Posts tagged ‘Food Network’
I spent too much of yesterday agonizing over a barbecue. It was my church’s women’s fellowship barbecue and, being new to the area and all, I really wanted to go. Attendees were supposed to bring their own meat to grill and something to share. First issue: I thought it was pretty silly to go to the store to buy meat and, more than likely, a roll, for a single person. I don’t have hamburgers (or turkey burgers, or veggie burgers, or hot dogs) in my freezer waiting for occasions like this. Nor do I want to. So I agonized over whether to go to the store so I would have something for the grill. Second issue: Then I debated over what to get-should I get meat? Veggie burgers? Vegetables to grill? When possible, I don’t like to introduce myself as “Emily the not-quite-but-almost-vegetarian”. If the conversation gets there then fine, but it’s not the point of my existence. So, really the whole debate was about what first impression I wanted to make.
In the end, I brought nothing but Mediterranean Salad (and I am getting to the part with the recipe). I hoped that no one would notice that I hadn’t brought anything for the grill. Know what? No one did. There were so many pasta salads and bean salads and fruit salads and Mexican dips that no one noticed that my full plate didn’t have anything from the grill or any meat. I had a really good time spending the evening conversing about things other than my eating habits.
What to bring to share was much easier for me to figure out. I knew right away what I wanted to make. Last year, before I was really into cooking, I saw Giada De Laurentiis make this Mediterranean Salad on Everyday Italian. It was a big hit at last night’s get together.
The dish contains Israeli/Mediterranean couscous, which I’ve found at food co-ops and Whole Foods It’s a small pasta, different from “normal” couscous. The recipe says any small pasta will work, but I’ve been so happy with the couscous that I’ve never tried it. Add in some broth,* garlic, lemon juice and zest, fresh mint, fresh basil and dried cranberries and it’s a delicious side salad (or meal, if I have my way). Check it out.
*Switch out the chicken broth for vegetable broth and this dish is vegetarian.
Tonight’s episode of Food Detectives on the Food Network had a really interesting segment on the “miracle berry”. Apparently it alters the taste buds on your tongue and causes foods, especially acidic ones, to taste sweet. Since it doesn’t affect your brain, there’s no dangers associated with it (yet) and its pretty much just used for fun. Even at $2.50 for a single berry, I’d try it, mostly because it sounds really bizarre.
Some people are making money by holding “flavor tripping” parties and charging admission, but I’m pretty sure there’s got to be some bigger mass market ideas out there.
More from the NY Times.
Also, props to Food Detectives for doing something more interesting than its usual fare of brain freeze and the “five second rule”.
I’ve been pretty excited for Adam Gertler’s “Will Work for Food” since the rumors about an Adam Gertler show started last year. Though he probably wasn’t the best cook, he was my choice to win “Next Food Network Star”. I loved his personality and I’m thrilled that they decided to give him a show despite his losing.
The episode didn’t disappoint me. I thought it was pretty educational, but Adam’s personality definitely showed through, even if he did seem to be playing dumb sometimes. I don’t think Adam’s as clueless as he was acting, but it added to the entertainment value for me, like watching a kid. I personally found lobstering a nice choice to start, even though I didn’t learn anything new…not my fault I live in community where many residents are lobstermen. They certainly explained it better than I’ve seen done on other shows. Beekeeping by people who have never done it before is always entertaining to watch, but it made me start to wonder why Food Network chose those two jobs to start. Seems to me there are more unique jobs which haven’t been showcased on “how do they make this?” type shows before (“Dirty Jobs,” “How It’s Made,” “How’d That Get On My Plate,” etc)? I’ll be tuning back in because I love Adam Gertler, but I wonder if a bigger impact could have been made with different jobs initially.
- I didn’t watch URS last weekend, because the Golden Globes were on and I needed a break from food television (!). I don’t feel guilty about it. I wasn’t going to watch it this week either, because I’m not really a cake fan, but I did anyway because I had nothing better to do. Then it turned out that Saturday Night Live was doing a “Presidential Bash ’08,” so we flipped between the two shows…until the person with the remote stopped flipping. So I saw most of URS. I’m sick of politics (though a little excited for the inauguration itself) but never of SNL, though I would have flipped channels a bit more.
- Signature Round: As much as I like fruit, I’m not real interested in a sweet potato or grapefruit cake. Maybe I’m too traditional. The Triple Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting that Deborah Biggs was making sounded good to me, as did Jamie Nondorf’s Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting. I was happy the judging went the way it did. Even I’d eat Deborah’s winning cake.
- Speed Round: Once again, Deborah’s recipe sounded best to me (chocolate banana peanut butter cupcakes). I was happy that Jamie did well again, too. Sometimes people over-do frosting, so I thought it was cool that hers didn’t have any at all. Completely avoided that problem.
- I wasn’t as excited about this episode as Comfort Foods, but I’ll probably take a couple of the recipes off the website and save in case I ever need them.
- I would like to be at the point, someday, where I can create my own original recipes. Currently, it seems so mind-boggling, even beyond baked goods. There’s safety in pretested recipes. I feel like anything I’d make would either turn out poorly or not be original. Oh well, hopefully someday.
As I hinted in my previous post, I made Rachael Ray’s Not-sagna Pasta Toss today to bring to school for lunch this week. The meal is supposed to mimic the taste of lasagna without all the work and does a decent job of it. I think its unhealthy to get too bogged down in following recipes to the letter (unlike the unhappy author of the second comment on this page) , so I made the following alterations (and still produced a quite yummy pot of pasta).
- My grocery store didn’t have ground sirloin, so I purchased ground beef. If you don’t like ground beef, do something really crazy like using ground turkey. You’re eating it, use something you like.
- I could eat pasta every day if my family would let me, but to enrich the nutrition a bit I used whole wheat pasta. Also, our store didn’t have campanelle, so I used rotini. Short, curly pasta is short curly pasta.
- We didn’t have an open bottle of red wine, so I skipped it. Yes, red wine would probably deepen the taste a little, but skipping it isn’t going to ruin the dish and I’m not opening a bottle just for a half cup
- I used dried, jarred basil which is certainly not my first choice, but for the sake of budget and such, I made due.
- My amounts were a little off. I hate recipes that leave you with a tiny bit of something left in the box, so I used a box of pasta (13.5 ounces…why it wasn’t a pound to begin with, I’ll never know) and a container of ricotta cheese, which was closer to 1 3/4 cups…what was I going to do with a 1/4 cup of ricotta left over?
All that said, if you believe I followed the recipe at all, I think it’s pretty tasty.
It got very mixed reviews on the Food Network page, despite the final score of 4 stars. Some people compare it to Hamburger Helper, which I guess is a bad thing if you don’t like Hamburger Helper. But it’s from 30 Minute Meals, not a gourmet cookbook, so I’m not inclined to be too critical of it. Some people said it was really bland but I guess I’m not picky. Others suggested adding mozzarella cheese, which I definitely think would be a plus. Maybe I’ll remember to try that next time. I will say that the sauce is pretty thin, my sister’s one complaint, but some of that may be due to the aforementioned disproportion of ingredients.
Finally, if you’re going to make this recipe please, please note that it does not serve 4. It serves 8. I fed my family of four and put aside 4 containers to take to school. If you’re not serving high school boys, I would strongly suggest halving the recipe (though then you’re stuck with half a container of ricotta…)
Overall, its good. It’s warm, it’s filling and it makes a good lunch for school. I’d make it again.
You can see the list here.
Tonight was the first episode of this season of Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown. The theme was Comfort Food.
I felt strongly about the contestants from the get go. Rick Massa’s Cheese Lovers 5 Cheese Mac and Cheese sounded great, despite the judges’ concern that the blue cheese might be overpowering. I thought blue cheese sounded yummy. At any rate, he won round one and my sister wants the recipe. His grilled cheese and tomato soup won the episode for him. He deserved it.
On the other end of contestant spectrum was twenty-three year old Emily Hobbs. Though I’m excited by the concept of a young contestant trying to save money for culinary school, I was quickly perplexed by where Food Network found her. She seemed pretty unsure of herself (although she cooked decently) but it was her statements that really impressed me. She was nervous because judge Michael Psilakis “is really hot” and she’s apparently scared of Guy Fieri’s hair (side note: there is no T in Fieri…why does he call himself Guy Fieti? Makes me crazy) . At any rate, she didn’t win.
Next week’s contest: Burgers.
I’m really excited about some other shows that are starting soon:
January 13 10pm Chopped
January 15 10pm Ace of Cakes
January 19 8:30pm Will Work For Food (with Adam Gertler, who was my pick to win last season’s Food Network Star)
I’ll be tuning in and you can check here for my thoughts.