Dough, sauce, and no cheese? Philly tomato pie challenges the pizza equation.
This South Philadelphia specialty boasts a tender yet chewy crust topped with a bright, savory tomato sauce; this version is inspired by our visit to Cacia's Bakery in Philadelphia. We achieved the signature chewy-soft crust by using less water by weight in proportion to the weight of the flour. This yielded fine holes and a pleasantly spongy chew. Letting the dough rise twice—pressing it into the pan in between—gave it maximum yeasty flavor. For the invigorating, sweet-tart, herby sauce, we started with a savory base of onion and garlic and then added a hefty amount of dried oregano along with red pepper flakes for kick. One can of tomato sauce provided just the right tomato flavor and texture, and a tablespoon of sugar contributed the sauce's signature sweetness.
Crunchy croutons, melty cheese, and savory soup all in one bite.
The key to this bistro classic was a shortcut-free, hour-long caramelization of the onions. We started with a mountain of sliced onions in a Dutch oven with some melted butter, salt (to draw out moisture), and sugar (to jump-start caramelization). We cooked the onions covered at first to trap steam and soften them, and then we removed the lid to allow the released liquid to evaporate. We continued to cook the onions, scraping up and stirring in the browned bits (or fond) that formed, until the onions were soft and caramel-colored. Deglazing with wine (red for its robust flavor) ensured that all the flavorful browned bits ended up in the soup. We added rich, meaty beef broth, as well as thyme and bay leaves, and simmered it all together until the flavors melded. To make the soup easier to eat, we decided to forgo the traditional toasted slice of baguette in favor of more easily spoonable croutons. To assemble, we ladled the soup into individual crocks and then topped them with the croutons, shredded Gruyère, and shredded Parmesan (for extra nuttiness). A bit of Gruyère under the croutons protected the bread from getting too soggy.
To hit their sweet spot we threw out the cardinal rule of roasting sweet potatoes.
We wanted a roasted sweet potato recipe that gave us potatoes with a nicely caramelized exterior, a smooth, creamy interior, and an earthy sweetness. We started the sliced potatoes in a cold (versus preheated) oven, covering them with foil, to allow plenty of time for their starches to convert to sugars. We removed the foil after 30 minutes and continued to roast the potatoes until crisp. We had our perfect roasted sweet potato recipe: super-sweet and tender potatoes with a slightly crisp, caramelized exterior.
3 Simple Ways to Prevent Your Pie Crust from Overbrowning
It’s fun and games until your pie crust overbrowns. Here’s how to prevent it.
This Ohio favorite belongs on tables everywhere.
By adding the raw rice to a savory mixture of butter, broth, and tomato, we cooked the rice and flavored it at the same time. The rice soaked up the spicy liquid (powered by pepper flakes and paprika) while thickening the mixture along the way. A few more tablespoons of butter stirred in at the end gave a luxurious and creamy texture to the fully cooked hot rice, and finishing with chopped cherry peppers packed a last bit of spicy punch.
Steak tips smothered with mushroom and onion gravy is a classic combination.
Steak tips smothered with mushroom and onion gravy is a classic combination. But this dish is too often plagued by chewy, overcooked beef, bland gravy, and prefab ingredients like canned cream of mushroom soup. We wanted tender, meaty steak and full-flavored gravy, enriched by fresh mushrooms and onions, and we wanted to do it all in one pan, so naturally we turned to our cast-iron skillet. We started by searing the meat in batches, creating flavorful browning and fond without overcrowding the pan. After removing the meat from the skillet, we added our mushrooms and onions, covered them, and let the mushrooms release their liquid. We then cooked off the liquid, scraping up all the flavorful browned bits the beef left behind and concentrating the mushroom flavor. We finished our gravy by adding savory garlic, tomato paste, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce. Allowing the meat to finish cooking in the gravy blended the flavors and built depth. A touch of fresh parsley and bright red wine vinegar added at the very end rounded out the dish.
This unlikely pairing of ingredients makes for a stellar winter salad.
We were after a fresh, crunchy, bold salad made with winter produce. We started build- ing this salad with half a head of thinly sliced red cabbage and added in another wintertime favorite: grapefruit. To make the fruit easier to eat, we cut it into supremes (wedges freed from their bitter membranes). We then squeezed the juice from the remaining pulp and used it as the base for a vinaigrette with grapefruit zest, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and honey. Red onion and cilantro added the pungency and sweet herbal freshness we were looking for. We let the dressed salad sit for 30 minutes before serving to soften the cabbage and allow the flavors to meld. For a finishing touch and welcome crunch, we sprinkled the salad with roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
We tested stone-ground flours from small mills to learn how to shop for and bake with them.
Stone milling is having a resurgence across the country. We tested stone-ground flours from small mills to learn how to shop for and bake with them.
This braise of custardy tofu cloaked in a garlicky, spicy meat sauce is a signature Sichuan dish.
Our version of this iconic Sichuan comfort food is bold in flavor, with a balanced spiciness. We started with cubed soft tofu, poaching it gently in chicken broth to help the cubes stay intact in the braise. For the sauce base, we used plenty of ginger and garlic along with four Sichuan pantry powerhouses: Asian broad bean chili paste (doubanjiang), fermented black beans (douchi), Sichuan chili powder, and Sichuan peppercorns. A small amount of ground beef acted as a seasoning, not as a primary component of the dish. In place of the chili oil often called for, we used a generous amount of vegetable oil, extra Sichuan chili powder, and toasted sesame oil. We finished the dish with just the right amount of cornstarch to create a velvety thickness.
In this dish, peas and salmon go together like, well, two peas in a pod.
Mixing Dijon mustard and lemon zest into softened butter made a piquant compound butter. When dolloped over seared salmon, the butter softened and melted, coating the fish and dripping into the rice to add extra richness.
Why Professional Bakers Use Reverse Creaming
Ever wonder why different cake recipes call for different approaches to mixing the batter? We wanted to investigate how two of the most common mixing methods impact a cake’s rise and texture.
Beans and roasted vegetables make this grain bowl hearty enough for dinner.
We started with a hearty base of nutty bulgur and topped it with silky roasted vegetables and peppery arugula. Then we tied it all together with a spicy chile-flecked yogurt sauce.
This pork and potatoes dinner comes together in less than an hour.
Roasting unpeeled garlic cloves with potatoes and broccoli rendered them sweet and creamy. The roasted garlic added depth and body to a creamy mustard pan sauce.
Have 10 minutes? You can make the best brussels sprouts that you’ve ever tasted.
To create stovetop brussels sprouts that were deeply browned on the cut sides while still bright green on the uncut sides and crisp-tender within, we started the sprouts in a cold skillet with plenty of oil and cooked them covered. This gently heated the sprouts and created a steamy environment that cooked them through without adding any extra moisture. We then removed the lid and continued to cook the sprouts cut sides down so they had time to develop a substantial, caramelized crust. Using enough oil to completely coat the skillet ensured that all the sprouts made full contact with the fat to brown evenly from edge to edge.
Northern Italians put an unexpected spin on risotto for a satisfying one-pot meal.
Making this deeply flavored, hearty winter specialty is typically a lengthy process of combining a minestrone-like soup with risotto. We eliminated the need to make two separate dishes and simplified its preparation to make one hearty risotto. Sautéed pancetta and mirepoix made a strong flavor base to which we added tomato paste and garlic for more savory depth. In place of the hard-to-find traditional Italian salam d'la duja, we used mild Italian-style salami, sautéing it with the Arborio rice before adding red wine and broth. Using our streamlined risotto method, we incorporated most of the liquid in one addition, making the cooking mostly hands-off. Near the end of cooking, we added chopped cabbage and creamy canned pinto beans. We finished the dish with butter for even more richness and red wine vinegar to brighten the meaty flavors.
Split red lentils give this dal a mild, slightly nutty taste.
Dals are heavily spiced lentil stews common throughout India. Split red lentils give this dal a mild, slightly nutty taste, and as the stew slowly simmers, they break down to a smooth consistency. We wanted our red lentil dal to be simple yet still embody the complex flavors of Indian cuisine, so we started with the spices. We created a balanced blend of warm spices with just a subtle layer of heat. Blooming the spices in oil until they were fragrant boosted and deepened their flavors. Onion, garlic, and ginger rounded out the aromatics. Authentic dal should have a porridge-like consistency, bordering on a puree (without the need for a blender). Getting this consistency required cooking the lentils with just the right amount of water: We finally settled on 4 cups water to 1¼ cups lentils for a dal that was smooth but not thin. Before serving, we added cilantro for color and freshness and diced raw tomato for sweetness and acidity. A bit of coconut oil stirred in before serving added a rich finish.
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