It's not the biggest surprise of parenting, but I still haven't figured out the idea that I was involved in creating a morning person. My son always woke up early; if it's 5:30 am, he's on the couch, reading a big book, wondering why we don't care watching the sunrise with him. Over the years, we've tried everything to change his wiring - lectures, star charts, bribery, begging, asking the pediatrician to talk to him. [although “he wakes up early and reads chapter books!” didn’t quite have the doom-and-gloom impact we’d thought it would], prayer - and finally, as you might have deduced by referring to it as wiring, we gave up.
When you wake up at dawn, you also need an earlier breakfast than normal people, like your parents, who like to sleep. So there's no, uh, confusion as to what is and isn't 'breakfast', we've gotten into the habit of making it breakfast and leaving it in the fridge: at Hard egg, fruit, cheese and some sort of muffin. After working my way through mine muffin archives, I realized that I was missing one of those hippie / morning glory muffins he loves, loaded with carrots and apples and dried fruit, sometimes coconut and spices. I've been doing a few versions over the past few months, and I was about to take another spin when a new (see you tomorrow), wonderful cookbook arrived at my door: Yossy Arefi's snack cakes.
I probably don't need to tell you that the idea of a snack cake is firmly in the SK wheelhouse - I think cakes can be a everyday, just because it's monday, and luckily for us, Arefi too. I went right for the Morning Glory Cake and wondered why I took care of the muffin tins and trying to get the perfect dome by pouring everything into a pan is so much easier. I modified the Afifi recipe to make it even more breakfast - I lowered the sugar and oil a bit, swapped some whole wheat flour, raw sugar for white, I added dried fruits and coconut (both original*), ginger, because I like it here, and I use roasted and salted pepitas on top. The cake stays chewy and perfect no matter what time you call it breakfast.
* Did you know that the Morning Glory muffin has an official recipe? Pam McKinstry, created them in 1978 for her Nantucket restaurant. The recipe was first published in Gourmet in 1981, and they've been very popular for decades.
6 months ago: How I store the Smitten kitchen
1 year ago: Spinach Skillet Ravioli
2 years ago: Candy pork
3 years ago: Roast sausage and potatoes with arugula and Bakery-style butter cookies
4 years ago: Russian honey cake, Pumpkin Bread and Winter squash pancakes with crispy sage and hazelnut butter
5 years ago: Roast broccoli and Salted peanut butter cookies
6 years ago: Autumn-toush salad and Carrot cake with cider and olive oil
He is 7 years old: Lazy Pizza Dough + Perfect Magherita Pizza and Apple turnover
8 years ago: Pancetta, White Bean & Swiss Chard Pasta and Mosaic apple pie and salted caramel
9 years ago: Cumin Seed Roast Cauliflower with Yogurt
10 years ago: Roasted eggplant soup and Apple and cheddar scones
11 years ago: Jalapeño cheddar scones and Apple cider donuts
12 years ago: Beef, leek and barley soup and My Family's Noodle Kugel
13 years ago: Arroz Con Pollo and Butternut squash and caramelized onion patty
14 years ago: Winter squash soup with gruyere croutons and Wild mushroom pancake
Whether you regularly whip up Michelin-worthy meals at the drop of a hat or your cooking skills are best described as “fine, ” you can always benefit from the helpful little tricks of others. Here, 14 of our friends’, families’ and coworkers’ most-used cooking tips.
There’s a time and a place to whip out that complicated coq au vin recipe you’ve been dying to try. A dinner party isn’t that time. With a new recipe, you’ll likely be chained to the kitchen the whole time, plus, when you’re trying something for the first time, there’s always the possibility that it could go horribly wrong. When cooking for a group, we always err on the side of tried-and-true crowd-pleasers.
You do hours of prep work on an intricate dish, only to be totally disappointed once you taste the final product. Bummer. Instead of putting in all that effort only to be disappointed, taste while you cook. That way, you’ll realize sooner that the dish isn’t tasting how you’d like it to, and you can make all kinds of last-ditch exercices to save it. This doesn’t just work for bad-to-OK meals. Tasting midway through and realizing how perfect a dash of cayenne or a squirt of lemon juice would be can take a great dinner to legendary status.
Plating pasta means tossing some onto a plate and finishing it with a nice dollop of sauce right on the middle, right ? Wrong. Here’s how to take your carbs to the next level : On the stove there should be two pans, one with pasta and one with sauce. Cook the pasta to al dente and transfer it into the sauce. Then, add a little bit of pasta water ( literally just the starchy water the pasta has been cooking in ), which will help the sauce cling to the pasta while also keeping it the right consistency. Perfection.
In the pursuit of the perfect steak, you have to be OK with your kitchen getting a little smoky. That’s because, to get the mouthwatering sear we’re all after, the meat has to be dry and the pan should be pretty damn close to smoking hot. Trust us, it’s worth a few seconds of a blaring alarm.
Most foods are ruined by too much salt. Steak is different. When it comes to seasoning your meat ( before you cook it ), more is more. Use a generous amount of coarse Kosher salt—more than you think you need. Since most cuts of steak are pretty thick, even though you’re using a lot of salt, it’s still only covering the surface.
This one isn’t too complicated. Whether you’re making avocado toast, pizza, fried rice or a burger, the addition of a fried egg on top will not hurt your feelings. Trust us.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but we’ve definitely found ourselves in a situation where we assumed we knew all of the ingredients that went into chocolate chip cookies only to find out that we had about half the required amount of brown sugar. Ugh. to avoid a mid-cooking grocery-store trip, read the recipe from front to back—carefully—before you start.
Prepping grains in mass quantities is less about taste than convenience. Rice, quinoa and even oatmeal last about a week in the fridge after being cooked. When we’re prepping any one of those, we double up our measurements and store the leftovers, which are then impossibly easy to use up throughout the week. Too tired to make dinner ? Heat up some leftover rice from the fridge and toss an egg on top ( remember ? ). Couldn’t be simpler.
So you fried up a pound of bacon for an indulgent ( read : delicious ) brunch. Great, just make sure you don’t throw out the grease in the pan. Instead, save it in the refrigerator or freezer ( it technically lasts for up to a year, but should be used sooner than that to take full advantage of its flavor ). Then, anytime you’re cooking something you typically prepare in oil, try cooking it in the bacon grease instead. You’ll never want to eat Brussels sprouts the old way again.
You’ve probably heard that whenever a dish is lacking a little something-something, the best thing to do is toss in some salt. But, we have it on good authority that salt isn’t always the answer. When you’re tasting a dish at the end and you think it needs a little oomph, often it just needs a splash of acid ( like lemon juice ) to round out the flavor.
You know the difference between a paring knife and a fillet knife, but do you know how to take care of them ? Or, more importantly, how to use them ? A set of good knives can be the difference between a stressful cooking experience and a great one. First, practice your knife skills. Look up tutorials on YouTube and practice chopping, slicing and julienne-ing. It’s amazing what you can do with your cook time when your prep time is shortened with solid knife skills. Then, once you’ve got your skills down pat, learn how to take care of your set. No one ever achieved kitchen greatness with a dull chef’s knife.
The key to tender, flavorful barbecue and roasts ? Cooking it on a low temperature for a long time. The same doesn’t go for roasting veggies. For crispy, perfectly cooked butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and more, remember the magic number : 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Any lower, and you risk pulling a pan of blah carrots out of the oven. It might seem high, but to get the nice roasted flavor, you need high heat. And while we’re on the subject, stop crowding your veggies in the pan, which will also make them soggy.
You know how just about every cookie recipe suggests that you chill your dough in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, but oftentimes you don’t listen because you just want cookies now ? ! ( Same. ) Unfortunately, this step actually does make a difference. In addition to limiting how much the dough spreads while baking, chilling your dough intensifies the flavors and produces that perfect chewy, crispy texture we know and love.
It won’t do your breath any favors, but never ( ever ) scrimp on garlic. In fact, we typically double the amount a recipe calls for. Apologies to anyone who was planning on kissing us.