Inside Our Test Kitchen: Fake your own Bundt pan

So you want to bake some monkey bread or a Bundt cake, but don’t have the right kind of pan? You can create a makeshift one using what you already have in your kitchen. Piece of cake!

If you have a springform pan: Place a greased pint-size ovenproof jar (like a Mason or Bell jar) right side up in the center of the pan. Add the batter or dough and bake. Let cool about 10 minutes; remove the jar.

No springform? No problem! Two 9- or 10-inch cake pans will also work, but you’ll end up with two thinner Bundt cakes. Grease two small ramekins and put them upside down in the centers of the pans. Keep in mind that these cakes will cook more quickly, so start checking them sooner.

Ready to give it a go? Try these recipes!

Cinnamon-Bun Fun Monkey Bread Read more

Inside Our Test Kitchen: DIY Jerk Seasoning

When you hear the word jerk—once you’ve determined nobody’s calling you one—you probably think of spicy Jamaican food. The hot-sweet flavor that’s associated with the Caribbean island is a bit of a catchall term: It refers to a dry rub, a paste, a marinade, a style of cooking and the ultimate Jamaican street food. In classic jerk cooking, meat (usually pork or chicken) is marinated in more than a dozen ingredients, including allspice, fiery Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, black pepper and sugar. If you don’t have time to marinate, add a quick kick with a dry jerk seasoning blend. You can buy it at the market, but it’s easy to make at home. Rub it on meat, sprinkle it on grilled corn or add a pinch to chili. So don’t be bummed if you can’t make it to the Caribbean this Labor Day Weekend. Add some island flare to any nearly any protein with this DIY jerk seasoning recipe—even if you’re miles and miles away from the nearest island breeze.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken

DIY Jamaican Jerk Spice recipe:

Read more

Inside Our Test Kitchen: The Best Way to Peel Hard-Boiled Eggs

In the never-ending quest for easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs, our kitchen crew put three top techniques to the test to see which one was most, ahem, appealing. Check out the results below, along with tasty recipes you can make to test out the winning technique.


Shake ‘Em Up

Place large eggs in a large saucepan (no more than will cover the bottom) and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Cover; let stand 10 minutes. Drain. Cover the saucepan; shake the eggs until cracked all over. Run cold water into the pan until the eggs are cool, then peel under cold running water.

The results: The idea here is that the cold water slips between the white and the shell, making peeling easier. Shaking the cooked eggs in the pan cracked them quickly, but when it came to peeling, quite a bit of the white stuck to the shells.

Kale Cobb Salad  

2ND PLACE: Read more

When life gives you lemongrass

What looks like leeks, smells like lemons and tastes great? Lemongrass, an aromatic plant that gives dishes like chicken curry or beef satay their signature fragrant flavor. Look for the fresh stuff at Asian markets, and choose firm stalks with green leaves. Before using, trim the tops and ends, and remove any loose outer leaves. Lemongrass is stringy so slice it thin for stir-fries or stews, or pulse it in a food processor for sauces or curries. To give chicken soup a lemony lift, whack the stalk with the flat edge of a knife blade to release its oils, add to the broth… then inhale.

Want to incorporate lemongrass into your cooking? Add these recipes to your repertoire!

Coconut Cod with Rice Noodles

Pomegranate-Lemongrass Fizz

Beef and Lemongrass Soup

The Pastry School Diaries: It’s what’s on the inside that matters

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 


The first step of learning how to make a wedding or “celebration” cake is learning how to pipe beautiful buttercream roses, buds and other flowers. If you’ve been following along, you should know by now that I was neither looking forward to this technique nor expecting to be very good at it, and I was right.


I was so ashamed of how my roses and piping work turned out that I actively chose to not photograph my work, although in retrospect I wish I had something to look back and laugh at.


“After about the 27th time, you’ll get the hang of it,” my chef-instructor said with a smile. She wasn’t kidding.


But what I’ve realized (yet again) is that this is just another test at my patience. Piping perfect flowers isn’t something someone should be naturally good at—it takes practice, diligence and concentration. I may never master the art of the perfect cala lily or rose, but I’ll certainly improve over the next few weeks. And you know what? The cake underneath is going to taste the same no matter how beautiful my buttercream work is (or isn’t).

I don’t need to walk out of my schooling with the ability to brag about my piping skills. If I can tell my friends, family and peers that I can bake you the best lemon-scented cake you’ve ever had in your life, that is more than enough for me.


Got any piping tips? I’d love to hear them! Check back next week for more tales from the kitchen.

Use your grater for so much more than just cheese

Before there was the food processor, before there was the mandoline, there was the box grater. This workhorse of the Rachael Ray Every Day test kitchen can perform basic shredding duties, but it also excels at some less expected culinary tasks.



Grate a fresh tomato on the largest holes of a box grater for a fast and easy fresh tomato sauce. The pulp goes in the bowl, but the skin doesn’t!


Day-old bread

Got day-old crusty bread? Don’t toss it! Grate it on the medium holes of a box grater for easy breadcrumbs.



Pistachios are pricey, but tasty, and a gorgeous shade of green. Make the most of them by using the smallest holes of a box grater (we tested it—no boo-boos!) to finely grate the nuts over fish or pasta

The Pastry School Diaries: Making Marzipan

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 


Want to become a pro at knowing the exact physical makeup of any fruit or vegetable? The answer is probably no, but just in case you’re into that kind of thing, I have some advice for you: make marzipan.


Marzipan is a mixture of almond paste, liquid fondant, corn syrup and powdered sugar, which is then dyed with edible paint and formed into adorable little fruits and vegetables. These marzipan figures can be used as decoration on a cake, dessert table or as a garnish. They’re pretty sweet to eat on their own, but they do offer a delicious almond flavor and smooth texture.

I found this technique to be rather relaxing and stress-free, because unlike making flowers for a wedding cake, fruit shouldn’t look perfect. It should have dents and bruises and not even the roundest of oranges is going to be an exact sphere. As someone who is not ashamed by her baking inconsistencies and thrives off the “rustic” look, making these little fruits and veggies was fun and freeing.


The fruits get a shiny coating of simple syrup at the very end.


Have you ever tried your hand at marzipan? How did it go?


Check back next week for more sugary stories!

The Pastry School Diaries: Tricks of the Trade

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 


Going into pastry school, I knew certain things would change about my perception of baking: I’ve grown a greater understanding behind the science of it, I’ve grown a greater appreciation for the true art form that it is and I’ve definitely developed a level of creativity when it comes to pairing flavors, textures and recipes. One element I didn’t think about, however, was how being in school would change my style of baking, from prep to clean-up.

I’ve gone from being a “measure as you go, use as many bowls as possible and follow specific instructions” baker to a “measure your ingredients before, use specific tools and bowls and trust your instinct” baker in just 8 short months. Let me explain:

In class, we have established a pretty regular routine: we arrive, set up our stations, our chef instructor talks a little about what we’ll be making (she may even demonstrate depending on the level of difficulty) and then we get to work. We read through the recipe, talk through who will be doing what (since we work in teams of two) gather and measure all of our ingredients and start baking. Having your mise en place, or “everything in place,” is by far the most efficient way of baking and cooking. For example, I’ve learned how much easier it is to whisk a measured amount of sugar into egg whites while the mixer is running, than it is to let the mixer run, measure out the sugar and risk over-whipping. I’ve exercised this technique at home, almost to an obsessive-compulsive level. I truly cannot bake or cook without my mise en place anymore.

Another habit I’ve picked up from school is truly learning to trust my gut. I must admit, I grew up baking from boxed cake mixes and pre-made cookie doughs, following the step-by-step instructions to the tee. While I know how important it is for measurements to be exact, ingredients to be added in a specific order and oven temperatures to be accurate, I’ve gained the confidence to stray away from the rules. Whether it’s adding an extra spice, extract or liqueur to my batter, swapping in hazelnuts for almonds in a crumb topping or leaving that loaf of bread in the oven for a few minutes longer to develop that crunchy, charred crust (like in the photo above), I take pride in my creative decisions. I’ve even developed some of my own recipes, based on riffs on what I’ve learned in class.


Chai-spiced palmiers—I created the spice combination myself!

A super rich coffee glaze and chocolate drizzle over homemade doughnuts

Finally, my kitchen tool collection has vastly expanded, and I cannot fathom the idea of baking anymore without the following:

Small offset spatula—from icing cupcakes to letting chocolate set, this tool comes in handy for everything

Digital instant-read thermometer—when the temperature matters to the exact degree (sugar syrup, tempered chocolate), this baby is my BFF

Scale—weighing your ingredients is far more accurate than measuring them in cups and spoons

Bench scraper—it looks like it belongs in a hardware store more than a kitchen, but my bench scraper helps me slice butter, bread dough and blocks of chocolate…not to mention, it’s great at scraping off crumbs and messes from my countertop!



What are your best baking habits? Check back next week for more sweet advice!

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



Chop it up

Lime zest


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



Chop it up

Grapefruit zest

Minced crystallized ginger

Minced mint

Sprinkle it on

Toasted pound cake, lemon sorbet, Greek yogurt

The Pastry School Diaries: Get in Shape!

Editorial Assistant Lauren Katz is enrolled in the part-time Pastry & Baking Arts program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. Follow her each week as she shares her sweet experiences! 


Our final unit (eeek!) of classes is all about the finer side to pastry arts: sugar molding, chocolate work and cake decorating. While I definitely consider my baking style to be on the rustic (read: imperfect) side, I’ve very much enjoyed learning about these techniques so far.


We started out learning how to make sugar showpieces. You know, those things you see on cooking competitions, that when the chefs move them from their table to the judging station your heart pounds in anxiety that they’re going to drop the whole thing.



Despite their name, these “sugar” showpieces are actually made out of isomalt, an almost-as-sweet sugar substitute that is resistant to humidity and crystallization, two very important factors when it comes to making one of these. We simply melted the isomalt on the stove, added edible paint and poured it into large silicone molds. Once the shapes were hard enough to pop out of the molds, you can use a small amount of melted isomalt to fasten the pieces together, or a blow torch works, as well. We had creative liberty in how we colored and assembled our pieces, and as stressful as the process seems, it was really quite fun.


Next, we learned the process behind making chocolates from bean to bar. Creative Director Michael Laisksonis has become our school’s master chocolatier, importing beans from all over the world and scratch-making his very own chocolate. The process is a long one and a labor of love, but the final product is completely worth it.


A brief, visual representation of the bean-to-bar process

Now that I’ve gained an appreciation for the art of chocolate making, find out what happens when I try my hand at rolling and filling truffles next week!