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Cookbook Giveaway: Vintage Cakes

Stack Cake from Vintage Cakes Cookbook

Vintage Cakes Cookbook

Flipping through Julie Richardson’s new cookbook, Vintage Cakes, brings me back to my grandmother’s flour-dusted, sweet-smelling kitchen. Grandma made a cake from scratch for every birthday, and their moist layers and buttercream never disappointed — even when I turned seven and all I wanted was the Little Mermaid cake I spotted at the grocery store.

Like Grandma’s, Julie’s cakes steer clear of fancy pastry chef tricks in favor of classic American combinations. A bakery owner and collector of vintage cookbooks and recipe cards, she folds in interesting tidbits of history. Who knew that the Stack Cake, pictured above, was once a traditional wedding cake for settlers in southern Appalachia? Julie notes that wedding guests would each bring a layer for the bride’s family to assemble. Though timeless, the recipes in Vintage Cakes are all updated for today’s home baker, so go ahead and break out that stand mixer.

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Trends Across the Country: East Coast Seafood

Old Bay Steamed Maryland Crabs

To celebrate this year of the Olympics and a presidential election, Cooking Channel asked fans what dishes represent their states and then worked with our kitchens to create original recipes for each of the 50 states. (Read all about the project here.) Each state has its own unique food scene, but we couldn’t help but notice some trends across the map from coast to coast.

Every state has its iconic dish that stirs up all kinds of pride. It sparks countless arguments over where to get the ultimate version, whose grandma’s recipe is better or what ingredients are completely sacrilegious to the original. Even the way you serve and eat the dish can separate true locals from pretenders.

To represent my home state of Maryland, Cooking Channel fans were 100 percent accurate in nominating Old Bay steamed blue crabs. Every summer growing up, my family would drive an hour and a half just for dinner on the Chesapeake Bay’s eastern shore, where we’d feast on crabs at a dockside place with rustic picnic tables covered in butcher paper (the only way hard-shell crabs should be served).

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How to Make Escargots for Bastille Day

Escargot

When we arrived at Benoit, a French bistro in New York City with a famous sibling of the same name in Paris, for a Bastille Day-inspired escargot lesson, we expected the first order of business to involve removing the little guys from their shells and painstakingly cleaning them. But the restaurant’s chef, Philippe Bertineau, let us in on an escargot secret: Thanks to an extremely intensive and time-consuming cleaning process, “even the best chefs buy them pre-cooked and cleaned.”

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Bring On the Bar Snacks

Potato Chips with Blue Cheese Fondue

Elevate your bar snacking with Michael Symon's homemade potato chips and blue cheese fondue.

With the one-two punch of March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day, chances are you’ll be spending some time in a bar this weekend. In addition to a well-poured Guinness, it’s always a treat when the establishment’s snacks go beyond peanuts and pretzels that have been sitting around for who knows how long.

The rules for great bar snacks are simple: No knife and fork required. Easy to share. Salty and/or spicy to encourage more drinking. And no matter how virtuous we are in our daily meals, we usually indulge when it comes to bar food — so it better be worth the splurge. Michael Symon gets this, so he’s making his own bar snacks on Symon’s Suppers tonight. Once he whets your appetite, you might want to start cooking and move the weekend reveling and game-watching to your place.

Michael visits Iron Chef buddy Marc Forgione at his eponymous restaurant in New York to check out Marc’s gourmet bar food specialties, like pig’s head sliders on house-made potato rolls, brushed with a little melted lard for good measure. Michael’s verdict: “It’s dirty good, in such a good way.”

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A Real-Deal Mardi Gras King Cake

King Cake

I’m a very lucky girl, having married into a food-obsessed family from New Orleans. My in-laws send us NOLA treats all year — local favorites that are hard to come by in New York, like Zatarain’s jambalaya mix, Aunt Sally’s pralines and Tony Chachere’s seasoning. As Fat Tuesday approaches, it’s King Cake time.

This quintessential Mardi Gras treat is a sweet braided pastry with frosting coated in plenty of purple, green and gold sprinkles, but the pièce de résistance is hidden inside. Whoever gets the slice with a plastic baby — caution is recommended as you devour your piece — is declared the king or queen for the day. Some say getting the baby is like catching the bouquet at a wedding, except instead of being the next to marry, it means the finder will soon have a (real) baby.

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Big-Game Party Pick: Sweet and Sour Pork Sliders

Ching's Sweet and Sour Pork Sliders

Today we’re pulling up a chair — i.e., grabbing a seat on the couch in front of the TV — for a virtual pre-Super Bowl party hosted by Food Network (#pullupachair). To spice up this all-American game day with a little international flair, we’re bringing Ching-He Huang’s take on sliders, made with Asian-style sweet and sour pork meatballs. Easy to eat and packed with flavor, these two-bite snacks do the pigskin tradition proud.

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Shortcut: Milk Bar Cookie Mixes

When I got my hands on a copy of the gorgeous Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook a few months ago, I wanted to dive in right away and bake some of my favorite cookies from the original East Village shop. But I’ll admit: I was intimidated by a few of the ingredients and the multiple components involved, so I never got around to it.

Fortunately for me and my fellow lazy bakers, there’s now an easier way to get Milk Bar goodness at home. Boxed mixes for some of pastry chef Christina Tosi’s most popular cookies recently hit the shelves at Williams-Sonoma.

“I started baking with cookie and cake mixes, before I branched out into making my own recipes, so having a line of cookie mixes has always been near and dear to my start as a home baker,” explains Christina. It took “months and months” of testing to get the mixes just right, and as a result, the Compost cookies I made at home tasted pretty spot-on. Williams-Sonoma is also stocking Blueberry & Cream and Corn cookie mixes, which a couple of my fellow Cooking Channel colleagues tested out.

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Hanukkah, Mexican-Style

We made Chef Julian Medina's Potato-Jalapeno Latkes at home. Even without a mandolin, they were excellent.

Food was not usually a highlight of the Hanukkah parties of my youth (it was the presents). Never the biggest fan of greasy, leaden latkes, I’d just consume several dollars’ worth of chocolate gelt, winning as many of the foil-wrapped coins as I could in games of dreidel.

Recently, Chef Julian Medina has completely transformed my idea of “Hanukkah food” with a preview of the Mexican Hanukkah menu he serves at his New York City restaurants [Toloache 50, Toloache 82, Yerba Buena and Yerba Buena Perry] throughout the eight-day Festival of Lights. Lucky for us, he’s shared a couple of his most popular Hanukkah recipes so we can all jazz up our own holiday festivities with a little Mexican flair.

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Chuck Hughes on The Next Iron Chef

Have you been watching the new season of The Next Iron Chef over on Food Network? The stakes are high this year with a star-studded lineup of Super Chefs competing for one coveted Iron Chef spot, including Cooking Channel’s own Chuck Hughes.

The Chuck’s Day Off host and chef-owner of Montreal’s Garde Manger restaurant has made it through the first two Chairman’s Challenges with solid food, but he also seems to be endearing himself quite well to the judges: “You always look very happy when you’re cooking,” said food writer Simon Majumdar in Sunday’s episode. “It really comes through in your food.”

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Cookbook Giveaway: Momofuku Milk Bar

Momofuku Cereal Milk Soft Serve

I love fried chicken and burgers as much as the next gal, but I’m a sweet tooth at heart, so the Momofuku Milk Bar Desserts seminar was my personal highlight from the New York City Wine & Food Festival last month. This was not your average dessert binge-fest. Rock star pastry chef Christina Tosi of the New York-based Momofuku mini-empire teamed up with wine aficionado Andrea Robinson for an hour of dessert-and-vino pairing, tasting and chatting.Momofuku Milk Bar Cover

In addition to plenty of useful takeaways — no need to limit yourself to dessert wines with dessert; Champagne tastes fabulous with chocolate-chip cake; Chardonnay and pumpkin make a perfect marriage — attendees also scored advance copies of Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, just released last week. Now that it’s hot off the press, we’re giving away a copy!

Christina’s Compost Cookies, Cereal Milk and Crack Pie have achieved cult followings in Milk Bar’s three short years of existence, but pretty much everything she dreams up, no matter how out-of-the-box it may sound (kimchi-and-blue-cheese croissants, anyone?), tastes divine. All of the above are in the Milk Bar cookbook, so you can try your hand at any of the utterly addictive sweets from Christina’s unique bakery.

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