• 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…

  • 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…

  • 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 recently, it was like…

  • 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 gets crisp on the…

  • 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) were simply veal and…

  • 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…

  • 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 the bottom to crispy…

  • 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 a five-time champion on…

  • Cakes,  Desserts,  Snacks,  Vegan

    Sweetheart (please make me a) 1-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

    How about a Valentine’s Day quickie? Make a warm, double-chocolate little “mug cake” for your sweetie any time he or she implores you. Betty Crocker, that tart, makes it possible with her “Super-Moist Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix.” Measure some mix into a mug or small bowl. Stir in water and chocolate chips. Watch it circle around in the microwave for up to 60 seconds. Cool slightly—the chocolate chips will stay gooey—then top with whipped cream. Most of all, it means less time in the kitchen—a lovely indulgence for both of you. Sweetheart 1-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake Adapted from Joy Bauer’s “3-Ingredient Chocolate Mug Cake,” Savory Magazine (Stop and Shop), January 2020, p.39 Recipe doubles…

  • Indian,  Soups,  Vegan,  Vegetables

    Red Lentil Soup with Indian Spices

    Sometimes we just need the happy kick of richly spiced, ready-to-ladle Indian food. Why wait? Red Lentil Soup with Indian Spices takes less than an hour to whip up using pantry and fridge staples—and surprisingly few spices. The name says “spices” as if it’s a lot, but it’s really only two. This version of India’s spiced red lentil soup, Masoor Dal, has full-on flavor with just cumin and chili powder. Lots of onions and umami-rich tomato paste also blend with the sweet, nutty red lentils to satisfy your Indian food craving and, as my mom used to say, warm your kishkas. Red lentils have no skins, so they cook very quickly and self-pureé. It’s…

  • Breads,  Italian,  Other,  Technique

    Italian Star Bread Secrets Revealed! Make Bakery-Quality Loaves.

    For decades I’ve sought this holy grail of bread recipes. Star bread, the American cousin of what I consider the finest bread in Italy, is the stuff of legends. Italian bakers introduced it to Springfield, Massachusetts, and a few other places in the state about a hundred years ago. Specialty Italian bakeries hooked customers on the twisty-shaped loaves, also called “horn bread” or “bolognese bread.” Those bakeries have dwindled to a handful, and star bread always sells out—often before it reaches the shelves. What makes it so special? The hard, golden brown, impossibly smooth crust has the crunch of a dry breadstick. In contrast, the soft crumb inside is fine, compact, and as bright…

  • Recipephany ingredient,  Soups,  Vegan,  Vegetables

    Haymarket Asparagus Soup

    It’s hard to cook asparagus to its elegant best. If you leave spears in too long, they go from vibrant and crisp to drab and droopy. Take them out too soon, and you’ll get a raw crunch instead of a tender, tasty bite. But it’s easy to cook asparagus perfectly in this soup. There’s no peeling or fussy prep. No matter how long the asparagus simmers, it doesn’t lose its sweet, earthy flavor. A touch of thyme and savory add garden brightness, and golden potatoes make it creamy. Crispy, salty prosciutto bits on top give contrasting crunch and color to the green smoothness. Best of all, you don’t need pristine spears if you’re just…

  • Breads,  Technique

    Brilliant Baking with the Bread Bucket

    Now I know how I’ll make my millions. I’ll dust the cobwebs off my MBA and manufacture a shiny new version of the bread bucket, a once-popular tool for cranking out bakery-quality loaves. I betcha even King Arthur Flour will feature this brilliant energy saver in their baking porn catalog. Of course, I’ll have to cut Bruce Belden in on the deal. Bruce, the illustrious president of my high school class, has become an ardent home bread baker and he tipped me off about the bread bucket phenomenon. Here’s Bruce’s story. Once you’ve read it, you’ll want in on the bread bucket business, too. ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ Cranking Out Loaves with the Bread Bucket by Bruce…

  • 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…

  • Egg dishes,  Ingredient,  Technique

    Egg-centricity: A taste test

    (Photo courtesy of Lynn Osborn) It’s almost Passover and Easter, a perfect time to share results of an egg taste test by guest contributor, Stan Rowin. First, some background. Stan is a photographer who started his career taking photos in Julia Child’s Cambridge kitchen, now a culinary mecca at the Smithsonian. The same Julia who never got rattled by a fallen soufflé or a splattered pancake showed Stan her perfectionist side during a shoot. “Julia was doing a chapter on eggs, and she wanted to show how fresh eggs look when fried,” says Stan. Then the frenzy began. “Out of three dozen eggs, she got one egg that looked good, but couldn’t find a…

  • Ingredient,  Jams and Condiments,  Passover,  Technique,  Techniques & Ingredients

    Quick Homemade Horseradish: If You Can’t Stand the Fumes….

    Making your own horseradish takes just four ingredients: horseradish root, vinegar, salt, and courage. The goal is to get from root to jar as quickly as possible, minimizing the time you spend holding your breath, clenching your eyes, and stumbling out of the kitchen gasping for air. But if you like horseradish, you’ll enjoy the challenge. No store-bought brand can mess with your pleasure/pain center quite like the stuff you make fresh. My dad famously made horseradish from home-grown root, yet it was Mom who consumed it with the most gusto. She heaped it onto her gefilte fish, laughing through her tears about how well it cleared her sinuses. As my neuroscientist daughter points…

  • Ingredient,  Other,  Techniques & Ingredients

    Chillin’ With Vanillin: How to Beat the High Cost of Vanilla

    If you can believe headlines these days, vanilla is nearly as expensive as silver. A cyclone in Madagascar last year put vanilla bean on the “endangered spices” list. Maybe we should now include vanilla extract in our homeowners’ policies. But all is not lost. For those of us who swirl spoonfuls into our yogurt and pour it into our baking, there’s no need to cut back. It’s “vanillin,” the active flavor ingredient in vanilla, that we really love. “Vanilla extract” has other chemicals, too, but they have negligible taste and degrade when heated. We’re in it for the vanillin. And we can get it in “imitation vanilla.” But why, Mr. Science, should we settle…

  • Desserts,  Gluten-free,  Pudding,  Snacks,  Vegan

    9-Minute Creamy Rice Pudding in the Pressure Cooker

    Luxurious rice pudding tastes divine and makes you feel good all over. But achieving a rich creaminess can be tricky. Baking can take hours, and the rice can even toughen. Thanks to the miraculous time-defying Pressure Cooker, this recipephany takes raw rice from zero to supreme creaminess in less than 15 minutes. Evaporated milk (milk that’s been concentrated by cooking it down) adds thickness plus a hint of caramelization. This slight nuttiness joins hands with the vanilla and cinnamon (rice pudding is a great delivery system for both) to create ahhh-inspiring yumminess. While you might think of rice pudding as the fluffy slippers of desserts, it has some hipness. When our son lived in…

  • Cakes,  Desserts,  Vegan

    Bay Area Scientists Develop Breakthrough “Alternative Chocolate Cake”

    I’m thrilled and proud to post this news story I found online featuring the research of my favorite PhDs, my daughter and son-in-law.  ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ Bay Area scientists have developed a recipe for an “alternative chocolate cake” free of gluten, fat, sugar, and animal products, fulfilling a dream of those seeking a dessert they can serve to all guests. The breakthrough is reported in the April issue of the journal Nature Gastronomy. Chemists, gastronomists and celebrity chefs alike herald it as the most significant advance in food science since the fat substitute Olestra was approved by the FDA in 1996. Those who have eaten the cake, however, question its palatability. In the paper, co-authors Claire…

  • Ingredient,  Technique,  Vegan,  Vegetables

    Butternut Squash Roasted Whole: The best one-ingredient dish ever

    This is more than a recipephany; it’s a revelation. It comes from Raegan Sales, the Veggie Whisperer. To capture the deep flavor of butternut squash, roast it whole at 400 degrees for about an hour until it yields when you stab it with a fork. Cool a little, then cut it in half, remove the seeds and peel off the paper-thin skin (unless you are like me and consume that, too). The juice is like maple syrup, so save it to spoon over or mash into the squash. Eat as is or use in other dishes. The squash is so sweet and velvety it tastes like it has been injected with butter and caramelized…

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

    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…

  • Other,  Snacks,  Technique

    Microwave Potato Chips

    My microwave is an indispensible sous chef. It melts and tempers chocolate, parcooks root veggies on their way to the roasting pan, sweats onions in a pinch, and dries and toasts old bread for nearly instant bread crumbs. Wait a minute—toasting? While we think of the microwave for reheating, melting, and steaming, it can also dehydrate and bake like the Sahara. You have to watch it, though. It doesn’t take long to turn light brown perfection into black, smoking carbon. The potato chip is such a perfect microwave snack there should be a button for it next to “popcorn.” Better than the greasy chips from a bag, they are crispy yet ethereal hits of…

  • Candy,  Desserts,  Other,  Snacks,  Vegan

    Cocoa Date-Nut Truffles: A Sweet Deception

    Deep dark chocolate truffles with flecks of walnut and hazelnut feel so much like a naughty indulgence that you’ll catch yourself stealing them when nobody’s looking. But why? They are entirely fruit and nuts, without any added sugar or cream. These wholesome concoctions play such a trick on our confection detectors that this recipephany may be more appropriate for April Fool’s Day than Valentine’s Day. The idea for these truffles came from my sister-in-law Sheila. A few years ago she brought us some soft and creamy Medjool dates and a recipe for turning them into no-bake vegan brownies. We mixed up a batch, rolled them into balls and called them “Cocoa Medjools.” I’ve embellished…

  • Desserts,  Pies,  Technique

    Apple Crumble Tart Takes on a New Shape

    Pi r squared. Pie r round. Tart r rectangular. The rectangular tart is the more rustic, country-mouse version of its classic round cousin. It looks stylish without pristine glazes or radiating starbursts of fruit. A simple trimming of nuts or berries in neat rows looks just right. Tatte’s, the fastest growing bakery and café in Boston, makes most of its tarts rectangular, and sells them for a tidy sum through Williams-Sonoma. I’ve made my own version of Tatte’s rectangular nut tart, heaping it high with whole toasted pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and cashews, and drenching it in caramel. It took me a while to get the hang of making caramel, though. After endangering our…