Real Popcorn

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By Freya Bellin

You may be wondering why you’d need a recipe for something as simple as popcorn, but follow any of the variations below, and you’ll see that popcorn need not be simple—at least not in flavor. As with most pre-packaged foods, microwaveable popcorn doesn’t allow you much control over its seasoning. When you pop plain corn kernels, however, you have the freedom to add as much or as little salt, oil, or anything else, as you like. It tastes cleaner and fresher than anything you can get in a package.

It turns out that popcorn is the perfect “nosh” food for entertaining, especially when you can make it gourmet. I tried three variations: sautéed garlic, curry powder, and truffle salt. The truffle salt by far was the biggest hit. Note that seasonings like minced garlic won’t stick well to the popcorn unless they’re both hot. In general, though, as long as you’ve used enough oil (just enough to coat the bottom of your pan) the extra ingredients should stick fine. The popcorn tastes best hot, so only make as much as you’ll eat in a day. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in American

Good Old Fashioned Corn Bread

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Makes: About 6 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

Corn bread is indispensable, especially to a vegetarian diet, where its full flavor and slightly crunchy texture are welcome at any meal. And few dishes deliver so much for so little work.  Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

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Posted in American, Baking

The Involuntary Savory Breakfast

I spoke at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston last night, and – because I finished late – went out to a nondescript restaurant that had a kitchen that, in theory at least, stayed open until 10. I could complain nonstop about this entire experience but that’s not the point; I’m going to complain about something else. I will say that the best part of the meal were some semi-fried Brussels sprouts, so I took the leftovers back to my hotel, where there’s a fridge.

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Posted in American

The Best (and Simplest) Potato Salad

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Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes, plus time to cool

To me, the best and simplest potato salad is made of just-boiled potatoes dressed in a freshly made vinaigrette. If you’re in a hurry, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl, then just add the potatoes. Parsley and chopped onion are easy, flavorful additions.  Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in American, Recipes

The Minimalist: Whole-Grain Pancakes

Whole grains add tenderness and great flavor to pancakes.

Posted in American, Recipes

Hippie Rice

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By Freya Bellin

The 60s may be behind us, but this recipe is sure to please your nostalgic inner hippie. It is undeniably healthy, and the ingredients work together in a really unique and flavorful way. Nutty brown rice is sweetened by raisins, complemented by sunflower seeds, and balanced out by fresh broccoli. I love the heat that the red chile flakes add, and toasting the sunflower seeds adds a lot of flavor. The raisins get nice and plump when mixed in with the warm ingredients, and while they may seem out of place with broccoli, they’re really an excellent sweet accent. Next time I would actually increase the measurement to about 1/2 cup.

Its being a one-pot dish is big plus. You toast the sunflower seeds, cook the rice, and steam the broccoli all in the same saucepan. Just be careful not to add too much water with the rice, otherwise the rice and broccoli can get mushy. Better to err on the side of too little and add more as you go. The result is a hearty side dish that’s special enough that you’ll be excited to serve it, but also simple enough that you can add it to your weeknight repertoire. The olive oil and lemon juice that are added at the end create a nice, simple dressing, and I added a bit more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pretty much any protein—simply seasoned chickpeas would work, or up the hippie ante with tofu, mentioned below.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in American, Vegan

Grilled or Broiled Chicken Kebabs

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Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 30 minutes, plus time to marinate

Well-seasoned grilled or broiled kebabs will make anyone a convert to dark-meat chicken. You can use chicken breasts here too, but watch them closely so they don’t overcook and dry out.

Other protein you can use: turkey thighs; pork or veal shoulder, steak, or loin; sturdy fish like swordfish or salmon. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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Posted in American, Recipes

1st Day of HTCE: Meat Loaf

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I’m giving away copies of the new How to Cook Everything iPad App, one every day until new year’s eve. Just sign up for the newsletter (look to your left) to enter the running. I’ll pick an email address at random and send you the App.

“Boiled Water”

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 20 minutes

This Mediterranean classic, as ancient and almost as simple as boiling, is the quintessential beginner’s or just- plain-basic soup. It’s one you’ll cook forever.

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Posted in American

2nd Day of HTCE: Meat Loaf

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I’m giving away copies of the new How to Cook Everything iPad App, one every day until new year’s eve. Just sign up for the newsletter (look to your left) to enter the running. I’ll pick an email address at random and send you the App.

Meat Loaf

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended

Free-form meat loaf has several advantages over those cooked in loaf pans: It develops a lovely crust on three sides instead of just one, and the fat can run off, rather than become trapped between pan and meat. Plus it’s easy to shape by hand and always turns out in the shape you wanted. You can also shape this mixture into meatballs if you like; just bake them for about half the time.

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Posted in American, Behind The Scenes

7th Day of HTCE: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Picture_7

I’m giving away copies of the new How to Cook Everything iPad App, one every day until new year’s eve. Just sign up for the newsletter (look to your left) to enter the running. I’ll pick an email address at random and send you the App.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

One of the most popular recipes in the original How to Cook Everything, which I attribute to too many people growing up with what the Canadians call “Kraft dinner.” The real thing is rich, filling, delicious, and dead easy. You can change the type of cheese you use: Try blue cheese, goat cheese, smoked Gouda, or even mascarpone. Or mix in some crisp-cooked chunks of thick-cut bacon or pancetta, about 1/2cup.

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Posted in American, Behind The Scenes