All Posts In How-to

How to Make Milk Bar’s Famous Birthday Cake

by in How-to, Restaurants, September 13th, 2015

Milk Bar was founded in 2008 by James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award-winner Christina Tosi; you may have heard of some of the bakery’s more popular items, like Cereal Milk ice cream, Compost Cookies and Crack Pie. With five locations in New York, one in Toronto and another opening in Washington, D.C., later this year, Milk Bar is becoming its own dessert empire. But it’s the eatery’s Birthday Cake that has won my heart and my stomach. It’s a modern take on the classic Funfetti cake, and it makes an appearance every year when it’s my birthday (and also when it’s not). The key to the moist cake layers in this towering treat? A soak of whole milk and clear vanilla extract. That’s right: It’s like a tres leches cake gone birthday bonkers, in the best way possible. We stopped by Milk Bar’s test kitchen location in Brooklyn to see how the masterpiece comes together.

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Compost Cookies — Bake-Ahead Batches

by in How-to, Recipes, September 8th, 2015

The compost cookie has nothing to do with garbage. It’s a butter-and-brown sugar cookie loaded with bits of candy and snack food. It sounds strange but it tastes divine. Invented by Christina Tosi, the sugar genius behind Momofuku Milk Bar, the cookie has become an Internet sensation. It’s no wonder. It’s a brilliant idea and a truly decadent dessert.

But what if you want to put your own spin on it? What if you don’t like the butterscotch chips that Tosi recommends, or you have some leftovers treats that you’d like to use up? The compost cookie can be your edible canvas. The recipe is easy to alter to any specifications or cravings. But do take care — a loaded compost cookie can go from delicious to disgusting in a flash. Here are my six tips for compost cookie success:

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7 Smart Ways to Use Up Leftover Buns

by in How-to, Recipes, July 23rd, 2015

Breaded Chicken CutletsIf your eyes were bigger than your stomach when you bought that economy-size bag of burger or hot dog buns, odds are you didn’t even make a dent, no matter how much of a blowout your backyard barbecue was. Now the fate of that not-so-empty bag is undoubtedly hovering dangerously near your trashcan. Have no fear. Instead of wasting buns simply because you’re out of hot dogs and hamburgers, rest assured that there are plenty of other ways you can put them to good use.

Transform Buns Into Breading

You better bet that leftover burger and hot dog buns can be transformed into crispy breadcrumbs. After drying the buns out in the microwave or oven and pulsing them into crumbs in a food processor, use them as breading for Food Network Kitchen’s crispy Breaded Chicken Cutlets.

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Times Like These Call for Serious Iced Coffee: How to Cold-Brew

by in How-to, Recipes, July 15th, 2015

Perfect Iced CoffeeYou probably ditched your hot coffee at about the same time you crammed your winter coats in under-bed storage and clicked on the AC for the first time. Now you take your dose of caffeine with ice cubes. Especially if you get your joe at a coffee shop, you’re bound to rack up quite the tab for your daily fix of the good stuff. Luckily, it’s easy to make iced coffee at home, proving that “cold-brew” is more than just another buzzword; it’s actually the best way to get your refreshing caffeine buzz, as long as you have a little patience.  To achieve the smoothest, least acidic (and best) iced coffee at home, go the cold-brew route with a little help from Food Network Magazine.

Follow FN Magazine’s steps for perfect cold-brew iced coffee (serves 2):

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Bakers’ Dozens: Corn Desserts

by in How-to, Recipes, June 5th, 2015

I am always up for a challenge. That’s exactly why I chose corn as a focus. Baking with something other than fruit, chocolate or the usual sweet ingredients may be new to some and old hat to others.

Let’s talk about corn. It contains natural sweetener, has a buttery and sometimes creamy texture, and is seasonal and local for many of us, even just picked! Sounds like the perfect dessert ingredient.

My love for bread pudding gave me the perfect starting point. Here is a way to make a simple and totally unique corn flavor. Strip away all the husks and silks (give that job to the kids), and toss the kernels and cobs in cream with sugar, salt and vanilla. Simmer until all the sugar is melted and the corn is tender. Steep for 2 1/2 hours to infuse. Remove the cobs and the vanilla bean. In a blender or using a hand immersion blender, puree at high speed and then strain through a fine-mesh screen. Ta-da! You have just made delicious corn cream. Read more

Bakers’ Dozens: Perfect Crumb Cake

by in How-to, Recipes, April 15th, 2015

Leaving a trail of crumbs helps you find your way.

I joked as a kid that I would need to leave a trail of crumbs into the kitchen so my mom could find her way. She would swear she couldn’t find it. After all, she wanted to turn our kitchen into a library. No one in my family baked. We all had a passion for sweets. The only sweet things baked in my house were brownies from my Easy-Bake Oven. I had zero kitchen training.

My first real attempt at baking started with a classic coffee cake. Read more

Bakers’ Dozens: Raising the Bar

by in How-to, Recipes, March 25th, 2015

Pastries cut into bar-shaped pieces never really go out of style. When one food magazine writes a story about bars, every other food magazine fires back with its own take on these simple-yet-delicious bites of happiness. With a handful of recipes for crusts and toppings, you can easily make bar cookies completely interchangeable.

If you find a crust that you like, let’s say a shortbread crust, play around with the topping. Perhaps make a pecan, Key lime or lemon filling, or even a fudgy brownie bar, with an oatmeal brown butter crust.

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5 Spices and Blends You Should Be Cooking With

by in How-to, Recipes, March 23rd, 2015

Chicken Tikka MasalaYour spice cabinet may be filled with everything you thought you’d ever need, but perhaps it’s time to cook with more than the spices you always reach for. By integrating more exotic and compelling spices into your spice rack, you can work complex layers of flavor into your dishes, whether you’re slow-roasting a rack of lamb, simmering a curry or setting a tray of vegetables in the oven. With just a few pinches (or teaspoons if we’re getting really accurate) of these spices and spice blends, your dishes will be ignited with some serious chef worthy flavor.

1. Garam Masala

An aromatic blend of ground spices rooted in North Indian and South Asian cuisines, garam masala literally translates to “warm spice mix.” A typical recipe for Garam Masala can include cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns, nutmeg and caraway, but there are many regional variations of this warming mix of spices. When Aarti Sequeira makes her Chicken Tikka Masala (pictured above), for instance, sauteing the garam masala in the skillet draws out the fragrance of the spice so it’s woven into every layer of the creamy tomato curry. Though you can use it to reproduce some of your Indian takeout favorites, you can also use this warming mix to bring marinades, sautes, meats and more to life.

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Everything Must Go! 10 Ways to Put Forgotten Ingredients to Use

by in How-to, Recipes, March 22nd, 2015

Chocolate Ganache CupcakesDon’t think you’re getting out of this one. Even if it doesn’t feel like it in your neck of the woods, spring is officially here, and that means it’s time for some old-fashioned spring cleaning. Before we even get into deep-cleaning the floors, the shower or — dare we say — that closet of yours, you should be getting your kitchen ready for the season ahead. Tackle your fridge, pantry and freezer head-on by addressing common bought-and-forgotten foods. Instead of straight-up tossing them, put these ingredients to use in fam-favorite recipes (if they haven’t gone past their expiration dates).

1. For the bottle of chocolate syrup you bought that one night you were craving chocolate milk

Let’s take a wild guess: The big brown bottle has been sitting in your fridge door for months, heavy as ever, with no chance of being used any time soon. Think of Ina Garten’s Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes (pictured above) as a delicious way to fix that. It calls for 16 ounces of chocolate syrup, meaning you’ll likely use the whole bottle up by making her decadently chocolatey, coffee-spiked recipe.

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5 Essentials to Guarantee Not-Sad Desk Lunches

by in How-to, March 5th, 2015

5 Essentials to Guarantee Not-Sad Desk LunchesDining at your desk can feel sad — like eating Thanksgiving dinner with plastic utensils. (The food may be delicious, but the circumstances make it less so.) But there is a way to make eating last night’s leftovers actually pleasant — and I’m not talking about investing in one of those annoying bento lunchboxes that never have enough room for the main part of the meal. Over the years, I’ve come up with five essentials that bring dignity to lunch at work. Here’s what I always have on hand.

1. A Low, Wide White Ceramic Bowl: White because most food — even a baked potato — looks good against it. Low because it can work for salads, soups, grains or a piece of chicken. And ceramic because it can go in the microwave (cold leftovers just invite depression).

2. Real Cutlery (i.e., a stainless steel fork and spoon): They don’t have to match, so grab those oddball orphaned pieces from your silverware drawer and put them to good use. Not only is it better for the environment, it’s also a scientifically proven fact that nothing (other than North Carolina barbecue served in a Styrofoam container) should ever be eaten with a flimsy plastic fork.

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