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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Test Kitchen

Aromatherapy for Your Lips

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Whether intentionally or not, I may have stumbled upon the next big thing-with the help of F&W's Kristin Donnelly, editor extraordinaire and creator of a fabulous new line of all-natural lip balms, Stewart & Claire.
 
As of today, she offers five ready-made balms, four of which are lightly scented with, among other things, basil, peppermint, tarragon, lavender, coconut and mint. I've sampled the Spring (scented with tarragon) and Bare (unscented). Though absolutely luscious on the lips (and remarkably restorative in minutes), Bare interested me a bit less than Spring because of Spring's bright, green tarragon fragrance.
 
I broke out the tube on my subway ride home (always a tactical move to have something pleasant to smell on a crowded subway car, especially in summer) and immediately felt a bit calmer. Then I popped an Altoid and had an epiphany. Wow—olfactory overload in the best way! Minty, herbaceous, soothing yet energizing, it was a day-spa in my handbag. Flavor geek and hard-candy freak that I am, it only seemed logical to try different hard candies, too: greenapple Jolly Ranchers: good (grape: awful); La Vie raspberry pastillines: better; La Vie lemon pastillines: best!
 
I can't wait to try Stewart & Claire's three other ready-made scented balms: Summer, Coconut and Mint. But I'm especially excited about the custom (bespoke) balms they can whip up for you based on your scent and texture preferences-cinnamon, ginger, rose, coriander, etc. Imagine a whole new world of candy-balm parings.  

Farms

Favorite New Tool for Summer Preserves

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© Deborah Jones

As farmers' markets burst with tomatoes, blackberries, peaches, plums and nectarines, I unpack and dust off my summer preserving tools. I buy new rubber gaskets for my canning jars, cheesecloth for straining berries, and enough sugar to bury a small animal.

By far my favorite tool for preserving is the food mill. In years past, when making fruit jams or tomato sauce, I would simmer fruit, mash it, then strain it through a fine-meshed sieve—entirely too much work for me nowadays. With a food mill, though, I can combine the mashing and straining into one step. The resulting puree is silky smooth and free of skins and seeds.

In "The Primary Pantry" in our August issue, I preserve a whole bunch of summery things—beans, garlic, tomatoes, corn, chiles, herbs and berriesand recommended a food mill for preparing the tomato sauce and fruit butters

At a recent All-Clad press event, I was super impressed by their brand-new food mill and wished it had been available when I was developing these recipes (in the dead of winter). The discs have tiny raised teeth to catch the skin and seeds as the handle is spun, allowing more of the puree to be passed through. The legs are rubberized for better stability and the knob feels great in my hands. Luckily, with summer in full swing, there’s no lack of fruit and tomatoes to pass through my new food mill. (I got a prototype, but you can get yours in just a few weeks—it lauches in early September, peak tomato and peach month!)

 

Recipes

Test Kitchen Essential Tool #5

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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.

Test Kitchen

Restaurant-Style Burgers at Home

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Our stupendous food intern, Molly Adams, recently cooked up some very special burgers for us lucky editors. Here, she reports:

The premium burger just got a little more attainable. Pat LaFrieda—the butcher who supplies custom meat blends to Shake Shack, Little Owl and other restaurants known for their burgers—is now selling three types of patties to home cooks: beef brisket, beef short rib and original beef. (Unfortunately, they’re only available to NYC cooks, since the burgers are sold by the grocery-delivery service Fresh Direct.) The secret to these ultra-juicy patties is in the grind—or should I say chop? LaFrieda only chops small batches of whole-muscle Black Angus beef from Creekstone Farms and ensures the meat is not crushed or overworked, which can make burgers tough and dry. Last week, with the help of Kitchen Assistant Brian Malik, we cooked up a dozen LaFrieda burgers. The unanimous favorite: the brisket burger, which was incredibly moist and flavorful ($6 a pound; freshdirect.com).

Test Kitchen

Two Perfect Cakes

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F&W's testing kitchen assistant, Brian Malik, spent last week baking cakes for a January story. Here, he reports:

For an upcoming story on bakeware, F&W's awesome food intern Molly and I worked our ovens overtime making yellow cakes, 14 in all, to test different baking pans. It’s amazing how different the cakes turned out in each pan, even though we used the same recipe every time. Some were light and spongy, others were dark and crisp, and in one, the cake overflowed, covering the oven floor with a sticky burned mess. The full results will be in a future article, but until then, use your favorite cake pan for these amazing recipes:

Yellow Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Marble Cake with Chocolate-Buttercream Frosting

Recipes

The New (Sort of) Kid-Friendly Food

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I hadn't cooked for my kids for more than two weeks, but all that changed when they returned from camp yesterday. Maybe I was out of practice, maybe I was feeling a bit defiant or maybe I was just hoping for a change, but given how much I enjoyed superspicy broccoli rabe last week, I wanted it again. There were sweet Italian sausages in the fridge, some homemade focaccia buns in the freezer and, of course, broccoli rabeall ready to come together. I thought about sautéing the broccoli rabe, chopping it and kneading it into the sausage meat, but that would've been too cruel to my kids, not to mention self-defeating (I would surely have wound up making PB&Js). To satisfy everyone, I sautéed the broccoli rabe with garlic and so much crushed red pepper flakes all our mouths were vibrating, grilled the sausage patties (and the buns) and sandwiched it all together. A little aioli with olives, capers and herbs from my garden finished the dish. Malcolm, my 7-year-old son, passed on the aioli and broccoli rabe, but my 12-year-old daughter, Pia, ate it all.

Recipes

The Pleasures of Non-Kid-Friendly Food

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Don't get me wrong—I love my kids, and I love eating with them. Some days I challenge them with unusual foods, but mostly I take the path of least resistance. But since they've been away at camp, I've rediscovered the joys of eating whatever and whenever I want (if at all). Tuesday's dinner was a bowl of cereal (Chex, granola and Grape-Nuts), Wednesday's was a peach, Thursday's was a PB&J (natural peanut butter and homemade berry jam) and Friday's was sautéed broccoli rabe with anchovies, olives and so much crushed red pepper that my mouth was vibrating. Maybe someday, my kids will appreciate stinky, spicy and bitter foods, but right now, that's a challenge I'm not ready to take on. Till then, I'll seize every opportunity to satisfy my own appetite.

Test Kitchen

Journey of 1,000 Cookies

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My coworker Melissa Rubel and I are four-fifths of the way toward my goal of baking 1,000 cookies by the end of Tuesday. These cookies will be among dozens of offerings from top chefs at Philadelphia's Great Chefs Event on Wednesday night. The Great Chefs Event supports Alex's Lemonade Stand an organization that raises money and awareness for childhood cancer research and treatment. It's already sold out! That's more than 700 people clamoring for cookies. Time to get baking.

Test Kitchen

Ice Cream Bombes: An Impressive Summer Dessert

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ice cream bombe


Ice cream bombe

I've had a small obsession with ice cream bombes ever since I saw a certain domestic mogul make one into a watermelon look-alike on TV. With summer coming up, I decided to start experimenting with them for fun. An ice cream bombe is really just layers of different flavored ice creams frozen into a bowl or other mold. When you slice it, you can see all the layers, and it really looks impressive. It doesn't require a recipe, but it's a method that can be creatively reinvented hundreds of ways. This week, I decided to do a riff on a Creamsicle using orange sherbet, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet. Once you have it down, create your own favorite combo—I think my next one will be a mocha bombe using chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate vanilla swirl and coffee ice creams. Here's how to do it:

Use a 1 1/2 quart mold, such as a metal or glass bowl, Bundt pan or kugelhopf mold, and line it with plastic wrap. Soften 3 1/2 pints of ice cream, sorbet or sherbet in the refrigerator, in any combination of flavors. Using the back of a large spoon, spread 1 1/2 pints of the ice cream into the mold to cover the entire surface. Freeze between spreading each layer to harden. Repeat with another pint of ice cream and then once more, creating an ice cream bombe with 3 layers. Once complete, freeze for at least 4 hours before serving. To serve, invert the bombe onto a platter, remove the plastic wrap and, using a sharp knife, cut the bombe into slices or wedges.

(Note that a 1 1/2 quart mold holds 3 1/2 pints of ice cream. But you can use any size mold and adjust the amount of ice cream accordingly.)

Test Kitchen

Test Kitchen Tip of the Day

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Not long ago, I discovered that pecans and walnuts (two very fatty and delicate nuts) toast beautifully in the microwave. This morning, with no time to preheat the oven for a meager handful of hazelnuts, I decided to put the microwave method to the test. Well, it worked like a charm—mostly. For 1/2 cup of raw, unblanched hazelnuts, I set the timer for two minutes, which was a tiny bit long. A few of the nuts were too dark to use, but most were perfect. The nuts cooled more quickly, the skins blistered and were magically easier to remove. In the future, I think I'll do 30-second intervals (which is good for all nuts) to control the toasting.

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