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Sweets Week on Cooking Channel

With fall in full swing and Halloween just around the corner, it’s that time of year when our sweet tooths start calling to (or yelling at) us. After a long, hot summer, we happily remember what it feels like to turn our ovens on and experience the joy of baking, we visit orchards and patches to stock up on apples and pumpkins that will inevitably be made into crispy crumbles and pies, and we inwardly jump for joy when we see the fun-sized trick-or-treat candy bags appear at our grocery store. Whether it’s decadent cakes and pies or little wrapped candies you crave, Cooking Channel’s Sweets Week has everything you need to satiate your dolce desires.

The fun begins tonight at 9:00pm  ET with four back-to-back episodes of Unique Eats and Unique Sweets, featuring the country’s most original and tasty cupcakes, like Butternut Squash Cupcakes Stuffed with Maple Cream Cheese, and all-around dreamiest desserts, like Four and Twenty Blackbirds Salted Caramel Apple Pie (pictured above).

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Italian Week on Cooking Channel

Let’s admit it: Regardless of whether or not Sicilian blood runs in your veins, we all have a little Italian in us when it comes to food. Who can resist the simplicity of a perfectly-cooked pasta dash or the sweet, velvety richness of Tiramisu?

This week, embrace your inner Italian by tuning in to Italian Week every night. On September 15 at 8pm ET, accompany Giada De Laurentiis on the ultimate Italian holiday, from Venice to Parma to Rome. Then at 9pm ET, watch back-to-back episodes of Unique Eats to get a taste of America’s most incredible (and incredibly famous) Italian dishes, including a hot, gooey Meatall Parm sandwich that will make you melt. On Tuesday, September 17, don’t miss a special pizza-themed episode of Unwrapped, where host Marc Summers learns why frozen pizzas are so hot, who dominates Domino’s fastest pizza-making contest and how bite-sized pretzel Combos can satisfy a pizza craving. 

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Meet the Pizza Cuz

On Cooking Channel’s Pizza Cuz (Mondays at 9pm ET), Sal Basile and Francis Garcia, owners of NYC’s Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, embark on a  mouthwatering exploration of pizza across the country. Devour sat with the two pizza aficionados to find out more about running a pizza empire and the best slices in the world.

What brought you both to the pizza business? Had you worked in restaurants before?

Francis: “We grew up in the restaurant business with a fourth generation restaurant family — our great grandparents’ grandparents’ restaurants. Our mothers, sisters and brothers and all our cousins work in pizza places. But it’s the same thing on my father’s side and his father’s side — they all work in restaurants. It’s in our blood. We tell people pizza sauce pumps through our veins.”

Sal:  “Yeah, my dad had me taking out slices when I was ten years old, probably breaking child labor laws!”

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Lessons from an Egyptian Kitchen

Samak Mashwi- Grilled Fish Egyptian-Style

It’s 4:00 on a Saturday in early May and the afternoon sunlight is spilling into my mother-in-law’s kitchen and onto our aprons — well, my apron. Kookie, my Egyptian mother-in-law, isn’t wearing one. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her wear one. Aprons, along with measuring cups and spoons, are for the rookies that require them (or so I’ve come to learn). In the years I’ve known Kookie, I’ve made frequent visits to her bustling kitchen, but any help I’ve been able to give has been limited. This is because, despite having adopted and embraced American life in most ways, Kookie is 100% Egyptian when she’s in her kitchen.  Egyptians are among the most generous and hospitable people I’ve ever met (and I’m from the South). For them, good food and big meals are practically synonymous with love and affection, and if there’s one thing Kookie delights in, it’s feeding her family with abundance and Iron Chef-like speed.

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Cooking Channel Masters: Whoopi Goldberg and Ming Tsai

When Ming Tsai was a guest chef on The View, he was told by the show’s food stylist not to expect Whoopi Goldberg to eat anything he made — she was just too picky. Determined to prove the food stylist wrong, Ming crafted a menu that even Whoopi couldn’t help but love. Now, a few years later, not only is Ming one of the only chefs who Whoopi trusts with her culinary quirks, the two have become good friends. Tonight at 10pm ET on Cooking Channel’s Masters, as these two masters of their respective crafts get together to cook a meal, they’ll talk about food, their careers and life at large. I won’t even try to recount this dynamic duo’s natural and (often hilariously) candid tête-à-tête, but I will share Ming’s mouthwatering menu.

First up, Ming makes Whoopi’s favorite Chinese appetizer: traditional pork and ginger dumplings (or pot stickers). Did you know that the origin of potstickers is really one big, happy accident? Hundreds of years ago, the emperor’s cook ran out of water while steaming his dumplings and they stuck to the bottom of the pan (thus the name). But much to the cook’s surprise, the emperor loved the crispy texture. From then on, steamed-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-bottom dumplings have been a Chinese staple, and yes, even Whoopi can’t help but be a fan.

Next up, Ming puts a Chinese twist on American fried chicken with a rub made up of eight spices (and really 12, since one of those spices is five spice powder). Dipped in buttermilk and thrown into a bubbling pool of oil, Ming’s chicken is crispy, spicy and finger-lickin’ good.

Tune in tonight at 10pm ET to Cooking Channel’s Masters and watch as Ming serves up a meal fit for kings (and Academy Award winners) and Whoopi serves up good conversation and plenty of laughs.

The Country’s Ultimate Comfort Foods

It’s an incontrovertible fact that fried foods pair fantastically with other fried foods.
Comfort food. Utterly lacking in rules and regulations or even regionalisms, its a culinary genre that’s near and dear to most of our hearts. Despite its vast and unwieldy plethora of options, nobody has to ask what constitutes as comfort food. You know it when you see it (because it always looks preposterously amazing). Comfort food pushes us beyond the physical realm of taste into the emotional realm of feeling, as in “This burger makes me feel like all is right with the world,” or “I’m divorcing my husband to marry this donut.”*  It’s pizza and burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese and pie and donuts and pretty much anything deep-fried. Sure there’s a 99.5% chance that it’s terrible for you, but it feels so good going down and don’t you deserve to feel good now and then? We think so, and that’s why we’re presenting you with Unique Eats Comfort Foods tonight at 8pm ET.

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Putting the ROCK in Shamrock: Recipes Inspired by Ireland’s Greatest Hits

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, which means it’s time for all things Guinness and green. But the Irish have given us so much more than stouts and lucky leprechauns. Since the 1960s, it’s been a nation that has marched to the beat of different (and very talented) drummers. From Van Morrison to U2, the Emerald Isle has been turning out some of the world’s greatest musical talent for decades.  This St. Patrick’s day, we’re celebrating these artists with some recipes inspired by their greatest hits. Turn up the volume and preheat those ovens, because it’s time to put the rock back in shamrock.

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Food Hoarders (or How to Jumpstart Your Spring Cleaning)

John struggles to admit that an orange pepper has, in fact, gone bad. Even after Sarah, a personal organizer assigned the task of helping John clean out his fridge, points out mold spots, he grimaces to see it thrown away. This is because John is a food hoarder —  a psychological condition only recently studied at length. Hoarding, or “stock piling” as it’s called in some cases, is characterized by the excessive retention of … well, everything, as well as an inability to organize and throw things away. From the outside, people like John appear to live normal lives in normal apartments and homes, but inside it’s just a downright mess.

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Pizza Outside the Box (and Outside New York)

If you haven’t noticed, generic delivery pizza is becoming less of a culinary archetype and more of an artifact,  and millions of pizza lovers in this country have helped elevate it to something far more experiential. While there’s nothing wrong with the simplicity of classic staple toppings like tomato and mozzarella, nowadays fortune clearly favors the brave when it comes to ingredients. In fact, I’d venture to say the best thing about American pizza is the way it’s constantly being reinvented. Pies are blank canvases of doughy crust — a true tabula rasa — that layer after layer get transformed into discus-shaped delights. We, with our discerning pizza palettes, are no longer content with plain ol’ pepperoni and mundane mushrooms; we want slices that shock and awe. The only real rule for building a bold, pie masterpiece (masterpie, if you will) is that it tastes awesome in the end.

Now as you may or may not know, a good majority of us here at Cooking Channel live in New York City, and as you may or may not have heard, the vast majority of New Yorkers are big, giant pizza snobs. And listen, I get it. Without New York’s Little Italy, American pizza would not be what it is today. This is where pizza in America began and now you literally can not walk five blocks without passing an array of independently-owned pizza joints. Barring Chicago (and let’s get real, Chi-town, I’m from NC and even I know deep dish isn’t really pizza — it’s a casserole) and Naples, pizza’s birthplace, it’s rare we hear of places  rivaling New York’s caliber of pizza … at least that used to be the case.

This Sunday, Cooking Channel’s in hot pursuit of  famed “masterpie” builders on Pizza Outside the Box, and we’re traveling coast to coast in search of them. Not only have we discovered ten of the most deliciously daring and unorthodox pizza pies in the country, but guess what? NONE of them are in New York! Not a one. Whether grilled in Rhode Island or baked in a thousand degree oven in Boulder, Napoletana-style or with an Asian twist, each of these pizzas are famous for their unique ingredients and flavor combinations. Forget everything you thought you knew about pizza, and see where and why customers clamor for awesome out-of-the-box taste. My two personal faves intrigue me both in terms of their inventive toppings as well as their surprisingly rural locations.

Let’s start with the phenomenon pictured above.  Folks, meet the Mac and Cheese pizza. To enjoy a slice of this cheesy and carbtastic pie you’ll need to head to the heartlands.  Madison, Wisconsin is home to over 13,000 dairy farms and  produces over 130 million pounds of cheese every year. Knowing how much this college town loved their cheese, Ian Gurfield, owner of Ian’s Pizza, felt confident a mac and cheese pizza could work.  And work, it did. Covered with cooked macaroni (that gets slightly crispy in the oven), a blend of mozzarella and sharp Wisconsin cheddar and drizzled with tangy, creamy creme fresh, this pie was an instant home run with the college crowd. One girl calls it the perfect “breakup food.” I’d swap a carton of Ben and Jerry’s for a slice of this any day.

In Fayetville, West Virginia — yes I said West Virginia — Pies and Pints’ chef and co-owner David Bailey is making culinary waves with his innovative pizzas, including his signature Grape Pie (pictured below). Beginning with a base of provolone and mozzarella cheese, he liberally sprinkles his dough with sweet and juicy red grapes cut in half, salty crumbles of gorgonzola and fresh rosemary. The sweet and salty combo has the whole town hooked, as well as the multitude of outdoor enthusiasts that visit the area for recreation. It  certainly gives me a hankerin’ to hit up those country roads where (perhaps) I belong, after all.

Whether you hail from the City that never sleeps or a small town in the Midwest (and sure, even Chicago) chances are you appreciate a good pie, so tune in to Pizza Outside the Box tonight at 8pm ET on Cooking Channel. Have we already got you hungry to hit the road? Here’s the location list for each of these masterpies.

Oscar Nominated Guacamole? Yes, Please.

And the Oscar goes to… guacamole? Well, not yet at least but it did get nominated. Not familiar? Not surprising. Let’s be honest, when it comes to the Oscar nominations, size matters.  Year after year without fail, people flood the theaters to see the slew of blockbuster feature-length films all nominated for “best picture,” while the short films often come up … well, short, in terms of viewership. Not this year, though. This year, the animated short films have been feeling the love, too, and it’s easy to see why.

Created by director and animator, Adam Pesapane, more often known as “PES,” “Fresh Guacamole” is a stop motion animated short film that chronicles the familiar steps involved in making (*spoiler alert*) guacamole.  While his method and tools are mundane — his ingredients are anything but.  Here’s the recipe for PES’s Oscar-nominated “Fresh Guacamole:”*

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