• 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Desserts,  Pies

    Chocopecankin Pie, the “Turducken” of Desserts

    The Turducken—a deboned chicken stuffed inside a deboned duck stuffed inside a deboned turkey—makes a showstopping Thanksgiving centerpiece. Carving it is a parlor trick at the dinner table, but the dish owes its popularity to its quirky mashed-up name. Remember Brody’s Second Law of Marketing: If you can’t name it, you can’t sell it. (Honestly, though, didn’t anyone consider its first four letters?) Ten years ago at Thanksgiving, our daughter Claire posed an intriguing question. With all the choices on the dessert table, why isn’t there a pie version of Turducken? And thus, she created the Chocopecankin Pie. Claire designed it like a target so that every slice—like the Turducken—would…

  • Main Dish,  Other,  Pasta

    “Grandma Mac” Creamy Mac ‘n Cheese

    As cozy as a welcome hug, mac ‘n cheese defines comfort food. This creamy version brings comfort to both the eaters and the cooks. And you can make it in a snap with just a couple of ingredients. Forget measuring spoons or cups—the only unit is the “dollop.” And get this: you tell doneness not by time, color or temperature, but by the way it sounds. This recipephany comes courtesy of our sister-in-law Sheila, whose mother Ruth knew how to please her grandkids. Sheila’s children, Ariel and Eli (now with kids of their own), named it Grandma Mac to distinguish a unique dish that, as Eli puts it, offers “zero…

  • Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts,  Other

    King Arthur Flour Chewy Whole Wheat Brownies: The Lost Recipe

    To: Bill Tine, Vice President of Marketing, King Arthur Baking Company From: Diane Brody, Recipephany.com Subject: Permission to Publish Recipe for Whole Wheat Brownies Date: October 29, 2020, 1:20 PM Dear Bill, I have been a loyal subject of King Arthur for nearly 50 years, starting when I was your company’s account manager at the Boston PR firm, Robert Weiss Associates. My highlight was placing your affable bread-baking evangelist Bert Porter on talk shows. Already popular with New England audiences, this buttoned-down, down-home “Mr. King Arthur” required no selling on my part. Who else could demonstrate how to make a loaf of bread so well—even over the radio? As a…

  • Biscuits,  Breakfast,  Cookies,  Crackers,  Desserts,  Other,  Snacks,  Vegan

    Grahammies: Great Homemade Graham Crackers

    “How wacky,” you say. “You don’t make graham crackers, you make things with graham crackers—like s’mores and pie crusts. Why bother?” It’s no bother, and it’s totally worth it. A homemade graham cracker is like homemade pasta. Once you bite in, you can’t believe it could taste—and make you feel—that good. This recipe bakes up a graham cracker that’s crisp and sweet, with a toasted wheatiness and tang of molasses. Sure it’s familiar—you’ve had something like it before, from a box. But this is the real thing. This Boston Globe recipe lay dormant for 42 years in my recipe box. When I dug it out and gave it a whirl…

  • Cakes,  Desserts

    Queen of Sheba Cake (Julia Child’s Reine de Saba Gateau)

    This voluptuously moist French pastry-shop chocolate gateau has just enough structure to qualify as cake, but otherwise could pass for a chocolate truffle for 12.  A shiny glaze doubles down on the chocolate, making sure that no part of your palate escapes the wave of deep dark flavor. Prepare for a totally immersive chocolate experience. Julia Child wrote that Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba) was the first French cake she ever ate, and she devoted her 100th show of The French Chef to this recipe way back in December 1965. First aired on WGBH-TV in Boston, this seminal cooking series went nationwide, catapulting Julia to culinary icon, and then…

  • Cakes,  Desserts,  Pudding

    Lemon Sponge Pudding Cakes for Lemon Sponge Pie Lovers

    You’ve heard me gush about “Ma’s Lemon Sponge Pie” for years. The tart and creamy lemon filling merges with an ethereal fluff that rises to the top as the pie bakes. So you’ve got the lemon curd on the bottom blending into an airy sponge cake that browns Maillard-style to add a hint of caramel. Lemon sponge pie is far better than lemon meringue pie in my book, since meringue can be wet, weepy, and have the foamy texture of something expelled by an undersea creature. A couple months ago, our friends Pam and Adam had us over for a splendid dinner of grilled delights on their rooftop patio. I…

  • Breakfast,  Cakes,  Other,  Recipephany ingredient

    Thin and Crispy Rhode Island Johnny Cakes

    Rhode Islanders love their johnny cakes the way Southerners love hushpuppies. You won’t confuse johnny cakes with hushpuppies, though. Unlike those cornbread fritters, johnny cakes are thin, 100-percent corn meal pancakes passed down from the Narragansett tribe. A spoonful of corn meal mush gets griddled until it’s crispy outside yet still soft and creamy inside. There’s nothing but corn flavor through and through—except of course for the tang of the maple syrup it happily soaks up. Etymologists say johnny cakes evolved from journey cakes because early settlers packed them for trips. Seriously? These fragile cakes can break on the way from the stove to the table. I did learn that…

  • Breads,  Main Dish,  Other,  Sandwich,  Snacks

    Better-Than-Brioche Burger Buns

    In the baking aisle at Stop and Shop many years ago I passed by a young mother with two small children. She was intently surveying the shelves when her little girl reached for a tub of ready-made fudge frosting and begged, “Mommy, can we get this?” “Honey,” she snapped in a reprimanding tone, “if I’m going to go through all the trouble of baking a cake, I’m not going to put that shit all over it.” While her choice of words led me to question her parenting style, the wisdom of them has stuck with me. Yes, it’s all too easy to skimp on finishing touches. Consider the venerable hamburger.…

  • Breads,  Italian,  Other,  Snacks,  Technique

    Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Dough

    There is no greater glory for flour and yeast than to metamorphose into pizza dough. Yet, hard as we try, it’s difficult to capture the flavor and chew of pizzeria crust at home. What’s the secret? If you ask Christopher Kimball, he’d say the secret ingredient in great pizza dough isn’t an ingredient at all: it’s temperature. Just before baking, bring the dough to 75°F, and it will puff up and give you a lovely crust. In Naples, though, they would offer another, more powerful secret ingredient that’s also not an ingredient: a wood fire. A wood-fired oven radiates the heat of Hades for a quick, dramatic rise. The crust…

  • Beef,  Chicken,  Ingredient,  Italian,  Main Dish,  Pasta,  Techniques & Ingredients

    Classic Ragù Bolognese Redux: Do Chicken Livers Deliver?

    A comment from an Italian cooking teacher about our Classic Ragù alla Bolognese from Ada Boni got us thinking about what makes a bolognese a bolognese. In particular, are there chicken livers in its DNA? So we put Recipephany’s Research and Testing Institute to work. Here’s what we learned from our deep dive into the evolution of one of the world’s favorite meat sauces. A genetic analysis of bolongese ragù’s ancestry brings you immediately to Pellegrino Artusi’s 1891 seminal cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. The meats Artusi favored for his “Maccheroni Alla Bolognese” (which is curiously tomato-free in a book with many tomato sauces)…

  • Appetizers,  Breads,  Crackers,  Pastries,  Side Dishes,  Snacks,  Techniques & Ingredients

    Puffy Cheese Sticks

    As we dip our toes back into the sea of socializing, we need PPEs—Prepared Party Edibles—snacks that are ready to serve the moment the stars align. These flaky, cheddar-laced sticks make the perfect nibble—they are simple to prep and freeze, and then quickly bake into puffy little wands of cheesy goodness. Before snack scientists created vacuum-packed rods of mozzarella so parents could dole out string cheese to kids, “cheese sticks” referred to these savory pastry hors d’oeuvres. Also known as cheese straws, they go back to the kitchens of the 1860s, with notable recipes in UK’s famed Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) and in Godey’s Magazine (October 1865)…

  • Greek,  Potatoes,  Vegan

    Patates Elinora (Greek-Style Potatoes)

    You’re low on flour, rice is scarce, and your pasta stash is down to one lonely box of elbows. Thank Heaven for potatoes. Especially when it’s easy to dress them up Greek-style—bright, pungent and with an aroma so intoxicating it could serve as stress-relief therapy. “Greek-style” is simply shorthand for “lemon, oregano and olive oil” (the way “Florentine” means spinach). But this is not your standard dish of crispy potato wedges done up Greek-style. Here, layers of thinly sliced potatoes roast and steam, soaking up caramelized lemon sauce and blissing out on oregano. Cut into the casserole and you’ll find strata of textures and flavors, from soft and creamy on…

  • Desserts,  Passover,  Snacks,  Sorbet,  Vegan

    Leah’s Blood Orange Sorbet (Without an Ice Cream Machine)

    Sweet, tangy, and gorgeous in the bowl, this blood orange sorbet is stunningly delicious. Despite its ease, you won’t find better, even at a high-end restaurant. That’s because it was scientifically formulated by Leah Greenwald, Chief Food Technology Advisor at the Recipephany Test Kitchens. A curiosity about the science of cooking drives Leah to analyze, hypothesize and improve her recipes. She has been a great help here at Recipephany and is our own J. Kenji López-Alt (author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science). Coincidentally, they both studied architecture at MIT. But Leah (introduced to you in her recipephany for lemon vinaigrette) is an architect, mother of triplets, and…

  • Breads,  Desserts,  Egg dishes,  Muffins,  Passover,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Whose Passover Popovers Win You Over?

    Before Passover is over, treat yourself to some popovers. Judy Geller, a dream client and the mastermind behind many industry-leading conferences and events, introduced me to these years ago. We would meet at a cafe where I could spread out advertising concepts and layouts for her to review. Then we’d linger and talk about family, holidays, and her family’s Passover Popover recipe. These popovers are so delicious, so un-Passover-ish, we might as well just call them “bread” and be done with the pretense. The other day when I called to ask if I could post the recipe, Judy asked, “Which one?” To my surprise, she has not one, but two…

  • Cakes,  Other

    Recipephany Turns 10

    Ten years ago I started this little blog with Black Magic Cake, a recipe that touched my life as it has probably touched the lives of countless other chocolate lovers. An easy recipe with simple ingredients produced a confection that, after one bite, dethroned our family’s long-revered celebration cake. I dubbed it a “halleluyum moment.” This was a recipe epiphany I wanted to share with everybody. At the time, I didn’t realize how much of a life-changer Black Magic Cake would become. It turned into a wedding cake—twice. As if the joy of their marriages weren’t enough, our son and daughter asked me to make the cakes that they would…