• 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…

  • 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 include each pie. To…

  • 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 challenge to the palate…

  • Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts,  Other

    King Arthur Flour Chewy Whole Wheat Brownies: The Lost Recipe

    To: Bill Tine, Vice President of Marketing, King Arthur Baking CompanyFrom: Diane Brody, Recipephany.comSubject: Permission to Publish Recipe for Whole Wheat BrowniesDate: 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 bonus, I snagged Bert as my own…

  • 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…

  • 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 on to her current…

  • 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 brought Ma’s pie. They…

  • 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 jonakin is an early…

  • 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.  Carefully crafted and perfectly…

  • 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…

  • 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 family recipes for Passover…

  • 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 ceremonially smear over their…

  • Desserts,  Egg dishes,  Pies,  Snacks

    Caramel Custard Flan

    Ceci n’est pas une pie. It’s Pi Day. Ordinarily I’d bake a pie, but with the new “social distancing,” the two of us would have to eat the whole thing. So instead, I made some comforting caramel custard—AKA “flan”—from a forgotten can of Magnolia Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk in the pantry. The can had gone several months past its “best by” date, but rest assured the quality was fine and I had no sense of Russian food roulette. It really burns me how those dates trigger so much needless waste. Using this lost and forlorn can sparked joy—Marie Kondo-style—by both freeing up shelf space and inspiring this dessert. This recipe came right off the…

  • Chris's Fish Tacos Fabuloso
    Fish,  Main Dish,  Mexican,  Other

    Chris’s Fish Tacos Fabuloso

    Two years ago we packed our snorkel gear and headed to Baja California, Mexico. The fish put on quite a circus. A swirl of polka dots and iridescent stripes greeted us as soon as we entered the water. The Baja is also famous for another kind of fish marvel: the fish taco. It originated there, probably before the Spanish arrived. We sought out the best fish tacos in every town we passed through. The Los Claros restaurants won hands down as Baja’s best. We made triply sure by visiting all three—in Cabo San Lucas, La Paz and San Jose del Cabo. Los Claros believes in giving you options. They batter-fry or grill fish while…

  • 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…

  • Candy,  Desserts

    Oscars 2020: Fudge v Ferraro Rocher

    It’s Oscars time, and we’re shifting our puns into high gear. My pick for Best Picture, Ford v Ferrari, has inspired Fudge v Ferraro Rocher, a chocolate-fueled dessert competition to help us reach the finish line without colliding into awards-night boredom. This head-to-head contest will pit hand-crafted fudge made from All-American Hershey’s cocoa against the iconic chocolate-hazelnut candy from the Ferraro company, Italy’s own Big Chocolate. To challenge a best-seller from the people who invented Nutella takes some chutzpah—especially since I’ve never attempted fudge before. Sure, there are quick fudge recipes that call for three ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and nuts. But no, I had to choose the thrill of making a…

  • 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…

  • Italian Star Bread
    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…