Worst Cooks Skill Drills: Flavor, Flavor, Flavor
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
When it comes to cooking, the most-important aspects that determine a successful plate of food are taste and flavor — that’s a given. Food that tastes good is good. But on Worst Cooks in America, taste and flavor are oftentimes the last things on recruits’ minds. What happens quite often is they will overcompensate with salt or use way too many spices when they’re told their food is not flavorful enough. And on occasion they will mix up competing flavors, making, say, a Cajun curry — a dish that is confused and muddled.
The lesson that Anne and Bobby try to teach is taste, taste, taste. Taste as you go, as you cook, so you won’t end up oversalting your food before serving it. It’s all about layering flavors and making combinations that work well together and do not compete against each other. This is a cornerstone of learning to cook, and hopefully by the end of Boot Camp the recruits will have learned this lesson.
Watch the video above to relive some top moments and learn a lesson or two on adding flavor to your dishes. The next time you see a recruit going overboard with salt or not using enough of it, take it as a reminder of what not to do in the kitchen. They risk getting eliminated by not seasoning properly, but you might risk being shunned by your friends and family.
A Family Affair in Chefs’ Kitchens
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
On this morning’s brand-new episode of The Kitchen, Katie Lee shined a light on a family-favorite recipe, a rich, hearty Beef Stew. Although she’s since modernized the dish and turned it into her own creation, she reminisced on memories of her grandfather making this long-honored, tried-and-true classic. No matter your family’s cooking style or experience in the kitchen, chances are that you, too, can recall cooking a beloved recipe alongside a loved one or close friend.
FN Dish caught up with some of your favorite Food Network chefs, and it turns out that when they’re cooking off the clock, these stars are most fond of creating meals with their families as well. Read on below to hear how The Kitchen co-host Geoffrey Zakarian, plus Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli and more chefs answered one simple question: Who’s your favorite person to cook for? Then cast your vote in the poll to tell FN Dish who you most enjoy being with in the kitchen.
Geoffrey Zakarian: My two kids
Scott Conant: My 3-year-old daughter
Amanda Freitag: I would have to say my nieces, Lizzie and Megan. They are 11 and 14, and they are fascinated by how much I love food — and what a good time I have cooking it and what a fun mess I can make.
Alex Guarnaschelli: My daughter
Marc Murphy: My wife and kids
Tune in to an all-new episode of The Kitchen on Saturday at 11a|10c.
Food Fight!: Pasta vs. Pizza
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
They’re in a serious tie for tastiness — but which is healthier, a bowl of spaghetti or few slices of pizza? Find out which cheesy, carb-y wonder has the most redeeming value in this (tomato-spattered) showdown between pasta and pie!
With 400-plus calories a slice (more if you go heavy on the pepperoni or cheese), two or three slices can add up to eating close to half the daily recommended average of 2,000 calories. Pizzeria slices also tend to have a hefty amount of artery-clogging saturated fat and sodium.
Supermarket frozen pizzas can go either way. Some traditional brands are also high in calories, saturated fat and sodium. They are also usually made with a white-flour crust and contain a laundry list of preservatives. That said, it’s getting easier to find healthier frozen pizzas (take a look how these various brands stacked up in a recent taste test).
Opting to make pizza from scratch can help home cooks control the ingredients and up the nutritional value. Add whole grains (by choosing whole-wheat pizza dough), add vegetables (by piling on favorites like mushrooms, peppers and onions) and include a touch of good cheese. Serve with a side salad or cup of soup for a nicely balanced meal.
When ordering pasta at a restaurant, the calories are almost always out of control. A dinner order of fettuccine alfredo at The Olive Garden can rack up 1,220 calories and 1,350 milligrams of sodium (and that’s without the salad and bread sticks). Creamy sauces and mounds of cheese can make any pasta dish less than healthy.
As usual, making your own is probably the best bet, since you can choose the ingredients and add-ins. Although pasta has been getting shunned from almost every new diet plan and has a bad rep, choosing whole-grain varieties is in line with the USDA’s dietary guideline to make half of any grains you eat whole grains. If wheat isn’t your thing, many pasta alternatives can be found on store shelves. These noodles are usually made from grains or legumes, including quinoa, soy, brown rice and beans.
No matter which pasta you choose, the portions need to stay in check. One cup of cooked spaghetti has 220 calories, but many people serve themselves 3 or 4 cups in one meal. By bulking up smaller pasta portions with grilled chicken, veggies and fresh herbs — and using ingredients like cheese, cream and oil sparingly — it’s more than possible to build a well-balanced pasta meal.
Healthy Eats Winner: When it comes to ease of controlling portions and toppings — both in restaurants and at home — pizza is the champ.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day. See Toby’s full bio »
Supermarket Chic, Water Into Wine and a Food Personality Quiz
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Attention, grocery shoppers: The fashion world now thinks you’re cool. Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld has a history of creating over-the-top settings for his Paris fashion shows — an airplane, an art museum. This year he built a faux supermarket stacked with brightly colored goods labeled with Chanel-inspired names — Coco Chanel Coco Pops, anyone? — which models plopped into Chanel-branded shopping baskets. (We’d like to see those couture catwalkers try this.) “Fashion editors posed with shopping trolleys amid this Warholian fashion extravaganza,” the Guardian reports, adding that a full-on riot broke out when show attendees briefly believed they could take the cleverly labeled goods home. [Guardian]
What food are you? The line at the top of Buzzfeed’s What Food Matches Your Personality quiz — “God, you’re such a burrito” — made us laugh, but only until we diligently answered all the questions and were labeled a burrito ourselves. “Here comes the burritoooooooo! (That’s you.),” the results jeered. “You’re a Renaissance man/woman. You’ve got a little bit of everything. And everybody better watch out because your flour tortilla is homemade.” Not satisfied, we took the quiz again and totally changed our answers. (Whatever, we’re such a burrito.) This time, we were cheese: “You go well with almost anything … and … make a lot of people happy.” Yeah, that’s better. [Buzzfeed]
Realize your cookbook-organizing dreams. You know how, all too often, you reach for a favorite cookbook and spend half of your allotted meal-prep time hunting for it amidst stacks of food tomes you haven’t cracked in years? Might be time to organize your cookbook collection. Minneapolis Star Tribune food editor Lee Svitak Dean offers a simple, individualized, adaptable cookbook organizational system to get your kitchen shelves into shipshape. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
Just add water. You will either be appalled or thrilled to hear that a startup company, founded by a Napa Valley sommelier and a Silicon Valley wine website entrepreneur, has created a device that turns water into wine and is seeking funding on Kickstarter. The aptly named Miracle Machine puts sachets of ingredients and water through an accelerated process — controlled by a mobile app — to produce wine that, for about the same price per sip as fruit juice, approximates the taste of the priciest Pinot Noirs, Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays in just three days. Whoa. [New York Post]
Quote of the Day: “Culinary professionals who have devoted their lives to sourcing and preparing high-quality food probably aren’t going to serve you something worse than a hot dog that’s been slow-roasting on a roller for who knows how long.” – New York Chef Josh Grinker on the absurdity of one of the world’s best, most-expensive restaurants, Per Se, receiving a New York health-inspection grade of C, while the Gray’s Papaya hot dog joint down the road got an A. [CNN Eatocracy]
Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup — Down-Home Comfort
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Baked or boiled, simmered or stewed, potatoes are the ultimate in down-home comfort. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that potatoes are often paired with creamy butter, gooey cheese or crispy bacon.) There’s actually a biological reason behind us wanting to feast on spuds. Our body’s favorite fuel is carbohydrates and potatoes are loaded with carbs. When we’re blue or feeling poorly, our bodies yearn for our favorite fuel. Once eaten, carbohydrates break down into smaller sugars that are absorbed and used as energy, fueling muscle contractions. Any extra eventually gets stored in the body as fat.
There are three basic categories of potatoes: starchy, all-purpose and waxy. Starchy potatoes are great for baking and frying. Because of their starch, they don’t hold together very well when cooked otherwise. They have a light, mealy texture and are fluffy and absorbent, perfect for a baked potato, mashed potatoes and french fries. Examples of starchy potatoes include russet and Idaho. I use starchy russets in this soup because I want the potatoes to fall apart. The “Irish” in this soup’s name refers to the large Irish population in Savannah, not the type of potato.
All-purpose potatoes include Yukon golds and purple Peruvians. They do a good job holding their shape, but share many traits in common with high-starch potatoes. Waxy potatoes are best for salads, as they hold their shape while cooking. They also work well in dishes like soups or stews when you want cubed potatoes, and for scalloped potatoes, where you would need to boil, slice and roast them. Examples of these types of potatoes include red bliss, Irish and fingerling.
I’ve left the bacon out of this soup to highlight the flavor of the potatoes. If you want to garnish with bacon, chop 4 pieces and cook until they’re crisp and the fat is rendered, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the bacon to a plate to cool. Pour off most of the fat, leaving just a bit in the pot, and saute the vegetables in the bacon fat instead of canola oil. Either way, you’re certain to enjoy a steaming hot bowl of this classic potato soup.
Bon Appétit, Y’all!
Get the Recipe: Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup
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.