Category Archives: From the Cookbook

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel “Cheese Ball”

Continuing with dip week (it’s even got its own theme song!), I present this chocolate peanut butter pretzel “cheese ball.” In quotes because it’s a play on a savory cheese ball, but really this is a cross between a dessert dip and gloriously thick frosting.

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And if you think this sounds like heaven, you are right. Some cream cheese adds a tangy edge to an otherwise alwayswinning combo of peanut butter and chocolate, and I couldn’t resist throwing some pretzels in there for a bit of salty-sweet. It takes all of five minutes to make and requires no oven time, a major plus on these 90-degree days. Plus it travels well and is easy to share, which makes it a perfect picnic dessert. Except then you might have to share, and let’s just say I didn’t do too much of that …  Continue reading

Buffalo Chicken Dip

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I know, I know, it’s hot out and you don’t want to turn on your oven. Maybe it’s too stifling to think about melty cheese, spicy chicken and ooey, gooey dip. Maybe that’s “football food” in your head, perfect for crisp fall days, but not when it’s 90 degrees out.

Fine then. MORE FOR ME.

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This buffalo chicken dip is so good that I made it Sunday, finished it Monday and half-contemplated making it again on Tuesday. (Don’t worry, I’m waiting ’til the weekend.) It’s everything one wants from buffalo wings, and even eliminates two of their biggest problems: messy fingers and bones. Seriously, those are two of my biggest pet peeves in life, so you can just imagine how smitten I am with this recipe.

It’s also pretty easy. I poached the chicken breasts the night before (and if you’ve never poached before, this is a great tutorial), but if you’re really pressed for time, you could also shred a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Once your chicken is ready, all you need is 15 minutes on the stove and 30-40 minutes in the oven.

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And your reward? Buffalo chicken heaven. Seriously, I can’t even describe how delicious this was or how much I want it in my belly right now. You’ll just have to make it yourself to find out. (And then invite me over, kthanks.) Continue reading

Spinach, Mushroom and Bacon Egg Boat

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I have no glamorous excuses for the delay between posts. No adventures, no chic parties, no new chef BFFs. Instead, I have a good old-fashioned case of writer’s block, coupled with an unquenchable thirst to be outdoors, where it’s warm! And sunny! And did I mention warm?

So I’ll be brief here. This spinach, mushroom and bacon egg boat is divine, and should be part of every homemade brunch you make from here on out.

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What is an egg boat? It starts with loaf of bread — I used a sourdough boule, but if you feel strongly about something else, then by all means try it. The innards of the bread are scooped out and filled with some sort of egg-veggies-cheese-protein blend. The original recipe, from The Kitchn, went with smoked salmon, Gruyere, capers and chives. My version kept the Gruyere, but then veered into spinach, mushroom, bacon territory.

The whole thing gets baked for an hour, until the eggs are puffy and set, and tastes like a cross between a quiche and a baked egg casserole. And then there are the added benefits: no need to make toast on the side, you can prep the egg filling a day or two in advance, it’s relatively inexpensive to make, and this egg boat can feed a crowd.

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Look at that thing. You know you want some. Continue reading

Cast-Iron Steak

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For someone who eats a ton of meat (and cooks a fair amount of it), it’s a little surprising that I don’t have a definitive steak recipe on here. That’s because I was under the impression that that thick, salty crust and melt-in-your-mouth meat were a hallmark of steakhouses alone, and not something one could do at home. FALSE FALSE FALSE.

As it turns out, you absolutely can make drool-worthy steak at home. All you need are a cast-iron skillet, a good amount of coarse salt, some freshly cracked black pepper, a strong exhaust fan and/or an understanding that your apartment will smell like burnt cow for a solid three or four days. (Who needs a White Castle candle when you can have parfum de boeuf?)

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There are a few rules for picking out your steak. First, avoid bone-in cuts, since they require longer cooking times. Choose a steak that’s about one inch thick — any thicker and it won’t cook through on the stove. Ideally, you’d want a strip, hanger, skirt or flat iron steak, though I used a 1/2-inch thick sirloin and got great results. So as long as your steak is relatively thin and flat, you should be ok.

The most important things to remember here: hot and dry. In order to get a good sear on the meat, your pan must be piping hot and the meat must be dry dry dry. Cast-iron skillets are ideal because they can get much hotter than other skillets and also distribute heat more evenly, but any thick-bottomed skillet will do. Air out the steak for up to an hour, patting it repeatedly with paper towels so that the meat is as dry as possible.

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Julia Moskin’s method has you salt the pan instead of salting the steak, since the dry salt and the hot pan help form that highly sought-after crust. And rather than adding the steak to the pan and letting it sit, Moskin suggests flipping it often, so that the meat never gets a chance to really overcook. (If your pan is hot enough, you’ll get a nice brown char on the meat almost immediately, so no need to worry about that.) The meat should be on the stove for no longer than 5 minutes for a rare or medium rare steak, and it should rest for at least 10 minutes before you start slicing.

I don’t need to tell you how delicious this shizz is. Just look at those bad boys. And then go out, buy yourself a steak and get to cooking.

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Continue reading

Slow-Cooker Tacos Al Pastor

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Let’s not talk about how long ago I made this recipe (pre-Cinco de Mayo) or what I’ve cooked since then (nothing). Instead, let’s focus on what I’ve been doing in the meantime: celebrating The Huffington Post’s 10th anniversary (and also Mother’s Day), hanging out with my new BFF Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli, running the Brooklyn Half, hitting up ’90s hip-hop dance parties and mourning the end of Mad Men. (And yes, I could’ve actually written about all of those things instead of just linking to Instagram, but I’m crazy lazy today a picture is worth a thousand words.)

Tacos al pastor have an interesting history: traditionally, the pork is marinated with pineapple, dried chiles and other spices, and then cooked on a rotating vertical spit, similar to shawarma or doner kebab. It was likely brought to central Mexico by Lebanese immigrants, who fled there after the fall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. (Although shawarma is usually made with lamb or chicken, pork reigns supreme in Mexico.) I first had al pastor tacos during my trip to Los Cabos, and the spicy-sweet combo of pineapple, chili and perfectly crisp but melty pork stuck with me.

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That it’s taken me weeks to write about these slow-cooker tacos al pastor in no way reflects how delicious they are. To be clear: they’re bomb. I enjoyed them immensely on Cinco de Mayo, and for days afterward, since the recipe creates a ton of meat. And I used the leftover pork to make nachos and scrambles and a weird but good mash of meat and tortilla and avocado and salsa — a shoddy attempt at chilaquiles, perhaps? As with all slow-cooker situations, the pork is super easy, though I cooked it on the stove for a few to get it seared and a bit crispy. That’s totally optional, and if you prefer your tacos saucy, I’d skip it.

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We’re finally in the best part of the year: picnic / BBQ / outdoor party season, where easy, transportable, fresh meals are de rigeur and any excuse to make margs is in high demand. So what I’m really saying is … You’re welcome. Continue reading