Author Archives: Kylie Elliott

sweet potato tacos

One of the places I love to lurk on the internet is on boards and groups where people discuss their menu plans for the week. I am so sorry you thought I was going to say something more exciting here. I mean, of all the place to lurk on the internet, Deb. I am truly a bore — possibly to everyone but people who love to cook.

peeled, then cubed
tossed with oil and dry spices

But these posts! Forget the blogs, forget the cookbooks — just kidding, please do not do either — this is how people really eat, or aspire to at the ambitious start of their week, and I can’t help but take mental notes. One of the things that comes up frequently is something called a “sweet potato taco,” and it got stuck in my head because we like sweet potatoes, we like tacos… Maybe I should try my hand at them! I envisioned cubes of sweet potatoes roasted with so much spice, it almost forms a crust, and then something with black beans, and a bright, acidic finish to cut through the carb-starch-carbiness of it. The first time I made it, I threw them together and, because this is the year 2018, tossed a picture of our dinner onto Instagram Stories* and it turns out, a lot of people wanted the recipe. I promised to write it up good and proper one day, “one day” in Deb-ese is 5 weeks minimum, and that brings us up to today.

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luxe butterscotch pudding

Happy Valentine’s Day! I thought we should make this for a date night in… erm, three weeks ago. It was on my editorial calendar and everything! (Okay I don’t have one, but it was definitely something I would have put on one.) The fact is, I’ve always been a slow cook but I’ve gotten so much worse in the last year or so, and I think I’m just getting fussier. I can’t sleep well until I know I am not making you use even one more bowl or egg yolk than the recipe requires and I wish I was joking because it sounds more quirky and charming that way.

Take this. For years, I’d be hearing about the wonder that is Nancy Silverton’s Butterscotch Budino, one of Los Angeles’s most famous desserts. Think of it like a classic, homey butterscotch pudding (kinda like this) made as luxe as possible with more butter, a deeper caramel, egg yolks, cream, salted caramel, whipped creme fraiche, yes, I too would be on a flight to Los Angeles right now after reading that if they weren’t all grounded.

butterscotchadd cream and milkre-melt the butterscotchan egg and two yolks plus cornstarch

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quick, essential stovetop mac-and-cheese

A couple years ago, at my second home (the grocery store, alas, not, like, the shore) I was passing through the boxed macaroni and cheese section and realized my son, then five, had grown up so far without ever trying it. I realize some people pat themselves on the back about this, but I’m more skeptical about things. Realistically, by the time my kids grow up, I will have inundated them so with so many kale caesars, farro salads and wholesome slaws, sweet potatoes, and homemade from-scratch birthday cakes they’ll have no choice but to rebel with a steady diet of sugar cereals, frozen pocketed foods, and frosting from a can. Maybe leveling things up earlier on will help avoid this outcome? So I bought a box, made it for dinner that night (with the requisite steamed broccoli on the side, nobody ever tells you how much broccoli you’re going to steam when you become a parent) and oh, I’m sorry, were you waiting for me to call it terrible? A disappointment? A memory from childhood that did not hold up? It was anything but. I love orange cheese powder and I do not wish to keep it to myself any longer.

i love this ruffly shapea little water and a lot of pasta is fine hereparmesan is all you needsometimes I get fancy with aged cheddar

I understand that the internet can supply me with orange cheese powder but I promise, that’s not where I’m going with this. I want to talk about why we like it and what I — an adult who doesn’t want to make a habit of the boxed stuff, nor live a life devoid of the dish it creates — do when I’m craving stovetop pasta with a sauce of melted cheese intensely* and nothing else will do.

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korean braised short ribs

The single most frequently asked questions on this site of late has not been “Wait, you just put peanut butter inside a chocolate cookie, are you pregnant?” (Which is too bad because I want nothing more than an excuse to say this.) It’s not “Can I make this recipe gluten-free/dairy-free/Whole30-compliant?” (Me.) And it’s not even, “How do you do your daughter’s hair?” (We wake her up at 4 to set it in curlers, it’s a little crazy but obviously worth it). It is, in fact, some combination of “I need Instant Pot recipes.” and “How do I make this in an Instant Pot?” or “Should I get an Instant Pot?” Today I’ll do my best (and, of course, just skip ahead if you’ve already made peace with the presence or absence of one in your life):

* Is it worth the space? While I cannot answer for you whether you have the space for another large kitchen appliance, it’s worth noting that the IP could ostensibly replace a slow-cooker (or slow-cookers, in my crazy case), a stovetop pressure cooker, should you have one, and a rice cooker, although I’ll get rid of mine when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands. I can tell you with authority that I don’t have room for mine, but I like it anyway. I also don’t have room for my children and their belongings in this apartment, but I like them anyway (“anyway” = after 7am).

* But I am perfectly happy with my slow-cooker: I think of the IP/other electric multicookers and Crock-Pots/slow-cookers on the same continuum with different speeds. They excel at many of the same things: beans and stocks and long braises. Both are plugged in so you can put stuff in them and walk away (unlike a live gas flame on a stove). The slow-cooker requires you to think about what you’d like for dinner either the night before or that morning before you go off to work — it slows things down. Electric pressure cookers allow you to do it when you get home — it speeds things up. (The IP also makes yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and rice, you can simmer a pot of liquid in it about as fast as you would on a stove, and you can actually brown things like meat, so it’s got a few other tricks up its sleeve, but rice and eggs at least cook faster on a stove.)

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slow-roasted sweet potatoes

I have been obsessed with the Argentinian chef Francis Mallman since I saw his of Chef’s Table episode in 2015. Sure, about the only thing we have in common is a desire to set food on fire, you know, artfully. He does so these days to great acclaim on his private Patagonian island (and 8 other restaurants around the world), accessible through two flights, a five-hour drive, and then 90-minute raft across a lake. I live on a busy block of a crowded city accessible by nearly every format of public transportation, and do so to moderate acclaim (relative mostly to how well the patrons slept that day) under a wispy-by-design gas broiler.

sweet potatoes

A few weeks ago, my obsession led us to a restaurant named Mettā in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where everything is either cooked or finished over an open fire (if you go, do so on a cold night and sit at the counter, you’ll be glad you did) where the chef is protégé of Mallman. On the dessert menu is a highly regarded ash-roasted sweet potato with an infused whipped cream* and while it was delicious, forgive me, I didn’t have the Moment with it that every other restaurant reviewer has, but still tucked it away in my head as something I wanted to get back to soon. I just didn’t expect it to be exactly two days later, when I spotted a slow-roasted and charred sweet potato recipe from Michael Solomomov in Saveur. Obviously — because a jump from Patagonia to Fort Greene and then Solomomov is the very definition of “obvious” — it was fate.

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chocolate peanut butter cup cookies

The internet, or at least as far as I’ve seen, has three favorite peanut butter cookies. The first is a thing where you take a peanut butter cookie dough or prepared chocolate chip cookie dough, press it into a mini-muffin tin, press a miniature peanut butter cup inside of it and bake them together. Nobody has ever made these for me and I’m kind of mad about it. The second is this 4-ingredient, one bowl, hand-whisked salted peanut butter cookie, curiously absent in flour, butter and leaveners, that’s been around forever until the clever cooks at Ovenly figured out that using brown sugar instead of white, them into larger half-domes, and covering them with sea salt raised them to the unforgettable. The third is a soft chocolate cookie wrapped around a peanut butter filling and bakes into peanut butter cup cookies. No wait, pillows.

weighing peanut butter is the only way to livepeanut butter bellies, ready to gohello dark cocoain the food processor

I’ve seen them around for years. I thought I’d try my hand at them one day. But then in December, rumor has it that this cookie won the annual cookie contest at my publisher’s. And as a certain cookie — the gooey oat / bake sale winning-est bars in my second cookbook — won the previous year, this cookie effectively knocked it off its pedestal, oh, my interest was piqued. And by piqued, I mean, how dare it.

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stromboli

This is not a stromboli. If we’ve spoken in the last day, I’ve demanded that you weigh on a name for this dish. Pizza Streudel? Thousand-Layer Stromboli? Stromboli Babka? But that’s not where it began. It began as a dish called Scaccia Ragusana, which I found in an old Saveur issue. This stuffed flatbread is a Sicilian specialty from the province of Ragusa, made with a very thin rectangular layer of dough that’s folded in on itself a few times to make a veritable mille-feuille of a pie, with a dozen stunning layers greeting you when you, lucky you, cut into it. Not all scaccias have these thin folded layers; usually only the tomato and cheese ones do, while others have fillings from ricotta and fried eggplant, ricotta and sausage, greens, beans and more, folded over and crimped at the edges, sometimes elaborately with a braid, like a giant empanada.

what you'll need, mostly

I haven’t heard of any that are tweaked to taste like an American pizzeria pepperoni pie — fluorescent red salami rounds, oregano, red pepper flakes, mozzarella and all — but we can thank my husband for this suggestion.

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banana oat weekday pancakes

My favorite buttermilk pancakes are tall, fluffy, buttery show-offs. I make them on the weekend because my mom always made pancakes on the weekend and it feels as weekend-y as cake for breakfast should. But does Thursday morning deserve a pancake, just for being Thursday? I realized recently that a weekday pancake is different to me — fork-mixed, one-bowl, and fairly nutrient-packed, something I could make the kids before school and feel like I was sending them out armed with essentials — and also that my existing recipes left me short. Even these very beloved oatmeal pancakes require you to have or to make oatmeal before you begin, and then use two different flours and two different sugars. I love them… it’s just not happening on a weekday. [See also: complex thoughts or even a bare modicum of functioning before 9 am; alas, I live with two charges who disagree.]

fighting over whose turn it is to help

I found what I was looking for in an old recipe from Gourmet that uses only whole wheat flour plus quick oats, but it somehow not dry or heavy or even overly wholesome-tasting. From there, despite that, the whittling began. I made them with thinned yogurt instead of buttermilk, which I figure more people keep around, and they were great, but then, on a whim, I decided to replace the yogurt in part, and then in full, with mashed bananas and was delighted with the results; the resulting pancakes no longer needed sugar or melted butter to work. I nixed the nutmeg, because: laziness. And, as promised, mixed the whole thing in one bowl with a fork. Sometimes with help, I mean, “help.”

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sheet pan meatballs with crispy turmeric chickpeas

In October of last year, I made one of the best, and prettiest, dinners I’d had all year and couldn’t wait to tell you about them. Then I got a *little* (29 flights and 24 cities in 7 weeks) busy and somehow (somehow!) they — along with the Dutch apple pie, this endive salad and some brown butter carrots I’m still holding out on you — fell by the wayside. And so let me present a long-overdue entry in the Best of 2017 files, eagerly hoping to make a run in 2018.

what you'll need, kindaseason and spice the chickpeastoss the spiced chickpeas with half of onion slicesmix the meatballs

This dish is inspired by two others. The first is a favorite recipe from my first cookbook, the sesame-spiced turkey meatballs that teeter on a lemony smashed chickpea salad; I will forever love the combination of lemon, spices, chickpeas and just enough protein to balance the meal out. The second is a sheet pan chicken with turmeric, roasted and lightly pickled red onions and lemon I spied on the New York Times website last year and couldn’t get out of my head. However, I’m on a bit of a meatball kick, especially since I recently realized (only after all of you have been telling me for years and me stubbornly waiting to find out) how easy they are to bake, and how delightfully they keep their golf ball shape when you do. And those spiced meatballs, just barely tweaked, work fantastically here.

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boulevardier

According to my calendar, on December 19th I ostensibly signed special ordered books at The Strand and then took my two year-old to a holiday party, but I know the truth, which is that I was actually reading this hilarious piece on Bon Appetit from Alex Delany in which he complains that winter cocktails are usually too unsubtly wintery, that he doesn’t need “seven sticks of cinnamon, half a holly tree or a metric ton of cloves, mulling spices or liquor that tastes like cookies” to entice him to drink booze in the winter, and texting my husband that we should make boulevardiers that night after the kids went to sleep.

what you'll need, plus ice

Boulevardier, according to Google, means “a wealthy, fashionable socialite,” (aka “what is the opposite of Deb?”) but from that day on, it will be forever be the official drink of the winter of 2017-2018 (this is the official cookie, by the way) because we’ve found it downright habit-forming.

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