Recipes

even more perfect apple pie

I did not intend to go on an apple pie making bender. I merely did what we always do in October: go apple picking, balk at the price of a bag, insist upon filling it way past the brim (because: economics) and then we ate some apples on the way home home and the bag was still overflowing. So I made an apple pie with 4.25 pounds of apples in it and the bag looked exactly as full as it had been at the orchard. Might they still be growing in there? It’s the only explanation.

new york mutzu applessugars and spicesgoing for thinner slicesmix, then macerate, the filling

I started with the apple pie recipe that’s been on this site for 12 years, but over the years I’ve tweaked it a little at home in small ways (different spice levels, some brown sugar worked in, thinner slices). This time, with some help from the genius Bravetart book, I tweaked it a lot, and it was the best apple pie I’ve ever made. So I did the only rational thing and brought slices of my pie-brag to everyone I saw for a couple days and then I ran out of pie and made another one using the same tweaks and it, too, was the best apple pie I’d ever made, so I did the only rational thing and made a third one and now I think it’s time for us to talk about what I think has made it so much better.

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Recipes

crispy spinach pizza

I went through a phase this summer where I couldn’t stop making crispy spinach pizza, but I had no plans to tell you about for a couple reasons, the first of which is it’s absolutely hideous. It looks like someone melted Oscar the Grouch onto a pizza dough and little I did improved this, not making it round, nor rectangular, in good light nor light so dim that maybe you wouldn’t notice it at all.

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Recipes

breakfast burritos

The first time I made breakfast burritos the way I like them — that is, the eggs softly scrambled and never dry, busy with vegetables, and nothing terrifying like hot, wet lettuce inside, second only to eating them in front seat of your car in an Austin parking lot on a chilly morning, a Topo Chico in the cup holder (i.e. maybe not exactly the way I like them, but real life requires compromises, or so you adults keep telling me) — I felt woundingly betrayed. It seemed like every cooking website on the internet made them seem so simple, but there I was with separate skillet-fuls of bacon and greens and mixed vegetables and eggs, and then more bowls than I could count for assembly. We were going to have them for an “easy” breakfast-for-dinner that night; dinner was spectacularly late and everyone was hangry and ate my 90 minutes of prep in less than 5, further insult to injury. Never again, I vowed, never.

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Recipes

flapjacks

One of the things I obsessively collect in my cooking life — aside, apparently, from container lids with no bases and jars of mustard seeds because every time a recipe requires it I presume I’m out because of that one time in 2010 I was — is recipes with very short ingredient lists. It’s not revolutionary to learn that, say, a salad can be made with just lettuce, oil, and vinegar or to find tomato bread, or basil pesto on these lists, but Marcella Hazan’s 3-ingredient tomato sauce is indeed something pretty revelatory, especially when you’re short on time to go to the store or merely patience to cook. So is this Minimalist Barbecue Sauce, Bacon Corn Hash, this summer squash pizza topping that could convert anyone to zucchini, and if does not, this Quick Zucchini SautĂ© will, the omelet that’s basically Spain’s national dish (and mine), and let us never forget all of the magical things that happen when you let fresh raspberries, brown sugar, and sour cream blister under a broiler, or roast a sweet potato until it almost candies itself inside. It’s not fully populated (I keep finding things I’ve missed and taking liberties when the 6th ingredient is butter or olive oil) but I finally got to pulling together a few of my favorites in this collection this summer. Life is busy; it’s here to help.

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Recipes

foolproof cacio e pepe

Soon, extremely soon, I’m going to tell you more about our 12 days in AndalucĂ­a but before that, before summer is truly over, before I start thinking about cooking more complex meals again, before I even consider turning on the oven again, I wanted to tell you that this summer was the year I finally figured out how to make cacio e pepe, one of my favorite pastas, as good at you’d have in Rome, and we cannot let the summer end until you do too.

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Recipes

layered mocha cheesecake

Last Friday at 3 pm, when we had dinner plans at 6, I decided it had been too long since I’d gotten myself into a right mess of a baking project and decided to make my husband a cheesecake for his birthday — which we were already 14 hours into. I’d been dawdling because despite having 11 cheesecake recipes on this site, I find cooking things I’ve already made before boring, and was working up the courage to tackle a harebrained idea for a cheesecake that had thin stacked layers.

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Recipes

focaccia sandwiches for a crowd

Last year, Alexandra Stafford published a very good book about bread. It sprang from a recipe for the peasant bread her mother made often when she was growing up. When she shared it on her site, it went viral, which is no surprise given that it’s no-knead, comes together in under five minutes, rises in about an hour, and after a brief second rise, you bake it in buttered bowls that form it into a blond, buttery crusted bread that she boasts is “the antithesis of artisan.” Because there are no hidden tricks; no steam ovens, special flours, lames to score the crust, or bannetons to shape the loaves. Her central tenet is that “good bread can be made without a starter, without a slow or cold fermentation, without an understanding of bakers’ percentages, without being fluent in the baking vernacular: hydration, fermentation, biga, poolish, soaker, autolyse, barm.” (None of those words appear in the book.) She knows that there are a lot of no-knead breads out there, but this is the only one that can be started at 4pm and be on the dinner table at 7.

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Recipes

marbled raspberry pound cake

This small, fearless wildling we literally just brought home from the hospital turned three a couple weeks ago, but despite my certainty that we just got her, I won’t lie, this feels like a gazillion years ago because when did she not have hair. Strangers on the street often ask us about her hair, and I get it, I do. She’s small, it is big, and also red and with spiral curls going in every direction and there are three other members of our family and none of us have spiral curls or red hair. This isn’t the only way she’s already her own fierce little person. I was definitely not into dolls or dresses growing up, so I watch with awe as she plays for hours with her very pink baby doll, the doll’s stroller, the doll’s purse, the doll’s crib and high chair; when she comes home after being out all day, she likes to sit quietly with her baby on her lap on the sofa for a while to catch up and it is, objectively (I am known for my objectivity when talking about my kids), one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.

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Recipes

minimalist barbecue sauce

Every summer, I promise that I’m going to tell you about this shortcut barbecue sauce I use when I don’t have it in me to bring home 11 bottles and jars plus 2 vegetables for what I consider the ultimate, Queen Ina’s. I love that one, regardless. I make it every year or two and I freeze it in 1-cup packages. Sometimes, like last summer, I completely forget to freeze it and find it in the fridge 8 months later and it’s completely and totally fine to eat? It’s pretty magical like that. But it’s not simple. And most of the time, when it’s just weeknight chicken or tofu skewers on the grill or even as a base for what I call Fake Baked Beans (more on this at the end), three ingredients is all you need, plus up to two more to your tastes. Don’t look askance at me; I bet you already have them all.

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Recipes

bourbon peach smash

Most conversations about shrubs go like this.

“Wait, like the green bushy things that grow in the ground?”
“No, it’s a drink.”
“A leafy drink?”
“No, it’s actually just three ingredients — fruit, sugar, and vinegar…”
“Wait, you drink vinegar? Why would you drink vinegar?”
“Well, we love sour things like lemon and lime in drinks, they complement sweet flavors…”
“So there’s booze in this?”
“… Sometimes. Sometimes it’s just a soda.”
“Well, that sounds nice.”

[Note: They are being polite.]
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