Just popping in quickly today to share with you some brilliance from somebody else’s oven. Specifically, Molly Gilbert’s. She’s the author of Sheet Pan Suppers, the blogger/cooking instructor/recipe developer behind Dunk and Crumble, and the dreamer-upper of this simple-to-make, indulgent-to-eat biscuit and bacon breakfast.

The premise of Gilbert’s book is that we’ve too readily limited our idea of one-dish cooking to the pot. When I’m thinking up a simple meal, especially one for a dinner party, my mind definitely flies right to stew, chili, or curry. That’s where one-pot creativity tends to end, and for Gilbert, that was a problem. Here’s what happened when she went to cross the ease of the one-pot dinner with the elegance and satisfaction of roasting, baking, and broiling: one-pan cooking.

Well, if you’re going to be a type, you might as well commit to it, is the kind of thing I think a little hesitantly to myself some nights in my Brooklyn kitchen as I turn on the latest This American Life and get down to work turning that jar of kimchi into dinner so that we can eat and I can blog about it.

Other nights, the pairing angles lower on the culture grid: I press grilled cheese sandwiches into browning butter as I catch up on “The Good Wife,” or pretend that nachos are dinner as accompanied by the drama of “The Bachelor.” Because to peel and julienne a whole host of beets and radishes and apples in the name of treating your body to a well-balanced meal even in the middle of the winter, you might like the carrot of some good entertainment, rather than the stick of utter silence. (Carrot would be good in this lettuce-less salad, too.)

Barbecue Chicken & Cheddar Pizza

Posted by on Thursday Feb 12th, 2015

Well, now you know. When I’m looking to turn a traditionally vegetable-free meal into a dinner I don’t have to make a side-dish vegetable to serve alongside, I automatically add some kale leaves to the soup or the pasta, or, here, the pizza.

There was an article on the wall in the pizzeria I went to growing up about how you could do worse in a desert island food than pizza. You had the carbs, the vegetable, and the protein. You could eat a pie every day. You could eat a slice at every meal. It was a soft sell–you …

Caramelized Onion & Kale Soup au Gratin

Posted by on Wednesday Feb 11th, 2015

This is the soup that needs no introduction. The dish that launched (maybe?) the soup and grilled cheese pairing. Plus kale.

The best thing you can do for onion soup is decide yesterday you’ll probably crave a bite today. If you make broth, caramelized onions, and, for this particular rendition, kale when you have that realization, then when you–surprise!–want the soup, you can actually have it in almost no time and with almost no work. Now this is cooking.

I can’t remember a time I didn’t love onion soup. The sweetness of the onions and the richness of homemade broth (usually: beef; here: chicken) is perfect together from the start.

Even more perfect? The way that good bakery sourdough bread absorbs some of that goodness right from its toasty underside. On its crispy top, the final flavor note is rich, nutty alpine-style cheese–I use the aged Wisconsin cheese, Roth Grand Cru. I didn’t invent the combination, but I could easily celebrate it weekly.

Though I’m accustomed to serving a rich, whole-meal soup like this with a green salad alongside, here I added garlicky kale right into the soup, turning classic French Onion Soup into a truly current one-pot/four-crock meal.

There’s nothing worse than wasted ingredients. And yet I can’t quite bring myself to save carrot scraps and tops and celery ends in baggies in the freezer’s few vacancies for some stock I might make one day. I wish I felt the same way about not hoarding yarn for potential sweaters or socks for potential jogging impulses, but so far the urge has applied only to those scraps of vegetation that better cooks/composters/planners than I are economically amassing right now.

There are other ways to be seriously resourceful (phew!), to cater to future appetites with food purchased in the past. Here’s how that philosophy has swooped into my kitchen recently, taking would-be leftover cilantro and parsley and turning them into green sauce. This works better than the stash and save approach because you can make green sauce in the same fit of cooking motivation that brought the enormous bunch of cilantro into your life in the first place. Leave the bunch out while you eat dinner and work on your green sauce when you do the dishes.

Once pulverized into salsa verdes and pestos and covered in olive oil, fragile leaves last much longer than they would have if left to their own limp devices.

The first sauce, Italian salsa verde, is good piled on anything remotely plain: roasted chicken, avocado toast, scrambled eggs, roasted vegetables. There’s richness and brininess to complement all those herbs, and I can’t say no to heaping dollops.  To make, put a minced shallot in a little bowl and cover with cider vinegar. Leave that to steep for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put your bunch of parsley (some stems are fine), an anchovy, 1 teaspoon capers, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mini food processor. When the shallot is ready, drain and save its vinegar, and add the shallot to the mix. Pulse to pulverize. Then add up to 1/2 a cup of olive oil to make a sauce. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

The second, a sort of Mexican cilantro pesto sits pretty on a plate of rice and beans or a more trumped-up burrito bowl. I added minced ginger and scallions to a few spoonfuls of my recent batch, then mixed that new stuff in with fresh ramen noodles for a sort of pan-Asian pesto that reminded me of ginger-scallion sauce and was unbelievably good with a fried egg on top. To make, combine 1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup toasted pepitas (or whatever nut you have), your bunch of cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice or a pour of mild vinegar in the food processor. Pulse to pulverize, adding up to 1/2 cup of olive oil as you go, to make a sauce. Add 1 tablespoon minced ginger and 4 minced scallions to migrate the sauce from Mexico to Asia.

In a pinch, these sauces add both flavor and real nutrition to your meals–herbs are really vegetables, after all! If you want to bulk out either one, a few handfuls of baby spinach or arugula leaves leftover from salads are welcome too.

More saucy ways to use up your herbs: herby avocado hummusSarah’s green sauce, green harissa, green goddess soup, whole wheat pesto pasta with rabe.

Imagine a cookie. Okay, now imagine a brownie. Which one do you want? If you answered one of each, then this recipe is for you.

In high school, when my sister Kate and I baked a lot, the cookie-brownie debate extended beyond what we felt like eating. It was more about what we were in the mood to bake. Cookies promised a little more of an activity–you had to cream the butter, choose the mix-ins, and roll ball after heaping-tablespoon-sized ball to place on cookie sheets. They baked quickly, however, and didn’t require much rest time in between baking and downing that first bite. Brownies came together miraculously quickly but baked for longer, and, technically at least, needed to cool some before becoming sliceable into neat squares. Back then, I wish we’d thought of this hybrid: if you’d like to make both cookie and brownie, this chocolate & peanut butter recipe is for you as well.

The chocolate chip cookie is the classic recipe, rich in brown sugar and chocolate chips. Instead of making cookies, you press all the dough into a pan and par-bake. This is the first layer.

The second layer, the brownies, almost acts like an icing–a peanut butter-studded icing. I poured rich, creamy REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips right into the brownie batter. The chips, to me, look like the yin to the cookie layer’s chocolate chip yang.

Before I give you the recipe–which was a huge hit with peanut butter lovers, chocolate lovers, cookie lovers, and bar cookie lovers–I wanted to share a note about Hershey and the company’s support of Dr. Mark Manary’s Project Peanut Butter. In Ghana, which maintains big peanut and cocoa production, malnutrition persists among children. Project Peanut Butter’s goal, therefore, is to distribute packets of nutrient-packed Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods. The core ingredient in the packets is the peanut; they also contain the vitamins needed to help kids survive malnourishment. Founded in Malawi in 2004, the project has been recognized by the United Nations, World Health Organization, and World Food Program as the standard of in-home care for malnutrition.

Then, in 2012, with funding from The Hershey Company, Project Peanut Butter announced an expansion into Ghana, where not only did it plan to distribute the remedies but to source the peanuts and produce the packets too. Over the summer, PPB’s Ghana team began test runs of the local factory they’d built along with Hershey’s manufacturing expertise, and hopes to feed two-thirds of Ghana’s hungry kids.  You can get updates about the Ghana project here.

Thanks for reading!

This post is sponsored by The Hershey Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls, Small Kitchen delicious!

I got it in my head to do some kitchen travel, to Texas for chili.