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Summer Fest: 4 Beet Salad Best Bets

Red or gold, beets are rich in folates, potassium and vitamins niacin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine. The red variety is higher in anthocyanins, which are believed to have strong antioxidant properties. Choose beets with tops attached and, if you’re cooking a bunch at one time, try to keep them similarly sized. They can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator for about two weeks but you’ll probably be tempted to eat them right away. Featuring them in hot or cold salads really lets their flavor shine.

1. Beet Salad with Crispy Goat Cheese (pictured above)
If you’ve got the time and can roast your own beets, cooking them for an hour or so at 400 degrees F while wrapped in foil with a drizzle of olive oil should do the trick. If you’re in a rush, the packs of already roasted and sealed baby beets are a huge time saver. Serve the lemon juice, honey, olive oil, tarragon and almond-topped beet salad with warm, crispy goat cheese rounds.

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Summer Fest: A Perfect Pairing of Figs and Pizza Dough

Figs are only in season for a few short weeks at the end of summer and the beginning of fall. They’re in a whole different flavor category than the dried figs you can find year-round. Slightly wrinkled or split figs that aren’t leaking juice are what to look for. Ripeness is indicated by a slightly sagging skin. Skip figs that look shrunken, are squishy or have begun to ooze. Their sweetness is great solo or in a dessert, but it is also amazing when paired with savory ingredients like pizza dough. Figs only keep for a day or two, so plan your menu for pizza or flatbread in advance.

1. Fig and Blue Cheese Flatbread (pictured above)
Use a favorite pizza dough recipe or store-bought dough for this sweet and salty flatbread that tops a baked pizza dough with caramelized onions, figs and blue cheese. Finish it in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil until crisp with a rich brown crust. Remove it from the oven, and tear prosciutto and oregano over the pizza.

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The Food-Focused Bride: Down to the Wire

The closer I get to my wedding, the fewer things there are to eat. Most likely this is because I have cut myself off from all of my favorite treats, but it’s also because we’re done with the tasting, sampling and testing portion of the wedding planning process. From here on out, it’s all about printing paper goods, confirming with vendors and corralling the bridal party.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not still fixated on these items. Printing all of the menus, the gift bag cards, the church programs and every other piece of information guests might need during the wedding weekend involved an amazing future sister-in-law and a day at Staples.

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Summer Fest: Stuffed Peppers 5 Ways

Colorful and crispy, peppers of all colors stand up well when baked. Pick your favorite varieties at the market right now and stuff them full of everything from rice to cheese.

1. Risotto-Stuffed Peppers and Zucchini (pictured above)
Rachael’s risotto can be stuffed in either peppers or, so keep that in mind if one looks better than the other at the market. The zucchini can be mixed with small firm yellow squash rather than red peppers.

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Summer Fest: No-Cook Avocado, Shrimp and Mango Salad

I never seem to plan in advance when I’m shopping for ingredients, and this can be a real issue with avocados. They’re everywhere right now, but they’re not always ripe when you need them on demand. Per usual, I waited until the last minute again and was left with only rock-solid Hass avocados at the market. But next to the Hass variety were larger, lighter avocados from Florida that were just the ripeness I needed. They are a bit less creamy than a Hass avocado, but they taste just as delicious and have less fat. With two giant Florida avocados in hand, I decided to make a quick, no-cook dinner.

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The Food-Focused Bride: Menu Tasting

A food-lovers’ dream: an afternoon of tasting dishes made just for her (and her fiancé). That’s how I spent my Friday afternoon, totally forgoing my wedding diet and eating just about everything in sight at East Hampton Point. The restaurant’s new chef, James Carpenter, was one of the Hamptons’ first chefs to focus on local, organic produce, meat and seafood. This fit perfectly with our desire to keep as many wedding-related items as possible sourced locally. Thanks to my mom for stopping to take photos before everything was devoured. With beautiful weather and an amazing view of the water, we began.

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Summer Fest: 5 Takes on Grilled Eggplant

From large, meaty Italian options to delicate and long Japanese varieties, eggplants abound at markets right now. Eggplant can be pureed into dips or sliced into pasta, but I like it straight from the grill.

1. Spicy Hoisin Glazed Eggplant (pictured above)

Bobby Flay puts an Asian spin on sliced eggplant by glazing the slices in a ginger, garlic and red chili flake sauce complete with hoisin, vinegar and soy sauce. Serve with a sprinkling of only cilantro so the wonderful grill marks are displayed.

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The Food-Focused Bride: The Making of a Cheese Table

After my Cheese Bridal Shower, I knew I also wanted to have a cheese table display during the cocktail hour at the wedding. Lucy’s Whey is a store that stocks only American-made cheeses, and coincidentally enough, they have a location both in my office building and about a mile from my venue in East Hampton, N.Y. With a few cheeses in mind, my fiance and I went to their New York City location in Chelsea Market where the team put together a selection of some of their favorite cheeses – and mine – so we could come up with six options to serve.

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Summer Fest: Chia Seed Pudding with Peaches

It’s my favorite Summer Fest week: peaches. I find myself stocking up on this sweet fruit and just eating it straight off the pit every morning for breakfast. Because peaches are so fresh and so juicy at the market right now, I decided not to cook them but to simply slice them up over another recipe I wanted to try: Chia Seed Pudding.

Navitas Naturals had sent me a bag of the trendy superfood, and I picked up some almond milk to use for my pudding base. The chia seeds soak up the almond milk and become engorged, developing a tapioca-like consistency.

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Summer Fest: Cucumber and Mint Lemonade

A trip to my mom’s house in Westchester, N.Y., means stocking up on all of the great produce she grows in my childhood backyard. When I arrived this past weekend she was waiting to let me pick one of her prized Asian cucumbers. The variety is very long and sweet with a thin skin.

Inspired by the sweetness of this beauty, we decided to turn the cucumber into a refreshing summer lemonade. We picked up lemons at the store (no lemon trees in our backyard) and gathered mint from a neighbor’s garden.

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