Elizabeth Passarella's Recent Articles
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How to Build a Backyard Fire Pit for $28 This Young House
This is one of those things that we read, then think, “We’re moving to the suburbs.” Just so we can build this fire pit. If you live somewhere that has more than an outdoor windowsill, maybe you can fulfill our dreams for us? Sherry and John, the DIY couple from the blog This Young House, did it for less than the cost of a tank of gas… This simple fire pit was part of an inexpensive patio makeover at their Richmond, Virginia, home.
Jun 5, 2009
Shallot Tarte Tatin: Savory Twist on a Sweet Favorite
Onion lovers, take note. This caramelized tart, a riff on the classic apple versionWe saw this recipe on a new (to us), beautifully photographed food blog, O Pistachio. The tart is baked just like a tarte Tatin, with the pastry fitted on top of the caramelized onions. Then you invert the whole thing onto a plate to serve.
May 26, 2009
Ever Heard of a Crespelle?
The Temporary Vegetarian is talking about them in The New York Times today. Here’s a hint: Emma encouraged us to make them last weekend…A crespelle is an Italian version of a crêpe. The main difference is that it is made with chestnut flour rather than regular flour, giving it a hint of sweetness.The one described in the article (discovered by the chef of Osteria del Circo in New York on a trip to Italy) was filled with ricotta, lemon zest, pepper, and parmesan.
May 13, 2009
Trader Joe’s Pasta Wins a Taste Test New York Magazine
May the cheapest pasta win! That’s what happened, anyway, when New York convened a panel to sample different store-bought, dried pasta. At 99 cents a pound, TJ’s was the least expensive pasta of the bunch, and it beat out some very fancy brands. Which grocery store staple came in last?
May 11, 2009
Tip: Save Your Bacon Fat
This is one practice we think all of our grandmothers probably did that’s fallen by the wayside in our generation.
May 6, 2009
No More Mops: Cleaning the Kitchen Floor with a Sponge
A few days ago, Emma asked for your suggestions on the best mop for the kitchen. You all gave a lot of good opinions, but I have one more. See, the mop I use most frequently is attached to my arm. I get down on my hands and knees with a sponge to clean my kitchen floor, and I have several reasons why. First is my own persnickety nature. I like to get eye to eye with the dirt. I want to see the nooks and crannies up close and make sure they’re getting clean.
Apr 23, 2009
Appetizer: Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers with Basil Oil
Earlier today we told you about our cocktail party strategyWe’re basically taking a caprese salad and putting it on a stick, and no doubt you’ve seen a variation of these skewers on a buffet or two in your day. But they really are hard not to like, and they couldn’t be easier to throw together.We bought bocconcini, bite-sized mozzarella balls, to make the process even quicker, but you could also cut a big ball of mozzarella into chunks.
Apr 17, 2009
Happy Dyngus Day! Try Some Polish Food.
We just learned about Dyngus Day yesterday, and man have we been missing out. All those years we could have woken up to boys throwing buckets of water over our heads or hitting our legs with willow branches. All those times we could have been eating kielbasa and pierogi. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, read on…Dyngus Day is a Polish holiday, celebrated the Monday after Easter.
Apr 13, 2009
Gallery: Helpful Pairs of Salad “Hands”
The first time we saw a stocky pair of salad hands sticking out of a friend’s salad bowl, we were not impressed. They look like bear claws, frankly. But over the years, we’ve noticed we tend to toss salads with our bare hands—so much more efficient than trying to use traditional tongs. We can really dig down into the bowl to get the dressing and ingredients perfectly combined.
Apr 10, 2009
Look! A Chocolate Apple Pie
We may upset some apple pie purists here, but, being chocolate lovers, we went a little cuckoo when we saw this pie from Kayotic Kitchen, a food blog from the Netherlands. Chocolate pie dough? Oh, heck yeah. Read on for a link to the recipe…Kay, the creator of this unusual delight, writes that it really isn’t too sweet—in case some of you are looking at the chocolate crust and chocolate-apple filling and thinking, “Overload.
Apr 1, 2009
Recipe: Rigatoni with Shredded Pork in Mustard Cream Sauce
Yesterday we showed you a basic recipe for cooking and shredding a pork shoulder. It’s a great recipe on its own; there are plenty of soft carrots, tomatoes, and caramelized onions to make it a stand-alone meal. But we like to set aside some leftover meat, free from its braising sauce, and save it for other meals throughout the week. This is a good one that’s super easy and has a really unexpected flavor.The idea of a mustard cream sauce came from a recipe in Food & Wine.
Mar 18, 2009
Is This the Easiest Cake Ever?
Last week, we spotted something called a Nantucket Cranberry Pie over at the blog Cooking Books. It’s a recipe from Laurie Colwin, and it involves so few ingredients and so little effort, we had to make it immediately. Yes, we know those don’t look like cranberries. Bear with us…There were no cranberries to be found at the grocery store (nope, not even frozen), so we went with a mixture of frozen cherries and blueberries.
Feb 27, 2009
Pretty (and) Easy: Polka Dot Cake from Country Living
We aren’t really whizzes with a pastry bag. In fact, we don’t own one. But we think we could get this look using a plastic bag with the corner snipped off. These dots don’t have to be too precise, or even the same size, to be charming…Polka dots are just cute; there’s no way around that. Dots of varying sizes all over a layer cake is simple enough to do, and they can hide imperfections in your icing (if, say, you have a few crumbs that got rustled up).
Feb 23, 2009
A Tour of Grand Central Market New York
Grand Central Market is a long, often very crowded arcade of food stalls on one end of Grand Central Terminal. We think of it as a pit stop for commuters, a mecca of prepared foods and last-minute dinner staples, which it is, mostly. But it’s also the only place in the city you’ll find Penzeys SpicesOn each end of the market is Greenwich Produce, where you can pick up fruit and vegetables. They are expensive but necessary if you’re trying to do one-stop shopping.
Feb 19, 2009
Our Adventures in Oven Cleaning
Several months ago we posted a survey about how you clean your ovens. Many of you are self-cleaning oven fans, it turns out. We gave ours a whirl recently, after we got tired of the sticky roasted chicken grease splattered everywhere.Well, it did not go as planned. Not at all. A neighbor complained, the super showed up… Read on. Maybe our pain can be your gain.This is what our oven looked like before. Most of that gunk is chicken grease.
Feb 13, 2009
Tip: Finishing Undercooked Chicken Breasts in the Oven
If there’s a hang-up with roast chicken, it’s usually that the breast meat gets too dry before the whole bird is finished cooking. But we often have the opposite problem, pulling the chicken out when the meat is still a tiny but underdone.
Jan 8, 2009
Recipe: Peppermint Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Flecks
The only frozen thing many of us have on our minds right now (especially in New York) is what’s falling out of the sky. But the snow piling up on our windowsill is not stopping us from making ice cream—especially when it’s a minty, Christmasy flavor.Peppermint ice cream with hot fudge sauce is pretty much a perfect dessert for us. This round, we tried putting the chocolate in the ice cream.
Dec 19, 2008
Recipe: Pasta with Brown Butter and Fried Sage
We ate this pasta twice last weekend—at both dinner parties. It’s not healthy. It’s soaked in butter. Delicious, toasted, slightly sweet brown butter with little bits of sage fried up in that buttery bath. Save it for the holidays, when you’re splurging on calories. Or, hey, eat it twice in one weekend like we did…We weren’t really adept at browning butter and took a completely uneducated stab at it. Guess what?
Dec 16, 2008
Money-Saving Tip: Buy Bone-In Meat
There’s been a lot of talk lately about buying cheaper cuts of meat to save money. We’ve told youhow to cook themmake good braisesBut even if you want to keep buying chicken breasts and pork chops (rather than shanks and flanks and butts), buy them with their bones still attached. They’re cheaper, but you actually get more for your money. It’s a win-win…Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are great when you need clean, neat chunks for a stir-fry.
Dec 9, 2008
New Favorite Indulgence: Pear Brandy
Many months ago, we bought a bottle of pear brandy to make a pear clafouti, which turned out to be a disappointment (unlike this berry one, which Faith highly recommends). The brandy sat in a cupboard, forgotten, until we pulled it out to make a version of Nora’s Thanksgiving Poinsettia cocktail.
Dec 1, 2008
How Do You Slice an Apple?
We’re not going to claim there’s a right way and a wrong way. But we’re all slicing a lot of apples these days (and will be for months), so we’re wondering how our method compares to yours. See step-by-step photos, below…First we slice it in half, then into quarters.Then, to get out the core, we slice diagonally along the inside of each quarter.
Nov 11, 2008
Jacques Pépin Cooks Dinner for Six with $24
It’s easy to get a famous chef to sit for an interview about his latest restaurant or cookbook. But for this article in The Washington Post, the writer took Jacques Pépin shopping at the Giant supermarket to see what the 72-year-old French chef would buy and what he’d make.
Nov 10, 2008
A Bread-and-Cheese-Filled Pumpkin from Dorie Greenspan
Still thinking about what to serve on Halloween tomorrow? How about this? Dorie Greenspan calls it a “recipe in progress.” We call it yum…This dish certainly has a wow factor—a whole pumpkin stuffed with bread, cheese, garlic, and heavy cream, baked until creamy and bubbly. We frequently see small pumpkins that are stuffed and served individually, but with this one, everyone slices or digs in to the same big gourd.Dorie admits that the measurements are rough.
Oct 30, 2008
Tip: Use an Apple Corer to Give Cupcakes a Filling
Whether or not you think cupcakes are a waning fad, as long as there are children in the world and muffin pans for sale, we think they’ll stick around. If you’ve got an apple corer handy (’tis the season, right?), you can make those cupcakes a little more sophisticated and surprising…Once the cupcakes are baked, twist an apple corer down through the top, without hitting the bottom, and burrow out a little tunnel.
Oct 16, 2008
On Leaving the Dirty Dishes Until the Next Morning
We know that, to some of you, the thought of waking up to a kitchen full of sticky, crusty dishes is worse than any hangover. And usually we agree. We like to clean up as we cook, as much as possible, and have all the dishes finished before we go to bed. But.
Oct 14, 2008
Cultural Differences: Salad Before or After Dinner?
Americans have their salads right off the bat, prelude to the main event. At the very least, salad is served alongside the main course. In Europe, however, salad is often served after dinner. It’s considered a cleansing finish before cheese or dessert. We know two people (both Americans) who do this, and they have different reasons why…One is a Francophile who is adept in many things European when it comes to dining.
Oct 2, 2008
Word of Mouth: Galette
galette (gah-leht): n. A round, flat cake with a flaky pastry crust, originating in France.We’ve been talking about crostatasTurns out, a galette and a crostata are essentially the same thing (one French, one Italian). Both of them differ from tarts in the sense that a tart is baked into a tart pan. Crostatas and galettes are typically free-form and rustic, with the dough edges folded up around the filling, which can be savory or sweet.
Oct 2, 2008
Neighborhood Market Find: Cilantro Mini-Cubes
We have a love-hate relationship with the small grocery store/bodega closest to our apartment. The produce section is bleakOk, we know these things run a very distant second to fresh cilantro, but we so rarely use an entire bunch that maybe it would be nice to have a shelf-stable version that could be used in increments?In the edge of the photo, you can see that there is an onion (cebolla) version of the same product. We didn’t buy either.
Sep 26, 2008
Classic Recipe (and Video): Martha Stewart’s Pâte Brisée
It’s the first day of fall, and fall is high pie season for us. Sara Kate has already shared her favorite pie plate and a great sour cream pie crust recipe. But we also love this recipe from Martha Stewart for Pâte Brisée, a fancy name for a very basic French pie dough. It’s our go-to for pie crust. We use it all the time.
Sep 22, 2008
Tip from Gourmet: Slice Citrus Lengthwise, Get More Juice
We know this is the second Gourmet videothree timesAccording to food editor Ian Knauer, who demonstrates the technique in the video, this is how they juice citrus in Mexico. You can watch Knauer juice two lemons, sliced different ways, and then measure the juice. The lemon sliced crosswise — the way most people naturally cut it — yields about two tablespoons of juice. The one sliced lengthwise yields 1/3 cup.
Sep 8, 2008
Strainer, Colander, Chinois: What’s the Difference?
We use these words (ok, maybe not chinois so much) interchangeably to describe something, usually metal, that holds solid ingredients while liquid passes through it. It’s a strainer, a colander, a mesh thingy, whatever. In reality, there are differences, especially when it comes to that chinois… A strainer is really a catchall name for any type of, well, strainer. It is usually fine mesh and bowl-shaped, good for rinsing a pint of berries or draining pasta.
Sep 4, 2008
Fruit Flies! What They Are and How To Get Rid of Them
As we make our way through all of the tomatoes and peaches in our kitchen, we’re noticing fruit flies hovering around the garbage can full of pits and skins. The bad news: These suckers can create hundreds of offspring within a week or two. The good news: AT: Re-Nest posted an incredibly simple way to get rid of them. See a close-up picture of a fruit fly and get the instructions for its demise, below… Those red eyes are a trademark of the fruit fly — yuck.
Sep 4, 2008
Restaurant Re-Creation: Avocado Toast from Cafe Gitane
We’re not exactly going to win a medal for figuring this one out, but still. We’ve eaten this simple, creamy, peppery dish several times at Cafe Gitane in New York City (for breakfast as well as an appetizer at dinner) and finally made it at home…We don’t know the restaurant’s exact preparation, but the bread is always a thick, nutty whole grain and there’s a kicker — a big sprinkling of red pepper flakes over the top of the mashed-up avocado.
Aug 29, 2008
Recipe: Peach, Plum, and Ginger Jam
You may remember our last attempt at this jam, when it turned out a wee bit hard. But because the flavor was so good, and because we were determined not to let the jam win, we gave it another try…This time, we made a couple of changes. We peeled the peaches, making the jam a little paler than our last batch.
Aug 26, 2008
Easier Than You Think: Candied Mint Leaves
We’re not ones to spend a ton of time gussying up our food, but if we’ve put some effort into a recipe, it is nice to present it with a little flair every now and then. These mint leaves — sugared, crystallized, candied, or however you describe them — are super simple and a lovely way to top off a scoop of ice cream…It’s a little tough to see the sprinkly sugar crust on the mint leaves above, but we had a hard time finding a close-up, detailed photo.
Aug 21, 2008
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
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
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
Recipe: Stuffed Artichokes
Remember when we contemplated the first meal cooked in our new apartmentWe 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. So we loved the way this recipe highlighted their beautiful, floral shape, with stuffing tucked in every layer, ready to be scooped up with the leaves.There is one warning to this recipe. It is full of anchovies.
May 20, 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