• Basic Yeasted Flatbread
    Appetizers,  Breads,  Indian,  Middle Eastern,  Snacks,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Basic Yeasted Flatbread

    Is it Indian? Israeli? Italian? All of the above. With a dough this universal, Basic Yeasted Flatbread passes for all sorts of nationalities. It scoops up curry just like naan, dips into hummus like pita, and doubles as perfect pizza dough. Soft, chewy and heavenly when served warm from the griddle, it reminds us why we love our daily bread. This recipephany came from Mollie Katzen, a hero ever since her 1977 Moosewood Cookbook. In Sunlight Cafe: Breakfast Served All Day, she confessed her special relationship with this flatbread. She always had dough in the fridge, and made flatbreads all hours of the day. And we can see why—it has proved itself a loyal friend…

  • 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…

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

    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…

  • 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…

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

    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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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) in the US. The…

  • Appetizers,  Breads,  Breakfast,  Side Dishes,  Snacks,  Vegan

    Raegan’s No-Knead Focaccia

    My daughter-in-law Raegan Sales, creative vegetarian home cook and baker, generously offers yet more proof that some great breads just about make themselves. She started with something called “Ridiculously Easy Focaccia Bread” and—yes—made it even easier. And ridiculously delicious. With Raegan’s Focaccia, a bubbly wet dough bakes into a delightfully chewy golden-crusted flatbread. It owes its tender crumb and lovely flavor to hours of fermentation in the fridge and oodles of olive oil. About all we do is stir and stare, except when we get to poke our fingers into the squishy, oily dough. The payoff: warm, aromatic, hole-studded focaccia eager to get dunked into more olive oil or devoured on the spot. It…

  • Appetizers,  Asian,  Breakfast,  Chinese,  Snacks,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Caramelized Tofu Triangles: Simple Make-Ahead Appetizer

    Caramel-lacquered tofu triangles hit all the sweet, savory and salty notes that put guests in a good mood. The dark, shiny syrup sinks into the chewy triangles, so you can eat them with your fingers if you like. Since they keep well in the fridge, you can make them way ahead and bring them out any time, as you would a wedge of brie. They travel well, too. Carry them to a holiday party in a Ziploc bag and free yourself from having to retrieve your plate (or help with the clean-up) when it’s time for goodbyes. My daughter-in-law Raegan has made these for brunch, proving that they are as versatile as an eggy…

  • Persian Green Olive and Walnut Salad
    Appetizers,  Ingredient,  Other,  Recipephany ingredient,  Salads,  Vegan

    Persian Green Olive and Walnut Salad

    Some think a good waiter is someone who sneaks an extra shrimp into your cocktail. Me, I prefer a waiter who gives away the chef’s secrets. I got this recipephany many years ago from a waiter at Lala Rokh on Beacon Hill, an elegant Persian restaurant near John Kerry’s townhouse on Louisburg Square. It was my Dad’s birthday, when the kids were home and my folks could still negotiate at least some of the steep walk to the door. We started with this appetizer called zaitun-e parwardeh. It mesmerized me so much that—sort of like the Men in Black’s Neuralizer—it wiped out my entire memory of the rest of the meal. Sweet, tart, salty,…

  • Trader Faux Rosemary Raisin Crisps
    Appetizers,  Crackers,  Snacks,  Technique,  Techniques & Ingredients

    Trader Faux Rosemary Raisin Crisps, Plus Math Recipephanies

    Imagine the Snack Fairy tapping her wand on a piece of plain melba toast. Pecans, seeds, raisins, fragrant rosemary, and a kiss of honey appear, transforming it into an object of desire: Trader Joe’s Rosemary Raisin Crisps. Leave it to a Canadian to reverse engineer a recipephany for a similar cracker called Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps. Her blog, “Dinner with Julie,” shows how it is twice baked, like biscotti, but easier. You stir up tiny eggless quick breads, bake and freeze them, and then thinly slice the frozen bread and bake fresh crackers on demand. The crisps shrink to about 70 percent of their original size, perfect for spreading cheese (see Mock Boursin recipe…

  • Appetizers,  Middle Eastern,  Recipes,  Snacks,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Grandma Annie’s Romanian Eggplant Dip

    Ever since my mother served up eggplant as “French fries” slathered in ketchup, I’ve been a sucker for its tasty squishiness. I’ve enjoyed it in Italian, French, Indian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Asian and African dishes. But Romanian? I never knew Romania has its own traditional eggplant dip (called salată de vinete or vinetta), which I learned about from Julie Schecter and her sister Laurie, two people whose values and lifestyles I most admire. Julie has generously shared their heirloom recipephany, which has few ingredients yet a strict method that caramelizes the pulp and concentrates its delicate taste. How it got here Grandma Annie emigrated in the early 1900s from Iasy, Romania. Still a teenager,…