Joanna Miller's Recent Articles
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Pickling: Choosing a Vinegar
As summer winds down, we’ve been pickling a lot, preserving as much of the season’s fresh produce as we can. But as a somewhat novice pickler, we’ve found ourself wondering: What’s the best vinegar to use? We recently made a batch of pickled wax beans using a recipe from Chez Panisse Vegetables that called for cider vinegar.
May 3, 2019
Home Cooking While Sick: TJ’s Quick Prep Favorites
Of all the things we love about fall, one thing we’re not so crazy about is the beginning of cold and flu season. Some of us have already been suffering through an early bug.We’re nearly useless in the kitchen when we’re not feeling well, but keeping a few heat-and-serve items in our pantry keeps us from constantly reaching for the takeout soup menus.
May 3, 2019
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.
May 3, 2019
Dessert on the Go: Vintage Cake Carriers
For family meals and holidays, my grandma would often bring a dessert, along with her relish tray. It would always come in a large Regal Ware aluminum cake carrier, making whatever was inside even more impressive. When I saw that serving piece, I knew something good was inside.Read on for a roundup of similar carriers available on eBay.My grandma has since given me her cake carrier, and I love its cool vintage lines.
May 2, 2019
How To Chill Wine Quickly with Salt
Tracy Kellner from Provenance Food and Wine in Chicago shared this tip with us a while ago, and we’ve sworn by it ever since.Here it is: Place a bottle of wine in an ice bucket or anything tall and wide enough to hold the bottle and some ice. Fill the bucket with ice and add a generous handful of salt. Give the bottle a twist to distribute the salt, and leave it to chill for a few minutes. It will be ice cold in no time.
May 2, 2019
Recipe: Mocha Crunch Steel-Cut Oatmeal
Oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfasts you can eat, and I usually like to keep the toppings pretty simple. But once in a while, why not make it just a little indulgent? Adding rich espresso and cocoa powder – and just a few nuts and chocolate chips on top – combines my morning bowl of oatmeal with my favorite winter drink, the mocha. The espresso and cocoa powder give the oatmeal lots of rich flavor, and a few chocolate chips on top just puts it over the top.
May 2, 2019
Fun to Say, Fun to Eat: 10 Ways to Use Guava Paste
Have you tried guava paste? We first encountered this sweet concoction in an empanada at our favorite Cuban restaurant. Guava, cheese and fried dough in one bite? Yes, please! But there are lots of ways to use guava paste. We’ve got 10 ideas for you below. Guava paste – also known as guayabate or goiabada – is a very thick puree of guava fruit and sugar, often with added pectin. The consistency is similar to membrillo, or quince paste.
May 2, 2019
Healthy Snack Recipe: Spicy Baked Plantain Chips
Spicy, salty, crispy, crunchy. Plantain chips are just what we want in a snack, and this baked version is one we could happily munch on practically every day. The key to the perfect crunch? It’s all about picking the right plantains. Our first attempts at plantain chips were somewhat disastrous. Most of them burned and no amount of oil could keep them from sticking to the pan and falling apart when we tried to pry them off. Turns out, we were using the wrong plantains.
May 2, 2019
The Secrets of Bake Sale Best Sellers: Brownies, Cupcakes…
Do you have a bake sale coming up this season? Maybe you have a favorite recipe that always flies off the table? We put together our first bake sale last year and were a little surprised by some of the best sellers. We’ve got some tips and recipes below to help make your bake sale a success. When we organized our first bake sale last year, we took pains to choose recipes with really interesting flavors, thinking our creativity would win over potential shoppers.
May 2, 2019
Springtime Refresher: Strawberry Sangria
Are you feeling the heat yet? It’s not even June, and we are in desperate need of a cool, refreshing drink. Strawberry sangria is light, sweet and usually effervescent – exactly what we want to sip on right now.With strawberries in season, this is the perfect time to try one of these recipes. Not only are they tasty – they’re so pretty too! Most are made white wine and something sparkling – Pellegrino, lemon-lime soda, ginger ale.
May 2, 2019
The Easy Way to Make Homemade Brown Sugar
My relationship with brown sugar is this: Either I’m in a baking phase and use it all the time, and when I go into the pantry to get more, it’s all gone. Or, I buy a box, forget about it, and discover in my moment of need that it’s rock-hard. I found a simple solution to both these problems: I started making my own brown sugar. It’s easy and takes just two pantry ingredients.
Aug 19, 2015
Recipe: Rapini With Orecchiette And White Beans
We’ve had a string of cold and rainy spring days, so we’re craving something warm and comforting, yet still seasonal. Enter rapini – the bitter greens are a perfect match for white beans a little pasta in a dish that’s not the most beautiful, but is quite delicious.Rapini is nearing the end of its peak growing season in the northern hemisphere. We found beautiful bunches on opening day of one local Chicago farmers’ market.
May 14, 2010
Prepping Asparagus: To Snap Or Not To Snap
We’ve always been told to snap asparagus at the base to remove the toughest part of the spear – in fact, it’s a pretty fun kitchen chore. But a recent video from Food52’s Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs (with guest star Amateur Gourmet Adam Roberts) has us rethinking this little trick. They are “anti-snapping.” Check out the video below to learn why, and get the recipe for a Thai-inspired asparagus salad with Meyer lemons.
May 4, 2010
Recipe: Chocolate Whiskey Pots de Crème
Pudding – the dessert many of us grew up on – has made a big comeback as a trendy treat. If the occasion calls for something a bit more impressive, we have the perfect fancy pants solution – bake your pudding in a water bath and call it pots de crème.OK, so the recipe and process is a bit different, but pots de crème are quite similar to the puddings we all know and love.
Apr 29, 2010
This Food Will Kill You: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution
Is the U.S. ready for a food revolution? Depending on who you ask, answers to that question could range from “Yes!” to “A what?” to “Sure, but hasn’t it been happening for a while? Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Eric Schlosser – ring a bell?” Well, there seems to be plenty of revolutionizing to go around, and Jamie Oliver is jumping in with a big network TV reality show set in “America’s unhealthiest city.
Mar 23, 2010
Sweet or Savory: How Do You Like Your Irish Soda Bread?
It almost seems wrong pitting one type of recipe against another, but we realize that individual preferences can be quite strong when it comes to Irish soda bread. Did you grow up on the sweet Irish-American version? Are you a purist who sticks with flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk? Or do you like to experiment with a few modern twists?Last year, Susie shared her mother’s recipe for a sweet soda bread filled with golden raisins and caraway seeds, dusted with sugar.
Mar 16, 2010
Recipe: Savory Salted Goat Caramel Sauce
Top Chef Stephanie Izard is a little obsessed with goat. Perhaps it’s because her last name is a type of Pyrenees mountain goat in French. Or maybe she just finds it delicious. Stephanie stopped by the new Kenmore Studio in Chicago last night to make a batch of Salted Goat Caramel – a sweet/savory sauce that could be served with a variety of dishes. We’ve got the recipe below.
Mar 12, 2010
Blood Orange Polenta Upside-Down Cake
We highlighted several sophisticated citrus dessert recipes from Bon Appétit last week, but the Blood Orange Polenta Upside-Down Cake We did come across a few stumbling blocks with this recipe, but the results were pretty fantastic, so we think it’s worth trying.The first step of the recipe was the trickiest for us.
Mar 11, 2010
Recipe: Vegetarian Black Bean Espresso Chili
Yesterday, Kathryn covered the basics of chili making and a great many variations. Today, we’re highlighting a very specific vegetarian chili preparation – one that ended years of searching for that perfect meatless recipe. I’ve tried a great many recipes for vegetarian chili.
Feb 23, 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
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
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 sausageWe aren’t usually fans of vegetarian “meat” products, but we took Ivy’s (and at least one commenter’s) advice and tried the sausages from Field Roast Grain Meat Co. in our stuffing. They were delicious! We used the Smoked Apple Sage variety – perfect flavors for Thanksgiving.
Nov 27, 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
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
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
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
Eating at the Office: What’s in Your Snack Drawer?
We’ve asked you about your office kitchen setupsWe’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
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
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 molcajeteWe 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!Molcajete’s are traditionally made of volcanic rock, but inexpensive versions are often made of concrete and other soft stones, making them softer and more sandy.
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
Recipe Recommendation: Ralphie’s Mom’s Braised Red Cabbage from A Christmas Story
Now that it’s officially holiday movie season, we thought we’d highlight a classic recipe from a classic seasonal film – “A Christmas Story.”The movie marks its 25th anniversary this year, so there’s even more celebration of all things Ralphie.My family decided not to wait until December to try Ralphie’s Mom’s Braised Red Cabbage and served it for Thanksgiving instead, but it would be a great addition to any winter meal.
Dec 2, 2008
Pushing Daisies: The Pies
We know some of you are fans of “Pushing Daisies,” and we recently discussed the show’s honey-related story lines, but we could hardly let this month pass without a mention of the show’s primary food theme: Pie!Read on for recipes from the show, including one that requires a certain magical power.Many of the show’s episodes center around pie, and much of the action takes place at Ned’s restaurant, the Pie Hole.
Nov 19, 2008
Movies in the Park Menu: An Affair to Remember Chicago
The Outdoor Film Festival returns this week with 1957’s “An Affair to Remember,” starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. For this week’s menu, we’re sailing through the French Riviera along with the characters. Food is mentioned in the early minutes of the movie as a news announcer discusses the engagement of playboy Nickie Ferrante (Grant) to a wealthy (and apparently attractive) heiress.
Aug 18, 2008
DIY Mochi Ice Cream Balls
Now that we’ve got our ice cream makers churning away this month, we’re looking for fun ways to play with the results. Mochi ice cream balls have popped up everywhere from swanky restaurant dessert menus to the freezer case at Trader Joe’s.But why not make a batch of your own?
Aug 9, 2008
Quick and Easy Cocktail: Blood Orange Gin Fizz
Now that we’ve learned a few tips for creating our own cocktails, we’ve been experimenting a bit. We’ve found one combination that’s super-simple and refreshing using Trader Joe’s Villa Italia Blood Orange Italian Soda. OK, so we didn’t exactly follow the fresh juice tip, but it’s still really tasty …Blood Orange Gin Fizz1 ounce gin Blood orange soda Lemon slices Fresh mint Muddle the mint and lemon slices in a glass.
Jun 28, 2008