Recipes

ultimate banana bread

I know, I know, you don’t need to tell me that there are already four banana bread recipes on this site, plus four additional banana cakes, and that’s probably enough, right? Genuinely, I believed I was done too, that the Banana Baked Goods course at SK University* had been completed. But then a few things happened. After creating the pumpkin bread of my dreams and what I hope will be the last zucchini bread recipe you’ll ever need over the last couple years, it began to bother me that the banana bread recipes on the site lacked what these have: a towering height and a crunchy top that will be hard not to lift off in one giant tile and swiftly coat the underside with salted butter. So, I created one and I’ve been keeping it to myself for over a year because, see above: SK is probably at Banana Bread Capacity. But over the last few weeks of, well, not doing a whole lot else, I can’t help but notice that we’ve all been making a whole lot of banana bread. And I think you might like this one instead.

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Recipes

carrot and white bean burgers

I’m really enjoying Lukas Volger’s new cookbook, Start Simple: Eleven Everyday Ingredients for Countless Weeknight Meals. It came out two months ago, a positively bizarre time in which we entered and left our homes with abandon, casually hugged friends we were happy to see, and if our nose became itchy, we’d scratch it and not stand paralyzed in panic afterward. What salad days! Volger’s new book wasn’t created with pandemic cooking in mind — what was, really — but it feels just right for right now because each chapter focuses on a staple our local store is miraculously not out of (tofu, tortillas, beans, greens, squash, and more), and the recipes have refreshingly short ingredient lists and unfussy assemblies. Volger’s vegetarian cooking is very doable, the kind of do-ability that comes from the fact that this is clearly the food he cooks for himself at home, so all of the kinks are smoothed out. Everything sounds so good — smoky chickpea salad with olives and lemon and black beans with scallion-lime vinaigrette from the bean section are on my shortlist — you might find yourself wondering why this unwavering simplicity isn’t the goal of every cookbook.

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Recipes

chicken, leek, and rice soup

I hope nobody you know is sick right now. I hope it’s, at worst, a common cold, common boredom bred by self-quarantine, or a stubbed toe because you tried some ridiculous workout video you found online. Or, if you’re me, last week, after yet another thing fell out of my chaotic freezer onto my foot (I don’t even get to blame “fitness”) I decided to, what’s that word, it feels so unnatural to type… organize? Right, that. I decided to sift through the freezer and see what was taking up so much space and I realized that Deb Of A Few Months (let’s be honest: probably longer) Ago did a very cool thing and made an excess of chicken stock and froze it in one-quart bags which meant that “wohoo! dinner is sorted!”

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Recipes

piña colada

In the first world of first world-liest problems, a problem I would love to be having this very week when I’m shivering again (despite many suggestions of spring on the near horizon) is that when in my life I’ve been lucky enough to decamp to a tropical location for a vacation, and wish to do what one does on tropical vacations — I mean, aside from wearing such buckets of SPF that when I return people comment, “I thought you went to the beach?” — and that is ordering a piña colada. Possibly at a swim-up bar. In a hurricane glass with a tacky paper umbrella in it, a fluorescent maraschino cherry, and a creamy-tart balance that is unfettered vacation bliss with each sip. The problem is that they’re very often…. terrible, tinny and artificially-flavored. I mean, I drink it; I’m not a barbarian. But every time I do (daily, at 4:30pm, please), I vow that when I get home, I’m going to make a real and proper and perfect one to set things right again.

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Recipes

sweet potato salad with pepita dressing

Good morning and apologies in advance, as I’m again one of those loathsome (that if, if you were shivering somewhere) people who just returned from the beach, where we went on vacation last week because our kids were off from school and we didn’t see why they should have all the fun. Around me were turquoise waves, glittering with sunlight, lapping gently at the silky white-sanded shore and there were no children having tantrums or whining because this was a magical place — and at some of those things are true. However, as will always happen on vacation, while we had some enviable tacos and aguachiles, I was only a few days in when I started to fiercely miss home-cooked food, most especially this salad I’d made the week before.

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Recipes

perfect vegetable lasagna

Here is a theory: There are two types of picky people, those that are totally fine just never experiencing a life with, I don’t know, tomatoes or bananas or pickles or raisins (yes, I’ve read your comments — all of them) and then there is the kind that finds their epicurean limitations to constrict like an uncomfortable jacket they’d love to shed if they could figure out how. I, a lifelong Picky Person, am the latter. Over the years creating and sharing recipes for this site, I’ve embraced so many things I once thought I didn’t like [insert basically half the ingredients in anything here, ever], but it turned out I just didn’t like the way they were usually made.

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Recipes, Tips

new classic wedding cake + how to

In the months before my wedding, I periodically suggested I might like to make our wedding cake (because most giant wedding cakes are terrible) and was swiftly shot down by everyone who heard it. “You’re crazy.” “It’s too much work.” “Do you want to spend your Special Day covered in frosting?” And so I relented and our wedding cake tasted like processed awfulness and it bothered me so much that I volunteered to make the wedding cake for friends a few years later, in 2008. At the end of this fun but exhausting endeavor, I declared the accounting of terrible and wonderful wedding cakes in the universe to be infinitesimally more in balance and making wedding cakes to be “completely out of my system.” That lasted about nine years, when one of my oldest and favorite-est friends got married in 2018. However, I waited completely until the last minute to start it and while we loved it in the end, the absolutely-my-fault stress/chaos of the project definitely set the clock back on me making another wedding cake for at least another nine years. But a mere year and a half later, another fabulous friend got engaged to another wonderful guy and that brings us up to a couple weeks ago: wedding cake three. Three wedding cakes in, I’ve learned a lot of stuff that doesn’t fall in your usual wedding cake baking guide and since I’m definitely never making another wedding cake (“I mean it this time!” I say with such thin resolve it’s clear even I don’t buy it anymore), I think we should start here.
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Recipes

roasted squash and tofu with ginger

I didn’t mean to disappear on you. I’d intended to start the year with soup, as I always do. I made a lovely-but-not-lovely-enough winter minestrone and then a red lentil situation but neither really seemed spotlight worthy and it can be hard sometimes but I really don’t want to publish anything here I don’t want to sing from the rooftops about. All of our time is worth more than that. While I was debating my next soup move, my friend texted and said “Can u believe the wedding is two weeks away??” and I bolted straight up in bed because, well, no. I could not believe it at all. I mean, I knew I’d told her I’d make her wedding cake. We’d discussed the headcount and flavors they liked. I had a loose idea of it in my mind and looked forward to really getting started on it… in a couple weeks. Needless to say, this is where the rest of January went and I’m going to tell you all about it next week — it’s going through some rigorous retesting and is going to be worth the wait because it’s probably one of the most delicious cakes I have ever made. But still, let’s never go on a break again.

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banana toffee cakeRecipes

banana toffee cake

For absolutely no reasons other than I Wanted It and It Sounded Good and Also I Had Two Sad Bananas and Didn’t Want To Make Banana Bread, earlier this fall I got really caught up in making sticky toffee banana puddings, except by pudding I mean British for cake or sometimes a steamed cake and sometimes just the dessert course entirely (did I do this right? please help your confused American friend). Sticky toffee pudding is usually made with dates and almost every person I’ve ever told that to who has had it but doesn’t peruse recipes for fun and entertainment (crazy!) has found that baffling, but indeed, there are dried dates that have been soaked and blended until smooth and added to a lightweight brown sugar and butter cake that is ladled — I mean, truly soaked — with a warm toffee/butterscotch sauce and an enormous spoonful of unsweetened whipped or clotted cream and sometimes sprinkled with a few flakes of sea salt and it’s just unbelievably, unforgettably decadent.
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Recipes

unstuffed mushroom casserole

Here is a dish that resides in two of my favorite places to eat: in the land of side dishes and luxurious party snacks. I have nothing against stuffed mushrooms — I’ll always eat them — but anything that involves an often complex sauté of ingredients scooped tinily and mounded carefully into mushroom caps (that frequently get dry or leathery in the oven, I know you’re nodding in agreement right now) that need to be served warm is not exactly going to fall in the unfussy category. This recipe rejects the scoops, the caps, and even the fine chop of stems and homes in instead on the flavors that make stuffed mushrooms awesome, baked messily in a pan for scooping onto plates or toasts.
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