Like a cross between sugar cookies and lemon bars, these bar cookies are chewy, sweet, and vibrant.
Using a combination of vegetable oil and melted butter created optimal chew, and a small amount of cream cheese added extra richness. Using both the zest and juice from two lemons delivered a big citrus impact in the dough, and a generous amount of sugar balanced the tart lemon while keeping the bars moist. A thin layer of a potent lemony glaze further enunciated the sweet-tart balance.
In most versions of this creamy party dip, the artichoke flavor gets lost. We set out to find it.
To amplify the spinach and artichoke flavors in this homemade version of a restaurant staple, we swapped dull, fibrous frozen spinach for sautéed fresh baby spinach and left tinny canned artichokes behind in favor of bright, tender marinated artichokes. Gouda's sweet and nutty flavor perfectly accentuated the artichokes, and it gave our dip a creamy, melty texture without causing it to congeal and turn stringy after cooling. Our streamlined method called for stirring all the ingredients together in one skillet before transferring the dip to a baking dish. After about 20 minutes in the oven, the top was golden brown and the edges were bubbling.
The rich and tender fried breads known as bhature are commonly served with chana masala.
When bhature, slim disks of dough that balloon dramatically when cooked in hot oil, are served with chickpeas simmered in a spiced tomato sauce, the pairing (common in Northern India) is called chole bhature. Though bhature are sometimes leavened with yeast, we opted for the simpler combination of baking powder and baking soda. The flour-and-yogurt dough came together quickly in the food processor, but we also kneaded it by hand to build the gluten development necessary for optimum inflation. When the dough was fried, the hot oil quickly sealed the outermost layer, forming a thin skin. Simultaneously, water in the dough turned to steam, pushing outward. The skin stretched and expanded—small bubbles first formed around the edge and eventually merged into a single large balloon.
There's nothing like a real chopped cheese sandwich from a bodega. Could we re-create it at home?
A real bodega chopped cheese sandwich—packed with ground beef and American cheese—straight off a flat-top griddle in East Harlem, is truly something else. But not wanting to travel to New York City every time the craving hit, we developed our own recipe, which was inspired by the version sold at Blue Sky Deli in East Harlem; read about our visit here. We started with 1 pound of 85 percent lean ground beef, enough to pack four soft sub rolls. Cooking the meat in a nonstick skillet and breaking it up with a wooden spoon mimicked the texture of the meat we ate in New York. Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Goya Adobo All Purpose Seasoning packed in tons of flavor. Wrapping the warm, assembled sandwiches tightly in parchment paper swaddled the cheese and beef to help the filling meld.
Our quiche's creamy custard is more than just the backdrop to an overload of fillings.
The success of our streamlined deep-dish quiche Lorraine recipe depended on the right ratio of eggs to liquid, plus gentle, even heat. To add the quiche’s fillings without affecting our perfect custard, we whisked a little cornstarch into the dairy component of our custard. This kept it glossy and rich and allowed us to bake our quiche Lorraine recipe longer, which firmed our custard. Finally, we found three ways to add insurance against leaks and tears in the crust of our quiche Lorraine.
Watch the Latest Episode of Cook's Country (Season 16, Ep. 3): Sisig and Wings
Bryan Roof visits Oakland, California and shares his version of Sisig and Garlic Fried Rice with host Julia Collin Davison. Tasting expert Jack Bishop discusses the importance of Knorr’s Liquid Seasoning in Filipino cooking. Toni Tipton-Martin talks about the history of chicken wings as a bar snack, and Julia makes host Bridget Lancaster Soy Sauce Chicken Wings.
Our goal: create a fruit-filled cornbread to excite, not confuse, our cornbread-loving souls.
Our aim here was pretty simple: a slightly sweet, blueberry-packed rendition of moist and airy cornbread. We quickly discovered that just throwing a few handfuls of blueberries into the batter of a favorite cornbread recipe wasn’t the answer. Some recipes produced dry and dense cornbread; other versions were too sweet. Plus, the blueberries in some sank to the bottom of the pan. To make our bread more cakey than the average cornbread and to help keep the blueberries afloat, we opted for a higher ratio of flour to cornmeal. Using a full 2 cups of fresh blueberries ensured that each bite was packed with juicy fruit. And a bit of sugar sprinkled on before baking melted in the oven to give the cornbread a lightly sweet, golden top.
Made with a classic French pastry dough, gnocchi à la Parisienne's cloudlike texture is impressive.
For an easier take on tricky-to-make Italian potato gnocchi, we turned to their French cousin, gnocchi à la Parisienne. French gnocchi are made with pate a choux, the eggy French pastry dough also used to make éclairs, profiteroles, and beignets. We made our dough quickly on the stovetop and then transferred it to a food processor to incorporate the eggs. We piped and cut the dough into simmering water to form the gnocchi and then seared them in a hot skillet to lightly brown and puff them to tender, melt-in-your-mouth perfection. We finished our gnocchi with a quick emerald-hued pistou.
Shred vegetables, mix into batter, fry—could crispy fritters really be that easy?
For more-flavorful fritters, we tested a number of vegetable options and settled on a mix of shredded zucchini, shredded carrot, sliced red bell pepper, and thinly sliced onion. We found that we needed only 3 cups of vegetables to make 12 fritters. For the thick batter, we combined equal parts flour and cornstarch plus seltzer and baking powder so the fritters would be shatteringly crispy. We added salt to the vegetable batter just before frying so it didn’t draw water out of the prepared vegetables and interfere with crispiness. We carefully monitored the temperature of the shallow oil we used to fry the fritters, turning off the burner between batches to keep the oil from overheating and to ensure that each batch came out deep golden brown, lacy, and crispy. And finally, we whipped up a creamy, bright horseradish mayonnaise to complement the crunchy fritters.
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This umami-rich rice dish with pairs perfectly with Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac).
Com do, or red rice, is an ultrasavory Vietnamese side dish. It's normally made as a fried rice by stir-frying precooked rice, but we made ours from scratch in one pot. To re-create the slightly drier texture of a fried rice, we held back a bit on the water. And to ensure the dish had the depth of flavor that it should, we used lots of tomato paste and soy sauce for umami and butter for richness and complexity.
Could we dial back the fat and still make carbonara with a velvety consistency?
Most carbonara pastas are so rich that it’s hard to eat a whole bowlful. We lightened the usual recipe by dismissing additions like cream and butter, cutting any oil, and including only a tablespoon of the rendered bacon fat. Having done so, we had to find other ways to make our sauce smooth and prevent the eggs from setting into curds and the cheese from melting into lumps. Reducing by half the amount of water typically used to boil pasta gave us a concentrated starchy liquid that we reserved for our sauce. The starch in the water coats the proteins and fats in the cheese and prevents them from separating or clumping together. Starch also works in concert with the egg white proteins to lend viscosity to the sauce. Egg yolks introduce a pleasant custardy richness, but they also have a powerful emulsion and thickening capability that can turn the sauce into glue just minutes after serving if too many are used. Three egg whites and four yolks gave us a sauce with the custard flavor that we were after and an ideal thickness that did not change significantly as it cooled during a 15-minute serving window. Mixing the spaghetti with the sauce in a warm serving bowl rather than a hot skillet or pot allows the residual heat of the pasta to “cook” the sauce without any chance of overcooking the eggs.
We find a way to replicate the crunchy exterior and juicy meat of deep-fried chicken in the oven.
Many of us crave fried chicken more often than we're willing to put in the time and effort to make it. We wanted to find an easier way to get that crunchy, deeply seasoned exterior and juicy meat we all love—without deep frying. This meant using the oven instead of the stovetop. We started by preheating a 12-inch cast-iron skillet in a 450-degree oven. Next, we dredged the chicken in a well-seasoned flour mixture; added just ½ cup of vegetable oil to the preheated skillet; placed the chicken, skin side down, in the skillet; and returned the skillet to the oven to “fry” the chicken. We flipped the chicken halfway through cooking, which helped crisp both sides of the chicken. Is this oven-fried chicken absolutely indistinguishable from true deep-fried chicken? No. But because it is fried in just ½ cup of oil, it is quite a bit easier to make and has many of the same attributes.
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Pawpaws taste like a tropical fruit but are grown right here in America.
For rich, meaty swordfish, it's best to crank up the heat.
Mildly flavored but meaty swordfish steaks are best when cooked quickly over high heat, where they acquire a golden-brown crust. Slow cooking gives their enzymes the time to break down the proteins in these dense steaks, rendering them unappealingly mushy. To speed up cooking, we seared them in a hot skillet, flipping them frequently so that they cooked from both the bottom up and the top down. To keep each bite juicy, we made sure to remove the steaks from the heat when they reached 130 degrees and let carryover cooking bring them up to the desired temperature of 140 degrees.
How do you get the most flavor out of this quick-cooking vegetable? Brown it.
Instead of sautéing whole heads of baby bok choy, a vegetable that is nearly impossible to cook evenly, we decided to treat it like two different vegetables. We started by coarsely chopping the top dark leaves and snapping off the stalks. After soaking the stalks and leaves to remove their grit, we spun them dry in a salad spinner. We then lightly charred the stalks in a ripping-hot nonstick skillet. Finally, we added the leaves along with scallion, honey, and orange zest for a sweet, savory side dish that cooks in less than 7 minutes.
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