Joanna Miller's Recent Articles
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All About Salt: How To Choose, Cook With, and Store It
Salt is the most basic of seasonings, but it can still be a bit of a mystery. What’s the difference between a box of Morton’s and a $30 jar of fleur de sel? How much is a three-fingered pinch? And what can be done when you add too much of it? We’ve rounded up our best advice on the subject – spotlights on different types of salt, tips on how to use it and store it, and a few recipes that put it in the spotlight. TYPES OF SALT • Sea Salt. Kosher Salt.
Feb 15, 2010
Recipe Review: Blueberry Maple Syrup
Yesterday, we showed you our favorite recipe for light and fluffy pancakes, and several of you shared some great tips and recipes of your own. Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s move on to the fun stuff – the toppings. Pure maple syrup is never a bad choice, but we’ve grown to love this simple blueberry maple syrup recipe that’s made with just two ingredients. Can you guess what they are?Yep, it’s blueberries and maple syrup. No big mystery there!
Feb 12, 2010
Try This: Salt-Roasted Potatoes
We’ve come across two recipes for salt-roasted potatoes in the past few days – is that enough to call it a trend? Maybe not, but it was enough to pique our interest and give it a try. Get our verdict, and a few tips, below.The February issue of Better Homes & Gardens features a recipe for skillet salt-roasted potatoes. New potatoes are roasted whole on a bed of salt and fennel seeds in a cast iron skillet. And what’s most intriguing – it’s all done on the stove top.
Feb 9, 2010
Making Smoothies: Easy Tips from Alton Brown
It may be frigid outside and prime season for oatmeal, but we’re in the middle of a smoothie kick. We don’t have the best blender – just your average model – but a couple of tips from Alton Brown have saved us from struggling and shaking it every morning as we make our breakfast. They’re so obvious, too!Earlier this month, Sarah Rae highlighted Alton Brown’s tips for eating light and his food lists that helped him lose 50 pounds.
Jan 29, 2010
Recipe: Brie-Style Mac and Cheese with Mushrooms
Brie-style cheese might not come to mind when you think about macaroni and cheese. We often reach for the sharpest variety when making a batch, but a soft-ripened cheese like Crave Brothers Les Frères is a great, super-creamy alternative. Especially when it’s paired with earthy mushrooms and a little white wine. Think about eating a Brie-style cheese on its own – it’s great with white wine, and its flavor is accentuated by walnuts and mushrooms.
Jan 28, 2010
Top Chef Napa Valley: And The Winner Is …
In our poll yesterday, Kevin was the clear favorite, but the general consensus was that it was really anyone’s game. In case you haven’t seen the show, and have managed to avoid learning the winner, we’ll hold our tongue until after the jump. But we suggest you back slowly away from the internet and go watch the episode immediately. Note: We reveal the winner and losers below.
Dec 10, 2009
Holiday Gift Guide: Kitchen Gifts Under $10
Last week, we showed you our favorite kitchen basics under $25. But let’s face it, if you have a lot of people on your holiday shopping list, even that can get a little pricey. So here are 15 more budget-friendly gift ideas – all under $10.Top Row1. Bamboo steamer – Perfect for vegetables, dumplings, bao, tamales … the list goes on. Choose a 10-inch steamer or a 6-inch set of 3 for $9.99 at World Market.2.
Dec 9, 2009
First Look Store Review: Chicago French Market
The long-awaited Chicago French Market opened its doors yesterday at the Ogilvie Transportation Center. We were there bright and early to check it out.Earlier this week, we took a walk-through with market operator Sebastien Bensidoun, whose family owns more than 95 indoor and open-air markets in the U.S. and Europe.
Dec 4, 2009
DIY Over-the-Door Pot Rack with Lid Holder
Back in September, reader Theresa showed us her DIY over-the-door pot rack. We decided to make a similar version in our own kitchen, and while our pots are nowhere near as nice and shiny as Theresa’s and our rack is slightly crooked at the moment, it’s already made a big space-saving difference.I (Joanna) installed my pot rack on an exterior door that leads to the back porch of my apartment. (We’ve joked that it doubles as a DIY burglar alarm.
Dec 1, 2009
Sweet Potato & Cornbread Hash with Veggie Sausage Gravy
Did you make Ivy Manning’s Apple Cornbread Dressing with veggie sausage for your Thanksgiving meal? We did, and it was a hit with the vegetarians and the meat eaters. We used the leftover dressing and extra sausage to put together a breakfast hash with gravy, and you can easily adapt the recipe to use whatever leftovers you have on hand.
Nov 27, 2009
Top Chef Las Vegas: The Mini Bocuse d’Or
This week’s episode highlighted the Bocuse d’Or, a culinary competition filled with screaming fans, giant shiny platters and impossibly complex dishes. After getting a glimpse of it, putting together a Thanksgiving meal seems like a breeze.Note: We reveal the winner and losers below.Gavin Kaysen, executive chef at Cafe Boulud and former contestant in the Bocuse d’Or, served as guest judge for the Quickfire.
Nov 19, 2009
Kitchen Makeover: Anna’s Troublesome (Or Not) Pink Tile
Name: AnnaLocation: MiamiRent or own? RentWhat does your kitchen need? A whole new look. It has pink tile counters and a matching tile back splash and old while cabinets.What does your kitchen need? (cont.) I can paint but that ugly tile is still there. I really need a way to cover the tile so it looks updated.What are your limitations? Budget less than $200. Anna, we know you were looking to cover up your tile, but we haven’t come across any tile-covering methods that we can recommend.
Nov 13, 2009
Top Chef All Stars: How NOT to Host a Dinner Party
Top Chef Las Vegas took a break this week, but we got to see a few all stars from past seasons reunite for a dinner party. With fan-favorite Fabio Viviani as the evening’s host, there was plenty of drama for the cameras. Of course, had it been a real dinner party, it would have been a complete disaster.The bright spot of the dinner party? Carla! It may have taken us a while to warm up to her in season 5, but now we can’t get enough.
Nov 5, 2009
Will You Watch Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth?
The new PBS show Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth will begin airing tomorrow in select markets, less than two weeks after Condé Nast announced it would cease production of the magazine. Are you excited to see this remaining extension of the brand? The television show will feature Gourmet’s editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl traveling to various cooking schools and seeking out new recipes and food adventures.
Oct 16, 2009
Top Chef Las Vegas: Of Pigs and Pinot
We love a good pairing, so this week’s episode was right up our alley. The challenges featured both high- and low-end combinations, both good and bad.Note: We reveal the winner and losers below …Chef Charlie Palmer was this week’s guest judge and the challenges were all about pairings. For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs had to create a dish using Alexia Crunchy Snacks.
Oct 15, 2009
Champurrado: Mexican Hot Chocolate From Nationwide Newspaper Food Sections 10.14.09
Celebrate El Dia de Los Muertos with a cup of rich, creamy Champurrado. Plus, foods for the Hindu new year celebration Diwali, support for sustainable local farms in St. Louis, and a fall vegetable gratin. The Los Angeles Times rounds up recipes for El Dia de Los Muertos including Champurrado, “a rich, creamy drink made from Mexican chocolate, thickened with masa, and spiked with cinnamon.
Oct 15, 2009
Word of Mouth: Doufeu
Doufeu, noun – A cooking vessel with a concave lid to be filled with ice and promote condensation. French for “gentle heat.”As we get into braising and roasting season, we thought we’d take a look at this particular style of dutch oven. The concave lid is filled with ice to create condensation throughout the cooking process. Dimples on the underside of the lid are designed to distribute the moisture to the food.
Oct 9, 2009
DIY Fall Appetizer: Fig Salami
Inside these cheesecloth packages are homemade salami, flavored with red wine, herbs and spices. But the main ingredient isn’t meat – it’s figs! These have some aging to do and won’t be ready for another three weeks, but let’s take a peek, shall we?Our fig salami are still in the early stages of the aging process – in another three weeks or so, they will have lost a lot of their moisture and have a nice firm texture. That’s the plan, anyway!
Oct 6, 2009
A Better Frittata: Tips from Alice Waters
There are a handful of cookbooks we turn to when we’re looking to perfect a classic recipe. Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food has become one of those books. In it, we found three great tips for making the perfect frittata.We love books like this one because they offer great information about the basics of a recipe. Once you’ve got those down, you can get creative with flavors and ingredients. Here’s what we learned about making a frittata: Cook the vegetables first.
Sep 29, 2009
Top Chef Las Vegas: Angels and Devils
There was no shortage of personalities on this week’s episode of Top Chef with guests Penn and Teller and Michelle Bernstein, and the return of judge Toby Young.Note: We reveal the winner and losers below …With the cheftestants’ numbers dwindling, tensions were flaring – as they often do. This week’s episode delivered plenty of cattiness, rolled eyes and bruised egos – oh, and some food too. Here are a few of our thoughts: Someone packed a lot of red scarves.
Sep 24, 2009
Dinner Parties: Is it Rude to Ask Who Else is Coming?
For etiquette advice, the last person we’d turn to is Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David, or at least his on-screen persona. But an issue he raised in Sunday’s season premiere got us thinking: Is it bad form to ask a host who else is coming to dinner?In typical fashion, Larry offended his friends with the question, particularly because he posed it before agreeing to attend the party and made it clear he didn’t really want to be there.
Sep 22, 2009
Quick Tip: Use a Bottle Opener on a Stubborn Jar Lid
Sometimes what should be the easiest part of a meal – opening a jar – turns out to be the most difficult. If you’ve got a lid that won’t budge, try this handy little trick, and save yourself a lot of aggravation.We recently had quite a battle with a jar of olives. We wrapped it in a towel, ran under hot water – nothing worked. But we HAD to get those olives out.
Sep 15, 2009
Quick-Pickled Cherry Peppers
We love the stuffed cherry peppers we find in gourmet shops, though at upwards of $10 a jar, they can be a bit pricey. But peppers from the farmers’ market come cheap, and with a simple brine, you can get the same results for much less. All you need is buy some fresh peppers, poke the tops, and make the brine – a mix of white vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. I first discovered pickled cherry peppers at the Ruby Tuesday salad bar.
Sep 1, 2009
College Eating: How To Make Better Microwave Popcorn
Microwave popcorn is a college dorm staple – when your kitchen is limited to a microwave and a mini fridge, what choice do you have? But did you know there’s a way to make it that’s healthier, tastier and much, much cheaper? Here’s what you need: popcorn kernels and a paper bag. That’s it. Fill the bag with about 1/4 cup of kernels, fold the top of the bag over a couple of times and microwave on high for about 2 minutes.
Aug 25, 2009
Top Chef Masters: A Winning Storyteller
For last night’s final episode of Top Chef Masters, finalists Michael Chiarello, Hubert Keller and Rick Bayless were asked to cook the meal of their lives, quite literally.Note: We reveal the winner and losers below …Top Chef final elimination challenges typically strip away all the gimmicks of previous challenges (not that we don’t enjoy those), and simply allow the cheftestants to do what they do best. This was no exception.
Aug 20, 2009
Paired! Ader Käse Reserve Blue Cheese with Peanut Brittle
If you’re a fan of sweet and savory combinations, boy do we have a treat for you. It might sound a little strange at first, but trust us on this one – blue cheese and peanut brittle. Read on to find out why this unexpected pairing has become our new obsession.We were introduced to this pairing at last week’s Share Our Strength – Taste of the Nation event in Chicago.
Aug 18, 2009
Street Food Recipe: Elote (Roasted Sweet Corn with Cheese)
Sweet corn is the perfect thing to eat right now – seasonal, fresh and perfect with almost nothing added to it. But just in case you’re ready for something new, let’s load it up with lots of rich and delicious toppings. What do you say? You may be familiar with elote, a Mexican sweet corn treat.
Aug 11, 2009
8 Tips for Blueberry Picking
Last weekend, I took a drive to the Indiana/Michigan border along the southern tip of Lake Michigan in search of blueberries. This is serious fruit country. In addition to 15 pounds of blueberries, I picked up a few tips. Call ahead – Make sure the farm you plan to visit has blueberries (or whatever fruit you’re looking for) available for picking. If you call multiple farms, you can also compare prices.
Jul 29, 2009
Miracle Fruit Revisited: Are You Still Taste Tripping?
The strangest thing I’ve ever eaten is a miracle fruit. Well, that’s not entirely true. I should say that the strangest thing I’ve ever eaten is a tablet of freeze-dried miracle fruit-derived miraculin — and all the foods I tasted while under its influence.But that just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Jul 28, 2009
My Edible Escape: Peppadews and Goat Cheese
Peppadew peppers stuffed with goat cheese are one of my favorite super-fast, no-cook appetizers. I love to serve them to guests and introduce some of them to the sweet piquante peppers. But they’re also the perfect indulgent and slightly exotic snack for a little party for one.As far as I’m concerned, the sweet, crisp and slightly spicy South African peppers combined with tangy, creamy goat cheese form the perfect bite.
Jul 21, 2009
Travel Inspiration: Turkish Döner Kebab in Germany
In Berlin, I fell in love with the Turkish döner kebab at a little takeout place near my hotel. Similar to a gyro, these overflowing sandwiches were topped with all sorts of salads, fresh vegetables and sauces and served on a warm, crispy flatbread. I’ve never found anything quite like it in the U.S., but I’ve got some ideas for a homemade version that incorporates some of my favorite elements.
Jul 15, 2009
Catering Your Own Wedding: A Step-by-Step GuideForkable
Here at The Kitchn, we’re big fans of incorporating homemade food into wedding celebrations, and some of us have first-hand experience doing that to different degrees. But we were blown away by Forkable’s Andrea, who catered an entire meal for 150+ people on a budget of under $1500, for her own wedding!Her solution? A gourmet sandwich buffet.
Jul 1, 2009
Recipe: Spinach and Strawberry Salad Fruit Slinger, Chicago
The Fruit Slinger blog, one of our favorite summertime reads, is back for another season of commentary from the front lines of the Chicago farmers’ markets.But the Fruit Slinger doesn’t just sell the fruit – he knows a thing or two about preparing it, too. Below, he’s shared a salad recipe that highlights our current favorite ingredient: Strawberries!
Jun 16, 2009
Word of Mouth: Bannock
Bannock, noun: A flat bread, popular in Canada and the northern United States, often made of oatmeal, barley flour or corn meal.We’re all about cooking and eating outdoors this month, so we perked up when we saw this rustic bread being prepared on an episode of Bobby Flay’s Grill It! It was, of course, baked right on the grill.According to the British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range, Bannock was a staple in the diets of nearly all of North America’s first peoples.
Jun 10, 2009
10 Things To Do With Bloody Mary Mix
We had some friends over for brunch last weekend and ended up with some leftover Bloody Mary mix. A LOT of Bloody Mary mix. It got us thinking: What can we make with the mix besides a cocktail?We’re dying to make Bloody Marys with some fresh, local tomatoes, but it’s not quite tomato season in the Midwest, so we stuck to the classic tomato juice recipe with a healthy dose of horseradish. The spicy tomato mixture makes a good base for a variety of dishes.
Jun 2, 2009
Eating at the Office: What’s in Your Snack Drawer?
We’ve asked you about your office kitchen setups, but now we want to break into your personal stash – your snack drawer.We’re opening up our drawer for all to see, so now we want to know: what’s in yours?Thinking about office snacks, I was reminded of an episode of Dollhouse, a science fiction TV series on Fox. Under circumstances far too complicated to explain here, a scientist admits to his usually uptight boss that he has a “drawer of inappropriate starches.
May 20, 2009
Recipe: Tortellini and Spring Vegetable Salad
Last summer, we talked about Slate’s 12 steps to better pasta salad. With our first pasta salad of the year, we followed several of the suggestions: cook the vegetables, go light on the acidity and use soft cheeses. But step No. 3? “Avoid tortellini.” Well, we think we found an exception to that rule. We can see how tortellini could be a bad choice for a pasta salad.
May 12, 2009
Cooking Without Recipes: Michael Ruhlman on Ratios
Think baking is hard? Afraid to cook without a recipe? Chef and author Michael Ruhlman has some simple-but-profound advice: Start thinking about cooking in terms of ratios.Last week, Michael Ruhlman stopped by KCRW’s Good Food with Evan Kleiman to talk about his new book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking.In short, the book is a guide to cooking without recipes and with, as Kleiman noted, “a truly easy confidence.
Apr 22, 2009
Improvised Recipe: Yogurt Biscuits with Dill
I try to be organized and prepared in the kitchen, but despite my best efforts, I can be a little scattered sometimes. When I hosted an Easter brunch this past weekend, I changed the menu several times during my preparations and ended up forgetting a few ingredients at the store. With my budget spent and time running out, I was determined not to make another trip. Luckily, as I made do, I stumbled upon a great recipe that I can’t wait to make again.
Apr 15, 2009
Homemade Pizza: Chicago-Style Deep Dish
Our homemade pizza efforts have always been of the thin-crusted variety. Living in Chicago, if we have a taste for a deep-dish, we reach for the takeout menus. But The Paupered Chef blog has come up with a recipe that has us itching to make our own.More on that in a minute.
Apr 14, 2009
What’s the Difference Between Soy, Rice and Almond Milk?
Soy MilkSoy milk is probably the most popular, and the most controversial, depending on how you feel about soy in general. It typically has a thicker consistency than rice or almond milks, and lacking a sweet flavor (in non-sweetened varieties) is probably your best bet for cooking in savory dishes. Soy milk is made by soaking dry soybeans and then grinding them with water.
Apr 1, 2009
Trader Joe’s Pantry: Maple Agave Syrup Blend
On our last trip to Trader Joe’s, we were reaching for a bottle of maple syrup when we noticed a new maple-agave syrup blend. We were a bit skeptical, but at nearly half the cost of the pure stuff, we thought we’d give it a try.Maple syrup season is now underway, but prices have risen as high as $60 a gallon in some areas thanks to overall short supply due to a poor syrup season in Canada last year.
Mar 25, 2009
Vegetarian (Except for Bacon)
Know any otherwise vegetarians who can’t help themselves when it comes to bacon? Or any who crave it but make do with veggie versions? What is it about this cured meat that keeps so many people on the fence? I can’t say for sure, but as a vegetarian, I’ll admit it’s the only meat I’ve ever missed. The rise of all things pork in the past few years has only added to this phenomenon.
Mar 18, 2009
Recipe: Vegetarian Guinness Stew
This is a last-minute St. Patrick’s Day recipe, but luckily it’s a fairly quick one. File this one under Un-Meat – all the rich, hearty goodness of Guinness stew without the beef. This recipe took a bit of tweaking to get the seasonings right, but I think a small amount of sugar is the key to round out the bitterness of the Guinness. And as with most stews, it’s even better the next day.
Mar 17, 2009
Plant Spotlight: Ponderosa Lemons
We spotted these giant ponderosa lemons at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show last weekend and nearly squealed with delight.A lemon tree? That can grow in Chicago? Well maybe, maybe not.Ponderosa lemons are considered a lemon-citron hybrid and average 2 to 4 pounds, although they’re sometimes called “5 Pound Lemons.” The peel is thick, bumpy and round, with no pointed tip.They are less hardy than other lemon varieties but grow well in containers.
Mar 11, 2009
Quick Tip: Season Your Molcajete With Rice
Do you use a molcajete to grind spices or make guacamole? It’s a Mexican version of a mortar – used with a tejolote (pestle).We picked up an inexpensive molcajete at Chicago’s Maxwell Street Market last year, but it’s left bits of rock in our food every time we tried to use it. Not tasty. We were ready to replace it when we learned it has to be properly seasoned – with rice!
Feb 25, 2009
Quick Tip: Use Tea Balls To Flavor Soup
Do you use a bouquet garni to flavor your soups? If so, try tucking them into a tea ball instead of cheesecloth.We came across this idea at Williams Sonoma – it’s so simple and obvious, but we’d never thought to try it. Cheesecloth and muslin bags are great, but this is a good alternative. Plus, it’s reusable.We found a few other tea infusers that could work well with spices too, including a couple of heart-shaped versions. A little cheesy, sure.
Feb 11, 2009
Super Bowl Parties: Taco Bar
Are you hosting a Super Bowl party this weekend? We are, and we’re putting together one of our favorite meals that’s easy to prepare and pleases meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike.We were pouring over Super Bowl ideas, trying to find something for everyone, when a Martha Stewart recipe reminded us of one of our favorite crowd-pleasing spreads: a taco bar. Of course!
Jan 28, 2009