David Beckham’s New Goal: Total Whisky Domination
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
American fans of celebrity spirits and spirited soccer (not to mention steamy H&M underwear ads) may be interested to know that David Beckham has officially brought his new single-grain Scotch whisky, Haig Club — which, you may recall, he launched overseas a few months ago — to the U.S. of A.
The former soccer star and his partner in premium liquor, American Idol creator Simon Fuller, introduced the new whisky to invited guests this week at a cocktail party in West Hollywood in California.
Those in attendance apparently learned several things about Beckham and booze. For instance? Well, the former footballer has long been interested in knowing “more about whisky,” he said; he was “involved in every step” of the process, from flavor profile to bottle design. “I didn’t just say ‘go take my name,’” he insisted. And, guests learned, he prefers his whisky “neat.”
That last informational tidbit could come in handy if you ever happen to run into Beckham at a bar and want to send over a drink.
You know what else could come in handy? 10 Interesting Facts About Scotch Whisky
You might also like to have a few good whisky recipes in your back pocket. You never know when you might need ‘em.
Photograph by Tom Bunning
Beat the Winter Blahs with Steaming Bowls of Ramen from Coast to Coast
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
By Amy Sherman
Ramen has established its place on the list of ultimate comfort foods. Forget about those packets of instant noodles you ate in college — these craveworthy bowls are the real deal. You’ll now find this slippery noodle dish all across the country, not just in dorms and Japanese enclaves. Chefs are putting their spin on it, creating their own mash-up versions with everything from coconut curry broth to toppings like matzo balls or cheese. Check out the full gallery for all 12 steaming bowls that are sure to beat your winter blues.
Executive Chef and Partner Doug Psaltis isn’t Japanese, but his ramen broth and noodles are still very traditional. His ramen broth comes in three styles — pork tonkotsu, shoyu and a shiitake vegetarian — and the Tokyo wavy-style noodles are made to his exact specification by Ken Shiro at the Sun Noodle factory. The piece de resistance is the massive hearty sumo bowl, with chashu pork, beef brisket and a molten egg.
While Uncle in Denver may be serious about the provenance of their ingredients, such as heirloom breeds of pork, Maple Leaf Farms duck and free-range eggs, their ramen is out-of-the-box creative. A favorite is the rich sausage ramen with double pork broth, cabbage, scallions and Parmesan. A purveyor makes the sausage to their specifications, seasoning it with salt, sugar, onion powder, Japanese chili powder and rice wine vinegar.
This ramen and sake house brews all their own sake onsite and serves several different versions of ramen. While many rave about the classic pork ramen with pork broth, with two kinds of pork, others are devotees of the bright and refreshing brothless abura ramen with smoked pork shoulder, an egg, pickled red onions, scallions, chili oil, ponzu sauce and bonito flakes. There’s also a vegetarian brothless ramen with maitake mushrooms. Slurp the noodles with soup or without, depending upon your mood.
New York: Ippudo
For many, Ippudo is the platonic ideal of ramen. Soul food, cosmos in a bowl, Ippudo claims to have transformed ramen into art, and … well, it’s true. An outpost from the restaurant’s founder, Shigemi Kawahara, the “Ramen King of Japan,” Ippudo prides itself on consistency, and the pure tonkotsu broth, a rich and creamy pork bone broth, is proof of that. It takes two days to prepare. For heat seekers, bakudan, a spicy chile paste, is a must-have addition.
San Francisco: Waraku
Should you eat the noodles first, or the broth? If you eat the noodles first, the broth may grow cold, and if you eat the broth first, the noodles may get soggy. San Francisco’s Waraku solves this problem. Order the tsukemen ramen and the warm, peppery, saucelike broth and cool, chewy noodles are served separately, so you can dip the strands as you go. The tsukemen ramen comes with slices of chashu pork, green onions, bamboo shoots, kikurage mushrooms, bean sprouts and an oozy smoked egg.
Browse the full gallery and let us know in the comments: What’s your favorite local spot for a ramen fix?
The Kitchen’s Snow Day Cooking Means Stick-to-Your-Ribs Comfort
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Fresh off a brutal weather week that left the East Coast blanketed in winter white, The Kitchen co-hosts came together this morning for an entire hour dedicated snow-day cooking. Whether you’re holed up indoors during a snow day or you’re forced to brave the elements and shovel, the name of the culinary game on chilly snow days is warming comfort food. Read on below to get the cast’s top takes on stick-to-your-ribs recipes for next-level gnocchi, plus the fluffiest mashed potatoes, a spiked cocoa cocktail and more.
If you’ve never before made gnocchi at home, Geoffrey Zakarian’s fuss-free recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi (pictured above) is a good place to start. He combines rich ricotta cheese with nutty Parmesan for flavor, then mixes in two kinds of flour and eggs to bind the dumplings together. After just a few minutes in boiling water, they turn out tender and delicate, ready to be tossed in a garlicky pancetta-studded tomato sauce. Geoffrey says that uncooked gnocchi will be good in the freezer for two weeks, so plan ahead for easy weeknight meals with ready-to-go gnocchi.
Melted cheese may be the ultimate in comfort food, and to best take advantage of that, look to fondue. While Marcela Valladolid dished on a quick-fix savory Garlic Mushroom Fondue (pictured above) best served with crostini and fresh vegetables, Katie Lee offered a sweet Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondue for dessert, which she suggests pairing with pretzel rods, strawberries or gooey marshmallows for dipping. Perhaps the best part about Katie’s four-ingredient recipe is that you don’t need a fondue pot to make it.
Not your average winter sipper, Geoffrey’s Vanilla, Almond and Cocoa Latte — an adults-only cocktail — features a mash-up of flavors of your morning cup of coffee and traditional cocoa. Geoffrey opts for a trio of amaretto, chocolate and vanilla liqueurs, plus espresso powder and shaved chocolate to create over-the-top decadence (pictured above).
Get all of the recipes featured on the latest episode of The Kitchen.
How to Host a Football Party
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
By Camille Styles, Photography by Molly Winters
It’s the biggest game of the season, and even if your home team isn’t playing, chances are you plan to tune in along with the rest of America and have already chosen which team you’ll be rooting for. For this year’s Super Bowl, go the distance by hosting a game-watching bash that guests will be cheering about until next season’s opening-day kickoff. Keep reading for easy breezy snack recipes, a perfect party punch and decor ideas that couldn’t be simpler.
Though this kind of party doesn’t demand a complicated, multi-course menu, guests will require enough tasty finger foods to last throughout the game. Arrange an abundant snack spread on your coffee table with chips and guacamole, popcorn, marinated olives, classic Italian meatballs on skewers and cheese pizzettes. Set everything out for guests to help themselves, but keep extras warm and ready to be replenished when needed.
For arguably the most-important element of the day, create a drinks station where guests can fill and refill their cups with Fourth-Quarter Punch, or stock up on chilled canned beer.
Don’t let the masculine nature of the event discourage you from creating a thoughtful and interesting party atmosphere. Ensure that guests are comfy and cozy by tossing throw pillows and floor cushions around the coffee table for ample seating options, and add a splash of greenery to the space with small succulent plants that are potted in team-colored tin cans.
A game-watching party is also a great opportunity to break out some do-it-yourself activities, and a garland made with twine and round color-coding labels adds a spirited burst of color in a flash. For guests needing a break from the television, create a “Pin the Football in the Goal Posts” game where a blindfolded player must stick a paper football in between masking-tape goal posts. And for the ultimate expression of game-day revelry, make confetti cannons out of brown card-stock paper and white masking tape, which guests can use to fire confetti into the air when their team scores.
Get the recipes and tips to complete this game-day party.
“Get Ready to Be Blown Away” — Valerie Bertinelli Speaks Out About Kids Baking Championship
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
When it comes to watching the young bakers on Kids Baking Championship, premiering on Monday, Feb. 2 at 8|7c, “get ready to be blown away,” says Valerie Bertinelli, who along with Duff Goldman serves as host, mentor and judge to the eight kids competing on the new series. In each episode the kids face baking challenges geared at testing their skill and creativity, with an elimination at the end. Despite having to break the bad news to a child every episode, Valerie found the kids were tougher than she thought. “I was just incredibly impressed with them,” she said.
Read on to find out more of what Valerie had to say in our interview with her about the show, its challenges, the kids, her co-host Duff and the right age to get kids in the kitchen.
FN Dish: What can viewers expect from watching the competition? How would you sum it up?
Valerie Bertinelli: Get ready to be blown away by children that can definitely bake better than you!
What was it like for you mentoring/judging the kids on the show?
VB: I felt like I was not a mentor at all. They were definitely mentoring me and teaching me things I didn’t l know before. Judging them was very challenging, because they were all so good and they tried so hard and I always like to give an A for effort, so they all got A’s for that. I was just incredibly impressed with them.
Do you have any advice for the kids competing?
VB: To breathe, take your time in the beginning, because the clock sometimes is not your friend. … Make sure you’re all set up, and then go for it and book it. Time management was a really challenging thing. It’s a challenging thing for me when I’m home cooking. So that probably is the best advice that I can give them, to really manage your time well.
What do you think was the most-difficult episode, either for the kids or for you to judge?
VB: The hardest one was the very first episode. I think they [the kids] all had to do three [baked items] each. Couldn’t they [the producers] have waited until there were three kids left to do so many for each one? The amount of food that we had to taste-test was a little daunting.
What was it like having to eliminate a kid?
VB: Horrible! It was awful. They were all so sweet and they all tried so hard, but what I loved about it, too, is that the way the world works is not everybody can win. So you do your best, you try your best, you give it your all, and if you still don’t make it, it’s OK. You can try harder next time and for anything else. And, if anything, take the criticism and the comments just to help to make yourself better next time.
How was it working with Duff?
VB: I love Duff. I just love him. We tease each other all through the year during football season, because he happens to be a fan of a team I’m not a fan of. So we have fun.
What was the best part for you about filming the series?
VB: Eating all the delicious food.
Is there an age where you think it’s good to get kids involved in the kitchen?
VB: I think any age. It depends on the child. Ludo Lefebvre is a friend of mine. And his two little twins, they’re 4, and they’re already in the kitchen cooking. So I think it depends on the child and what they’re able to do. And these kids on Kids Baking Championship, boy, they proved that you can really do it. They’re better than I could ever hope to be.