Author Archives: Kylie Elliott

stuffed eggplant parmesan

I might be deeply ambivalent about:
* fall (less the weather cooling off and more how long it insists up staying cooled off for; doesn’t 8 months seem excessive?),
* stuffed vegetables (the good ones are great but the bad ones a very underseasoned-rice-in-green-peppers-cooked-until-soggy-and-gray, you know?),
* and eggplant parmesan (mostly the staggering amount of effort made to fry and crisp rounds of eggplant only to burrow it in crisp-cancelling sauce and cheese, why)

what you'll need

… but this dish manages to enlist parts of all three and it exceeded every expectation. I first spied a version of this on The Kitchn. I liked that you get all the flavors of a great eggplant parmesan including a crunch on top but with a lot less work. You could actually make this on a weeknight. The ingredient list is pretty short. Plus, we’re at that perfect cooking point in the year, when almost everything is not just in season but bountiful at the markets but it (occasionally) cools off enough that baking things in the oven is appealing again. It never lasts long enough and this is such a fun way to celebrate it.

Read more »

crisped chickpeas with herbs and garlic yogurt

We’ve all been lying to you about crispy chickpeas. I’m sorry. It wasn’t very cool of us. I include myself; I’ve been telling you for years that you can crisp chickpeas in the oven and you can, you really can. But it’s not the whole story. The whole story is that you can get them crunchy in the oven but they also dry out a bit and the texture isn’t half as good as the more lightweight, nuanced crisp you get from frying them on the stove. I’ve always known this. But, who wants to deep fry? Not most of us, and certainly on a random Tuesday. It sounds like a project. It must use a ton of oil. It feels a bit heavy… for lunch.

what you'll need

But what if none of this is true, either? One day earlier this summer I wanted crispy chickpeas and I didn’t want to crank up the oven for 35 to 40 minutes to make it happen. Instead, I heated a few tablespoons of oil (a tablespoon more, if that, than I find roasting them requires) in a small frying pan and it took all of 10 minutes to get them perfect — crispy with shattery edges, but still soft inside. I drained them briefly on a paper towel, coated them with salt, pepper, and lemon zest, and then I added a little more oil to the pan and fried some thinly sliced zucchini until it were browned in spots. On a plate, I stirred together some plain yogurt, finely grated garlic, lemon juice, and salt. I layered the zucchini on top, and half the chickpeas on top of that. I finished the whole thing with red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, and more lemon juice. And I don’t know that I have made a more perfect plate of food since.*

Read more »

salted caramel pretzel blondies

My son went to sleep-away camp two weeks for the first time this summer and it was terrible. Oh, I don’t mean for him. I got the full, joyful report when we collected him the first second they let us fly through the gate on Saturday, but even the bits and pieces we’d heard sooner sounded ebullient. He was having the time of his life! But I found it agonizing. Whose idea was this? (Mine.) What was I thinking? (That he’d enjoy it.) Wasn’t he just born? (He’ll be 10 next month.) How was he leaving us already? (You literally talked him into it.) Stop using reason with me! (I am having a full blown conversation with myself.) They were two very long weeks. I was shocked by the slack created when one person slips out of the rubberband that snugs you sometimes crushingly together, and the sheer amount of angst I could pour into this void. Friends with kids in camp went on vacations, went out every night, took up tennis, cleared out their backlog of stuff that never gets done. I did some of that stuff but a tremendous lot of mentally counting the days since he had probably last brushed his teeth, wondering if he’d even unwrapped the packing seal on the sunscreen cans, joking way too many times that we’d sent the wrong kid away (acting out means you miss your brother in 4 year-old-ese, right?) and reloading the parent portal with the occasional camper photos so many times my computer thinks it’s my homepage. (Pauses to check it again. Why stop now?)

add butter and creamwhisk until smoothcook a few minutes morechill thissome stuff you'll needone-bowl blondiesquick blondie batteradd the pretzels an chocolatechop the firm carameladd the caramel pieces

I had a chance to slip him a care package during a friend’s visiting day. Silly putty, a yoyo, some new markers, ping pong paddles, a joke book, a whoopie cushion, just the essentials, and I decided to bake something, too. And by something I mean, Hi, have we met? The person who prepared for motherhood by mastering the art of birthday cake? The person who prepared for labor and delivery by hoping to bribe the nurses into give me the best drugs sooner? No, I was not going to make any old brownies or blondies. Remember The Parent Trap? “If their date is half as good as these cookies, we’ll be sisters in no time!” This was the energy I was channeling as I folded a mosaic of salted butter caramels, crushed pretzels, and oversized chocolate chips into my usual blondies.

Read more »

black pepper tofu and eggplant

I spotted black pepper tofu on Ottolenghi’s* Instagram last week, a fine place to gush over food. The recipe is from Plenty, an excellent cookbook that I happen to have, which means I could make it right away. However, rather than making it and then still feeling a loose obligation to make a vegetable side dish or salad, I decided to add eggplant. From there, everything went south. I don’t have three types of soy sauce. I can get them, theoretically, but I was feeling lazy about it. I was pretty sure five tablespoons of crushed peppercorns and eight thinly sliced red chiles would make my children run screaming from the room; 11 tablespoons of butter was a bit rich for my tastes. But here’s the thing with this and, I think, all recipes. Much ado is made about “internet recipe commenters” and their “I changed eight ingredients and it didn’t work, zero stars”-type presence on websites. I’m often asked how I don’t “lose patience” with these types of comments and here comes an opinion, you just know I had one brewing:

For the love of absolutely nothing holy, because this an internet recipe blog and not the 11th commandment, you are allowed to make every single recipe you come across any way you wish. Modify for the ingredients you have. Modify for the schedule you have or the free time you want. Modify for the nutrients you need. Recipes aren’t bibles; I am no goddess. I don’t find it annoying. I mean, we’re going to have to manage our expectations about the outcomes. Some changes work, some don’t, and we can talk about it, I’ll answer whatever I can as best as I can. But honestly the best thing you can do is to report back in the comments, that is, tell us what you changed and how it went, and help the next person with the question out.

Read more »

ultimate zucchini bread

I have a few complaints about zucchini bread and I bet you cannot wait to hear them. I bet you were thinking “I was hoping to hear more complaining today than I usually do.” Or, “Wow, Deb is really going hard on the zucchini content this summer, isn’t she?” It’s all fair — and true. But if you, like me, couldn’t help but notice that a lot of zucchini bread recipes could be better, well, pull up a chair, you’re among friends.

what you'll needanother way to grate ita whole lot of zucchihnipile in the eggs, oil, sugars, vanilla, saltwet batter, one-bowladd the flourfork-mixedready to bake

Read more »

zucchini quesadillas

Sure, it’s only been one month since I wrote “I don’t find summer squash naturally loveable. Its flavor is not robust—fairly watery when fresh, slippery when cooked, and even when you do succeed in browning or crisping it, this textural triumph is short-lived.” But I never meant that I avoid it. Just because it may not be the most popular vegetable at the party doesn’t mean that it cannot flourish under the right conditions (salt, pepper, acidity, heat, herbs, and cheese — please). Conveniently, I almost always have these conditions in stock.

any zucchini you got

Lately, my favorite approach has been to cook it with garlic in it olive oil for about 15 minutes, at which point it becomes jammy — fully tender with concentrated flavors and excellent seasoning. Once you have a skillet of this, zucchini is your oyster. Maybe you fold it into an omelet with goat cheese and herbs? Maybe you mix it with big pasta, parmesan, basil leaves, and lemon? But last week, I mixed it with grated Monterey jack cheese and cooked it between two white corn tortillas until they were browned and crisp and it turns out, this might be my favorite use of it yet.

Read more »

frozen watermelon mojitos

There is no time like a heat wave to unlearn everything you thought you knew about watermelon. I don’t need to tell you that a slice of fresh watermelon cold from the fridge is one of life’s perfect things. But most of my attempts to bake with it or turn it into drinks, with this exception, have had limited success, because there is a mildness, a gentleness to watermelon that gets smothered under other things. “So, just eat it fresh and be done with it,” would be a reasonable, rational takeaway. The watermelon has spoken; it has told you its limits. But I don’t want to be reasonable nor rational, and I’ve been pining for a frozen watermelon mojito for a couple summers now and been stuck at the impasse of knowing once I added the requisite ice, simple syrup, or club soda, the watermelon-y impact would be all but diminished. I’m not sure why it took me as long as it did to have my a-ha moment but the solution was, well, right next to the ice cubes in the freezer.

ready to freeze watermelon

Freezing your watermelon in cubes and foregoing the ice cubes is summer drink brilliance. It actually tastes like watermelon because you haven’t diluted it in any way. The texture is fantastic enough that you might skip the club soda too (but adding a splash basically makes it a grown-up Slurpee; you’re welcome). Simple syrup, and the water involved in making it, is never necessary if you can just dissolve sugar in your lime juice. I’ve made it as straight frosty watermelon lemonade and limeade (no rum; keep the mint if you wish) but as a heatwave balm of a summer drink that takes approximately 65 seconds* to make, it’s downright revolutionary.

Read more »

corn salad with chile and lime

For July 4th, we hosted a dozen people (no, we don’t have space for this but why learn now) and I prepared six racks of ribs, a double batch of broccoli slaw, a kind of ad-hoc-ed potato salad with a mustardy-caesary vinaigrette, a charred corn salad, a flag cake, lemonade, Aperol spritzes, Suze-and-tonics, watermelon, and then we went up to the roof to light sparklers and watch the fireworks and approximately 95% of the people who slid into my DMs after seeing photos of all of this on Instagram only asked me about the corn. It’s okay, my ribs’ feelings will eventually recover.

first corn of the season

I get it though, it’s kind of cute (I’d unquestionably wear it as a printed skirt), especially with pink pickled onions, many shakes of Tajin (chile-lime salt), and cilantro on top. The corn salad is loosely modeled on esquites, the Mexican street snack. Typically, corn is cooked in butter with onions, chiles, and epazote (an herb) is served in cups with lime juice, chile powder, mayo, and crumbled cheese and I don’t care what you think, or think you think, of mayo; you will inhale it and then want another cup immediately. You often see these same ingredients slathered on to corn on the cob. But, I was craving more distinct layers of flavor — a cool dressing, warm corn, and then crunchy heat and acidity on top. (Also, I dreaded imagining the condition of my children’s okay my clothes if I made the slatethered-on version, but that’s not exactly a “culinary” decision.)

Read more »

crispy oven pulled pork

This site has been bereft of a giant pork roast for too long. This one, to us, has been worth the wait and it came from the most logical place. I’ve been Bo Ssam-ing since the David Chang recipe was published in the New York Times in 2012. For legions of fans, it quickly became a generation’s go-to dinner party dish: a spectacularly low-effort, high-reward way to feed a crowd. The masterful thing about this slow-roast is the way the exterior takes on a dark, glossy, crisp, varnished edge that collapses easily under the tines of a fork, revealing pale, perfectly cooked pulls of pork within, and that you did almost nothing to make this happen. The ingredients couldn’t be simpler (got salt? sugar?), and in just a small fraction of the time that you’ve been liberated from any kitchen toiling while the pork slow-roasts and permeates your apartment with an unholy delicious aroma, you make the accompaniments. I wanted the pulled pork recipe on this site to have all of that, but designed with barbecue-style sandwiches in mind, no smoker required.

thickly coatedscored the fatone hour ina couple hours in

I make a slew of adjustments. Chang’s Bo Ssam calls for a bone-in pork shoulder or butt but I prefer boneless — it’s smaller, cooks faster, and has a more dramatic collapse. Instead of a simple salt and white sugar rub, I channel barbecue flavors, keeping the salt but swapping in brown sugar, paprika (smoked is wonderful here) and cayenne. I enlist a thin marinade known as a mop throughout the process — to initially baste the roast, to flavor the slaw, to dress the final roast as you pull it apart, keeping it moist, and then more at the table. We find it eliminates the need for a standard dark red barbecue sauce, but hey, if you’re nervous you’ll miss it, here is my simplest and a more elaborate recipe. Both sauces keep for what seems like forever in the fridge. (I will never admit how old my jar is.)

Read more »

strawberry summer sheet cake

Eight years ago, I wrote about a strawberry cake I’d been making and tweaking from Martha Stewart since, apparently, 2005 that felt to me like the epitome of early summer. The batter is a simple cake — butter, sugar, flour, eggs, milk. The berries are fresh, hulled and halved. There’s seemingly nothing new or revolutionary but what differentiates it from other summer cakes is the sheer volume of strawberries. There’s a full pound of berries placed on top before you bake the cake, more than easily fit. In the oven, the batter buckles around the berries, turning them into jammy puddles, especially if your strawberries are a touch overripe. The sunken berries dimple the top like a country quilt. The edges of the cake brown and become faintly crisp. If you can bear to wait half to a full day to eat it, and really let those baked berries marry with the cake, you might swear off all other summer desserts.

prepping strawberries

Clearly, I’m a fan. But I hadn’t expected on a site with many other cakes with fresh fruit in them for it to so quickly take off, ultimately joining the small club of recipes on SK with more than 1000 comments.* The only thing that’s never right about it, however, is the size. A cake like this is here to make friends, and eight wedges never last. For years, if anyone asked about making it in a 9×13 pan, I gave my default answer: double it! For most cakes, this absolutely works. But at home, it was never quite right. The cake was too thick and 2 pounds of berries never fit on top, meaning you’ll use less, and if you use less, the cake is, in my opinion, way less spectacular. I’m not sure why it took me until this summer to get it right, but I finally realized that I was scaling it wrong. The 1.5x yield of batter and berries creates the strawberry summer sheet cake I’ve always needed and finally have. I haven’t made it the original way since, and I thought you deserved an update that was more than a footnote, too.

Read more »