Over the years I’ve bought tahini—toasted sesame paste—to use in different dishes, and I’ve never been satisfied with it. It has always had a chalky texture and uninspiring flavor, even tasting a bit off, probably indicating it had been sitting on the shelf too long. So I decided to try making it myself. Turns out it’s not hard at all but you do need a food processor (a mini works great).
This tart was so awesome it was gone by the time of writing this post, and I’m ambivalent about chocolate. I am not the type of person who loses her mind over chocolate cake, or chocolate ice cream, or unadorned chocolate. I will eat those things, of course, but they are not my first dessert choice. Enthusiasts, please stay with me. Continue reading
The last time I baked bread, I was in junior high school, which is more years ago than I care to count. I started with plain white bread, baked up in a loaf pan, and then went on to experiment a bit with different recipes. My Waterloo, if my memory is correct, was a pumpernickel rye. I can’t exactly recall what went wrong, but I know for sure that something did! Continue reading
The first thing that hit me when I saw Mark’s recipe for No-Bake Fruit and Cereal Bars in his new book How to Bake Everything was that it sounded a lot like Rice Krispies Treats®, only with fruit and juice instead of the sticky marshmallow sauce for glue. If I went with a puffed whole grain—Khorasan wheat to be exact—the bars would have a similar texture and, with the fiber and small bit of honey for sweetener, they’d actually be a healthy and satisfying snack. Continue reading
Mark’s new book, How to Bake Everything, got me thinking about what makes a full-on go-to recipe. Topmost, it’s flavor—you take a bite and your first thought is WOW! Adaptability is also important; I like when you can simply swap ingredients in and out and the result is still delicious, only now in a totally different way. Easy changes are at the core of how Mark thinks about food and he’s extended this approach to develop variations for baking. Lastly, recipes I make again and again are always forgiving, even when I need to go rogue.
A perfect example is the book’s Lemon Cornmeal Cake. I absolutely love this cake: it goes together in less than 15 minutes, bakes up in 30, and you can serve it right out of the pan or flip it out onto a plate. It’s intensely citrusy and not too sweet, making it wonderful for snacking (meaning I don’t feel guilty when I eat most of it myself in a series of small slivers). The first time I made it just as written—well, not quite. I used my cast iron skillet as the pan and I “baked” it on my gas grill. It was fantastic. Continue reading
When asked the defining question “Stones or Beatles?” I say Kinks. Given the choice between Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip, the answer is “Fig Bittmans.” So that’s the first recipe we’re featuring from Mark’s newest cookbook How to Bake Everything.
For such fancy-looking cookies, the scenario is supernaturally simple: Make the dough (which calls for brown sugar to give the crust a lovely caramel color and flavor). While it rests in the fridge, soften dried figs (I used a mixture of Black Mission and Turkish) in orange juice; purée. Mark has you divide the dough into four pieces so it’s easy to handle, then roll and fill.
Transfer each folded log to an ungreased baking sheet—seam side down—and into a 375dgF. When you open the oven door to check on them the first time, you’ll be amazed at how they’ve puffed up. And the fragrance! Cut them into “Bittmans” while they’re still a little warm and you can hear the crunch.
For a pro-like look I trimmed most of the ends (and ate them!). The combination of fig, orange, and vanilla is way better than anything out of a box. And you get at least two-dozen cookies in one batch so they’re hardly any more time consuming than other cookies. They’ll keep for a week in an airtight container but won’t last that long. So if you want to pace yourself, wrap a few in sheets of wax paper and freeze them in a bag. Then you can defrost a package in the microwave and eat them warm for breakfast. Just saying.
The recipe follows so you can try a batch, too. They’d be terrific for a Halloween party.
You can find the recipe here.
I know that it’s officially fall but with the beautiful weather we’ve been having, I prefer to think that summer is still with us. It certainly looks that way in my local market, which is overflowing with beautiful produce, including these lovely lavender eggplant I decided to put in my basket. My husband had been asking for eggplant Parmesan for a long time (he still talks about the eggplant Parmesan his friend Dominick “Spike” Candido made when they were in college together). My idea was to do a freeform, unbreaded, version on the grill. Continue reading
Having a jar of quick pickles in my fridge makes my weeknight cooking both easier and more interesting. It’s a two for one deal: you get something delicious and crunchy that goes with almost anything, and you are 90% of the way to a finished dish. They’re a cinch to put together and will last throughout the week, at which point you can choose another vegetable to pickle.
In the few days since I made this batch of pickled fennel, I have: chopped up the fennel and mixed it with rice, along with some of the pickling liquid and olive oil; added the fennel to blanched fresh cranberry and green beans and dressed the mixture with pickling liquid, olive oil, and herbs; chopped the fennel and added it to a salad, and used the pickling liquid to make the dressing; eaten the pickles with cheese and crackers; added them to a sandwich. Continue reading
For the last year I’ve been working with my friend Ricardo Salvador and the Union of Concerned Scientists, strategizing about our so-called food system and making healthy food affordable for everyone.
One upshot of this is a recipe video series called, appropriately enough, “Recipe for a Better Food System,” which connects great recipes to even better food policies.
The first video uses peak season tomatoes to get us talking about the people who get those tomatoes (and all our food) to our tables, and the reality of their working conditions. You’ll learn something, I hope, and maybe get some ideas for dinner.
You can also find the video on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ blog.
Everyone says that leftovers are “the best part of Thanksgiving,” but your leftovers can be so much more than dry meat on bread with mayonnaise. My new book Kitchen Matrix has 20 recipes for leftover turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, along with a slew of tantalizing uses for extra veggies (and if you’re anything like me, you’ll have a lot of those). You’ll have to buy the book if you want all the recipes, but here are a few clever uses for leftover cranberry sauce. These are universal enough to accommodate almost whatever kind of cranberry sauce you’re starting with (even the canned kind).
In individual glasses, alternate layers of cranberry sauce, plain Greek yogurt, honey, and chopped pecans. Garnish: fresh mint.
Mix equal parts gin, Campari, vermouth, and cranberry sauce in a cocktail shaker with ice. Garnish: orange or lemon peel.
Cook chicken parts in butter, rotating and turning as necessary, until browned on all sides; remove from the pan. Add chopped onion, garlic, and fresh ginger and cook until soft. Stir in cranberry sauce and a little chicken or turkey stock or white wine; add the chicken. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, turning the chicken occasionally until it’s cooked through. Garnish: grated orange zest.