Every Day Scoop

6 reasons to shop generic

‘Nduja and basil pasta sauce, organic kale and vegetable salsa, pine nut-topped hummus: they sound like they come from a very fancy lunch spot, but they’re actually all examples of amazing store-brand products featured in the April edition of Checkout. I love a bargain as much as the next person, which is why I usually opt for generic canned goods; even so, I was amazed at the quality of the products we tried. And we tried a lot—dozens, in fact—ranging from drinks to snacks to full meals and appetizers.

 

Kroger HemisFares Fiery ‘Nduja and Basil Pasta Sauce ($4.49 for 15 oz.)

Sprouts Organic Kale & Vegetable Salsa ($2.99 for 16 oz.)

 

Aldi Little Salad Bar Pine Nut Hummus ($1.99 for 10 oz.)

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Mintel published a study that said 63% of consumers think store brands are more innovative than they used to be. Judging from my consumption of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies, I think it’s true.

 

Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies ($3.99 for 18)

Whole Foods Market Potato & Pea Samosas ($2.69 for 8)


Target’s Beekman 1802 Farm Pantry Ploughing the Earth Granola ($4.99 for 10 oz.)

 

Check out why our editors chose these 6 products in the April issue, or scope out our totally adorable video on Instagram. What are your favorite store brands? Tell us in the comments!

 

By Cecily McAndrews

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.

 

Tomaotes

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

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!

10 New & Improved Easter Egg Ideas

Break out of your shell! Use odds and ends from your kitchen to decorate this year’s Easter eggs.

 

TAKE COVER

Re-create the mesmerizing look of sprinkle-topped ice cream cones—on an egg! Use a paintbrush to coat half the egg with multipurpose glue and roll the glue- covered area in a shallow bowl filled with rainbow nonpareils or sanding sugar. Let dry; repeat with remaining half.

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Celebrate Pi Day All Day!

Whether you’re a math nerd or you just like a good food holiday, Pi Day is the perfect excuse to indulge in a slice (or two!) of the good stuff. But don’t stop at a wedge a la mode for dessert—we’ve got sweet, savory, individual, breakfast and skillet pie recipes so that you can celebrate all day long. Get your geek on!

 

For breakfast: Bell Pepper & Manchego Crustless Quiche with Greens

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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!

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

The Pastry School Diaries: Confessions of a Chocoholic

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! 

After the past few lessons about making chocolate confections, I will never look at a chocolate bar, truffle or bonbon the same way.

The art of making chocolate is one that requires patience, expertise and creativity. Once melted over a double boiler (to prevent burning), you need to constantly watch over chocolate like it is your most prized possession—it can’t get too thick, too thin, too hot or too cold. Just a few degrees off and your chocolate becomes dull or does not set.

We started off easy with mendiants, which are rounds of melted chocolate that are piped onto a baking sheet and topped with a variety of dried fruits, nuts, spices and other flavorings.

 

We then moved on to rolling truffles. We made a wide assortment, from maple-bourbon, to green tea, to caramel to strawberry.

 

 

Finally, we learned how to make and fill bonbons, which was the most time consuming and temperamental process out of them all. The results were gorgeous, though.

 

 

I’ve enjoyed learning about chocolates because of all the different flavor possibilities: you can add so many different sweet, savory, spicy and tangy ingredients to your product—chocolate really is like an blank canvas.

 

I want to know: What’s your dream chocolate combination?

 

Check back next week for more sweet tales!