December 8, 2020

The Lighting Trick Your Kitchen Is Missing

I have big-time Nancy Meyers aspirations for my home. There’s just something about all the interiors featured in her films (think: Something’s Gotta Give, The Intern, Father of the Bride, et al)—they feel collected and lived-in and cozy, while still boasting a thoughtful, design-forward aesthetic. Architectural Digest even wrote an article on the psychology behind the Nancy Meyers dream home, so clearly I’m not the only one here. But I digress—I got on this topic for a reason, and that reason is kitchen lamps. According to my research (consisting of many purely indulgent, non-scientific viewings of The Holiday and It’s Complicated) rule #247 when it comes to achieving that Nancy Meyers vibe comes in the form of ambient lighting—and lots of it. There’s nothing like a soft, slightly-yellowed glow to make your home—and any room in it—feel totally welcoming and warm. And in no place is it more difficult to achieve that vibe than in your kitchen, where harsh top lighting or single pendants over the island reign supreme. The good news? There’s a very charming, very bite-sized solution to your ambiance problem, and it can be spotted in many recent projects from some of my favorite designers: petite table lamps. As it turns out, they’re just the Meyers-touch our kitchens need. In a room that typically only ever boasts overhead lighting, small-scale countertop lamps can be a great way to play around with scale and add charm. Not to mention, they’re an ideal way to upgrade the style of your space without spending a ton of money like you would have to with overhead fixtures. Here then are a few lamps I’m considering snatching up for my own space—I’d like to think Nancy would approve. 1. Petoskey Table Lamp, $50 This first pick from Wayfair gets a lot of things right. I love how the unique ceramic base boasts handmade texture and touches, and the almost-grey, almost-green glaze would look great in practically any kitchen. And, clocking in at just 15 inches tall (including the shade), it’s versatile enough to be stashed on an open shelf or styled atop cookbooks. Photo by Wayfair 2. Mushroom Lamp, $77 Etsy is always a treasure trove for on-the-brink design trends and accessories, and I pretty much cannot handle the cuteness of this little guy. I love its round base, its pleated shade (another up-and-coming trend, might I add), its neutral color palette and its miniature size (just around 11 inches, counting the oversized shade). Needless to say, this may be finding a home in my kitchen very soon. Photo by Etsy 3. MIMA Lamp, $175 If your style tends to lean more modern, you’ll probably love this next pick. Clocking in at just four inches tall, the exposed bulb feels a little bit industrial, but the ceramic base warms up the shape just enough to make the piece extremely flexible style-wise. Plus, with its slew of sophisticated shades (that rust, sigh!), it’s a subtle pop of color for your space, too. Photo by Food52 4. Uma Fluted Glass Lamp, $68 This gorgeous, glowy pick from Anthropologie (sitting at a perfectly petite 10 inches) is the ideal way to warm up a kitchen. Plus, thanks to the unique combination of amber glass and a gold finished base, it almost looks like a vintage find, so be prepared to field a ton of “Where did you find that” questions from guests. Photo by Anthropologie 5. Mini Metal Cordless Lamp, $250 Made by Modern Lantern, this next style is a bit pricier, but well-worth the splurge if you want to get in on the kitchen lamp trend but your space doesn’t boast any available outlets. This tiny gilded pick (which is under 10 inches tall) comes with a rechargeable battery, granting you the flexibility to style it everywhere from the interior of a built-in to the top of your island with ease. Photo by Modern Lantern Overhead lighting, pendants, table lamps—or all three? Tell us in the comments. From Our Shop Danish Column Table Lamp $180 Modern Table Lamp $250–$400 More Styles You (Yes, You!) Can Reupholster a Chair at Home
December 8, 2020

The Most Memorable Chicken Recipes Always Have Vinegar

As someone who develops and tests recipes for a living, it’s literally my job to describe how and why certain flavor pairings work. Usually, that’s a relatively attainable task, but sometimes, when faced with this particular why? I can’t think of a better answer than: Just, because! Think about pork and brown sugar. And seafood and butter. And beer and sausage. And of course, chicken and vinegar. They just…work. These combinations have been around for a long time, in countless cuisines, yet are also constantly revived in new recipes. Today, we’re exploring the last. What is it about chicken and vinegar? Let’s find out. Chicken isn’t a fatty meat compared with, say, beef, but schmaltzy, well-salted, crispy-skinned chicken is still rich. And there’s no better way to cut fat and salt than with acid, be it freshly squeezed citrus or, arguably chicken’s favorite, vinegar. Tangy, salty, and sorta sweet, vinegar leaves me wanting more. It’s not only that I’m an acid fiend (though that’s not not a factor here); it’s about culinary harmony. Chicken with vinegar appears in countless long-standing dishes. Poulet au Vinaigre, a French classic thanks to chef Paul Bocuse, calls for red wine vinegar to be reduced until thick and syrupy, then mixed with cream and seared chicken pieces. In Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken, an acidic component is vital to the sweet sauce slathered on the chicken before grilling: In her cookbook Aloha Kitchen, Alana Kysar’s version calls for rice vinegar. This ingredient is also used in Amelia Rampe’s recipe for the classic Filipino Chicken Adobo, braising in a sauce with a whole head of garlic for maximum punch. From Our Shop our line! Five Two Essential Skillets $89–$139 More Options our line! Five Two Essential Knives $49–$139 More Options Natural Fiber Cutting Board $210–$260 More Options Contemporary dishes lean on the combination, too. Alison Roman’s Vinegar Chicken With Crushed Olive Dressing was the most popular recipe on NYT Cooking in 2019, and an adapted version of Kysar’s Huli Huli Chicken (calling for rice or apple cider vinegar) also made this list. “Acid grants the palate relief, and makes food more appealing by offering contrast,” writes Samin Nostrat in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. “While salt enhances flavors, acid balances them. By acting as a foil to salt, fat, sugar, and starch, acid makes itself indispensable to everything we cook.” The first time Nosrat made Poulet au Vinaigre, at the suggestion of a mentor, she was skeptical: “It hardly seemed appetizing.” However, Nosrat realized the vinegar mellows as it cooks. Her cookbook’s Chicken With Vinegar recipe calls for white wine vinegar, added to the pan along with searing chicken pieces, simmered until the meat is cooked through, and splashed in again to perk up the dish just before serving. “It heightened my appreciation for what acid can do for a rich dish.” In his new cookbook The Flavor Equation, Nik Sharma talks about using vinegar in marinades for chicken. Characterizing his use of the condiment as a “flavor booster and also as a brining solution,” Sharma stirs vinegar into marinades for a grilled chicken salad, roast chicken thighs, and chicken lollipops (Sharma’s are doused in a brick-red sambal oelek–based sauce). Of the salad, he writes: “Together salt and acid affect protein structure and increase the water retention capacity of the chicken breast. The result is a chicken breast that’s juicier and more tender.” When I think of vinegar and chicken, my mind immediately jumps to Chicken Savoy, a dish native to northern New Jersey, where I grew up. Though the dish is simple (chicken parts smeared with an herby paste, baked hot and fast, finished with lots of vinegar), it’s attracted a cult following in Essex County. After first debuting at Belleville’s Belmont Tavern in the 1960s, the dish has turned up on menus at red sauce restaurants all around the area. And though the official recipe remains a tightly-kept secret, when I crave chicken and vinegar at home, I riff on Chicken Savoy. It’s the double dose of vinegar that brings the dish together: Both sweet balsamic and zingy red wine vinegar—a tip shared with me by Steven Amadeo, the owner and manager of Miele’s Restaurant in Verona, New Jersey—go into the pan with sizzling chicken. Before serving, I stir in another glug of each vinegar, because you can never have enough. Garlicky Chicken With Herbs & Vinegar Do you have a favorite chicken recipe made with vinegar? Tell us about it in the comments!
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
December 8, 2020

10 Out-of-the-Box Pie Crusts for When You Don't Have Time for Dough

In partnership with Lodge Cast Iron, we’re sharing ideas for exceptional and unconventional pie crusts to mix things up during the holidays and beyond. With Lodge's Seasoned Cast Iron Pie Pan (it's from their bakeware line!), you can achieve a golden, award-worthy crust every time—no matter what recipe you’re baking up this season. Making a great pie doesn't necessarily have to be a tedious task. Instead of spending hours chilling, kneading, and rolling dough, you can make a bunch of easy (and delicious!) crusts with ingredients like crushed cheese crackers, crispy hash browns, or even your favorite cereal. You can bake ‘em just like you would in your favorite pie pan—I personally like to rely on one made from cast iron. Because cast iron distributes heat more evenly and consistently than other baking materials, you get a perfect crust every time—aka you can kiss sad, soggy pie crusts goodbye forever. Here are 10 creative takes on classic pie crusts—they’re way speedier to make than traditional dough (and equally satisfying). From Our Shop our line! Five Two Stoneware Mixing Bowls $99 PieBox $28–$55 More Options 1. Cheddar Cheese Crust Repurpose one of your favorite childhood snacks—cheddar cheese crackers—into a crumbly, cheesy pie crust that adds a savory-sharp balance to fruity pie fillings, like apple, berry, pear, and more. To make a quick and easy cheese crust, simply crush store-bought cheddar cheese crackers until they are a fine-grit consistency. Then, combine the crushed crackers with a binding ingredient (unsalted butter works well) until you can firmly pack the crust without it crumbling upon touch. For every 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese crackers, use about 5 to 6 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter. Bake the crust until aromatic for 8 to 10 minutes at 350°F, and let it cool completely before filling. Brown Butter and Cheddar Apple Pie Gingered Cranberry-Pear Pie 2. Hash Brown Crust If you’re in the mood for something breakfast-y, try making a hash brown crust using shredded potatoes (like Idaho or Russet) or sweet potatoes for an extra-crispy base layer. If you’re in a pinch for time, use store-bought shredded hash browns to spare yourself the step of grating potatoes. Quiche Lorraine With Hash Brown Crust View Recipe Ingredients For the crust: 3 1/2 cups peeled, shredded russet potatoes (or frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed) 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup shredded white cheddar or Gruyère cheese 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 1/2 cups peeled, shredded russet potatoes (or frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed) 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup shredded white cheddar or Gruyère cheese 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon olive oil For the filling: 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 teaspoon olive oil 4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into lardons 2 shallots, thinly sliced 1 garlic clove, minced 4 eggs, whisked 2 cups heavy cream 1 cup shredded white cheddar or Gruyère cheese 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced 1 tablespoon fresh chives, thinly sliced (plus more for garnishing) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper Sour cream or crème fraîche, for garnish (optional) 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 teaspoon olive oil 4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into lardons 2 shallots, thinly sliced 1 garlic clove, minced 4 eggs, whisked 2 cups heavy cream 1 cup shredded white cheddar or Gruyère cheese 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced 1 tablespoon fresh chives, thinly sliced (plus more for garnishing) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper Sour cream or crème fraîche, for garnish (optional) 3. Graham Cracker Crust There’s so much more to graham cracker crusts than just Key lime pie. Use honey- and cinnamon-flavored crackers to create a thick, crispy crust for just about any pie filling. To make the graham cracker crumbs, pulse the crackers in a food processor until finely ground. For every 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, add about 6 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter to bind the ingredients. Bake the shell for 5 to 7 minutes at 350°F, and cool before adding any filling. Festive ideas for using this crispy-crunchy crust: pumpkin cream pie, luscious vegan chocolate pie, and an irresistible peanut butter cream pie. 4. Pretzel Crust If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, this slightly savory crust can help balance out a sugary filling for a dessert that’s perfectly balanced. To make the pretzel crumb, grind the pretzels into a coarse sand-like texture, and add unsalted butter; for every 2 cups of pretzels, add 1 stick of melted, unsalted butter. For a sweet and salty variation, add 1/3 cup of sugar to the mixture. If you want to get creative, add nuts or spices (like almonds and cinnamon) to your crust for an extra-tasty pie shell. No-Bake Cheesecake With a Pretzel Crust Mocha Whiskey Mousse Tart with Pretzel Crust 5. Sugar Cookie Crust Two desserts in one—what more could you possibly need? Make your next pie creation that much sweeter by using sugar cookie dough to create a perfectly chewy crust. Use store-bought dough or quickly whip up a batch of your favorite recipe to use as your pie's foundation. To make it, roll the cookie dough into a flat layer, about 1/4-inch thick. Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and aromatic; let it cool before adding any filling. Chewy Sugar Cookies #2 Brown Sugar Cookies 6. Cinnamon Roll Crust This cinnamon roll crust alternative is the definition of working smarter, not harder. Add swirls of cinnamon goodness to your pies by brushing a store-bought pie crust with a coat of melted butter (about 1 to 2 tablespoons), sprinkling with a tablespoon of brown sugar, and topping it with cinnamon (about 1 tablespoon). Then, roll the dough into a log and cut half-inch disks to make mini cinnamon rolls for your crust. Lay the cinnamon roll disks flat in between two layers of parchment paper, so that they are touching one another. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness to form a uniform layer large enough to cover the entire surface of the pan. Then, add your filling of choice, and bake until fully cooked and golden brown. 7. Cereal Crust Turn your favorite cereals—from Rice Krispies and Cheerios to Fruity Pebbles and Cornflakes—into a crunchy pie crust with the help of a little butter to hold together the crispy bits. (Psst: You can use a similar method as the graham cracker crust.) Our 79 Best Pie Recipes of All Time 8. Saltine Cracker Crust Can’t find flour at the store? All you have is a package of almost-expiring saltine crackers in the forgotten depths of your pantry? Here’s a solution: Turn them into a pie crust! Transform this typically overlooked ingredient into a slightly salted crumb crust to balance out citrusy, tangy, and sweet pie fillings. Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie Banana Cream Pie 9. Oatmeal Crust An oatmeal crust easily comes together in a matter of seconds (seriously). Combine 1 cup of rolled oats, 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 6 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter. Bake it at 375°F for 15 minutes and let cool. Fill the pie up with a gooey, buttery filling, or take a more traditional approach with a tart blueberry or spiced pumpkin mixture for a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Rose Levy Beranbaum's Fresh Blueberry Pie Chai Masala Pumpkin Pie 10. Brownie Crust Create a crust any chocolate-lover would love using brownie batter. It’s simple: Omit the oil and reduce the amount of wet ingredients (use 1 egg and about 4 to 5 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter) than what you would use in your typical brownie batter. This creates a denser, more decadent batter that you can easily press into the sides of your pie pan. Bake it for 15 minutes at 350°F, then let it cool before filling. Peanut Butter Cream Pie Butterscotch-Pecan Pie What's your go-to pie recipe during the holidays? Tell us in the comments below! Make sure your holiday treats (and savory dishes, too!) turn out just-right this season with help from our partner Lodge Cast Iron. Their line of seasoned cast iron bakeware—which includes pie pans, skillets, loaf pans, and more—has top-notch heat retention for the most even, consistent results.
December 7, 2020

Dried Seafood Packets Are My Secret to Fast, Flavorful Soups and Stews

This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now. A few weeks […]
December 7, 2020

49 Healthyish Baked Goods to Satisfy Your Sweet (and Savory) Tooth

These healthy baking recipes are bound to be classics. From a beet-enriched, just-sweet-enough chocolate cake to breakfast-worthy blondies, each one is full of craveable flavor and […]
December 7, 2020

Orange Pomegranate Salad with an Orange Vinaigrette Dressing

Orange Pomegranate Salad is a delicious mix of greens with fresh oranges, pomegranates and topped with feta cheese and an amazing orange vinaigrette dressing. If you […]
December 7, 2020

White Chocolate Peppermint Pistachio Bars

White Chocolate Peppermint Pistachio Bars are a delicious hand-held treat to make during the holiday season! These blondie-type bars are flavored with peppermint extract. There are […]
December 7, 2020

Christmas Cracker Candy

1 Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a 10×15-inch jelly roll pan with nonstick aluminum foil (preferred) or regular heavy duty foil, making sure that the foil […]