Cooking Methods
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Why Do My Baking Sheets Buckle in the Oven?
Q: Why do my baking sheets sometimes buckle in the oven? I thought they were just old and replaced them, but now the new ones are doing the same thing!Am I going too cheap on the baking sheets or is there another reason?Sent by ChrisEditor: Chris, we can’t speak for your current baking sheets, but our hunch is that you went with too thin sheets. You don’t need to spend a fortune, though, to get good-quality baking sheets!
Mar 29, 2010
Best Results! Broil with the Oven Door Ajar
Heather Solos of Home Ec 101 explains that keeping the door ajar while broiling helps in two ways:1) It helps vent steam, so the oven environment stays dry and hot – just the way you want it when broiling. Steam also prevents the food from building a good crust!2) It helps keep too much heat from building up. This will bake your food instead of just cooking the surface closest to the broiling element and could also cause the heating element in your stove to turn off.
Mar 23, 2010
Pie Birds (A.K.A. Pie Funnels)
Pie birds (also known as pie funnels, pie chimneys, and pie whistles) are hollow ceramic devices used to keep pies from bubbling over in the oven by providing ventilation from the hot filling through the crust. They originated in Europe and historians often argue over whether they came about in the 1500’s or during Victorian times.The nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” which has the lyrics “Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie” is based on pie birds.
Mar 15, 2010
Old-Fashioned Vinegar Pie for Pi Day
Pi Day is Sunday! (It’s March 14, which is 3.14, or pi. Get it?) This mathematically-significant date has a sweet and serendipitous homophone, and we’re glad to take any excuse to eat extra pie. Are you making a pie this weekend? Let us suggest one possible candidate: One with a silky, melt-in-your-mouth filling, and a sweet tang at the end.Have you ever made a vinegar pie?
Mar 12, 2010
How to Keep Rising Bread Dough from Sticking? Good Questions
Q: I love to bake fresh bread and aspire to the tall, fluffy loaves in bakery windows. However, whenever I cover the rising dough with a towel, after it’s risen it will inevitably stick to the towel and deflate immediately. I’ve tried sprinkling the dough with flour but it seems to soak right into the dough.Any tips for bakery-window-worthy bread loaves?Sent by LaurenEditor: Lauren, we know exactly what you mean and have been there many times ourselves!
Mar 12, 2010
Try This: Roasted Cardoon
I’ve been eating a lot of cardoon this winter. The other night, wanting to try something new, I pondered the statement, “you can roast any vegetable!” I wondered if this was true of cardoons, so I did a little kitchen experimentation.First, I prepared the cardoons as detailed in that link. Next, I preheated the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and brushed the cardoons on both sides with olive oil on a baking sheet.
Mar 5, 2010
How To Braid Puff Pastry
Whether savory or sweet, dishes made with puff pastry tend to elicit plenty of “yums.” Here’s a technique that’s guaranteed to add “oohs” and “ahhs” to the chorus. And it’s ridiculously easy!All you have to do is make diagonal cuts down the sides of your sheet of pastry and criss-cross them over the filling. When the pastry puffs, it transforms into an intricate-looking main dish or dessert.
Feb 26, 2010
How Can I Make a Jack Daniels or Whiskey Simple Syrup?
Q: I’d like to make a variation on Shirley Temple cupcakes, and recreate them as Jack & Gingers. My husband adores this drink.I am looking for any thoughts on how I might go about creating a Jack Daniels simple syrup. One recipe I found suggested adding a shot to a standard simple syrup recipe, but I just don’t think that will have the amount of Jack flavor I am hoping for.Sent by SaraEditor: Sara, that cupcake recipe looks great!
Feb 26, 2010
Technique: Slow Cooking Without a Slow Cooker
After reading Emma’s Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork recipe last week, I was craving homemade pulled pork, but was saddened by the fact that, without a slow cooker, it seemed beyond my reach. I did some digging, however, and learned that there are some easy workarounds for this dilemma, and that my days of being stymied by slow cooker recipes are behind me.
Feb 23, 2010
Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork from The Splendid Table
We were craving pulled pork something fierce last week, so we got ourselves a nice pork shoulder and got looking for a good indoor recipe. We finally decided on a slow cooker pulled pork recipe from a book called Cheater BBQ: Barbecue Anywhere, Any Time, in Any Weather by Mindy Merrell and R.B. Quinn, which we discovered through this recipe reprinted a few years back on The Splendid Table radio show. And, people? You have got to try this recipe! The recipe is a snap.
Feb 17, 2010
How Should I Cook Really Big Pasta?
Q: I am seeing more and more very large dried specialty pastas — ones that are sometimes about two feet long! They look beautiful and I would love to try them at some point but does anyone know how to cook them?I know that angel hair pasta sits out of the water for 30 seconds and then it softens enough to get pushed into the water, but these look daunting! I’m sure there is a way to cook them without boiling?
Feb 12, 2010
Trader Joe’s Is Carrying Proper Sugar at Last!
We do quite a bit of our shopping at Trader Joe’s. It’s nearby, relatively inexpensive, and well-stocked with many of the fun foods we enjoy (hello prosciutto!). We buy most of our grains and produce items at a local co-op or the farmers market, and a lot of our other food comes from TJ’s. We’ve always been annoyed, though, at the baking section.Trader Joe’s, at least in our part of the world, has never carried “proper” sugar, or sugar you can bake with.
Jan 15, 2010
Looking Good: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
We have been thinking a lot about muffins this week; we often neglect to make muffins, and we wonder why! They are quick, easy, and simple to clean up. They are great little snacks during the day, and they are awesome for grab-and-go breakfasts too. So we were really pleased when reader Elise sent us this tip about a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe.Elise says: I found this delicious recipe for Pumpkin Bread/Muffins at that I wanted to share! They have such a great texture.
Jan 8, 2010
Easy Winter Recipe: Roasted Sunchokes
OK, you guys really have to try this. I was at the Alemany Farmer’s Market recently and Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes) are in season. I’ve never tried this sunflower tuber, and I always enjoy trying new vegetables, so I grabbed a couple. They were quite cheap at 50 cents a pound. Once I had them in my kitchen, I decided I wanted to roast them, so I sliced them thin, added salt, olive oil, and fresh rosemary, and wow, welcome to flavor country!
Jan 6, 2010
Technique: Dry Sautéeing
Some foods such as mushrooms have a lot of water in them, so sometimes the best method of cooking them is to dry sautée them. This keeps them from turning, well, mushy, and brings out their flavors and textures much more beautifully.It’s very simple. To dry sautée, simply add your cleaned mushrooms or other watery food to a hot pan that has nothing in it; no oil, no butter, no water, no spices. Nothing.
Jan 4, 2010
What’s the Best Way To Bake With Fresh Cranberries? Good Questions
Q: I see a lot of recipes for muffins and other baked goods which call for sweetened dried cranberries. I would like to substitute fresh cranberries whenever possible.Any suggestions for the best way to pull this off? Thanks!Sent by AmyEditor: Amy, we see no reason why you couldn’t substitute fresh cranberries for dried!You’ll probably want to use about 1 cup of fresh cranberries for every 1/2 cup of dried cranberries called for in the recipe.
Dec 28, 2009
How Do I Adjust Baking Time for Smaller Loaf Pans?
Q: I want to use those mini loaf pans to bake individual cakes and/or breads as gifts but recipes usually only give me baking time for a specific type of pan.I assume that I would need to cut down baking time for a smaller pan, but by how much? Is there a formula I can use?
Dec 23, 2009
Baking Soda and Baking Powder: Why Use Both?
We’ve always wondered why some recipes called for both baking soda and baking powder. They’re both chemical leaveners that do pretty much the same thing in pretty much the same way. So is it just extra insurance? We finally found our answer in this month’s issue of Fine Cooking!Food Geek Brian Geiger explains that it all comes down to acid.
Dec 11, 2009
The Best Way to Avoid Messes When Using a Stand Mixer
Have you ever turned on your mixer while making a batch of cookies and immediately received a cloud of flour in your face? How about when the milk you just added splashes out of the bowl and all over the counter? We have a very simple fix for that very situation. To avoid a face full of flour or any other messes, just grab a clean kitchen towel and drape it over your mixing bowl after adding your ingredients.
Dec 7, 2009
How Should I Adjust Recipes to Allow for Salted Butter?
Q: Being a broke college student, I don’t always have the funds to feed my baking addiction. So my very sweet grandmother took it upon herself to stock me up with flour, white sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Unfortunately, she purchased me a hefty amount of SALTED butter.  I don’t use much butter aside from baking, so I’m wondering if leaving out the salt that recipes call for and using salted butter would make a difference in flavor or texture?
Dec 1, 2009
How To Pan-Fry Leftover Bread Stuffing
We’re offering you a few fresh ideas for your Thanksgiving leftovers today and tomorrow, anticipating that you have some turkey or cranberry sauce sitting around in your fridge.
Nov 27, 2009
Leftover Bits: What to do with Pie Dough Trimmings?
We love pie trimmings! These are the odd bits of dough you get after you’ve successfully lifted the dough into the pan and get to cut off the excess dough hanging over the edge. Why do we love them so much? Just guess what we do with them!Our absolute favorite thing to do with leftover pieces of pie crust is to brush them with butter, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and bake them in the oven.
Nov 23, 2009
How To Make Fruit Butter in the Slow Cooker
We’ve already talked about making apple butter this fall, but let’s revisit the topic and talk about our favorite shortcut for making fruit butters. We had a ton of late season peaches to use up last week, so we popped them into the slow cooker.To make apple or peach butter in the CrockPot, all you need to do is cut them up and peel them, if you wish, and pop them into the slow cooker. No need for water or other liquids.
Oct 16, 2009
Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado Book Review 2009
Gesine Bullock-Prado, the sister of the famous actress Sandra Bullock, spent ten years in the belly of Hollywood, heading up her sister’s production company before she chucked it all to move to Montpelier, VT. There she became a pastry chef and owner of a busy pastry shop. Somehow she found the time in her crazy schedule (she goes to work at 4 a.m.) to write a book about it. Read on for the review. There’s a lot going on in this little book besides recipes.
Oct 14, 2009
What Is Your Favorite Bundt Cake Recipe?
Autumn is a time for office potlucks and holiday parties, and we’re always looking around for a no-fail dessert. The bundt cake is impressively shaped, feeds a lot of people, and when properly made, is tender and delicious. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the humble bundt. We’re curious: what are your most crowd-pleasing bundt cake recipes?We are big fans of Ina Garten’s lemon cake, which would be great in bundt form.
Oct 7, 2009
Super-Quick Summer Dessert: Peach and Biscuit Crostata
Fast, rustic, and delicious: biscuit crostatas are one of our favorite summer desserts. After all, we’re surrounded by fabulous ripe fruit that needs very little help. If you want to dress up a peach or two into a weekend dessert, here’s one way to do it.Crostatas are usually made with pastry or pie dough. But we rather like biscuit dough because it doesn’t need to chill before baking, and we just find it a little quicker and easier overall.
Sep 3, 2009
Chocolate and Vanilla: Two New Favorite Cupcake Recipes Recipe Reviews
School and work are back in session, and so cupcake season is fast upon us. We don’t bake a lot of cupcakes; we usually prefer the ease of one whole cake. But when it comes to school classrooms and workplace birthday parties, cupcakes are just so easy and fork-free. So we’ve been on the hunt for the ideal recipes for both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and now, the search is over.
Aug 26, 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
Hot and Steamy: A Visual Tour of Hot Water Bath Canning
A couple weeks ago I attempted canning for the first time in several years. Yes, I’ve made refrigerator jams and pickles, but I hadn’t actually canned anything in quite a while. The process was both as easy — and as hot and steamy! — as I remembered it. For those of you who are on the fence about canning, here’s a visual walkthrough of the process.I had pounds and pounds of sour cherries in the fridge and I wanted to make Eugenia Bone’s cherries in red wine.
Aug 24, 2009
How Easy a Pickle Can Be: The Zuni Pink Pickled Onions Recipe Review
Have you seen those hot pink pickled onions from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook? Over the last couple of years it seems like they’ve been everywhere in the blogosphere. We’ve been meaning to try them for a very long time, and we finally got around to it. Now we’re smitten. Who knew pickling was this easy?This recipe has a very illustrious pedigree. It was developed by Judy Rodgers of The Zuni Cafe, and subsequently swooned over by bloggers like Molly, Elise, David, and Matt.
Aug 20, 2009
Weekend Project: Make a Pavlova!
Pavlovas can be tricky to make when it’s hot and humid outside, but they are such a good dessert to serve with fresh summer fruit that it’s worth the effort! They’re light and airy, sweet without being too sweet, and sure to please both kids and adults. Shall we give it a try this weekend?What is a Pavlova?The pavlova is named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova and the original recipe hails from either Australia or New Zealand (we won’t get into that debate!).
Jul 31, 2009
Look! Top-Only Pie Crust of Overlapping Shapes
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy) In the past 24 hours, we’ve read two articles about this technique—one from Mark Bittman in yesterday’s Times and one in Bon Appétit. Must be a trend. Both articles insist this method of pie crust is easier, but we’re not sure. Get all the details, below…The appeal is this: Instead of rolling out a pie dough and carefully transferring it to your pie plate, you skip the bottom crust altogether.
Jul 30, 2009
Liquor To Have On Hand Even If You Don’t Drink
We always seem to be the odd man (or woman rather) out at parties because we don’t drink. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a well stocked liquor cabinet! Why would we need it around if we aren’t mixing up a favorite cocktail? Because we just can’t get certain tastes in our food without it, especially in baking!
Jul 9, 2009
What Are the Best Marinades or Glazes for Grilled Chicken?
This weekend I am taking a platter of chicken over to a friend’s. We’re having a good old-fashioned cook-out, and I am already thinking of moist, flavorful grilled chicken. I have my eye on a couple of recipes, but I’d love to know: What do you think are the best recipes for marinades or glazes for tender grilled chicken?
Jul 8, 2009
How to Cook the Perfect Burger The New York Times
Yes, we have talked about this before. We’ve written about making perfectly juicy burgers and how to build one (complete with diagram). But this weekend being a burger-noshing holiday, we thought more tips couldn’t hurt. The Times interviewed 30 chefs to find out what makes a good burger, and they’ve got some advice…There are tips about grinding your own meat—or at least buying meat with enough fat in it (most chefs said 30 percent fat is good).
Jul 1, 2009
Best Backpack Snacks: Trail Mix
Trail mix is the undisputed king of outdoor snacks! Whether you’re hiking the Appalachians or just going to a nearby park for some time in the sun, a bag of trail mix in your backpack is insurance against low-blood sugar. What’s your favorite mix?We like trail mixes with a nice balance of salty, sweet, and sour, and we usually keep it simple with just a few ingredients.
Jun 26, 2009
How To: Use An Orion Cooker
The Orion cooker has become a staple in our household. It uses convection, steam and smoke (if desired) to cook and flavor our favorite dishes. You might already have a grill or smoker (so do we), but the Orion has since become our right hand man outdoor cooking apparatus. It cooks bbq staples in record time and turns briskets into a a 60 minute process, instead of dedicating 8 hours of your weekend tending coals and temperatures.
Jun 24, 2009
Food Science: Why Bread Crusts Crack
Far from being a bad thing, hairline cracks like those in the photo above are the sign of a fantastic, shatteringly-crisp crust. We’ve heard that this is something to which many bakers actually aspire! Here’s how it happens:From what we’ve gathered from our various bread books, a crunchy crust on your loaf of bread is the result of moisture and high heat during baking.
Jun 16, 2009
Quick Tip: How to Build a Make-Shift Cooling Rack
Remember how we were gathering essential cookware for a month away from our kitchen? Well, we completely forgot about potentially needing a cooling rack and a thorough search of the cupboards in our temporary housing turned up nothing. But look at our make-shift solution!First, we found an extra oven rack in one of the cupboards, but it was too flat to really lift baked goods off the counter. Looking around for something to set it on, our eye fell on our cast-iron skillet. Perfect.
Jun 11, 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
Stop! Don’t Re-Roll Your Scraps!
Every food guru on the planet tell us that re-rerolling our scraps of dough, be it cookies, pie crusts or biscuits, won’t make for the prettiest goods. Although we all know it’s true, we usually try to weasel out a few more usable pieces. Instead of ending up with those few odd shaped outcasts, try this easy tip that will further another meal down the road…It’s a simple fact that cutting circles from square pieces of dough leaves left over bits and pieces.
Jun 8, 2009
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
Good Question: Can I Use a Propane Grill in Manhattan?
Here’s a question from reader Amy, who lives in Manhattan. Any city-dwellers able to help her out with this good question about grilling? My boyfriend and I have just bought a brand new propane grill from Home Depot with dreams of cooking out all summer long. But it seems propane tanks are illegal in Manhattan. Do you know what the rules/loopholes are surrounding this? Surely we can’t be the only people who have a propane grill?
Jun 1, 2009
Method: My Adventures in Poaching an Egg
Wow. There’s a lot of advice out there on how to poach an egg, much of it controversial. Some add vinegar, some don’t. Some swirl the water, some don’t. Some insist on 2-to-4-day old eggs and others say that’s a bunch of hooey. And the plastic wrap debates go on for pages. Not to mention the silicone cups and egg poaching machines (unitaskers!
May 18, 2009
Good Question: How To Get Sticky Things Out of Pan?
Here’s a good question from Neha. She has a dilemma we’ve all dealt with from time to time! I need help. Do you guys have any tips for taking a sticky bar/cake out of the pan? For example I made granola bars today and they are so sticky and they refuse to come out! It was a recipe that didn’t call for lining/greasing, which I sorely regretted not doing! So do you know of any handy tips in such emergency sticky situations.
May 14, 2009
Peach Cookies from Cafe Chocolada
Take a look at these peaches! Are ripe, sweet peaches in season already? Well, not exactly, but these look just as good… These are actually peach sandwich cookies (breskvice), a traditional Yugoslavian recipe. Medena of Cafe Chocolada says that she has tried many different versions of these cookies — some from Croatian sources, and some from friends.
May 6, 2009
Blanching Veggies with the Lid On or Off: Does It Make a Difference?
In culinary school, it was drilled into us that the lid must be left off to avoid mushy, brown vegetables. Their explanation that acids trapped in the covered pot would turn the vegetables brown made enough scientific sense that we never thought to question it. Well, it’s a good thing we have Cook’s Illustrated…Never ones to accept a kitchen myth at face value, the team at Cook’s Illustrated blanched a series of vegetables with the lid both on an off.
Apr 8, 2009
What’s Your Favorite Discontinued Food Product?
Have you ever had a favorite brand or food product get discontinued? The recent death (and comeback) of Mother’s Circus Animal cookies had cookie-lovers in a slump. I personally am still mourning this tea, pictured above, a short-lived herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings that I drank when I was very small.Pelican Punch was actually marketed towards kids. I remember it tasting like chamomile and mint, but my mother says it had carob in it too.
Mar 24, 2009
Good Question: How Do I Make Just Three Muffins?
Here’s a slightly unusual question from Kathy in Australia. It might have some practical use, though, for those of you baking for just one. If you’ve ever wanted to really downsize a muffin recipe, you might find some tips here:I’ve recently been given an electric muffin maker. Trouble is that it only makes 3 muffins at a time and most muffin recipes use at least one egg to make about a dozen muffins.
Mar 17, 2009
Good Question: Should I Buy Mario Batali’s Pizza Peel?
Here is a good question from Mary, who asks:I’ve just started making bread and am loving it (even if I need some practice still), but my pizza peel split in half last night. I had a cheap wood version and am wondering if it’s worth it to invest in a better quality one? Should I stick with wood or go with aluminum? I saw Mario Batali’s, but am just not sure. Any advice or suggestions?Mary, how often do you make pizza?
Mar 3, 2009
Quick Tip: Keep the Oven Door Closed!
It really is so very very tempting to keep opening the oven door to check how a dish is coming along, isn’t it? Unfortunately, this is one lesson we’ve definitely learned the hard way…For the longest time we’d check the temperature on a roast by opening the oven door, sticking the thermometer in, and waiting…waiting…for the internal temperature to appear. All while leaving the oven door open. And we wondered why the roast was taking so long to cook!Shirley O.
Feb 23, 2009
Basic Techniques: How to Brown Butter
Brown butter is one of those magical secret ingredients that just seems to enhance the flavor of just about anything – sweet or savory. It has a rich nutty taste and the aroma is out of this world. Even better, it’s a snap to make…To make brown butter (also called beurre noisette), simply start melting butter over medium heat. Use a pan with a light-colored bottom so you can keep track of the color. Swirl the pan occasionally to be sure the butter is cooking evenly.
Feb 20, 2009
Food Science: Why Some Batters Need to Rest
Many recipes for batter foods like crêpes and our very own Big Pancakes say to let the mixture rest briefly before proceeding to cooking. This may seem like a strange step, but there’s more going on during that rest than meets the eye…During the resting period, starch molecules in the flour are absorbing the liquid in the batter. This causes them to swell and gives the batter a thicker, more viscous consistency.
Feb 10, 2009
Cocktail Party Tip: Serve Cake Bites on Washi-Tape Toothpicks!
If you’re wondering what kind of dessert to serve at a cocktail party (or really, any party!) let me offer this suggestion: cake bites! This is a fun little way to serve cake without fussing with plates, forks, or even cupcake wrappers, and their poppable nature makes them tailor-made for a cocktail party. Get a recipe: Essential Recipe: Chocolate Layer Cake Making cake bites is super easy: just bake a sheet cake in a larger pan than usual.
Jan 30, 2009
Seasonal Spotlight: Braising Greens
Mom always told you to eat your greens. In the cold, dark days of winter, the farmer’s markets are full of baskets of these thick, green leaves in various sizes, shapes, and shades of greens. Braising greens are a mix of greens that include kale, chard, collards, mustard, bok choy, raddichio, and turnip greens. They’re really great because you get several varieties of dark, leafy, chock-full-of-vitamins greens that are so versatile.
Jan 7, 2009
Try This! DIY Air Freshener in the Crockpot
Getting rid of lingering food odors is a constant challenge for home cooks. We’ve tried candles and open windows (even in winter) and simmering pots of vinegar. Here’s one more trick to add to our list from Stephanie O’Dea of A Year of CrockPotting!Stephanie’s technique is to mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with water in the bowl of a crockpot or slow cooker. Set the crockpot in whichever room is most in need of a little freshening and set it to LOW with the lid off.
Dec 12, 2008
Use Pie Dough Cut-Outs to Top Pies
One of our favorite pies in last month’s great Best Pie Bakeoff was Deb’s Cherry Berry Pie, and this was partly because of her creative use of pie dough cut-outs to create a top crust.We like doing this too; in fact, we look forward to making our fancy shapes at the end of filling our pie crust! It’s the fun part. Deb’s pie, pre-baking.Deb’s pie, after baking.Here are a few tips for making pie cut-outs.• Make sure your dough is well chilled.
Dec 10, 2008
How To Make Whipped Chocolate Ganache
A chocolate ganache is just chocolate melted and beaten into heavy cream. It’s a magic substance; it can be a glaze, a filling, a coating, a solid truffle — it just depends on the ratio of cream to chocolate. I like a ratio of a bit more cream to chocolate for a whipped filling; this ensures that it doesn’t get too hard and difficult to spread.
Dec 9, 2008
Gourmet Magazine’s Favorite Cookies: 1941-2008
Sixty-seven years of amazing cookies — 1941-2008. That’s what Gourmet Magazine is featuring on their website right now. They went back through every year of their magazine’s history and chose a favorite cookie from each year.It’s like a time capsule back to their early days inthe 40s and 50s and all through the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. They give a quick recap of each decade and some of the new influences in each.The real stars of course are the cookies.
Dec 5, 2008
Good Question: Help! How Do I Caramelize Sugar With a Kitchen Torch?
Here’s a question from reader Donna. She is just learning to use a kitchen torch to caramelize sugar, and it’s not going well. She writes:I have a kitchen torch and CANNOT burn the sugar. I tried brown sugar, granulated and raw sugar and it does not burn. Is it the torch? Should I use turbinado sugar?Donna, the key to getting a good caramelized top is actually using a very thin layer of fine white sugar.
Dec 4, 2008
Baker’s Techniques: How to do the Windowpane Test when Kneading Bread
The windowpane test is one of the best ways to tell if you’ve sufficiently kneaded your bread dough, though it can sound like a pretty bizarre instruction when you come across it in a recipe! Here’s what you do…First, cut off a small piece of the dough about the size of a golf ball.
Dec 1, 2008
Tips: Bay Leaves in the Pantry
Why is there a bay leaf in our flour canister?Years ago, in the midst of a moth infestation, we read that bay leaves repel pantry insects. Everyone from beetles to weevils, moths, cockroaches, ants, and flies is said to hate the herb’s fragrance. The leaves can be placed in containers of flour, rice, and other dry goods, or taped inside cupboards and shelves. Of course, this should not preclude other bug deterring efforts like regular cleaning and storing foods in airtight containers.
Nov 14, 2008
How and When to Dock a Pie Crust
Though you may sometimes be tempted, docking a pie crust has nothing to do with chucking it off the end of a pier! Like using pie weights, this is another method used when pre-baking a pie crust and is no more complicated than pricking the crust with a fork before baking. More details after the jump…Pricking holes in the rolled-out pie dough allows the steam to escape while it’s baking.
Nov 7, 2008
How To Make Easy Fruit Filling for Pie
We focus a lot on the dough and crust when we talk about pies, since this is often the most intimidating part for new pie-bakers. And yet if your filling isn’t delicious as well, then what’s the point? Fruit filling is what makes us love pie. The opportunity to use fresh, seasonal fruit with a minimum of preparation or fuss, letting the fruit’s flavors shine out clearly – it’s one of the best things about baking.
Nov 7, 2008
Recipe Review: The Cook’s Illustrated Vodka Pie Crust
Have you heard of the vodka pie crust recipe? It made big news in the baking world when Cook’s Illustrated first published it last fall. Half of the pie dough’s moisture comes from vodka, which is 40% pure alcohol. The alcohol doesn’t promote gluten formation, so it helps the crust stay much flakier and more tender – a foolproof help to those of us who tend to overwork our pie dough.So, how does this pie dough work? Is the unconventional addition of vodka worth it?
Nov 6, 2008
How To Convert Dutch Oven Recipes to Your Slow-Cooker
We try to offer plenty of slow-cooker recipes here at the Kitchn. We think they are a non-intimidating, satisfying way to cook, and, while they’ve definitely taken on more of a cool factor in the past couple of years, good slow-cooker recipes can be hard to find. Often they’re a little dated. But if you have a favorite recipe that’s made in a big pot, either on the stove or in the oven, you can easily convert it to a slow-cooker… Why would you want to do that?
Oct 30, 2008
Twist on Tradition: Hand Pies
There are going to be a lot of pies making their debuts on the Kitchn soon, given the holidays and our own pie baking contest that’s coming up. Just to get your creative juices flowing, we thought we’d mention the diminutive hand pie—perfect for crust-lovers…Hand pies (also called turnovers in our family) usually remind us of summer.
Oct 27, 2008
Acorn Cakelet Pan from Williams-Sonoma
Uh oh – watch out! Williams-Sonoma and Nordic Ware are at it again.This is a new seasonal pan, made by Nordic Ware just for Williams-Sonoma. The pan makes up to 18 little acorn cakelets, and even the pan itself is shaped like an acorn.Nordic Ware’s pans are always very well made; we have an elaborate castle cake pan from them, and it has always performed beautifully. Great baking, easy cleanup.
Oct 21, 2008
Recipe Review: Dark Gingerbread Pear Cake
We recently linked to a gingerbread-pear cake in our daily Delicious Links, and lo and behold, we found ourselves with that very same cake in the oven a few nights later. We wanted, you see, to give you a personal opinion.I have a Thing for gingerbread. Gingerbread cookies and gingerbread men – crispy, soft, and chewy – all kinds. Gingerbread lattes, gingerbread bread pudding – mmm, sometimes.
Oct 20, 2008
Easy Lifting: Using Aluminum Foil Liners in Cake Pans
Ever have trouble getting cakes, brownies, and bar cookies out of those square cake pans without having it crumble into a horrid mess? Here’s a quick tip we picked up from the folks over at Cook’s Illustrated…Tear off two sheets of aluminum foil long enough to line the sides and bottom of the pan with a little extra to hang over the lip. Fold each sheet so that they’re the same width as the bottom of the pan.
Sep 15, 2008
Quick Tip: How to Roast Peppers
“Roasting” in this case is a bit of a misnomer. We might better call this technique “charring”! In either case, roasted peppers are a delicious addition to salads, frittatas, and a whole lot more.Here’s how…If you have a gas stove, the easiest method for roasting peppers is right on the stove top. Turn a burner to the highest setting and set your pepper directly on the flame. Use a pair of tongs to turn the pepper until the skin is completely blackened.
Aug 25, 2008
Quick Tip: Roasting Tomatoes Under the Broiler
A while back, we made a recipe for a fire-roasted salsa that called for broiling the tomatoes in the oven. At first skeptical, we were amazed at the smoky flavor the tomatoes picked up when cooked this way. Now we “fire-roast” our tomatoes for almost all our recipes!Here’s how:As always, the freshest tomatoes work best for this method. Pick ones that have a tight skin and smell strongly of ripe tomato.Wash the tomatoes and slice them in half, leaving the skins on.
Aug 18, 2008