Archive for July, 2012

Individual Sweet Corn Custards

Southerners can take just about any vegetable and improve upon it. We’ve been known to deep fry squash and call it a fritter, or toss sugar and eggs into sweet potatoes and call it a pudding. Take sweet summer corn for instance. We’ll cream it, can it or casserole it — you name it, we’ve made it.

It’s not because we don’t like our vegetables, either. There is truly nothing finer than fresh summer corn picked up from a weathered old farmer’s roadside stand, resting assured that it was plucked from his field mere hours before. Whether shaved raw into a salad or eaten straight from the cob, it just doesn’t get much better than that. But after a few weeks of this kind of bountiful eating — and many more months on the horizon — folks have to start mixing things up a bit. It only takes one too many tomato salads to get us doing what we do best. (Some people may say worst, but hey, what can you do?) After a long Southern harvest, heavy cream and butter start making that surplus of veggies in the garden look pretty darn enticing.

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Party in Five: Rustic Pizza Night

In the summertime, entertaining needs to be easy — so you have more time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the warm-weather eats. We set out to create fun, complete party experiences using only five essential ingredients, from tasty food and drinks to decor and games. Party on!

One of my absolute favorite ways to spend a summer evening is grilling pizzas in the backyard with my husband. It’s a fun, interactive way to enjoy cooking together, and the end result is so delicious. Recently we invited a few friends to join in on our tradition — letting everyone know that they’d be expected to participate in the cooking process. I set a simple, rustic table filled with fresh seasonal ingredients and woodsy elements for my farmhouse-inspired fete.

To host your own pizza night, you’ll need five essential ingredients:

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How to Eat Like an Olympian

Iron Chef America

As the games begin to heat up in the Olympics arena, the competition will be equally fierce in Kitchen Stadium during Cooking Channel’s marathon of Iron Chef America tonight beginning at 8 PM ET. They’re two different arenas with two different kinds of champions, but both keep us on the edge of our seats.

The London Olympics 2012 opening weekend brought us some great television: David Boyle’s cinematic opening ceremony, intense international competition and a round-up of athletes with bodies so toned you can’t help but feel inferior watching them. By the end of it, with my mind on Olympics overload, I naturally began to think about food. What do Olympics athletes eat to keep up with such a strenuous physical regimen?

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Meatless Monday: Tomato-Cheese Tart

tomato tart
I’ve been waiting for months to make this recipe. I didn’t even consider it in the spring when there were no tomatoes to be found at the farmers’ market and the grocery store’s tomatoes were all hard and salmon-colored. But as soon as there were enough ripe tomatoes at the market, I grabbed enough to make this tart, plus tomato salad and a batch of gazpacho (I really, really like tomatoes).

Chuck’s Tomato-Cheese Tart looks fancy enough to serve at a party, but it’s simple enough for a weeknight dinner at home. You don’t need any special equipment, just a baking sheet, and it’s made with store-bought filo dough, so you won’t be slaving over the crust. Tomatoes are usually paired with mozzarella, so the nutty Swiss used in this tart is a welcome change; the cheese and the sharpness of the Dijon mustard pair well with the sweet tomatoes.

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Is This the World’s Most Decadent Cheesecake?

Cheesecake Factory's Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake

To celebrate National Cheesecake Day today, The Cheesecake Factory is serving up their new Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake. Extreme is definitely the operative word in that title. The fudge- and Oreo cream mousse-layered cheesecake is studded with baked-in Oreos, topped with milk chocolate icing and encrusted in chocolate chips.

Heavy is a good way to describe this sugar monster, both in terms of sheer weight (seriously, a slice feels like it weighs five pounds) and effect on your stomach. We also found the Oreo chunks to be a little jarring because they were such a contrast to the overall creaminess. Of course none of these factors were disconcerting enough not to devour the entire utterly delicious thing in one sitting. If only Oreos had any nutritional value whatsoever, a slice could work as meal replacement for the next few days.

If you live by a Cheesecake Factory, you can try it for yourself starting today. But if you’re like us, you’ll use this grand holiday as an excuse to make your own. All food tastes better when made in a home rather than a factory. After the jump, get recipes for some of our most popular cheesecakes.

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Get Your Grill on with Grill Girls

Giada's Grilled Chicken with Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto

There’s a classic riddle about a father arriving late to a summer barbecue with his son. He asks the grill master for a well-done hamburger for the boy. The grill master says, “He doesn’t want that; my son only eats burgers medium rare.” See, the grill master was the kid’s mother! We might have the specific details of the riddle mixed up, but the point is female chefs are now (wo)manning the fire all over the world. Tonight at 10pm ET, watch Cooking Channel’s Grill Girls about some of the women who are discovering the thrill of the grill.

We’ll follow an all-women’s barbecue team hoping to make a name for themselves on the BBQ circuit. Then we’ll look at why women are moving their cooking to the back yard.

To fire up excitement for the premiere, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite grilling recipes from our top female chefs. Get the recipes after the jump.

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Summer Spa Water, or Cucumber-Infused Vodka

While the rest of the country swelters, we’ve been enjoying one of the most gloriously mild and sunny summers I’ve experienced in more than two decades in San Francisco. Normally around now, the city is covered with a heavy, wet fog, and blustery winds slap sheets of it in your face like a cold washcloth. Instead, once the morning fog pulls back, it’s been downright nice, even occasionally what passes for hot around here. Like, in the 70s.

If you’re in the scorched center or eastern parts of the company, maybe you’re looking for some of that cold washcloth treatment to cut the edge. I can’t deliver the fog to you, but I can offer you a solution that’s almost as good.

Think about it. When else do you sit around sweating in unreasonable heat and humidity? That’s right, in a sauna or steam room. And what refreshes in said environment? Spa water. Only, we’re talking summer here, and mere water just ain’t gonna cut it this time. No, clearly this calls for vodka. Ice. Cold. Vodka.

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A Southern Spin on the Classic Cobb Salad

Barbecue makes a frequent appearance at our house, whether my fiancé smoked thirty pounds of pig using his secret family recipe, or I slow-cooked a batch of my signature oven-braised pulled pork. Either way, you can guarantee there are going to be plenty of leftovers for snacking. And while I am usually happy with just a plain ol’ sandwich (cheap white bun and vinegar sauce, please), every now and then I have so much extra that I have to start experimenting.

I’ve made pulled pork quesadillas and pulled pork hash. In fact, the only thing I haven’t made is pulled pork french fries. (Note to self: is that even possible? Must try soon.) It seems I am always looking for the next big thing. My fiancé and I eat Cobb salads on a regular basis, so it was only natural for me to add pork instead of the usual chicken or turkey, and let’s just say it was a bona fide hit.

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Cookbook Giveaway: Food in Jars

Use summer's best blueberries to make Slow Cooker Blueberry Butter from the cookbook Food in Jars.

With summer in full swing and farmers’ markets overflowing with ripe produce, this is the time of year when people in the know go canning-crazy. And with this must-have summer cookbook, Food in Jars, by canning-blogger and FN Dish contributor Marisa McClellan, you could be one of those people this year. Marisa likens preserving to investing in the stock market, where you buy low and sell high: You buy in-season fruits and veggies when they’re at their peak and relatively cheap and then reap the rewards year round with jars of can’t-be-beat preserves. All it takes to get started is Marisa’s precise, easy-to-follow instructions and no-fail recipes.

In Food in Jars Marisa includes all the basics, like jams, fruit butters, jellies and marmalades, and also savory preserves like pickles, salsas and relishes. Also not to be missed is the chapter on preserving tomatoes — who doesn’t long for the taste of summer tomatoes all winter long? And then there are recipes for whole fruits, like peaches, apricots and plums. Plus, with Marisa’s friendly voice, stories and helpful tips, you’ll feel like you’re canning along with a friend.

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Olympics 2012: Opening Ceremony Party Menu


Olympic Games Opening Night Ceremony Menu

Cooking Channel has the globally-inspired menu to kick the Olympics off right.

As the Opening Night Ceremony of the Summer 2012 Olympic Games approaches, I’m looking forward to the international spectacle with increasing enthusiasm. Allegedly, this little shindig to celebrate the cultures of the world will cost roughly $42,000,000. (In case you’re wondering like we were, that’s enough to buy approximately 168 million Twinkies.) As athletes from countries all over the globe prepare to walk one-by-one into the Olympic Arena, we are reminded that:

1. The Australian Swim Team members are simply too good-looking to all live on that island together.

2. Our geography skills are poor if not abysmal: Spelling Kyrgyzstan correctly is close to impossible, never mind finding it on the map.

3. There are hundreds of countries competing AND THIS CEREMONY WILL LAST FOREVER.

We know, we know: The Opening Ceremony is a beautiful celebration of the cultures of the world. But let’s be real: Despite the cost of this ceremony, without a killer spread of diverse dishes, you’ll be bored to tears before the athletes from the countries that start with the letter “C” enter the arena. Cooking Channel has you covered with a tantalizing globally-inspired Opening Ceremony Party Menu:

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