Author Archives: Kylie Elliott

chocolate caramel tart

Shortly after my husband and I began dating — the dark ages; no seriously, his phone at the time looked like this and I was like whoa, look how fancy you are, dude — we went on a road trip somewhere, stopped at a gas station, and I told him to grab something candy-ish, surprise me. This boy came back to the car with a pack of Rolos, and honestly, it’s amazing we didn’t break up right then and there because Rolos are terrible candy and it’s about time someone said it. [Oh I can hear the reverberations of a thousand unfollows but I will absolutely die on this hill, and remain undeterred.] They’re gooey so they give off the appearance, the suggestion, of being good candy but the goo tastes like nothing. I feel this way about all caramel that appears inside candy bars, which tastes me more like thickened corn syrup than anything toasty and nuanced. Plus, they’re inside a milk chocolate shell, so it’s sweet against sweet, no contrast whatsoever, and so help you if you don’t eat them in a single bite, I hope you enjoy having sticky hands for the rest of the drive. I know, I know what you’re thinking: it’s an absolute mystery how I ended up with such a picky child.

In my unsolicited opinion, three things could improve Rolos: a real toasty, buttery caramel, the contrast of dark chocolate, and a bit of salt. As good caramel is gooey, we’re not going to fight it, but that’s what plates and forks are for.

dry ingredients for shellblend up the crustchocolate tart crustpressed in and trimmedfoil tightly, no weightsmelt the sugar and cook until amberadd butter, then creamblurry poured caramelcooled caramel layerchopped chocolate or chipschocolate and creamspread the ganache

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cabbage and mushroom “lasagna”

In July, because I make no sense at all, I decided to knock an item off my To Cook list that’s been there since 2010, a golden, bubbling, layered dish of mushrooms, cabbage, thinly sliced potatoes bound with a bechamel sauce and topped with cheese. Talk about beach eats!

But a craving is a craving and I made it with the thought that we could try it, then freeze the rest until that whole December – January zone when the sun sets at approximately 3:32pm and the only way to endure it is to channel some Scandinavian coziness and make it, like, fashion. Candles! Thick sweaters! Tea, a good book, and soft music. Long-cooked winter vegetables snug in a rich casserole.

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drop cornbread biscuits

This past Saturday, we hosted our second Friendsgiving, stuffing 17 people in an apartment that has no business holding 17 people, but it’s okay, there’s wine for that. Our first one was in 2016; you can read about it here. I took 2017 off because I was a teensy bit busy book touring for Smitten Kitchen Every Day** It was fun to be back.

UntitledUntitled

When having friends over, I like to get everything done that I can in advance and I do this for completely selfish reasons: I want to enjoy my party, too, and I can’t if I’m scrambling around all day and am bone tired by the time food comes out. But last week was abnormally busy and I only got to grocery shopping on Thursday, only to discover that one week before Thanksgiving, it’s like tumbleweeds, the lull before the weekend stampede, all past-prime rosemary and other sadness. I almost cancelled but my husband miraculously found almost everything that evening, and instead I did a very beautiful, highly recommended thing: I nixed a few things on the planned menu and swapped more complicated ones for simpler recipes with shorter ingredient lists but high reward. Here’s the menu, a few details, and completely random tips:

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roberta’s roasted garlic caesar salad

I realize that the internet needs another recipe for caesar salad as much as it probably needs another new spin on chocolate chip cookies (guilty as charged, of course). Thus, it was nowhere on my agenda to suggest one. Plus, I’ve told you before that the only caesar dressing I need in my life is my hopelessly, unapologetically inauthentic one — no raw yolks, no tinned fish, and keeps in the fridge for a month, easily — which I’ve shared in some form over here and in Smitten Kitchen Every Day (in a salad with broken eggs and crushed croutons that you need in your life, trust me).

pre-toast the walnutsplus sugar and spicemix it up, then bake themspicy candied walnuts

But earlier this year I was invited to be on Cherry Bombe Radio, which records at the Heritage Radio Studios, which broadcasts from two recycled shipping containers behind the Roberta’s Pizza in Bushwick, at the edge of the garden where many of Roberta’s ingredients are grown. My son was home from school that day and I do not know what the 9 year-olds in your life are like, but if I told the one I’ve been assigned that I was going to be hanging out somewhere eating legendarily delicious pizza and not invite him along, he’d (rightly) declare it excessive cruelty. So he came along and along with pizza, ordered the very caesar-y romaine salad with candied walnuts and he declared it the best salad he’d ever eaten and begged me to make it at home. Again, I don’t know what the grade-schoolers in your life are like but I consider it a general rule that if a kid requests salad, they get it.

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sunken black forest cake

My kids will be at least 25% candy for the rest of the week, as the season demands. If it doesn’t come individually wrapped, if the first, second, or third ingredient isn’t chocolate, a food dye, or high fructose corn syrup, if it doesn’t have a marketing tie-in with Spongebob or Legos, they’re not eating it. Which means, since they’ve now definitely left the room, we get this cake all for us. You’re welcome, because we’re not going to share it anyway.

some things you'll needchopped chocolatebutter, chocolate, yolkswhipped whites

This whole fall — save a brief but devoted two weeks of apple pie studies — I have craved chocolate almost nonstop, and I don’t mean at perfunctory square of 72% and calling it a day. I mean, chocolate éclairs and chocolate brownies and molten chocolate cakes and chocolate pot de cremes and so when I spied this riff on a black forest cake in Julia Turshen’s new cookbook, Now & Again, I really couldn’t think about anything else until I made it.

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candy pork

What’s in a cooking repertoire? Is it basics, like how to make rice and a go-to method for roasting chicken? Is it your family’s classics, like a plum cake or the roast a cousin makes on Christmas Eve? Is it a collection of durable, flexible recipes that might be the last you ever need? I’ve been thinking about this since getting Jessica Battiliana’s first cookbook, Repertoire, this spring. I loved the concept immediately: the recipes she relies on most — not demanding but rewarding; not fancy, but special. There are recipes for parmesan chicken cutlets, meatballs, and a simplified eggplant parmesan; chicken tortilla soup, pretzel rolls, and corn fritters. There’s a recipe for the thing that most quickly went into my repertoire — a negroni (although I made it boulevardier-style) and potato chips (spoiler: they’re from a bag) — and birthday cakes too. But it was this candy pork that I couldn’t forget about, and I’m so glad I chose it, well, second.

shallotsshallots, ginger, garlic, hot pepperbrown sugar to meltthe caramel

[I wondered what my cooking repertoire would look like but realized with 1200 recipes in the archives and 105 in each of my cookbooks, it’s probably a little late for that, as I could never choose, although I did my best here.]

Battilana is a food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle but also works on cookbooks, such as the incredible Vietnamese Home Cooking book (we made the pho here) from Charles Phan. From Phan, she learned about Vietnamese-style caramel sauces laced with Thai chilies, ginger, garlic, and shallots. At his restaurant, The Slanted Door, it’s applied to clay-pot chicken but in Repertoire it’s used to braise chunks of pork shoulder and it’s one of the best things I’ve made this year. [Her kids call it candy pork because kids know: nobody can resist candy.]

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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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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.

a soft dougha great heap of spinacha round pizzait looks like too much but it's too little!

Crispy spinach pizza isn’t its official name (that’s, in fact, The Popeye) but in our household dish names are marketing devices and heaps of spinach are, understandably, a hard sell. It’s not much easier with adults. Yes, I know many of us enjoy green vegetables and volunteer to eat them on the regular, but even as one of those people, I felt nothing but panic and dread the first time I saw this unsettlingly large pile of charred-edge greens and no sign of cheese or any other anchors of joy coming across the room to me at the late Co., and knew I’d ordered all wrong.

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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.

mostly what you'll need

Fortunately I vowed this on Instagram Stories, which means that my DMs were quickly filled up halfway with “Me too!Why does everyone lie about how easy they are?” and the other half with suggestions of ways to make them more efficiently and intelligently.

diced potatoesi have strong opinions about how peppers should be choppedinto the ovenroasted vegetables

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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 Sauté 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.

what you'll need + oats
a caramel base
stir to combine

Despite all of this, I am a deeply contradictory person. While I assure you that these recipes don’t require any more ingredients than listed to fulfill their delicious destinies, if you were to try to tell me about a recipe with a set number of ingredients, I’d immediately bristle at the limitation. “What was the 6th one? Maybe I have it! I really don’t mind taking it out!”

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