Thursday, October 2, 2008

The New Food Network Website And INA!!!

I checked out the new Food Network website. It's gotta be better than the old one. (I’ve had plenty of strange results looking up recipes there.) Let me say at the beginning I do understand that, in general, people don't like change. Heck, H(usband) doesn't even like it if I put the pickles on a different shelf of the refrigerator, so a website will always meet with some resistence when it changes.

But right off the bat, I can tell you I preferred the bright green background on the old website. The new dark red fading into nothingness is generic and boring.

Skip the Ted Allen video introducing the website. Basically, he says he’s Ted Allen and that he’s introducing the website.

The first knife skills video finally loaded – after a commercial about Martha Stewart’s daughter’s (gosh, she’s skinny now with an interesting short haircut) show – and it was Bobby showing us how to use a knife! Good!

He showed an interesting way to cut a red pepper – cut straight down on all four sides, leaving a huge piece at the bottom. There is a lot of waste, but it is faster. He does a nice julienne, but I always cut my peppers skin side DOWN. Of course, Bobby's knife is so sharp he could probably do a splenectomy without missing a beat. (I found such a gross video of this, you can thank me for not including a link.) Chef Flay then makes a fine dice from the julienne.

Next he shows us how to slice and chop garlic and make a garlic paste using salt as an abrasive. He says a garlic press won’t get the garlic as fine. I find that as long I remove the stem from the middle of the garlic, the press does a great job. And I admit, I would never take the time to slice, chop and crush my garlic by hand anymore.

Alton’s video on caring for knives was next. It was so patronizing - don’t throw a good knife in the dishwasher or in a sink of soapy water (dangerous!), use a brush. And the way he rinsed the knife was disgusting. He dipped it in a second sink of hot water. Who knows what else had been in that water?

OOOOHHHH, Michael’s in the next Knife Care video. I should have recognized his fingers in the picture.

HE’S slicing garlic too. Using a garlic press is apparently really gauche to a chef…He basically covers the same stuff as Bobby, adding that it’s important to keep the knife sharp. To me, THAT is the most important piece of information. That should have its own video.

I remember Jacques Pepin being asked what kind of knives he suggested. His answer? “A sharp one.”
It doesn’t matter how good your knife is if you don’t keep it sharpened. You should get into the habit of sharpening your knife each and every time you use it. (I won’t tell if it’s every other time, but the point is to sharpen it regularly.)

Everyone has his or her own style of sharpening. Mine is to hold the steel stationary in front of me and run the knife – from the heel to the point – all the way down.
Turn the knife over and repeat on the other side of the blade. The trick is to keep the pressure uniform as you slide the knife down, so that the knife is equally sharp at all points.

I did more exploring. The FN website has a nice feature to find quick recipes; I have no idea if it’s new. You select which meal you want, what the major ingredient is and how long a preparation time. I chose dinner, chicken and 45 minutes or less and it came up with 553 recipes, the first of which was Pasta Neopolitan.

It said it had “a cook time” of 1 minute. What’s “a cook time”? The time it takes me to get irritated with dumb things on the FN website? That must be a mistake. The next few recipes had a “cook time” of 4 and 5 minutes. I must be missing something here. This is how they break it down:

Prep 45 min
Inactive Prep --
Cook 1 min
Total: 46 min

Huh? Now I’m really baffled. What does that mean? It’s either hugely wrong or way too complicated for me to figure out. Either way, that’s not good.

Other results for my search: Recipe #5 was Chicken Sandwiches; Recipe #7 was a Curried Squash and Chicken Soup – not really my idea of “dinner”. This has been my complaint with the Food Network recipe search function. It stinks!

In contrast, I went to the Epicurious website. I went to Advanced Search and input dinner and chicken. I got 151 results. With the addition of Quick and Easy I got 41, the first of which was also a pasta, but the rest were mostly legitimate dinner dishes, with a salad here and there. Recipe #3 looks fabulous!

May I just say that I wasn’t looking for anomalies on the FN website?!! I was just clicking on the most prominent links and I still think there’s some work to do. Whatever…at least, I got to see Bobby and Mike.

AND one of the endless commercials was for INA! YAY!!! When does her new season start? I TRIED to check out the schedule on the website. That’s a real trick that involves so many clicks, I thought I was back in high school.

Plus one place on the website says:
“Tune in: All new season begins Saturday, October 19 at 1:30pm/12:30c”

That’s fine, but October 19th is a SUNDAY!!!* Seriously, there’s no excuse for that. Wait, now I see a video which says the new season begins on Saturday, October 18th at 1:30pm. Okay, I’m going with that. I can’t wait.

*They fixed it...finally.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I heard about the new season of BC coming in October and my first thought was, "I can't wait for Sue's reviews of the new shows." Yes, I'm an official groupie.

Adam said...

Whoa, they changed the website? Where the heck have I been? Haha thanks for the update, and I love your commentary on the knife skills. I've found some of them worthwhile, and others not so much

Emiline said...

I bet you're excited. It's only 2 weeks away!

When it comes to writing recipes, I'm always confused about prep and cook time. To me, it doesn't matter.
If you read through the recipe, you can guess about how long it will take you. And everyone cooks at different speeds, too! Do you know what I'm saying? Also, what if you're cooking something for the dish you're making, say caramelizing an onion. Is that considered prep time or cook time?

I have trouble sharpening knives...

How come they sprinkle salt on top of the garlic when they chop it?

Sue said...

Aw, shucks, you are sooo sweet. Thanks.

Hi Adam,
You have better things to do than to try and navigate this new website.

Em, You're right. Also what may take me 20 minutes to do may take someone else a sec and vice versa.

A sharp knife is essential!

The salt breaks down the garlic.