Cooking expert Cristina Ferrare was so excited to try out BLiS maple syrups that she spent the day in the kitchen making her special Sunday Cinnamon French Toast—and it wasn't even Sunday. Follow her easy recipe
and use whichever syrup you like. You can't go wrong: One's aged in old Kentucky bourbon barrels, another's infused with Tahitian vanilla beans and a third is simply maple, made in Michigan.
By the way, Cristina just launched her new website
, which has tons of delicious recipes.
There's a reason most people make pesto from basil. Its bright, flowery flavor makes it a natural for everything from pasta to bruschetta to grilled chicken. Jekka McVicar, an English herb expert who travels the world to find new and exotic herbs, agrees: "Basil is such a king when it comes to pesto." Although McVicar hasn't had much success with other herb pestos (mint pesto "doesn't have the same oomph"; coriander pesto "was revolting; the coriander went all slimy on me"), she has found another green that rivals basil when it comes to pesto: arugula.
It isn't an herb, technically, but no matter. "Arugula has oomph, because it has that wonderful meaty, peppery flavor. That, combined with nuts, is just superb," McVicar says. The essential ingredient in McVicar's arugula pesto is lemon—the combination of the juice and zest's zing with the almost spicy arugula "is just magic," McVicar says. She serves arugula pesto on pasta, as a dip with chips—or, even better, on a cold potato salad.
And if you're just hooked on basil pesto, seek out Mrs. Burns' Lemon Basil
, an heirloom variety that makes a very citrusy pesto.
[Get the simple recipe, after the jump]
|Photo: Dolle's Candyland|
This week, in a fit of seaside nostalgia, I'm thinking about salt water taffy. I've loved it ever since setting foot in Stutz Candies on Long Beach Island, N.J., 25 years ago. They had me at the packaging: wax paper wrappers, script lettering, pastel colors--and inside, that stretchy, sticky candy--vanilla, peppermint, orange cream--that'd melt in a hot second if you left it in the car. Since then, almost every other salt water taffy I've encountered has had a similar old-timey look (pictured here, the wonderfully vintage-looking taffy from Dolle's, an Ocean City, Maryland, institution).
Salt water taffy is, alas, not made with salt water, but good ol' sugar and corn syrup. Despite the simple ingredient list (it also contains sea salt and flavorings), I still would not attempt making it myself--especially after watching this video of a Maine candy shop
's impressively powerful 100-year-old machines in action. New York confectioner Marisa Wu, however, is undeterred by the upper body strength required to twist and pull salt water taffy by hand. Her fancy-flavored salt water taffy (think coconut, hibiscus and black cherry) are just hitting stores now. Until they reach your neighborhood, you can order them through Brooklyn's Bedford Cheese Shop
, which will ship anywhere, allowing you to combine your childhood memories with your adult palate--no matter where you are.
A bottle of beer can be a thing of beauty—just ask Homer Simpson. Class up your next barbecue with one of these five options.Bohemia Frida Kahlo
A Mexican beer pays homage to the iconic artist with a limited edition bottle featuring Kahlo's face and designs that appear in much of her work: flowers, hummingbirds and monkeys.Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus
The label on this Belgian ale walks a fine line between racy and
sophisticated. And the pink, raspberry-based beer inside is lovely.
[Next, three more beers that belong at your barbecue]
You may not have 3,600 people coming for dinner, but Carnival Cruise Lines corporate executive chef Peter Leypold and Cunard executive chef Jean-Marie Zimmerman, whose fleet includes the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth, are used to feeding the masses. Here's what they do when they're staring down 73,180 slices of bacon and 23,600 potatoes. Cruise ship kitchen:
Zimmerman begins cooking some foods a couple of days in advance, such as short ribs.Your kitchen:
Consider making long-braised or roasted meats. They can be made ahead and reheated the day of your event.Cruise ship kitchen:
Leypold knows 70 percent of his guests will order lobster if it's on the menu.Your kitchen:
Most people will splurge at a party, so if you're offering a choice of chicken or steak, prepare by having more steak on hand than chicken.[After the jump, what you can learn from making soup for 1,100]
We always knew Cheetos, those guilty-pleasure snacks which always leave behind telltale orange fingers, were good, but we had no idea they had such potential (and we're nothing if not all about reaching one's potential). Lately, Cheetos have become a darling of the culinary world. First, Saveur
magazine put the crunchy, cheesy sticks at the top of its annual list of chefs' favorite tools, ingredients and recipes for 2011
(they ranked ahead of oysters and green coriander seeds). Then, Cheetos started showing up on menus in cities around the country. I'm thinking high-end Cheetos made from artisanal Cheddar can't be far behind.
Here, four restaurants that have been bitten by the Cheetos bug—plus a recipe from one of them.Restaurant:
The Blue Piano, MiamiCheeto dish:
The Chester CheetahWhat it is:
Mac 'n' cheese made with Fontina, Edam, burrata and Cheddar topped with a Cheetos crumb topping.[Next: More ways chefs are using the vending-machine classic]
|Photo: Cristina Ferrare|
It seems everyone has an opinion when it comes to hot dogs, whether to grill them or boil them, slather them in the works or keep it simple with a quick drizzle of mustard. OWN star Cristina Ferrare is no exception: She prefers the beef franks from Beverly Hills institution Nate 'n Al (thankfully, they ship nationwide). Here's Cristina's recipe
for preparing them in her own special way, with a sauerkraut that you can make ahead and break out once your grill is fired up.
There's a paradox in pork: It's a staple for a majority of the world's eaters, yet taboo for the rest; it's turned into Bacon Explosions
by some, while it's forbidden for Jews, Muslims and others. Jeffrey Yoskowitz, a writer who covers food, culture and politics, wanted to explore pork in a more nuanced way, so he launched Pork Memoirs, a continually updated website where people submit their 500-word essays about the other white meat.
The site features a growing collection of thoughtful, pig-centric pieces. Gilad Muth, who grew up eating beef salami in his kosher home, remembers when he learned at the high school lunch table that most salami is actually made from pork. "I tried to reason with myself that there was no way that [my friend] David was right, but his 'Italian defense' ('Trust me, I'm Italian') was foolproof," he writes.
In another essay, Jackie Lilinshtein, who doesn't eat pork for religious reasons, recalls living with a Spanish family as a student. When Lilinshtein's host mother served her a bowl of soup Lilinshtein asked, "Senora, is this made out of pork?" The host said yes, and that Lilinshtein could just eat around the pork, but once Lilinshtein explained that wasn't an option, she said, "I know you don't eat pork; I didn't realize you don't drink pork either."
In today's world of bacon-of-the-month clubs and nose-to-tail eating, Pork Memoirs
offers another take.
Sometimes we just need someone to tell us what to do. Whether it's a big decision
(should we buy this house?) or a small one (what should I wear today?), it can be a lot easier when you can just take a directive and go with it, rather than agonizing over the options. That's the idea behind meal plan subscription services. They aim to make planning a week's worth of dinners less daunting, especially for cooks who are more about following recipes than just winging it based on what's in the fridge. Getting a shopping list in their in-box and instructions on what to do and when to do it makes the job a lot less stressful.
[After the jump, meal plans for greenmarket shoppers, gluten-free eaters and budget-conscious cooks]
Broccoli usually lags far behind corn and tomatoes when people think of sides to accompany burgers and sausage on the grill. If the cabbagey vegetable does show up at barbecues, it's usually coated in mayonnaise and tossed with Cheddar cheese and bacon—a delicious treatment, no doubt, but not the lightest option (or the safest one, if it's sitting out in the hot sun). Grilling broccoli, then, makes perfect sense.
Turns out it's delicious too—smoky, earthy and, if you cook it right, just a little crunchy—and a fresh alternative to the usual grilled portobello mushrooms, zucchini, peppers and eggplant.
[Next, the one thing you need to know before
you slice it, plus marinade ideas]
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