5 not-your-average PB&J recipes

Sure, you could whip up a simple sammie for National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day, but why stop there when the possibilities are truly endless? It’s Saturday, after all, so get your hands sticky with the two best spreads that make you feel like a kid again… in bars, pie, doughnut holes and more!
 

PB & Berry Pie

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The Pastry School Diaries: A Bittersweet Goodbye

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! 

 

When I started school back in July, I honestly couldn’t even picture what my last few classes would look like. I couldn’t imagine walking into a kitchen, following a recipe, asking questions and exploring my culinary strengths and weaknesses with the confidence that I’ve developed. I felt so unsure of the relationships I’d develop with my classmates and instructors, and I definitely didn’t think I would be capable to design, bake and decorate a two-tiered celebration cake all on my own. Now that the day is finally approaching, I’ve taken great pleasure in looking back at my growth along the way.

 

Gum paste bases for roses, cala lilies and mimosas

 

We’ve started making preliminary plans and accessories for our cakes. I submitted my first draft of what I hope my cake to look like, and I’ve spent most of my time in class working on gum paste roses. My cake is going to be draped in roses, so you can imagine I have a lot of work ahead of me.

 

My very rough sketch of what I hope my cake to look like

 

Out of all the unknowns that existed when I started school, I think the biggest was where I’d be completing my externship. Well, that day has finally arrived too, and I’ve happily accepted a placement in a test kitchen. I’ll be testing both savory and sweet recipes and continuing to learn more about life as a chef. I’m excited for a new phase in my culinary journey, but I know how much I’m going to miss this chapter of my life.

 

My classmates and me posing with our chocolate sculptures. So happy!

So as I close the book on the Pastry School Diaries, I want to thank you all for reading and letting me share this experience with you. I hope you’ve learned something along the way, and that if you’ve ever considered going back to school (whether it’s culinary school, business school or something completely different), my journey has pushed you just a little further to do so. On to the next sweet adventure!


What to do with leftover Easter eggs

Gather those extra Easter eggs and get cracking with these fun, easy recipes.

Bread-and-Butter Pickled Eggs

Once you’ve polished off a 24-oz. jar of bread-and-butter pickles, add 4 peeled hard-boiled eggs 3 sprigs dill and 2 bay leaves to the liquid in the jar. Refrigerate overnight. Makes 4.

Deviled Egg Dip

In a food processor, blend 6 hard-boiled eggs, 6 tbsp. mayo, 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. garlic powder and hot sauce to taste; season. Sprinkle with paprika. Serve with raw veggies. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Egg & Smoked Salmon Pasta

Cook 1 lb. fettuccini; drain and reserve 3/4 cup pasta cooking water. In a pot, melt 8 oz. cream cheese, 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan and 1/2 tsp. Dijon. Stir in pasta, cooking water and 6 oz. chopped smoked salmon. Top with capers, chives and 3 grated hard-boiled eggs. Serves 6.

Breakfast Scotch Eggs

Shape 1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage into 6 thin patties; place 1 hard-boiled egg on each. Press sausage around egg to cover. Roll in flour, dip in beaten egg and coat with panko. Bake at 400 degrees until sausage is cooked through, 45 minutes. Makes 6.

By Ananda Eidelstein


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.


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!