12 Ways to Enjoy Strawberries All Summer Long

Strawberry-Lime Stuffed CupcakesSummer means tons of fresh fruits and vegetables showing up at the grocery stores and farmers markets, but if we’re totally honest, strawberries make us giddy for the season and gets our creative cooking juices flowing. While frozen strawberries keep our cravings at bay throughout the year, there are some things that are just better with super-sweet fresh strawberries. Take a look at some tasty ways to get your fill while strawberries are in season.

Strawberry-Stuffed Cupcakes (pictured above)
They look like standard cupcakes from the outside, but take a bite and you’ll be surprised with a mouthful of strawberry baked right in!

Strawberry FoolStrawberry Fool
Quite possibly the easiest recipe of them all, strawberry fool is essentially just strawberries and whipped cream, mixed together. Sunny Anderson brings out the natural sweetness of strawberries by macerating them with some orange juice and a bit of sugar before folding them into homemade whipped cream.

Strawberry Ice CreamStrawberry Ice Cream
Pre-packaged strawberry ice cream is a far cry from the fresh stuff. Break out the ice cream maker and find out what you’ve been missing.

Strawberry ShortcakeStrawberry Shortcake
Depending on where you grew up, shortcake can either mean a biscuit or cake-like dessert topped with whipped cream and strawberries. This variety is the biscuit-type and makes for picture-perfect individual servings.

Classic Strawberry ShortcakeStrawberry Shortcake
The cakey variety of shortcake is perfect for those who love cake but don’t love a thick, heavy layer of frosting.

Green Salad with Strawberry Balsamic VinaigretteGreen Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
This healthy side salad gets a sweet kick from strawberry jam in the dressing and fresh strawberries tossed right into the mix. Add in some grilled chicken to make it a light meal.

Strawberry MuffinsStrawberry Muffins
No one can justify skipping breakfast when it tastes this good and takes less than an hour to have a fresh batch out of the oven.

Strawberry JamStrawberry Jam
The ultimate way to preserve the flavor of fresh strawberries? With preserves! Stock your pantry with strawberry jam and reap the benefits all winter long.

Balsamic StrawberriesBalsamic Strawberries
Boil balsamic vinegar with some honey to dress up fresh strawberries for a light dessert that’s not overly sweet but still satisfies your after-dinner craving. Mascarpone whipped cream makes this super simple dessert dinner party-worthy.

Chicken Tacos with Strawberry SalsaChicken Tacos with Strawberry Salsa
Taco Tuesday just got better. This summer edition of everyone’s favorite Tuesday treat features marinated and grilled chicken topped with fresh strawberry salsa.

Strawberry Pie CakeStrawberry Pie Cake
Get the best of two classic desserts with one simple mashup. This strawberry-filled dessert is a breeze to make thanks to store-bought cake mix and refrigerated pie dough.

Strawberry Orange DaiquiriStrawberry Orange Daiquiri
No summer party is complete without a beverage, and you’re only four ingredients away from this tropical daiquiri.

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Chatting with Natalie Sideserf, a Star of the New Series Texas Cake House

Natalie SideserfLet’s just say that Natalie Sideserf isn’t your everyday cake decorator. While many bakers look to a sheet of fondant and a few roses to craft a birthday cake, Natalie pushes the limits of what you know cake to be by building from the base up hyper-realistic designs that are as much works of art as they are desert. Together with her husband and business partner, Dave, Natalie will offer fans an insider’s look at the start-to-finish process she and her team employ on their all-new series, Texas Cake House. The show premieres on Monday, July 10 at 9|8c, but we caught up with Natalie ahead of time to learn more about her style in the kitchen and the business she and Dave run, Sideserf Cake Studio.

How did you get started in this business? 
Natalie Sideserf: After graduating from the Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, my friend Kelsey suggested I try to make a sculpted cow skull cake for our friend’s upcoming birthday. I gave it a try and immediately realized I had found the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Being able to combine my love of food and art is a dream come true.

Where did you learn to sculpt cake?
NS: I learned the basics of cake decorating while working at local bakeries, but I taught myself how to create elaborate cake sculptures by experimenting at home. It has taken me many years of practice, and I still learn something new with every cake.

Your work transcends cake decorating and becomes pieces of edible art. How would you describe what it is that you do?
NS: Approaching sugar, chocolate and cake the same as I would traditional art media has allowed me to master my innovative techniques and style. With every cake design, I ask myself, “How can I take this cake to the next level?”

Who would you consider to be your culinary/professional mentor?
NS: As far as cake sculpting, I research hyper-realistic artists and special-effects makeup artists. I often borrow their techniques and find substitutes for their materials in food, sugar and cake. My go-to artist to reference is Ron Mueck. His work is absolutely insane.

Austin is a very unique food city. When it comes to the culinary side of Sideserf Cake Studio we are very much influenced by local restaurants whose food is also creative. Odd Duck has a chocolate layer cake with Mexican vanilla ice cream and chocolate potato chips that is amazing. And if you think my cakes are artistic, you have to try Texas barbecue! The smoking process is truly an art.

Do you enjoy eating cake as much as sculpting it? What’s your favorite cake-frosting combo?
NS: Sideserf Cake Studio is known for creating unique flavors that complement our cake designs. I love variety, but if I had to pick one go-to cake-frosting combo, I’d say chocolate cake with chocolate Swiss buttercream. Give me all the chocolates!

Texas Cake HouseWhat’s the process like to create a custom cake? Please walk us through the steps in as much detail as possible.
NS: My cakes are project based, so every cake is a little different. Typically I start by searching reference photos to influence the cake design. After drawing up a quick sketch of the cake, I build the internal structure that gives the cake its gravity-defying shape. After the structure is built and the cakes are baked, I stack, carve, ice, sculpt and paint the cake. The last step is delivery, which is always the perfect mix of stress and excitement.

What kinds of clients seek your cakes?
NS: I’ve had requests for cakes of a life-sized human bust to a unicorn farting a glittery rainbow. My clients are open-minded and order very unique cakes. Many of my cakes circulate online in blogs and news outlets all over the world, so a lot of my clients order from me because they see my work online first and become fans. In fact, I’ve had someone tell me they didn’t plan on having a party but did anyway just so they could order a cake. I was super flattered. I’m so happy my cakes have the power to initiate parties.

What are your favorite kinds of cakes to make, in terms of subjects, themes, genres or celebrations?
NS: Like most chefs, I specialize in a specific style. I prefer to sculpt organic cake designs (humans, animals), as opposed to mechanical objects (cars, buildings). My favorite cakes are when customers give me a theme and let me come up with a design completely on my own, because it allows me to design based on my strengths.

Are you ever bummed to see your cakes be eaten, given the amount of effort and time you invested in making them?
NS: Eating the cake is my favorite part! I love that scratch-baking ingredients can be transformed into an elaborate sculpture that people can eat. It is a really fun process and unique experience for the customers and myself.

What’s the most-unusual cake request you’ve ever received? Were you able to deliver? Please explain.
NS: The more unusual the cake, the more excited I am to make it. I had a really, really weird cake that I made for a film festival in Austin, but you will have to watch Texas Cake House to see it. No spoilers!

How long does it take you to create one cake, from start to finish?
NS: I estimate approximately 30 to 40 hours per cake, from design to delivery, but time varies. I always want the cake to be as fresh as possible, so there are a lot of long hours days before delivery.

What’s the most-rewarding part of this job for you?
NS: The most-rewarding part of this job is that I get to make cake sculptures that are incredibly personal. I have many customers become emotional as I drop off their cake — some even tear up. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an emotional event; it is a matter of exceeding a client’s expectations.

What cake or project in particular are you most proud of?

NS: I will always be most proud of my own wedding cake. Dave and I were married close to Halloween in a famous movie theater, The Alamo Drafthouse, in downtown Austin. Dave loves film and grew up watching a lot of cheesy horror-themed B-movies, so I came up with a cake design of our severed heads. I thought of the cake as a Halloween prop and used special effects makeup techniques the same way they do in movies. The cake isn’t for everyone, but it was perfect for us, and Dave absolutely loved it.

Do you find yourself getting stressed or anxious over the amount of work that’s involved in each project, or are you used to the demands by now?
NS: I don’t think I will ever make a stress-free cake. I rarely sculpt the same cake twice, which means I am bound to run into a few unexpected surprises.

What do you think fans might not realize about what it takes to create one of your cakes?
NS: I think when people only see the finished product and miss the cake-making process, they think that everything went quickly and with ease, but that isn’t always the case. It takes a lot of time to make high-quality sculpted cakes, and sometimes things don’t go as planned. You wouldn’t believe how dramatic a cake delivery can be!

Tell us about your working relationship with Dave. What’s it like working with your husband every day?
NS: Dave worked from home for most of our relationship so we are used to being around each other, but now that Dave joined Sideserf Cake Studio, we are never apart. We occasionally argue, but working together allows us to understand how to handle our disagreements better. He’s really smart and business savvy, so I appreciate and respect his input. Also, he’s my husband and he’s funny and I love him, so there’s that.

How do you balance the professional relationship with Dave and your personal one?
NS: Dave and I are happiest when we strike a balance between our personal and professional relationships. We are very passionate about the business and are very hard workers, but we try to make time to go to dinner and events when we can. Having fun outside of work is really important to us.

Please fill in the blank: Dave doesn’t know this, but it really makes me happy when _____.
NS: [When] I am stressed while working on a cake and he cracks jokes. It lightens the mood.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself and Dave in working together?
NS: Dave and I complement each other really well. We both have different talents that we contribute to the business, so having him involved makes our cakes that much better.

What can fans expect from watching Texas Cake House?
NS: Along with watching the process of making cakes that I am really proud of, fans can expect to learn more about the people behind our crazy cakes. Dave and I are super goofy, and we have a lot of fun together.

What do you hope fans learn about you and your business?
NS: I hope fans will see how appreciative I am to have the opportunity to make cakes, and I hope that they feel encouraged to follow their talents too.

Mark your calendar for the premiere of Texas Cake House on Monday, July 10 at 9|8c.

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These Temporary Tattoos of Herbs Are Scented

These Temporary Tattoos of Herbs Are ScentedParsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are not only herbs you keep in your kitchen spice drawer and lyrics you sing in the shower (Are you going to Scarborough Fair?). They’re also artful temporary tattoos you can wear on your arm. In fact, you can wear them wherever you like. Oh, and also? They’re scented.

Temporary tattoo maker ­Tattly — which was begun by a Brooklyn blogger and designer who couldn’t stand the ugly clip-art temporary tattoos her children were presented with and decided to make something better — is now selling a package of eight meticulously detailed and delicately rendered fragrant herb tattoos based on original watercolor designs created by Lyon, France-based painter Vincent Jeannerot. (The artists who design Tattly tattoos get a cut of sales.)

The botanical temporary tats — sold as the BOUQUET GARNI SET — are definitely easy on the eyes. They’re designed to please the old sniffer as well, featuring a “unique and subtle” scent developed by fragrance producer Agilex Fragrances.

“The top notes include Red Thyme, Italian Bergamot, Sheer White Spice Accord; the middle notes feature Parsley Leaf, Moroccan Rosemary, Wild Sage; and the bottom notes contain White Musk, Clear Musk, and White Sandalwood,” the Tattly website asserts.

Safe, non-toxic, FDA-compliant and suitable for herb fans of all ages, the tattoos are printed with vegetable-based ink and made in the U.S.A. An eight-pack will run you $18. The tattoos apply with help from a damp sponge in about 30 seconds, are waterproof and last for about two to four days.

Just don’t blame them if you can’t get that Simon & Garfunkel song out of your head the whole time.

Photo courtesy of @tattly

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On the Longest Day of the Year, Achieve All of Your Food Goals

It’s here, folks — the season in which everything is a little bit brighter, life is a little bit breezier and the days are a little bit lighter. And to celebrate today’s extended hours of sunlight (woo-hoo!), we suggest you make some recipes that are just as festive as you feel today. These dishes are what your taste buds (and Instagram) were made for. And yes, we’re totally on board with a day that starts with a sundae and ends with shortcake.

Banana Ice Cream Sundae (above)

It’s not every day that we’d suggest eating ice cream for breakfast, but: A) This isn’t ice cream, it’s one-ingredient banana “nice” cream. B) It’s dressed up with all the good-for-you toppings you might put on yogurt (like berries and nuts). And C) if you can’t eat dessert for breakfast on the first day of summer, when can you?

Colorful Summer Rolls With Peanut Dipping Sauce

For lunch, make the happiest wraps we know. Translucent rice paper puts a rainbow of fresh ingredients (like candy cane beets, mint and peppers) on display.

Shrimp Scampi Pasta Salad

This bright and beautiful dish is proof that scampi can be a dish best served cold. And start celebrating summer’s bounty with crisp green beans, juicy tomatoes and sweet corn.

Fried Deviled Eggs

This twist on a classic is reason enough to throw a last-minute summer solstice shindig. Coated in panko and fried, the egg whites become crunchy and addictive — much more than just a vehicle for the creamy, yolky center.

Grilled Loaded Nachos

If you’ve waited for today to fire up the grill for the first time, make its debut a memorable one. Warmed on the grill, nachos (loaded with chorizo, refried beans and cheese) come out melty, smoky and perfectly crisp.

Cheese-Stuffed Burgers

Of course, we certainly suggest you make room on your grill for some burgers too. Trisha Yearwood’s are stuffed with whatever cheese you like (Blue cheese! Mozzarella! Pimiento!).

Sangria Slushie

Pour a bottle of wine into ice cube trays and freeze in the morning; by dinnertime you can whirl the cubes in a blender with brandy, orange-flavored liqueur and berries. It’s a delicious party trick you’ll pull out every weekend this season.

Strawberry Shortcake Skewers

And because it will still be light out once dessert-time rolls around, fire up the grill again. Charred berries and pound cake take a traditional sweet treat to a whole ‘nother level.

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Sausages and greens Napoli-style from Rachel Roddy | A kitchen in Rome

Elena Ferrante’s novels evoke the Neapolitan city in all its drama, including the food, and inspire a charity cucina povera feast of succulent greens and juicy sausages typical of the region

“Sometimes we saw him climbing up the scaffolding of new buildings that were rising floor by floor, or in a hat made of newspaper, in the sun, eating bread with sausage and greens during his lunch break…”

Even though it is the first of four Neapolitan Novels, finishing My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante left me bereft – or, as my nine-year-old self once said, “end-of-book lonely”. Also it left me feeling guilty: I galloped through the last 60 pages in much the same way I often eat food – greedily and not really chewing properly. What happened between Fernando and Silvio Solara? Why was Marcello wearing the shoes Stefano bought? Answers – and no doubt more questions – would come with book two, which could be bought from the English bookshop near the Spanish steps… It was only 4:30pm: I had more than enough time to get there. Or was that hasty? I would read the last 40 pages again. On the train to Naples.

Continue reading…

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Why do worms like apples but not oranges?

The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific concepts

In a long life I have never encountered a maggot or worm in an orange or banana, but have quite often come across such wildlife in an apple or blackberry. Why are some fruits susceptible to infestation, but others not? Is there any rule?

alexandra smithies

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How to cook Swedish-style baked leeks and beef rydberg on an open fire | Book extract

Nordic cooking is simpler than you think. As this Swedish chef says, all you need is a wood fire and an iron pan to make these recipes from his book, Food From The Fire

Before the arrival of the electric cooker, fire, wood and iron were the holy trinity of the Swedish kitchen. I grew up in Järpen, a small village in the north of Sweden. My parents would take us to the mountains, and we’d cook over a fire pit. As a young chef, though, I became passionate about Italian olive oil, French braised chicken and molecular gastronomy – serving dishes, in my first restaurant, such as “asparagus clouds”. I could hardly have got any further away from the rustic slow cooking of the Jämtland forests.

And then I spent the summer of 2011 with my family in a cabin on the island of Ingarö in the Stockholm archipelago. My wife Katarina had just had our first child, our son Vinston. I wandered around on the island and pondered, like a gloomy character from a Bergman film staring at the trees, and remembered the open-fire cooking of my childhood. I chopped down some of the birches I had stared at and made a fire pit. For the whole summer, it was our family kitchen – it never went out. Most of the time we grilled in the usual way, on a grate, but one day I didn’t have enough patience and just whacked a cast-iron pan straight into the flames. The fire sizzled and sparked around the pan; the force of the heat knocked me back; and the flavours of the food … what depth! The image of an analogue fine-dining restaurant developed in my mind, a place where everything was cooked over fire, like in the old days.

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Roasted Radishes with Burrata and Arugula Pesto

Tomorrow I’m hopping on a plane to speak at Blogher in hot and humid Orlando, Florida. Should be fun! I’m there for like 24 hours so unfortunately I won’t have time to go to Disney World. I have a lot of fun memories of Disney World, especially grad night where all of us loaded in a bus and drove 3 hours up north to attend. They shut down Disney early and us kids, like a thousand 16 year olds hung out during the middle of the night. There were SO many kids doing things they shouldn’t have been doing. Luckily my school threatened the day lights out of us with the idea of not possibly graduating so I’m pretty sure none of us brought alcohol/did bad things because the wrath of failure and parents was too much to deal with. FEAR IS WHAT DRIVES MANY OF US! Sometimes it’s not a bad thing. Anyway, I’ll be back before you know it and then I’m headed to Palm Springs for the weekend with my friend Cassie and of course Amelia is coming because when a pool calls, homegirl is there. On the Instagram a week ago or so I asked many […]

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