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Cooking (65 posts)
Even if you think of your family history as generations of boring, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan begs you to reconsider. The former Wall Street Journal fashion reporter stumbled upon all kinds of surprises when she went back to Singapore (where she was born) after being laid off. Tan's book, A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family, is a reminder that asking your mom for a recipe can lead to much more than cooking instructions. Tan has three pieces of advice for drawing out the good stuff:
1. Get out of the living room and into the kitchen. Some of Tan's relatives were skeptical about being "interviewed." It wasn't until Tan and her aunts were immersed in, say, filling pork dumplings that the stories began to unfold. That's when Tan heard about the illegal things her family did in the '60s to make extra money.
Perhaps you're thinking, "Leftover wine? What is that?" If so, you may want to skip this. But you can freeze extra wine—not for drinking, for cooking. Maybe you bought a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to make Zucchini and Tuna Pappardelle, only used a half cup of it but don't love to drink dry whites, or can't drink it for medical reasons. Freeze what's left over and use it to make Barramundi with Sweet Corn Risotto and Onion-Basil Salsa or Tarragon Chicken. Here's how to do it...
It’s not just the soufflé that falls—you could swear you followed the directions perfectly when you were making that chocolate cake, yet it cracked and fell apart when you finally managed to wrestle it out of the pan. Pastry chef and cookbook author Emily Luchetti understands that the science and precision of baking intimidates some people. So she wrote The Fearless Baker: Scrumptious Cakes, Pies, Cobblers, Cookies, and Quickbreads That You Can Make to Impress Your Friends and Yourself (Little, Brown) with food writer Lisa Weiss. Take a look at Luchetti’s list of common baking pitfalls:
1. Not using a timer when doing something simple, like toasting nuts. “I’ve burned more nuts than I care to admit. That’s why timers were invented.”
2. Screwing up the ingredients. Don’t crack an egg on the side of a bowl; “the egg shell can shatter, and you’re more likely to get little pieces of shell into the white. Crack the egg on the counter in one or two decisive taps.” And when measuring flour, put your cup into the canister first to loosen the flour. Then, “scoop up an overflowing measure,” and use your finger to level it off. Finally: “Always read over the list of ingredients. You don’t want to say later, ‘Oh shoot, I forgot the cream.’”
After the jump: three more to avoid.
If Only Gayle Had This List at Yosemite: 5 Campfire Foods That Give Marshmallows a Run for Their Money
I'd be the first to agree that when it comes to cooking over an open fire, it's hard to beat the humble campfire standby. But two new cookbooks give some fun ideas for broadening my horizons. One, by reluctant camp cook Annie Bell, is practical (it's covered in clear plastic) but still offers sophisticated recipes, such as grilled pork chops with aioli. Another, by Brooklynites Sarah Huck and Jaimee Young, rethinks the typical hot dogs and burgers, with contenders for new classics, including pine-smoked and maple-glazed salmon. Here, the authors of both books give their advice for thinking beyond s'mores.
Hesser's version of a hacked dinner involved olives, cheese, salumi, bread and roasted asparagus. "Preparing dinner involved laying the foods out on a platter—this was our Sunday dinner," she said. "Interactive. Fun. My kids and I talked about where salumi comes from and what cheese rind is. It was a total 'hacky' dinner but still good."
Here are some of my go-to hacked meals. No cooking involved, but no opening a box and microwaving the contents either. What are some of yours?
1. Tuna packed in olive oil, black olives, jarred sun-dried tomatoes, slices of baguette
2. Brie, crackers (Almondina Brantreats are perfect), figs, prosciutto
3. Rotisserie chicken, boiled new potatoes, asparagus microwaved (both vegetables drizzled in olive oil and salt)
4. Hard salami, jarred roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, semolina bread
5. Slices of avocado on crackers, hunks of sharp Cheddar, canned black beans, chorizo