Archives for category: Cooking

It was my turn to host some friends and their little babies. Two weeks ago we went first to Ellie’s, who is from England, and she made scones full of chocolate chips. Then we went to Lena’s, from Germany, and she made a tea cake coated in chocolate. Finally it was my turn and I made these cinnamon sugar puffs because Amanda Hesser said they would taste like doughnuts. The hardest part of the whole recipe was remembering to pull the egg and milk out early so they would be room temperature. Over at Food52, they even had a slideshow to entice you into making it.

 

The Toastmaster 1B14 remains “the absolute end-all-and-be-all toaster there ever was.”

and you can still find it on ebay. Today’s Sunday New York Times includes the annual food issue of the magazine!

 

other than some blender pesto made from our window garden, I haven’t cooked in weeks and weeks. I miss it, but I’m also happy with buttering toast and piling on sliced tomatoes for as long as it takes for me to master baby-in-the-background.

Gazing at a wonderfully illustrated recipe will have to do for complexity in the kitchen for now.

Directions for Ice Cream Clouds.

 

This is the kind of useful thing America’s Test Kitchen usually keeps behind a paywall or buried in Cook’s Illustrated: whether it’s ok to buy a cheap nonstick pan. The answer is yes, and definitely get rid of your old one as soon as it starts peeling.

They do point out that if you have an expensive one, it probably has a lifetime warranty, which would make the price worth it. I wish I had thought of that when I got rid of my toxically peeling All Clad two months ago.

But you can read the results for yourself right here on their all new internet hang out—the cleverly named Feed. I love the layout and how much content they’ve packed in, including lots of the esoteric that is usually just in Cook’s Illustrated.

I do not have nostalgic feelings for fudgesicles because I was sheltered from sweets as a child and never encountered them.

When Joe buys them, they look a little gray-fudge, usually frozen over, and taste like brown ice.

But Joe loves them. And Smitten Kitchen posted a homemade recipe (which I saw on Cup of Jo because I can’t keep up with Smitten’s mad recipe making, and get overwhelmed, and only check once a month). And I have these popsicle molds from Ikea that have been waiting, begging, to be called into service.

They’re delicious. Fudgy to the max. And take about ten minutes to make (we froze them overnight).

 

 

I’m so glad strawberries are finally in season, but the early crops here in MA are just not so sweet yet. Juicy, dye-your-fingers red, and smelling like earth, yes. But California sweet, no. So a little embellishment is nice.

Strawberries, dollop of sour cream, dump of brown sugar. Mix.

It looks less appetizing once melded, but you taste each element and the brown sugar melts into the sour cream and coats everything. Mmmmm.

It was so fun to find out we won the blog-the-recipe contest. I loved seeing posts from the 50+ bloggers who submitted and meeting a few of them via Twitter and comments. Blogging bakers are obviously some of the nicest people one can hope to encounter in the internet world.

On top of being delighted to win, it was an unexpected perk to get to read the judges’ comments. In typical Test Kitchen style, they took the contest seriously and had several judges from different backgrounds rate the posts. Here’s what they said about our post:

  • “Simply put, brevity is the soul of wit, and the vintage-tinged ‘Brief Guide’ photo essay bridges that sexy line between straight-forward utilitarianism and a lyrical portrayal of the kitchen. ”
  • “Her opening paragraphs perfectly capture what we do at America’s Test Kitchen, and the photos are great. They illustrate the most important parts of the recipe— and her final batch looks picture-perfect.”

Geez, thanks guys.

I say “we” because my husband Joe was my creative partner for the post and the photographer.  So luckily I got to bring one guest with me to the set. It was an easy trip on the T over to Brookline where ATK is based.

All of the ATK efforts–Cook’s Illustrated magazines and cookbooks, Cook’s Country, the recipe testing, the radio show, the product testing, the television show, the website—come out of one relatively tiny space that they’ve been in for years. The kitchen they film the show in is also the actual test kitchen. It’s remarkable to imagine the enormous variety of work and projects that come out of that little space.

Spotted! Chris Kimball. Chris and his partner for each show don’t have memorized lines, they just really know what they are talking about. Sometimes they have to do several takes of a certain shot and they come up with new, better approaches each time. It was amazing to watch in real time.

The crew was so friendly and accommodating even though there was no room at all. I had an eight month pregnant belly to add to the mix, so it was a tight fit.

Joe particularly hoped we would see this helpful guy:

Serious mise en place. Secretly wish we would’ve showed up on Nutella bread pudding day.

One of my favorite parts of the visit was seeing the enormous cookbook library. When you read a recipe that’s been remade by the Test Kitchen, they always reference the dozens of recipes they examined before they began. This is how they do it! They estimate that their library is the largest cookbook library in the United States. It takes up all the walls of the largest room in the office, and is meticulously organized.

The library had just recently gotten in Modernist Cuisine. Now that I think about it, I can imagine the ATK cooks loving the scientific examination of cooking that Modernist Cuisine pursues, but I was still impressed to see it on the shelves. (Also, considering the $625 price tag, I had not had a chance seen it in person yet.)

On the day we visited, one of the recipes they were filming was chocolate pudding.

I don’t even like chocolate pudding, and I couldn’t stop eating this. All the food they make for the show gets devoured almost immediately, by the crew, staff, cooks, extras…everyone takes part in the labor and gets to appreciate the results. I was lucky to get my own bowl.

Everyone we met obviously loved their job and wanted to do it very well. I think you get that vibe when you read Cook’s Illustrated, but it was even better to encounter in person and great to see the inner workings of such a unique company publishing company. Thanks for letting us visit, ATK!

Recipes go into the Test Kitchen (which publishes Cook’s Illustrated) and reappear as runway models of their former selves. Inefficiencies, widely accepted rumors of what works, weird unnecessary steps, and disproportionate ingredients are trimmed, firmly reprimanded, frisked, or tugged into place.

Their recipe for chocolate chip cookies is full of just these alterations, challenging everyone’s favorite back o’ the box recipe by Toll House. Lighter on the flour, more and darker brown sugar, higher oven temperature, one less egg white…everything focused with undivided attention upon creating the chewiest cookie possible, with flavors of toffee, butterscotch, and serious butter love hiding inside.

The result speaks for itself. In your mouth. While you debate eating three in a row.

You can get their detailed recipe to add to your repertoire (do) right here, and here’s a visual guide to the key elements.

This post is my entry into Cook’s Illustrated delightful blogging contest. Read more about it right here, and see the other contestants here, here, here.
UPDATE: E&D won! Joe and I get to visit the Test Kitchen next week! You can see the top finalists here, I love the judges’ comments. In true Test Kitchen fashion, they took the contest seriously and gave great commentary on what they liked. So fun to participate with all the other bloggers. Read about our visit to the Test Kitchen right here!

I love this marinade recipe. I copied it out of an old Gourmet, a summer issue that I unwisely started reading in January. (never do that to yourself.)

It was in the Letters to the Editor, and the writer said they made it every summer on their deck, with friends, over the grill. I make it in my kitchen with my mouse friends hiding in the corner, for just Joe and me. I try to give the meat (usually sirloin tips because I like their size) at least an hour to soak it all up, and then put them in a small pan and stick it under the broiler, turning every 10 minutes until they are done.

2 lbs flank steak (or whatever)

1/4 c. grainy mustard

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 tsp. Worcestershire

1 Tbsp. soy

1 Tbsp. hoisin

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger

If I’m missing anything I just mutter the magic words, “so what, who cares” and double the garlic.

I love the theme of this week’s contest over at Food52: The Recipe You Want to Be Remembered for. What a great way to spark creativity in recipe hunting and honing. They are sure to, as always, get some amazing recipes out of it.

The above is a little snapshot of my favorite breakfast these days: vanilla pancakes with caramelized bananas, before or after church, at the Beacon Hill Bistro, which is down the street from our apartment and puts clean paper over the tables, serves their coffee with tiny stirring spoons, and takes it for granted that you want real maple syrup with your pancakes.

Sorry guys. I’ve been missing this place.

I went home for a baby shower. Joe and I made a little mix cd to give as a tiny thank you to all the amazing women who gave us gifts, many of them obviously handcrafted with love. It was supposed to be Springy, and Agreeable, so that even my grandmothers would like it. You can listen to it too, right here. (the mix I lined-up to play right after our mix is really good too–French and sexy.)

Want a close-up of that little painting Joe made for the cd cover? I know I do:

My only selfish request for the shower brunch was that there be cinnamon rolls. My mom makes the recipe that was copied off of Cinnabon, as in the all rights reserved Cinnabon, the one you hope is in the airport so you can sneak off and get a small box of chewy frosted dough.

Is there anything quite like seeing a dozen adults queue up to buy themselves cinnamon rolls?

a sample gift:

What else?

I made this easy quinoa tabbouleh and thought about how healthy and worthy I was, eating quinoa and even pronouncing it properly under my breath. (instead of “keen-wa,” there used to be days when I said “qui-noAH.” Whatever. The point is, it has a lot of amino acids.)

I watched the first episode of “Dresscue Me.” You can download it, free, from iTunes. Joe was almost too stressed out by the estrogen-energy to watch; which I say as a warning before you get the whole family in front of the television.

I read a bunch of great books. The last three on that list were particularly fun to read. If you need a little great writing in your life, a little reminder of how immediately enticing a story can be, get The Imperfectionists from the library. I almost read it twice, just to make it last longer.

Don’t forget about this almond pastry Easter recipe I wrote about last year.

Just because I wasn’t around here doesn’t mean I wasn’t reading your lovely blog posts, and funny tweets, missing your thoughtful company, and clicking your delightful links. I was.

I spent some time advocating that we have a cake walk at our wedding in place of handing out plates of cake. Though I rarely encounter them outside of small Midwestern fairs, I love the idea of cake walks. Have you ever played one? Basically they are bingo + musical chairs + winning homemade cakes. You usually exchange a fair ticket for a chance to go around a circle a couple of times, hoping they call the number that you step on when they stop the music.

We couldn’t figure out how to swing it in the fancy hotel reception (and ended up having delicious tiramisu anyway) but this album cover just reminded me.

Yummy. The album cover was designed by Studio Aad for an album put together by Irish artists to raise money for Oxfam.

I first saw it on the How Blog.

 

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