that's forking good

adventures in a culinary neophyte's kitchen

Posts Tagged ‘Food Network’

tbt: Blue Moon Cafe

Posted by culinaryneophyte on December 11, 2014

Blue Moon Cafe Captain Crunch WafflesThe first place I remember seeing featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” was a breakfast spot in Baltimore that had a female owner with a rock-and-roll personality and a menu full of crazy, drool-worthy meals. I sat there thinking, “If I ever open a restaurant, THIS is what I would want it to be.” And when I had the opportunity to finally visit Blue Moon Cafe in Fell’s Point last month, that feeling only grew.

I’m not usually a waffle/pancake person when I’m out to breakfast, but there was no way I wasn’t getting the as-seen-on-TV Captain Crunch French toast. I’d been dreaming about this thing for, like, five years. I can still taste the sweet, buttery goodness… the tart berries… the fresh whipped cream. You need this. YOU. NEED. THIS.

The decor was funky and the attitude was relaxed. We thankfully got there just before a big rush of people (on a Monday morning, even!), or we would have been waiting out in the cold; there isn’t much seating, let alone room to congregate. When we sat down, I wasn’t too excited to be right next to the front door, but I would gladly take the occasional whoosh of cold air over 30+ minutes sitting in it. I may have felt a little guilty gleefully stuffing French toast in my mouth while the frozen latecomers gazed longingly from the park bench outside. My bad, guys.

Our one mistake was not ordering the Sweet Baby Jesus as our other meal. We saw an enormous plate of hash browns, crab meat, eggs and hollandaise sauce pass by our table, and thought, “SWEET BABY JES–ooh, I get it now.” Yeah. Next time.


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best of 2011

Posted by culinaryneophyte on December 31, 2011

Falling in line with the conventional year-end lists, I’ve created the That’s Forking Good: Best of 2011 list. Rankings are based on a combination of each dish’s/event’s success, entertaining exposition, aesthetic value and memorability.

10. Blue Moon Cupcakes

9. Pesto & Sun-dried Tomato Tuna Salad

8.  “That’s Forking Good” Turns One

7. KFC Bowls (Popcorn Chicken)

6. Peanut Butter Pudding Pie

5. My Food Network Debut: Outrageous Foods @ Jake’s

4. Taco Calzones

3. Root Beer Float Cupcakes

2. Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies & Foot Network’s Virtual Thanksgiving

1. Ultimate Cupcake Challenge

Thanks for reading, everyone! I’m hoping 2012 will be filled with more culinary successes and the occasional foodie failure for comic relief. Wishing you all a safe and happy new year!

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unspoiled oil

Posted by culinaryneophyte on December 13, 2011

It was about this time last year I acquired a deep fryer as part of my friends’ annual “Thieving Elves” party. I haven’t made anything too noteworthy just yet, but it does get used relatively often (at least more than the quesadilla maker I got the year before).

The worst part about the deep fryer — other than the unnecessary calories it makes me consume — is that it uses a lot of oil, and oil isn’t cheap. Thankfully, I stumbled across a Q&A in the November Food Network Magazine that recommended recycling oil as long as nothing too malodorous (e.g. fish) was cooked in it.

I decided to give it a try because, as I so often ask myself in the kitchen (and immediately regret), “What’s the worst that can happen?” The answer here is that you can spill oil all over your kitchen, your clothes and your camera. Not a bad trade off for some clean frying oil though, amIright?

In all seriousness, this was really easy, and if I weren’t so clumsy, this wouldn’t have been such a mess. Note: I was also attempting to document this process for all of you, so that resulted in a few spills. You’re welcome.

Allow oil to cool completely after last use. Food Network Magazine recommended using a sieve, but I used a metal strainer and it worked just fine. Line sieve/strainer with a paper towel, and hold over a jar or other sealable container. Slowly pour oil into paper towel and watch as your “new” oil filters through into the waiting jar. Seal and store in the fridge for up to a month.

No recipe for you today — just a little helpful hint. Happy frying!

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#pullupachair with Food Network

Posted by culinaryneophyte on November 15, 2011

It’s halfway through November and I thought for sure I’d have cooked my way through a patch’s worth of pumpkin by now, but alas, I’ve been through only a measly two cans this fall season. I have all sorts of pumpkin-centric recipes bookmarked — pumpkin garlic knots, pancakes, mac ‘n cheese — but life is getting in the way. I’ve barely had the chance to cook at all over the last few weeks, and I’m oh-so-sad. Sigh.

Fortunately, my not-so-secret obsession, Food Network, has fixed up just the thing to get me out of my food funk: Virtual Thanksgiving. In honor of the ultimate foodie holiday, Food Network has invited the entire food community to #pullupachair to The Communal Table today at noon EST. (Scroll down to view the whole menu. Bet you’re going to be stuffed!)

As I so often do for dinner parties, I’ve volunteered to do dessert: my very own cinnamon chip pumpkin blondies. (Fun fact: It’s taking me twice as long to write this blog post because I’m eating one of these right now — typing a sentence, taking a bite, typing a sentence taking a bite…  It’s unproductive.)

I’ve seen pumpkin blondies with both chocolate and white chocolate chips, but I worried they would overpower the fantastic fall flavors of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. I opted to use a bag of mini cinnamon chips I purchased from a local candy shop, and was pleased with the little pockets of spice bursting out of each bite.

Cinnamon chip pumpkin blondies
♦14 tbs. butter (1-3/4 sticks) of unsalted butter

♦1-1/4 c. brown sugar
♦2 c. all-purpose flour
♦1 tsp. baking soda
♦3/4 tsp. salt
♦1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
♦3/4 tsp. ginger
♦1/2 tsp. nutmeg
♦1/2 tsp. ground cloves
♦1 egg
♦1 tbs. vanilla extract
♦1 c. pumpkin puree
♦1-1/2 c. mini cinnamon chips
♦3 tbs. honey
♦2 tbs. caramel sauce (I used Hershey’s)

Cream butter and brown sugar in stand mixer. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Back in the mixer, drop vanilla and egg and beat well. Add pumpkin puree, and mix until well combined. On low, slowly add dry mix. Fold in cinnamon chips. To make removal and cutting easier, I would recommend placing a sheet of tinfoil inside a 9×13 baking dish (and coat with baking spray). Spread mixture evenly in dish. Drizzle honey, then caramel  on top, and bake at 375 degrees for 38 minutes. Makes 24 bars.

Total time? 10 minutes prep, 40 minutes baking
Cost? $1.69 can of pumpkin puree, $2.99 mini cinnamon chips (not the best price, but worth it for the novelty!), additional costs if you don’t have ginger, cloves, etc. on hand.
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. Pumpkin is back with a vengeance, my friends. Five minutes after these blondies hit the oven, I peeked my head in and was punched in the face by a metaphorical fist full of pumpkin spice. Eventually, my house smelled like a Yankee candle — a bargain, considering these are a fraction of the cost and won’t give you wax poisoning if you eat them. The blondies are incredibly moist and make a great group dessert (or breakfast, as I’ve done every day this week). The honey and caramel on top get a slight post-bake crisp to give you a textural variant, and the overall flavors are the epitome of autumn.

#PullUpAChair with Food Network’s Virtual Thanksgiving!

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:
Eat Be Mary: She’s Mulling It Over Wine
Cookistry: Bread With Ancient Grains
Celebrity Chefs and Their Gardens: The American Hotel Peconic Clam Chowder
Picky Eater Blog: Butternut Squash Soup With Thyme and Parmesan
Good Food Good Friends: Mushroom Soup

Mains: Grilled Quail with a Warm Beet, Frisée, and Pistachio Salad
She Wears Many Hats: Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey

Living Mostly Meatless: Vegan-Friendly Corn Casserole
Healthy Green Kitchen: Red Kuri Squash Pie
The Naptime Chef: Crispy Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes
Gluten-Free Blondie: Apple and Cranberry Studded Stuffing
Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat: Blue Cheese and Rosemary Celebration Potatoes
Burnt Lumpia: Turkey, Sweet Potato and Cranberry Empanadas
Panfusine: Pan Fried Polenta Seasoned With Cumin, Ginger & Black Pepper
Homemade Cravings: Warm Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Slaw
Bakeaholic Mama: Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Prosciutto
Show Food Chef: Beer-Braised Brussels Sprouts
T’s Tasty Bits: Sweet Empanadas with Pumpkin and Lupini Beans Filling
The Amused Bouche Blog: Braised Kale
The Little Kitchen: How to Make the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

The Macaron Queen: Macaron Tower
Poet In The Pantry: Amaretto Apple Crisp
Farm Girl Gourmet: Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta
That’s Forking Good: Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies
Out of the Box Food: Out of the Box Food Maple Pumpkin Pie
Cake Baker 35: Orange Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Lisa Michele: Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake Pie
Food For My Family: Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie
Simple Bites: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie
A Cooks Nook: Swedish Apple Pie
Yakima Herald: Pretzel Jell-O Salad
How Does She: Three of Our Favorite Desserts
Dollhouse Bake Shoppe: Thanksgiving Candy Bar Name Plates
Sweet Fry: Pumpkin Latte
Tasty Trials: Spiced Apple Panna Cotta With Caramelized Apples and Caramel Sauce
An Uneducated Palate: Puff Pastry Apple Tart
Frugal Front Porch: Mini Cheaty Cheesecakes

Even more:
Kitchen Courses: Thanksgiving for Six People Under $60
A Curious Palate: The Communal Table

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we jammin’

Posted by culinaryneophyte on August 9, 2011

The day my Food Network Magazine arrives in the mailbox is quickly becoming my favorite day of the month, and one of my favorite parts is the “50” ideas inserts they include. Last issue was all about potato salads. This month? BACON. It’s a heart attack handbook, but I’m dying to start cooking through the list.

This sandwich isn’t on there, but I thought it’d be fun to pay homage to bacon in my own way with this bacon & jam panini, courtesy of my fridge. I had some bacon leftover from breakfast, plus some blueberry-pomegranate jam from a gift basket, so I thought I’d experiment. The end result was a pleasant surprise. If you’re a fan of salty and sweet — and cheap dishes that take under 10 minutes — give this a try.

♦Sandwich roll or crusty bread
2 slices of cheese (I used American, but feel free to get creative)
2 slices of bacon, cooked
2 tbl. jam (I used blueberry-pomegranate, but any jam should do)

Spread jam on both insides of the sandwich. Place bacon and cheese on sandwich. Spread a little bit of butter on the outsides and grill, either on the stove or in your trusty Foreman Grill until melty and crispy.

Total time? 10 minutes, shorter if you have bacon already cooked.
Cost? $2 jam, $2.50 bacon, $2 half-pound cheese can make 10 sandwiches, 65¢ roll x 10.
Overall success relative to expectations? 8 out 10. Easy. Cheap. Good. It doesn’t take much more to impress me (unless you had healthy in there, too, but that’s not a deal breaker). I ate this sandwich three days in a row for lunch. The only downside is having to have/make bacon for it, because making bacon is time consuming and terrifying to cook. (What? I’m afraid of the grease splatters!) You could use that already-made bacon, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Also, I doubt you’re going to have blueberry pomegranate jam sitting around, so experiment with different flavors. I think a raspberry or strawberry would be pretty good, too.

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cheeeeeeese! (didn’t we lock you in a Dumpster one time?)

Posted by culinaryneophyte on April 22, 2011

Grilled cheese. One of the cheapest and easiest meals you can make. Perfectly paired with a multitude of munchies. The matchless melted marriage of my two favorite foods. A bit of nostalgia in every gooey bite. It’s no wonder we have an entire month to celebrate this fantastic food.

Yes, that’s right: April is Grilled Cheese Month, and I’ve been remiss in giving you ideas for how to celebrate, so for that, I’m sorry. (I’d really like to blame my computer and its inability to stay on for more than 10 consecutive minutes, but it’s been cooperating today so far, and I don’t want to jinx things. [Hopefully it’s not reading this.])

I found my own way to celebrate last weekend with a delightful lunch at The Pop Shop in Collingswood, N.J., a place known for its crazy grilled cheeses; their Calvert grilled cheese —  roast turkey, avocado, applewood smoked bacon, Monterey jack cheese and balsamic mayo on rosemary foccacia — was featured on Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” in 2008.

The restaurant’s observance of NGCM includes a different special sandwich each day, and on my visit, I was sold: lobster, brie and garlic aioli on country white bread. Sloppy and absolutely delicious. I wish I could eat there every day. (My apologies for the photo omission. I lost all awareness once that glorious thing was set down in front of me.)

I like to get a little crazy with my grilled cheeses at home. I’ve done tomato, bacon, shrimp, chocolate, avocado, horseradish, Doritos… (not all on one sandwich, but now that you mention it…). Two of my favorites, though, are pretty standard grilled cheeses with easy twists. Whether you like experimenting, or you’re a grilled cheese purist, give ’em a try.

honeyed classic with tomato, on wheat

Honeyed classicmakes one sandwich
Two slices of bread (white, wheat — your choice)
Three slices of medium-cut American cheese (I prefer Land O’ Lakes)
1 tbs. honey
Little bit of butter 

Heat pan over medium heat. Construct cheese sandwich, and spread a small amount of butter on the outside of both sides. Cook sandwich evenly, about five minutes on each side. When bread is just about to reach desired color, spread 1/2 tablespoon of honey on one side and flip. Repeat. The honey will caramelize the bread, giving you a great sweetness to go with the salty sandwich. For variety, add tomato, avocado or other favorites inside.

crunchy grilled cheese

Crunchy grilled cheesemakes one sandwich
Two slices of bread
Three slices of medium-cut American cheese
1 egg OR 1 tbs. honey
1/2 c. corn flakes, finely crushed
♦Little bit of butter 

Heat pan over medium heat. Construct cheese sandwich. Using egg: whisk one egg in small bowl, and brush both sides. (I didn’t want to waste my last egg on this, so…) Using honey: Spread 1/2 tablespoon of honey on each side of sandwich. Dip wet sides into crushed cornflakes, and coat well. Drop on pad of butter and let it coat surface. Cook one side, add pad of butter between flip and cook other side evenly. The crushed cornflakes add an incredible texture to your classic sandwich.

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