Sesame Chicken Celery Root Salad

I gave the usual noodles the boot in this sesame ginger chicken salad. Instead I tossed shredded celery root (also known as celeriac) with a simple sesame seed ginger vinaigrette made with toasted sesame oil, maple, and tamari. A handful of chopped fresh basil is added for even more flavor.

Calling celery root the chimera of vegetables would be a bit of a culinary exaggeration, but I am not going to deny that it is a bit of a changeling. Although it tastes undeniably of celery, it has the texture of a root vegetable, like a carrot or turnip. The exterior is craggy and hairy, and it’s often topped with a wild whirl of green stumps where it’s stems were hacked off at ground level. All to be contrasted with its starkly pale interior. The dichotomies continue with the fact that it also answers to two different names: celery root and celeriac. Maybe calling it a produce identity crisis would be the fairest way of explaining it.

While lacking in good looks, celery root makes up for it with its good attitude. It is the friendly kid on the playground that seems to get along with everyone. It is sort of a starch, but not really. You can substitute it for celery, braise it, or shred it and eat it raw like a carrot.

Celery root is not the same as the ever-present celery stalk we all know so well. It is another botanical variety grown for it’s root, and the stems are comparatively bitter and skinny. It’s grown for what’s below-ground — the celery root — and having grown underground, it’s not the prettiest of vegetables, that’s for sure.

But once you carve off the exterior, the creamy white and vaguely mottled interior remains. As you peel it away, you can even smell the celery. It’s creamy when cooked, and sharper and earthier when shredded and eaten raw.

In this Asian chicken salad-inspired combo, we peeled and shredded the celery root with a box grater, and used it as the base in place of cabbage and crunchy noodles. If you can find Thai basil use that, but any fresh basil will work; cilantro is also a stellar option.

Sesame Chicken Celery Root Salad


2 large carrots, peeled


1 large celery root, peeled (about 1 pound to 1 1/4 pounds)


3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (see Recipe Note)


1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (preferably Thai basil), or cilantro


1 small clove garlic, peeled and grated with a Microplane, or finely minced


2 tablespoons white vinegar


2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil


1 tablespoon dark pure maple syrup (or agave)


1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari (or reduced-sodium soy sauce if not gluten-free)


2 teaspoons sesame seeds


1 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root


1/2 teaspoon salt


1/4 teaspoon pepper

Shred carrots and celery root on a box grater or with the grating attachment of a food processor. Combine the carrots, celery root, chicken, and basil in a large salad bowl. Combine garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, maple syrup, tamari, sesame seeds, ginger, salt, and pepper in a jar and shake to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Divide among 4 large plates to serve.

Recipe Notes

  • To cook chicken: Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to dissolve. Add 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and return to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, turning occasionally to make sure it cooks evenly, until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to cool, at least 20 minutes before shredding.

Recipe: The Tastiest Whole-Grain Pizza Crust

Healthy and pizza aren’t words that often cohabitate well, but this dough — rich in the nutritional benefits of two types of whole-wheat four, and laced with the addition of semolina — tastes and behaves like a “real pizza dough” (not a this tastes like it must be good for you version). It is not as mild-mannered as a pizza parlor dough, but that allows it to stand up to and complement strong flavors, like bitter and garlicky broccoli rabe, salty pancetta, and scamorza cheese, a dried cousin of mozzarella that works exceptionally well on any pizza.

This dough also makes a killer calzone or stromboli filled with plenty of roasted vegetables and Italian deli “charcuterie.” These pies are far, far better topped just before sliding them into the hot oven, not in advance, even though that means serving them one at a time. No matter how I organize the cooking, I have a hard time batting the hungry fingers away the moment I cut the pizza. I am invariably getting the next one topped and into the oven, and the moment I turn around, the first pie has been scarfed down.

The dough can be wrapped well and refrigerated for a day, or frozen for up to two weeks, but any longer and — like most raw doughs and especially pre-cooked doughs — it will change in texture once it gets wet, and that includes ice from a freezer and the natural moisture in a refrigerator, too.

Whole-Grain Pizza Crust with Broccoli Rabe and Pancetta


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water, between 100°F and 110°F


1 1/2 packets (11 grams/3 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast


1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) granulated sugar


1 cup (142 grams) whole-wheat flour


1 cup (140 grams) cups white whole-wheat flour


1/2 cup (84 grams) semolina flour from 100% durum wheat


2 teaspoons (8 grams) kosher salt


1/2 cup buttermilk


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Cornmeal, for dusting

For the topping:

8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch to 1/4-inch pieces


2 large or 4 small shallots, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces


2 small bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, stems included


4 cloves garlic, peeled, halved and grated, any green centers discarded


1 teaspoon salt


2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (see Recipe Notes) or crushed red pepper flakes


1/3 cup good-quality jarred or homemade marinara sauce


10 to 12 ounces thinly sliced scamorza or mozzarella cheese

Make the dough: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the water, yeast, and sugar and process for 2 (1-second) pulses. Let stand for 3 to 4 minutes, until foamy.

Add the flours, salt, buttermilk, and oil and process in 10 to 20 (1-second) pulses, until the dough forms a soft ball. Process for another 20 seconds; stop the machine and feel the dough with your hands. It should be soft and a little tacky at this point. If it is too dry, add another tablespoon of water and process another 40 to 60 seconds, until you have a soft, smooth, but slightly tacky ball. Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

Just before baking, remove the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Line a platter with paper towels and position it near the stovetop.

Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a ball. Cover both lightly with plastic wrap and let rest for 25 to 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.

While the dough is resting, make the topping: Heat a large sauté pan over high heat, add the pancetta, and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the pancetta is fully browned and the fat has been rendered. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to the prepared platter to drain. Reserve the pan and its contents.

Heat the pancetta pan over medium heat until the rendered fat shimmers. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the broccoli rabe and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the stems are dark green and the leaves are completely softened. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, for 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place a large pizza or bread stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F or 525° F (the hotter the oven, the crispier the crust). Lightly coat a pizza peel or an unrimmed (preferably nonstick) baking sheet with cornmeal. Lightly flour a work surface.

After the dough has rested, transfer it to the floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into into a 12- to 14-inch circle.

Place the unbaked crust on the prepared peel or baking sheet and arrange so it lays flat and doesn’t hang over the edge. Spread half of the sauce lightly over the dough (too much sauce will make a soggy pizza). Scatter half the cheese, the broccoli rabe, and pancetta evenly over the surface. Gently shake the pizza a little and make sure it will move off the peel (the cornmeal works as the equivalent of ball bearings), but don’t let it fall off.

Slide the topped pizza off the peel or baking sheet onto the hot pizza stone. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the edges are deeply browned, and serve immediately. When the first pizza is done, dust the peel or baking sheet with more cornmeal if necessary, place the second crust on it, and repeat the topping process. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, remove from the oven, and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • Aleppo pepper is a hot chile pepper that is often used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. Named for a city in northern Syria, it is moderately hot with sweet, fruity notes that some compare to raisins or sun-dried tomatoes. It is most commonly available as crushed flakes.

How To Cook Brown Rice

Knowing how to cook a good pot of brown rice is an essential kitchen skill. I’m talking about tender, chewy brown rice that goes equally well with a quick stir-fry as it does with slices of roasted chicken. Forget the crunchy or mushy stuff that you may have suffered through in the past — we’ve got our method locked down. It’s time to discover how great brown rice can be.

Which Brown Rice to Buy

Look for medium- or long-grain brown rice. (Short-grain brown rice cooks slightly differently, so skip it for this method.)

Long-grain rice (above) and short-grain rice (below).

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Uncooked brown rice can be stored in the cupboard, but is best used within a few months of purchasing. If you don’t cook with brown rice very often, storing it in the fridge will help keep it fresh for longer. If you have an open bag of rice, or if you bought your rice from a bulk bin, transfer it to an airtight container for storing.

If you’ve had some brown rice sitting in the back of your cupboard for more than a year, it’s probably best to toss it and pick up a fresh bag. The oils in the rice go rancid over time and can make the rice taste overly bitter and unpalatable.

Rinse and Toast for Better Brown Rice

Rinsing your rice before cooking it washes away any grit or dust that may have gotten mixed in during production. I also find that rinsing helps improve the texture of the rice; it’s less crucial than rinsing white rice, but still helps to make each grain distinct.

Toasting the rice won’t change its texture, but it gives the rice a more deeply nutty, toasted flavor. Just sauté the rice in a little olive oil before adding the water, and stir until the rice smells fragrant and you can see a touch of golden color here and there. This is a totally optional step, but if the earthy flavor of brown rice is what has kept you from eating it in the past, then you might find that you like brown rice better after toasting.

Don’t Skip The Resting Step

And finally, after cooking, let your rice rest off the heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes. This pause before serving helps the rice absorb the last of the moisture in the pot. If you skip it, the rice can be a little sticky and gummy when scooping it from the pot instead of light and fluffy.

Ways to Enjoy Brown Rice

Brown rice is truly a kitchen staple — willing and able to be used in all sorts of ways. It’s a side dish on its own, the base of a grain bowl or an easy lunch salad, a filling for burritos, or the start of a casserole. I often make a double batch for dinner and keep the leftovers in the fridge to use up during the week.

Since brown rice takes some time to cook, I also freeze bags of cooked grains for nights when I don’t have time to cook a fresh batch. It’s an easy way to make sure I always have some grains on hand when I need them.



























How To Cook Brown Rice

What You Need

Ingredients

1 cup medium- or long-grain brown rice


1 teaspoon olive oil or sesame oil, optional


2 cups water


1 teaspoon salt

Equipment

Strainer or colander
1-quart (or larger) pot with tight-fitting lid

Instructions

  1. Rinse the rice: Place the rice in a large strainer or colander and rinse it thoroughly under cool water. There is no need to dry the rice before cooking; a bit of moisture on the rice is fine.
  2. Toast the rice (optional): Warm a teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat in the pot where you’ll cook the rice. Add the rice and toast until the rice is dry and starting to look slightly toasted on the tips. It will also start to smell fragrant and nutty.
  3. Combine the rice and water: Slowly pour the water into the pot with the rice — if you toasted the grains, the water will steam and bubble at first. Stir in a teaspoon of salt.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Make sure the liquid stops boiling and has reduced to a bare simmer over low heat, then cover the pot.
  5. Cook for 45 minutes. Do not uncover the pot to check the rice during cooking.
  6. Check the rice: At the end of the cooking time, remove the cover and check to see if all the water has been absorbed; a little water on the very bottom is fine, but if there’s more than a tablespoon, drain off the excess. At this point, the rice should also be chewy and tender, and no longer crunchy. If it’s still crunchy, add a little more water (if needed) and continue cooking; check every 10 minutes until the rice is done.
  7. Cover and let stand another 10 to 15 minutes: Take the rice off heat, and place the lid back on top. Let the rice stand another 10 to 15 minutes, covered. This last step prevents the rice from becoming overly sticky and helps it lose that wet, “just-steamed” texture.
  8. Fluff and serve: Use a fork to fluff the rice, then transfer it to a serving dish. Serve while warm.
  9. Store the leftovers: Let any leftovers cool completely, then transfer to storage containers. Refrigerate rice for 3 to 5 days. Brown rice can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

This post has been updated — first published April 2010.

How To Make Babka

Babka is a buttery, eggy, sweet treat that is filled, rolled, twisted, and baked; it lies somewhere between bread and cake. When you serve a great babka, it takes two seconds for folks to break out their “best ever” babka stories. Sometimes they even go right to the Seinfeld episode where Elaine and Jerry dispute whether cinnamon babka’s a lesser babka or not. This babka is certainly not lesser.

A Quick History of Babka

Babka or baba, comes from a spiced and fruity yeasty bread-cake that dates back as far as the 12th century across the Baltic, the Slavic nations, Russia, and Ukraine. It was a tall cake — the size of a small grandmother (a baba or babka) and baked in a special fluted pan that seemed to have a skirt like grandmother’s apron. This idea of a yeasted bread-cake traveled through western Europe. Some in pans, some baked in wreath-shaped pans. Bread-cake holiday loaves appear in some form, globally, to this day.

In the U.S., babka is associated with and was distinctly popularized by poor Eastern European-Russian Jews in the 20th century; it was a bakery treat that was rarely made at home. By the mid-1950s, as their economic status began to rise, the sweet goodness that is a babka rapidly became a common food. Today it is often found commercially prepared and most often with nontraditional ingredients.

Shapes, Twists & Turns

Traditional Jewish-style babka is baked in loaf pans. In some communities, babka is called krantz, and it is wreath-shaped. (This recipe is designed for two loaf pans and will work best if baked that way.) But the key to babka’s babka-ness is not the shape — it is all about those twists, turns, layers, coils, and folds. The key is to make layers and twist. If it seems daunting, don’t worry — any and all of the twisting styles, from grandma’s to a Michelin-starred pastry chef’s, will work.

The Wonders of Milk

Traditional babka recipes called for scalded milk, powdered milk, or both. Scalding milk alters it enzymatically so it doesn’t hinder the rise. Milk also has particular fats that make the babka more tender. I use both scalded milk and powdered dry milk to make sure I have the most delicately tender dough with plenty of sweet milky taste.

Time Is on Your Side

As with most doughs, babka-making takes patience. The first rise takes about one to two hours for it to double in size. That rise can be done overnight, in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. Just allow the dough to come back to room temperature before rolling and filling and you are good to go.

The second rise, however, is not a place to try a slow, cold rise in the fridge. It takes patience to wait for the second rise, and you just have to tough it out. Leaving it to refrigerate and rise overnight isn’t an option. By then, the texture will have changed and a good amount of the filling will leak out. The best tactic is simply to be patient. It is worth the wait.

Babka is always worth the wait.





































































How To Make Babka



What You Need

For the babka dough:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk


1/2 cup sugar, divided


4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

2 packages (14 grams) instant yeast

1/2 cup nonfat powdered milk


1 teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean pod

3 large eggs, divided


2 large egg yolks


5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


1 tablespoon water

For the filling:
1 vanilla bean pod

1 cup toasted walnut pieces


1/2 cup light brown sugar


3/4 cup powdered sugar


3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, roasted preferred


1 teaspoon ground cardamom, roasted preferred, optional


1/4 teaspoon salt


2 large egg whites


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

Equipment
Saucepan
Instant-read thermometer
Stand mixer with paddle attachment and dough hook
Parchment paper
Silicone spatula
Plastic wrap
2 bread (loaf) pans (8 1/2- or 9-inch)
Rolling pin
Pastry brush

Instructions

  1. Scald the milk: Heat the milk in a saucepan set over medium-low heat until tiny bubbles form at the edge of the pan, just before it simmers. An instant-read thermometer will read between 180°F and 185°F. (If you don’t have a thermometer, test it with your finger; it should be warm, not uncomfortably hot.) Do not boil. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Dissolve the yeast: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the warm milk, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 1/2 cup of the flour, and the yeast. Mix at low speed just until combined, about 20 to 40 seconds. Let stand in the bowl until the mixture is foamy, frothy, smells distinctly like yeast, and is beige in color, 7 to 8 minutes.
  3. Make the dough: Add the remaining sugar, powdered milk, and salt. Mix well at medium speed. Slit the vanilla bean pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the mixer bowl. Add 2 of the eggs and the egg yolks and mix well.
  4. Add the flour: Switch to a dough hook and add the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition at low to medium-low speed until combined. Knead for 5 more minutes.
  5. Add the butter: Divide the butter into 2 or 3 parts. Add one at a time and mix for about a minute after each addition, until the butter is incorporated into the dough. Mix another minute, for a total of 3 to 4 minutes. It will be a sticky dough at first, but it will become a smooth, elastic ball that clears the side of the bowl and sticks at the bottom a bit.
  6. The first rise: Scrape the dough into a large mixing bowl. Spray nonstick vegetable oil spray over a piece of plastic wrap at least 2 inches wider than the bowl and drape it over the bowl. Cover with a large kitchen towel or two and set aside in a warm but not hot (between 70°F and 80°F) undisturbed spot in the kitchen. Let rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until it has doubled in size. (If you wish, you can let the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight, but allow time for it to come back to room temperature before you bake.)
  7. Prepare the pans: Spray 2 bread pans with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Cut 4 sheets of parchment paper; make two big enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan lengthwise, with an overhang of twice the height of the sides. Make the other two sheets big enough to cover the bottom and sides width-wise, with an overhang of twice the height of the sides. Line each pan with one sheet of each size, placing one lengthwise and the other crosswise, so that the bottom and sides are aligned and there is an overhang of parchment on all sides for easy removal.
  8. Prepare the filling: Slit the vanilla bean pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the bowl of a food processor. Add the toasted walnuts and process in 3 (10- to 15-second) pulses. The walnuts will be broken up, not puréed, with some distinct pieces and some walnut powder. Add the sugars, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt; process in 2 (5-second) pulses. Add the egg whites; process in 2 (15-second) pulses. Add the butter; process for 15 to 20 seconds. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
  9. Cut and roll the dough: Once the dough has risen, lightly flour a work surface. Place the dough on it and divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, roll each into an 8-inch by 14-inch rectangle.
  10. Make an egg wash: Whisk together the egg and water in small bowl. Brush the dough lightly with the some of egg wash, leaving 1/2-inch border around the edge uncovered, so you can hold it securely.
  11. Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  12. Spread the filling on the dough: Use a silicone spatula to scoop equal portions of the filling onto each of the rectangles of dough and spread it evenly on each, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges for gripping and rolling ease.
  13. Roll up the dough: Use a pastry scraper or a spatula to help you lift up the long (14-inch) edge of one piece of dough and roll it up, jelly-roll-style, as tightly as you can into a tube. Pinch the seam at the end, pressing it gently. Place seam-side down, and roll gently back and forth (toward you and away from you) until the tube is 16 to 18 inches long.
  14. The second rise in the pan: Lift up one portion of the rolled, filled dough and twist it gently. Fold in half and place it into one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the other roll of dough. Spray 2 pieces of plastic wrap with nonstick vegetable oil spray then cover the babkas. Let the dough rise in the pan for 1 1/2 hours in a warm, draft-free spot, until they are doubled in size.
  15. Bake the babkas: Use a pastry brush to brush the tops of the babkas with the remaining egg wash. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are firm, they are golden-brown in color and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of a babka comes out without any dough on it. There will be filling on it — that’s fine!
  16. Cool in the pans: Cool in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, using the paper overhangs as handles, carefully lift the babkas out of the pans and let cool on a cooling rack.

Recipe: Quick-Braised Chicken, Beans, and Greens

It’s so incredibly satisfying to tuck into a bowl of braised beans and greens on a cold winter day. I can’t resist tender greens that soak up savory broth, creamy beans, and of course, the scattering of grated cheese that melts on top. Braises usually take a few hours, but this quick one can happen even on a busy weeknight.

Simplicity is the key to this dish. Sear bone-in chicken — your choice of dark or white meat — in olive oil, then sauté onion, garlic, and thyme in the oil and chicken drippings. It may seem like a lot of fat in the pan, but in dishes like these, the oil helps to create a flavorful, silky broth in the end.

The chicken is put back into the pot with some broth, and braised until just cooked through. Then a big bunch of kale leaves (save the stems for roasting) and creamy cannellini beans simmer in the cooking liquid. I like to add some fresh lemon zest at the very end to brighten up the savory, earthy flavors, plus pass around a big bowl of Parmesan cheese at the table. Be sure to use grated (not shredded) Parm, as you want the cheese to melt quickly and dissolve into the broth.

This braise can be made ahead and reheats beautifully, and it pairs nicely with some cornbread or crusty bread for mopping up the broth.

Braised Chicken, Greens, and Beans


1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil


1 medium yellow onion, diced


3 cloves garlic, finely chopped


1/2 teaspoon dried thyme


1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)


2 cups low-sodium chicken broth


1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning


1 bunch kale (about 12 ounces)


1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving

Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and sear until browned, about 5 minutes. Flip and brown the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, thyme, and pepper flakes to the pot (do not remove any of the fat). Season with salt and pepper and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the reserved chicken and any of its juices, broth, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer, adjusting the heat as needed, until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and coarsely chop the kale into bite-sized pieces, removing the tough stems for another use.

Remove the chicken to a clean plate. Add the kale and beans to the pot and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, shred the chicken (use 2 forks if the chicken is still hot) and discard the bones and skin.

When the kale is ready, stir in the shredded chicken and lemon zest. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Top each serving with grated cheese.

Honey and Cashew Butter Yogurt Ice Pops

If you struggle to get a good breakfast in each morning, maybe it’s time to think outside the box. How about breakfast on a stick? Loaded with yogurt, creamy cashew butter, milk, vanilla, and honey, these cold treats take only seconds to throw together. Once they’re frozen, you can grab one anytime — even if you’re rushing out the door.

Greek, not regular, yogurt is the key to ice pops that aren’t too icy. I prefer to use full-fat Greek yogurt because they add such an incredibly rich texture, but use what you like. Cashew butter is a relatively new nut butter that I’ve seen in stores, and it has a pleasantly mild flavor that’s not as assertive as almond or peanut. It works well with the honey that sweetens these pops, but by all means, use whatever nut butter you have at home.

When warmer weather hits and you still want a satisfying breakfast or even a refreshing mid-afternoon snack that’s full of protein, give these ice pops a try!

Honey and Cashew Butter Yogurt Ice Pops

Makes 6 (1/2-cup) ice pops


2 cups plain Greek yogurt


2/3 cup milk


1/3 cup creamy cashew butter


1/3 cup honey


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until completely smooth. Divide the mixture among ice pop molds, insert the sticks, and freeze until completely solid, at least 8 hours.

To serve, run the molds briefly under running hot water until the pops loosen from the molds.

Recipe Notes

  • Popsicle molds. This recipe makes 3 cups of base, so feel free to use it with any size or shape ice pop molds that you want to.

Alice Waters’ Chickpea and Broccoli Rabe Soup

Last summer, by absolute luck, I scored a last-minute reservation at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkley, California. It was during the height of the busy graduation season, and the chances of booking a table on the day of the request was highly unlikely. But it happened, and I was ushered into the cafe to a table near the window and proceeded to order nearly everything on the menu. Now, I’ve always been a fan of Alice Waters, but after that meal, I finally got what she was about. Every ingredient felt like the purest, most potent form of itself. Afterward, I enthusiastically delved into her cookbooks and discovered that with some careful choices, it was possible to achieve something similar at home.

Cooking fresh from the pantry has meant more than ingredients to me — it’s about the inspiration, as well. How can I bring something new to my cooking without shifting too far from practicality? Turns out Alice has the answer and it comes in the form of this warming soup. I used the dried chickpeas and pancetta the first time I made this soup, and the results were as delicious as expected. The second go around, I had canned chickpeas and bacon on hand, so I used those in their place. And instead of the chickpea-cooking liquid, I used more broth. Recipes are beginnings; they are inspirations. At the end of the day, just go where your pantry leads you.

Alice Waters’ Chickpea and Broccoli Rabe Soup


2 teaspoons olive oil


2 slices pancetta or bacon, chopped fine


1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced
4 oregano sprigs
A pinch of dried chile flakes (optional)
Salt
4 garlic cloves

2 cups cooked chickpeas, canned or prepared from dried


2 cups chickpea cooking liquid (see note below)


2 cups chicken stock or broth


1 bunch broccoli rabe

A Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta; cook for 3 minutes; and then add the carrots, celery, onion, oregano, and chile flakes. Cook, stirring now and then, until soft and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Turn down the heat if the vegetables start to brown too quickly.

When the vegetables are cooked, add the salt, garlic, and cooked chickpeas. Cook for a few minutes, and then pour in the chickpea cooking liquid and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim off and discard the woody stems from the broccoli rabe. Wash and drain, chop coarsely, and add to the soup. Cook for another 10 minutes. Test a large rabe stem. If it is not tender, cook the soup a few more minutes. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

Serve garnished with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Recipe Notes

  • Variations: Use 1 small bulb of fennel in place of the celery; use cannellini or borlotti (cranberry) beans instead of chickpeas.
  • Canned Beans: If using canned beans omit the chickpea liquid and use 4 cups of chicken stock or broth

Reprinted with permission from Art of Simple Food II by Alice Waters, copyright (c) 2013. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Frozen Hemingway Daiquiri

If there is one cocktail that is synonymous with blenders, it is the daiquiri. For many of us, this style of cocktail conjures up summertime memories of a thick, sweet, frozen strawberry concoction, but to writer Ernest Hemingway, the daiquiri was something both different and special.

Ernest Hemingway spent a lot of time in Cuba, specifically at the famed El Floridita bar, where he developed a love for daiquiris. A traditional daiquiri recipe calls for rum, lime, and sugar, shaken and served over shaved or cracked ice. Many different versions of this basic recipe have been made over the years, but it is this particular recipe — his favorite — which earned his namesake.

The classic Hemingway Daiquiri still includes the basics — rum, citrus, and ice — but forgoes the addition of sugar. Instead, the sugar is replaced with a few drops of maraschino liqueur, resulting in a fragrant yet drier-in-style drink. While I do enjoy this drier style, when I make a Hemingway Daiquiri in a blender, I find that adding a little sugar brings balance to the recipe and ties the flavors together.

Think about it. In the classic recipe, you’re sipping a drink served over cracked ice, but in this blended version, you’re actually drinking the ice, along with the cocktail’s components. Instead of adding more maraschino liqueur, which is slightly sweet but decidedly intense, add just a little simple syrup to the mix to help compensate for all of the extra water.

Frozen Hemingway Daiquiri

Serves 2

For the cocktail:

4 ounces white rum (I used
Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year)

1 1/2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice


1 1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice (key limes, if available)


1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur (I used
Luxardo)

1/2 ounce simple syrup


2 cups ice, preferably crushed

Lime wheels, for garnish

For the simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine equal parts cane sugar and water. Bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat and then lower the heat to a slow simmer, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

For the cocktail: In a blender, combine the rum, grapefruit juice, lime juice, maraschino liqueur, and simple syrup. Add ice and blend, starting on the lowest setting and increasing to the highest setting, blending until incorporated and frothy. Pour the frozen Hemingway Daiquiri into chilled coupes and garnish with lime wheels.

Recipe Notes

  • If you can, use crushed ice. Your cocktail will blend easier and make a smoother drink. If you can’t find crushed ice, make your own by wrapping ice cubes in a kitchen towel and smashing them with a meat tenderizer or mallet.
  • Take the time to pre-chill your spirits and juice so that the ice remains cold and doesn’t quickly dilute the drink when you blend it.
  • Bacardí White Rum also works just fine in this recipe if you can’t source the Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year rum. Confused about which version of maraschino liqueur to use? Roger Kamholz breaks down three of his favorites for any budget.

How To Make Mac and Cheese in the Slow Cooker

This slow-cooker mac and cheese is so easy that it feels like it can’t possibly be right. Dry pasta, milk, and cheese go in, and a few hours later, you’re scooping warm macaroni and cheese onto your plate.

Ready for a little magic in your dinner? Let’s take a look at how this macaroni and cheese can be yours.

Go for Elbow Macaroni

Given the various rates at which different pastas cook, making macaroni and cheese in the slow cooker can be a slightly tricky affair. Therefore, I think it’s best to stick to regular elbow macaroni for this recipe. I’ve found that this shape cooks consistently and still gives your dish the classic mac-and-cheese feel.

You can definitely substitute other shapes, but just be aware that you’ll need to do a bit of recipe jiggering. The cooking times might be a little different and you may need slightly more or less liquid.

Skip the Bechamel

Instead of the bechamel we make for a classic mac and cheese, this slow-cooker version relies on cans of evaporated milk instead. Evaporated milk is creamy and dense, and it helps keep the cheese sauce from separating and becoming oily without the benefit of the bechamel. (Even so, the sauce will start to curdle if cooked too long, so keep an eye on the dish as you near the end of the cooking time.)

Another bonus to this method? The pasta cooks in the milk, which is a trick we often use to make mac and cheese extra-creamy and luxurious.

The Magic Happens at the End

This macaroni and cheese will look milky, watery, and very un-cheesy right up until the last 30 minutes, but then the remaining liquid gets rapidly absorbed into the pasta and the casserole almost magically firms up. The pasta will seem soft and chewy before this happens, so waiting the extra half-hour involves some trust.

Every slow cooker is a little different, so the total cooking time will vary. The first time you make this recipe, plan on being home toward the end of cooking so you can keep an eye on things. Starting at the two-hour mark, check the casserole every 20 to 30 minutes. The mac and cheese is done once all the liquid has been absorbed and you see no more milk on the bottom of the pot. Be careful of overcooking, since the dish can go from creamy to over-cooked fairly quickly.

The Texture of Slow-Cooker Mac and Cheese

This recipe makes a casserole-style macaroni and cheese with a sturdy (but still creamy!) texture that can be sliced into squares. If you’re looking for a macaroni and cheese with a looser texture that’s more spoonable, then I’d recommend sticking to either our stovetop macaroni and cheese or our classic baked macaroni and cheese.

Make It Work with Your Schedule

Pasta, as wonderful as it is, just isn’t an ingredient that can stand up to all-day cooking, so I’m sorry to say that this is not the best recipe to make while you’re away at work. However, it is a fantastic recipe to make if you need to get dinner going, but need to run a few errands outside the house, pick up your kids, or head to class for a few hours. Dinner will be waiting when you get back home.















How To Make Mac and Cheese in the Slow Cooker

What You Need

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups shredded cheese, like cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Colby


1 pound elbow macaroni


2 cups 2% or whole milk


2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk


1/2 teaspoon salt


1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, or 1 teaspoon dijon or yellow mustard

Equipment
6-quart or larger slow cooker
Spatula

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients in the slow cooker: Set 1/2 cup of grated cheese aside, then combine the rest of the ingredients in the slow cooker. Stir to make sure that everything is evenly distributed and the pasta is evenly coated. Smooth the top so the pasta is submerged.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 4 hours: The pasta is done when it has absorbed all of the liquid and the pasta is soft. It will look soupy up until the last half-hour of cooking, and then it will quickly finish cooking and absorb all the liquid. If this is your first time making this recipe, start checking the pasta after about 2 hours, then continue checking it every 20 to 30 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Every slow cooker will be slightly different; once you’ve made this recipe once, make a note of the cooking time for future reference.
  3. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the pasta in the last 10 to 30 minutes of cooking. Cook until the cheese has melted or the rest of the liquid is absorbed into the pasta.
  4. Serve: Serve this macaroni and cheese straight from the slow cooker. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes

  • Smaller slow cookers: Halve the recipe to make this macaroni and cheese in a 3-quart or smaller slow cooker.
  • Crunchy-topped macaroni and cheese: For a crunchy top, melt a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and mix in 1/2 cup of panko crumbs, crushed corn flakes, or breadcrumbs. Cook until the crumbs are golden, then set aside. Sprinkle these over the macaroni and cheese in the last half-hour of cooking, and leave the slow cooker partially covered.

How To Make Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

This is take-out menu beef and broccoli stir-fry — but so much better. No sad broccoli. No chewy, dry pieces of beef. No gloppy sauce. Replace all those with crisp-tender broccoli and savory bites of beef tossed with a simple three-ingredient stir-fry sauce. Chinese “take-out” night will never be the same.

Which Beef to Buy

For this quick stir-fried dish, flank steak or skirt steak are your best choices. As Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge, explained to me, “Flank steak and skirt steak are both really tender cuts, which makes them good for quick, high-heat cooking. They both also have great flavor.”

Also, stick to 12 ounces of meat at the very maximum. It can be tempting to squeeze a little more into the recipe, but as Young explains, the pan will become crowded, the beef won’t sear very well, and it will turn gray and foamy. Not a very appealing dinner situation! If you want to serve more people with this dish, Young advises just cooking two completely separate batches of this recipe.

A Quick Marinade Is All You Need

Briefly marinating the slices of beef before they go into the wok ensures that each bite is fully seasoned — but we’re talking brief. Put the sliced beef in a bowl, measure out the marinade ingredients on top, and stir to coat. A final teaspoon of sesame oil helps keep the slices from sticking, and then into the wok it goes.

Young explains that this brief marinade is really all you need. The small pieces means that the marinade penetrates the meat very quickly, unlike with steaks and other larger cuts. If you marinate for longer, Young cautions that the meat can become overly salty and too-intensely flavored.

Steam the Broccoli First

Broccoli is a surprisingly fussy ingredient when it comes to stir-frying — something that I discovered in this conversation with Young. Those tough stems mean that broccoli needs more time to cook and more oil to keep it from scorching in the wok. There are stir-fry methods that take this approach, but Young highly recommends taking the few extra minutes to steam or blanch your broccoli before it goes in the wok. The trade-off is quicker wok time and less oil. You can also steam your broccoli ahead of time so there’s less prep work right before you want to stir-fry.

Putting the Stir-Fry Together

This recipe might look a little long and complex, but that’s just because I’m breaking it down step-by-step for you. Most of the work is really in the prep — the actual cooking time goes quite quickly.

Once you hit the wok, things go quickly, so it helps to keep the game plan in mind: the garlic goes into the wok first, then the beef, then the broccoli, then the sauce. Read through all the steps below before starting so you know the details; keep that order in mind and you’ll do great.

Also, have a pot of rice ready to go. Time it so that the rice comes off the stove and then you start cooking the stir-fry. By the time the stir-fry is done, all that’s left to do is transfer everything into serving bowls and carry them to the table.
















































How To Make Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

What You Need

Ingredients


12 to 16 ounces broccoli


8 to 12 ounces flank steak or skirt steak


2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil, divided


2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced


1 tablespoon fermented black beans, rinsed (optional; do not substitute black bean sauce or regular black beans)

Beef marinade ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch


2 teaspoons soy sauce (or 1 teaspoon tamari)


2 teaspoons rice wine


1/2 teaspoon salt


1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cooked rice, to serve

Stir-fry sauce ingredients:
2 tablespoons chicken, beef, or vegetable broth, or water

2 tablespoons oyster sauce (see Recipe Note)


1 tablespoon soy sauce (or 1/2 tablespoon tamari)

Equipment
Microwave-safe bowl with a cover, or steamer basket in a saucepan
Mixing bowls
14-inch flat-bottomed carbon steel wok (not nonstick)
Wok spatula, fish spatula, or another spatula with a thin, metal blade
Dinner plate

Instructions

  1. Cut the broccoli into florets: Cut the florets away from the stem, then cut the florets into smaller, bite-sized pieces. The stem can be cut into small 1/2-inch-thick pieces.
  2. Steam the broccoli: Steam the broccoli in either the microwave or on the stovetop until the tops are bright green and the stems are cooked, but still slightly crunchy. Spread out in a single layer on a plate to air-dry until ready to stir-fry. See: How To Cook Broccoli: 5 Ways
  3. Slice the beef: Trim away any large pieces of fat. Cut the steak down its length, with the grain, into strips 2 to 3 inches wide. Then cut each thin strip across the grain into bite-sized pieces roughly 1/4-inch wide.
  4. Coat the beef with the marinade: Transfer the beef to a mixing bowl. Measure out the cornstarch, soy sauce, rice wine, and salt over top. Toss to coat the beef with the marinade ingredients. Drizzle the sesame oil over top, and toss again to coat. The marinade will absorb into the beef and the beef will look quite dry — this is normal. Set the bowl of sliced beef and a clean plate to hold the cooked beef within reach near the stove.
  5. Make the stir-fry sauce: Whisk together the broth, oyster sauce, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Set within reach of the stove.
  6. Heat the wok: Set your wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two of contact.
  7. Add 1 tablespoon of oil: Pour 1 tablespoon of oil down the side of the pan. Swirl to coat the bottom and lower sides of the wok evenly.
  8. Stir-fry the garlic: Stir-fry the garlic just until fragrant, 10 to 20 seconds. If you’re using fermented black beans, add them to the pan along with the garlic and use your spatula to smash them together. Push the garlic (and beans) up the sides of the wok to make space in the middle.
  9. Cook the beef for 1 minute: Transfer the beef to the hot wok and spread it into layer on the bottom and lower-sides of the wok. Use your spatula to break apart any clumps and move them to unused spaces on the wok. Cook for 1 minute without moving to sear the bottom.
  10. Stir-fry the beef about 60 seconds: Quickly stir-fry the beef with the garlic, using your thin spatula to get under the seared pieces and moving everything around the pan. Continue until all the sides are beginning to brown and the beef is almost cooked through, but you see just a little pink in the middle, about 60 seconds. Transfer the beef to the clean plate by the stove.
  11. Stir-fry the broccoli: Swirl another tablespoon of oil into the pan. Add all of the broccoli. Stir-fry another 60 seconds, until the broccoli is warmed through, but is still bright green and crisp-tender. If it looks like it’s starting to wilt or lose its green color, proceed immediately to the next step.
  12. Return the beef to the wok with the sauce: Add the beef and any juices back to the wok with the broccoli. Pour the sauce down the side of the wok.
  13. Stir-fry for another 30 to 60 seconds: Stir-fry until the beef and broccoli are coated with sauce and the beef is cooked as well-done as you prefer. Add extra oyster sauce to make a thicker coating, if desired.
  14. Serve immediately: Transfer the beef and broccoli to a serving dish. Serve while hot, with cooked rice.

Recipe Notes

  • For a spicier dish, add a pinch of red pepper flakes along with the garlic.
  • Grace Young prefers the Lee Kum Kee brand of oyster sauce.