Here’s a stir fry you can make in less than half an hour and serve as a festive weeknight dinner. You can use almost any vegetables you like in the stir fry along with the chicken, or you could add more veggies and omit the chicken if you want.
1 lb chicken breasts or boneless thighs
Olive or vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
6 oz walnuts
½ lb snow peas or sugar snap peas with strings and ends removed
3-4 green onions, cut into short lengths
¼ lb mushrooms, sliced
Teriyaki sauce, bottled, or any other favorite sauce
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and shake with the cornstarch. Shake off the excess cornstarch into a bow using a colander.
Saute the chicken in a wok or pan with some oil. Set the chicken side and wipe the pan clean.
Heat several more Tb of oil in a pan or wok and saute the mushrooms, onions and peapods. The pods should remain somewhat crunchy.
In a smaller cast iron pan, add the sugar and heat over medium high heat until the sugar has melted. Stir in the walnuts.
Add the chicken to the sauteed veggies and stir to warm through.
Warm the walnuts in their pan so the sugar softens and add them to the chicken and vegetables.
Add about half a cup of Teriyaki (or other ) sauce and stir and heat to soften the candied coating on the walnuts.
Several weeks ago, Genevieve Ko published a fascinating recipe for Lemon Ricotta Pancakes in the Sunday New York Times. She used superlatives like “most tender,” “fluffy,” “light” and “comforting,” and we just had to try them.
The pancakes are light because the recipe has 3 eggs, buttermilk, ricotta and only ¾ cup of flour. And the unique part of her version is that the batter also has some grated lemon zest. To counter that, she recommends serving them with a blueberry sauce. Here is her recipe:
¾ cup flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
¾ cup whole milk ricotta
¼ cup buttermilk
2 tsp melted butter
Heat a griddle to “medium low.” We chose 350˚ F.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
Put the sugar in a large bowl and grate the lemon zest into it, Work in with your fingers.
Mix in the vanilla
Add the eggs and whisk until foamy on top.
Add the flour, ricotta and buttermilk and whisk until uniform.
Butter the griddle generously and drop ¼ cup portions onto it. Cook 2-3 minutes until bubbles begin to from. Turn each pancake gently and cook about 2 more minutes.
Serve with butter and blueberry sauce.
! pint blueberries
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 tsp cornstarch
Place all ingredients in a saucepan, mix and heat to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened.
There is no doubt that these are light, delicious pancakes. Ko says the recipe makes 12-14 pancakes, but since they are so small and not all that filling, this recipe serves just a bit more than two people. We each ate two stacks of 3 pancakes without any trouble. You could have to double it to serve four. And, of course, you could omit the lemon zest if you wanted to serve them with maple syrup.
This is our old family recipe that was handed down from my mother’s mother, Edna Neely, who probably learned the recipe in the latter part of the 19th century. The copy I got came from her daughter, my aunt Elsie, many years ago. It is a simple recipe that you can remember as 2-2-2-1-1-1/2:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tb sugar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Over time, I’ve reduced the baking soda to about ¾ tsp so that the buttermilk flavor comes through more strongly.
Mix the dry ingredients together.
Break the eggs into the mixture and add buttermilk to make a “thickish batter.”
Cook on a griddle at 375˚ F until bubble form and then turn them and cook another two minutes.
How they differ
We usually make bigger pancakes, using maybe 1/3 of a cup of batter each, but you certainly can make them smaller like the ones in Ko’s recipe. They are nearly as light as Ko’s and much less work. It is also easy to make, say a 1-1/2 recipe to serve more people, but the basic recipe will serve 3-4.
I’ll probably make Ko’s recipe from time to time because they are really good with blueberry sauce, but it is so much more work than Grandma’s recipe and if you put a stack of 3 ¼-cup sized pancakes from each recipe side by side, the difference is relatively small.
We tried cooking this recipe at the lower temperature as Ko recommends, and this works fine too. They just take slightly longer to cook. However, we did find that the lower temperature cooked those frozen sausage patties more uniformly without burning them.
We make scones for breakfast fairly often, because as we showed earlier, you can make them quickly and they are quite delicious.
But, a couple of days ago, we made some of the worst scones we’d ever made.
As you can see, the recent scones were a flat-out disaster. We had used new baking powder and everything, but they were a flop. What had gone wrong?
Well, the immediate suspect was the baking powder. Baking powders sometimes fails because it was stored improperly: in a hot warehouse or truck, for example. Let’s explain how this works here.
Baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate, NaHCo3. You use it when acidic ingredients such as buttermilk, sourdough or yoghurt are included in the batter. The baking soda will react with any of those acids to release carbon dioxide, CO2, which causes bubbles that make the dough rise.
Baking powder is sodium bicarbonate mixed with one or more acids in dry crystalline form, such cream of tartar (tartaric acid), monocalcium phosphate, sodium aluminum pyrophosphate, or a couple of others. Double acting baking powders (and most of them now are) contain two acids, one that reacts immediately when liquid is added and one that reacts only when heat is also applies. In all cases, the baking powder also contains cornstarch, to help keep the mixture dry and add bulk to make it easier to measure.
But you can easily test baking powder by putting a couple of teaspoons in a bowl, and adding boiling water. Just microwave a cup of water in a pitcher for a minute or so until it bubbles a bit, and pour it over the baking powder. It should foam up right away as you see below.
But let’s look at that suspect baking powder: no foam at all, it scarcely breathes a word!
In fact, it doesn’t really look at all like the other sample. In fact let’s look at the package:
Taking a tip from my friend Robert Lortz, I made square (or rectangular) biscuits today.
There are no scraps that you have to re-roll and the biscuits rise higher because you didn’t force them into a biscuit cutter. You just cut the dough with a table knife or sharp knife and move them onto a cookie sheet with a spatula. You can see the results.
My biscuit recipe is slightly different than Lortz’s but it is pretty similar. Rather than shredding the butter, you cut the stick into little slices and blend them into the flour with a pastry blender. The real difference is that you fold the dough into thirds and roll it out three times to make some buttery layers.
2 cups flour
1 Tb baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup cold, unsalted butter (2/3 of a quarter pound stick.)
1 cup plus about 2 Tb buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 450˚ F.
Mix the flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl.
Cut the butter into thin slices and put them all into the flour.
Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until uniform, but with some small butter lumps remaining.
Add the cup of buttermilk and mix in with a fork. Add a little more buttermilk if all the flour isn’t all incorporated.
Roll out the dough on a floured board or pastry marble.
Fold the dough and thirds and roll it out again three times to form some butter layers in the dough.
Cut the dough rectangle into squares (or rectangles) using a knife.
Then use a spatula to move them to a cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.
The result is tall, fluffy, buttery biscuits. Enjoy them!
This midwestern favorite wouldn’t exist without the historic contributions of the Campbell Soup company. Campbell’s was founded in 1869, selling canned tomatoes, fruits and vegetables, but in 1897 the company’s manager, Arthur Dorrance, hired his nephew, Dr. John T Dorrance, to join the company. John Dorrance was a chemist by training and developed a method to eliminate much of the water in canned soup, making it much easier to can and ship. These canned soups in the familiar 10 oz cans would serve several people when the water was added back in and sold for about a dime per can. This revolutionized Campbell’s entire business, and Campbell’s became the Campbells Soup Company.
In 1913, Campbell’s introduced the a condensed Cream of Celery soup, which along with the 1934 introduction of their Cream of Mushroom soup became the basis for “America’s bechamel,” a simple sauce base the led to thousands of convenient recipes.
In the Midwest, people developed untold numbers of casseroles that they could quickly make for dinner or bring to pot-luck dinners and other social events. In the northern Midwest (Minnesota and North Dakota) these were just called Hot Dishes and their variety is legion.
The tuna-noodle casserole is one surviving casserole from the 1950s that people like me still make. This recipe is more or less the one my mother made, and is much like one in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.
There are a wide number of variations on this recipe: many use Cream of Mushroom soup as the sauce base, but we’ll stick to the 1913 version that used Cream of Celery. Some people add green peas or broccoli to their casseroles: you can adulterate them any way you like, but we’ll stick to the original recipe. You can make it in 10 minutes plus a baking time of around 20 minutes.
We make this casserole using half of a 12 oz package of noodles, which works out to about 3 ½ cups. And be sure to use Albacore tuna for the best flavor.
3 1/2 cups dry egg noodles
2 5 oz or 1 12 oz can of albacore tuna
1 cup sliced celery
1 medium onion, diced
½ green pepper, cut up
½ cup mayonnaise
1 can cream of celery soup
½ cup milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
Salt and pepper
Slivered almonds or crushed potato chips for the topping
Preheat the over to 425˚ F.
Cook the noodles according to package directions, about 9 minutes, and drain into a colander.
Put the canned soup to a small saucepan and add the milk. Heat through and add the shredded cheese. Cook until melted.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the celery, onion, pepper, and mayonnaise.
Add the tuna and break up any large lumps.
Add the soup mixture and the noodles.
Season with salt and pepper.
Put the contents of the mixing bowl in a large over proof casserole and top with slivered almonds. To honor the decade, we used a Corning ware casserole dish from that period.
Bake for about 20 minutes until bubbling throughout.
The idea behind this recipe in Bon Appetit is a good one. Making mushroom puree to go with chicken breasts (which are less flavorful than thighs) is a good one. But this is another case where the recipe just doesn’t work out at all like the photo: a problem we have with most recipes in Bon Appetit.
The complete recipe is linked here, but amounts to browning bone-in chicken breasts and then cooking them in the oven at 350˚ F for about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, you make the mushroom puree from
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
8 oz. button mushrooms, halved
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. crème fraiche
2 tsp. truffle oil (don’t do this!)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Just as you’d think, you sauté the mushrooms in the butter until they give up their water and
add the shallots and garlic, and saute them.
Then you add the chicken broth, thyme and bay and cook it down at least by half.
Next you add the cream and cook that down by half or more
Skip the truffle oil: it always has a chemical taste since it isn’t truffles at all but 2,4-dthiapentane, and tests pretty fake.
Remove the bay and thyme leaves and blend the whole thing until smooth..
Ideally the breasts are done now, and you put the puree on each plate and top with the sliced chicken breasts and a little sauteed Swiss chard.
I can tell you that the puree is really delicious and would work with any sort of chicken as a sauce.
But there are problems
The BonAppetit recipe doesn’t stop there. It has you sauté more shallots and garlic in butter and then boil down 2 more cups of chicken stock and strain it to make a sort of gravy. This is utterly superfluous, because it has the same flavors as the mushroom puree and runs off into the puree anyway.
Serving the chicken breast sliced but with the bone still included makes it very hard to eat the chicken. You should debone it before slicing and serving.
Cooking store-bought chicken breasts is not that simple since most of them are huge and hard to cook through without drying out.
The puree in the BA picture is very thick and creamy. Despite our boiling it down a lot more than they say, we never got it to be that thick. Perhaps they used some arrowroot as well?
Our puree had black flecks in it because most supermarket mushrooms have black gills. They call for “button mushrooms,” which may be whiter, but weren’t in our stores.
Our conclusion is that a simpler version of this recipe has real promise, but we’d not go through all those steps again.
Toad in the hole is a classic British dish, made up of sausages embedded in a Yorkshire pudding batter and baked. The name comes from the ends of the sausages peeking out of the baked batter. In the U.S., the name has been used to describe eggs cooked inside bread or toast as well as sausages. That version is sometimes called “egg with a hat” to describe the little circle of bread you cut out for the egg. In fact, the beavers at Myrecipes.com found that there are 66 different names for this dish.
So, with that in mind, we decided to make one more. Suppose you are making pancakes, as we often do on Sundays. Why not add an egg into those pancakes and make a Pancake Toad in the Hole?
So to try this, we made buttermilk pancakes using this heirloom family recipe (which is much like everyone else’s.)
Then we cooked one side of a pancake with a little melted butter on the griddle for flavor, and then turned out over.
About 1 minute later, we used a biscuit cutter to cut a hole on the pancake. The pancake will still be doughy in the middle, but you can cook that little “hat” while you make the main event.
Break an egg into a cup and pour it into the hole you just cut.
Let the pancake/egg cook until the egg is cloudy, and then flip it. This may take two spatulas (spatulae?) to keep the uncooked egg from weeping out. Cook the egg for 30 seconds or more and flip the pancake back over. Serve the “Pancake toad” right away with the little hat alongside.
This sweet/savory combination could have syrup added, or your could just eat it the way it is, using the pancake to sop up the egg.
One variation we tried was to cook a small slice of ham in a little butter, and then put it in the hole of a pancake, and then add the egg. Again, cook until the egg is cloudy, flip it, cook 30 seconds, flip it back and serve.
In this case, syrup might be overkill. We suppose you might add hollandaise instead, but that might be ever more overkill.
You could also add a slice of sausage, but make sure it is a thin slice, or there may not be room for the egg.
A delicious breakfast addition to impress your family and friends!
There isn’t much to making gazpacho: it’s a cold soup made from tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and anything else in your garden you might want to try. Now that there are really flavorful tomatoes at peak ripeness, you can chop up some gazpacho in your blender just a few minutes. If you don’t have a garden bursting with tomatoes, try getting some from a farm stand or farmer’s market to get the best flavor. Supermarket tomatoes are bred for traveling ability, not flavor, so you probably want to avoid those.
The first tomatoes that come in most gardens are the cherry-sized ones, and those are usually the sweetest as well. Use those along with a few bigger tomatoes for the best result.
We call for about 2 lb of tomatoes, but depending on the number of guests, you can increase or decrease this. Just make sure you fill your blender with all the veggies. You can always make more, and combine them in a bowl to make sure the flavors are uniform.
2 lb tomatoes, quartered. (Leave the cherry-sized whole)
1-2 cucumbers, depending on size, peeled
½ bell pepper (red, orange or green) cut up
1 clove garlic, smushed to remove the skin
2 Tb red wine vinegar or sherry wine vinegar
½ cup water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, extra for garnish
Put all the above ingredients into a blender and blitz until uniform. This should give you a nice, chunky soup, which will still have bits of peel and seeds among the chunks.
To make a smoother gazpacho, run the soup through a food mill to filter out the seeds and skins. The flavor will be the same, but the mouth feel will be less chunky.
Chill the soup for an hour or so in the blender or in a couple of quart mason jars.
½ loaf French or other country bread, cut into croutons
Basil, cut into strips (uses scissors or a knife)
More extra virgin olive oil
Put a little regular olive oil into a cast iron pan and brown the croutons briefly.
Pour the soup into serving bowls, and add a few toasted croutons to each bowl, and garnish with a few strips of basil and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil.
This is a refreshing summer dessert that can serve 10 or so people, and while it looks rather elaborate, it really is just strawberries in whipped cream layered between meringues and iced with a buttercream frosting mixed with almond crunch. The only time-consuming part is making the meringues, and most of the time is waiting for them to bake. This recipe is adapted from one we found in the Sunday NY Times many years ago.
5 egg whites at room temperature- twice
1/8 tsp cream of tartar – twice
1 cup blanched almonds, finely ground – twice
1 cup confectioners’ sugar – twice
“Blanched almonds” means almonds with the skins removed. You can buy them that way or you can remove them yourself, a bit more cheaply. For this entire recipe, we used 2 6-oz bags of whole almonds, which amount to about 2 ½ cups.
To blanch the almonds, bring a saucepan of water to a boil and drop in all the almonds. Let them boil for just one minute (no longer!) and then drain them in a strainer and cool them with running water. You will find that you can pop the skins off the almonds by pinching the thick end of the almond. The almond should pop right out of the skin. You can even do two or three at a time.
When the almonds are cool, chop them up in a food processor as fine as you can. Reserve ½ cup for the almond crunch below, and use the remaining chopped almonds to make the torte layers.
Making the torte layers
In this recipe, we will make 4 layers at a time and then repeat to end up with 8 layers.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
Put the 5 egg whites in a mixer bowl with the 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar and beat until the egg whites are stiff and dry. Reserve 4 egg yolks (once) to use in the frosting below.
Fold in 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and 1 cup of the chopped almonds.
Cut 4 squares of baking parchment to 8” x 8”. The roll of Reynolds parchment is only 15” wide, so our “squares” were actually 8” x 7.5”. Place the parchment squares on two cookie sheets and divide the meringue mixture equally among them.
Spread the meringue to near the edges of the squares.
Bake for 16 minutes or more. You want the meringues to be well browned. We found that varied a bit with the thickness of the meringue but was closer to 18 minutes.
Immediately after removing the meringues from the oven, use a spatula to flip them over onto a wooden counter, and use a small spreading spatula to peel the parchment off the meringues. You need to do this right away while the meringues are warm. Don’t worry if there are some small holes.
Stack the meringues on a plate, separated by wax paper.
Repeat to make 4 more meringue layers.
½ cup blanched almonds
½ cup sugar
Place the almonds (chopped or not) in a small iron skilled along with the sugar.
Heat until the sugar melts and turns golden brown. Don’t let it burn.
Pour the hot sugar mixture into a buttered pan and allow it to cool.
When cool, put the solid sugar-almond mass in a food processor and grind it to a powder.
Set aside to use in the frosting.
1 quart strawberries
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 ½ Tb cold water
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup sliced or slivered almonds.
Reserve 4 large strawberries for decoration.
Slice the berries, sprinkle with sugar and set aside.
Mix the water and gelatin in a small pan, and heat until the gelatin dissolves.
Beat the cream in a mixer until it is fairly firm.
Then dribble in the gelatin solution and mix through.
Fold in the sliced berries
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
4 egg yolks, beaten in a mixer bowl
½ lb softened sweet butter
Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until it is dissolved.
Continue heating at a slow boil until the solution reaches 238˚ F, the “soft ball” stage.
Put the egg yolks in a mixer, and beat them and then slowly add the syrup to the yolks while continuing to beat.
Beat until cool
Gradually beat in the butter.
Stir in the powdered almond crunch and transfer the mixture to a small bowl and refrigerate until of a spreading consistency.
Place one of the better meringue layers on a cake cardboard or plate.
Spread with around one-seventh of the strawberry-cream mixture.
Continue adding layers and spreading cream and top with the last meringue layer.
Chill the layers for an hour.
Take the layers out of the fridge, place on a cake turntable and, using a sharp knife, cut off any uneven pieces of meringue or berries.
Spread the frosting along the top and then along the sides. If the berry mixture begins to ooze out, return the layers to the refrigerator, and centime later.
Decorate the sides with the slivered or slice almonds and top the torte with large pieces of strawberries.
Chill for a few hours and serve cool to your adoring fans.
We recommend slicing with a sharp knife so that the layers are distinct.
Richard Olney was an American Painter who moved to France in 1951, and became enamored of French food while in Paris. He moved to a farmhouse in Provence, which he essential built and rebuilt by hand and wrote some of the seminal cookbooks on French country cooking. His French Menu Cookbook was his first big success, and he bought an expensive French stove with some of the proceeds. His books stress using local ingredients and discuss pairing each recipe with wines.
In one of the most fascinating intersection of chefs as cookbook authors, Luke Barr’s book Provence, 1970 describes a year when Julia Child, Simone (Simca) Beck, MFK Fisher, James Beard, cookbook editor Judith Jones and Richard Olney all visited together in Provence, cooking, sharing ideas and changing the course of food in America.
This recipe for Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic is Olney’s and is a jumping off place for all sorts of variations. Writing in the New York Times, Dorie Greenspan describes this dish as a “no-matter-what recipe” that young cooks can count on to always work. She also proposes some interesting variations, noting that you can add wine, more kinds of vegetables among other things.
The essence of Olney’s recipe is chicken, herbs, and four heads of garlic cloves, all cooked together in a casserole until only a gentle hint of garlic flavor remains. We have described the details of how garlic flavor develops and noted that you get very little of that flavor if you don’t cut into each clove. While Olney and other chefs may not have known the botany of garlic, chefs in general knew the properties of garlic and how to obtain them, by mincing the clove or, as this recipe does, simply using them cloves whole.
The recipe calls for a whole chicken or four drumsticks and thighs. Comments on Greenspan’s article suggest you remove the chicken skin, since it doesn’t become crisp in this recipe and would just hang around looking floppy.
In the accompanying photos, we made only half a recipe, with two chicken legs and used only 2 heads of garlic.
1 whole chicken, cut up, or 4 chicken legs cut into thighs and drumsticks, skin removed.
2/3 cup olive oil
4 heads of garlic, cloves separated but unpeeled. Discard any loose hulls.
1 tsp mixed dry herbs (thyme, oregano, savory)
1 large bouquet garni, large branch celery, parsley, bay leaf, leek grrens and lovage if available, tied with string.
Flour and water for dough
Cut up the chicken, remove the skin and place the pieces in a casserole.
Add the olive oil, salt and pepper, and the herbs, chopped if fresh, and mix it all together with your hands.
Place the bouquet garni in the center of the chicken pieces, and push the garlic cloves all around between the chicken pieces.
Put about 2-3 cups of flour in a bowl and add water and a few drops of olive oil to make a dough.
Roll out the dough large enough to cover and seal the casserole.
Moisten the rim of the casserole and press the dough all around the rim.
Cover the casserole and bake it at 350˚ F for 1-3/4 hours.
Remove the lid.
Some suggest serving the sealed casserole and breaking through the dough seal at the table. Actually, you almost lift it off whole. It isn’t really to be eaten.
Serve with crusty French bread, grilled or toasted if you prefer. Take a couple of garlic cloves with each serving and squeeze them with a fork to get the soft, cooked garlic out to spread on the bread. You will find it delicious, slightly sweet and not garlicky at all!