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!


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

 


30 Reasons to Eat Your Veggies

Getting your daily dose of vegetables can sometimes feel like a challenge, but Recipe for Success is making that challenge a fun one! Every March, the foundation initiates Veg Out!, a call to action to eat 30 different vegetables throughout the month. Recipe for Success has created a ton of resources to help make eating your veggies easy and enjoyable. You can find recipes, local farmers markets and events, and their veggie tracker sheet and app makes remembering to eat your veggies super simple.


But wait—there’s more! If eating your veggies weren’t rewarding enough, you’ll have the chance to win a ton of awesome prizes along the way! Including a chance to win a set of the Rachael Ray Cucina Hard Enamel Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware. For more information on how to enter, click here.

Photo courtesy of Rachael Ray Store 

Looking for some veggie inspiration? Here are some of our favorite hearty and healthy recipes that are perfect for the season.

Creamed Roasted Red Pepper & Kale Penne

Carrot Soup with Ginger & Thyme

Sicilian Tuna-and-Potato Salad

Paella-Stuffed Squash


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!