Warning: Test Kitchen Tease snapshots may cause lip-smacking, cravings and an unshakeable desire to cook.
In the F&W Test Kitchen this week, senior recipe developer Grace Parisi whipped up one of the best brunch dishes of all time—eggs benedict. The version seen here, made with serrano ham and a luxuriously creamy hollandaise sauce, was so dreamy, our editors couldn’t keep their forks (or hands) off of it. The recipe is still being fine-tuned, but in the meantime, here are a plethora of Brunch Recipes to try this weekend.
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.
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 berries—and 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!)
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.
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).
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