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food (179 posts)
Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, co-creators of the public radio program The Splendid Table, live by Colette's words, "If you aren't up for a little magic now and then, you shouldn't waste your time cooking." They also live by these rules for eating weekends:
1. Enjoy the luxury of having time to make something from scratch, whether it's chicken stock or homemade pasta.
2. Spend a lazy afternoon in a new neighborhood where maybe you don't speak the language, but can find new markets and restaurants. Try Vietnamese, Indian, Ethiopian or one of these other global cuisines.
3. Share the work. Four or six hands at the stove and sink makes you feel less of an imprisoned kitchen wretch.
See Kasper and Swift's new book, The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends, for 100 recipes for Saturdays and Sundays, plus ways to incorporate leftovers into "Work Night Encores."
Try a roasted pumpkin pasta dish this weekend
Sweet pears combine with spicy ginger, cinnamon, allspice and clove in this tasty fall dessert
If cupcake icing were an Olympic sport, this is the woman who would win the gold medal. Her name is Leona, and she's the star icer at Magnolia Bakery's Upper West Side shop in New York City. Leona may have been born with the talent, but you can learn to imitate her technique by watching her in action:
A couple of guidelines from Leona:
1. Monitor the icing's texture constantly. You want it just firm enough to shape into swirls, but not too hard. You'll know the icing is too soft when you're making it if it immediately slaps to the side of the bowl (remedy: put the entire bowl in the fridge for five or 10 minutes and try again). If, while you're working, the icing begins to look shiny, the butter is starting to separate and melt. Put it back in the fridge.
2. Store icing in plastic buckets, which are easier to work from than glass bowls are, thanks to their straight sides. You need a clean icing wand to frost the perfect cupcake; a good way to get it icing-free is to wipe it dry along the edge of the bucket after every swipe.
3. To get the air bubbles out, smooth the frosting by sticking your icing wand straight down into the bucket and stirring like mad.
Here's even more advice on frosting cupcakes, plus secrets to making other foods--like cookies, bacon and cappuccino--look as good as chefs' versions.
Cupcakes for every personality
20 favorite childhood desserts (with an adult twist)
A sophisticated take on milk and cookies
Today is National Pancake Day, which means breaking out the griddle, opening up the syrup and making hotcakes for dinner tonight is more than acceptable--it's practically required. If you're feeling sophisticated, try this pumpkin-y take or Donna Hay's Chinese version. But if you really want to get into the spirit of the holiday, visit Jim's Pancakes, where Jim Belosic, a dad "just trying to make some cool pancakes for my daughter," shows off such outrageous works of pancake art as a 3D airplane, a campfire and marshmallows, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The pig pictured here is featured in Belosic's book, OMG Pancakes! 75 Cool Creations Your Kids Will Love To Eat, which comes out next week.
Yes. Domenica Catelli's Pumpkin-Chia Seed Muffins are rich and cakey, with a hearty pumpkin flavor but no butter or sugar. Instead, the recipe calls for high-quality extra-virgin olive oil (I used Whole Foods' 365 Organic Arbequina olive oil, which is fruity and a little peppery) and either maple syrup or agave nectar (I used agave). Other perks: Whole wheat flour and ground, omega-3 fatty acid-rich chia seeds, whose mild nutty flavor is almost undetectable here, thanks to other flavorful ingredients such as cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. (Chia seeds also show up in Lisa Oz's lentils-and-rice dish.) And an entire 16-ounce can of organic pumpkin gives them a deep orange color (using fresh pumpkin probably wouldn't make a difference, taste-wise, since the canned version is more consistent and fresh can vary.)
If I could only find a way to justify eating this other fall classic with my morning coffee.
Luckily, dessert master Lisa Yockelson has found a way to celebrate the less-than-ideal, if not the beauty of the jumbled and broken. Her Break Apart Cookies are all sharp edges and un-uniformly sized triangles, trapezoids and parallelograms—the cookie version of peanut brittle. They're also delicious: tender, sandy and crunchy, thanks to a cookie dough that's akin to shortbread, only softer. The combination of that smooth dough, which practically radiates butter, and those unexpectedly jagged edges creates a textural mash up that's wholly original. Yockelson—whose new book, Baking Style, features desserts so pristine-looking that even a "rustic" fig tart doesn't have a fruit out of line—has to admit the delightful relief of her purposefully flaw-filled cookies, "I find them irresistible, really."
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
The magic two: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and an egg
What they make: Thin cookies that are crispy around the edges and chewy in the center, perfect for stacking.
The magic two: Pumpkin puree and classic yellow cake mix
What they make: An incredibly moist muffin (really, who are we kidding? It's a cupcake) with a nice hit of earthy pumpkin.
What would it take to change your life for the better? It may be less than you think—we've got mini-makeovers to help you upgrade everything from your workout to your weekend. #25: Thank your host with style.
"Slate and Chalk sounds like something from a Dickens novel, but you can serve cheese on the slate and write the name right next to it."
—Jayma Mays, actress
"My most memorable hostess gift was a trampoline... though I promptly flew off it and broke my arm. That was unforgettable!"
—Cynthia Rowley, fashion designer
Key lime with graham crackers and raspberry swirl. Cinnamon-cotton candy with gummy bears. Sea-salt caramel and butter brickle. eCreamery makes the question "vanilla or chocolate?" seem like child's play. The Omaha ice cream shop, started by friends Abby Jordan and Becky App, churns out a dozen-plus fresh flavors daily. But it's their web site, where you can build your own custom flavors, that got our gelato-lovin' heart pumping.
How it works: Choose your base—dairy-free sorbetto, rich gelato or classic ice cream—and then pick one or two of the more than 40 flavors to infuse into the base mix. (Ice cream experts on-site tweak the ratio, to make sure subtle lavender still sings through a heavier chocolate.) Options range from adventurous (chipotle, stout) and nostalgic (birthday cake, butterscotch), to straightforward stunners like blueberry and cardamom. Next comes the fun part: agonizing over the mix-ins (walnut brownies, cherry swirls, candied ginger, malted milk balls...the list goes on and on). Four hand-packed pints are shipped, bearing your label. May we suggest: "Hands off!"
Our best creation: Coffee and sweet cream gelato with a luscious caramel swirl and crunchy bits of chocolate espresso chips.
Signature Trail Snacks
No more picking through a store-bought bag of trail mix and leaving the lonely walnuts behind? Sweet! Mother-and-son team (and health nuts) Ava Bise and Anthony Flynn started YouBar after years of making protein bars at home. This design-it-yourself business has since expanded from bars to protein shakes, cereal, and—our favorite—trail mixes.
How it works: Of the 40-odd ingredients offered—chia seeds, black licorice, wasabi peas, sundried tomatoes, candied ginger, organic dried fruits—you can blend up to 21. Nutritional information appears on-screen as you make additions, many of which are organic. Trail mix ships in individual snack packs.
Our best creation: A salty-sweet-crunchy-chewy symphony of pistachios, peanuts, organic soynuts, dried cherries, organic flaxseeds, sesame sticks, and dark-chocolate covered raisins.