Department of Basics | The Fruit Crisp

One dessert it doesn't hurt to have in the repertoire

5th Sep 2011

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It's probably become clear to most readers that this is not a food blog where you read about desserts, and for that matter, about baking at all. There's a good reason. We're no good at it.

Cupcakes and chocolate cakes and other frivolous foods are the specialty of other writers.  Besides a post or two about bread (we're pretty proud of our olive-and-herb-studded foccacia and the lengths...

Gorgefest | Los Angeles Edition

A mad dash for LA's best food in one afternoon.

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We had four hours to eat in L.A., a period of time which all of us agreed wasn't long enough. While most people would have simply given up and spent the time driving around Hollywood or lounging on the beach, we plowed ahead, sure we could catch a plane and sample some of the best food in the city along way. So our afternoon in L.A. was spent cruising the endless sprawl of concrete and zig zag...

The Comfort of Eggs in a Basket

One of the best 5 minute meals on the planet--and one of the only meals that literally takes 5 minutes

3rd Jun 2010

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Eggs in a basket was the first meal I ever cooked. I was in 5th grade, and it was a Sunday morning at my best friend's house after a sleepover. We woke up hungry, and for some reason his parents weren't home. This confused me--my parents would never do that--but more important than confusion was the fact that I was terribly hungry, and I didn't see how that problem was going to be solved, s...

Trout a la Meunière, or Sharing a Culinary Epiphany with Julia Child

The original celebrity chef helps us out with this French classic.

4th May 2010

trout amandine

A variation on meunière sauce with almonds

In one of the opening scenes of My Life in France , Julia Child experiences an early meal in France with her husband, Paul, a lunch at La Couronne, a medieval house turned restaurant built in 1345. After oysters, she goes on to describe an early culinary epiphany, apart of what would become "the most exciting meal of my life."

Paul had...

Homemade Square Pizza

Focaccia becomes the base of this pizza.

4th Feb 2010

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Good pizza means good bread. For me, there's just no other way around it. Good bread is the soul of good pizza.

But baking has never been a subject I'm comfortable with. Give me a skillet, some pasta, and a well-stocked pantry and I can improvise countless meals. But if I'm supposed to bake something, I freeze. I immediately picture failure, a leaden cracker or a gummy mess. I hate the conf...

Idea Lab: Focaccia Pizza

Can great pizza be made at home quickly?

12th Jan 2010

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Idea Lab is where we explore topics before we head into the kitchen. We welcome your thoughts, opinions, and ideas, so please leave them in the comments!

Though I once praised the virtues of the broiling pizza on Serious Eats, I'm now over it. I'm tired of broiler antics and pre-heating cast iron pans to make approximations of Neopolitan-style pizza at home (I've already ruined one ba...

Cardamom Cinnamon Rolls: Our New Holiday Tradition

Check out a better way to make cinnamon rolls.

11th Nov 2009

cardamom cinnamon rolls

Every Christmas, we eat cinnamon rolls. That's just how it is. When I was little, someone would wake up early and drive over to the Cinnabon store and come back with a gooey dozen, and always make sure there was extra frosting. The things were so big and sweet that it would take most of Christmas morning to finish one, plus three or four glasses of milk. The cinnamon rolls tided us over until...

Part Two of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge: Tea Time

How to create the perfect cucumber sandwich.

21st Aug 2009

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I feel like I finally understand the cucumber sandwich. After weeks of thinking about it, and trying to recreate the most authentic version I could muster, it finally sunk in. The taste isn't rich, indulgent, spicy, acidic, comforting, salty, or fatty. It's cool, calm, and collected. The strongest reaction I had towards one was a contented sigh, a sort of momentary delight.

So why was I bre...

Part One of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge: Pain de Mie

Starting with the perfect loaf of bread.

18th Aug 2009

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(Check out Part Two of My Cucumber Sandwich Revenge for the sandwich recipe)

I went to see a man about a loaf pan. All the traditional outlets had failed (Crate and Barrel, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and four restaurant supply stores) and I was starting to get desperate. See, I needed a very peculiar kind of loaf pan, one that would help me create the mysterious loaf, pain...

Deep-Dish Pizza: Round 2

Nick learns from his mistakes and makes a good deep-dish pie at home.

3rd Apr 2009

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I was determined not to fail this time.  My last attempt at deep-dish wasn't an absolute failure, but it was close.  It was too soggy and messy , and had none of the glorious qualities that my favorite Chicago pizzeria, Pequods , displayed.  I theorized about all kinds reasons for the failure, thinking it had something to do with the crust.  Then I just gave up and asked you all...

Digging into Deep-Dish

Nick struggles to perfect deep-dish pizza at home.

17th Mar 2009

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Or at least, that was my hunch.  I searched for a long time and finally settled on this recipe from pizzamaking.com.  Deep-dish dough is very different from its thin crust counterpart. The crust has a healthy dose of cornmeal, which gives it an interesting crunch and texture.  All the elements seemed to be here.  I tracked down some tomatoes, cheese, and even decided to add some spinach (a...

A Return Home: Roast Chicken with Crispy Drippings Croûtons

What Nick cooks when he feels nostalgic for simplicity.

10th Mar 2009

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I think part of the reason I took a break from roast chicken was the rising absurdity of my preparations.  A few years ago I had chased after juicy meat and crispy skin, by trying various combinations of slow roasting , extreme slow roasting , experiments with baking soda , and high, high heat .  The results were often spectacular, if never quite practical.  And somewhere alo...

Focaccia, the Easiest Homemade Bread

The best bread to make for those that don't like to make bread.

6th Mar 2009

If bread making scares you like it scares me, but the lure of authenticity is irresistible, then focaccia may be the place to begin.

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The intoxicating smell of yeast; the wet stickiness between your fingers; the magical billowing quality of the dough when a warm spot trns it into a living thing.  These are the pleasures of bread making.  And these are the pleasures I am almost wholly unfam...

Homemade Italian Beef

How to make this Chicago classic.

13th Feb 2009

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The other issue I had to face was how to cut the meat.  As I remembered from my visit to Al's #1, the beef should be shaved as thinly as possible.  Al's used an huge deli slicer, which I obviously didn't have.  Saveur recommended just tossing the meat in the freezer for 2 hours before serving and then slicing it as thinly as possible with a chef's knife.  Some recipes recommended taking th...

No-Knead Bread, One Year Late (Plus, How to Make Your Own Butter)

19th Oct 2007

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About a year ago, a phenomenon swept through the food blog world : with a little planning and an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, the novice baker could make a nice crusty loaf without kneading the bread.  Without shaping the loaf.  Without doing much of anything, really.  It was a supposedly foolproof bread recipe for the laziest of amateur bakers, and countless food blog posts confirmed...

The Pickle Butter and Ham Sandwich

26th Sep 2007

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Lately I've been making this sandwich over and over again.  I don't know why.  It's nothing that unusual: ham, bread, sometimes cheese.  I've made it with the shrink-wrapped lunchmeat from my corner bodega; I've made it with thinly sliced Bayonne ham from the charcuterie .

The secret is in this invention I've taken to calling pickle butter.  I don't think I invented it; I think I r...

The Not-So-Humble Hot Brown

9th Sep 2007

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I’ve been gathering cook books by whatever method I can...and beggers usually can’t be choosers.  I borrow nearly anything I can lay my hands on.  I owe lots of money to the library.  And whenever I get to head home I usually make it out with an armful books my mom hoarded over the years ( I promise I’ll return them!).  One of those was The Louisville Courier-Journal Cookbook.  By a...

Cheap End-of-Summer Tomatoes and Stale Bread? Make a Bread Salad

5th Sep 2007

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I don’t think I can ever tire of the holy trinity comprised of tomatoes, basil, and carbohydrates.  Whether it’s a straightforward pasta of raw tomatoes in olive oil with basil tossed with spaghetti, a bruschetta on grilled bread, or with fresh mozzarella and some balsamic or red wine vinegar—it always tastes fresh, simple, and surprisingly hearty.

Sometimes around the end of summer, or the...

Cast Iron Corn Bread

1st Apr 2007

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Is there anything my cast iron skillet can't do?  Whether it's steaks , peppers , or even pizza , the big hunk of metal is good for most of my high heat needs.  But for bread?  I'd never really done that before.   Neither, for that matter, had I ever really wanted to make cornbread before.

I have no real love of this southern staple.  I don't really have any fond memories o...

Impromptu Pickles and Really, Really Wonderful Bread

28th Jul 2006

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I have yet to muster up the courage to make pickles, though I guess that would be the wrong way to describe the process.  It's more of a creation, something coddled and cared for that takes an inordinate amount of time and makes you wonder whether it's worth the problem to begin with.  It doesn't help that Fairway sells fresh pickles that are crisp and lovely, and I know that my own would fa...

How to Throw a Successful Tapas Party

In which we find a wildly handsome Spanish man

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Step 1: Find a Spanish Man.

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Step 2: Find a Spanish Ham.

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Preferably, a wildly handsome Spanish friend with a hunk of Spanish ham that his mother sent him.  Jorge had looks.  And he had the ham.   What follows is an evening of many, many stages that included overcoming fears of anchovies, quail eggs, and two romantic party members who ate their share, doted on each other, and c...