It can be so hard to stay away from packaged food and all the weird, hidden chemicals that come with it. Wouldn't you love to have a pantry filled with food you know is good?
The Homemade Pantry is the answer. Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt promises that you're in good hands with Alana Chernila, who welcomes you into her "wonderfully messy kitchen" with "problem-solving, 'tense moment' tips and handy storage advice."
Turn dinner into something special with homemade delights such as the following recipe for . . .
Dust the counter with the remaining ¾ cup flour. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead the additional flour into the dough for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and has lost most of its stickiness. Put the dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise until doubled in size. This will take 1 to 2 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
Punch the air out of the dough with one swift punch, and turn the dough out on a floured counter again. Sprinkle the seeds onto the dough; then knead them into the dough for about 1 minute. Cover the dough with plastic and let rest for 5 minutes.
Remove the plastic wrap and set it aside. Divide the dough in half, then halves again, and then halves again. Repeat until you have 32 roughly equal pieces. Lay the plastic wrap over the balls of dough and set up your baking sheets, lined with parchment paper. Take each ball of dough, one at a time, and roll it between your hands until you have a breadstick that is about 8 inches long and no more than ½ inch in diameter. Lay the breadsticks on the tray with 2 inches between them. Let rest uncovered for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F.
Bake the breadsticks for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they are slightly golden. Let cool entirely before storing.
Room temperature: covered container, 7 days
Freezer: freezer-safe container or bag, 3 months (recrisp in a 375°F oven for 5 minutes)
There's something about this time of year . . . while everyone else is battling allergies, I've come down with a serious case of wanderlust. If you've caught the travel bug like me, take a trip of the taste buds with our April Cookbook of the Month, Jeffrey's Saad's Global Kitchen! This is the debut cookbook from rising Food Network star Jeffrey Saad, and it's packed with the absolute best in world food.
Head to India with the following recipe starring ghee and garam masala.
2 | Slice each chicken breast horizontally into 3 to 4 slices. Place in the yogurt mixture and coat thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
3 | Wipe the marinade off the chicken. Discard the marinade. Season the chicken with salt. In a large nonstick skillet over medium- high heat, add 1 teaspoon of the remaining ghee. Once the ghee is hot, saute the chicken until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside.
4 | In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, the remaining 1 tablespoon tomato puree, and the cumin. Set aside.
5 | In a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 teaspoon ghee. Once the ghee is hot, add the red bell pepper, onions, and turmeric. Sprinkle with salt. Saute until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Big hats, big hair . . . add big flavor to the long list of all things classically Texan! Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt calls Texas Eats "Robb Walsh’s unabashedly admiring ode to . . . a fabulous hodgepodge of gastronomic hybrids" that make up good TX food.
A perfect example of this cookbook's brilliant use of ingredients is this Texan spin on the signature Italian pasta sauce sugo all'amatriciana.
Meanwhile, cook the sausages in a skillet over medium heat on the stove top or in a 350°F oven until they are cooked through. Add the cooked sausages to the sauce and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the sausage or meatballs are well done. Stir gently so you do not break up the sausages or meatballs.
Just before serving, in a saucepan over low heat, add the Parmesan mixture to as much sugo as you intend to use right away. Stir continuously so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Season with salt.
Use the sugo to make spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, hot baked meatball or sausage sandwiches, or your favorite Italian-American creations.
Bean by Bean, Crescent Dragonwagon's celebration of the brilliant little bean, is our March Cookbook of the Month! Beans are used as both star ingredients and supporting players in over 200 recipes, and the result is "always cheap and now chic, too."
Get a preview with this delish Italian dish:
2) Drain the beans and onions, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer about a cup of the liquid and about a cup of the beans (with some of the cooked onions) to a food processor. Buzz smooth and set aside.
3) Toward the end of the bean cooking time, heat the oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and gently saute? it until it begins to get limp but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery, and saute? until slightly tender, another 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute? until fragrant, 1 minute more.
4) Add the beans and their cooking liquid to the vegetables in the soup pot. Then add the tomatoes, rosemary, and pureed beans, as well as about 3 cups of the boiling water. Bring the pot to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and let cook, covered, until the beans are fully and meltingly tender and everything has gotten to know each other cozily, about another hour. Lift the lid from time to time, both to stir (the pureed beans may want to stick) and to add more boiling water as needed. The beans should be covered by 1 to 3 inches of simmering liquid at all times. (This range is so large because, as noted, the amount of liquid depends on whether you prefer a brothy or thick soup. Remember, too, that the pasta will cook in the liquids, thickening them.)
5) When the beans are pillowy and soft, add half the minced parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and another cup of boiling water to the pot. Bring back to a boil, uncovered, add the pasta, and cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Taste again, adding more salt and pepper as needed.
6) Serve, hot, in warmed bowls. Garnish each bowl with a thread of olive oil, a shower of the remaining parsley, and some cheese. Pass additional cheese and a cruet of olive oil at the table.
More than 30 different ethnic groups contribute to the flavors of Texas food, forming what cooking columnist Sybil Pratt calls "a fabulous hodgepodge of gastronomic hybrids." Recipes for this cobbled-together cuisine are collected in Robb Walsh's Texas Eats.
I cannot get over how good this cookbook's dessert recipes look!
In a bowl, whisk the eggs until blended, then stir in the molasses, butter, and all of the spices. Set aside.
In a saucepan, scald the milk over medium-high heat (small bubbles appear along the edge of the pan). Add the cornmeal and salt, stir well, and immediately decrease the heat to low. Cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the heat. Gradually add the egg mixture to the hot cornmeal mixture while stirring constantly, then continue to whisk until smooth. Stir in the raisins.
If using the slow cooker, pour the batter into the prepared cooker, cover, and cook on the high setting for 3 hours or on the low setting for 6 hours or more, until the pudding has set. If using the oven, pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, place in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes, until the pudding has set.
Serve the pudding warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
Our Cookbook of the Month is Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon. With 200 recipes, it is "a super-celebration of beans, always cheap and now chic, too." Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt just loved it: "As good a writer as she is a cook, her notes and short essays are fun, informative and brimming with her inimitable enthusiasm."
But don't take our word for it! Check out this delicious recipe:
You could fancy this up in all kinds of ways, including adding garlic and/or scallion, flavors I usually love; but I urge you to try this one exactly as written with the freshest, most bursting-with-seasonality ingredients you can get your hands on. You want corn picked that day, preferably one of the supersweet varieties. If you press a thumbnail into a kernel, it should spit juice at you.
Fixing the zucchini in barely cooked ribbons makes all the difference in the taste, appearance, and unusualness of this salad. I wait all year for this one.
2. While the beans cook, use a vegetable peeler to cut the zucchini, skin and all, into wide, thin, ribbon-like strips. If the seeds in the center seem overly firm or the core fibrous, save those strips for another recipe (you can use them in soup or ratatouille). You just want those tender ribbons, some green and some white. Pile the cut zucchini in a colander.
3. When the beans are cooked, drain them over the zuke ribbons. This pour-over cooks the zucchini very, very slightly. They’ll remain a little crisp, but they won’t taste raw, and I guarantee they’ll be unlike any zucchini you’ve ever had before in your life.
4. Run or spray cold water over the zuke ribbons and green beans to cool them, then drain them very thoroughly (I use a salad spinner to get the zucchini as dry as possible). This is essential to keeping things crisp-fresh, not sodden.
5. Place the corn and the tomato, if using, in a large serving bowl, and add the beans and zukes. Toss well. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste, and toss well again. Serve immediately, each portion cupped in a lettuce leaf.
Serves 4 as a starter or 6 as a side
"Deep in the heart of Texas there’s a marvelous melting pot of multi-ethnic food," writes cooking columnist Sybil Pratt, and the place to find every delicious TX flavor is in Robb Walsh's Texas Eats.
This cookbook goes way beyond the Tex-Mex you're used to, just like these brownies go way beyond traditional expectations. They have a kick of ancho chile powder!
Combine the chocolate and butter in the top ?pan of a double boiler, place over (not touching) barely simmering water in the bottom pan, and heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter ?have melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until thickened and smooth. Add the flour, ancho powder, chocolate chips, and nuts and stir until thoroughly combined.
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 12 squares. Serve with the ice cream.
You're going to hate me for posting this recipe. Why? Because it's chocolate cake made in a slow cooker.
Uh oh. But also, ooh la la!
Thanks a lot, Michele Scicolone. All we're going to do for the rest of the day is dream of eating this cake from The French Slow Cooker.
I hated to waste all of those good ingredients, so I improvised by placing a large pot partially filled with water on the stovetop. I put the cake pan on a rack in the pot, clamped on the lid, and steamed the cake until it was set.
I loved the tender, creamy texture of that steamed cake. My slow cooker does a great job of making a similar chocolate cake that is fit for a queen.
It looks great with just a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar, but when fresh raspberries are in season, I like to arrange them in rows on top of the cake as a garnish. Top with either whipped cream or Crème Anglaise (page 223).
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Let stand for a few minutes until softened. Stir until completely melted.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and add the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate and almonds.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Place the pan on the rack. Pour just enough hot water into the cooker so that it stays below the bottom of the pan.
Cover and chill for several hours or overnight. Run a small knife around the edge of the cake. Remove the sides of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.
After cooking with Barbara Kafka's newest cookbook (and our February Cookbook of the Month), cooking columnist Sybil Pratt "can solemnly swear that there really is 'glorious food' without gluten and lactose and without ersatz ingredients."
Kafka's The Intolerant Gourmet is a special-diet cookbook not just for those who are lactose- and gluten-intolerant, but also for those who love to entertain and wish to make great food while accommodating all types of guests.
Clearly, nothing is lost in this scrumptious recipe.
This is evidently based on coq au vin. However, cocks that require long cooking are hard to come by these days, as are hens. Instead this is adapted for a regular chicken. I think that you will find it rich enough to satisfy. Leftover wine or a half bottle should do nicely. Serve with gluten-free noodles, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, or Acorn Squash Puree.
Stir the tomato paste and wine into the pan. The sauce can be made ahead up to this point.
About 30 minutes before serving, add the chicken and bay leaf to the pan. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stick a knife into the thick part of the chicken to make sure it is done; the juices should run clear. Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are warm. Stir in the parsley and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste, Stir in the bacon.
Our January Cookbook of the Month shares some of the best home cooking on the web, all plucked from the best of the best of Food52. The blog hosts a recipe contest in a different category every week, and these are the first batch of winners (more to come, we hope!). It's no wonder that, according to our cooking columnist, The Food52 Cookbook is a "dazzler."
This recipe is utterly flexible and undeniably delicious.
A&M: One Hungry Mama gave us the history of this dish: “This recipe came to me right as I was about to overextend myself: I was eight months pregnant and, with a day of cooking ahead of me, almost decided to whip up impromptu blueberry corn muffins for breakfast. As I stared at the cornmeal trying to gear up to bake, it struck me: breakfast polenta!” Inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe, she blends almond meal with the polenta and cooks the two together, later adding vanilla, fresh blueberries, and cardamom. A bit of honey lends just the right amount of sweetness—a light touch keeps it from being cloying.
2. Reduce the heat to low and add the polenta, whisking constantly until smooth. Add the almond meal and continue whisking for several minutes until the polenta thickens to a creamy consistency. Add the butter and whisk until it melts completely.
3. Turn the heat off and whisk in the honey, blueberries, vanilla, and cardamom. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream and an extra sprinkle of blueberries.
Tips and Techniques
We tried this with hazelnut meal instead of almond meal, too, and loved it just as much. You can also be flexible with the fruit: use whatever berries are in season.
About the Cook
Stacie Bills lives in Brooklyn, New York, and writes about food and parenting on her blog, One Hungry Mama (www.onehungrymama.com). Her favorite recipe from a cookbook: “Mark Bittman’s Orzo Risotto from How to Cook Everything because it’s simple, endlessly adaptable, can be fed to anyone (even a six-month-old!) and, of course, is utterly delicious however you personalize it.”
CASJ: “I am eating a bowl of this right now—it is wonderful—I never would have thought to add the almond meal. Thanks for the great recipe!”