Muffins, Infinite Ways

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Makes: 12 medium or 8 large muffins

Time: About 40 minutes

The only real difference between muffins and other quick breads is the pan you bake them in. But those little muffin cups allow for a lot more potential variation, depending on what you do at the last minute before baking.

Anything goes when it comes to varying this master recipe.  See the variations below for more ways to spike the recipe. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

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4th Day of HTCE: Chocolate Chip Cookies

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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.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes: 3 to 4 dozen

Time: About 30 minutes

These should really be called chocolate chunk cookies because that’s what’s called for in this recipe. (The chocolate chips available in every grocery store are disappointing at best and barely chocolate at worst.) For the most delicious results, buy a bar of good-quality chocolate (any kind except unsweetened; semisweet is traditional), chop it up, and mix it into the dough.

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Posted in Baking, Behind The Scenes

12th Day of HTCE: Jim Lahey’s No-Work Bread

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The just-released How to Cook Everything iPad App is spectacular (and I can say that since I didn’t develop it!). It’s something neither I nor anyone else could have dreamed of when I was first working on the book in the mid-90s.

To celebrate the launch I’m officially kicking off “The 12 Days of How to Cook Everything,” a countdown of the 12 most-voted-for HTCE recipes (based on an ongoing voting feature embedded in the App), one-a-day until new year’s eve.

It’s fascinating to me to see the recipes that people search for and come back to again and again: If you have any all-time favorites, post them in the comments section below, or just vote for them on the App.

Jim Lahey’s No-Work Bread

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Posted in Baking, Behind The Scenes

Parmesan Cream Crackers

Throwing a holiday party sometime soon? Forget store-bought crackers and try these.

Posted in Baking

Mock Lattice Pie

How’s this for an easy Thanksgiving dessert? (Use apples or pears instead of berries.)

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Baked Curried Rice with Apples and Coconut

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By Freya Bellin

This dish is wonderfully flavorful, blending sweet-tart apples, nutty brown rice, and spicy coconut curry.  As promised, it really is hands-off, and the results are fantastic.  By cooking the dry rice before adding liquid it becomes extra nutty, plus it gets well coated with the curry- and ginger-infused oil.   The coconut milk is subtle but crucial to the creaminess of the dish, and the shredded coconut adds a nice toasty element throughout.  Once mixed in, give the apples some time to soften up—they will cook significantly and taste best when warmed all the way through.  You can certainly play around with variations on this recipe, maybe swapping out the apples for raisins or pineapple, or some combination.  Try topping it with plain Greek yogurt for extra creaminess.

I did some improvising with the cooking technique in this recipe, and instead of using an oven-proof pan, I cooked everything in a large skillet up until it was ready for the oven.  At that point, I transferred it to a small glass Pyrex dish and covered it with aluminum foil.  The dish still came out great, so don’t be deterred if you don’t have the right cookware.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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Posted in Baking, Produce

This Week’s Minimalist: Profiteroles

Profiteroles are not nearly as hard to make as you might think, and they’re pretty fun too.

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Less-Meat Mondays: Cardamom-Scented Pear Crisp

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By Freya Bellin

Now that the weather has finally cooled down enough to use the oven again, I’ve been in the mood to bake.  With apples and pears coming into season, choosing a dessert wasn’t very difficult.  Apples may be the standard fruit for a crisp, but pears are a particularly good candidate because they tend to get a little beaten up between the market and home, and this is a great use for any that become mushy. 

This was my first time cooking with cardamom, which is a really unique spice, as it turns out.  It isn’t sweet like cinnamon is, but still gives off that warm, comforting aroma.  I actually sprinkled in about ½ teaspoon of cinnamon with the pears too, for some extra flavor and sweetness.  The crisp topping is perfect as is, and as noted in the instructions, it certainly can be made without an electric mixer if you don’t have one.  I creamed the butter and sugar with a fork, and, though a bit labor-intensive, it worked well.

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Posted in Baking