• Madeleines
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Other,  Snacks

    Madeleines

    In the early 1900s, author Marcel Proust wrote 1,267,069 words in his seven-volume masterpiece In Search of Lost Time. And yet “madeleine” is the word that made him famous. Madeleines, little tea cakes baked in scallop molds, have been delighting the French since the 18th Century. And it was Proust who made them popular worldwide. She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell….And once I had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-flowers which my aunt used to give me…the whole of Combray and of…

  • Quesabeanas
    Appetizers,  Beans,  Cheese dishes,  Main Dish,  Mexican,  Side Dishes,  Vegetable,  Vegetables,  Vegetarian

    Raegan’s “Quesabeanas,” Refried-Bean Quesadillas

    Recipephany Test Kitchen’s Chief Taster, Dan, likes to call these “Yummy Chongas” or “Tacodilla Grandes.” But their developer, Raegan Sales (also known for the best No-Knead Focaccia), calls them “Quesabeanas,” and that sums them up pretty well. Refried beans sweetened with caramelized aromatics and spiked with hot sauce bulk up the humble quesadilla. A soft bean filling fuses with melted cheese so when you bite into the toasty flour tortilla, you taste nothing but delicious squishiness inside. And while it masquerades as fun food, the Quesabeana—especially with lots of toppings—includes all manner of healthy food groups. While Raegan came up with the Quesabeana, her husband, our son Andrew, inspired the crispy cheese crust. “He…

  • Meringue Cradle Cake
    Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Meringue Cradle Cake

    Fit for a celebration, Meringue Cradle Cake evokes all the drama of a layered pastry, yet it comes together as if by magic. A crust of chocolate-flecked meringue covers a luxurious golden cake. It looks complicated, but the heavenly contrast of crispy and tender springs from the simple alchemy of separating egg whites and yolks. Rarely have eggs performed so many tricks in one cake. Yolks pump up the flavor, moisten the crumb, and deepen the color. Whites whip into a brilliant built-in meringue topping. Everything gets used, so there’s no need for egg-white omelets later. Contrary to what others report, this recipe has nothing to do with the Baby Jesus. We discovered it…

  • Appetizers,  Breakfast,  Cheese dishes,  Egg dishes,  Main Dish,  Side Dishes,  Snacks,  Vegetable,  Vegetables

    Spinach Squares

    We could say that good old-fashioned Spinach Squares are staging a comeback, but they never actually went away. Also called “spinach brownies,”—no, there’s no chocolate—these squares bring to the savory portion of a meal what fudgy brownies bring to dessert. Cheesy-rich and luscious, they invite you to have just one—and then one more. Stir these up in minutes as an easy alternative to Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie). An appetizer, snack, side dish or even main attraction, Spinach Squares freeze and reheat well. The recipe makes a big batch, so you can serve some and still have enough for another occasion. And they make great finger food, even sneaked cold from the fridge. Surprisingly, Spinach…

  • Breakfast,  Cakes,  Snacks

    Lemon Blueberry Swirl Cake

    We love lemon. (Ooh, Ma’s Lemon Sponge Pie, with its tart curd and divine fluff.) And we love blueberries. (Ahh, Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin Cake, all juicy and sugar-crusty on top.) So it’s no wonder we love this moist Lemon Blueberry Swirl Cake. Sweet and tangy, it balances the two flavors just right. It makes a perfect snack cake or dessert. But its real secret to success?  No need for fresh or even frozen berries. You’ll need lemons of course—but that’s easy, since you may have lemons in your fridge right now. We always keep a stash for lemon pasta, fish, scallopini, hummus…you name it. So we can toss together a lemon dessert just…

  • Spiced Pecans
    Appetizers,  Candy,  Desserts,  Passover,  Vegan

    Spiced Pecans

    Except for those with nut allergies (apologies to one of our nieces) or those who avoid cinnamon (apologies to one of our nephews), just about everybody loves pecans with a sugar-spice crunch. The coating elevates the nuts to a luxurious treat—in just a few minutes and with the simplest ingredients. We like to give these away at Christmas, but they also make a perfect sweet for Passover. What’s more, they qualify as vegan and gluten-free without even trying. This recipephany came from The Boston Globe’s Confidential Chat (or informally, “Chatters”). An early form of social media, the column connected readers who mailed in recipe requests, recipes, and good-ole-fashioned kitchen advice. The Globe retired this…

  • Vegetable Pulao
    Gluten-free,  Indian,  Rice,  Side Dishes,  Vegan,  Vegetables

    Basmati Rice with Peas and Carrots (Mixed Vegetable Pulao)

    Peas and carrots—that humble yet dynamic duo—add just the right sweetness and color to this Indian-spiced rice. The pared-down ingredient list may tempt you to throw in aromatics and sexier veggies, but don’t bother. This easy dish tastes authentic, cooks in a flash, and can either go with a curry or dress up a simple meal with its fragrant, warm spices. This recipephany came from the back of a bag of basmati rice, more proof that we get the best recipes right off the packages. Unfortunately, we didn’t note the brand, so we can’t give it credit. Maybe it’s just as well we don’t remember the brand. The rice producer would probably be upset…

  • Chocolate Cups With Chocolate Mascarpone
    Candy,  Desserts,  Gluten-free,  Pudding,  Snacks

    Chocolate Whipped Mascarpone in Dark Chocolate Mini Cups

    Our daughter once gave us a box of imported chocolate mini cups, which made any filling an instant dessert. Turns out, if you can melt chocolate you can make them yourself. Paint the inside of small paper baking cups with melted bittersweet chocolate, let harden, then strip off the paper. The crisp accordion pleats make these cups look so much like paper liners, your guests will try to peel them off. It’s such fun—the opposite of fake food. It’s both a craft project and a dessert. Better yet, fill these petite cups with mascarpone chocolate cream and you get a dreamy, deep chocolate that melts away with each heavenly bite. Mascarpone—the milder and creamier…

  • Punched Potatoes from Richard Nasser
    Gluten-free,  Other,  Potatoes,  Side Dishes,  Vegan,  Vegetable,  Vegetables

    Punched Potatoes from Richard Nasser

    Our friend Richard Nasser served these heavenly punched potatoes and they made us think of what makes a great french fry: crispy outsides with soft, creamy insides. Our daughter, when she was little, nailed it when she said her favorite fries have “a lot of filling.” Yes, we want them crisp, but the real potato punch is in the “filling.” “Punched potatoes” apparently come from Portugal, creating some nice English alliteration. They are also known as ”smashed potatoes.” As both names imply, the idea is to flatten them. As our guest contributor, Richard shares his technique for creating the optimal “flesh/skin ratio” that make these potatoes totally irresistible. “I don’t know the national provenance…

  • Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts,  Muffins,  Other,  Snacks

    Tibetan Bon Bons (Baked “Donuts”)

    Tasting just like donuts but without the mess of frying, these gems originated in the rustic hearth of the Nangzhik Monastery in Tibet. The monks offered these “righteously delicious” little cakes to pilgrims so they could keep up their strength and spirits on their strenuous hikes. The monastery subsequently became a Tibetan “Trek Stop,” welcoming travelers from around the world. One such adventurer, the famed J. Peterman, cracked the monk’s secret recipe in 1983 and named the small cakes “Tibetan Bon Bons” after Tibet’s ancient religion, Bon. He identified the secret ingredient, the key to the tender crumb and depth of flavor: finely chopped tart apples stirred into the batter. Actually, none of that…

  • Tomato with Sage Pasta Sauce
    Ingredient,  Italian,  Pasta,  Vegan

    Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Sage Sauce

    Our new favorite pasta sauce has all the earmarks of a Neopolitan classic. Quick and simple, it exemplifies the short-order-cooking style typical of great Italian food. It simmers just long enough to get saucy and tangy, then clings lovingly to the pasta of your choice, careful to let the creamy flavor of the wheat shine through. It includes the usual suspects: chunked-up tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, sage…. Sage? What’s with the sage? We know how Italians season tomatoes with basil and oregano, and occasionally with rosemary and thyme. Sage goes into saltimbocca and brown butter sauce, but not red sauces. But why not? Sage belongs to the mint family, along with all those…

  • Rugelach
    Cookies,  Other,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Rugelach with Raspberry Jam, Pecans and Mini Chocolate Chips

    Rugelach, the little rolled-up pastries filled with all manner of jams, nuts and goodies, have gone beyond their Jewish roots into general circulation. They’ve become so mainstream that cookie maven Dorie Greenspan, who apparently had trouble with the pronunciation, tried renaming them “Friendship Cookies” in one of her books. The chutzpah! Good thing Dorie’s rebranding didn’t stick. We should preserve the Yiddish, which means “little twist,” or “little horn.” Like “bubbellah.” a pet name my parents called me, “rugelach” has some sweet affection built right in. To make it even cuter, it’s both singular and plural, like “moose” or “Red Sox.” No, this recipephany didn’t come from my strudel-baking grandmother Lena. Instead, it’s from…

  • Risotto with Butternut Squash and Sage in the Pressure Cooker
    Appetizers,  Gluten-free,  Italian,  Main Dish,  Rice,  Vegetables

    Risotto with Butternut Squash and Sage in the Pressure Cooker

    As the days get shorter, keep the sun in your life with gleaming risotto lit with golden butternut squash. Plump little Arborio rice grains turn creamy yet keep a nice al dente chew. Swirled with sweet winter squash, it’s a comfort food to rival mac and cheese. The pressure cooker (or Instant Pot) cooks it up perfetto in just about 5 minutes, without any of the watching, stirring and all-around fussing that scare cooks away from risotto. Fresh sage plays the hero here, propelling the savory flavors into the stratosphere. Dried sage can work, too, but fresh velvety leaves add the brightness of garden greens. If you don’t have a pressure cooker or its…

  • Bert Porter's Sandwich Bread Sliced
    Breads,  Breakfast,  Technique

    Easy, Fluffy, Fabulous Sandwich Bread from “Mr. King Arthur” Himself

    Baking hobbyists like to get their kicks at the King Arthur Baking Company. If you’ve seen their mail-order catalog, you know it peddles baking porn at its most seductive. Just looking at those specialty flours, secret ingredients, shiny pans and professional gadgets makes my heart go pit-a-pat. And then there are the online recipes. More than 500 breads plus tons of cakes, cookies and pastries—everything from serious sourdoughs to fake Twinkies. King Arthur used this recipe for many years as a kind of gateway drug to bread baking. Milk-enriched, it has the soft, pillowy texture you’ll find in the trendy Japanese milk bread, but without all the fuss. Two balls of dough for each…

  • Stuffed Mushroom Casserole
    Appetizers,  Italian,  Other,  Side Dishes,  Vegan,  Vegetable,  Vegetables

    Mary DiNardo’s Italian Baked Stuffed Mushrooms

    Stuffed mushrooms aren’t just for passing around on trays anymore. This recipe turns them inside out to create a luscious mushroom stuffing, perfect as an appetizer or side dish. Moist, rich in umami, sharp with Parmesan and bright with herbs, it has a marvelous Italian accent. And in the finest Italian tradition, it offers good food in abundance—abbondanza! We’re happy to be able to share this gem from Lisa DiNardo, who grew up surrounded by great cooks and who loves to cook herself. This favorite from her mother, Mary, makes a clever casserole and, as a bonus, offers an option for traditional mushroom canapés. Here’s Lisa’s story: “I grew up in an Italian-American family…

  • Liza Lou's Kitchen
    Desserts,  Other,  Pies,  Vegan

    Liza Lou’s Sparkly Museum-Quality Cherry Pie

    The thunderbolt of a recipephany can strike when you least expect it. This one walloped us during a visit to New York’s famous Whitney Museum. It’s a gem of a pie inspired by Liza Lou’s Kitchen, a full-scale vintage kitchen completely bedazzled in colorfully sparkling glass beads. The Art Brilliant and beguiling, Kitchen takes us to an enchanted world. Every object, every surface radiates joy. Even the dishes in the sink, soaking in the swirl of Starry Night-style beaded dishwater, gleam with the richness of the Crown Jewels. I define art as something that looks like it took a really long time to make. No doubt about it here. Lou spent five years in…

  • Aviation Bread
    Breads,  Other,  Sandwich

    Marble Wheat, Spiral Wheat, or Double Take Bread? Just call it “Aviation Bread.”

    Airplanes, automobiles and Seinfeld created American crazes—and brought two-toned bread along for the ride. “Marble” or “marbled” bread usually refers to rye bread with a yin-yang swirl of light and dark. Two breads in one—what a luxury. It makes Reubens more Reubenesque. It draws us in with that hypnotic spiral. Seinfeld elevated a braided version of this deli specialty to an object of adulation and obsession in “The Rye” episode. But a two-toned bread made of wheat generally just gets called “spiral.” Although it looks like marble rye and could probably substitute for it, hardly anyone calls it “marble wheat.” Double Take Bread Years ago, someone made a valiant attempt to give spiral whole…

  • Other

    Welcome to Recipephany’s Fresh New Site

    We’ve just revamped our website so you’ll enjoy Recipephany even more. We hope you’ll take it for a spin to see what’s new. You’ll find: New search buttons (it’s about time) to help you find exactly what you want. Larger type that makes the site easier on your eyes. Pages that adjust to the size of your screen, so you can follow recipes more easily from any device. Less of the scrolling we all find so annoying. A more prominent comments section (so we hope we will hear from you). A new page thrown in For Good Measure. Our goals remain the same, though. We still share our recipe epiphanies with you in an…

  • Judith's Busy Day cake
    Breakfast,  Cakes

    Judith’s Busy Day Cake (AKA Dream Cake)

    The Danes call it “Dream Cake” (drømmekage). Leave it to Americans to define it not by its deliciousness but by how easy it is to make. Yet Busy Day Cake looks and tastes elegant, and would never let on that you threw it together between Zoom meetings. This velvety vanilla cake is so fluffy it would float away if it weren’t for the caramel coconut icing to keep it earthbound. America’s Busy Day Cake (also called things like “Lazy Daisy Cake”) has been passed down for generations, and this version comes from our college friend and baking inspiration Judith Schwartz Stalk. She remembers her mother Florence baking it in the early 1960’s when Judith…

  • Cookies,  Desserts,  Other,  Passover,  Snacks

    Leah’s Fudgy, Flourless Chocolate-Almond Macaroons

    There’s no denying it—every fudgy bite of this flourless almond cookie says it’s the Macaroon’s Macaroon. I grew up thinking macaroons were those sugary coconut mounds sold in cans during Passover. They were such a holiday ritual that there should have been a spot for them on our Seder Plate. They were okay, but who’d ever want to eat them the rest of the year? Then along came “macarons,” the French almond-meringue, attitude-filled confections that look like pastel rainbows in pastry cases. They no doubt dropped the “o” to distance themselves from their macaroon relatives and signal that they are très cher. They make a lovely occasional treat, but nothing I’d ever crave. Now,…

  • Fudge squares
    Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts

    Fudge Squares

    Baking in a tiny RV is a bit like being marooned on a desert island. We have limited space for tools and supplies. And not every recipe works under survival conditions. It has to have few ingredients, require minimal equipment, and bake without complaint in our small convection/microwave oven. On our trek West, I came to realize which recipes are my true loves—the cakes, breads and cookies I can’t live without. The revelation is like the finale of a cheesy rom-com, except there’s no race to the airport before the plane takes off. My heart and head picked a dear old favorite, fudge squares. A snack-style cake that looks and cuts like brownies, it…

  • Asian,  Fish,  Gluten-free,  Noodles,  Vegetables

    Boondock Shrimp and Green Beans With Rice Noodles

    The basics for this dish came from my baking buddy Joanne Hofmann Sexeny, whom I met during a tour of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street when it was a shiny new enterprise. Joanne has the distinction of being an America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) recipe tester, and she authorized me to critique a shrimp and green bean stir-fry recipe under development for Cook’s Country Magazine. I gave it a positive review, while noting a few recipe errors. The mistakes were hard to spot and I wondered if ATK had planted them to test their readers. Now four years have passed, and while I haven’t seen the final version, I assume they fixed the errors. Meanwhile, we’ve…

  • Breakfast,  Desserts,  Egg dishes,  Pancakes,  Pastries

    Jennifer’s Dutch Babies

    If you like popovers, you’ll love these babies. These eggy, pie-shaped puffs need only a squirt of lemon juice, a shake of confectioner’s sugar, and some fresh fruit or jam to make a dramatic breakfast entrance. But “Dutch” Babies? Some say the name came from a corruption of “Deutsch,” since they resemble German pancakes. The Dutch also make Pannenkoeken with a similar batter, although they look more like crepes. Frankly, these are likely neither German nor Dutch. We contend that Dutch Babies are really Yorkshire Pudding in disguise. They’re sizzled in butter instead of meat drippings, and served for breakfast instead of with meat and gravy for dinner. If you wonder how a puffy…

  • Appetizers,  Biscuits,  Crackers,  Pastries,  Snacks

    “Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes Revised” Cheese Straws

    I owe Aunt Sammy an apology. She’s not just my Aunt Sammy, but yours, too—the wife of our Uncle Sam. She starred in a popular radio show way back when, as radio had just begun making waves. The US Department of Agriculture, big into radio programming for farmers, dreamt her up in 1926 to give farmers’ wives a view of the world beyond their fences. As radio stations sprang up everywhere, more than just farmers tuned in to hear the charming Aunt Sammy chat about recipes and household tips. So what if she wasn’t real? It was before networks, so an actress at each local station played Aunt Sammy according to a script. With…

  • Ingredient,  Pastries,  Pies,  Technique

    Screwdriver Pie Crust

    Somewhere along the line, we came to treat pie crust like a prima donna. Handle it gingerly, they say, or it will toughen and refuse to cooperate. Use your best butter, make sure to chill the dough, yada yada yada. Happily, for decades our Orange Juice Pastry has worked yeoman’s duty without complaint. What makes it so agreeable? First, the shortening (yes, Crisco, thankfully now transfat-free) enjoys being handled at room temperature. And the orange juice—cold and a tad acidic—plays well with the shortening. One sticking point, though. How much OJ is just right? Too little and the dough gets dry and hard to roll. Too much liquid might develop the gluten in the…