Rachael Ray Every Day Staff

Behind the Scenes: On Set with Food52

 

To anyone who’s ever scrolled through the Food52 site, or drooled over their gorgeously minimalist Instagram feed, the Food52 offices feel strangely familiar. Decorated in neutral colors with beautiful details (subway tile, bead board, leather chairs) and filled with natural light, it’s a pretty dreamy workspace. And this was before we even saw the bar!

 

No, really, check out this bar!

 

Elegant yet comfy, interesting but accessible, and, above all, fun: This is the aesthetic that Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, co-founders of the site, cultivate on Food52 and in their office—and it makes total sense once you meet these culinary besties.

 

They finish each other’s sentences, poke fun at their habits (both detest super-loud restaurants), and trust each other on matters great and small—for instance, Hesser checked her makeup in the mirror, but waited until Stubbs said it looked good before heading on set.

 

Their mission these days? To make it easier for people to eat good, interesting food, even on weeknights.

 

In their story in the April issue of Rachael Ray Every Day and in their latest book, A New Way to Dinner, they outline their make-ahead strategies to eat well on busy nights without going crazy. Says Stubbs, “cooking this way is so much more efficient, so you can focus on the important things.”

 

With scrumptious recipes like Spaghetti with Make-Ahead Meatballs, Salad with Creamy Anchovy Dressing and Rhubarb Shortcakes, it won’t take much convincing.

 

Pick up the issue to learn more, and to score a discount code for 20 percent off kitchenware from their online store!

 

By Cecily McAndrews

6 Twists on Gremolata

Gremolata might sound fancy, but the Italian herb mix is simply fresh parsley, garlic and lemon zest finely chopped together—kind of like pesto and even easier to make. The fragrant condiment is traditionally sprinkled on rich osso buco, aka braised veal shanks, but it can brighten up all kinds of dishes, from pasta to fish to roast chicken. You can start with our classic recipe, or try these fun riffs. They’re an easy way to add a fresh zing to all kinds of dishes—even sweet ones.

 

Try classic gremolata on Garlic Chicken with Red Onion & Toasted Bread

 

Green-olata

Chop it up

Lime zest

Cilantro

Minced jalapeño

Sprinkle it on

Tacos, guacamole or any Tex-Mex dish

 

Gremolata Piccata

Chop it up

Orange zest

Chopped capers

Minced basil

Sprinkle it on

Grilled fish, roasted vegetables, grilled chicken breasts

 

The Californian

Chop it up

Meyer lemon zest

Minced radish

Minced chives

Sprinkle it on

Deviled eggs, seared steak, salad greens

 

Main Squeeze

Chop it up

Orange zest

Minced green olives

Minced garlic

Sprinkle it on

Roasted cauliflower, couscous, chicken cutlets

 

Dessert-olata

Chop it up

Grapefruit zest

Minced crystallized ginger

Minced mint

Sprinkle it on

Toasted pound cake, lemon sorbet, Greek yogurt

Behind the scenes: Rach’s acting debut!

Rachael is used to being in front of the camera (after all, she’s been hosting TV shows for more than 10 years), but she recently got to try out her acting chops while guest staring—as herself—on Freeform’s Young & Hungry. Of course, she was a total natural!


Photo courtesy of David M. Russell/The Rachael Ray Show

The segment, filmed at Rach’s studio, featured characters Gabi and Sofia (played by Emily Osment and Aimee Carrero), who were on the show to promote their just-launched food truck in San Francisco. We got to watch in amazement as Rach came out and nailed her lines—on the first take. She didn’t even have to carry her script around for backup! And she improvised a little, taking cover behind a stove when Gabi went nuts over some nuts (you’ll understand when you see the episode).

Photo courtesy of David M. Russell/The Rachael Ray Show

 

Because the show’s stars were on Rach’s turf, she treated them to her over-the-top green room treats. “She personally delivered pork bahn mi sandwiches and peanut cabbage salad,” gushed Osment. “It was the best,” Carrero agreed, pointing out that the best they can usually hope for is a deli plate of meat and cheese.  

Photo courtesy of David M. Russell/The Rachael Ray Show

Catch Rach on Young & Hungry on March 9 at 8 PM EST.

 

By Lisa Freedman

How to Host Happy Hour for Less

Be your own bartender with a top-notch, five-bottle home bar that lets you make pretty much any popular cocktail and costs only $100. We’ll drink to that!

 

Five spirits experts share the bottles that deliver the best bang for your Benjamin. Try these pro picks to make your living room the best bar in town!

Rum

Plantation 3 Stars White Rum ($18 for 750 ml)

“This is one of my favorite white rums for any budget. An aged blend of Caribbean rums, it adds hints of tropical fruit to any drink, especially a daiquiri.” —Blair Reynolds, owner of bar and restaurant Hale Pele in Portland, OR 

Another great pick

Boozy Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum will wake up a mai tai—or any tiki drink. ($19 for 750 ml)

 

Gin

Citadelle Gin ($25 for 750 ml)

“Leave it to the French to come up with a delightfully flavorful gin. (No wonder: it’s made with nearly 20 herbs, roots, spices and flowers.) It pairs particularly well with citrus. One Tom Collins, please.” —Paul Clarke, author of The Cocktail Chronicles 

Another great pick 

Juniper-heavy Gordon’s London Dry Gin is a steal, and ideal in a gin and tonic. ($13 for 750 ml)

 

Tequila

Pueblo Viejo Blanco ($18 for 750 ml)

“This blanco tequila (which isn’t aged) is distilled in a traditional way. It has a citrusy, earthy flavor that shines in a margarita.” —Courtenay Greenleaf, corporate beverage director at Rosa Mexicano restaurants 

Another great pick 

Spicy Cimarrón Blanco offers fresh agave flavor. ($20 for 750 ml)

 

Vodka

Tito’s Handmade Vodka ($21 for 750 ml)

“Corn-based Tito’s is one of the most bright- tasting, clean vodkas around—which is why it’s so delicious on the rocks or in a martini. I also love that it’s from Austin, my hometown.” —Christina Cabrera, bar consultant at San Francisco’s Barbarossa Lounge 

Another great pick

Crisp Gruven Handcrafted Vodka, made from wheat and rye, is a cocktail go-to. ($11 for 750 ml)

 

Bourbon

W. L. Weller Special Reserve ($18 for 750 ml)

“I don’t make cocktails with anything I wouldn’t drink on its own. This bourbon has a sophisticated sweetness balanced by a fiery kick, which makes it great neat and in a mixed drink.” —Michael Neff, bar director at NYC’s Holiday Cocktail Lounge 

Another great pick 

Aged in charred oak barrels, Jim Beam Black is just as complex as pricier bourbons. ($22 for 750 ml)

 

By Joshua M. Bernstein; Photography by Aaron Dyer

 

How to Make a Coconutty Bunny Cake

When Rachael and her older sister, Maria, were growing up in Upstate New York, Easter was full of sweet surprises. Their grandfather would arrive bearing 4-foot-tall hollow chocolate eggs filled with Italian Easter candies. Dozens of family and friends would gather at their house for a ham or lamb feast prepared by their mom, Elsa, followed by a fun dessert, like this adorable bunny cake. These days, Maria is the family baker. She’s made pony, lizard and ladybug cakes for her kids’ birthday parties, but the bunny cake, which she learned to make alongside her mom, is still her favorite. “It feels like home,” she says. “It’s familiar and comforting and reminds me of all of those good times.”

 

Photography by Will Styer. Food styling by Maria Del Mar Sacasa. Prop styling by Sarah Guido-Laakso

 

 

Coconutty Bunny Cake

Serves 12

Prep 25 min

Bake 30 min

Assembly 30 min

 

Cake

3 3/4 cups cake flour

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

2 sticks butter, melted and cooled slightly

9 large egg yolks

5 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

4 large egg whites

3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

 

Frosting

3 sticks butter, at room temperature

5 3⁄4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1⁄4 cup whole milk, plus more as needed

1 tbsp. plus 11⁄2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

 

1. Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven; preheat to 350° for light pans and 325° for dark pans. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, 2 cups sugar, the baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, butter, yolks, oil and vanilla. (If you really like coconut flavor, use 1 tsp. coconut extract and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.)

3. In a medium bowl using an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites until very soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar; beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

4. Using an electric mixer on medium, gradually beat the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture just to blend. Using a rubber spatula, fold half the egg-white mixture into the batter until almost blended. Fold in the remaining egg-white mixture and the sprinkles. Divide the batter among the pans.

5. Bake the cakes, switching the pans between the top and bottom racks halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack, about 15 minutes. If needed, run a thin knife around the edges of the pans to release the cakes, then invert onto the rack and let cool completely.

6. For the frosting, in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing to blend between additions. Beat in 1/4 cup milk and the vanilla. Increase the speed to medium-high; beat, adding milk by the tablespoon if too thick, until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Assemble and frost the cake as shown here.

 

More Tips for Happiness

Each Monday in January, we’re sharing a number of science-backed tips guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Here are more things you can easily do (today, tomorrow, next week or next month!) to find your happy place.

 

Make Your Meal Happy

Yes, you can eat to your heart’s content! “The largest factor that you control in terms of your happiness is at the end of your fork,” says Drew Ramsey, M.D., a psychiatrist and author of The Happiness Diet and the upcoming book Eat Complete. This feel-good recipe uses seven of his favorite mood-boosting ingredients.

Get the recipe: Pan-Seared Salmon with Miso Watercress Pesto & Lentil-Black Rice Salad
Read more

Your Happiest Year Yet!

We live for the moments that put smiles on our faces: the soul-gratifying bite of a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie, the joy of accomplishing a big goal, the warmth of a sunbeam on our skin. Experiences like these produce not only emotional but also physical reactions: They spur the release of chemicals, like serotonin or endorphins, that make us feel happy, even euphoric. Of course not all your days can be filled with unicorns and rainbows, but turning a frown, you know, the other direction is actually pretty easy. Try these bliss-making moves, all backed by science, and check back next week for more—We’re sharing a new set of tips every Monday in January. Your happy place is closer than you think!

 

Eat More Chocolate

The countless reports of dark chocolate’s health benefits have been food for the soul for a lot of us. And here’s one more: The American Chemical Society’s Journal of Proteome Research reported that when people who suffered from stress were given small amounts of dark chocolate daily, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol were lower after two weeks. Ain’t life sweet?

Get the recipe: Ruth Reichl’s Hot Fudge to Soothe Your Soul

 

Become a Morning Person

It doesn’t matter what side of the bed you wake up on, it’s when you wake up that matters. Turns out, early birds have a sunnier disposition than night owls, according to research from the University of Toronto, because they’re more in sync with daylight hours (humans are diurnal, as compared with nocturnal). So if you’re not the sort to leap out of bed, adjust your internal clock by moving up your bedtime incrementally, by about 15 minutes every few nights. And shut down electronics two to three hours before you hit the hay. Your internal clock will adjust and, before you know it, you’ll wake up all smiles.

 

Break up with Your DVR

You may think you enjoy your nightly TV fix more if you start watching a show late so you can fast- forward through the ads. But commercial breaks actually enhance your enjoyment. “We are wired to chase and desire,” says Emma Seppälä, Ph.D., author of the upcoming book The Happiness Track. “If you keep delaying, you increase your longing to see the rest of the show.” That season finale just got a lot more riveting!

 

Extend Those Arms

A big ol’ bear hug is a surefire way to get that warm, fuzzy feeling (or give it to someone else), and research shows that an affectionate squeeze also bestows a host
of other positive effects. A hug, just like holding hands or having sex, spurs the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone.” And Swedish researchers have suggested that after an embrace, “thoughts of the hugging may put the individual in a more positive mood.” What’s more, a simple clinch has physiological benefits—for instance, lowered blood pressure and an increase in endorphins, which strengthens the immune system. And who wouldn’t be happy about that?

 

Say Yes to Cheese

If melty grilled cheese sandwiches and nachos dripping with queso have taught us anything, it’s that cheese is serious comfort food. Even science says so! Emerging research has shown that during digestion, the protein casein in cow’s milk (the milk used in cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano and other favorites) may produce casomorphins, which can have a slight opiate-like effect on some cheese-eaters—in other words, the lucky ones.

Bar Basics: Know Your Bubbles!

Champagne, cava and prosecco all sparkle, but they’re not the same. Get to know them a little better with this handy cheat sheet.

 

Champagne

Hometown

The Champagne region in northern France

Best traits

Can be toasty and dry (i.e. not sweet); available in a range of colors, from light golden to pink

Perfect date

A special occasion. Champagne uses high-quality grapes and takes longer to age, so it’s often the most expensive of the three. Save it for the times when you really want to celebrate.

 

Cava

Hometown

The Catalonia region in northeast Spain

Best traits

Earthier, fruitier and often less expensive than Champagne

Perfect date

A weekend party with friends. The crowd-pleasing flavor and budget-friendly price makes this sparkling wine great for a group. And who says you have to start the party with bubbles? Spaniards sometimes serve cava after a meal.

 

Prosecco

Hometown

The Veneto region in northeast Italy

Best traits

Light, crisp and apple-y; usually the sweetest and least expensive of the three sparklers

Perfect date

A leisurely Sunday brunch. You can sip prosecco on its own, and it also makes a great cocktail mixer. Thanks to its super-affordable price and low alcohol, bottomless mimosas can be had by all!

 

No matter which bubbly you choose, you can whip up a killer cocktail for your New Years Eve party. Here are some of our faves:

Cranberry-Cava Sparklers

 
 

Double Orange Spritz

 
 

Pomegranate Lava Lamp

Gingerbread House Do’s and Don’ts

Make your gingerbread house look anything but cookie-cutter—even if you’re working from a store-bought kit—with tips from beth “Ginger Betty” Veneto, owner of Ginger Betty’s Bakery in Quincy, MA., and multiyear winner at the Boston Christmas Festival’s famed Gingerbread House Competition. Read on for her delicious do’s and definite don’ts.

 

 

DO

 

Make a mischievous Rudolph by coating a marshmallow in melted chocolate, adding pretzels for antlers, red candy for a nose and paper-doll sunglasses for an—ahem—clever disguise. Place him so he’s peeping out from behind a tree, thanks to a lollipop stick or skewer.

 

Transform ice cream cones into trees (coat with green frosting, then decorate with candy ornaments or sprinkles).

 

 

Build a fence out of pretzels. You can go the straight-up rod route, as we did here, or stand a series of traditional looped pretzels upside down. Use frosting as mortar.

 

Pile and scatter shredded coconut for sweet snowdrifts.

 

Gussy up your gingerbread men (or toy figures) with fun accessories. Licorice or any other candy that comes in strips makes for a cute muffler.

 

Place Peppermint Pattie candies or cookies as “pavers” to form a pathway to your house.

 

DON’T

 

Build on a rainy day or store your house in the fridge. Under these conditions, moisture can seep in a make the walls wilt.

 

Start decorating the house too soon. The frosting that holds the structural elements together should be 100 percent dry first. Every house is different, but give yours at least eight hours to set.

 

Now that you know how to build the gingerbread house of your dreams, find out how you can win $2,000 from Trulia!

Even Better Butter

Brown butter may sound cheffy, but the deliciously nutty, super-simple sauce is easy to make: If you’ve got a pan and some butter, you’re 90 percent there! Make a big batch and store it in the fridge so it’s ready whenever you need a hit of extra-rich flavor. Then drizzle it over roasted vegetables or fish, toss it with pasta, or stir it into pancake batter. Ready to give it a shot? Here’s how!

 

Brown Butter and Brussels Sprouts Fettuccine

 

1. Cut the butter into half-inch-thick slices and melt over medium.

2. Leave the melted butter alone until it starts to bubble and foam, about 2 minutes.

3. Stir the butter until light-golden specks appear. (Those are the milk solids separating out from the fat and starting to toast.) As soon as the specks turn dark tan and the liquid is golden, remove the pan from the heat. Use immediately or pour into a glass jar and refrigerate.