I’ll tell ya what? New Orleans is seeing some slightly warmer days this weekend, it’s the start of Mardi Gras, I’ve just popped a King Cake in the oven, and I’ve already decided which cocktail I’m going to enjoy when I head to dinner tonight. We’re rolling into this year with a city-wide, month long party and I’ve got my glue guns and glitter ready to go costume. What did I do before I lived in New Orleans? I have no idea…
I hope this days finds you well and warm. Free of fire and fury- just settling into this Sunday.
Here are our links for reading this week:
• Some inspiration to be stronger and more kind than we even think possible for ourself. Two boys carjacked an 80-year-old Baltimore City Councilwoman. Now she’s there advocate.
• An unexpected love story thank goodness.
• Look around, we’re SUPER not ok. The Year Climate Change Began To Spin Out Of Control
• There’s a reason using a period in a text message makes you sound angry. If someone sends me this text message “Ok.” we’re very obviously in a fight and there’s a problem.
• The opposite of toxic masculinity ruining the party again: Examples of Toxic Femininity In The Workplace.
• Maybe She’s Born With It… Maybe It Something Else. For me it’s: oreo cookies, yoga, and gin.
• A history of breaking rules, now with coffee: The Lady Falcon Coffee Club.
• I love these weekly food diaries and this one in particular is pleasingly real: Deb Perelman’s Grub Street Diet.
• I’ll tell you what, being cold is not relative. Being cold is being cold, whether you live in New Orleans or Portland Maine. I think we’ve all been cold and in need of comfort this week. I’ve been on a double sock + slipper kick that’s keeping me safe from my drafty floors. I’ve also roasted every vegetable in my house. See: Roasted Vegetable Winter Crumble.
• Currently listening to this on audiobook: Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things.
• For some reason, as much as I travel, I always have a hard time figuring out how to consolidate my face wash into a travel size to take with me. Problem solved: Papaya Enzyme Powder Facial Cleanser.
• Listen… we just NEED cake right now. It’s non-negotiable: Chocolate Orange and Nutmeg Cake.
Take good care today, and have some dang cake.
You can make this. I promise. Even if you don’t think you’re much of a baker. It’s a golden crusted focaccia draped with whisper thin rounds of Meyer lemon, studded with black olives, and a showered with sliced almonds. The dough is herb-flecked with a generous boost of hemp seeds, and a percentage of rye flour if you happen to have some on hand. It’s the same one I posted to my Instagram feed. I’ve been on a bit of a focaccia bender lately after making Nigel Slater’s Cranberry Focaccia for New Years Eve (from The Christmas Chronicles). I forgot how simple and satisfying it is to make, and all the different ways you can top it based on what you have around the kitchen.
The pre-bake: The shot above is what the focaccia looks like prior to baking. I used an enamelled cast-iron baking pan, but(!) you can absolutely make the focaccia free-form (just shape it on a standard baking sheet). A third option is a cast iron skillet. I baked the last version I did in a 9-inch cast iron skillet. Experiment and have fun with it!
The yeast: This recipe calls for instant yeast, and I’m including a shot of the exact yeast I used for reference below. You can add it directly to the dough. Different than active dry yeast.
If you make this focaccia, or a riff on it, tag me on Instagram (heidijswanson) so I can see :)!
You basically want 500g of flour here, and you can play around with different flour blends. Here I use strong white bread flour, with a boost of (sprouted) rye flour, plus a good dose of chopped herbs and hemp seeds. I like this ratio – it results in a focaccia that is hearty without being heavy.
400 g / 3 cups strong white bread flour
100 g / 3/4 cup rye flour
1 packet fast-acting instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped thyme
3 tablespoons hemp seeds, (optional)
1 1/2 cups / 350 ml warm water (~120F)
2 Meyer lemons, sliced razor thin
15 black olives, pitted and halved
1/4 cup slices almonds
Combine the flours, yeast, salt, olive oil, garlic, and half of the rosemary and thyme in a large bowl. Stir in the warm water, and mix until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a work surface and knead for five minutes or so, until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Rub the dough with a bit of olive oil, and return to a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm cozy place until doubled – 45 minutes, to an hour-ish.
Preheat your oven to 400F, rack in the middle.
You can bake the focaccia in a (8×12 or larger) pan or free form on a baking sheet. Tip the dough into baking pan, and deflate with flat hands. Arrange the lemons, olives, and almonds on top, and cover with a tea towel again. Leave to rise for another 20-30 minutes, until the dough is nice and puffy. At this point, use your finger to press deep holes into the dough. Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with any remaining rosemary and thyme, and bake for thirty minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for a bit before cutting and serving. Sprinkle with a bit more salt if needed.
Inspired by the Cranberry Focaccia recipe in Nigel Slater’s The Christmas Chronicles. (4th Estate, 2017)
Prep time: 75 min– Cook time: 30 min
I’m so excited about this post, I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner! I love being able to use my site not only to share the recipes I’m excited about cooking, but to highlight other cooks who inspire me. Many of them have Instagram accounts, so I thought I’d pull together a list of a few favorites. My hope is that they’ll all inspire you to want to jump into the kitchen. They tend to celebrate lots of plants and vegetables, and generally integrate food, cooking, balance, and wellness into their lives in a way that inspires others. I actually have a much longer list, so think of this as the first installment. And, if you’re into it, I’ll share more!
– Ellen Fisher / @ellenfisher – I love this family. Watching the kids grow up on Ellen’s You Tube channel has been amazing, their love for good food and nature from the time they were tiny is inspiring to all. One love! :)!
– Alaina Sullivan / @alasully – She’s on design over at Bon Appétit Magazine, but she’s actually one of my favorite cooks to watch.
– Candice Kumai / @candicekumai/ – Excited for her new book! – Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit
– Heidi Swanson / @heidijswanson – My Instagram, just in case you’re not already following!
– ABCVNYC / @abcvnyc – Top of my list the next time I’m in NYC. I just wish they posted more! 🙂
– Andy Baraghani / @andybaraghani – I met Andy at a dinner at David Tanis’s house a few days days before he started as Senior Food Editor at Bon Appétit Magazine and I couldn’t wait to see what he’d be up to. He’s just got that je ne sais quoi, and his recipes are are, so often, exactly what you want to be eating. Color, texture, flavor – he’s just one of those cooks who has the good spidey sense.
– Beatrice Valenzuela / @beatricevalenzuela – Known for her clothing, shoe, and jewelry designs, Beatrice is actually one of my favorite cooks to watch. Catch glimpses through her watch Insta-stories for a peek into her Echo Park kitchen & life.
– Botanica / @botanicafood – The Instagram feed for Botanica Food & Market in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. If you can’t be there, you can at least see what is coming out of the kitchen ;)…
– Camille Becerra / @camillebecerra – Chef at DeMaria in New York, all around inspiring person. Only wish Camille was West Coast :)!
– INDAY / @inday_nyc – Energizing Food + Good Karma, wish there was an INDAY in San Francisco.
– Sprouted Kitchen / @sproutedkitchen – Real life, real food. Love Sara.
– Anna Jones / @we_are_food – One of my favorite U.K. cookbook authors.
My first tourné knife experience was a brutal one. A tourné knife is a paring knife with a short, curved blade. They’re also referred to as “bird’s beak” knives, but a more appropriate name might be Azazel, Inciter of Anguish. You see, the primary function of this demonic blade is to “turn” a vegetable into a two-inch-long, seven-sided football. Members of the fine-dining occult believe this shape holds the power to cook more evenly because it rotates better in a pan.
I first tournéed in culinary school, when the chef challenged us to make one perfect hepta-potato in order to get a passing grade for the day. Every student failed, potato scraps covered the floor, and I immediately condemned my tourné knife back to hell.
We met again a year later, when I staged at a restaurant that some say is the best in the world. A stage (often pronounced “stäzh”) is a stint of unpaid work to see if you’ve got the chops for a culinary job—or, in my case, an unpaid internship. I was handed a tourné knife, stationed in front of a 28-pound case of fennel, and tasked with turning each petal into a one-and-a-half-inch teardrop. I managed to remain spirited and optimistic during the first six hours, but hours six through 12 were dark times indeed. When the chef came around to evaluate my work, he chucked all the fennel tears I had sacrificed my sanity for and told me to give up cooking altogether. I don’t remember the details of the scuffle that followed, but I’m sure the diners won’t ever forget the sight of me being dragged out of the restaurant by toqued thugs.
Just when I thought the knife was done haunting me, one seemed to have snuck into my cutlery drawer at home. My husband is a tourné acolyte, and he was hell-bent on converting me. At first, I couldn’t have been more resistant, and went so far as to refuse to eat anything prepped with the satanic shiv. But eventually, his persistence wore me down.
Under his tutelage, I came to view the knife not as an instrument of torture, but as a sort of miniature scythe, imbued with a divine power to handle round objects like no straight-bladed counterpart can. Daniel has argued that bird’s beak knives aren’t very useful for home cooks, but I don’t think there’s a better way to peel onions and shallots: The sharp tip scores the skins, while the slim blade easily slips under the papery hulls, allowing you to undress alliums in two swift strokes. Making French onion soup just got a lot easier.
But that’s not all it’s good for. Due to its superior facility with spherical things, the curved blade can also quickly carve thick twists of citrus peel, perfect for flaming over an Old Fashioned cocktail. Because the blade is short, you can closely grip the knife with your entire hand in order to securely peel oddball items, like a ridge-y acorn squash or an especially knobbly ginger root, or delicate ones that require extra control—held properly, it’ll give you enough precision to peel slippery grapes for pickling and trim tough artichoke stems for braising. I love it for loosening the segments from a halved grapefruit if I want to feel especially pampered in the morning.
Even if peeling grapes isn’t in your repertoire, a tourné’s tip alone makes owning the knife worthwhile. It’s ideal for hulling strawberries and quickly removing the cores from Brussels sprouts. I’ve even come to use it for carving up potatoes, though I mainly prefer it for digging out stubborn eyes, not laboriously sculpting tiny footballs. I still get twitchy whenever I’m alone in a room with a tourné knife and a fennel bulb, but the many other charms of this little knife have possessed me. I reach for it over and over again every time I cook, even if I don’t have any plans to torture culinary students and interns.
Back in 1878, a delegate of the Michigan Pomological Society bemoaned the sad state of strawberries “shoved into market before they are ripe. We know but little about the luscious ripe strawberry.” After a hundred and forty years of relentless cultivation, I’d hate to know what he thinks of today’s supermarket strawberries, much less those sold in the dead of winter.
Still, there are times when bakers have to work with what they’ve got, even if that’s out of season fruit. Maybe it’s a craving for strawberry shortcake that just won’t quit, a special request from someone you love too much to deny, or nostalgia for certain holiday pairings—who can escape strawberries and chocolate on Valentine’s Day? There’s no reason to despair when working with lackluster winter strawberries, as long as you give them just a little TLC with these roasting and flavor-improving tricks. It works just as well in the summer, when it can make extraordinary fruit even more spectacular.
First up, wash the berries and trim off their leafy caps, but don’t worry about cutting away the pale white flesh, this technique is designed to make the most of it all. Leave small to medium berries intact, but cut the largest ones in half. Transfer them to a glass or ceramic baking dish and sprinkle with plain or toasted sugar to taste; as a rule of thumb, I recommend about 3 1/2 ounces of sugar for every two pounds of fruit.
Add the juice of half a lemon to perk up the bland berries, plus an old vanilla pod if you’ve got one stuck in a bag of sugar somewhere—its muted aroma is the perfect way to breathe new life into underripe strawberries. Don’t bother to split a fresh bean just for the occasion, since its full bodied aroma will totally overwhelm the fruit flavor (you can partially make up for the difference with a single drop of vanilla extract later on).
Toss the mixture to combine, then roast at 375°F until tender and juicy, about 30 minutes.
The exact timing can vary depending on the dimensions and conductivity of a given roasting dish, so play it safe and keep a close eye on the strawberries to make sure they don’t cook down into a pile of mush. After roasting, I doctor the strawberries with a small splash of rose water to mimic the floral notes of perfect summer fruit.
Done right, no one will be able to identify the rose flavor by name; it becomes nothing more than the certain je ne sais quoi of aromatic summer fruit.
Serve the juicy strawberries and syrup with creamy desserts like panna cotta and a no-bake cheesecake, or refrigerate overnight for a jammy topping to spoon over yeast-raised waffles and English muffins.
Once all the berries are gone, don’t dream of tossing out that ruby syrup! It’s brilliant as a fruity variation in cocktails such as the French 75, as a sweetener for tea, or simply splashed into a glass of club soda. Plus, it freezes like a dream so you can save that sweet sip of summer brightness for another day.
The members list of the non-existent Digital Food Entrepreneur’s Club would be quite small, but it would have to include Ben Leventhal, who is both this and next week’s guest on Special Sauce. Ben cofounded Eater in 2005 and is now one of the cofounders of Resy, the popular restaurant reservations app. On this week’s episode, he and I reminisce about the good and bad and definitely crazy old days of both Eater and Serious Eats. And even though we really weren’t direct competitors then (or even now), it was fun to talk about the battle scars we both suffered in the early days of what was called the Web 2.0 era.
I love what Ben has to say about risk: “I think risk tolerance has got to be one of the three most important things you need as an entrepreneur. I think you have to be willing to take risks. You have to have a real understanding of what you’re good at and you should take risks on the basis of what you’re good at, and you need enough self-awareness to know what’s not going to work. And, as Ben and I discuss, you have to have a real optimistic streak. As he puts it, “You’ve got to have a strategy to get through those days where it looks like it’s the last day.”
If you love to go to restaurants (and who doesn’t?) or you’ve ever thought about taking the entrepreneurial leap into a food-related digital business, this episode of Special Sauce is made especially for you.
Want to chat with me and our unbelievably talented recipe developers? We’re accepting questions for Special Sauce call-in episodes now. Do you have a recurring argument with your in-laws over the most reliable way to roast a turkey? Have you been struggling to get the right consistency in your Thanksgiving stuffing over the years? Does your brother always turn up with the worst pumpkin pie, and you want to help him make it better? We want to get to know you and solve all your food-related problems. Send us the whole story at [email protected].
Chili mac is a thing. And I suspect it’s a thing for a few good reasons. Namely, it’s a family-friendly dinner solution, something nearly everyone can get behind. Chili + macaroni, what’s not to like? I decided to a take a stab at it last week, in part because I was working on this Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili with Kahlua, and I had to go a few rounds to get it just right. So much leftover chili. So much. This chili mac combines four ingredients: your favorite chili, a beer (or broth), elbow pasta, and a splash of cashew, coconut milk, or other nut milk. It’s as healthful as the chili you use. The last thing I’ll say before jumping into the recipe is this, I know of no other dinner that takes less effort than the Instant Pot version of this. It’s literally for nights when calling in take-out takes too long, and is too much effort. Seriously.
Pile on toppings to boost the chili mac nutritionally, and to flair it out in general. I mean, treat it like a taco bar, or a chili bar – anything you would on those things is fair game here. Also, if you don’t have leftover chili on hand – a good canned chili will absolutely work here. I’ll put some related thoughts in the head notes.
You can use a homemade chili, or if you’re in a time pinch, grab something like Amy’s low-sodium spicy chili (you’ll need two cans) – you can always adjust your seasoning to taste with more salt, etc. To keep this gluten-free, use a GF pasta. I like to add a bit of creaminess here with a good splash of homemade cashew milk, but if you don’t have that on hand, coconut milk is perfect as well.
3 1/2 cups of favorite chili (or two 14-ounce cans)
1 12-ounce beer, or equivalent amount of broth
1/2 cup / 4 ounces water
2 cups of dried elbow pasta
a generous splash of cashew or coconut milk
to serve, any/all of the following: scallions, salted yogurt (regular on non-dairy), cilantro, red onions, chopped olives
Combine the chili, beer, water, and pasta in the Instant Pot. Close the pot, and secure the lid. SEAL the valve. Select PRESSURE COOK (or MANUAL) and calculate your cooking time. To do this, refer to your pasta package, the time will be half of the shortest recommended cooking time, rounded down to nearest minute. For example my pasta package recommended 8 – 10 minutes. Take the smaller number (8), cut in half (4), and round down to nearest whole number (if necessary). SET/ADJUST TIME – in my case, to 4 minutes. When finished, carefully QUICK RELEASE pressure by shifting the valve to VENTING. Open away from you, and stir in cashew milk. Taste and adjust seasoning, serve topped with lots of scallions, cilantro, red onions, etc.
To make this on a conventional stovetop: Bring the chili, beer, and water to a simmer in one medium pot. Boil the pasta separately in salted water, drain, and stir into the chili. Add the cashew milk, season to taste, and serve with toppings.
For reference, this is the Instant Pot I used for this recipe: Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt 9-in-1
Prep time: 5 min– Cook time: 10 min
Most bakers know that a sweltering summer kitchen can wreak havoc on a recipe, but a lesser-known truth is that chilly winter kitchens can cause just as much trouble—albeit of a different sort. When kitchen temperatures dip below 70°F (21°C), pie and cookie doughs can end up dry and crumbly, layer cakes can dome and turn out riddled with tunnels and holes, buttercreams can curdle, and breads can refuse to rise.
Those issues can manifest in subtle ways when it’s only 68°F—so subtle that you may simply write them off as a fluke—but they’ll grow more extreme as the temperature drops. It’s not just that there’s a chill in the air; it’s that any given thermostat setting represents the temperature of our pantry staples and equipment, like flour, sugar, and mixing bowls.
That’s why cranking up the heat or firing up the oven isn’t a solution. The air temperature may suddenly warm to a toasty 72°F, but deep in your pantry, that bag of flour will still be 65°F (or whatever the case may be). Fortunately, you can sidestep these problems altogether if you know which techniques they’re likely to affect.
Many cake and cookie recipes will call for creaming the butter and sugar until “fluffy and light.” The creaming process will take much longer than indicated when you’re working with chilly ingredients and equipment, so abandon any estimated timetable and stick to the visual cues. Give it time for the butter and sugar to soften and aerate—otherwise, even a simple coffee cake can wind up dense and gummy along the bottom, or else pocked with holes.
If a kitchen is truly cold, below 65°F (18°C), the process will likely stall out, leaving the butter and sugar smeared around the bowl as a thick, heavy paste that will refuse to budge. In that case, I’ll break out my culinary torch to hit the mixing bowl with a gentle flame (three cheers for stainless steel!) to help loosen the butter. If you don’t have one, grab a hair dryer, or set the bowl over a steaming water bath for just a few seconds to soften, not melt, the butter.
Alternatively, warming the sugar to about 70°F before creaming can help mimic the conditions of a more temperate kitchen. Simply pop a dish of sugar into a low oven for a minute or two, and let it cool down if you overshoot that target temperature. And if you happen to forget about it, don’t worry—that’s how I “invented” toasted sugar.
In the realm of baking, most recipes call for “room-temperature” eggs, but the dirty secret of recipe development is that “room temperature” usually means 70°F. So, regardless of the actual temperature in your kitchen, that’s the temperature you should aim for when warming up the eggs. In a bowl of hot tap water (say, 110°F/43°C), it will take about three minutes to warm up as many eggs.
Many of my cookie recipes (such as my old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies) may call for eggs “straight from the fridge” as a method of controlling dough temperature to keep things cool. Of course, that’s not necessary in a cold environment, so consider warming the eggs to 70°F if you need help offsetting the effects of adding cold ingredients, like flour and chocolate, later on.
It’s tempting to think that a pie dough needs more water when it feels stiff, crumbly, and dry in winter months. But when you’re dealing with problems caused by environmental conditions, altering the formula won’t address the underlying issue; it’ll only create new problems. In pie dough, for example, more water means more gluten development, and that makes pie doughs tough and prone to shrinking as they bake. So please, don’t adjust the recipe—adjust the dough temperature.
This can be done by simply using 70°F water instead of the cold water most recipes call for. If it’s really frigid in your kitchen, warming the flour to about 70°F can help, too—toss it in a low oven, and let it cool down if you overshoot that goal. The ideal working temperature for pie dough is about 68°F (20°C), so the combination of tepid flour and cold butter should average right out. If the deed is already done, and you’re stuck with a cold dough that cracks and crumbles when rolled, let it sit in a slightly warm environment until it reaches about 68°F, then try again.
Whether you’re making a classic Swiss meringue buttercream or the custard-based cream cheese buttercream from my book, a cold buttercream is a curdled buttercream. Even when they don’t look like cottage cheese, cold buttercreams have a greasy mouthfeel, and their stiff consistency makes them difficult to spread over a cake.
If that happens to you, place the bowl of buttercream over a steaming water bath until it starts to melt around the edges, then return it to the stand mixer and whip until smooth. This can be repeated as needed to achieve a perfectly smooth, silky-soft consistency.
Most recipes for yeast-raised breads include details for creating the ideal proofing environment, but many others call for proofing the bread at room temperature. When that falls well below 70°F, the dough will take much longer to rise, which is fine by me. My preference is to go with the flow and pay closer attention to a recipe’s visual cues, such as when my cinnamon roll dough rises until it’s light enough to retain a shallow impression when gently poked.
If you’d like to speed things up in a yeast-raised dough, try bringing the flour to about 70°F before getting started. Warmer liquids can help, too, but that can be a riskier move, as it has the potential to harm the yeast. Otherwise, your best bet is to create a warmer environment for the dough. My favorite trick is to microwave a mug of water until it’s boiling-hot, then turn off the microwave and pop in the bowl of dough, essentially turning the microwave itself into a cheater’s proof box.
With any of these steps, the goal is not to get things hot but to more closely mimic the conditions of a 70°F environment, so restraint is key. Since the underlying problem is a baking environment that’s just a little chilly, there’s no need to go to extremes. A gentle nudge by a few degrees in the right direction is all we need to conquer the cold.
It’s that time of the year when everyone’s made some kind of New Year’s resolution, and for a lot of people that means trying to eat better. That’s all well and good—I would never begrudge someone for trying to be healthier—but if you’re going to spend most of your time eating kale and chia seeds then I think you deserve a treat once in a while. Pulled pork jalapeño poppers, fried chicken, and mac and cheese shouldn’t be everyday foods, but sometimes you need to indulge. If you’re going to break your resolution, we’ve got 22 fatty anti-resolution recipes to make sure you do it right.
Detroit-Style Pan Pizza
Long-beloved in Michigan, Detroit-style pizza has started to go national in recent years. It’s made with a thick, chewy crust; tons of creamy Brick cheese; and a sweet tomato sauce (in that order). Pepperoni is a classic addition, with some restaurants layering it on top to get crispy and others putting it under the cheese and sauce so that the fat seeps into the crust. Since we’re going big right now, we put it on top and bottom.
Pulled Pork Jalapeño Poppers With Raspberry Sauce
I love jalapeño poppers, but if we’re really going to be starting the New Year off right, we’re going to need something a little more epic. These smokey poppers are stuffed with pulled pork and wrapped in bacon. We don’t deep-fry them, but given all the pork I’d say they’re still a far cry for health food.
Cornbread-Coated Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese Wedges
Regular old deep fried mac and cheese wedges don’t go far enough, either. We bring back the pulled pork in this recipe, layering it with the mac, coating it all in a cornbread batter, and frying until golden brown. Freezing the macaroni and pork is key to not making too much of a mess when it’s time to batter and fry.
Totchos (Tater Tot Nachos) With Cheese Sauce, Charred Tomato Salsa, Chorizo, and Pickled Jalapeños
Our Ultimate Fully Loaded Nachos are already a gut-buster, but if you think tortilla chips are too boring then try using crispy tater tots instead. Our totchos aren’t just heavy, though, they’re also delicious, thanks to high-quality toppings like homemade charred-tomato salsa and cheese sauce, crisp chorizo, and fresh vegetables.
Rich and fatty doesn’t have to mean junk food. Pommes aligot is a dish from south-central France that takes mashed potatoes and makes them more intense than you would have ever thought possible. That means using the standard cream and butter, but also melting in more than half a pound of Alpine cheeses (we like a mix of Swiss and Gruyère). You also want to overwork the potatoes to release extra starch, which in combination with the cheese makes for incredibly gooey results.
Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
We have no shortage of grilled cheese recipes, but right now one of my favorites is this version that mashes up the sandwich with spinach-artichoke dip. We start with a simple dip made by sautéing onion, frozen spinach, and canned artichoke hearts and mixing with homemade mayo, then pair with creamy Drunken Goat cheese (Havarti is also a solid choice).
We make our Cuban sandwiches with three different kinds of pork: sweet ham, savory roast pork, and funky Genoa salami. That last ingredient might upset some Miami readers, but it’s a classic part of a Tampa-style Cuban. We pair the pork with Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and mustard on Cuban bread and cook it in a sandwich press or under a heavy skillet until all the ingredients meld together.
Rich and Creamy Croque Madames
The croque madame starts just like a croque monsieur: toasted brioche, ham, grated cheese, and Mornay sauce. Layered together and broiled you already have a serious brunch, but to take it one step further and turn it into a croque madame, top each sandwich with a runny fried egg before serving.
A fast food hamburger definitely doesn’t fit with health-conscious New Year’s resolutions, and our homemade Big Mac and Whopper recipes will both help you start the year off on a gluttonous note. Can’t decide which you want to make? Just split the difference by combining the flame-broiled Whopper patty with our reverse-engineered Big Mac sauce and both fresh and dehydrated onions.
The Double Bacon Hamburger Fatty Melt
Cardiologists, look away now. This burger takes decadence to a whole new level—not only do we use two quarter-pound patties and four slices of bacon, but to throw all sense of restraint out the window we replace the buns with three grilled cheese sandwiches. Make one of these in the next few days and you might not need to eat again for the rest of the month.
Ultra-Smashed Brunch Burgers With Quick Jalapeño Hollandaise
Looking for a monster burger that you can feel okay about eating for breakfast? This brunch-friendly option tops crispy-edged smashed patties with oven-cooked bacon, fried eggs, avocado, and a spicy jalapeño Hollandaise. Toasted English muffins keep the breakfast theme going and soak up the runny yolk and sauce.
Ultra-Crispy Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
Pork shoulder is one of my top picks for a winter dinner party—it’s decadent, affordable, and super easy. All you have to do is season with salt and pepper, roast in a low oven until the meat practically starts to fall apart, then max out the oven temperature to crisp up the skin.
The Food Lab’s Southern Fried Chicken
The perfect fried chicken should have super moist meat and an extra-crunchy crust. We accomplish this by brining the chicken in buttermilk (which both tenderizes and seasons it) and mixing some brine into the flour coating to add surface area to the crust. We use a two-stage cooking technique—frying then baking—to ensure that the chicken cooks evenly.
The Best Chicken Parmesan
We borrow the buttermilk brine and breading technique from our fried chicken to make chicken Parmesan, but give it a distinctly Italian-American flavor by adding Parmesan to the breading and serving the chicken with a slow-cooked red sauce, cubes of mozzarella, and more grated Parmesan. You can eat the chicken as is, but it’s even better on a party-sized sandwich.
Traditional French Cassoulet
Like pommes aligot, cassoulet is a French classic that proves that hearty, indulgent food doesn’t have to be junky. This super-filling stew is packed with poultry, sausage, pork, and beans—just what you need on a cold day. Cassoulet is typically made with duck, but we find that using chicken with a little duck fat gives you similar flavor for less money.
Tater Tot Casserole
If you’re from certain parts of the Midwest, Tater Tot hotdish probably has a special place in your heart. It’s typically made with ground beef, canned or frozen vegetables, condensed soup, and frozen tater tots. We upgrade our version by replacing the condensed soup with a mushroom béchamel, but keep the frozen tots because it’s hard to outdo Ore-Ida.
The Best Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
Both creamy and satisfying and a little more sophisticated than the typical enchilada casserole, this dish is made with a simple charred poblano salsa, simmered chicken, pepper jack cheese, and Mexican crema. Even though we don’t go too heavy on the cheese, this is still a rib-sticking dish.
French Onion Strata
The name strata sounds fancy, but at its heart it’s just a savory bread pudding. This hearty strata gets the flavors of a bowl of French onion soup from caramelized onions and grated Gruyère. To speed up the recipe we use quick-caramelized onions with a little sugar added—the flavor isn’t quite the same as slow-caramelized onions, but you can get most of the way there in significantly less time.
The Food Lab’s Ultra-Gooey Stovetop Mac and Cheese
This mac and cheese is better than the blue box and not much more work to make—you just need a mixture of melting cheeses, a few thickeners and binders (cornstarch, evaporated milk, and eggs), and hot sauce. It all comes together in 15 minutes, but if that sounds like too much work, then check out our three-ingredient recipe, which is even easier than boxed macaroni.
Crispy Baked Pasta With Mushrooms, Sausage, and Parmesan Cream Sauce
This comforting baked pasta is a little more time- and labor-intensive than mac and cheese, but it still only takes about half an hour. Mushrooms sautéed in rendered sausage fat add flavor and a meaty bite, soy sauce and lemon juice make the dish super savory, and a cheesy cream sauce brings the richness. Top with a layer of breadcrumbs for a crunchy finish.
American Chop Suey (Macaroni, Beef, and Cheese Skillet Casserole)
This casserole has a variety of names across the country—where I grew up in Indiana we called it chili mac—but by any name it’s a delicious piece of Americana. The dish is always made with pasta, ground beef, tomato sauce, and cheese—our recipe adds green peppers, onions, and a couple tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (a classic addition in New England).
Baked Ziti With Two Mozzarellas and Parmesan Cream Sauce
At its best, baked ziti should be rich and creamy, but all too often low-quality supermarket ricotta makes it bland and grainy. It’s a little easier than it used to be to find good ricotta, but we still get rid of it altogether and use a Parmesan cream sauce instead, plus low-moisture mozzarella mixed in with the pasta and fresh mozzarella melted on top.
Here’s what I know about pizza.
• It is the best food, the Lord’s work, the most important combination of ingredients that ever was.
• I’ll eat any pizza, good or bad, cooked from frozen, cold and leftover.
• Everyday is a negotiation of when and where I will eat pizza again.
• Pizza is better with friends as long as there is enough pizza for everyone.
• It truly is amazing the things you can turn into pizza. This quiche as Exhibit A. You might also consider pizza bagels (something I’m making tomorrow night), pizza on English muffins. I would argue that where there is tomato sauce and a mega amount of toppings… there is a pizza, amen.
What’s that? You want another breakfast pizza option!
My friend Jon just made PIZZA SCONES to match my pizza quiche proving that pizza is everything and everywhere. Friends pizza together! Go see. Go see!
It’s like kitchen-sink pizza-quiche. Jam-packed, super savory, 100% satisfying. Lemme show you how.
Here’s what you’ll need: things for a quiche + things for a pizza + pie crust.
• PIE CRUST: now you know how I feel about this. It’s flakey and buttery and best made from scratch. How To Make Pie Crust By Hand. You’ve got this.
• QUICHE: eggs, whole milk, and heavy cream.
• PIZZA: onions and garlic, sausage and pepperoni, bell pepper, black olives and mushrooms, cheeeeeeese, pizza sauce, and dried Italian spices.
This is also where you can get personal. Use whatever you like on your pizza. For me the answer is EVERYTHING. If you’re using lots of vegetables just do your best to saute as much of the liquid out of the vegetables as you can before adding them to the quiche. Ya feel me?
We’ll going to start the quiche here, in the hopes that you’ve already conquered the pie crust. High-five.
We’ll first cook and sauté ingredients in layers- starting with sausage. Blast the heat to cook it to crisp.
In the cooked sausage fat we’ll cook the onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Cooked to brown. Cooked to remove a good amount of moisture from the peppers and onions.
Mushrooms are up next!
We’ll add a dash more oil to the pan and brown the mushrooms. The mushrooms will first release some of their moisture (allow them to sit in the hot pan without stirring too much), and once the water is released the mushrooms will begin to caramelize and brown.
I like to add a sprinkle of salt and pepper too.
There we go! Everything cooked!
Next step: egg custard starting with six large eggs in a medium bowl.
Whisk the eggs well to break up the yolks and soften the whites. Really get in there with the whisking action.
Add a mixture of heavy cream and whole milk.
Pizza spices, hello how do you do?
Dried basil and oregano. Crushed red pepper flakes + salt and pepper, too!
Pie crust, quiche crust is rolled and crimped.
I don’t parbake my quiche crust because I’m lightly lazy and I don’t mind that the crust bottom is slightly soft while the edges are crisp and flaky.
Into the unbaked pie crust, a good sprinkling of cheese.
Sausage, onion, garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms into the quiche crust.
Pepperoni: thick sliced and quartered.
Definitely black olives too!
Top with more cheese and pour in the custard.
Totally subtle, right? Just a simple, light quiche. (Not really, not at all.)
Baked to golden around the edges and lightly puffed.
But we’re not done pizza-ing this thing because what’s pizza without sauce!?
We’ll spread red pizza sauce across the center of the cooked quiche.
Pepperoni and mozzarella cheese because we continue to be light and subtle.
Broiled to bubbling and now… see how long you can wait before slicing into it.
I lasted about 20 minutes before I couldn’t stand it anymore and went in for a big slice.
Let’s get it! May you pizza quiche this weekend and every.
Photos with pizza cohort Jon Melendez.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
- 1/3 cup cold buttermilk plus 1 to 2 more tablespoons if your dough is dry
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 pound mild or spicy Italian sausage (2 uncooked links)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced purple onion
- 1/2 cup seeded and chopped green bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 heaping cup sliced cremini mushrooms
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup thickly sliced pepperoni, cut into quarters
- 1/3 cup sliced black olives
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup pizza sauce
- 6 thinly sliced pepperoni slices (optional)
- 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas.
- Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour while you make the filling.
- To roll out the dough, remove one of the pie dough disks from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round. Roll the dough a few strokes, then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface. This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface. The circle won’t be perfect, that’s ok.
- Try not to get any rips in the rolled out dough, but if you do, they can be patched together with extra dough. When you roll the dough and you can see it start springing back, that means that the butter is warming and the crust shouldn’t be rolled out anymore. Gently lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in a deep 9-inch round pie dish. Trim the overhang to be about 1-inch over the edge of the pie pan and fold the overhang under into the pie dish. Crimp the edges as you’d like pinching with your fingers or pressing with the tines of a fork.
- To make the filling, start by cooking the sausage, followed by all of the vegetables.
- Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon or spatula as it browns. Increase the temperature to high to really crisp the beat. Cook through, about 5 minutes, then remove just the sausage and place in a medium bowl.
- With the oil remaining in the pan, add the onions and garlic. Cook until just translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the bell pepper. Cook until the pepper has softened and much of the water has cooked out, about 5 minutes. When softened and browned spoon the onion and bell pepper mixture atop the cooked sausage and set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, place over medium heat and add the sliced mushrooms. Toss to move the move the mushrooms around the pan and coat in oil then allow to cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until water has been released from the mushrooms and they begin to brown. Continue to brown on all sides, cooking the mushrooms thoroughly, about 6 to 8 minutes. Once browned well, spoon the mushrooms atop the sausage, onion, and pepper mixture.
- In a medium bowl whisk the six eggs until well combined.
- Whisk in the milk and cream. Whisk in the spices, salt and pepper. Not it’s time to assemble!
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to heat as the oven preheats.
- Sprinkle the prepared pie crust with half of the cheese. Top with the sausage and mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with the thickly sliced pepperoni and the black olives. Pour over the egg custard mixture and sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese.
- Place quiche on the heated baking sheet and bake until cooked through and lightly puffed, about 40 to 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and turn the oven to broil.
- Spread pizza sauce over the center of the cooked quiche. Top with pepperoni if using. Top with cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Keep an eye on the quiche so it doesn’t brown too much.
- Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving slightly warm. To store, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Quiche will last chilled for up to 4 days.