All Posts By Jennifer Perillo

Jennifer Perillo is a recipe developer and food writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her recipes and tips for feeding families homemade meals are a regular feature in Working Mother magazine, where she’s the consulting food editor, as well Relish Magazine, Parenting, Kiwi and her blog, In Jennie’s Kitchen. Jennie's first cookbook, Homemade With Love, is now available.

No-Bake Desserts — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Recipes, July 31st, 2013

Frozen Peanut Butter BitesI sometimes question my own sanity when I crank the oven to bake pies, cakes and cookies during the summer. When the temperatures reach record-breaking highs, though, as we happen to be experiencing here in New York City, even I come to my senses. That doesn’t mean I give up on cooking from scratch, or on sweets — life is too short to skip dessert.

Sliced fruit or berries macerated — chef-speak for marinated — along with sugar, are perfect paired with fresh whipped cream. Ice pops are an easy go-to summer dessert, too. I recently made watermelon ones reminiscent of Jolly Rancher candies. Cherry Slushies are another favorite of mine and require no chilling time. You simply puree cherry conserves with ice cubes in a blender. What are your favorite ways to stay cool and still indulge?

Try these no-bake recipes

Easy As Pie — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in How-to, July 23rd, 2013

Easy As PieSome of my must-have travel items include three types of flour, two types of sugar and a collection of ground spices. Not your average vacation packing list, I know, but essential for me when hunkering down at the beach for two weeks. As my Instagram feed filled with photos of sugo, breakfast bread puddings and homemade pies, someone commented “don’t forget you’re on vacation.” But here’s the catch: I love cooking, and it never feels like a chore or something I want to take an extended break from doing.

My life as a recipe developer is driven by two goals. First and foremost is flavor, but a close second is creating recipes with easy techniques, so that people can see just how enjoyable cooking can be. Vacation inspires a lot of creativity in the kitchen, too. I found myself surrounded with super-sweet berries out on the North Fork of Long Island, and suddenly my mind was filled with thoughts of homemade pie. My go-to recipe is made using a food processor, as well as cornmeal and vinegar — three things I didn’t have at the house I was renting. Necessity being the mother of invention, I gave some more thought to my original recipe.

Keep reading for the recipe

Preserving the Season — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in How-to, In Season, June 19th, 2013

Fresh Refrigerator PicklesWhen strawberries start popping up at the farmers’ markets, that’s my signal to get jamming. The window for enjoying sun-kissed, sweet berries here in the Northeast is far too short. Learning to preserve is one way to extend the season — and add much-needed variety come January, when we’re knee-deep in apples and pears. Berries are just the beginning of it all, though.

Short-Term Benefits
Preserving is a way to stretch the life of your fruits and vegetables. You can choose short-term storage, by making jams that will stay fresh for a few weeks in the fridge, or pickling, which lasts a few months. This is a good way to get your feet wet and master part of the technique needed for long-term storage.

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Let’s Get Grilling — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in How-to, May 29th, 2013

Sweet Cola RibsMemorial Day signaled the unofficial start to summer, so it’s only natural that the next part in The Good Cook series should be about grilling and barbecuing. Here’s a quick primer to get you started.

Direct Heat vs. Indirect Heat: The first thing to think about when grilling is how long your food will take to cook and that all depends on what you’re making. Quick-cooking items like sausage links, steak and shrimp cook best when placed directly over the heat source (i.e., flame or hot coals). This is called direct-heat cooking.

Brisket and ribs, on the other hand, need a long cooking time to become tender, so you want to use an indirect cooking method. This simply means the coals are piled, also called “banked,” on one side of the grill, or just the outer gas burners are turned on. The food is placed on the rack, away the flame or hot coals, and cooks from the radiant heat. It’s akin to turning your grill or barbecue into an oven. With this cooking method, you’ll also need to keep the grill closed to maintain a consistent cooking temperature.

Gas vs. Charcoal Gas Grills

How to Make a Steak — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in How-to, May 18th, 2013

London BroilToday we’re talking steak as part of The Good Cook series. Generally, cooking steak involves a direct-heat cooking method, such as a very hot skillet, an oven broiler or taking it outdoors to the grill. Deciding which cooking method is best all depends on what kind of steak you bought, also known as the cut of steak.

New York strip, sirloin and rib eye, familiar steak house favorites, cook up quickly in a very hot skillet on the stovetop (I love using my cast iron), or on the grill. A rare to medium-rare steak needs only three to four minutes on each side. If you prefer your meat cooked medium or medium-well, finish it off in an oven preheated 350 degrees F to keep it tender and juicy.

Flank, skirt and London broil are best prepared using your stove’s broiler or on the grill. These cuts are also best served medium-rare; cook them about five minutes per side, otherwise they become too tough. The way you slice these cuts of steak is another important detail. Hold your knife at a slight angle, about 45 degrees, and slice it across the grain.

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Perfect Roast Chicken — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in How-to, Recipes, May 11th, 2013

A Simple Roast Chicken by Jennifer PerilloI hesitated for a long time before including a recipe for roasted chicken in my cookbook. It seemed so basic and simple, but as I talked to more and more home cooks it became apparent that roasting a whole chicken is an intimidating kitchen project for many people. And when I use the word project, I mean it very loosely, because really there’s no fuss in doing it.

The real key is the right cooking temperature; that’s what ensures a super crispy skin, but also keeps the white meat juicy and moist. And forget about trussing — this isn’t your mother’s roast chicken. In fact, I’ve found that the chicken cooks more evenly if you leave the legs wide open. It allows the heat to circulate throughout the chicken, so the dark and white meats cook evenly.

Learn how to make a roast chicken

The Good Cook (Part One) — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in How-to, Recipes, April 25th, 2013

Meyer Lemon Compound ButterYou learn so much about people when you step out from behind the computer screen. I’ve been on tour for my debut cookbook, Homemade with Love, and it’s given me a chance to connect with readers in a way I never imagined. One person at my Chicago book signing inspired me to start a miniseries of sorts here, called The Good Cook.

Too often I hear people say they’re not good cooks. A little digging, though, and it turns out the way we see ourselves isn’t always in line with the way the people we love view us. Being a good cook shouldn’t be defined by how many recipes we know. The real determining factor in being a good cook is a rather simple litmus test: 1) do you like what you cook? and 2) do the people you prepare meals for enjoy what you cook? When I asked these questions at a few separate events, it turns out most people answer yes to both.

The real root for many people judging themselves so unfairly in the kitchen is they feel like they’re always cooking the same few favorite recipes. It’s really about expanding your comfort zone and, in some cases, learning a few new techniques. That’s where I come in. Over the next few posts, I’m going to explore techniques and tips to help get you out of your cooking rut. Please leave a note in the comments, letting me know which recipes or ingredients are on your “must-learn” wish list. Today, I’m going to start with an easy upgrade, a simple way in which you can add some oomph to your everyday meals.

Learn how to make a compound butter

An Egg-cellent Idea

by in Family, Recipes, April 5th, 2013

Broccolini With Hard-Boiled Eggs From Food Network MagazineI love perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs. They need nothing more than a sprinkle of salt and make for a quick, protein-filled breakfast or snack. I’m guessing right about now we’re all trying to decide how to use up those eggs leftover from Easter celebrations, too — let’s face it, you’ve probably got at least a dozen in the fridge!

When life gives you too many hard-boiled eggs, it’s time to crack open some recipes for using them all up. Today I’m sharing one from my new cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie’s Kitchen. It’s my take on the perfect tuna salad, and it has an extra tasty twist — a few sprigs of fresh mint. The mint brightens all the flavors and offers a refreshing burst with every bite that reminds me of a Vietnamese banh mi, which is where the inspiration to tuck a few leaves into my sandwich came from in the first place.

Get the recipe and more

Matzo Magic — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Holidays, March 19th, 2013

Matzo for PassoverI didn’t grow up eating matzo, but I was always intrigued by it, almost jealous in a way because it wasn’t part of my Catholic upbringing. I can see all of my Jewish friends rolling their eyes as they read this. One bite of matzo and you soon realize, on its own, there’s nothing to write home about.

What makes matzo so special is the significance it carries during the Jewish holiday of Passover, in which leavened products are forbidden (read more about why here). Matzo is made using just flour and water, resulting in a thin, very crisp cracker essentially. It became a part of my culinary world when I met my husband, Mikey, who was Jewish, 18 years ago. While he wasn’t observant, the holidays were rituals he celebrated regardless. And so, each year as Passover came around, matzo became a part of my cooking repertoire. In its most-simple form, I love eating matzo slathered with butter and a drizzle of some good honey.

Make matzo bruschetta

Waffle Maker Magic

by in Family, Recipes, March 16th, 2013

Taleggio and Pear PaniniStorage is always an issue living in New York City, especially when it comes to much-coveted counter space; there never seems to be enough. It makes me pretty merciless when it comes to appliances and kitchen equipment. This also means I can’t afford to keep any one-trick ponies hanging around, so it was only logical for me to look beyond basic waffles when it came to cooking with my waffle iron.

A few years back I read about waffle grilled cheese in Jennifer Carden’s Toddler Café cookbook. It’s easy. Instead of cooking your grilled cheese in a skillet on the stovetop, you throw it into a preheated waffle iron doubling as a panini press. It’s a genius idea, and makes its way into my daughters’ lunchboxes a few times a week. My husband, Mikey, loved it so much that I would often gussy up the filling by using fresh mozzarella and tomato jam. It was the best of both worlds for him, from a culinary standpoint.

Then my eyes were opened even wider when my friend Silvana’s book, Cooking for Isaiah, came out. She had the brilliant idea of making shredded potato pancakes in her waffle iron. This works better in a standard waffle iron than a deep Belgian-style one, and is a fun twist on latkes.

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