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Archive for February, 2012

NYC’s Grilled Cheese Champion Crowned at The Big Cheesy

Tartinery's grilled cheese

Tartinery Restaurant's delicious Croque Madame

The smell of warm, intoxicating cheese permeates the air the second you walk into The Big Cheesy, a grilled cheese showdown among seven of New York City’s grilled cheese connoisseurs, hosted at pop-up event space Openhouse Gallery. I had my work cut out for me — tasting one amazing grilled cheese sandwich after the next. But only one shop would win and become the ultimate Grilled Cheese Champ.

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Cooking Channel Beer Garden at SXSW 2012

Cooking Channel fans and friends, we’re coming to South by Southwest!

During the SXSW Interactive conference next week, we are taking over the new Austin hotspot Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden March 9-11 to showcase our passion for great food with a custom (and complimentary!) food and beer pairing menu.

Enjoy live music 5pm-12am and meet Nadia G. from Nadia G.’s Bitchin Kitchen on Friday and Saturday nights.

**Due to an overwhelming amount of RSVPs since yesterday, we had to close this guest list. Thanks for the great response!

In the meantime, check out our Austin Eating Guide for Austin dishes featured on your favorite Cooking Channel shows.

See you in Austin!

Meatless Monday: Potato and Corn Tacos

potato and corn tacos

Sabrina's Tacos, courtesy of Mark Bittman: Soft corn tortillas stuffed with creamy potatoes, corn and poblano peppers.

I was in Cancun on vacation last week and you’d think that after a week of tacos, quesadillas, tamales, enchiladas and margaritas I’d be sick of Mexican food, but I’m not. Instead, I’m craving more. Mexican is the one cuisine I never tire of — maybe that’s because Mexican dishes are so easy to make meatless? Rice and beans are a staple, of course (if you’re at a restaurant, make sure you ask for vegetarian beans, sometimes they’re made with animal fats) but you can substitute the meat in almost any dish for vegetables. My favorites are enchiladas stuffed with spinach or mushrooms, fajitas made with sauteed or grilled vegetables, or tacos (I prefer soft) made with just about any vegetable.

Mark Bittman’s meatless tacos are filled with a creamy mixture of potatoes, corn and poblano peppers. They’re filling (so your meat-loving friends won’t complain) and ready in 30 minutes (so ideal for weeknight cooking). Serve them with Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice, or just heat up a can of (vegetarian) refried beans and open up a bag of chips and your favorite salsa for the perfect Meatless Monday meal.

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The Icebox Cake, Reinvented

Icebox Cake

This is a “cake” I adored as a little girl in the ’70s, but hadn’t really thought about again until I was asked for my take on icebox cake. It really isn’t a cake at all — it’s layers of chocolate wafer cookies and whipped cream. I’m sure the version I ate as a child was made with Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, which are still available, and Cool Whip. Although that was satisfying when I was a kid, my taste buds now crave more flavor and a touch less sweet. I added burnt sugar to the fresh whipped cream and baked my own bittersweet chocolate wafers.

Something old is new again and so much tastier.

Icebox Cake

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South Beach Wine & Food Fest 2012 — Burger Kings, Bubbly & BBQ

South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2012 -- The Sparkly Cow

South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2012 -- Sparkly Cow Greeter

The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival is well under way in sunny Miami and whether you prefer Iron Chefs to Top Chefs, Rachael Ray vs. Guy Fieri, the stars are out in force…

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The Donatella Project

Donatella Arpaia

What’s it take to run a successful restaurant? Good food, obviously. Great customer service. An attractive space that customers want to spend time in. It’s not as easy as it sounds…

Owner of ten successful restaurants throughout New York City and Miami (including namesake restaurant, Donatella in NYC) and Iron Chef America judge Donatella Arpaia gets a new gig as restaurant consultant in Cooking Channel special The Donatella Project this Sunday at 8pm ET.

Restaurant owners using frozen ingredients instead of fresh, or eyesore decor that completely overpowers the restaurant experience — these are just a few of the dining disasters Donatella will coach her clients away from. Whether she’s putting a new chef to the test or updating the décor from drab to fab, Donatella’s coming to the rescue of restaurants in need of her skillful guidance on all issues, big and small.

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Oscar-Inspired Best Picture Eats

Whether you’re hosting a viewing party or just watching the broadcast in your pajamas, this year’s Academy Awards deserve a properly themed menu. We took inspiration from the Best Picture Nominations to come up with some ideas for what to serve. Here are our top picks for an Oscars-Inspired Menu:

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Thirsty Thursday: Dulce De Leche Coffee Cocktail

Dulce de Leche Coffee Cocktail

It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too.

Last week we shared Alie and Georgia’s quirky Peanut Butter and Jealous Cocktail; this week we’re back with a sip suited for winter’s chill.

Dulce de leche is not-so-secretly one of our favorite Latin flavors. Coveted for its silky texture, sweet taste and starring role in indulgent desserts (like these cookie sandwiches), it’s the perfect remedy for sweet tooths and stress-filled days.  But rather than digging into a syrup-topped sundae, get your fix with a dulce de leche-infused drink. Made with rich coffee and espresso liqueur, thickened with half and half and balanced with agave nectar and vanilla citrus liqueur, the Dulce de Leche Coffee Cocktail is exactly the sort of sip you want to savor this time of year.

Bottoms up, folks.

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Cookbook Giveaway: The Slow Cook Book

Chicken Jambalaya

Spicy Chicken Jambalaya is easy to make in the slow cooker.

The idea of prepping dinner in the morning and letting it cook away all day long is so appealing that I’m always on the lookout for great slow-cooker recipes. The Slow Cook Book by Heather Whinney is a treasure trove of about 200 slow-cooker recipes ranging from stews and casseroles to curries and roasts and even desserts.

And anyone who has ever scooped gray veggies out of their slow cooker (guilty!) will appreciate her chapter on slow-cooker techniques, complete with step-by-step photos and how-tos. And, as a bonus, if you don’t own a slow cooker or you prefer not to use one, each recipe includes a “traditional method” for slow cooking on the stove or in the oven. So start making easy and nourishing, budget-friendly dinners by rediscovering your slow cooker.

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Best Cinematic Food Fight Scenes

Food Fight Scenes

In the days of canvas sacks and hybrid vehicles and sustainable aspirations, it’s hard to enjoy a good food fight without a heavy heaping of guilt.

“The applesauce you just poured down her back was organic!”
“The pork chop you used to slap your ex was alive at one point, and took a lot of resources to raise.”
“Do you know how many kids this spaghetti in my pants can feed?!”

So to satiate your desire for a food fight, and to pay homage to this weekend’s Oscars, we’re keeping our hands clean and turning to movie magic. Belly up and feast on these celluloid indulgences: our favorite (mostly vintage) movie food fights.

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