Category Archives: Cool Cooking Techniques

Sheet-Pan Pancakes

Is it breakfast? Or dessert? It's kind of both.
Is it breakfast? Or dessert? It’s kind of both.

I’m sure I’m not alone these days when it comes to inventorying my kitchen.

Lately, it goes something like this:

All-purpose flour. Oh, thank gawd there’s still some!

A half-pint of blueberries grabbed at the last minute at the grocery store a week ago. Half a pint? That’s it??? Why didn’t I think to get more?!?! What a moron.

Half a gallon of heavy cream that expires in five days. Wait. What??

A bag of walnuts. Woo-hoo, precious protein, baby.

A nearly empty bag of almond flour in the far reaches of the freezer. When did I even open this? (Dips finger in to try some.) OK, I think it still tastes OK. I haven’t keeled over yet.

And so it goes.

That, my friends, is what led me to try making Martha Stewart Living’s “Sheet-Pan Pancakes.”

Because let’s face it, we all need a respite from CNN, daily press conferences, and ever-growing statistics on this pandemic that’s remade the world as we knew it.

What we need is pancakes. Because pancakes have had the uncanny power to put a smile on our faces as far back as, well, the invention of pancakes. When you start the day with pancakes, you know it’s going to be a good day. And we can all surely use more of those kind of days right now.

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Pear-Rosemary Muffin Tin Pies

Two words: butter bomb.
Two words: butter bomb.

These may be little, but they are lethal.

Dare I tell you how much butter there is in these innocent looking “Pear-Rosemary Muffin Tin Pies’?

There are 3 1/4 sticks total.

That’s 26 tablespoons of butter for 10 itty-bitty pies.

(Math majors can be more precise, but that’s a little more than 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter per muffin-tin pie. Although, darn it, when you break it down like that, it doesn’t seem quite so bad. Well, maybe…)

Regardless, I am here to tell you that it is worth the calories and cholesterol to make these beauties.

We are talking some seriously flaky, supremely buttery, and moan-inducing, swoon-worthy crusts. They are filled with tender chunks of pears that take on an unexpected perfume from fresh rosemary. The finishing touch is a brown-butter, brown-sugar, walnut streusel top.

This divine recipe is from “The Perfect Pie: Your Ultimate Guide to Classic and Modern Pies, Tarts, Galettes, and More” by America’s Test Kitchen, of which I received a review copy.

Inside, you will find all manner of pies made with all manner of crusts such as “Classic Pie Dough” (made with butter and shortening), “Vegan Pie Dough” (made with coconut oil), and “Gluten-Free Pie Dough” (made with gluten-free flour blend, sour cream, rice vinegar and a little xanthan gum).

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The Best Chicken Soup You’ll Ever Make

Loaded with chicken and vegetables, and an array of aromatics, this chicken soup is the best I've ever had.
Loaded with chicken and vegetables, and an array of aromatics, this chicken soup is the best I’ve ever had.

Forget any ifs, ands or buts, because this, my friends, is the tastiest chicken soup you’ll ever slurp up.

The kind that makes your eyes widen in unexpected pleasure from the first spoonful. The kind that boasts layers upon layers of deep, full, satisfying flavor. The kind that nourishes and comforts no matter if you’re ailing or just in need of something wonderfully warming.

The secret is that the chicken in the soup first gets roasted. In fact, the entire soup is mostly made in the oven, concentrating the flavors and leaving the chicken as tender and moist as your favorite rotisserie bird.

“Limon Omani Oven-Roasted Chicken Soup with Celery Seeds” may have a long name with an ingredient or two that may give you pause. But don’t let that put you off from what is essentially a quite easy recipe that delivers more than you’d ever expect.

The recipe is from the new “Mastering Spice: Recipes and Techniques to Transform Your Everyday Cooking” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.

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Wonderfully Confounding Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Intense tasting roasted mushrooms -- thanks to a technique that goes against all common wisdom.
Intense tasting roasted mushrooms — thanks to a technique that goes against all common wisdom.

When is a no-no a triumphant yes-yes?

When it is this recipe and technique for “Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts.”

You know that old adage that one should never wash or rinse mushrooms with water but simply brush them clean? (Not that I ever actually followed that, mind you.)

Well, leave it to America’s Test Kitchen to turn that line of thinking completely topsy-turvy on its head.

In this super simple side dish recipe, you not only introduce water to uncooked, fresh mushrooms big-time, but you actually soak and submerge them in salted water for a whole 10 minutes.

How crazy is that?

Crazy brilliant, actually. Much like brining your holiday turkey, this same technique imparts moisture and flavors the mushrooms from the outside in.

This recipe is from the new “The Side Dish Bible: 1001 Perfect Recipes for Every Vegetable, Rice, Grain, and Bean Dish You Will Ever Need” by America’s Test Kitchen, of which I received a review copy.

This huge tome is a collection of 1,001 side dish recipes that is sure to complete any weeknight meal or festive holiday repast. At this time of year, it’s a must-have for dishes such as “Caesar Brussels Sprouts,” “Freekeh Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Raisins,” “Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle and Lime,” and “Slow-Cooker Creamy Braised Leeks.”

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Too Good To Wait: Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Bundt Cake

A cake made for chocolate and wine lovers.
A cake made for chocolate and wine lovers.

Whenever my Mom started reading a new novel, the first thing she did was turn to the last chapter to see how it ends.

My Dad and I used to laugh and shake our heads in disbelief.

But I think I inherited a little of that gene because I don’t always adhere to strict order, either.

Take the new “365: A Year of Everyday Cooking and Baking” (Prestel) by Berlin-based food writer Meike Peters.

I couldn’t wait to tear into Peters new cookbook, especially because I loved her first one, “Eat in My Kitchen: To Cook, to Bake, to Eat, and to Treat” (Prestel), which won a James Beard Award.

As the name implies, this new cookbook, of which I received a review copy, offers up an entire year’s worth of recipes. Yes, one for each and every day.

The recipes are arranged from January to December, with everything from soups to salads to mains to desserts. The delights include “Saffron and Clementine Cake” in February, “Salmon with Juniper-Gin Butter” in April, “Squash Pasta with Orange, Maple, and Sage” in September, and “Spiced Chestnut and Apple Pie” in November.

I know it’s October, but when it came time to try my first recipe from the book, I leaped ahead unapologetically to January. Hey, you would, too, for a taste of “Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Bundt Cake.”

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