What's cooking: Pillsbury Bake-Off, Downton Abbey

  • Updated: February 19, 2014 - 1:56 PM
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These Loaded Potato Pinwheels took the grand prize at the 2013 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest.

Bake-Off goes gluten-free

It’s time for the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest, with even more variations on a theme that’s been going on since 1949, when the grand prize recipe was no-knead water-rising twists. For the first time, there’s a category for best recipe using a Pillsbury gluten-free product. A further twist is that votes from the public on their favorite recipes will be combined with the judges’ decisions to determine the grand prize winner — earning that baker or cook $1 million. (Watch for Facebook and Pinterest pages to run amok.) In all, the Bake-Off now has four recipe categories with two entry periods, culminating in the finals Nov. 3 at the Omni Nashville Hotel in Tennessee. The first entry period is for Simply Sweet Treats and Savory Snacks & Sides and is open until March 27. (The second entry period is from March 27 to May 8 for Weekend Breakfast Wows and Amazing Doable Dinners recipes.) For details, visit www.BakeOff.com.

Foods for the big faceoff

Fans attending the state girls hockey tournament that began this week at the Xcel Energy Center may find some new menu items. (That is, if they haven’t made it to any Minnesota Wild games, whose season opener coincided with the new foods’ debut.) Most feature local meats from Husnik Meat Co. of South St. Paul. From Xcel’s executive chef Jason Steidle: a Reuben dog, with sauerkraut and Louie dressing; a chicken and green chile dog, which combines a sausage, fresh pico de gallo and avocado cream; pretzel bites topped with crumbled bratwurst and house-made beer cheese sauce; a pork torta with smoked pulled pork shoulder and Mexican sandwich fixings, and a walleye BLT with fish, tomato jam, mayo, bacon and lettuce. A culinary hat trick awaits a hungry fan.

Downton downtown

Appropriately enough, Brit’s Pub, 1110 Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, will host a viewing party for the season finale of “Downton Abbey” on Sunday. In addition to the high-def big screen with surround sound, there will food specials and Two Gingers cocktail specials named the Daisy and the Branson. There’s no cover charge and period dress is encouraged — way more fun now that the gentry are in the Jazz Era. Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. with the show at 8 p.m. No reservations are needed; just swan in like the Dowager Countess.

What’s for (yawn) dinner?

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