Hey there! Welcome to my new column, “Relax, It’s Just …” (fill in the blank). Every month I’ll share a new recipe, something that many people feel intimidated about making at home, and demystify the pants off of it. There will be detailed instructions, but written in language that even a novice cook can easily understand, and lots of tips so that you will feel confident and end up successful. And step-by-step photos so you can see what is supposed to be happening when. The goal of this “Relax” column is to help you become more comfortable in the kitchen, and I would love to hear what dishes you’d like to conquer. No judgments here! Just the pleasure of learning to be a more self-assured cook. Read more
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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.
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:
If 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.
You 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):
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
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
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.
Your 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.