Elizabeth Passarella's Recent Articles
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Fluffy & Fried: Potato Rings with Ranch Dipping Sauce
These crispy little Os combine the best qualities of mashed potatoes, french fries, onion rings, and homemade potato chips. In other words, all the good things you can’t share with your cardiologist. We’ve found our weekend project!The recipe comes from the creative and beautifully photographed (and new to us) blog spoonforkbacon. It involves a bit of work, yes, but you get fried potato rings out of it.
Oct 6, 2011
Raspberry Beer: Bubbly Pink Cocktails for a Crowd
Beer? Check. Fresh, floating fruit? Check. Smidge of vodka? Check. We think this might be our perfect summer cocktail. And you know we’re suckers for pretty pink drinks.We saw this recipe in Southern Living, and it made us think of lambic beer, which is often raspberry-flavored (and which we happen to like). But this also contains a little vodka to get the party going.The lovely pink shade is from raspberry lemonade, and the instructions don’t even include any muddling.
May 12, 2011
Write on Your Tablecloth! Butcher Paper Table Runners
All you need are the crayons. This is a cheap and rustic way to dress up your table—just lay out some butcher or craft paper, and write your guests’ names as place cards. You could also write the night’s menu or identify dishes on the table, if it’s a buffet. See an example of that, below. It’s a look you see at so many great neighborhood bistros, for good reason.
May 10, 2011
New Trend? Benches at the Kitchen Island
We’ve been spotting these more often in home design magazines—banquettes instead of individual bar stools saddled up next to the kitchen island. Pros: Cozy, cool-looking, can probably seat more people. Cons: Kind of bulky. And maybe you don’t want to be bumping thighs with the person next to you.It takes a fairly big kitchen to pull off this look.
May 6, 2011
Freeze & Serve: No-Bake Cheesecake (with Goat Cheese!)
Do you need a pretty, easy, make-ahead dessert for a Mother’s Day brunch? (Maybe a not-overly-sweet indulgence for a ridiculously early royal wedding-watching party?) This cheesecake is a twist on tradition—frozen instead of baked, and it includes a rich mix of cheeses, including tangy goat cheese.We love the idea of a goat cheese cheesecake, tangy and sweet at the same time.
Apr 28, 2011
Cake Frosting Tip: Leave the Sides Naked!
The hardest part of making a pretty layer cake is usually frosting around the sides—filling in gaps, spreading at an awkward angle, working fast enough so that the icing doesn’t slide onto the countertop… But if you want to keep the process stress-free, try leaving the sides un-frosted. It can be just as pretty.This technique works great if you have a fluffy filling, maybe one dotted with fruit or nuts.
Apr 26, 2011
10 Ways to Eat a Potato (and Just a Potato) for Dinner
Bacon-Cheddar Twice-Baked Potatoes It’s going to involve a little more than butter and sour cream. But making a baked (or sweet) potato a meal is an easy, satisfying way to solve dinner. We don’t do it nearly often enough. How To Bake a Potato in the Oven We were inspired by Faith’s 400-calorie lunches; one involved a sweet potato topped with yogurt and bacon.
Apr 20, 2011
Smart Packaging: Whole Foods Organic Chicken Breasts
We bought this bulk package of organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts at Whole Foods the other day (“bulk” in New York City meaning more than four breasts at a time) precisely for the packaging. It is so genius, we can’t believe we’ve never seen it before.This bag was actually three separate packages of chicken breasts (two or three per pack) that were individually sealed in connected pouches.
Apr 19, 2011
Avocados by Mail! California Avocados Direct Delivers
If you are an avocado lover—or you know one whose birthday is coming up—a box of these bumpy green fruits sitting on your doorstep sounds like heaven, right? One company in California has started a mail-order business in an effort to combat the competition and high water prices that threaten the family farm. We had the chance to try out the goods. The Holtz family has been farming avocados for decades, and in January, they started shipping fresh-picked avocados straight to consumers.
Apr 14, 2011
Survey: Do You Eat Dessert with Lunch?
For some of you, dessert may not even be a daily thing, much less a twice-a-day habit. But for others (including a few of us), a meal isn’t complete without a little taste of sweet. We think the hankering for something sweet is a biological thing; at the very least, it’s ingrained in us early in life. Every once in a while, fruit will do the trick for us. But more often than not, we need a cookie or a piece of chocolate. The problem is stopping at one.
Apr 12, 2011
Classic & Comfy: Bentwood Chairs in the Kitchen
Comfy? Those spindly things? You may beg to differ, but we think they are. The design is famous—all the modern versions take their inspiration from the original, Michael Thonet’s chair No. 14—and if you’ve ever sat on one, you’re probably surprised at how forgiving and generous it feels. So yes, classic, comfy, and one more C: cheap. These days, bentwood chairs are pretty affordable.
Apr 8, 2011
Coffee Cake Tip: Two Loaf Pans = One Baking Dish
We have a favorite sour cream-pecan coffee cake that is made in a loaf pan, as so many breakfast breads and coffee cakes are. It makes two loaf pans, specifically. But we only have one loaf pan, and we needed to bake the whole batch of batter quickly for a crowd.The solution? A 9×13 baking dish. The batter that fills two loaf pans is perfect for one baking dish.
Apr 5, 2011
A Happy, Modern Aqua Blue Kitchen
This shade of blue is always what comes to mind when we think of April. Maybe it’s the April showers (which we’re having in New York today) or the fact that spring is here but it’s still cool outside. And yet it is a really lovely color for a kitchen—soothing but still upbeat, bold without being in-your-face. It’s gentle. Take a look at the full space, below.The homeowners turned a galley kitchen into this open room by incorporating a storage and laundry area.
Apr 1, 2011
Elizabeth’s Favorite Unique Tool: West Elm Mini Juicer
You may not think a juicer is super unique, but I’m telling you, this sucker was not easy to find. In my favorite posts of 2010 roundup, I mentioned a juicer just like this, pictured on another blog, and promised anyone who could find it a hand-written thank-you note. Well, I guess I owe one to Faith.
Mar 31, 2011
Serves One! Eggplant Flatbread on No-Knead Pizza DoughCookbook Recipe from Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan
The Washington PostThe recipes in this book are pared down in size but not in flavor or technique. There’s an entire chapter on tacos (Joe is from Texas), beautiful soups and stews, and small-scale desserts, like Coconut French Toast with Bananas Foster. This pizza is one we’d make in a heartbeat; it has spicy homemade hummus and pan-fried chickpeas on top. And, of course, a dough in the now-classic method.
Mar 29, 2011
Nylon vs. Stainless Steel Kitchen Tools: Which Is Better?
If you’re like us, you have a mix of both (plus a wooden spoon or two). But which do you reach for most often? What would you recommend for someone stocking a kitchen for the first time? Here are our pros and cons.Our bottom line advice: No one needs a full set of either nylon or stainless steel cooking tools. We’re not big fans of sets of anything (pots and pans, knives—buy those individually), but those already-stocked crocks of utensils are overkill.
Mar 22, 2011
Elizabeth’s Favorite Pan: Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
As I confessed in this little bio, I used to think cast iron fanatics were half crazy, drunk on the nostalgia of antique skillets passed down through generations or else overly self-satisfied with their ability to season the thing. Well, I was wrong. So, so wrong.I finally asked for a cast iron skillet for my birthday last year. My parents bought me the economical choice—an inexpensive Lodge pan that didn’t require the rust removal and re-seasoning that a thrift store find would.
Mar 15, 2011
Elizabeth’s Pepper Mill: Peugeot Paris
This is the first pepper mill I’ve ever owned. For years I avoided buying one because the nice ones—well-made, comfortable to hold, easy to crank—can be relatively pricey. Finally I gave in and purchased this while shopping at Whisk in Brooklyn. Granted, I have no comparison, but this classic model from Peugeot has been excellent.I love the traditional look of this pepper mill.
Mar 8, 2011
Get Crafty: 9 Simple Sewing Projects for the Kitchen
Sometimes it’s fun to take on a weekend project that involves fabric and thread instead of sugar and cake flour (although you can still eat a slightly botched soufflé; a botched pot holder not so much). Why not grab some bright, sunny fabric and liven up your kitchen a little? We’ve got everything from easy cloth napkins to quilted coasters.TOP ROW• 1. Colorful table runners and napkins.
Mar 4, 2011
Blackened Swan, Tom Colins, and Mark ZuckerburgersOscar Party Food 2011
It’s that time of year again, when some people class it up with elegant Academy Award-worthy party food—and others of us make pasta that looks like Mickey Rourke’s hair. We’ve got both tasteful dishes and ridiculous puns for all Best Picture nominees below. The Academy helped us out this year! There’s a movie with grit in the title!As usual, some of these were easier than others. And we’re guessing not all of you want to make tongue (just keep reading).
Feb 27, 2011
Sweet Pink Treat: Quick Pomegranate Sherbet
Ever since we discovered this delicious sherbet recipe, we’ve been on a sherbet kick. A big one. Lemon, orange, tangerine, and now pomegranate—just in time for Valentine’s Day, should you want something festive and pink. And we have a simple substitution that makes this recipe even easier, if that’s possible.The original recipe, from The New York Times, calls for freshly squeezed tangerine (or any fruit) juice.
Feb 10, 2011
Only 99 Cents! A Simple Tool for Cleaning Pans
A cookbook author once described this little scraper to us as her favorite cleaning tool. We never thought about it again until we recently passed a bin full of them at a home store. It is, in fact, a very effective gadget for cleaning really dirty pots and pans, and the cost? Less than $1.
Feb 8, 2011
A Better Way to Dice an Avocado
We eat a lot of avocados in our house. And if we’re making guacamole or avocado toast, the means by which we remove the flesh from the shell matters very little. But if we want clean, uniform chunks, this is our go-to method. It’s so much easier than “make a grid pattern and then pop out the pieces” (which never worked for us anyway).
Jan 27, 2011
Simple Tip: Let Your Casseroles Rest
A casserole is a great low-maintenance, hands-off dish to make for a dinner party; you can finish the side or salad while it’s cooking and still have time to sip a cocktail with your friends. But when you’re thinking about the timing of the meal, add on at least 10 minutes for the casserole to sit when it comes out of the oven. It’s just like resting meat.This is especially important for casseroles that have a decent amount of liquid or gooey cheese in them.
Jan 25, 2011
How To Keep Babies Busy While You Cook
Let’s hope not by sitting them on the counter. But seriously, what is the best way to keep little ones occupied while you dice, sauté, and open oven doors? We’re talking kids who are too young to help out in the kitchen or sit quietly in front of a DVD in another room. Want our tips? Want to share yours?I have a one-year-old, and my saviors have been the spice rack and the recycling bins.
Jan 21, 2011
Irresistible Clementine SherbetRecipe Review
We wrote about this recipe two years ago and just got around to making it (with a minor citrus swap-out) this week. We might not forgive ourselves for taking that long. If you like sherbet, heed our advice: This is one of the easiest and most addictive desserts we’ve made in a while.We’ve always been bigger fans of sherbet than sorbet. Sorbet is virtuous. Sherbet toes that fine line between, “I’m eating fruit for dessert! Go me,” and “Oooh, this is creamy.
Jan 18, 2011
Vegan Ice Cream: 9 Tempting Dairy-Free Scoops
Ice cream. Kind of hard to take the cream out, huh? But vegan ice cream recipes—and not just sorbets—are out there, made with everything from silken tofu to coconut milk. We found a goldmine of a source, too.You’ll notice that the first five recipes are all from Hannah at Bittersweet Blog. As we searched vegan websites, we had a hard time finding ice cream recipes; it must be difficult to get good results.
Jan 14, 2011
Jelloware Edible Cups (P.S. They’re Vegan!)
It doesn’t get any more green than this: a drinking glass you don’t throw away, don’t recycle, but eat. (And, if those nibbles and cocktails leave you too full to munch on your cup, you can compost it.)These colorful, conversation-starting cups are from The Way We See the World, an inventive design consulting firm behind a bunch of cool products. They are in the process of getting Jelloware off the ground—see the link below to see how you can help fund it.
Jan 13, 2011
Almond Milk: What Does it Really Taste Like?
Those of us who are not vegan or lactose intolerant rarely have reason to search for alternative milk, and if we do, we probably stop at soy. But almond milk is also pretty widely available—Whole Foods markets its own brand by the gallon. If you’ve never had it, here’s a (completely subjective) verdict from a non vegan. My opinion? Almond milk tastes like the milk at the bottom of your cereal bowl after eating Grape Nuts. Specific, I know.
Jan 11, 2011
Recipe: Cream of Celery Soup with Bacon
Celery is one of those things that can languish in the back of our fridge for a long time. It’s hard to use an entire bunch. We chopped three or four stalks into our Thanksgiving stuffing, and this is what we did with the rest… Celery soup isn’t too complicated (the general idea goes something like this). And celery itself isn’t all that flavorful.
Jan 6, 2011
Tip: Press Vintage Glassware onto Your Sugar Cookies
So, you don’t own a cookie mold, and you don’t have the time (or maybe the steady hand) to pipe multi-colored icing. And yet you’d like to gussy up those plain sugar cookies somehow. This is a simple, two-second trick that requires no special equipment.Well, unless you consider vintage glassware special equipment.The thing is, you can do this trick with a lot of everyday kitchenware.
Dec 17, 2010
Online Source for Cookies: King Arthur Flour
Where do you go when you’re searching for cookie recipes? Martha? Gourmet? Each other? We just found another source—a company we trust for many basic ingredients that turns out to have a very impressive cache of cookie recipes. We feel like we just stumbled upon a Christmas cookie goldmine.King Arthur Flour sells (surprise!) flour as well as myriad baking ingredients, specialty pans, and mixes.
Dec 14, 2010
Squash-Baked Mac and Cheese with Amaretti CookiesRecipe Review
Yep, you read it right. This mac n cheese has a crumbly, sweet, cookie topping—and it makes the dish (it’s so good). But before you scroll straight to the recipe, read our notes. Because whoa, there is one major mistake in there.We got this recipe from Martha Stewart—a consistently foolproof source—but it is originally by chef Todd English.
Dec 9, 2010
10 Things that Will Make Your House Smell Amazing
Are we the only ones who pause outside of a Subway because the baking bread smells so good? They’re no fools; they know that a delicious scent can pull you in. Same goes for our kitchens. Certain foods—both sweet and savory—give of those comforting, familiar aromas that make us pause, breathe deeply, and sigh. Here are 10 we love.TOP ROW:• 1. A sweet, too-buttery treat.
Dec 7, 2010
Popcorn Balls! 4 Gooey, Crunchy, Festive FlavorsCHOW
We could go a lot of places with ball puns (Jingle Balls, anyone?)—all of them tricky. So let’s just say this: Popcorn is cheap, fun, and hard not to like, especially when you make it into these cocoa, curry, and eggnog-flavored clusters. Yes, eggnog.We are no strangers to flavored popcorn, with our Peanut Butter Popcorn, Maple-Butter Spiced Popcorn, and Smoke Monster Popcorn (from the Lost finale).
Dec 2, 2010
Beyond Baked Brie: New Uses for a Wheel of Cheese
During the holidays, you’re bound to run into at least one baked brie or brie en croute, topped with preserves, sitting on a cheese plate. They’re classic for a reason—gooey cheese topped with sweet preserves, occasionally wrapped in buttery puff pastry. What’s not to love? But if you want an updated version, we found two that look divine.
Nov 30, 2010
Give the Gift of Dough: 9 Sweet and Savory Icebox Cookies
We love a good icebox cookie—dough we can make well in advance and slice off when we’re ready. Of course you can bake these cookies to give as gifts, but we think it would be fun to wrap up a log of dough, too. It’s quirky, and it doesn’t go stale. We’ve got sweet options as well as a few cheesy, savory ones for a twist.One caveat: You need to drive fast if you’re delivering a bunch of these at once—or bring a cooler.
Nov 23, 2010
A Cabin-Inspired Kitchen with Ina Garten’s CountertopsHouse Beautiful
This kitchen may look like an old space that’s been restored, but it’s actually brand new—and there are a lot of smart little details we love (starting with those countertops).The counters are Petit Granite, a Belgian limestone with little fossils in it that, apparently, Ina Garten uses in her kitchens. As the homeowner says, “If it’s good enough for Ina, it’s good enough for me.
Nov 19, 2010
Green Bean Casserole Upgrade! Fancy Fried Onions
We thought French’s had the market for fried onions pretty much cornered. But no! There’s a new game in town. We noticed these imported fried onions made by Lars’ Own at Whole Foods. They show up every year around Thanksgiving—you know, when you start thinking about green bean casserole.Like marshmallows on sweet potatoes, the light, crispy blanket of fried onions is de rigueur on green bean casserole.
Nov 9, 2010
Feeding a Crowd? Trays for Eating on Your Lap
Growing up, we had these lightweight woven trays that we used at family gatherings when there wasn’t enough room for everyone at the table (a big stack of them sat on top of the refrigerator). With Thanksgiving approaching, we went looking for them. Turns out, they’re hard to find! But we found something similar, plus a few more good options.Some of these are more expensive than others; ideally, if you’re handing them out to a big group, you want something inexpensive.
Nov 5, 2010
Make-Ahead Dish for Entertaining: 10 Vegetable Gratins
We are obsessed with gratins. They are so satisfying and simple to make, and they might be one of the most perfect dishes for entertaining—easy to assemble ahead of time and adaptable to any season. Do you know the basic template? You hardly need a recipe (although we rounded up a few goodies).Here’s the easiest formula for a gratin:• Slice a starchy vegetable—potato, sweet potato, winter squash—very thinly (a mandoline is helpful).
Nov 4, 2010
Decidedly Un-White: 14 Warm Wood Kitchens
When we watch home design shows (i.e. House Hunters), we’re always struck by how many people say, “Oooh, I love the dark wood kitchen cabinets.” Usually, they’re cherry, and frankly, we’d take bright and white over cherry any day. But these wood kitchens we love—proof that wood can be modern, clean, and warm (but still cool).TOP ROW:• 1. Cool angles and vintage green tiles, from Living, Etc. • 2. Rustic, light-colored island, from Elle Decor.
Oct 29, 2010
New Love: Cinnamon Toast Butter from Ronnybrook
Not to dismiss the innovation of Ronnybrook Farms, but why have we not come up with this ourselves? Sweet, cinnamon butter that makes knockout toast in one easy step (no messy sprinkling). Want to see what it looks like?Mmm. We first spotted it at Whole Foods but ended up buying it at the farmers’ market, straight from the Ronnybrook vendor. And we’ve been eating it every morning for the past week, spread on raisin bread and toasted.
Oct 26, 2010
Look! A Vertical Pear Salad
Well, this is one way to make salad more exciting. How charming, right? And they’re really easy. You just need to remember to do one important thing.We saw this salad at The Novice Chef blog, where Jessica explains how to cut out the core and reassemble the pear (each slice ends up looking like a doughnut), so that you can eat the salad without having to maneuver around seeds.The key is to brush the pear slices with lemon juice to prevent browning.
Oct 21, 2010
Salty, Saucy French Brunch: Oeufs en Meurette
So, you’re ready to part ways with eggs Benedict. So long, all other incarnations of poached eggs-with-hollandaise. Try this instead—eggs poached in a dark, moody, salty red wine broth with bacon and onions floating about.We’ve had oeufs en meurette in a restaurant in New York, and it’s divine. Complex, rich, unexpected. It’s like ordering white toast and instead being presented with the best everything bagel you can imagine.
Sep 30, 2010
Zero Handles, Many Uses: Modern Asian Tea Cups
When the weather turns cool (c’mon weather… turn cool already!), it’s so nice to wrap your hands around a mug without handles, whether it’s full of tea or coffee. But slim, Asian tea cups—especially these colorful, modern ones—could also serve as chic pencil holders or a vessel for slurping miso soup.We have some mismatched tea cups in our cabinets that we frequently use for collecting olive pits, serving dips, or combining spice mixtures.
Sep 24, 2010
From the Spice Cupboard: Wasabi Powder
For us, wasabi powder is one of those ingredients we bought for a specific recipe and then thought, “Huh. Ok, now what?” It’s a pretty product to have on the shelf, with its pale, lemony-lime green color, but we rarely use it. That’s a shame, really, because it adds a sharp heat that is great in a lot of dishes.Wasabi powder is the dried form of Japanese horseradish that is commonly seen as a paste on the side of your sushi plate.
Sep 23, 2010
What’s the Deal with Whole Grain White Rice?
We love rice of all kinds, and we try to cook brown rice more often, since it’s—sigh—better for us.Truth is, we prefer the fluffier texture of white rice, especially with stir fries or in soups. So we’re intrigued by Uncle Ben’s new Whole Grain White Rice. And yet, we’re confused.If white rice is white rice because the bran and germ are removed, then how is this stuff considered whole grain? Anyone know the science behind this new product?
Sep 21, 2010