Elizabeth Passarella's Recent Articles
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Fighting Odors: Do You Keep Baking Soda in Your Refrigerator?
This is one of those things we do because our mom did, and we have no idea if it’s actually doing anything. Our guess is no, but we still do it — and we found funny little product devoted to the practice. See it below…This is from The Container Store, and it is supposed to let air reach your open baking soda while keeping the baking soda “fresh.
Aug 15, 2008
Time-Saving Tip: Microwave Your Corn on the Cob
We have no grill and not much patience for watching big stock pots of water boil, which is why this is one of our favorite tricks for cooking corn. The key is to leave on the husks while you nuke them… → How To Cook Corn on the Cob in the Microwave Microwave cooking has enjoyed a little high-class renaissance, thanks to Mark Bittman, but I heard about cooking corn this way a long, long time ago. For one medium to large ear, I start with three minutes on high.
Aug 14, 2008
Look! Super-Quick Defrosting on Granite Countertops
These bags were full of hard blocks of frozen, homemade chicken stock. By the time we prepped our ingredients for the soup we were making, the ones sitting on our granite countertops were almost fully liquid, while one bag that was on the edge of the stovetop was still frozen solid. Why is that?We know granite isn’t everyone’s cup of tea around here, but it does have a remarkable ability to defrost things.
Aug 12, 2008
Help! Our Jam is Too Hard!
We’ve been in a confessional mood lately, offering up photos of our inedible cooking disasters… Here’s another misstep, although the problem this time isn’t with the taste. This jam is absolutely delicious — just not quite right in its consistency. What did we do wrong? We had some almost-overripe fruit to use up — peaches and yellow plums, specifically — and decided to cook it down with some sugar and minced ginger to make refrigerator jam.
Aug 6, 2008
Recipe Review: Yogurt Sorbet from Patricia Wells
Readers, we’re going to let you in on a little secret. This stuff tastes like Pinkberry…We watched cookbook author Patricia Wells make this yogurt sorbet for Ina Garten on an episode of Barefoot Contessa and thought, “Really? That’s it?”It was one of the first things we made when we bought our ice cream maker, and we proceeded to make it again and again until we got sick of it. But this summer, we’re getting reacquainted.
Aug 1, 2008
Do You Know This Beer? Whale’s Tale Ale from Nantucket
It’s so nice to discover a local food or drink while on vacation; it’s like the souvenir that keeps on giving. A lot of people go to Napa and find a new wine. We went to Nantucket and found beer…Whale’s Tale is a delicious, crisp, slightly sweet amber ale from the Cisco Brewers, right on Nantucket Island. It’s a small brewery that produces a bunch of good beers — several of which we drank when we visited Cisco and did a tasting.
Jul 31, 2008
Seasonal in the South: A Guide to Field Peas from Atlanta
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a great article by chef Scott Peacock about all types of field peas. They’re something we rarely eat outside of the South, but they are so, so delicious…The field pea category includes more familiar ones like black-eye peas and butter beans — all varieties grow in long slender pods that are “zipped” open to release the tender little peas. But when we think of the field peas we ate growing up in the South, we think of lady peas.
Jul 28, 2008
Simple Tip: The Better Way to Un-Stick a Bag of Ice
For those of us without separate, large capacity ice machines in our homes, bags like this are a necessity at times — any time you need to fill a bucket or re-fill drinks for a crowd. And without fail, the store-bought bag of ice becomes a rock-hard, solid block if left to its own devices in the freezer.We always pull it out and heave it on the floor in big thumps, disturbing the neighbors, and usually breaking the bag so that newly separated cubes go flying across the kitchen.
Jul 17, 2008
On the Grill: Seasoned Skewers for Kabobs
Yesterday we wrote about kabob skewers (to soak or not to soak?) and today we’re bringing you a line of flavored skewers that claim to season your food from the inside out.What do you think?These hardwood skewers are treated with all-natural oils and herbal extracts and come in flavors like Citrus Rosemary and Hickory BBQ. Supposedly the oils infuse meat or veggies as they cook.
Jul 10, 2008
Grilling Tip: Do You Need to Soak Kabob Skewers?
We’ve always read we should soak wooden or bamboo skewers in water for half an hour or so before putting them on the grill. Otherwise, they’ll catch fire. True or false? Well, it’s a practice that’s up for debate, and we haven’t skewered enough kabobs in our day to have an adequate comparison of soaked vs. non-soaked sticks.
Jul 9, 2008
Fourth of July Flag Cake: A Pretty, Round Alternative
Yesterday we took a “Hot or Not” vote on flag cakes (at the time we’re writing this, it’s pretty much a tie), and then we saw this smaller, round version. Just as festive, but not quite as kitschy. We vote “hot.”See another photo, without the raspberries, below…In the interest of full disclosure, our (Elizabeth’s) sister made this cake. So call us biased.
Jul 4, 2008
Tell Us: Is There an Herb You Can’t Stand?
We recently made a simple vegetable dish that called for a healthy amount of tarragon. The tarragon was fresh and tender and beautiful — and completely overwhelming.It made us think that, hmm, maybe we just don’t love tarragon. What about you? Tell us below…Tarragon has a distinct, anise-like flavor that just tasted off to us. Maybe it was the dish, or maybe we’ve found an herb we can’t take when it’s used liberally.
Jul 3, 2008
Hey! You Can Wash Mushrooms
We once interviewed a mushroom farmer for a magazine article, and she said something we never forgot: “Mushrooms need a shower, not a bath.”And so, while every cook we see on TV tells us to wipe each mushroom with a damp cloth and never, ever rinse for fear those porous mushrooms will just soak up water and turn to mush, we’ve been happily giving ours a quick run under the faucet. It’s far less time-consuming and, frankly, they taste just fine.
Jul 1, 2008
Specialty Tool: Best Oyster Knives
We usually leave the oyster shucking to the professionals. We’ve watched rubber-gloved guys behind the counter at Casamento’s in New Orleans open and loosen hundreds of raw oysters, jamming their blunt oyster knives into each shell with expert precision.But we’ve had the occasional pleasure of opening our own oysters, thanks to a family member who likes to smoke big batches tucked in wet towels on his grill.
Jun 17, 2008
Summer Treat: Best Popsicle Molds
We haven’t bought or used a popsicle mold in quite a while. It’s one of those tools you have as a kid — or as a mom with kids — but not as an adult. And while we love our ice cream maker, we’re nostalgic for simple, old-fashioned popsicles right now.Plus, the molds are way more sophisticated than they used to be…We’re sure plenty of dollar stores and local drugstores have generic plastic molds on the cheap, but here are a few we rounded up online.
Jun 13, 2008
Favorite Tool: Simple Wooden Reamer
There are plenty of posh lemon and lime-juicing gadgets on the market these days. And there are times — about 15 minutes into squeezing limes for margaritas — when we would welcome an electric juicer with open arms.But for the simple task of squeezing a half or two of citrus for a recipe, we love our cheap (in price only!) wooden reamer.There are silicone versions out there, but just like we love our wooden spoons, this basic reamer just feels nice in our hand.
Jun 3, 2008
Waste Not: Using Leftover Rick’s Picks Brine
At last weekend’s Apartment Therapy book party, there was a lot of brine going around. First, Rick of Rick’s Picks introduced us to the pickletini, a delicious dirty martini with a splash of pickle brine. Then, Rick handed us a jar of Mean Beans brine, emptied of its pickled beans, and told us what to do with it… Rather than pour the leftover brine down the drain, Rick said, throw other vegetables in it and marinate them overnight. So we did.
May 23, 2008
Entertaining: Q&A with Jessie Saunders, author of The Two of Us…and Friends
Her casual attitude towards entertaining is, in part, why her cookbook The Two of Us… and Friends is so charming and approachable… Another reason it’s a delight to read is that Jessie illustrates her recipes herself, with delicate, whimsical doodles of fruits, veggies, and decor. The book is organized by party size, with menus for small, intimate dinners up to large cocktail parties.
May 22, 2008
Recipe: Stuffed Artichokes
Remember when we contemplated the first meal cooked in our new apartment? Well, this was it. A little off-the-beaten-path for us, but it’s an old family recipe that we’d been wanting to make…We love steaming artichokes and pulling off the leaves one by one to scrape between our teeth. But other than that, we rarely cook big, baseball-sized artichokes.
May 20, 2008
Recipe Revamp: Cheddar Olives Become Black-Eyed Susans
Has anyone tried our recipe for Cheddar Olives? Perhaps for a cocktail party? Well, we were at a wedding a few weeks ago, where they passed around something called a Black-Eyed Susan. We recognized the crust as something very, very similar to that of the Cheddar Olives, but the inside was a surprise…Black-Eyed Susans have chunks of dates in the center instead of olives.
May 15, 2008
Hot Off (and On) the Grill: Pizza-Que Pizza Stone
We’ve discussed the virtues of baking stones in our ovens. We’ve shown you the beauty of pizza on the grill. And now, in the name of synergy, let us introduce you to the Pizza-Que Pizza Stone from Williams-Sonoma.It’s a pizza stone for your grill. What do you think? Useful or overkill?This is a new item from Williams-Sonoma, out just in time for warm weather.
May 2, 2008
Twist on a Classic: Square-Edged Wooden Spoon
We’ve written before about how much we love wooden spoons and constantly reach for them for sweet and savory dishes. They look organic, feel good in our hands, and are sturdy and powerful while being gentle to our pots and pans.One we don’t have but desperately want: the square-edged wooden spoon. Read why and see Sara Kate’s below…The square edge allows you to scrape the bottom nooks of a pot while sautéeing and gives you a more targeted approach.
Apr 30, 2008
Tip from Cook’s Illustrated: Steamed Mashed Potatoes
Kathryn’s post on Secrets of Awesome Mashed Potatoes was a popular read last week, so a bunch of you must have mashed potatoes on your mind. That reminded us of a recent article from Cook’s Illustrated that recommended steaming, not boiling, potatoes before you mash them… The article addressed the idea of wanting a mashed potato recipe that allowed for more advance prep work, i.e. peeling the potatoes before cooking them.
Apr 28, 2008
Olive Bars vs. Pre-Packaged Olives: Which Do You Prefer?
So many grocery stores now have olive bars, with big barrels full of olives sold in bulk. They are great when you want a mix to serve as appetizers, and although some people get squeamish about germs (yes, we’ve seen people use their fingers), we don’t tend to.Recently, though, we picked up a container of pre-packaged, Kalamata olives at a store that didn’t have an olive bar.
Apr 25, 2008
Entertaining Tip: Individual-Sized Desserts
We’re on a dessert kick today. We already showed you a heavy-hitting Rhubarb Fool, and now we’re pushing little glasses full of chocolate mousse…But our intentions are good! We think individual desserts that can be made ahead are a great way to give dinner guests something special without making more work for you.Any pudding, mousse, or parfait lends itself well to being served in small glasses.
Apr 24, 2008
Recipe Review: Rhubarb Fool That’s No Joke
We consider ourselves hearty dessert eaters. We rarely say, “Oh, I just want a bite of something sweet.” We get seconds.But this dessert from Martha Stewart, which we featured on April Fool’s Day, was so rich we almost had to lie down and unbutton our pants…And oh how silky and delicious it was.Like our popular recipe for Coffee Fluff, this Rhubarb Fool is basically a serving of heavy whipped cream — with a ribbon of sweet, puréed rhubarb running through it.
Apr 24, 2008
International Craving: French Macarons, Minus the Plane Fare to Paris
As we clicked through the slideshow of Chocolate & Zucchini’s Clotilde Dusoulier food shopping in Paris, we got jealous of those beautiful, sweet macarons she seemed to be enjoying so much.Then, at the restaurant where we ate dinner last night, they served a plate of airy almond cookies at the end of the meal.
Apr 23, 2008
Recipe: Cinnamon-Spiked Tomatoes
This is not a combination we would have thought of on our own.We recently enjoyed a cheese plate at a restaurant, where a hard goat cheese was paired with a tomato garnish. At first, we asked the bartender who served us if he could swap the tomatoes with something else (the figs looked good), but he insisted. And when we tasted them, we realized there was something different going on.
Apr 22, 2008
Look! Green Breadcrumbs in Elle Decor
Do you see them?We read Elle Decor for the home design, not Daniel Boulud’s food column, but when flipping through this month’s issue, we noticed these parsley and basil breadcrumbs dusted over his Cornish game hen.They look crunchy and springy and seem like a great way to use up leftover bread and leftover herbs.
Apr 21, 2008
Organization: Getting Rid of Old Food Magazines
That’s a 2004 issue of Gourmet on the far right. Isn’t the cover nice? We’ve had it sitting in a stack of magazines on our coffee table for years, through multiple moves, and still haven’t thrown it away. And yet, we’ve never cooked anything from its pages.
Apr 21, 2008
Problem Solving: Whipping a Small Amount of Egg Whites
Earlier today, we discussed folding egg whites into a heavier batter. But let’s back up.Often we have a recipe, like our Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes, that calls for whipping three egg whites. Depending on the depth of your mixing bowl (ours is the classic KitchenAid), the whisk attachment may not reach far enough to start frothing a small amount of whites…Eventually, you’ll get there.
Apr 17, 2008
Tip: How To Use Frozen Edamame
A reader emailed us to ask about using up frozen edamame. Her dilemma? What to do with them besides making a puréed dip. We have several ideas, and most of them start with the microwave… Frozen, shelled edamame are becoming easier to find at the average grocery store, which is good — they are so healthy and versatile. We do often purée them into a hummus made with edamame instead of chickpeas, but they work well in any dish where you might normally use beans or peas.
Apr 16, 2008
Skeptical Shopper: Born Free Hard Boiled Peeled Eggs
Our first reaction to seeing this bag of ready-to-eat, hard-boiled eggs in the grocery store was along the lines of, “That’s ridiculous.” In fact, that’s exactly what our husband said when we put them in our basket.Why did we buy them when we are perfectly capable of hard-boiling our own? Because to give you a full report, we needed to slice and taste a few. Could this new convenience product have a place in our kitchen?The short answer is no.
Apr 11, 2008
Entertaining Tip: Our Answer to “What Can I Bring?”
It’s lovely when dinner guests ask what they can bring. At the same time, it’s tricky figuring out what to tell them. Deep down, we always want fresh flowers to brighten up our house (if any of our friends are reading) but feel that’s like asking for a gift rather than something to help with the meal. We have a few guidelines we follow that take into account who’s asking (i.e.
Apr 10, 2008
Loving: Homemade Lemon Curd
Look what we had for breakfast…For a long time, we shrugged off making lemon curd because it seemed labor intensive. We’re not sure where we got that notion, but separating and heating egg yolks to just the right temperature sounded hard.Let us assure you, it’s not. Lemon curd is fantastically easy to make and uses ingredients — eggs, sugar, lemons, and butter — that we’ll bet are sitting in your fridge right now.
Apr 9, 2008
NYC Store Review: Buon Italia in Chelsea Market
Last week we sang the praises of Arthur Avenue, that bastion of authentic Italian food in the Bronx. Today, an option for those of us living a little farther south. Buon Italia is just one small store, but it can fill quite a few Italian culinary needs, starting with these huge cans of San Marzano tomatoes.
Mar 26, 2008
Recipe: Chicken with Shallot-Apricot Sauce
We love fruit flavors and shallots sautéed up together. You know what else we love? Easy dishes that take very little time and effort to put together. Behold — the best of both worlds. Our dad taught us this dish, although we’ve forgotten a lot of his instruction and gone our own way over time.
Mar 25, 2008
Easter Brunch: Cold Asparagus Two Ways
Asparagus are in season in some parts of the US. Here in New York, they are the cheapest (about $2.99 a pound) they’ll be all year. According to a few of your comments about side dishes to go with Easter ham, asparagus are high up on the list.We agree. And while we usually roast our asparagus with a little olive oil and salt, we’re thinking about the fresh, bright green color we get when we blanch and chill them. Another benefit of serving asparagus cold?
Mar 21, 2008
Top Chef Chicago: Episode 2
Watching Top Chef last night, we were reminded that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Or its language. Andrew, the contestant who seemed like a freewheeling time bomb during Episode 1, actually turned out some impressive dishes, including a yuzu gelee “glacier” and a squid ceviche with tapioca. Wonders never cease.
Mar 20, 2008
The Hungry Reader: Revolutionary Road
We’ve given you plenty of wholesome, heartwarming dishes in scenes from some of our favorite novels.But in Revolutionary Road — a bitter look at suburban life in the 1950s — it’s a grotesque display at a lunchtime meal that haunts the main character, Frank Wheeler, for much of his life. The scene is a dribbling affair where a corporate bigwig proceeds to chew with his mouth open and dunk rolls in the gravy boat.Sometimes bad can be so, so good.
Mar 19, 2008