Recipe: Fresh Grape Cake with Luscious Lemon Sauce
I came up with this recipe after one of my trips to Italy during which I discovered the appeal of cooked grapes. In this cake, the grapes stay whole, but soften into juicy, ruby orbs. And with the cake: A simple sauce. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. This is seriously good sauce. People will think you have pulled out a double boiler (and all the stops) to make custard. Not true: The sauce consists only of mascarpone and lemon curd, whipped together.
Dec 31, 2012
Breakfast Recipe: Inspired Toast with Sweet Citrus Butter
Toast goes upscale when you start with something more intriguing than plain bread. This is a tasty way to use up some of the baked goods that have made their way into the kitchen over the holidays and turned a tad stale.(If, of course, you have eaten your way straight through all your Christmas baked goodies, then sourdough bread, as shown here, works very nicely too!)For the butter, we continue the flavors from the Citrus Salad — honey, citrus zest, and fresh juice.
Dec 28, 2012
Recipe: Creamed Spinach with Baked Eggs
Creamed spinach is a classic, decadent side dish, but it also makes a fine nest for baked eggs. Despite its name, cream weighs down the spinach, so half-and-half or whole milk is a better choice. On the other hand, skim milk is puny, meager, and inadequate. Starting with fresh spinach requires an extra prep step, but the flavor and texture are so superior to frozen spinach that it’s worth it. (You can make the creamed spinach the night before!
Dec 24, 2012
Sticky Buns & Baked Eggs: A Holiday Breakfast That’s Easier Than It Looks
This holiday breakfast is warm, cheerful, and tasty. Everything on the menu is easier than it looks, so you won’t wind up stranded in the kitchen all morning. Whether you’re cooking for a crowd the day after Thanksgiving, or planning ahead for December brunch, this menu of creamed spinach with baked eggs and ultra-easy cheater sticky buns is the way to go. Imagine actually sitting down to enjoy the meal along with your family and friends.
Dec 24, 2012
Appetizer Recipe: Blooming Brie Bowl
There’s nothing better than an appetizer that’s completely heavenly, but also simple to make. This Blooming Brie Bowl is both and the flavor combination of creamy baked Brie and spices will have your guests going back for more. Delicious cheesy goodness and crispy sourdough bread? This one is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Dec 21, 2012
A Gift Guide for Kids Who Like To Cook
Especially when you’re young, cooking isn’t a chore – it’s an adventure and hopefully a tasty one! Here are some gift ideas for your young culinary sidekicks. • Gifts for Young Cooks Apartment Therapy
Dec 13, 2012
Is Homemade Eggnog Worth the Effort?
I was recently at a small Christmas gathering where the host served warm cocktails and homemade eggnog. Everyone was raving about the creamy, traditional nog so I tried a small glass and couldn’t help but think that the carton I’d bought at the store was better. Sure, I doctor it up with a little fresh nutmeg and rum or brandy, but still, the store-bought version was smoother and had more nuanced, subtle flavors than this homemade version, which tasted quite eggy to me.
Dec 13, 2012
Apartment Kitchen Disaster: How To Stop a Blaring Smoke Detector (And Keep It Off!)
It’s a party nightmare: guests have arrived, the food is in the oven, and all of a sudden the smoke detector starts going off. Besides assigning a guest the task of frantically flapping a towel in front of the smoke alarm, what else can you do? Try this easy tip to keep your cooking alarm free.It’s happened in every apartment I’ve lived in.
Dec 11, 2012
Tamar Adler’s Brooklyn Kitchen
Tamar Adler, accomplished chef and author of culinary memoir The Everlasting Meal as well as many published articles, is generous and passionate about fresh homemade food. Her Brooklyn kitchen is roomy, practical and functional—a place where wild tomato canning parties for 20 unfold and quiet solitary cups of tea are sipped. It’s a delightful place, where I wanted to stay and chat and pick the brain some more of one of my favorite authors.
Dec 4, 2012
Use Cream of Tartar to Clean Your House
It’s official: you can clean your entire home using ingredients from the kitchen. We’ve covered olive oil, citrus fruit, coconut oil, and Kool-Aid and now here’s another handy cleaner: Cream of Tartar. • Cream of Tartar for Cleaning Apartment Therapy
Dec 4, 2012
It’s been raining heavily here for several days now, and while it’s not impossible to walk to a near by store for provisions, I’m not so inclined to venture out into the cold, wet lashings and lake-sized puddles. This has given me the opportunity to dig a little deeper into my pantry and see what I can create from what’s at hand. This has also necessitated a slightly different approach to meal time. Instead of asking my usual question what do I want?
Dec 2, 2012
Can Shots Be Sophisticated? And Is There a Difference Between a Shot and a Shooter?
It’s likely over the holidays you’ll get together with old friends and perhaps more likely during this time of year you’ll be offered a shot or shooter of some sort. Aside from being a college co-ed you typically aren’t seeking Liquid Cocaine, a Redheaded Slut or a Prairie Fire as your drink of choice. So can shots be sophisticated? And what’s the difference between a shot and shooter anyway?Recently, I was at a neighbor’s home for a little soiree.
Nov 30, 2012
From Orchard to Market: Come Along on an Apple Harvest!
Earlier this autumn, I was invited by Rainier Fruit Company to spend a day in their orchards, seeing how apples are harvested and brought to market. It’s an astonishing mix of old-school and modern — all the apples are picked by hand in orchards that don’t look much different than they did decades ago, but then they get scanned back at the sorting facility by computers that can spot that one sneaky bruised apple in a group of thousands.
Nov 29, 2012
Wine Words: Aging Potential
Aging Potential is a wine word often used when discussing higher end wines that one might hope to cellar to either enjoy at a later stage or to resell for investment purposes. The aging potential of a wine means the length of time that a wine will hold up in the bottle and be enjoyable to drink, and the aging potential of any wine is directly related to its quality.
Nov 26, 2012
Recipe to Feed a Crowd: Pulled Pork Tacos
Oh my goodness, I am only going to say this once. I am so freakin’ glad Thanksgiving is over. Why might you ask? Because five days in San Francisco, Marin County, and beyond have really done a number on my waistline me. Between a complete Thanksgiving dinner in Georgia and another in Cali, plus a dreamy turkey noodle casserole, multiple bowls of white turkey chili, not to mention the barbecued oysters overlooking Tomales Bay, cheese straight from Cowgirl creamery in Pt.
Nov 26, 2012
What I Like About Today
Today, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, is a most wonderful day. It’s all behind us now. All the doing and making and planning, all the peeling and measuring and tenting with parchment paper, all the successes (pie) and failures (mashed potatoes, ironically) are over and done. The traveling to and fro is done. The drinking of red wine poured from wax-covered bottles is done. The candles are gutted and the carcass is picked clean and turned into stock (or tucked into the freezer.
Nov 25, 2012
A Festive Touch: Cranberry Ice Cubes
For Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings, cranberry ice cubes are a simple yet eye-catching touch. Use them to add a pop of color to water, sodas, cocktails, or punches (like these fall sangrias). To make cranberry ice cubes: Bring filtered water to a boil and let it cool. (You can use regular tap water but the ice will be cloudy rather than clear.) Place cranberries in an ice cube tray, fill each compartment halfway with water, and place in the freezer.
Nov 21, 2012
John Beaver’s 5 Essential Herb and Spice Tips for Home Cooks
Did you notice that all three of our previous Expert Essentials posts mentioned working with dried herbs and spices? That’s because spices are an absolutely foundational ingredient for every cook the world over, whether you’re working in a shiny new kitchen high on the hill or on a simple wood fire and packed-dirt floor. Today’s expert, John Beaver, knows a thing or two about herbs and spices. Read on for his tips and recommendations!
Nov 21, 2012
Recipe: Dessert Flammekueche Tart with Dried Plums, Dark Chocolate, and Crème Fraîche
They say there is no such thing as a new recipe, but I have to strongly disagree. Recipes are constantly evolving as they pass through generations, across cultures, and even amongst family and friends. And with the sprawling reach of the internet, anyone can now access (and change!) the flavors of the world, and all from the comfort of their own kitchen.
Nov 20, 2012
How To Make a Prep List for a Big Dinner Party
I really like the idea of big dinner parties, be it hosting Thanksgiving or inviting friends for Saturday dinner. I imagine everyone gathered together, looking sparkly and fancy, sipping cocktails before sitting down to a table of good food and conversation. But the reality is slightly more chaotic at my house, particularly that last hour before the guests arrive. I’ve found that the only way to both save my sanity and have a good time is to make a Big Bad Master Prep List.
Nov 20, 2012
Wine Words: Easy Drinking
Easy drinking, a word used to describe certain wines. What makes a wine easy drinking? Is it a compliment or not? Are there challenging or difficult drinking wines?Firstly, in my opinion, the term ‘easy-drinking wine’ is a totally subjective ‘wine geek‘ term and open to much interpretation.The term tends to be used by wine geeks to describe wines that they believe have very broad appeal, especially to novice and marginal wine drinkers.
Nov 19, 2012
Dinner-for-Two Recipe: Sage-Brined Pork Chops with Brown Sugar Glaze
Whether you’re planning a low-key holiday meal or sneaking in a midweek dinner date amid other holiday plans, put these tender pork chops glazed with brown sugar on your list. It’s one of those dishes that is so easy and so simple, and yet feels like a special feast all its own. A quick brine is one of my favorite ways to add flavor to thin cuts of meat like pork chops and also ensure that they stay juicy and tender during cooking.
Nov 19, 2012
Ingredient Spotlight: Sucanat
I grew up with a health nut mom who served raisins to trick-or-treaters and insisted carob tasted as good as chocolate, so when she raved about an alternative sweetener called sucanat, I was a bit wary. Then I tasted her molasses spice cookies – one version made with refined white sugar and the other with sucanat. Sucanat won me over, and I’ve kept some in my own pantry ever since.
Nov 16, 2012
Deb Perelman’s Tiny Smitten Kitchen Rental
If you follow Deb Perelman on her enormously popular blog, Smitten Kitchen, you are already familiar with one part of her East Village, NYC home kitchen very well. There is a 36-inch span of black speckled countertop where she preps, plates and shoots just about anything that ends up on the pages of the site.
Nov 15, 2012
How Baby Carrots Are Made: A Tour Behind the Scenes of a Baby Carrot Harvest
Have you ever wondered where baby carrots come from? These bite-sized crunchers have experienced a pretty incredible journey by the time they wind up in our lunch boxes and snack trays. I recently got the carrot’s-eye view of this whole process during Grimmway Farms’ fall carrot harvest. It all starts with a big field, rows upon rows of green-topped carrots, and the hot California sun.
Nov 15, 2012
Try This: Cardamom Coffee
You might be familiar with cardamom in baked goods or tea (think masala chai), but have you ever had cardamom-infused coffee? This warm, fragrant beverage is especially popular in the Middle East, where cardamom seeds are often ground with coffee beans. Others add whole cardamom pods or even pre-ground cardamom powder to the brew. We recommend starting with one crushed cardamom pod per cup of coffee, and later adjusting the amount to your taste.
Nov 14, 2012
Active Dry & Instant Yeast: Best Tips for Working with Yeast
As Cambria can attestActive dry yeast and instant (or rapid-rise) yeast are the two most common yeasts available to us as home bakers. The two yeasts can be used interchangeably in recipes, but active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in water before using while instant yeast can be mixed right into the dough.Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer baking with active dry yeast.
Nov 14, 2012
Affordable Wine Suggestions from Experts & Wine Lovers
A good party generally calls for good wine, but those bottles can really add up. I’ve surveyed friends, bartenders, and wine merchants about their favorite affordable wine choices… • Affordable Wine Suggestions Apartment Therapy
Nov 14, 2012
How Can I Make Thicker Lemon Curd?
Q: I recently made my first tarte au citron using this recipe from The Guardian. It came out great, but the lemon curd filling wasn’t thick enough to properly hold its shape after cutting. To take this recipe from being utterly delicious to perfect I need your help. How can I thicken it?Sent by LenaEditor: Lemon curd won’t cut quite as smoothly as, say, a firmly-set custard or Jello, but it shouldn’t puddle out onto the plate after you remove a slice.
Nov 13, 2012
Quick Recipe: Maple Pecan Blondies with Maple Butter Glaze
These bars were baked with a very specific person in mind: My father-in-law, Jim. He and my mother-in-law keep to a gloriously healthy diet. They have a bountiful garden behind their small urban home, and they eat two modest home-cooked meals a day, one after a vigorous early morning swim. However, on special occasions, restraint vanishes and I find a lot of pleasure in offering Jim his two favorite foods in the whole world: Butter and maple syrup.
Nov 13, 2012
10 Bite-Sized Fall Breakfast Recipes
Eating small at breakfast can mean a few different things. First, it means you can scale back and eat smaller portions. Alternatively, it means you get to try many things without committing to one full-size choice. Following this logic, I’ll often get a few mini cupcakes or cookies in the afternoon instead of one large one, and I’ve been doing mini versions of favorite breakfast recipes at home, too.
Nov 12, 2012
How to Cook Each and Every Day for the Rest of Your Life
There are as many ways to approach the stove as there are ways to kneel and kiss the ground, to paraphrase Rumi. Some of us are optimists and when we cook we engage in hope and a desire to nourish, finding pleasure in feeding and being fed, providing ourselves and our loved ones with the strength to carry on, all which are optimistic notions. Some of us are perhaps a little more pessimistic, although I would argue that cooking well is basically a optimistic endeavor—but is this true?
Nov 11, 2012
How Can I Make a Clear, Scum-Free Chicken Broth or Soup?
Q: Whenever I make chicken soup or need to put chicken of any kind into a soup, the broth gets scummy or has floaties in it from the chicken — help! I just want to make a beautiful clear soup with chicken in it!Sent by BethanyEditor: Bethany, this is a really normal effect when cooking chicken (or any kind of meat). Any foam can be skimmed off the top with a skimmer, or you can strain the broth through a cheesecloth if you want it super clear.
Nov 9, 2012
Fifty Shades of Naughty Cooking Puns: Cookbook Riffs on the Popular Book
The rapid, feverish ascent of Fifty Shades of Grey has proven to be too much for PR persons and trend watchers. When there’s a bandwagon, one must jump on it. The two latest riffs on the erotic novella have come from the food world: Fifty Shades of Chicken (which includes recipes for “Dripping Thighs” and “Mustard Spanked Chicken”) and 50 Shades of Kale (“Thai’d Up Roughage”). Oh yes (yes, YES!) it’s true.
Nov 9, 2012
Braising Tough Meat: Why a Gelatinous Sauce Means Tender Meat
When cooked properly, tough cuts of meat like beef shank and pork shoulder transform into fork-tender meat swimming in a rich braising sauce. How does this magic happen — and how long does it take to get there? America’s Test Kitchen ran some tests that make it clear why tough meat tastes best when its braising liquid is full of gelatin.
Nov 9, 2012
Prepare a Party Spills Toolkit
Alcohol + dancing = spills. I’ve never managed a party without at least one. But no one likes a hovering hostess, so I’ve found the best way to deal with accidents is to have a simple toolkit handy to calmly and quickly deal with spills . • Party Spills Toolkit Apartment Therapy
Nov 8, 2012
Are You the Noisy Upstairs Neighbor?
A reader wrote for advice about how to deal with her downstairs neighbors: “while we are tiptoeing, they think we are stomping around. What should we do?” • Are You the Noisy Neighbor? Apartment Therapy
Nov 7, 2012
How To Help Hurricane Sandy Victims: Food Donations & Volunteering
Hurricane Sandy may have blown over, but thousands of people are still struggling in the aftermath. Many areas, like the Far Rockaways in New York and along the Jersey Shore, are still without electricity and heat, and the days are getting shorter and much, much colder. Whether you live near or far from these communities, you can help!
Nov 6, 2012
Wine Words: Lees Aging
Lees aging is a wine word used to describe a stage in a wine’s maturation phase. Do you know what it means? Lees are the dead yeast cells and other particles remaining in a wine after fermentation. They settle as sediment or creamy mud at the bottom of the fermenting container.The container could be a tank, a wooden barrel or even a bottle, as in the case of Champagne and bottle fermented sparkling wines.
Nov 5, 2012
New Study Says the the Smell of Fresh Bread Makes People Nicer
A new study recently published in the Journal of Social Psychology says that the smell of freshly baked bread appears to make people act nicer to strangers. Apparently good aromas equal good deeds!To test this hypothesis that bread makes people act nicer to strangers, researchers from the University of Southern Brittany in France stationed volunteers in front of bakeries and clothing stores and instructed them to drop an item (a glove, handkerchief) to gauge stranger response.
Nov 5, 2012
What Can I Do With Leftover Braising Liquid?
Q: I made a delicious corned beef dinner in my crock pot to hold me through the hurricane, and now have a very nice rich, meaty broth left over. It seems so wasteful to throw this out. Do you have any ideas for making it into another meal?Sent by LouisaEditor: Louisa, I would simmer some root vegetables, cooked beans or chicken thighs in the liquid and serve it over polenta or rice to soak up all the yummy juices.Readers, any ideas for transforming leftover braising liquid into another meal?
Nov 5, 2012
Reader Experiences with the IKEA Kivik, Carlstad and Poang
A reader asked for “seriously honest” reviews of the IKEA Kivik and Carlstad sofas and Poang chair. So far 79 readers have weighed in – see what they think! • Reviews of Kivik, Carlstad and Poang Apartment Therapy
Nov 5, 2012
Tip: Label Containers with Painter’s Tape
Recently we shared a pro tip for using masking tape to label food and containers in the kitchen. Here’s a similar tool that’s incredibly useful for kitchen labeling and organizing: blue (or green) painter’s tape!In my kitchen, I use painter’s tape and a permanent marker to label everything from mise en place to leftovers, infusions, pantry jars, and more.
Nov 2, 2012
10 Flavor-Boosting Add-ins for Incredible Chili
I’ve talked before about how soup is my go-to dinner party food in the fall and winter, but I recently read a piece on mean chili: spicy, exciting, innovative chili with unexpected flavors. It got me thinking that it may just be time to switch up my usual routine and get on the chili bandwagon. Here are 10 flavor boosters to get you really excited about chili.
Nov 2, 2012
A Tasty Treat: Fig and Walnut Crackers
I work online for much of the day, and by mid-afternoon I usually start to feel a little fried from staring at my laptop screen, and in need of a pick-me-up. I’ve been trying to create a more structured break time, a jause if you will, with a pot of tea or cider, and a small plate of something savory. I think these crackers—made with figs, walnuts, and flaxseeds, and perhaps smeared with a little bit of goat cheese or a dollop of apple butter—are calling my name.
Nov 1, 2012
How Rotisserie Chicken Became So Popular
Rotisserie chickens—skewered birds roasted in rotating rows and sold everywhere from grocery stores to member-only club stores—are immensely popular, if you didn’t already know. In 2010 six hundred million rotisserie chickens were sold in the U.S. What is the secret to this bird?A recent article in The Washington Post shared a few interesting tidbits into how the rotisserie chicken is made:1.
Nov 1, 2012
Recipe: Enchiladas de Pipián Rojo
Every Halloween I like to cook something warm and pumpkin-y for dinner. This year I’ll pair my favorite pumpkin tortilla soup with enchiladas de pipián rojo, a smoky, nutty, spiced (but not too spicy) sauce made with pumpkin seeds, chile peppers, and roasted vegetables. In Mexico, pipián is a type of mole or sauce served with meat or over enchiladas. Made with ground seeds or nuts, it may be green (verde) or red (rojo).
Oct 31, 2012
Cheap & Easy Flavor: Smoked Ham Bone
It’s a zombie invasion! Oh wait, no…just a ham bone. Phew. While this may not be the prettiest of ingredients, it is an inexpensive way to round out a pot of soup and add an enormous boost of rich flavor while you’re at it. Skip the zombies, keep the meat. Ham bones are just the thing for a cozy winter meal.An average ham bone will weigh a few pounds and run you $4 or less. I most often see them smoked, like ham hocks or turkey legs, but you’ll sometimes find them fresh.
Oct 31, 2012