by Mallory Viscardi in Books, In Season, June 26th, 2015
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, May 28th, 2015
When 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.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, May 13th, 2015
Cookie 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.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, April 16th, 2015
If 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.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, March 19th, 2015
Few 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.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, February 28th, 2015
“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).
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, Holidays, February 4th, 2015
There is nothing more effective at knocking the cold grip of winter off your home than filling it up with the aroma of fresh-baked bread. Making bread from scratch at home might seem like an intimidating thing to do, but master baker Nick Malgieri was kind enough to share with us his foolproof tips for success, as well as his recipe for Easiest Home-Baked Bread (pictured above and recipe below). What does a master baker do to get a perfect loaf every time? When we asked him, Malgieri said.
- Use the right flour: unbleached bread flour. I like Gold Medal best.
- Measure accurately: In my book Bread, I specify weighing even the liquids. The only things measured by volume are spoonfuls of salt, dry yeast, etc.
- Take your time: Bread dough that rises slowly over a long time develops a better flavor and texture than breads that are rushed.
- Try something easy first: focaccia, or one-step white bread. Once you’ve had a few successes, you’ll have the confidence to attempt more elaborate projects.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, Drinks, January 15th, 2015
It’s February, which means it’s chocolate’s turn to take center stage. ‘Tis the season to try your hand at being an amateur chocolatier, whether you’re satisfying your craving with melt-in-your-mouth truffles or layering chocolate inside of chocolate with more chocolate with Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes. Add a luxuriously sweet finale to your Valentine’s Day dinner menu with the help of the new cookbook Chocopologie, written by master chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt. Check out his expert chocolate-handling tips and get his recipe for droolworthy Double Chocolate Cupcakes below.
1. Ganache is made by pouring hot cream over chopped chocolate. Knipschildt sometimes adds a little honey for a pop of sweetness and to contribute to a smooth, satiny mouthfeel. Butter is also frequently stirred into the warm ganache to boost its lushness.
2. Modern technology has made melting chocolate a lot easier and foolproof. When you use the microwave, there’s less chance of the chocolate scorching or stiffening (also called “seizing”).
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, January 9th, 2015
When it comes to building a bar from scratch and mixing mind-blowing cocktails at home, the team from Death & Co, one of Manhattan’s elite cocktail bars, has all the tips and tricks you need. David Kaplan, Alex Day and Nick Fauchald recently released their first cookbook, titled Death & Co, which tells the story of how they opened the namesake bar in New York City and built their drink menu. With their book and their expert advice, before you know it you’ll be enjoying your own home bar and throwing the best cocktail parties in your group of friends. Start with Kaplan’s top-five rules for setting up your home bar (and maybe a Muddled Mission, recipe after the link):
1. Start with the basics: one mixable base spirit in the major categories: gin, tequila, whiskey (preferably rye if I’m around), rum and vodka — brandy as well if you’re a fan, which we all should be. Add a few frequently used modifiers (such as sweet and dry vermouth, Triple Sec, maybe a curacao of some kind).
2. Remember that “mixable” doesn’t mean “cheap,” but it should be affordable. We usually stick to a range of $15 to $30 per bottle.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, January 6th, 2015
“Irish food is many things nowadays,” Darina Allen said when we spoke with her about her new cookbook, 30 Years at Ballymaloe. “There are, of course, the traditional dishes that many people associated with Irish food, like bacon and cabbage, Irish stew, soda bread — all, of course, delicious when well-made. However, this image of Irish food doesn’t in any way reflect the vibrant Irish food scene at present.” Allen has been a presence at the Ballymaloe Cookery School since it was established in 1983. 30 Years at Ballymaloe tells the history of the school through the Irish dishes students learn to prepare there. The recipes might surprise you, though. They range from obvious Irish favorites like Mother’s Sweet White Scones (recipe after the link for you to try at home) to local-ingredient-driven dishes, including recipes for everything from curry, poultry, seafood and even Irish charcuterie. The recipes are simple but enticing; the food photography is gorgeous and engrossing.
You might be surprised (and delighted, of course) to find in the pages of 30 Years at Ballymaloe a deep emphasis on locally sourced Irish produce and ingredients. “We have wonderful produce and raw materials in Ireland,” Allen told us. “We can grow grass like nowhere else in the world. So many of our best foods come from our grass, beef, lamb, dairy products, farmhouse cheese.” And 30 years later, it’s that ingredient-centric focus that still makes the Ballymaloe Cookery School so appealing to students. “Students now come from all over the world to the Ballymaloe Cookery School because the cookery school is in the center of a 100-acre organic farm and gardens.” As you flip through the pages of the book, the images pull you in: big stone barns, rolling hills dotted with sun-soaked cattle, gardens so lush you can hardly believe they’re real. It’s easy to let your imagination wander through Allen’s anecdotes about the Irish countryside and her relationships with fellow growers and vendors, but at the end of the day you always end up back at the table, stomach rumbling for some delicious food. And the recipes in the book certainly do not fall short in that arena. You’ll want to cook dishes like the Wild Garlic Custards, the Hot Buttered Oysters and the Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup with Cilantro and Cashew Pesto again and again.
Now that the holiday season is over and life is falling into its new 2015 routine, it’s time to get back to your weeknight cooking routine. Nothing hits the spot in the dead of winter quite like a piping-hot soup, and nothing makes keeping your freezer stocked with delicious soup dishes easier than The Soup Club Cookbook. It was written by Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow and Julie Peacock, four friends who wanted to find a way to eat more soup and cook less. The book features big-batch recipes of all your favorite soups, from Winter Minestrone (recipe after the link for you to try at home) and Chicken Noodle to Faux Ramen and Potato Leek Soup. They have hearty soups (The Dudes’ Chili is a winner) and cold soups for summer (including Green Gazpacho and Tomato Gazpacho, both of which are exactly what summer should taste like). The book goes beyond just soup, though. You’ll also find salads, dressings, sides, snacks and bigger dishes, all designed to complement and round out soup meals.
The Soup Club Cookbook is designed to help you and a couple of friends start a soup club. The idea is simple: Four friends each commit to making a large batch of soup one week out of the month. The recipes in the book are all designed to feed four families, but they are easily divided in half, making the book a treasure trove of soup recipes either way. The idea with the soup club is that you get a month’s worth of soup for one week’s worth of cooking effort (plus you’ll keep up with your food-loving friends!).
Each recipe includes seasonal and flavor variations, delivery tips, and garnish and serving suggestions. The book is full of hilarious anecdotes, the four authors’ friendships with one another shining through their personal stories and lists of tips and suggestions. The book is a wealth of information, and it has all of the instructions you need to found your own soup club, from process information to supplies you’ll want on hand. Some of the best tips in the book include: