What to Cook

February 6, 2021

How to Make Savory-Sweet Shallot Jam With 3 Ingredients

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer—not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. This week, we’re making a savory jam to smear on everything. On a good day, jam refers to “a food made by boiling fruit and sugar to a thick consistency.” Or on a bad one, “a crowded mass that impedes or blocks movement.” This three-ingredient jam is neither. Yes, we will be boiling. Yes, there will be sugar. But fruit? Not a strawberry or peach or even tomato in sight. Instead: shallots. Lots and lots of shallots. Sure, jam is best known as a way to stretch summer’s bounty, to make fragile berries that would’ve gone moldy in days last for weeks or months. But just as jam need not be limited to fruits—hi bacon, hello red peppers—it need not be limited to warm weather either. Come colder, clouder, gustier months, there are plenty of ingredients that would love to be stirred with sugar and simmered, simmered, simmered into oblivion. Especially alliums. Maybe you’ve already heard of onion jam, on ricotta-dolloped biscuit bites or goat cheese crostini. I like to think of shallot jam as the ultimate onion jam—what an onion dreams of becoming after it falls asleep. “Shallots are one of the things—a basic prep item in every mise-en-place—that make restaurant food taste different from your food,” Anthony Bourdain wrote in Kitchen Confidential. “You should always have some around for sauces, dressings, and sauté items.” Photo by Ty Mecham. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. And jam. Score a couple pounds and you’re halfway to this high-impact spread that your fridge will be thrilled (chuffed!) to have around. Here’s the cheat sheet: Dice shallots and sauté until transparent-ish, like stained glass. Treat to sugar, which will encourage deeper, darker caramelization. Then wake things up with a hefty pour of vinegar. The last ingredient depends on you—or, more specifically, what you already have around. My vote is for malt vinegar, widely known as the finishing touch on fish-and-chips, but it's a wonder-ingredient in countless other places, too. In this case, it gives shallot jam a roasty, toasty—and, yeah, malty—flavor. Feel free to swap in other vinegars like white wine, red wine, rice, or any of those mixed with balsamic or black. Once you have shallot jam around, the world is yours, as far as your eyes can see. Try it with: Buttered toast Triscuits and Gouda Pork chops with sautéed peppers Crispy sausage and scrambled eggs Chopped liver (or liver mousse) toasts Penne with butter and Parmesan Roast chicken and any vegetables Oil and vinegar as a vinaigrette Rice-and-beans burrito Fettuccine with Greek yogurt Quesadilla or grilled cheese I won’t try to hide it—the last one is my favorite. On a bad day, I’ll sandwich seedy bread, sharp cheddar, and shallot jam, griddle it until crispy outside, melty inside, then take a bite while it’s still too hot. Just like that, the bad day becomes a little better. Shallot Jam View Recipe Ingredients Neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed 2 pounds shallots, peeled and chopped 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup granulated sugar 6 tablespoons malt vinegar (or another variety), divided Neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed 2 pounds shallots, peeled and chopped 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup granulated sugar 6 tablespoons malt vinegar (or another variety), divided From Our Shop our line! Five Two Essential Sauté Pan $119 our line! Five Two Wooden Spoons $25–$99 More Styles our line! Five Two Essential Kitchen Towels $35–$95 More Options How will you use shallot jam? Let us know in the comments!
December 15, 2020

A Guide to Gluten-Free Pasta (and Which One We Picked as Our Favorite)

Gluten-free pasta started out humbly enough: I saw that white rice was ground to a flour and shaped into slightly mushy versions of penne rigate. Then I saw a box of quinoa pasta, and then chickpea pasta made an appearance. Now, every time I walk through the grocery store it feels like there's another gluten-free pasta available. While all of these pastas can be rounded up and categorized into "gluten-free pastas," I learned after a very starchy taste test of 7 popular gluten-free pastas (chickpea pasta, red lentil pasta, black bean pasta, quinoa pasta, corn pasta, white rice pasta, and brown rice pasta) that each variation tastes incredibly different—and takes to different sauces in different ways. Here's what to use these gluten-free pastas for, and what we liked—and didn't—about each variation: From Our Shop our line! Five Two Essential Saucepan $69–$89 More Sizes our line! Five Two Silicone Spoons $49 More Colors our line! Five Two Stoneware Bowl (Set of 4) $59–$69 More Options Our Gluten-Free Pasta Test Taste Chickpea Photo by James Ransom Chickpea Pasta (Banza): This pasta started out promisingly. As soon as I put the chickpea pasta into the pan, it sunk to the bottom and formed a line across the center of the pot. When I fished a few chickpea soldiers out at five minutes, they were still chewy, but another couple of minutes did the trick. Verdict: If undercooked, pasta retains its shape very well and doesn’t stick together once plated and dried—if cooked even a moment too long, it turns to mush in the pot or the colander. Unfortunately, it leaves a distinct chickpea aftertaste, and once chewed, it’s difficult to differentiate the pasta from a mouthful of chickpeas... but, more chewy. It’s not such a strong flavor that it would overpower a flavorful pasta sauce, but it will be hard to ignore if you’re making a simple aglio e olio. Recommended cook time: 7 minutes, 30 seconds Try it With: Nigel Slater's Really Good Spaghetti Bolognese Nigel Slater's Really Good Spaghetti Bolognese. A hearty meat sauce is robust enough that you probably won’t even be able to taste chickpeas pasta’s nutty flavor. Don’t forget to top it with plenty of good Parmesan cheese. Chickpea Fettuccine with Harissa, Kale, and Olives Chickpea Fettuccine with Harissa, Kale, and Olives. This recipe was actually developed with chickpea pasta in mind, so it’s best to lean in. Spicy harissa and briny olives pair surprisingly well with the pasta (not so odd though, as they pair great with regular chickpeas!) Lentil Red Lentil Pasta (Tolerant Foods): Made with just red lentil flour (no other stabilizers, unlike a number of the other gluten-free pastas on the market,) this one is high-fiber and protein (11 and 25 grams per 3.5-ounce serving respectively) Verdict: This one tasted mostly neutral, and while it didn't taste like a pasta made with grains, it was enjoyable in terms of texture. Recommended cook time: 7-9 minutes Try it With: Pasta with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, Walnuts, and Orange. With bitter radicchio, sweet orange, and funky-cream cheese, once again, your pasta accompaniments will distract from the fact that this pasta is made with lentils, not wheat. Pasta with Gorgonzola, Radicchio, Walnuts, and Orange Black Bean Black Bean Pasta (Explore Cuisine): Though I assumed they'd be made with the same black beans I use in burritos, it appears that most pastas labeled "black bean" are in fact made from black soybeans, like this one (which also has black sesame flour, presumably for color and additional nutty flavor.) It becomes abundantly clear when tasting gluten-free pastas, particularly those made from legumes and not grains, that you shouldn't enter into the experience thinking they will taste like wheat pasta. Legume pastas, like black bean, red lentil, and chickpea), are their own experience, and should be treated as such. Verdict: A bit nutty and dense, this pasta definitely tastes like it's rich in protein (23 grams in 2 ounces!). The flavor didn't wow me, but I'd eat it again if I found myself with a box. Recommended cook time: 6-8 minutes. Try it With: Spaghetti With Charred Scallion Sauce Spaghetti With Charred Scallion Sauce This pasta didn't go great with red sauce, but would do fairly well here, in an "extremely untraditional riff on the Italian aglio e olio," where scallions replace garlic—I'd add a big spoonful of chili crisp as well. Quinoa Photo by James Ransom All-Quinoa Pasta (Pereg): Many quinoa pastas, like the one listed above, contain corn as the first ingredient, but this brand lists whole-grain quinoa flour at the top of its list (followed by potato starch, egg white, and vegetable oil). Once in the water, it cooked extremely quickly (roughly 5 and a half minutes to 6 minutes, at most). Verdict: While I’m impressed with the extremely quick cook time and liked the flavor—it tastes exactly like quinoa and has that same grainy earthiness, which was fine except that I couldn’t get past the texture. It disintegrates almost as soon as you start chewing. I don’t think I would make these again because if I ever craved them, I would just make quinoa. Recommended cook time: 6 minutes, at most Try it With: Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter. With a mild-tasting quinoa pasta, it’s best to stick with a classic, like Marcella Hazan's tomato, onion, and butter sauce, which is rich and deeply flavorful. Quinoa with Corn Flour (Ancient Harvest): The instructions on the back called for a 6 to 9 minute cook time and warned me, “DO NOT OVERCOOK” so I set my alarm for 5 minutes... and then 9 minutes... and then 10, at which point they were still almost inedible. (Almost immediately, the water became so murky that I couldn’t see the pasta.) By 12 minutes, they were done and extremely mushy. Once I took them out, I saw that they had left a film on the entire pan that I had to scrub to get off. Verdict: These are extremely delicate and taste much more like corn than they do quinoa—almost like a corn tortilla that’s been dipped in water, which is kind of fun to eat in pasta form, but I'd definitely prefer it in chip form. On the plus side, they held their shape when chewed. Recommended cook time: 11 to 12 minutes Try it With: Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Brie & Arugula Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Brie & Arugula. Leaning into strong flavors is the best way to complement quinoa pasta. Toss the pasta in oily, tangy-sweet sun-dried tomatoes, squidgy brie, peppery arugula. For a bit of extra smoke, add some chopped bacon if you have any on hand. All-cap warnings marked nearly all of the bags of pasta (NOT MUSHY and DO NOT OVERCOOK) Corn Pasta Corn and Rice Flour (Barilla): The instructions recommend to salt the pasta water well to help with flavor, but that otherwise this pasta should be a seamless replacement for wheat. I had high hopes, and wasn't disappointed. Verdict: This pasta is very mild in flavor, which, considering some of the others, actually turned out to be a good thing. It has a fairly sturdy texture as well, making it ideal for standing up to thick sauces. Recommended cook time: 7 minutes. Try it With: Caroline Choe's Kimchi Mac & Cheese Caroline Choe's Kimchi Mac & Cheese. Spicy, creamy kimchi mac & cheese brings richness and bold flavor, which helps bring this mild corn pasta to life. Rice Photo by Bobbi Lin Brown Rice (Tinkyáda): At 12 minutes, this pasta took slightly more time to cook than the other gluten-free pastas, and as soon as I took it out, it was extremely slimy—so much so that I couldn't grab one noodle—but that luckily wore off as it dried! Verdict: This pasta looks the most like regular, gluten-graced pasta, but the difference becomes immediately evident as you eat it—it doesn’t taste like anything, and it squeaked as I chewed, which was off-putting. Recommended cook time: 12 minutes Try it with: Our Best Basil Pesto Our Best Basil Pesto. Slick brown rice pasta in a classic, creamy basil and parmesan cheese-based pesto with plenty of olive oil. For a little extra protein, add sliced sausage or a can of white beans. Kale Pesto Orecchiette Kale Pesto Orecchiette. For a more nutrient-dense (and absolutely stunning green), nut-free pesto to go with your nutty brown rice pasta, try this kale version, extra-tangy thanks to a hit of Dijon mustard. White Rice (Melotti): As soon as I put the pasta into the pot, it started to boil over, so the cooking process required a bit of vigilance. Verdict: It tastes like a mushed-together ball of sticky rice, which was not extremely appealing—if given the option, I would prefer to just eat white rice. Or even an actual ball of mushed-together sticky rice. It also had a slightly slimy feel to it. *Recommended cook time: 11 to 12 minutes Try it with: Best Fettuccine Alfredo Best Alfredo Fettuccini.For a classic creamy pasta (perhaps to remind you that even though you’re eating white rice pasta, you don’t have to skip the cream and cheese—preferably a 50/50 blend of Parmesan and Pecorino Romano.) Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo Bake Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo Bake. For any of those vegan and gluten-free folks out there (we see you! we hear you!), look no further than this cauliflower alfredo bake, which you could definitely make with brown rice pasta, but also any of the above gluten-free pastas Photo by Alpha Smoot Cut to the Chase: Best shape-retention: Brown Rice Best flavor: Red Lentil and Corn-Quinoa Best look: Corn-Brown Rice Best overall: It depends on what you’re cooking and what your flavor preferences are! But we would pick a tie between the red lentil and corn-brown rice. What are some of your favorite gluten-free pasta options and pairings? Tell us in the comments below!
December 15, 2020

A Parmigiana Without Tomatoes? It’s Not Just Possible, It’s Fantastic

We've partnered with the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium to share delicious ways to use this savory powerhouse in your cooking—and prove that it’s so much more than just a topping. Known for its unmistakable taste and perfectly crumbly texture, this cheese is made with only three ingredients, but the real magic comes after it's been aged for more than a year (in Italy, according to old-school methods). Parmigiana is a true Italian classic, with quite possibly as many variations as there are cooks. While the most well-known version, parmigiana di melanzane, involves slices of eggplant (grilled or deep-fried, depending on which camp you're in) baked with tomato sauce and melting cheese, it’s a dish that lends itself well to adaptations—and has for centuries. Take my fennel parmigiana: a comforting, wintry version where egg, milk, and cheese combine to make a custardy filling that replaces the tomato sauce. On top, there’s a crisp, golden crust of Parmigiano Reggiano and breadcrumbs so good that you'll want to bake it in your widest casserole dish, to maximize the crunchy surface area. From Our Shop Sale! Staub Matte Ceramic Rectangular Baking Dish $34–$84 $34–$69 More Options Microplane Elite Box Grater $40 Many people think parmigiana is a dish that originated in Parma in northern Italy (when it’s actually from the south), so it has become almost a requirement for this dish to involve Parmigiano Reggiano, the region's best-loved cheese. In fact, what really makes a parmigiana a parmigiana is the dish's layers—it takes its name from Sicilian window shutters, with the layers referencing the look of the overlapping wooden slats. But using Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is an excellent and delicious idea here. (And if you want to be certain yours is the real deal, make sure to check for Parmigiano Reggiano on the label—that certification process is taken very seriously in Europe.) Parmigiano Reggiano is ideal in baked dishes and it adds deep flavor to otherwise sweet, mild-tasting vegetables. It’s a must in both the filling and the crisp top in any parmigiana. Fennel parmigiana can be as simple as layers of boiled and sliced fennel, baked simply with breadcrumbs and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, made golden with olive oil. Or it can be made even richer with the addition of bechamel, making it not unlike a gratin. Personally, I absolutely can’t resist a parmigiana bianca (a “white,” aka tomato-less, version) made by pouring eggs beaten with a little milk and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over the vegetables; that sauce then turns into creamy, custardy curds between the layers. My fennel parmigiana makes a wonderful vegetarian main but can also be served as a side dish for the holidays. Either way, it’s a snap to make ahead (in really any part of the recipe), meaning your holiday meal-planning will be that much simpler. Parmigiana di Finocchio (Fennel Parmigiana) View Recipe Ingredients 2 large fennel bulbs (about 1 pound) 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 2 eggs 1/2 cup milk (125 milliliters) 4 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (about 120 grams), divided Freshly ground black pepper 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs 2 balls fresh mozzarella (about 250 grams or 9 ounces) 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for greasing 2 large fennel bulbs (about 1 pound) 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 2 eggs 1/2 cup milk (125 milliliters) 4 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (about 120 grams), divided Freshly ground black pepper 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs 2 balls fresh mozzarella (about 250 grams or 9 ounces) 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for greasing What’s your favorite Italian dish? Tell us in the comments! In partnership with the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium, we’re sharing delicious ways to use this fridge staple in all types of cooking—not just as a topping for pasta. It's incredibly versatile in the kitchen, infusing broths and sauces with extra umami and making cheese boards even tastier. With Parmigiano Reggiano in your corner, ho-hum flavor is a thing of the past.
December 15, 2020

23 Mediterranean Diet Recipes For A Plate That Pops

Many of our food and travel fantasies center around crystal seas, sunny days, and simple meals enjoyed while languishing on the coasts of Greece and Italy, those Mediterranean Shangri-Las whose residents seem to have mastered the art of living. And now, we have science to back us up.  Researchers have now proven that the Mediterranean diet—full of fish, olive oil, beans, nuts, and fresh produce—is ideal for our hearts and taste buds alike. In celebration, we've compiled a list of simple, flavorful recipes that feature healthy fats, fish, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. And in honor of Italy's passion for dessert, there's even olive oil gelato. Ciao, bella. Sometimes you don't know a classic recipe like poached salmon is missing a crunchy element until you try showering it with crisp seasoned breadcrumbs. The tang of homemade rye and baguette breadcrumbs offsets the richness of the salmon, and a generous coating of chopped fresh herbs—a wonderful Mediterranean touch—adds extra color and flavor.  Shop the Story A warm bath of olive oil awaits the freshest fish or shellfish you can get your fins on. The result is succulent, flavor-packed, hard to overcook (an all-too-common folly in the fish-cooking world) and thoroughly Mediterranean. Add your favorite aromatics to the poaching oil, and watch your catch of the day transform from ordinary to other-worldly.  Beets and oranges are a natural match: tangy, juicy segments highlight beets' delicious earthiness and the combination bounces off the plate with color and flavor. The trick here is to toss them together in the salad just before serving to keep the beets from turning everything pink (for a minute or two, anyway).  Buy the best-quality lentils you can find for this deceptively simple recipe that's a mainstay of French homes and bistros. Don't give into the temptation to gussy it up, because there's a reason this tried-and-true technique doesn't need much attention. Come lunch or dinnertime, however, these lentils will get plenty of attention.  This stellar adaptation of NYC chef Michael Psilakis' Greek salad subs in crunchy shaved fennel for cucumbers and roasted peppers in addition to the salty-briny mainstays of kalamata and green olives, feta cheese, and crisp romaine lettuce. A homemade lemony dressing ties it all together for the acid-forward salad side your entree deserves.   This delicious brothy soup, packed with hearty vegetables and legumes and slow-simmered with the umami powerhouse of parmesan rinds, will carry you through the coldest, wettest winters, but is light enough to serve in any season. Use this blueprint to find a worthy home for any vegetables that need one, and don't forget the little snowstorm (or blizzard) of grated cheese on top. The salty-savory duo of sardines *and* anchovies is oceanic nirvana in this pasta con sarde recipe. You read that right, two delightfully fishy fish in one powerfully flavorful dish. White wine, garlic, and chili flakes bring the sauce together for a balanced bite, and fennel seeds and currants add sweet notes that will keep you coming back to this beloved Mediterranean pasta.  The pairing of sweet potato and pomegranate is one for the ages. Something special happens when tart, juicy red fruit flavor hits the earthy, sweet-savoriness of roasted sweet potato. Toss with farro for heft and bite, and kale for color (and because everyone loves kale) and serve for a light lunch or satisfying dinner side dish.  Earthy mushrooms and sweet, herbal fennel pollen team up for a welcome update to the marinated mushrooms you get at the olive bar (or in a jar). Use the mushrooms you have on-hand and toss with capers, fresh herbs, and green onion to highlight that delicious forest floor flavor. Whatever you were thinking of serving it on is exactly what you should serve it on, in, with, around — eggs, crostini, sandwiches, pasta, the sky's the limit. So many kinds of Mediterranean recipes benefit from the bright, salty punch of preserved lemons. Buy them at a Middle Eastern grocer or specialty market, or source them online, but truth be told, this age-old technique is too easy and fun to pass up. Find the juiciest, thinnest-skinned lemons you can, and prepare to exert very little effort for huge flavor gains.  The sweet-salty green olive flavor in this creamy gelato is smooth, seductive, and thoroughly satisfying. Forget everything you know about making gelato—this recipe requires its own roadmap owing to a generous dose of your best extra—and embark on a journey to silky frozen heaven.   This vibrant side is an easy, delicious way to use up that jar of grape leaves without having to stuff each individual one. Instead, all the elements of homemade stuffed grape leaves come together in one bowl. Deconstructed, un-stuffed, bowl-style, however you describe it, your fellow diners will enjoy the flavors of this beloved Mediterranean appetizers (crisped up nicely by sugar snap peas) without the extra effort on your part.  Whole fish are more economical than their portioned-out counterparts—all apologies to fillets and steaks—and when left intact, retain more moisture and flavor during cooking. Preparing whole fish doesn't take any more time than fillets or steaks and yields significantly more meat. Serve this simple fish with an equally simple side of garlic rosemary potatoes  You only need three ingredients to recreate this elegant dish at home: olive oil, good-quality eggs, and a handful of chopped fresh herbs (anything you have on hand works great). This pared-down technique relies on the nature of each of its elements: both eggs and herbs *want* to be fried in olive oil. We're just helping things fall into place...and making toast.  Bitter and sweet flavors are hallmarks of Mediterranean cuisine. The balance of dark greens (or in this case, pinks and purples) with the natural sugars in roasted carrots is sublime, perked up with the sweet, fruity acidity of fig balsamic vinaigrette. Fresh or dried figs both work beautifully in this application, but don't miss the complexity they bring to this eye-catching dish.  As quick and easy to make as it is to shop for, this shrimp recipe will become a mainstay of weeknight cooking and special occasion dishes alike. Use plenty of all the ingredients called for, because when it comes to flavoring shellfish with lemon, garlic, and parsley, more is definitely merrier. Just remember: the more sauce you make, the more crusty bread you'll need for sopping it all up.   Mint grows abundantly throughout the Mediterranean, and is used in sweet and savory dishes of all kinds. Its lightly sweet freshness perks up earthy eggplant in this warm salad recipe that needs little more than a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice to let each ingredient strut its stuff.  If you have 10 minutes and a craving for a creamy soup that calls for no dairy whatsoever, this velvety soup will be the star of the evening (although it's delicious a little chunky, too). Flash-seared squid doesn't have time to toughen up, leaving it as a tender topping for this buttery-textured soup.  Do with wheat berries what you would do with pasta, and the result will be rib-sticking, toothsome, and only too glad to take on the flavors of anything it's cooked with. Savory-salty pistachio pesto clings to this delicious whole grain in a way that convinces the diner these two were meant to be together.  What could be more Mediterranean than vegetables stuffed with other vegetables? Nothing, is what. Two summer produce staples come together in this recipe for a colorful, savory dish studded with nuts and sprinkled with fresh herbs. They're delicious hot out of the oven, at room temperature, or chilled for a picnic. Adjust the spice level to taste, but be forewarned: these are fire regardless.  One of the most delicious things you can do to a piece of fish is to cook it for just enough time in a flavorful liquid and pair it with vegetables. Follow Martha Rose Shulman's time-tested technique for foolproof perfectly quick-braised halibut and savor the resulting delicate fish broth.  Vegetables and olive oil are a natural match, and vegetables that crisp up as perfectly as tender baby artichokes practically require a quick-fry in liquid gold. No batter or coating needed, just a quick double-fry at two temperatures to ensure the result is as tender inside as it is crunchy outside. Top with a squeeze of lemon and enjoy this seasonal vegetable in all its magnificent simplicity.    This vibrant party dip calls on the flavors of Polish cwikła, usually served at Easter. Zingy fresh horseradish (or jarred if you can't find fresh) adds freshness and heat to creamy Greek yogurt. Serve it with an assortment of raw vegetables, but just know that guests will dip anything into it they can find.  Looking to make your diet a little more Mediterranean? Start with these 10 fish recipes.
December 12, 2020

12 Warming Whiskey Cocktails to Slow-Sip This Winter

Before I’d ever tried a cocktail, I knew my future with whiskey was bright. It was the prom after-party, and everyone was smashed.I, still in my rumpled prom suit, was taking swigs from a full bottle of Laphroaig Scotch I had borrowed from my parents’ liquor cabinet—I figured they wouldn’t miss it. I remember—just barely—my friend Justin’s dad (hosting on some “chill parenting” or harm-reduction tip) approaching me at the party and telling me, “son, you have good taste in whiskey. All these other kids are gonna have terrible hangovers in the morning, but you’ll be just fine.” With those reassuring words still lingering in my mind, I lay down in the middle of the dining room floor, and passed out. Ever since this Laphroig-fueled experience, I’ve been a lover of whiskey. Scotch, yes, but also bourbon, rye, Japanese, Canadian, and Irish. Though I will still happily sip a fine whiskey straight or on the rocks (occasionally I’ll even take a swig from the bottle), I now consume most of my whiskey in cocktail-form. As the first snow settles on the eaves, there’s really nothing better than a rich, bone-warming whiskey cocktail or two as you watch the world go by. Read More > >
December 12, 2020

Still Throwing Away Your Parm Rinds? Here's the Reason to Stop

We've partnered with the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium to share delicious ways to use this savory powerhouse in your cooking—and prove that it’s so much more than just a topping. This cheese is made with only three ingredients, but the real magic comes after it's been aged for more than a year (in Italy, according to old-school methods). That aging gives it the singular taste, crumbly texture, and unique aroma we can't resist. If I had to choose one cheese I couldn’t live without, Parmigiano Reggiano would be it. Although there are many imitators, the real, certified stuff is meticulously and exclusively produced in certain provinces of northern Italy—with a nearly thousand-year-old tradition behind it—making each granule worth savoring. Read More > >
December 11, 2020

A Guide to Buttery Pasta

We teamed up with Kerrygold to highlight pasta’s favorite plus-one: butter. Here, Food52's Resident Pasta Maker—Meryl Feinstein of Pasta Social Club—shows us a few tasty ways to pair up Kerrygold’s creamy-rich Pure Irish Butter with gnocchetti, spaghetti, ravioli, and more. Growing up in the ‘90s, butter was not a staple in my house. Low-fat, sugar-free yogurt? Sure. Velveeta? Yes. But real, delicious, creamy butter? Not so much. It wasn’t until I met my British husband that butter started to make its way into my life and onto my toast. And it was even later, in culinary school, when I realized I could hardly go a day—or a meal—without it. So here I am, 30 years old, just trying to make up for lost, butter-less time. As a chef and pasta-maker, butter often takes center stage. It’s the cooking medium of choice in much of northern Italy, where cattle is abundant and the temperatures are cooler. And although I love a good butter sauce, I also find it’s when butter lingers in the background—the first layer of flavor in a ravioli filling or swirled into a meaty sauce at the last moment—that a dish becomes truly luxurious, satisfying, and altogether balanced. Take this recipe’s caramelized onions, for example, which are perhaps my favorite wintertime pasta accompaniment. They’re sweet, they’re savory, they’re perfect in every way. And they're best when they start with no small amount of really good Kerrygold butter. Here are some of my favorite ways to pair butter and pasta year-round, so you’ll never have to be without two of the world’s greatest pleasures again. 1. As a sauce, of course Ok, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Melted butter on pasta brings our childhood dreams and adult cravings to life. But when I’m not downing late-night spaghetti with butter and Parmesan, I generally serve it with stuffed pastas so the flavors of the filling (vegetables! Proteins! All of the cheeses!) can really shine. Whether it’s simply emulsified with starchy pasta water, cooked until nutty and golden, or infused with fresh herbs, butter is an ideal dressing for delicate tortelloni, agnolotti, and ravioli. Pasta with Brown Butter & Brussels Sprouts Chestnut and Ricotta Ravioli 2. As a finishing touch Sometimes a dish just needs a little extra something—that’s when I reach for the butter. In meat sauces (or, in my case, sauces with a meat substitute), a final touch of butter can bring a subtle layer of richness that pulls everything together. In creamy sauces, kill the heat and whisk in a few small pieces of cold butter to keep things smooth and luscious. And my favorite: In tomato sauces, a pat—or three—of butter helps tame the acidity (so it actually tastes like tomatoes!) and imparts a velvety texture while still feeling light (thank you, Marcella Hazan!). You can even add a little butter to store-bought sauces to wake things up. It’ll make all the difference. Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter Mandilli de Sea With Sugo Finto & Parmesan Crisps 3. As a vehicle for your favorite flavors Fancy compound butters aren’t just for steak. Simply mix some softened butter with a few pantry and fridge staples and you have yourself an instant pasta upgrade. Of course, fresh herbs and raw or roasted garlic are always a win, but the combinations are endless: sharp Parmesan, spicy chiles, sweet black garlic, briny anchovies, dare I say truffles…you get the point. 4. As a pasta filling hero I first saw butter used as an ingredient in pasta filling when I was working at a restaurant in New York. Needless to say, I haven’t looked back. My favorite combinations are a generous drizzle of brown butter alongside squash in the winter and sweet corn in the summer. The best part is that it makes the filling mixture creamier and easier to work with, and transforms each bite of the finished dish into an explosion of buttery goodness. From Our Shop Pasta Maker Set $80–$105 More Options our line! Five Two Essential Knives $49–$139 More Options What’s your favorite way to pair up pasta and butter? Tell us in the comments! We’ve partnered with Kerrygold—you know and love ‘em for their butters and cheeses made with milk from Irish grass-fed cows—to share all sorts of delicious recipes to dig into this winter. Whether you’re baking up tender apple scones with brown butter-maple drizzle or whipping up this comforting gnocchetti, Kerrygold’s lineup of butters and cheeses are must-have kitchen staples.
December 9, 2020

The Mysterious Origins of Grandma's Mushroom Puffs

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer—not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. This week, we’re baking up a family favorite. When I asked my grandma when she started making her family-famous mushroom puffs, she started counting backward by husbands. In total, there were three, all of whom have been dead for years. She didn’t make them for Jerry and probably not Bob, but definitely Arnie, which shakes out to (give or take) 30 years. Grandma knows she stumbled on the recipe in a magazine and first tried it as a Thanksgiving appetizer. But the publication, let alone the year and issue, are long gone: “No idea!” Still, this fact, that the recipe came from somewhere, means that as it traveled to her home in New Jersey, it also ventured to many other homes in many other states, where toddlers like myself ate mushroom puffs by the fistful and eventually had trouble recognizing a family gathering without them. There is comfort in knowing that a tradition is as unique as it is universal—that this recipe is just as cherished by people I’ve never met. Photo by James Ransom. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne. If I Google “mushroom puffs,” one of the top results is a doppelganger of my mom’s scribbled recipe card. The photo is uncanny. Every ingredient is the same. Even some of the instructions. Except for one. Grandma included the lemon juice (a measly half-teaspoon, barely a squeeze) for years. Eventually, though, she ditched it. “Supposedly lemon juice brings out the flavor in something. But these have enough flavor without it.” Indeed, mushroom puffs are just what they sound like: a shattering bite of puff pastry, giving way to a filling that can only be described as cream of mushroom soup-but-not-soup. It’s suspiciously simple—just diced mushroom and onion, sauteed in a lot of butter, thickened with flour, simmered with cream—and impossible to eat just one. Because I write and edit recipes for a living, I couldn’t help but change a couple things. (“You better not!” Grandma warned. But I hope she’ll forgive me.) I increased the small onion to medium for surplus savoriness. And I swapped in louder baby bellas, instead of soft-spoken buttons. Otherwise, these are indistinguishable from the mushroom puffs that my grandma has made for Thanksgivings and Hanukkahs and Sunday suppers for decades. Who knows, maybe your grandma has too. Grandma's Mushroom Puffs View Recipe Ingredients 1/4 cup unsalted butter 1 medium (or 2 small) yellow onion, finely diced 12 ounces baby bella mushrooms, finely diced (stems included!) 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/2 cup heavy cream Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 1 (17.3-oz / 490-gram) package puff pastry, thawed but still cold 1/4 cup unsalted butter 1 medium (or 2 small) yellow onion, finely diced 12 ounces baby bella mushrooms, finely diced (stems included!) 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/2 cup heavy cream Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 1 (17.3-oz / 490-gram) package puff pastry, thawed but still cold From Our Shop our line! Five Two Essential Sauté Pan $119 Silpat Reusable Silicone Baking Molds $60 More Options our line! Five Two Adjustable Rolling Pin $39
December 8, 2020

Sohla Shows You How to Strut Your Strata

Every month, in Off-Script With Sohla, pro chef and flavor whisperer Sohla El-Waylly will introduce you to a must-know cooking technique—and then teach you how to detour it toward new adventures. Many of you have been asking me for a frittata recipe. Instead, I’m going to show you something even better—how to go off-script with strata. Strata is the love child of frittata and bread pudding. Picture: a tender, fluffy egg custard soaking into toasty bread and wrapping around the mix-ins of your choice. I’m actually not a fan of frittatas or bread puddings (I know I’m alone in this, but hear me out!). When making a frittata, it’s hard to not overcook your eggs; on the stovetop, the edges often become dried-out by the time the dense center has set. On the other hand, bread pudding can quickly become heavy and one-note from the cream and egg yolk custard. But somehow, when you smash those two ideas together, you get something rich but not too heavy and, of course, endlessly riffable. All you need to make strata is bread of any kind, from stale brioche to yesterday’s biscuits, milk, eggs, and mix-ins. It’s the ideal brunch dish to assemble the night before. Come morning, just pop it in the oven, then turn your attention to more important matters, like squeezing fresh orange juice for your mimosa. But don’t let the eggy custard limit this dish to breakfast; prep your strata in the morning with any leftovers for the fastest weeknight dinner. This recipe can be easily scaled down to use up a little bit of this or that, or doubled to feed a large family. Learn my strata formula, so you can get creative and take it off-script. A warm, saucy skillet we would like to crawl inside. Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Let’s Get Toasty Mostly bread and eggs, strata can become heavy, boring, and bland. That’s why I like to make sure every component is well seasoned and delicious on its own. Traditionally, strata is made with stale bread but, to level it up, I turn my bread cubes into croutons. I toss bread with melted butter or olive oil and season it with salt, pepper, dried herbs, and spices until it tastes like something I want to munch on by the handful. Every bread is different, so toss, taste, and adjust. For my Pizza Party Strata, I start with garlic bread (homemade or store-bought both work), which is already smothered in butter, herbs, and garlic, so I don’t need to add a thing. While the cubes of cornbread in my Corny Strata get a little assist from butter and smoked paprika. Once seasoned, I toast the cubes in the oven, which adds a bit of texture to the dish and deep, roasty flavors from the browning. An Egg-Cellent Base The eggy custard is simply a mixture of eggs and milk. I opt not to use cream for a lighter strata that eats like fluffy scrambled eggs. I prefer whole milk, which adds just enough fat for a creamy custard that’s not too heavy. But feel free to play around with combinations of half-and-half, two-percent milk, and even alt-milk like oat, coconut, and cashew. You can mix things up, swapping some of the milk for bone broth for some meaty flavor. I recommend avoiding very lean or bland liquids, like almond or skim milk; I don’t think they bring enough to the table. This custard is heavy on the eggs, to steer away from bread pudding slash stuffing territory and into savory frittata land. Season the custard with salt, pepper, and seasonings (like smoked paprika, instant dashi powder, OR Knorr chicken bouillon), then have some fun with your mix-ins. Mix & Mingle For best results, stick with precooked ingredients, like cubes of roasted squash or rotisserie chicken, and quick-cooking ingredients, such as corn, kale, or spinach. Anything too watery, like mushrooms or zucchini, should get sauteed before joining the party, or it can make the strata taste bland. Raw meat won’t have enough time to cook in the strata, so anything like sausage or ground beef should be seared in advance. Keep your mix-ins simple by seizing this as an opportunity to use up leftovers. Or get a little crazy and follow a fun theme: For my Pizza Party Strata I use pepperoni, mozzarella, and marinara for a strata that eats like a skillet pizza. I felt the Corny Strata begged for a Tex-Mex vibe so I loaded it up with jalapeños, scallions, and cheddar. Go rogue and make hamburger strata, filled with toasted potato buns, seared and crumbled ground beef, and American cheese. Really change it up and make a chilaquiles-inspired frittata, using tortilla chips instead of bread and topped with salsa, cotija cheese, and avocado. The options are endless! A lot of cheese is the right amount of cheese. Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Come Together Once you have your croutons, custard, and mix-ins, it’s time to bring it all together. Take your time tossing everything in a large bowl until the croutons have soaked up the liquid and the mix-ins are evenly distributed. Now scrape the mixture into a casserole dish or, my preferred vessel, the cast-iron skillet, which holds heat better for golden, crusty edges. For best results, cover and chill the prepared strata overnight, so the bread has time to soak in all that eggy goodness. But don’t fret if you’ve got to bake this right away—it will still be delicious. Final Touches After baking, the starta will gently puff, feel bouncy-firm to the touch, and have a crunchy, golden-brown top. I like to finish it with something fresh, like crisp sliced scallions, sharp grated pecorino cheese, or a drizzle of fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Let your strata rest for 10 minutes before digging in, and serve alongside a crunchy salad or roasted veggies to round out the meal. I like to serve my Pizza Party Strata with extra warm marinara on the side, while a dollop of yogurt takes the edge off the jalapeños in my Corny Strata. Leftover strata sets up sliceable and firm, so my favorite way to reheat it is by browning wedges in a hot skillet until crusty and brown. With this strata method in your playbook, you’ll always know what to do with leftovers. Now you can pull an impressive brunch— or Tuesday dinner—out of your back pocket without breaking a sweat. Pizza Party Strata With Garlic Bread & Pepperoni Cornbread Strata With Cheddar & Jalapeños From Our Shop Sale! Staub Traditional Skillet, 11" $286–$293 $149–$169 More Colors Sale! Staub Matte Ceramic Rectangular Baking Dish $34–$84 $34–$69 More Options