Recipes

extra-flaky pie crust

[Welcome back to ✨ Newer, Better Month ✨ on Smitten Kitchen, when I get update a few SK classics with new knowledge, new techniques, and with real-life time constraints in mind. Previously.]

The concept of “newer better” is always going to be relative, and no more so than in this recipe. For all of the years I’ve been cooking, I’ve made pie dough one way. I shared the recipe with you in 2008, have referenced it in every recipe for pie since, and, until a couple years ago, never veered from it. My recipe is not an outlier; it contains the same ingredient ratios as 99% of American-style pie crust recipes out there. There might be variations in types of fats, preferred flours, sometimes there’s a little buttermilk or apple cider vinegar instead of some of the water or a little more or less sugar and salt, but they’re almost all the same ratio of fat to flour to water. It makes a great pie crust. Here’s where the relativity comes in: If you make pie crusts the way I’ve long made pie crusts and you’re happy with these pies, stop reading now. There’s nothing to see here! This isn’t for you! This is for people who have tried that fairly standard formula and found it lacking. A little tough. Not flaky enough. It comes up! I’m listening.

flour salt sugarchop your cold buttersquash the butter cubesbigger pieces are fine hereadd cold watermix until dough comes togetherchill until firmchill until firmflour everything wellfolded for extra flaky layers

So let’s talk about what that last one percent of pie doughs do differently. It’s not the butter or the liquid; by and large, these recipes use the same amount. It’s the flour — they use less. If you’re thinking, “but if you use less flour and the same amount of butter and water, the dough might be stickier and harder to work with?” — you are correct. I began auditioning these lighter-on-the-flour doughs a few years ago and found them a little pesky and if you’re wondering if “pesky” is smiled through gritted teeth, well, you are correct again. And I feel pretty comfortable with butter-flour doughs! What does this mean for people who do not? Given that making pie dough at all from scratch is even for some of the most skilled home cooks a hurdle they do not wish to surmount (hi mom!), why suggest a trickier recipe? Why raise the hurdle? (Why download DuoLingo and start with Russian, Deb? Ahem, I digress.)

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Recipes

perfect meatballs and spaghetti

A little background: Smitten Kitchen is approaching its 13th anniversary on the internet, and I’m hoping for all of our sakes that its 13th year is nothing like mine (some very bad bangs decisions and a whole lotta awkwardness). When I began this site, I knew how to cook very few things. What I did know was what I wanted from the things I was cooking and where the dishes I was auditioning either exceeded my expectations or fell very short. I logged it all here like a dutiful aughts-era blogger with no larger agenda for what it would become, because how could I have known? I never knew I’d still be at it 1200 recipes, two cookbooks, and two children of unparalleled cuteness (no bias here whatsoever) later, although still in a small kitchen because I’d missed the Buy Tech Stocks or Possibly Have Become A Banker memo, but this is not a complaint — not about this lot, not in this lifetime.

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Recipes

salted peanut tart

My devotion to peanut butter and any and all of the ways we smash it up against chocolate would be impossible to question. From peanut butter cookies dotted with more peanut butter and chocolate chips, peanut butter-filled chocolate cookies, peanut butter and chocolate tarts, cakes, icebox and cheesecakes to peanut butter-swirled brownies, peanut butter blondies with chocolate chunks, it shouldn’t surprise you in the least that I also have a favorite Reese’s peanut butter cup shape (egg, as if there were ever a debate). However, my peanut devotion is neither limited to peanut butter or the proximity of chocolate, and so when we ended up at Houseman restaurant a couple weeks ago for dinner, we tried the salted peanut tart with sour cream for dessert and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since.

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Recipes

cauliflower and tomato masala with peas

Good afternoon from vacation. We don’t need to talk about it. If you told me you were on a sunny beach with fine white silky sand between your toes, fluffy aqua waves lapping at the edges, palm trees swishing back and forth, scooping aquachiles onto tortilla chips and marveling at the range of available papaya hues while I was shoveling out snow for the nth time this year, I would smile politely and comment “How amazing!” on your Instagram but I would silently pout, as I probably will be a week from now. Let’s… not.

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Recipes

chocolate puddle cakes

From their big debut in the 1990s from chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten to their ever-presence on dessert menus since, chocolate molten lava cakes are easily one of the most trodden tropes of the restaurant world. There are enough riffs on it out there to fill two internets; does anyone need another? The Smitten Kitchen has been lava cake-free since its 2006 inception mostly because I’m not terribly into warm, oozy desserts (I KNOW). But it’s not just about me anymore, is it? Last Valentines I had a moment of glowy domestic benevolence and decided to make them for the family and blew each and every one of their minds, most especially my husband, who demanded to know if I had known how to make them all along, why had I waited so long? Fair enough.

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Recipes

bodega-style egg and cheese sandwich

Like many New Yorkers, I have strong feelings about bodegas (adoration born of dependence) that go from the bodega cats to the stuffed shelves (mine appears to carry more items than our Trader Joe’s), to the griddles. I am in awe of the people who cook at them. I am constitutionally incapable of multitasking, I can barely handle simultaneously cooking a dinner and a side dish without setting fire to one or the other, but they make half a dozen different egg sandwiches at a time like it’s nothing.

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Recipes

baked buffalo wings

My friend Art Bovino is obsessed with Buffalo wings. (I can hear you saying “SAME,” by the way.) He’s so obsessed that he spent a lot of time in Buffalo over the last couple years learning everything he could about them so he could write a book, and ended up having so much to say, he wrote two. The first, Buffalo Everything, came out last August and it’s a guide to eating in the city, takes us to bars, old-school Polish and Italian-American eateries, Burmese restaurants and newer farm-to-table cafes. The second, The Buffalo New York Cookbook, came out a few months later and teaches us how to make all of the food he fell in love with at home, from beef on weck, chicken finger subs, sponge candy, Tom & Jerrys, frozen custard, and, of course, all of the Buffalo wings you could ever dream of. He talks to the restaurants that lay a claim to creating them and others that just made them more famous or delicious. He talks to the masters. He learns the rules. He learns technique. He learns niche trivia (did you know that the “flats” of wings actually have more meat than the “drumettes?” I didn’t either!) And while not everyone agrees on everything, they all agree on this: baked Buffalo wings are a pale and unacceptable imitation of the real thing.
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Recipes

plush coconut cake

If you told me a year and a half ago that I wouldn’t have just one, but two vegan cakes on the site, and that I liked them so that I honestly question from time to time why any cakes have any eggs in them, ever, I’d have thought you lost your mind. Let me explain: I know there are amazing and delicious vegan cakes in the world, but I believed I’d need flax eggs or the liquid from a can of chickpeas or some other magic to pull them off; I figured I’d leave it to the experts. Plus, I suspect my devotion to butter and buttermilk is well-established by now.

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Recipes

crispy rice and egg bowl with ginger-scallion vinaigrette

It’s really unfortunate timing, because we’ve got a long year to go and I at one point had many great and luminous cooking plans for it, but they’re all cancelled now because on the afternoon of January 4th, before 2019 had really even kicked in, I ate the best thing I had or will all year or maybe ever — because what would the internet be without some unnecessary melodrama — and I threw it together from a mess of leftovers in my fridge.

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Recipes

cozy cabbage and farro soup

Last April, Food52’s Cookbook Club chose Smitten Kitchen Every Day as their book to cook through that month, but I promise, this isn’t the point at all. The club has monthly picks and a yearly Bonus Book, a cookbook participants cook through at their leisure. So while April was my book’s month, for 2018, that book was Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden.

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