How To

How and Why To Build a Giant Nut Stash

Posted by on Wednesday Jun 3rd, 2015

If you want to cook seamlessly on weeknights and have something to eat when there appears to be nothing, here’s my advice: make like a squirrel and fill your larder with nuts (and seeds). I reach for almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pepitas, pine nuts, pistachios, sesame seeds,  sunflower seeds, or walnuts in about half of my cooking endeavors. Whether I want to make pesto, add crunch to a salad, or snack before my bike ride, I’m thrilled to rediscover my growing and miscellaneous buffet, and though I’m usually more minimalist about equipment and ingredients that belong in a small kitchen, right now I actually own all of the nuts listed in the second sentence of this paragraph, and I don’t begrudge them the space. Here’s how and why to build you a giant nut stash of your own.

Summer is the season of eating outdoors, but that doesn’t mean that city dwellers can’t make great barbecue inside, in our little, backyard-less apartments. In fact, the oven is a seriously great tool for turning whole pork butts into the best possible pulled pork sandwiches.  I’ve got a guide up today on First We Feast that shows you just how to do this. Check it out here.

A Dream Small Kitchen

Posted by on Monday May 18th, 2015

One of the oddities about doing the big girl/small kitchen life in New York City is how long you live as a renter. Though it feels like being socked in the gut when you think too deeply about real estate value vis-à-vis ever growing up and owning an apartment, there’s a lot to be said for renting once you get into the rhythm and find a good landlord. You have less responsibility, less stress, less fear of commitment in your daily life. This can be a good thing.

Of course, then again we renters have to face a lack of flexibility in decoration. We’re not going to tear down our walls or redo our kitchens. And so we make do with what we have (which is really not so bad!), and we dream.

Except, honestly, I never dreamed all that much about my perfect small kitchen. I’ve worked in studio kitchens and suburban kitchens, my mom’s kitchen and strangers’ kitchens. At the end of the day, I like my space best, even though it’s small and hardly customized to me. So, when it came to envisioning the perfect small kitchen, I needed some help with the dreaming part, not to mention the design.

In a world where we’re always seeking out the new, making and remaking an old favorite has the advantage of propelling us towards perfection.

That’s what happened when Alex and I made pasta with tomato sauce a weekly dinner staple, its assembly a cherished routine. He makes the sauce, and I assemble the dish. As he’s grown to know exactly how the garlic should look and smell when you’re ready to add the tomatoes, I’ve determined the right scale of acidity to richness (olive oil, parmesan), and how to melt mozzarella in the bottom of the bowl so each forkful of pasta includes a cheese pull. These days, our pasta with tomato sauce has gotten really good, because of a few particular ingredients and techniques.

I know this might sound simple, even trivial, the idea of going through a dish that a lot of you could make in your sleep in such detail. But with a couple extra flourishes and some mastery of timing, I think you can transform a ho hum dinner into the kind of food that reminds you why you cook, why you eat, and why you rarely need to order take-out.

For a two-person dinner and leftovers, you’ll need 3/4 pound of pasta (any shape), one 28-ounce can of whole plum tomatoes, an onion, as much garlic as you can stand peeling, a hunk of parm to grate, and some good olive oil (if you care). I sometimes put mozzarella into my pasta, but the dish is also good without.

Here’s the step by step.

How to Make Your Own Chicken Biscuits

Posted by on Thursday Apr 9th, 2015

Most of the time, when I go to write a “complete guide” for this series, I have at least a solid relationship with the food I’m about to research and recreate. That’s because I’ve made a point to conquer only the most beloved classics like pizza, pancakes, and burgers.

But chicken biscuits are a beloved classic to many who adore Bojangles’, Popeyes, and Pies ‘n Thighs–they just weren’t on my personal menu. So, with the help of my friend Anika, who introduced me to the chicken biscuit at Cheeky’s, I pestered experts and tested recipes until I’d achieved some minor expertise. The result? Enough know-how to turn out flaky biscuits filled with crispy chicken tenders and condiments from cold gravy to jezebel sauce–all in my own kitchen. The full guide on how to master the chicken biscuit, over on First We Feast.  

How To Make Chopped Salad at Home

Posted by on Friday Jan 9th, 2015

Some office lunch staples just aren’t so good. But some are. Pretty much whenever I don’t pack a lunch, I seek out my day’s servings of vegetables at one of the chopped salad joints that have colonized NYC. Not even the lines can put me off. When you discover a way to make vegetables truly palatable, people line up, especially in January.

In my tastings, I’ve gotten to be pretty good at choosing the right mix of salad ingredients. But I wanted to know more about prep, assembly, and chopping, and so I turned to Nick Kenner, founder and managing partner of Just Salad, which has more than 20 international locations.

From Nick, I learned enough about salad to whip up this Mexican Chicken Chopped Salad (with manchego, red kuri squash, and creamy chipotle dressing) easily and well. Want to get chopping too? You should read all about salad over at First We Feast.

How Expert Cooks Do Easy

Posted by on Friday Nov 28th, 2014

The Thanksgiving feast is hard to execute and tastes delicious. But that doesn’t mean that all delicious meals are hard, welcome news on this weekend after the biggest cooking event of the year.

A few weeks ago, I asked an assortment of my favorite chefs, cookbook authors, and bloggers for the dishes they make that are deceptively simple yet outrageously delicious. The ones that require little effort but deliver a huge payoff. I wanted to point you to it today, because once I’m done gorging on leftovers, that’s the kind of food I’ll want to make. See the dishes, from salt-crusted fish to crispy fried eggs, over on First We Feast.