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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.

You Can Star on My Grandmother’s Ravioli

If you missed the first season of My Grandmother’s Ravioli, we have some great news: You can catch up on the entire season with one swoop of patriarchal and matriarchal wonderment by tuning in to Cooking Channel’s President’s Day (Monday, February 18) marathon of My Grandmother’s Ravioli from 2-8pm ET. Watching Mo Rocca learn how to cook  treasured family recipes from various grandparents across the country is a fantastic way to spend a day off from work or school (plus, you’ll get some top-notch recipes).

Greater news: If you’re a grandparent or you know a grandparent who has a great recipe to teach Mo Rocca, you (or they) can be on Cooking Channel!

We’re casting season 2 of My Grandmother’s Ravioli and need grandmas and grandpas who are great home cooks.

Find out how to apply here.

Celebrity Dish: A-list Dinners with David Burtka

David Burtka, Host of Celebrity Dish, with Giuliana and Bill Rancic
You don’t have to be a classically trained chef to own a fabulous restaurant — but an Emmy or a Grammy might not hurt. There’s a new chef in town, and he’s taking us behind the scenes of the country’s best celebrity-owned restaurants for the inside scoop on their favorite A-list drinks and dishes.  Meet David Burtka — host of our brand new special, Celebrity Dish. As a successful actor, father of two, partner to legen(wait for it)…dary TV star Neil Patrick Harris and classically trained chef, David knows a thing or two about juggling fame, family and food,  and he’s on a mission to meet and dine with other fellow  famous foodies.  Whether it’s Hollywood, New York or Utah, tons of music and TV stars are breaking into the food and beverage biz with restaurants all over the country, and David’s paying them all a visit to see which culinary creations and cocktails deserve a standing ovation. Things might get pretty swanky, but you don’t need your name on a VIP list to see inside these glamorous and often exclusive establishments — you’re with us.

Continue Reading Celebrity Dish: A-list Dinners with David Burtka

Bobby Flay’s Bourbon Street Brunch

Bobby Flay Brunch

This week was Mardi Gras, and thousands of bourbon-imbued revelers paraded the streets of New Orleans, tossing beads about and scarfing King cake. For many, it’s a time to let it all hang out (not just figuratively) and party recklessly before Lent when they choose to give up decadence for 40 days.

But maybe you’re someone who doesn’t want to give up the allure of all that Mardi Gras has to offer. Maybe you want to experience the thrill of a Bourbon Street bash every day. You are in luck. Tune in to Brunch @ Bobby’s at 9:30pm ET to watch Bobby Flay pay tribute to America’s tastiest and most boisterous block with a brunch tribute to Bourbon Street. His menu includes crispy fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade, french toast topped with bananas foster and an icy cold coffee milk punch. You’ll confess it’s pretty delicious.

Flip through photos of Bobby Flay’s best Brunch recipes.

Happy Chinese New Year! and Congrats on Not Being Eaten Alive

Chinese New Year Recipes

Ever wonder who came up with the idea that “everybody’s Irish” on St. Patrick’s Day? Whoever it was, I think most of America owes them a huge thank you, or at least a shot of Jameson. But why stop there? Isn’t it time we open ourselves up to the traditions and cuisines of other cultures — especially when the cuisine is insanely delicious? Today is Chinese New Year and it’s the perfect opportunity for everyone to “be Chinese” for a day.

Tonight at 8pm ET on Ching’s Chinese New Year, host Ching-He Huang will share her “blueprint” for a fun and fortuitous Chinese New Year celebration, giving you the inside scoop on decorations, firecrackers and a mouthwatering Chinese feast that’s sure to bring you good luck in the year of the snake. Now, if you live in a city like San Francisco or New York, chances are you’re somewhat familiar with the loud and colorful festivities of Chinese New Year. (It’s hard to miss a huge red dragon marching down Main Street.) But why all the flare, you ask? It’s a holiday steeped in tradition and superstition, and it all begins with one fantastic legend. Gather around children; it’s story time:

Continue Reading Happy Chinese New Year! and Congrats on Not Being Eaten Alive

Lee Anne Wong’s Food Crawl, Starring Pretzel Dumplings

Pretzel Dumplings

We’ve all been on pub crawls (perhaps more often than we’d admit), but what about a legit food crawl? Enter Lee Anne Wong. When she has a craving for dumplings and noodles, she doesn’t just face her craving—she goes running after it with reckless abandon. Tonight at 8pm ET on Cooking Channel, Lee Ane Wong takes her love of Asian food to the streets of New York with her one-hour special Food Crawl with Lee Anne Wong where she finds a treasure trove of savory Asian treats in every corner of the city.

Lee Anne has that distinct ability to make everything she puts in her mouth seem like miracles sent from heaven. Her enthusiasm for food is contagious, and generally speaking I’d be all too happy to “have what’s she having.” But one particular dumpling on her crawl really got my attention and my stomach grumbling. Meet the Pretzel Pork and Chive Dumpling with Tahini Mustard Dipping Sauce courtesy of Talde in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Continue Reading Lee Anne Wong’s Food Crawl, Starring Pretzel Dumplings

Living the Dream in Monte Carlo

Giada tries her hand at risky roulette in the ritzy and romantic city of Monte Carlo.

There are those cities that, when you visit them, it feels less like real life and more like you were dropped into someone’s fantasy or else the picturesque set of a romantic comedy.  Monte Carlo is definitely one of those cities. Luxurious hotels, elaborate architecture, world class restaurants, sports cars that would make James Bond drool and to top it all off, both the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea as its scenic backdrop: welcome to paradise. If you’re having trouble picturing this dazzling and dreamy destination, than join your equally classy tour-guide Giada De Laurentiis tonight at 8pm ET as she takes us along for a tour of this romantic and royal town on Giada in Paradise: Monte Carlo.

One of her first stops is the cocktail bar at the Columbus hotel. Known as the place to “see and be seen in Monaco,” this classically cool bar boasts an outstanding cocktail list, including the infamous Cocktail Grace.  Named after the beautiful and beloved actress turned princess Grace Kelly, or “Princess Grace” to those in Monaco, this drink is as feminine and elegant as its iconic namesake.  Crisp and cold champagne gets sweetened with a bit of rose jelly and aromatic rose liqueur, which give it delicate but deliberate floral notes, reminiscent of a stroll through a rose garden. And that’s just one little sip of the city.

Stir yourself up your own stylish Cocktail Grace and watch Giada (the Grace Kelly of Cooking Channel) as she paints the full picture of Monte Carlo tonight, January 20, at 8:00 pm ET, the first stop on the Giada in Paradise tour.

How to Drop 5 Pounds and Look Five Years Younger


Melissa d’ Arabian cooks up a couple of meals that will help turn back your clock to a more flattering time.

“Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.”- Anonymous

It’s the start of a new year, and most of us have resolutions that involve a gym, a new diet and perhaps ultimately … a scale. We all know that what we eat on a daily basis impacts our weight and how we feel in our bodies. But we sometimes (maybe willfully) forget that there’s a larger, cosmic force that’s working against us — time. Let’s face it, we are all getting older and unless you’re blessed with Cindy Crawford’s genes, it shows. So what if, in addition to striving to get fit and thin this year, we strove to look and feel younger (sans surgery)?

Continue Reading How to Drop 5 Pounds and Look Five Years Younger

Check into The Food Hospital

Tune in to Cooking Channel’s premiere of The Food Hospital tonight at 9pm ET. Three medical experts — general practitioner Dr. Giovanni Miletto, dietician Lucy Jones and gastrointestinal surgeon Shaw Somers — will examine the science behind using food as medicine. Patients suffering from a range of medical conditions are  prescribed specific food treatments to find out if their symptoms can be alleviated or cured by the food they eat.

On tonight’s episode, the doctors meet 24-year-old Lauren, who has been suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) since she was 15. Her case is so extreme, with symptoms such as weight gain, fertility problems and most noticeably, excessive body and facial hair, that Lauren fears living as a virtual recluse forever unless she can find help. They also treat a 7-year-old with crippling migraines, a single dad with Type 2 diabetes, and twin sisters trying to use food to fight breast cancer.

The Food Hospital airs Mondays at 9pm ET on Cooking Channel.

Meet more of the patients and see their symptoms.

Happy Trails with Sweet Actions’ Trail Mix Ice Cream


Sam and Chia, co-owners of “Sweet Action” ice cream in Denver, blaze a new delicious trail with this sweet and salty ice cream flavor.

Even rough and tumble cowboys need to get in touch with their sweet side, and no one understands this better than our friends out West at Sweet Action Ice Cream.  Chia Basinger and Sam Kopicko might not be traditional gun-slingin’, cattle ropin’ cowboys, but they’re definitely pioneering new frontiers in the ice cream biz. Since they opened Sweet Action in Denver, they’ve served up over five hundred fearless flavors, including more savory ones like Colorado Sweet Corn and Sour Cream and Chive. Sound risky? Well that’s because it is, but the flavors also happen to be insanely, out-of-this-world delicious.

Lucky for us (and for you, since we can’t keep a secret), we managed to wrangle the recipe of one of our favorite flavors — Trail Mix Ice Cream. Wondrously cold and creamy with just a hint of vanilla flavor, the ice cream base makes a sweet and subtle backdrop for all the yummy trail mix add-ins. Next comes the crunch factor. Studded with almonds, peanuts, chocolate chips, rich peanut butter cups, colorful M&Ms and chewy raisins, every icy bite explodes with sweet and salty crunchiness. And hey, if you don’t own an ice cream maker and don’t think you’ll be flying out to Denver any time soon, no worries. Try tossing a handful of your favorite trail or nut mix on top of your favorite vanilla ice cream. You’ll be glad you did.

As much as we love this recipe, the best take away from Sweet Action is their commitment to taking chances with their ingredients and recipes.  Don’t be afraid to explore new flavors and culinary frontiers, because (in the words of one very wise cowboy), “It’s the way you ride the trail that counts.” Thanks, Roy Rogers. And happy trails, foodies!

Make sure you watch Unique Sweets tonight at 10:30pm ET to see Sweet Action in action and all the epic sweets of the wild, wild West.

Recipes from the Episode:

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