Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: About 1 hour
My friend John Willoughby found this recipe in a southern boardinghouse nearly 20 years ago. It’s become my go-to cobbler recipe, because it’s essentially perfect. I love this with blueberries, but you can make it with any fruit you like.
Cobbler dough is somewhere between a biscuit and a cookie: fluffy, a bit flaky, buttery, and at least slightly sweet. The key is not overmixing the dough; get it so that it’s just combined, barely holding together, then drop it onto the filling in mounds, leaving space for steam to escape from the cooking fruit. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.
A clambake is one of those absurdly demanding culinary tasks that can still be performed by normal people — that is, nonchefs. And your first clambake can go well: the hardest part is finding the right beach, preferably one with an abundance of seaweed, big rocks and dry wood. It’s still not an intuitive process; at my first clambake, I wound up scraped, burned and sore, and the food I produced was undercooked and sandy. Part of this was drinking too much, too early, and part of it was that I was making it up as I went along.
I’ve worked through all of that. And if you follow my “recipe” (which includes phrases I don’t often employ, like “find about 30 rocks, each 6 by 4 inches”), you should have a memorable experience. Few meals are more beautiful than a well-executed clambake. And because demanding culinary tasks are in vogue, at least for a certain hard-working segment of the sustainable-food set, it seems like the right moment for a clambake revival.
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Makes: 8 servings
Time: 30 minutes
If you want restaurant-style coleslaw, you take shredded cabbage and combine it with mayo and maybe a little lemon juice. This version is far more flavorful with far less fat. I like cabbage salad (which is what coleslaw amounts to) on the spicy side, so I use plenty of Dijon, along with a little garlic and chile (you could substitute cayenne for the chile or just omit it if you prefer), and scallions. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Whole grains add tenderness and great flavor to pancakes.
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.
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.