Tag: jennifer perillo

How to Make Butter — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in How-to, April 7th, 2014

How to Make ButterMy inspiration for cooking is spurred by many things, one of them being curiosity. That’s what led me to make my own butter almost five years ago. My intention was not to start whipping batches of homemade butter for cooking or baking; that would be a far too expensive endeavor. I simply wanted to know if it was as easy as it sounded, and how different it would taste compared with what I could easily buy at the supermarket.

Inevitably, making butter from scratch brings out the kid inside of us all too. Imagine pouring a container of heavy cream into a food processor and watching it magically transform from one ingredient into another. There’s no magic, of course; it’s all science, but that doesn’t take away from the wonder of it all.

What about the taste? I’ll never be able to 100 percent replicate the butter I gorge on in France, simply because the cream here in the U.S. is different in flavor. I can get pretty darn close, though. All I need are two key ingredients: good-quality heavy cream from a local farmers market and fleur de sel. The result is a rich, yellow-hued fresh butter, laced with crunchy bits of salt. It’s the perfect companion to a crusty baguette and it even elevates ordinary toasted white bread.

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Don’t Waste Those Tops: Eat More Greens

by in Recipes, March 12th, 2014

Don't Waste Those Tops: Eat More GreensMy goal is to repurpose pretty much everything in the kitchen to cut down on waste. With each new recipe, I create a quilt, of sorts, weaving unused ingredients, or leftover portions, from one dish into the next new recipe I develop. When I make bread, the little bit of flour left on the board after kneading and baking gets spooned into a bowl for the next time. A few leftover meatballs might make for a meager meal on their own. Smashed up and simmered in a marinara sauce, though, they’re a hearty dinner over polenta or pasta.

When I buy beets, the tops, also called beet greens, are always set aside for a quick saute. Finding uses for the less-obvious ingredients is something I particularly enjoy. Take carrots, for example. They, too, come with these lush, green leaves attached, which most people snap off and toss in the trash. Thanks to some inspiration from a friend on Instagram a couple of months ago, I decided to make a pesto out of them. This recipe is a great way to enjoy an old favorite in a new way.

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10 New Ways to Eat Carrots

by in Recipes, February 25th, 2014

10 New Ways to Eat CarrotsCarrot sticks and hummus are my go-to snack when I need a quick, healthy pick-me-up. When time is on my side, though, carrots have so much more to offer than simply snacking. Roasting brings out their natural sweetness, making them a tasty, easy side dish. There’s the ever-popular carrot-ginger soup pairing, which Food Network Kitchens has turned into an energy-boosting breakfast smoothie. Speaking of soup, I found a couple of new, inspiring ones too. Here’s a peek at some of the more-versatile recipes that elevate the humble carrot to superstar status in the kitchen.

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Outside the Chocolate Box: Valentine’s Day Dessert Ideas

by in Holidays, February 10th, 2014

Valentine's Day Dessert IdeasCall me crazy, but chocolate isn’t my first choice for dessert. If you follow my blog, then you know there are some exceptions to this rule, at least when Chewy, Bittersweet Brownies are involved. Brownies aside, my sweet tooth tendencies are likely satisfied with something like this Raspberry-Ricotta Mousse or Lemon Icebox Bars. Why should Valentine’s Day be any different? This year I say think outside the box of chocolates and whip up one of these homemade treats for your sweetheart.

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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

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

The Apple of My Eye — Simple Scratch Cooking

by in Recipes, March 11th, 2013

Apple-Cheddar Squash SoupIf I say apple, what kind of recipe comes to mind? I’m betting most of you thought about pie, and for a good reason. Who can resist tender apples tucked into a flaky, buttery crust? Once you get past the many variations of this classic American dessert, though, there’s a whole world of savory dishes to explore.

Apples work especially well with assertively flavored ingredients. The natural sweetness shines through when it’s sauteed or roasted, helping to temper earthy root vegetables and spicy foods. Last year one of my favorite combinations was roasting it with parsnips and onions. I’d give the whole thing a whirl in the blender with some vegetable broth for a thick, creamy, dairy-free soup (and vegan, too).

Keep reading for apple-centric savory recipes