All Posts By Mallory Viscardi

Mallory Viscardi is a country girl at heart. She grew up in her grandmother's kitchen and in her mother's bookshelves. There are few things in life she loves more than a good cup of coffee, a well-written cookbook and -- above all else -- a delicious meal. She's an enthusiastic home-cook, a haver of small adventures and does all her own stunts.

Chatting with Alice Waters: Here’s How to Stock Your Pantry for Easy Meals

by in Books, November 10th, 2015

Chatting with Alice Waters: Here's How to Stock Your Pantry for Easy MealsWhen it comes to stocking your home pantry like a professional chef, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better adviser than Alice Waters. Her new book, aptly titled My Pantry, is an eloquent exploration of what Waters keeps on hand in her kitchen all the time. It explores how to make several staple ingredients, like vanilla extract, candied citrus peel and ricotta cheese. It also gives recipes that utilize items from a well-stocked pantry, like superfood granola or Chocolate Nut Bark (recipe below for you to enjoy at home).

My Pantry blends Waters’ lovely writing with her highly craveable food and speaks to how a home pantry can evolve its staple items over time. “My travels to Morocco, Australia and Mexico have influenced what I keep on hand, especially spices,” Waters told FN Dish. “My pantry has also changed through my thinking about the importance of school lunch nutrition — whole grains, fruits and vegetables first.” You can find more about her work improving youth nutrition through better food resources for schools with her Edible Schoolyard Project.

What does Waters say every home cook needs to keep in a well-stocked pantry? The list is surprisingly simple. “You must always have olive oil, vinegar, garlic and spices,” she said. “Plus brown rice, farro pasta and preserved tomatoes.” According to Waters, a good home cook keeps 10 to 15 items on hand at all times, and with My Pantry you’ll find yourself making delicious meals from your pantry shelves multiple times a week. How does Waters choose what to make when she’s cooking from her pantry? “I pick whatever looks inspiring to me or what works with what I have on hand. You can make a delicious simple meal with only three or four ingredients.”

You can order your own copy of My Pantry here.

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6 Tips for Better Pasta That Everyone Should Know, Plus Fall’s Best Gnocchi

by in Books, Recipes, October 29th, 2015

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and SageThe potential for that box of pasta sitting on your pantry shelf is almost limitless, as The Four Seasons of Pasta is here to prove. Written by mother-daughter team Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Sara Jenkins, this book stretches the classic standby ingredient into new and delightfully flavorful seasonal meals. Think Pasta alla Carbonara for spring, Spaghetti with SunBurst Tomatoes for summer, a hearty Ragu Bolognese for winter, or the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage for autumn (recipe below for you to try at home).

And though you’ve likely been making pasta since you first learned to boil water, heed Nancy and Sara’s advice for a truly exceptional pasta dish:

1. Make sure your pasta water is abundant — 5 or 6 quarts for a standard 500-gram (about 1 pound) box of pasta.

2. Be sure you bring it to a rolling boil.

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Spice Up Your Sweet Tooth with Maple Sticky Buns

by in Books, September 24th, 2015

Maple Sticky BunsThe first telltale chill of the onset of autumn is swirling around in the air, and it’s time to think ahead to the joys of fall baking. Just in time for the cooler weather is Samantha Seneviratne’s The New Sugar and Spice. This book takes you on a tour of your spice cabinet like you’ve never experienced before, teasing out bold new flavors in the classic baked goods you already know and love, like the cinnamon-infused Maple Sticky Buns pictured above (recipe after the jump for you to try at home).

We asked Seneviratne to detail for us her top do’s and don’t’s for weaving new and exciting spices into baking recipes:

  • Do taste everything! Even if you don’t think you like a certain spice, give it a new look every now and then. You never know how a new preparation may change your perspective.
  • Don’t let your spices languish in the pantry for too long. Make sure they’re fresh before you use them.
  • Do grate nutmeg fresh. It’s much tastier than the preground spice. I like freshly ground cardamom best, too.
  • Don’t use imitation vanilla. Your cakes will thank you.
  • Do use a spice grinder with a removable basin. Washing the basin in between uses keeps flavors fresh and clean.
  • Don’t forget the salt! It’s one of the most-important spices in baking.

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Beat the Heat with Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks

by in Books, Drinks, August 8th, 2015

Punch Bowls and Pitcher DrinksAs the dog days of summer press down on us, it’s only natural to feel a little parched. There’s no better way to beat the heat than with an array of large-batch cocktails and drinks, and that’s exactly what Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks offers. The title, written by Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia, pulls inspiration from fresh, seasonal fruits, plus herbs and spices. Classic cocktails are reimagined as new sips, like Julep-Tea Punch, Lychee Mojito Punch, Old-Fashioned Manhattan Punch and Mai Tai Punch. But we can’t get enough of the drinks from the Height of Summer section, especially the Peachy Moonshine, Spiked Spa Water and Watermelon-Tequila Punch (pictured above; recipe below for you to try at home).

Before you dip into any of the recipes, keep in mind these tips and tricks for working with fresh cocktail ingredients and various spirits:

  • The tartness of citrus fruit varies considerably from backyard tree fruit to purchased fruit from the farmers market or the grocery store. Hyper-fresh backyard citrus will have a more intense flavor.
  • Unless the recipe specifies, you do not need to peel the fruit or vegetables. In many cases the peel or rind of a fruit adds a note of necessary bitterness to counter the sweeter meat of the fruit, and also helps infuse the lunch with more aromatic flavors.
  • Brands of alcohol also vary considerably. In order to get the right balance, add the amount of liquor called for in the recipes (the smaller amount if a range is listed). If, after tasting, you want a more potent mix, add more liquor by the tablespoonful to taste.
  • Some folks really prefer sweet drinks. If a recipe calls for a flavored syrup or sugar, a little more can be stirred into the mix, but start with the recommended amount.

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Heading Off on Vacation? Don’t Forget to Pack These Food-Focused Books

by in Books, July 8th, 2015

The World on a PlateWhen summer heats up, there’s only one thing to do: pack your cooler, grab a good book and hit the beach. Even when we step out of the kitchen, our minds never wander far from delicious dishes, and we like our literature the way we like our pantry: overflowing with mouthwatering food. These are the books you’ll find in our beach bags this summer.

The World on a Plate by Mina Holland
If you’re looking for a book to double as an imaginary culinary vacation, The World on a Plate is the book for your beach bag. It won Best Culinary Travel Book in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, and it’s easy to see why. Holland’s writing is open and engaging, and she teases your appetite, one country’s specialty dishes at a time. The food dances to life through history and cultural context. Once you read it, you’ll never again be able to peruse your pantry without seeing the storied histories and secret lives of some of your favorite ingredients — right down to the cinnamon and sugar in your favorite cookies. It’s a culinary and historical tour of world cuisine that includes everything from the most-prevalent flavor profiles and pantry staples to each cuisine’s signature recipes. The World on a Plate is the perfect summer read for the soul that has a serious (and seriously hungry) case of wanderlust. Order your copy here.

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The Top Picnic Mistakes to Avoid, and How to Fix Them If They Happen, Plus Boozy Bubbles to Pack in the Basket

by in Books, In Season, June 26th, 2015

The PicnicWhen it comes to summer picnics, you’ll be hard pressed to find better resources for tips, tricks and menus than Marnie Hanel, Andrea Slonecker and Jen Stevenson of the Portland Picnic Society. They’ve assembled the only picnic guide you’ll ever need in their new book, The Picnic. The Picnic has everything from the rules for common lawn games and 99 uses for Mason jars to delicious recipes and menu ideas. The book is perfect for the novice picnicgoer, with guides for packing your basket and how big a blanket to get, and a list of essential tools everyone always forgets.

One of the most-useful parts of The Picnic is the crisis-aversion section of the book, where 10 common picnic disasters are triaged proactively for you. Planning a picnic before you can snag your own copy of the book? Keep the following details in mind.

1. Bathroom Break: Nothing ruins a picnic like having to go, with no relief in sight. Scout the state of your picnic site’s restrooms upon arrival. If they’re locked or loathsome, search for the nearest coffeehouse and inform your friends of its location.

2. Beat the Heat: If it’s a real sizzler of a day, surprise your fellow guests with a Mediterranean-scented cooldown: Add a few drops of rose, citrus or lavender oil to chilled miniature spray bottles of water and distribute them to the crowd. (Paper fans work, too.)

3. Battle of the Bugs: Summer bugs are a picnic plague. Bring an arsenal of citronella votives and bug spray. To keep unwelcome sweet-tea swimmers at bay, try this easy trick for transforming a Mason jar: Remove the lid and set it aside. Take a square of decorative paper, punch a hole in it, lay it over the lip of your jar, replace the ring and poke a straw through the hole. Drink elsewhere, bugs.

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3 Common Baking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, Plus the Only Cookie Guide You Need

by in Books, May 28th, 2015

Honey Walnut BarsCookie lovers, rejoice! Mindy Segal’s new cookbook, Cookie Love, is here to fill your life and your kitchen with crunchy, chewy, salty-sweet four-bite treats. Whether you’re craving the crispy, caramelized goodness of Oatmeal Scotchies or the deep chocolate and sweet minty notes of the Black Sabbath sandwich cookies, you’ll find your new favorite cookie bite in the pages of this book. The variety of cookies you’ll find in Cookie Love runs the gamut from classic drop cookies with bold flavors all the way to sweet and salty bar cookies (like the Honey Walnut Bars, which you can make home with the recipe below) and back again. Meringues? It has them. Rugelach? You’re set. Spritz cookies? Look no further. Segal has you covered with fun, innovative flavors and textures no matter what kind of cookie you’re looking to make.

When it comes to baking, it’s no secret that getting it right is all in the details. According to Segal, these are the top three reasons many home cooks struggle with cookie baking. Learn from these notes:

1. They do not read the recipe through and follow the writer’s techniques.
2. They do not use correct room-temperature ingredients.
3. They think they can alter the recipe before they have even made it.

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Get the Most Out of Your Toast with New Toppings

by in Books, May 13th, 2015

Tomatillo Egg ToastIf you think toast is boring to make or to eat, Jill Donenfeld’s new book, Better on Toast, challenges you to think again. The book is a 70-recipe adventure into the world of open-faced toast possibilities, and it’s a delicious ride from the first dish to the last. “It’s not rocket science we’re talking about here,” Donenfeld writes. “It’s not even molecular gastronomy… Food tastes better when it’s eaten on a piece of hot, crispy bread.”

How right she is. With dishes ranging from the Avocado Classic Toast (mashed avocado on toast with lemon and red pepper flakes, drizzled with olive oil) to the luscious, creamy Tomatillo Egg Toast (pictured above and recipe below for you to savor at home), you’ll find a whole collection of crusty, mouthwatering recipe gems. Donenfeld covers everything from proper breadselection and toasting technique to using up leftover ingredients in the rare event you find you haven’t eaten the whole dish in one go. There are visual guides that show how you can take one ingredient and dress it up a handful of ways (like the burrata toasts below, and another similar feature of ricotta variations). She even includes a wonderful little note template for you to use when inviting neighbors over to try your new favorite toast recipes. (Or not … nobody would fault you for wanting to keep these plates all to yourself.)

Toast itself is a simple concept, but really good toast can be made with just a few small tweaks to the cooking process. Get the most out of each crispy, crunchy bite with these tips from Donenfeld:

Don’t: Dry-toast in the toaster oven — this makes for dry, flaky toast.
Do: Toast with a fat (mayo, butter, oil) in a pan — this creates a crispy crust that melts into the interior of the bread as you take a bite.

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Rainbow Tarts: A Fun and Colorful Cooking Guide

by in Books, April 16th, 2015

Strawberry TartFew things get a true food lover’s blood pumping like the return of ripe, vibrant spring produce to supermarket shelves and farmers markets. As strawberries start to creep back into their lush glory, the mind wanders to one of the kitchen’s simple pleasures: the tart. Simplicity doesn’t have to mean flat flavor, though, as evidenced in Emilie Guelpa’s Strawberry Sugar Tarts from her cookbook Rainbow Tarts (recipe below for you to try at home).

Guelpa’s approach to tarts is simple and clean but stunningly beautiful. The book is written and assembled with a designer’s eye, featuring beautifully represented flavor combinations leaping off the page and tickling your hunger for more. The recipes are easy to make, pairing a base dough with a color topping and then a white topping. The book offers recipes for four different types of base dough (chocolate shortcrust, salted hazelnut, shortcrust and salted Parmesan) and then four different kinds of white cream toppings (chantilly, Italian meringue, French meringue and panna cotta), plus an assortment of other white topping options (like shredded coconut, rice pudding, mascarpone and more).

The real artistry comes to life when she plays with flavors, pairing everything from peas with bacon to beets with goat cheese. There’s a fantastic balance of sweet and savory ideas, ranging from orange with chantilly to beef with aioli. The flavor possibilities are as fun as they are endless, and Guelpa includes a culinary palette section that will leave you inspired to dream up flavor combinations of your own that fit your fancy long after you’ve tried all 50 recipes in the book.

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Sheet Pan Suppers: A Quick-Fix Cooking Method to Try Tonight

by in Books, March 19th, 2015

Chicken and Baby Broccoli with Spicy Peanut Sauce“Cooking on a sheet pan, letting your oven do most of the work, will put a great meal on the table and give you time to enjoy your life. And isn’t that pretty much what it’s all about?” Molly Gilbert asks in her new cookbook, Sheet Pan Suppers. No matter what your family wants for dinner (or breakfast or lunch), the answer might be found in the kitchen tool you once used only to bake cookies: the humble sheet pan.

Gilbert’s technique is simple and straightforward: Use good ingredients to make delicious yet simple meals, like Quick Chicken and Baby Broccoli with Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe after the link for you to try at home) or the Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta Pasta. But sheet pan recipes can branch out beyond dinner to include small bites and snacks (like Spicy Cheese Biscuits and Crispy Roasted Potatoes), meat-free meals (like Hearty Ratatouille with Goat Cheese and Portobello Cap Pizzas with Garlic Knots), and even brunch dishes (like Fresh Brioche Cinnamon Rolls, pictured below).

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