Our 10 Best-Ever Cooking Tips

We’ve given hundreds of helpful cooking tips over the last 10 years, but we must admit, we have some favorites. We’ve hand-selected our best tip from every year of the magazine that we still use today. How many do you have in your cooking rotation?

 

1. When you’re done juicing lemons, use them to wipe down a cutting board to disinfect it and make it smell nice.

 

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7 Recipes to Help You Clean Out Your Fridge

Have you ever stared into your fridge (for what seems like hours) feeling uninspired by its contents? You see a smorgasbord of produce, dairy and condiments but can’t figure out how to make a cohesive meal out of what you have left? We’ve been there too, but the good news is that there’s hope! Whether you’re stuck with a bunch of herbs from that sauce you tried to make from scratch, a half-bottle of wine that didn’t get drunk or just some eggs that are about to hit their sell-by date, there are plenty of ways to use up these ingredients in creative and delicious ways. Here are some to try this week.

 

Got an open jar of marinara? Throw it into this Spicy Egg Bake with any extra eggs you have. It’s the perfect B-L-D!

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The Pastry School Diaries: Blurring the Lines Between Sweet and Savory

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! 

 

This week was all about making and rolling out doughs to use for various techniques and fillings. Sound familiar? While the second half of our doughs unit has focused on this subject matter, this week was a bit different in that when I say “rolling out doughs,” I really mean rolling out the dough. We spent the majority of our class time rolling and stretching linzer, puff pastry and strudel doughs to various sizes in order to be formed and filled.

The most manageable–and easy to make at home–was the linzer dough. You simply press half of the dough into the bottom of a cake pan, cover it with jam and then roll the remaining dough out into a flat sheet. Use a pizza wheel to cut straight lines that will become the lattice (or criss-cross) top and roll small balls to outline the tart. Sprinkle the top with almonds and bake until golden, brown and delicious! We used a hazelnut flour-based dough, which created a rich and warm flavor that tasted like fall.

 

Puff pastry dough is a bit more labor intensive, as you have to repeat a layering, folding and rolling process four times in order to create paper-thin layers of dough and butter. It is then rolled out into a uniform sheet, cut into strips, circles, halves–you name it–filled, formed and baked.

 

Rosemary parmesan straws

Turnovers filled with prosciutto, mozzarella and parsley

 

Strudel dough is an easy mixture of high gluten flour, salt, eggs, oil and water. The hard part comes in when you have to roll it. It took four people to roll the dough out to cover two entire tables (about 4 feet by 6 feet). We then poured one large row of filling at the end of the dough and began to roll it up. The strudel bakes in a large U shape and is cut into squares once it has cooled. This was a very fun and interesting process, but it is something I’ll probably never be able to do at home in my tiny kitchen (New York City problems).

 

I am particularly intrigued by (and value the importance of) these techniques because of how versatile these doughs are. We made a variety of sweet and savory fillings for each recipe because the doughs themselves contain very little sugar or salt. Rather, they are a blank canvas and serve more as a delicious vehicle for the filling. Here are some of my favorite sweet and savory filling combinations

 

Strudel:

Apples, cinnamon, raisins and walnuts

Farmer cheese, raisins, lemon and vanilla

Spinach and cheese

Butternut squash and leek

 

Puff pastry:

Parmesan and paprika

Smoked salmon and chive cream cheese

Cinnamon sugar

Spinach and roquefort

 

What are your favorite fillings for these doughs?

 

Check back next week for another delicious tale!


How to Throw a Sandwich Party

Here’s your next great party idea: a DIY sandwich party! Buy your sub rolls, all the fixins and let your guests get to work. It’ll be the best thing since sliced bread!

 

Here’s what you need to know:

 

Weigh to go

Plan at least three-quarters of a pound of meat and cheese combined per foot-long sandwich

 

Get bready

Buy one 12-inch loaf for each sandwich-maker. Split the loaves lengthwise and trim off the narrow ends. Once the sandwiches are stuffed, line them up end-to-end (and take a photo of your monster sammie!). To serve, slice into 2-inch portions

 

Nice spread

Set out condiments like mustard, mayo, dressing and barbecue sauce, or make the delicious creations below.

 

Caper Spread

Bacon Mayo

Top it off

Set up a selection of all sorts of cool, crunchy, tangy and sweet toppings, like sliced tomatoes, onions, pickles, peppers, fresh herbs, radishes, even apples!

 

Here are some recipe ideas to get you started:

Sliced Steak Club Subs

Italian Hoagies

Cheesy Sausage Subs

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The Pastry School Diaries: Crust is a Must

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! 

 

This was an especially production-heavy week, as we made five different doughs and about 20 filled tarts, pies and shells. What I’m learning–and loving–about the more rustic desserts is that they’re supposed to be imperfect. The filling itself is more of a trial and error process than a science. For example, we made a delicious plum galette, despite the fact that plums aren’t in season. To remedy this problem, we sliced the plums very thin and roasted them with lots of delicious flavor additions, like ginger and lemon zest.

 

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5 Ways to Dress Up Your Sandwich

There are so many ways to enjoy a sandwich, and so many reasons to love them: you can put just about anything you want on them, they work for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert, you can fit all–or most–of the food groups into one portable meal and the combinations are literally never-ending.  But for those times when you just can’t bare to look at another leaf of romaine or slice of cheese, we’ve rounded up five delicious sandwich additions that you’re sure to love.

 

Raw-Beet Slaw

 
 

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Kick Off November with 5 Comforting Weeknight Meals

Get your oversized sweaters and stretchy pants out of storage–it’s officially comfort food season! From now until spring, we’ll be cooking up hearty stews, roasting veggies and baking until even our mixers are tired, and we want you to do the same! But comfort food doesn’t mean you need to slave away in the kitchen all day. These five dinners are quick enough for a weeknight but cozy enough for a relaxing evening by the fire. Get ready to bundle up!

 

Monday, November 2

Chickpea Soup

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The Pastry School Diaries: Around the World in One Class

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! 

 

My taste buds traveled to the American South and across the pond all in the same day, as we learned how to make biscuits and scones. I had no idea I would enjoy making these doughs as much as I did, but after learning how simple, versatile and surprisingly stress-relieving the technique is, I already have plans to try it at home.

 

Want to know the differences between scone dough and biscuit dough? For both doughs, you combine your dry ingredients in a bowl, add your cold butter and work it down with your hands into small pieces. This can take quite a while, but the motion and texture of it feels like you’re in an edible zen garden. Very relaxing after a long day! Next, add your liquid and work the dough until it is just combined.

When making scones, you use the mealy dough method, while biscuits use the flaky dough method. The mealy method means that while breaking down the butter into the dry ingredients, you need to keep working it until there is no butter apparent. In the flaky method, you only have to work the butter down until it is the size of a hazelnut.


Scones typically contain sugar and other sweet ingredients like dried fruit or chocolate, while biscuits are typically savory.

Biscuits with sharp cheddar cheese and chives

The traditional biscuit shape is round while scones are made triangular by forming large discs and slicing wedges before baking.

 

Scones are known to be served with clotted cream, jam and tea, while biscuits can be served with butter, honey and ham.

Scones with cornmeal, lemon zest and dried cherries

Both are equally delicious and easy to make. It just depends on what part of the world you want to be in!

Stay tuned for more sweet dough lessons next week!


The Pastry School Diaries: It’s the Season for Layers

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! 

 

Remember last week when I told you we prepped the dough for croissants and danishes? Well, the day finally arrived when we got to roll out, form, fill, bake–and devour–the finished product. These two pastries are definitely a labor of love. They are made from a laminate dough, which is dough that has been covered with a layer of butter, folded over itself, rolled out and repeated twice more. This process forms paper-thin alternating layers of dough and butter, resulting in that sinfully delicious, flaky texture that we have known to associate with French pastries. What makes a danish different from a croissant is two key ingredients: eggs, which create a more cake-like texture, and cardamom, a popular spice in Scandinavian baking.

 

Almond croissants

 

What I liked about making croissants and danishes is the variety and liberty we had in both shape and filling. We made four types of croissant: plain, almond, chocolate and ham and cheese. For the danishes, fillings included pastry cream, frangipane (an almond filling), various fruits, a ricotta-raisin mixture and pureed prunes. We had a variety of shapes to experiment with as well.

 

Ham & cheese croissant

Braided Danish filled with ricotta, raisins and poached pineapple

 

A variety of bear claw, pinwheel and envelope Danishes

 

I’m not sure I would try my hand at making these at home quite yet, but I’m glad I learned the process. If you do, however, have the desire, time and, most importantly, counter space to try making laminate dough at home, here are my “things they only tell you in pastry school” tips:

1. When making, folding and rolling out your dough, keep everything as cold as possible. The butter cannot melt, or else you won’t get those beautiful air pockets that we all know and love about croissants.

2. Use a ruler to measure out the dough. Each pastry should be roughly the same exact size, which allows for uniform baking time (and no fighting over the biggest one!).

3. When working with liquid fillings, don’t overdo it. The filling is just going to spill out during baking.

4. When working with solid fillings, like ham and cheese, you can go a little heavier. Because no one wants a ham-less ham and cheese croissant.

5. Be sure to egg wash the ends of your dough. Seal it tightly so your filling doesn’t fall out and your pastry maintains its shape.

6. Got leftovers? Wrap them in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of tinfoil and stick them in the freezer. They will thaw looking as perfect as they did when they were hot out of the oven!

Check back next week for more baking tips!


7 Ways to Use All of the Pumpkin

The Pumpkin Spice Latte might arrive to the fall party a little too early, but you know it’s officially pumpkin season when shelves are lined with cans of it, pastry counters are filled with squash-stuffed desserts and your Instagram feed has more orange than you ever thought was possible. This year, rather than sticking to your typical pie or cake, try something new! We’ve collected seven of our favorite ways to incorporate this gorgeous gourd into all things sweet and savory. Who needs a latte, after all?

 

Pumpkin Quesadillas

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