A Beatrix Potter Inspired Easter Party
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
by Camille Styles (photos by Kate LeSueur)
I love hosting parties with guests of all ages — they’re the perfect opportunity to get creative, explore a fun theme, and add a touch of whimsy to the decor for an event. For this year’s Easter celebration, I wanted to create an outdoor event that would be fun for kids and parents alike. I didn’t have to look further than my daughter’s own nursery to find inspiration — the illustrated works of Beatrix Potter. The English author’s collection of sweetly illustrated children’s tales provided just the right tone for my backyard bash, and her Tale of Peter Rabbit was the perfect source of cotton tailed inspiration. With fun carrot-and-ranch snacks served in tiny terra-cotta pots, homemade bunny-tail bunting, and fresh centerpieces made from garden vegetables, this was one Easter celebration that we’re pretty sure Peter himself would approve of!
The real fun of this party is in the details — I dressed my buffet table in layered linens inspired by the pastel palette found in Potter’s delicate illustrations. Fresh veggies from the produce section of my local grocery store made for easy and unexpected centerpieces. Bunting made from yarn pom poms was a whimsical nod to Peter’s most recognizable feature. And a toy rabbit placed suspiciously inside of an old tin watering was a final humorous wink towards Mr. McGregor’s garden.
For a daytime party, I was looking for a lighter entree that would be easy to serve and eat in a backyard setting. An asparagus lemon pasta salad with plenty of olive oil and pine nuts was just right — filling, without being too heavy. In honor of Peter, we created carrot-and-ranch snacks served in clay pots that will make kids feel like they’re plucking veggies straight from the garden patch. We topped off our light menu with deliciously sweet strawberry cupcakes that also provided a bright pop of color for our spring buffet.
In lieu of a hunt, party-goers competed in a classic “Easter Egg Roll”. Practiced annually at the White House, the roll is a fun tradition where participants race to roll fragile eggs across the yard with wooden spoons. To add more creativity to the event, I created stations to decorate both the eggs and spoons before the game began.
Hop on over to our gallery for more details on how to host your own Beatrix Potter inspired Easter bash.
Brighten Up the Easter Holiday with These Zesty Lamb Chops
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient Key lime juice. The goal of this challenge was to prove that the citrus juice could be used for more than just the famous Key lime pie. This recipe for Key Lime Lamb Chops with Glazed Carrots turns the juice into a sweet-tart sauce called a gastrique, which glazes the carrots and gets used as the serving sauce for the roasted lamb racks. With its combination of flavors, this dish is the perfect spring awakening for the palate. Plus, it makes a nice addition to the Easter holiday table.
Start by making the gastrique: Melt the sugar with 1 tablespoon water in a saucepan and cook until it turns into a caramel. Then add the lime juice, bring to a boil and let reduce by half. Add the chicken broth and continue to reduce the mixture until you’re left with 2/3 cup. Season with salt.
Next, it’s onto the carrots: Steam them until tender. Toss them with 3 tablespoons of the gastrique, the chopped parsley and 1 tablespoon butter.
And finally, the lamb: Combine the ground coriander with salt and pepper, and rub the spice mixture onto the lamb racks. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large ovenproof skillet and sear the racks until browned on both sides. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the lamb for about 20 to 25 minutes to achieve medium doneness. Let the lamb rest before serving with the glazed carrots and the remaining gastrique.
Get the Recipe: Key Lime Lamb Chops with Glazed Carrots
The Chopped Dinner Challenge is a series of recipes showing you how easy it is to cook like a winning Chopped competitor. Every week, FN Dish will showcase a recipe created by Food Network Kitchen that uses at least one of the Chopped basket ingredients from an episode, plus basic grocery goods and simple staples. Consider it your very own Chopped challenge. Just take this frequent tip from the judges: Don’t forget to season!
Top 10 Recommended Eats from the North: On the Road with America’s Best Cook
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
On America’s Best Cook, Sundays at 9|8c, home cooks battle it out for the chance to win the title of America’s Best Cook, all while representing their specific region of the United States. The cooks are split into teams from the North, South, West and East. Each of these regions has its characteristic foods that make up an integral part of its identity. To celebrate the new competition show, each week during the season, FN Dish has the top 10 reader-recommended eats from one of the regions. This week it’s all about the North.
When you think of the North, meat is one of the first things that come to mind — lots and lots of beef and pork especially. But the North is also known for ethnic cuisines, including eastern European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. Many now long-established restaurants were originally opened by immigrant families and have been passed down through the generations. There you’ll find foods like gyros, goulash, sauerbraten, lasagna and so much more.
Take a look at the top 10 reader-recommended eats, in no particular order, from Food Network On the Road, and vote in the Regional Foods Face-Off, the show’s bracket challenge, to make your favorite regional food known.
Chicago Brauhaus — Chicago
Chef Harry Kempf has brought classic and comforting German dishes from his homeland to Chicago. Try the tender, flavorful sauerbraten and the rindsrouladen, a beef roll. Loyal customers also enjoy the liver dumpling soup. And while you’re there, catch the live polka band.
Polish Village Cafe — Hamtramck, Mich.
Polish Village Cafe offers a taste of the old country with its eastern European dishes. The Hungarian pancakes are fried and topped with pork-butt goulash. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, try the dill pickle soup.
The Nook — St. Paul
At The Nook in St. Paul, they serve The Juicy Nookie Burger and hand-cut french fries. As their tagline says, they’re a “small place with big burgers.”
Emily’s Lebanese Delicatessen — Minneapolis
In downtown Minneapolis, Emily’s has been serving family-style Lebanese food for more than 38 years. Their signature dishes include lamb shish kebab, hummus, stuffed grape leaves and kibbi, which is made with raw ground beef and spices.
Woodyard Bar-B-Que — Kansas City, Kan.
Woodyard had been supplying wood to Kansas City BBQ restaurants since 1913 when, in 2005, owner Frank Schloegel decided that if it was good enough for everybody else, he’d start cooking on it too. The smoked chicken and Burnt Ends sandwiches are local favorites.
Grinders — Kansas City, Mo.
Go to Grinders in Kansas City, Mo., for some truly unique pizzas like the Bengal Tiger and the Chili Cheese-Tater Tot.
Amato’s Restaurant — Omaha
Sammy Amato has been making his family’s Italian sausage recipe since he was a child. What started as a small fair stand soon turned into a full-fledged restaurant, Amato’s. You won’t want to leave without trying the sausage. Other customer favorites include the chicken-fried steak and the ricotta-stuffed pancakes made with homemade ricotta cheese.
Steve’s Gyros — Cleveland
You’ll want to get in line for this Cleveland specialty. The beef-and-lamb gyros include a secret tzatziki sauce. Get the jumbo size, which packs two pounds of the spiced meat.
B Spot — Woodmere, Ohio
Visit the the B Spot, Michael Symon’s bistro in Woodmere, Ohio, for The Fat Doug Burger (with pastrami, coleslaw, mustard and Swiss cheese), voted the No. 1 Burger in America at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Other popular burgers include The Yo! Burger (pictured above), which is made with fried salami, capicola, hot peppers, shasha sauce and provolone cheese.
Melt Bar & Grilled — Lakewood, Ohio
It takes a special genius to make a grilled-cheese lasagna sandwich. That genius is Matt Fish, who opened Melt Bar & Grilled with his lasagna Godfather sandwich. But if you want an even more over-the-top sandwich, try The Monster, a grilled cheese made with 13 different cheeses on three slices of bread.
Get more recommended eats from Food Network’s On the Road, and download the On the Road app for your mobile device to get recommended restaurants anywhere you go.
The Chef’s Take: Seafood and Tomato Stew from John Finger and Ron Stainer
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
“With fish especially, I really like people being able to taste all the ingredients without covering them up with sauces and lots of fats and calories,” says John Finger, the founding partner of Hog Island Oyster Co. who first earned his reputation in the food world as an oyster farmer. An unpretentious seafood restaurant, Hog Island Oyster Co. is built around a buzzing raw bar in the iconic Ferry Plaza Building in downtown San Francisco.
The restaurant, which also has an outpost in Napa Valley, is the standard-bearer for exceptional seafood in the Bay area, where great chefs and Eden-like farmers markets abound. This stew — satisfying, sharply flavored and brimming with beautiful seafood – illustrates why, with delicious effect. Neither cream nor heavy flourishes distract diners from the shellfish’s sweet and briny qualities. With the dish, which chef Ron Stainer invented at the Napa Hog Island, the focus is exactly where it ought to be: on the naturally lean seafood.
Though one can make the recipe year-round using fresh or dried beans and chard leaves, Stainer likes to swap in different varieties of fish depending on the season and what is best at the market. When winter gives way to spring, mussels appear in the bowl alongside the clams and squid because they are particularly plump in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, Stainer says.
Bound in a tomato-flavored broth with just enough vegetable matter to add extra depth and texture, the stew is pure pleasure. Small wonder the Hog Island crew can’t keep up with demand. Next month, the San Francisco location is scheduled to open an expanded version of the restaurant. “In our current space, we were opening 1.25 million oysters a year,” Finger says. “With our new space,” which will have twice the footprint of the original, “we’ll be doing at least double that.”
Rustic Seafood Stew
Serves 4 to 6 people
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup garlic, roughly chopped
½ onion, chopped into small dice
4 individual Calabrian chiles, roughly chopped
¼ bunch Italian parsley, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1½ cups white wine
8 to 10 large canned tomatoes, seeded and roughly diced
2 pounds Manila or other small clams, rinsed
2 pounds Mediterranean mussels, rinsed, beards removed
2 pounds fresh squid, cleaned and cut into 1-inch strips
½ pound wild medium shrimp
2 pounds Rock Cod or similar white fish, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt, to season
Prepare the stew’s base. Swirl 2 tablespoons olive oil into a medium pot set over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic, onion, chiles and parsley. Once the garlic is golden, after 1 to 2 minutes, add the oregano and 1 cup wine. Bring liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until liquid reduces by half and add the tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes more.
Once the base is built, make your soup. Heat the remaining oil in a large, lidded pot, set over medium high heat. Once hot, add all the fish and shellfish. Saute until the cod changes color and the clam shells start to open, about 2 minutes. Stir in remaining wine and simmer to reduce by half, about 1 minute more. Pour in the stew’s base and add splashes of water to stretch the base if needed.
Cover the pot and allow ingredient to simmer together until clams fully open and fish is just tender, about 2 minute more. Season with salt to taste. Serve with grilled bread, if desired.
Kitty Greenwald is a Brooklyn-based food writer and recipe developer. She eats a lot for work and pleasure. Her column Slow Food Fast appears in the Wall Street Journal.
Photos by Rina Jordan (stew; John Finger) and Ed Anderson (Ron Stainer).
How to Rise Above Bread for 8 Days of Passover
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Last night marked the last of this year’s Passover Seders. If you’re celebrating, that means your first shards of matzo and bowls of matzo ball soup are behind you. But what happens between now and the big break on the eighth day? Zapping matzo pizza in the microwave may hold you over for the first couple days, but it won’t be long before you start craving something more. This year, load up on spring veggies and hearty proteins for dynamic, satisfying meals that leave nothing to miss. That way, you can make it till the end without a carb-craving meltdown — or a matzo-induced belly ache.
Matzo may be an integral part of the holiday, but we can’t eat Matzo Brei for every meal and hope to feel light and airy. Instead, go for Food Network Magazine’s pairing of roasted Salmon with Baby Artichokes for a fresh, clean meal.
Food Network Magazine’s low-carb take on the Italian staple isn’t just healthy — it’s totally Passover friendly. Treat Zucchini “Fettuccine” with Tomato Sauce like regular pasta: Twirl it around your spoon and sprinkle it with Parmesan. But don’t be surprised when you hear a crunch.
It wouldn’t be a Jewish holiday without a fall-apart brisket on the table. Alex Guarnaschelli’s Brisket with Parsnips, Leeks and Green Onions simmers in cider vinegar (which is kosher for Passover, unlike other vinegars) until it reaches soft, bubby-worthy perfection.
Striking enough for your Seder and good enough for leftovers, Food Network Magazine’s Roast Turkey with Glazed Vegetables comes out of the oven tender and moist. For chicken lovers, the magazine’s Roast Chicken with Spring Vegetables features a crispy skin and loads of seasonal produce.
To add variety, be sure to load up your table with light, dairy-free sides of spring veggies to pair with your meats. From Food Network Magazine, Roasted Carrots with Za’atar and a colorful Warm Beet-Orange Salad are sure to enliven your table. Veggie-packed, kosher-for-Passover Quinoa Salad and Ina Garten’s recipe for easy, seasonal Roasted Asparagus are yours for the taking too.
Check out more Passover recipes on FoodNetwork.com.
If you are keeping strictly kosher for Passover or cooking for someone who is, seek out kosher-for-Passover ingredients at the grocery store. Look for a circled U-P symbol next to the Kosher symbol on the package.