year, ease their back-to-school shift with easy kid-friendly snacks. These recipes for kid-friendly midday refueling will satisfy and re-energize your kids while still leaving room for dinner. Here are some wholesome, homemade Food Network favorites:
Salty square crackers are suited to so much more than out-of-the-box snacking. Take it from Trisha, who drizzles saltines with butter, brown sugar and chocolate for Sweet and Saltines (pictured above), reaching that perfect cross between salty and sweet. Hey, it’s a whole lot better than passing kids a candy bar.
Instead of peeling open a store-bought granola bar, hand your kids a bar that was made right at home. Once they try these nourishing squares of oats, nuts, coconut and dried fruit, the only granola bars your kids will be begging for are Homemade Granola Bars.
Before you unleash a bag of greasy potato chips on your kids, think about giving your kids a crunch factor that won’t slow them down. Alex Guarnaschelli bakes Apple Chips by the batch, sweetening the thinly sliced fruit with an easy-to-make simple syrup to make them shiny and even crispier.
You could buy trail mix by the bag, but fixing your own loaded batch is definitely the way to go. For Pumpkin Seed-Dried Cherry Trail Mix, just toss pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds and sunflower seeds in pure maple syrup before baking. You can store cooled trail mix in an airtight container so it’s ready when the kids fly in the door.
And that’s just the start of it. Food Network’s guide to Snacks for Kids is a go-to resource for parents and kids, loaded with wholesome, out-of-routine homemade snacks. Have them ready to go after school, or load up plastic baggies for on-the-go snacking.