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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


The Best Way To Bake


For our July story, "The Year of the Pastry Chef,"  we had the honor of featuring some incredible desserts from some of the country's best pastry minds, including Christy Timon and Abram Faber of Clear Flour Bread in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who gave us the recipe for their amazing airy baked doughnuts. A model professional baking recipe, it used baker's percentages and required an accurate scale and instant yeast, two things that aren't often found in home kitchens, but make for more reliable results. In the magazine, we adapted the doughnuts for home cooks, swapping in easier-to-find active dry yeast, scaling back the portions, and converting weights to cup measures, but Timon and Faber were rightfully concerned that our version wouldn't be as fail-safe. We think we came pretty close, but were we right? For the sake of comparison (and for those who prefer scales), the bakery's original recipe comes after the jump. Which would you rather use?



Sous Vide Sealers


In our July issue we shared some simple sous vide recipes to try out with new countertop sous vide machines, and a few readers wrote in asking where to get vacuum sealers to try the technique at home. We can recommend two options:

1. The makers of the SousVide Supreme have come out with a terrific countertop vacuum sealer that's sturdy and easy to use, as well as certified food-grade bags (certified to be free of Bisphenol-A, lead and any phthalates). It's great not only for cooking sous vide but for keeping foods fresh in the refrigerator. $130; surlatable.com.

2. Resealable freezer bags also work, if a little less elegantly. At a recent class at the French Culinary Institute, food science whiz Dave Arnold demonstrated the following ingenious method: insert the item to be cooked into the bag and close all but 1/4-inch of the seal. Submerge all but the unsealed corner of the bag in a large, deep bowl of water and let the water press out all of the air. Close the seal and transfer the bag to the prepared water bath.


Supper Swap


© Cedric Angeles

I often spend my Sundays cooking, so I can have leftovers for lunch and dinner during the week. (Unfortunately, I can't eat out of our fabulous Test Kitchen every day!) But with the weather heating up here on the East Coast, just thinking about spending any time—never mind hours—near my oven was enough to make me melt. Luckily, this weekend was the inaugural “supper swap” between me and two good friends of mine, which meant I only had to cook one meal instead of my usual two or three. In return for my chilled edamame soup (left), ginger-scallion noodles (from the Momofuku cookbook, by F&W Best New Chef 2006 David Chang), and watermelon-strawberry pops, I got two other full meals that I can't wait to try. The first: tabbouleh-stuffed pitas, cold cucumber soup, shrimp salad and plum crumble. The second: tandoori chicken, scallion rice, chilled carrot-yogurt soup and coconut cookies. The hardest part has been choosing what to eat first, and the best part has been giving each other feedback through our e-mail chain.


Mystery Dip


Crack Dip

Every year, my friends and I have a designated “Day of Sloth,” when we spend the entire day indoors watching movies and eating gluttonous foods like meatballs, salted brownies and “crack dip.” That last one, the dip, is the creation of a friend who is prohibited under penalty of death to share the recipe. Since she won’t be able to attend this year, she gave me a rare gift: her spice mix (all I have to do is add some cream cheese, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco). I passed the mix around the office to see what we could discern, and the guesses were as far-ranging as chile powder, Old Bay, curry and garlic powder. (I’m personally convinced the stuff is laced with MSG.) Until I can squeeze the full recipe out of my friend, I guess I’ll have to be content having these F&W favorites. There are worse fates!

Caramelized Onion Dip
Fresh Goat Cheese and Crispy Shallot Dip
French Onion Dip


World Cup Party: U.S. vs. England


Corn salad

© Kristen Strecker

I've always been a fan of Super Bowl parties, but I'm even more excited for soccer's World Cup—who can resist a monthlong extravaganza as an excuse to throw a summer barbecue? A friend of mine is hosting a party on Saturday afternoon to watch the U.S. vs. England game. She's British, as are most of the guests, but there's  a strong American contingent attending to keep the emotions running high. The host is making Pimm's Cup —a great drink for a crowd, and very British to boot—and grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. I'm planning on bringing a Chipotle-Corn Salad (at left), though other room-temperature salads, like Pasta Salad with Grilled Sausages and Peppers, would be fantastic as well. Here are 25 more recipes to bring to a World Cup party.


No-Chew Post-Plastic Surgery Recipes for The Hills’ Heidi Montag


© Ellie Miller

Poor Heidi Montag. The reality TV star has been relentlessly scrutinized in the tabloids for undergoing ten plastic surgery procedures in a day. And in the recent season premiere of her show, MTV’s The Hills, she goes home to Crested Butte, Colorado, only to get criticized by her family over dinner at The Timberline Restaurant. Heidi's stepfather says her face is more structured (“like you’re frozen"). But the biggest embarrassment comes after she attempts to eat her burger: “I can’t really chew it,” she admits. Her mom's snarky response: “Do you want me to put it in a blender for you?”

Here, a few no-chew post-op recipes for Heidi or anyone who hasn't had an eyebrow lift, nose job, cheek and lip injections, shaved chin, ear pinning, breast augmentation, back “shaping," and inner and outer thigh liposuction:

Strawberry-Almond Smoothie (pictured)
Creamy Tomato Soup
Vanilla Bean-Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Venetian Lemon Shake


Tasty (Mis)Adventures in Vegetarian Red Wine Pairings


Our May story on Bonny Doon and the brilliant chef behind their new Tasting Room, Charlie Parker, inspired me to try pairing vegetarian dishes with big red wines at home. If only I had the professional finesse of Bonny Doon. Earlier this week Ray Isle gave me half a case of big reds from the F&W tasting room for the experiment, which I was about to take on the subway when it started to pour. Since I had to hold an umbrella with one hand, I could only grab two of the six bottles with the other: a 2007 Praxis Lagrein and a 2006 Masi Campofiorin. Then, once I was at home I discovered the Campofiorin was corked.

I made my stuffed red bell peppers anyway, filling them with cooked red quinoa and feta cheese, and simmering them in a tomato sauce spiked with a pinch of chile flakes. Finally I tried them with the Lagrein. They tasted just how you'd imagine stuffed bell peppers would, if they'd been garnished with blueberry jam. I had much better luck with the 2009 Hofer Grüner Veltliner in my refrigerator: the faint floral notes married well with the juicy bell peppers, while the white pepper and zippy acidity lightened the rich stuffing. But there is nothing big nor is there anything red about Grüner-Veltliner, though it may be one of the most vegetable-friendly white wines out there. So I'm going to take a page out of Randall Grahm's book and try again.

Meanwhile, enjoy these brilliant vegetarian pairings from Charlie Parker:

Savoy Cabbage and Sunchoke Pizzas with a Dolcetto

Smoky Ribollita with a Sangiovese

Roasted Turnips and their Greens, with a Syrah


Vacation-House Cooking


Chef Thomas Keller fried egg BLT

© Kana Okada

What can you cook with no spices other than salt? This is not a Top Chef Quickfire Challenge—it's just the issue I had to deal with last week, when I stayed at a beachside condo in the Florida Keys and needed to make dinner for my family. I wanted to spend my time relaxing, not cooking (not that cooking isn't fun, but you know what I mean), and I didn't want to buy a lot of ingredients that I’d just have to throw away when we left. Two recipes that fit the bill: chef Thomas Keller’s BLT Fried Egg-and-Cheese Sandwich (pictured)—I buttered the toast instead of using mayo and added sliced avocado—and Spaghetti with Shrimp and Spicy Tomato Sauce from my friend (and former F&W editor) Jane Sigal. This easy recipe uses mostly pantry ingredients (I often substitute a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes for the fresh if tomatoes aren't in season), plus I skipped the basil and substituted a jalapeño for the dried chiles. I'd love to hear other recipe suggestions for future trips, if anyone has thoughts.


Test Kitchen Essential Tool #5


I'm very lucky to be married to a builder for so many reasons: From major renovations to minor repairs, he's always ready to help.  He even customizes kitchen tools for me. My most recent request was for him to cut me an eight-inch length of three-quarter-inch PVC pipe from his scrap pile, so I could roll out dough for Asian dumplings. 
Standard rolling pins are too long and heavy. I've made dumplings using wooden dowels, but we don't seem to have many lying around. Broom handles are great, but then you have to cannibalize your broom. PVC (polyvinyl chloride pipe-a combination of plastic and vinyl) is perfect: smooth, lightweight and easy to customize.


Goodbye, Gelfite Fish


© Tina Rupp

While gefilte fish has no symbolic reason for being invited to the Passover table, one cannot underestimate the power of nostalgia. And that’s gefilte fish’s main virtue. (The dish was originally prized for its economy: It stretched a bit of boneless white fish with fillers such as matzo meal, carrots and sweetened fish stock that turned to jelly.) I’ve concluded that the best way to get people to love gefilte fish is not to serve it at all. For the six remaining nights of Passover, here are six delicious alternatives: herb-broiled fish with lemon aioli (pictured), grilled halibut with tomato butter, and tilapia with tomato and artichoke sauce.

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