The recipes in David Venable's debut cookbook, In the Kitchen with David, promise to "warm your heart, stir your soul, and happily fill your stomach." Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt found it to be "warm, chatty" and defined by its devotion to comfort.
According to the publisher, this is David's all-time favorite, and he serves it at every Thanksgiving.
My ultimate macaroni and cheese
While the pasta is cooking, heat the half-and-half in a large saucepan over medium heat. Just before the mixture starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then whisk in 2 cups of the warm half-and-half. (This will keep the eggs from scrambling.)
Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Stir 1 cup of the Cheddar, all the mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Velveeta, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the milk into the saucepan. Heat the saucepan on medium-low heat to help melt the cheese. Whisk in the mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Do not let the mixture boil.
Toss the cooked pasta and cheese sauce together and then pour into a 4-quart baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle an even layer of crumbled bacon on top and bake for 10 minutes more.
Cheap meals don't have to consist of Easy Mac and fast food. As proven by Melissa d'Arabian's cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners, it's possible for a family of four to eat inexpensive, savvy meals.
Writes cooking columnist Sybil Pratt, "She’s gathered all her spending-with-a-purpose strategies for supermarket shopping (smart splurges included), tips for stretching expensive ingredients, budget entertaining and pantry management, as well as 140 tantalizing recipes."
for the salad
2) To make the vinaigrette: Pour the vinegar into a large bowl; add the sugar, onion, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes and then whisk in the olive oil. Add the arugula, toss to combine, and transfer to a large platter. Arrange the vegetables on top of the greens and serve.
There are plenty of vegetarian cookbooks out there, but Vegetarian Cooking: At Home with The Culinary Institute of America stands at the top of the list! Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt writes, "This prestigious culinary academy’s take on making meatless meals at home expertly covers all the bases—equipment, ingredients, techniques and, most importantly, detailed instructions. Whether you’re a full-fledged veg or just want to decrease the amount of meat you consume, you’ll find a full array of delicious dishes."
In this book—and this recipe—health and big flavor go hand-in-hand.
Makes 4 servings
3. Garnish with additional cherries and pecans, if desired.
Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt calls The Mexican Slow Cooker "mother’s little helper" for its easy translation of Mexican dishes to slow cooker prep. She also calls it the Cookbook of the Month, and with delicious recipes like this one, it's easy to see why.
While the chiles soak, line the skillet with a piece of aluminum foil. Add the tomatillos to the skillet and roast over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred in spots and softened. Remove the tomatillos from the skillet.
In a blender, combine the chiles and their soaking liquid, the tomatillos, tomatoes, onion, and garlic and puree until very smooth. (For a smoother texture, you can press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, if you like.) Transfer the puree to a 5-quart slow cooker. Add the carrot, chicken, salt, broth, and water and stir. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the chicken is tender.
While the chicken is cooking, cut the tortillas in half, then cut the halves into strips 1/4 inch wide (or cut them into small squares.) Heat the oil in a small skillet and fry the tortillas until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and discard the skin and bones. Shred or dice the chicken into 1-inch pieces and return to the broth. Add the cilantro. Heat through, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, divide the fried tortilla pieces among the serving bowls and ladle the hot soup over them, including some of the chicken in each bowl. Garnish with a few pieces of avocado and serve very hot with the lime wedges on the side.
American chef Adam Perry Lang takes BBQ to a whole new level in his cookbook, Charred & Scruffed. This book isn't for grilling beginners, but for those who love to cook with fire, it's a "new BBQ bible, with chapter and verse on breakthrough techniques, superlative seasonings and innovative recipes."
Butter beans are just another name for lima beans, especially in the South. But I tend to think more sensually, and I have always felt that when they are cooked just right, these beans achieve a state of melty smoothness that is best described by the word “buttery.” In the process of cooking, they throw off starch—just like Arborio rice does in risotto. The result is velvety creaminess. My recommendation for these beans is “Serve with anything,” because they go with everything. But I could also say, “Serve with nothing else,” because they are satisfying all by themselves and quite irresistible when you take them from the fire—steaming, bubbling, and fragrant.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until it sizzles when a piece of bacon is added. Add the rest of the bacon, the shallots, crushed garlic, and sage and cook, stirring, until the shallots are just translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the beans, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over high heat until very hot. Add the tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the grated garlic and oregano and cook until most of the moisture has evaporated and the tomatoes are crackling.
Stir the tomatoes into the bean mixture, along with the prosciutto fat. Season with salt and pepper and pour into a 2-quart casserole or baking dish.
Stir the parsley into the beans, adjust the acidity with white wine vinegar as necessary, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Serve, or keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve.
Carnivores like me don't get all the fun with Rachael Ray's The Book of Burger! Vegans and vegetarians can chow down on mushroom burgers that look so good, I almost would be willing to give up on beef patties. Almost.
And to top it off, her condiments make the whole thing pop.
Make the portobellos: Brush the portobello caps with a damp towel to clean them. In a large plastic food storage bag, combine the EVOO, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary. Add the mushroom caps and slush around to coat with seasonings.
Heat a grill pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Shake the marinade off the mushrooms and cook the caps, turning once, 10 to 12 minutes, or until well browned on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Top the caps with the mozzarella, remove the pan from the heat, and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes to melt the cheese.
Place the mushrooms on the roll bottoms and top with pesto, a mound of baby spinach, and a few slices of red onion. Set the roll tops in place.
We're pretty serious about our burgers here in Nashville, but wherever you live, I'm sure you've got a "best burger in town." Armed with Rachael Ray's The Book of Burger, the best could be found on your own grill!
Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt is a self-declared burgerholic, and she swears this cookbook is burger bliss with over 200 recipes.
I fell in love with this burger when I created it for the Brooklyn Block Party I threw one summer—and I’ve been in love with it ever since. It has my almost-famous smoky BBQ sauce and my sweet ’n’ spicy pickles, which I can eat on just about anything. I also served it up to more than three thousand people at the 2012 Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival!
Put the chile, cucumbers, onion, and dill in a small food storage container and sprinkle in the mustard seeds and coriander seeds. Pour the hot brine over the pickles.
Cool, cover, and chill overnight, shaking every once in a while.
When you are ready to make the sliders, make the slaw: In a bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, vinegar, and oil; season with celery salt and salt and pepper. Toss until the cabbage is coated.
Make the BBQ sauce: In a small saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients and cook over medium-low heat to thicken and combine flavors, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sliders: Heat a large cast-iron pan, griddle, or grill pan over medium-high to high heat. In a large bowl, combine the beef, Worcestershire sauce, marjoram, thyme, chile powder, and beer; season with grill seasoning or with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Divide into 4 equal portions, then form each portion into 3 equal patties thinner at the center than at the edges for even cooking and to ensure a flat surface (burgers plump as they cook). Drizzle the patties with oil. Cook the sliders for a few minutes on each side, or until done to your taste. Baste liberally with the barbecue sauce during the last minute of cooking.
Place the sliders on the roll bottoms and top with a little slaw and a slice of pickle. Set the roll tops in place. Pass the rest of the pickles at the table.
When it comes to desserts, it doesn't get any better than Alice Medrich. And when it comes to Medrich, it doesn't get any better than her chocolate. (She's even referred to as the First Lady of Chocolate.)
So, this recipe from her cookbook Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts is just about as good as it gets.
Executive chef at Draeger’s Cooking School in San Mateo, California, Bill Hutton is the guy who makes my life easy by seeing that every bit of my prep is done for me when I teach. I love the guy, and I love his mousse. No eggs in this super-creamy version. And it sets up quickly, so you can almost serve it right after you make it. Bill grinds a little black pepper on top for extra chocolate excitement.
Process the chocolate in the food processor until very finely ground; leave it in the processor bowl.
Combine the oil, wine, and vanilla in a small cup.
Bring the milk or water, sugar, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Immediately, with the processor running, pour the hot milk through the feed tube, processing for 15 to 20 seconds, or until the chocolate is melted. Add the oil mixture and process for 5 to 10 seconds, until thoroughly blended. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes (the chocolate should not be warm when the cream is added).
Beat the cream until it holds a very soft shape (not even close to stiff). Fold one-third of the cream into the chocolate to lighten it. Fold in the remaining cream just until blended. Immediately divide the mousse among the dessert glasses. Refrigerate until serving. The mousse keeps for 2 days in the refrigerator. Grind a little black pepper over each serving, if desired.
Tip: For the smoothest possible mousse, stop folding the moment the cream is incorporated into the chocolate, and immediately scoop it into the glasses.
Summer is in full swing, which means we're craving super summery dishes. For inspiration, look no further than Martha's American Food, Martha Stewart's take on classic American meals.
Oh, Martha. You always know how to make me hungry.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
2. Remove chicken from the marinade and allow to drain on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet for 1 hour before cooking (discard marinade). Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, and remaining ¼ teaspoon cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Spread mixture in a shallow dish.
3. When you are ready to begin frying, pour a scant ½ inch oil into a large cast-Iron skillet and heat over medium until oil registers 375°F on a deep- fry thermometer. (Alternatively, test by dropping a cube of white crustless bread into the oil; it should turn golden brown within 1 minute.)
4. While the oil is heating, and working with a few parts at a time, dredge chicken in the flour mixture, turning to completely coat. Shake off excess flour and set chicken on a parchment- lined baking sheet as you work.
5. Preheat oven to 200°F. Set a clean wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet with several layers of paper towels on top of rack. Working in batches (skillet should be filled but without pieces touching each other), arrange chicken, skin side down, in a single layer. Adjust heat so temperature of oil remains between 330°F and 340°F during frying. Cover and cook until chicken is crisp and golden on bottom and parts remove easily from pan, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully turn chicken and continue frying (covered) until crisp and cooked through (breasts should register 160°F and thighs 165°F on an instant-read thermometer), 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove each part as soon as it is ready (wings, drumsticks, and thinner breast pieces cook faster than thighs). Transfer to prepared rack on baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while cooking remaining chicken, returning oil to 375°F before adding each batch. Serve chicken hot.
Do you know what I love about the title of Alice Medrich's Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts? The "sin" part of it is the ease, not the sugar.
Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt loves Medrich's style, too: "To prove that desserts can be delicious, sophisticated, luxurious, even decadent, without being complicated, she offers an array of forgiving, flexible, fabulously flavorful recipes, doable when time is short and skills are not professionally honed."
No stress, all goodness.
These are heavenly—rich tasting with a velvety texture. Serve with a little mascarpone or with mini scoops of vanilla ice cream after an elegant meal. Or spoon them around a serving of Fresh Ginger Gingerbread.
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, turning the plums gently once or twice, until just tender. Taste and add sugar to balance the flavor if necessary. Serve hot, warm, or chilled. The plums keep in the refrigerator for at least a week.