austrian torn, fluffy pancake

A month ago, I made kaiserschmarrn, a shredded pancake, for my kids for a weekend breakfast at the suggestion of my neighbor (coincidentally the partner of the neighbor who challenged me to make dutch apple pie, and thus definitely someone with good taste). It was, as predicted, delicious, and as it’s the year 2019, I posted a photo of it on Instagram Stories in the moments before my children demolished it. It was only then, through an avalanche of DMs, that I learned how deeply beloved it is.

you'll need four eggsegg yolks, flour, sugar, etc.firm peaksfolding whites into batterwhites folded into batterspread the batter in buttered panslide onto a plate for easier flippingflipped
chop or shred itfinish cooking

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braised ginger meatballs in coconut broth

I’ve become the kind of person (a grandmother, perhaps; you can say it) who always implores you to stay for dinner. But it’s less benevolent than it sounds. I mean, yes, absolutely I’d love your company and not just because it will provide a welcome break from our usual dinner conversations of “Please take a bite. Of anything.” “No, I promise, that’s not a parsley fleck.” Or “But you liked roasted carrots last week!” And not just because I’ve found it takes 47 group texts to make dinner plans but if I say “just swing by at 6,” the answer is far more often a simple “Yes!” Not just because it’s part of my ongoing ulterior agenda to make entertaining less fussy — nobody is imagining you’d bring out a tray of hor d’oeuvres on a Tuesday night, thus nobody has to be disappointed that that will literally never happen — and therefore a more frequent thing in our lives. And not just because once you’re already making dinner, accounting for a serving or two extra is barely a hurdle.
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toasted pecan cake

When it’s quiet around here, it generally means one of two things: 1. I’ve been cooking a series of duds, or certainly nothing good enough to clear my throat into this microphone and sing the praises of. Or 2. We’re heading for another episode of Just What Has Deb Gotten Herself Into This Time (see: any Friendsgiving or wedding cake adventure). A couple weeks ago was the former; last week was resoundingly the latter.

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cannellini aglio e olio

If this were still April Fools Day, I’d tell you that my next cookbook will be about how to doctor up a can of beans. But, like the best April Fools Day jokes, it’s only funny if it could be true. Rest assured, I would never, but it’s definitely crossed my mind. It’s usually at lunchtime on a weekday, which is my single biggest failing as a home cook. Maybe you’re shocked that a person with so many ostensibly quick, five ingredient or fewer, and lunch-specific recipes at my disposal would not enlist them during a workday. Or you might gather that between thinking about breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for a family as well as all of the recipes I might create for this site, books, or columns, when it comes to the relatively low stakes of my own lunch, slacking is inevitable.

all you need

That is, unless I spot a can of beans. One of my favorite things to do with beans is to treat them as you would pasta. I don’t do this out of any grievance with pasta/gluten/carbs. I do it because most of our favorite pasta sauces translate so well to other ingredients. From here, I’ve landed on pizza beans, weeknight beans on toast, and this grilled zucchini and white beans with pesto.

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essential french onion soup

[Welcome to the final installment of ✨ Newer, Better Month ✨ on Smitten Kitchen, when I update a few SK classics with new knowledge, new techniques, and with real-life time constraints in mind. Previously: Perfect Spaghetti and Meatballs, Extra-Flaky Pie Crust, and Extra-Billowy Dutch Baby Pancake.]

French onion soup is not just a forever favorite of mine, it’s — along with the other recipes I updated this month — what I consider a core recipe in my arsenal because it aligns with so much that I think is important in cooking. It’s totally budget-friendly (and downright cheap) to make. It’s made from buy-anywhere ingredients and very few of them — 99% of the flavor comes from just onions, cooked very slowly, transformed by a technique you need no advanced cooking skills to master. And it has a depth of flavor that is unparalleled in almost anything else I know how to make.

3 pounds of onionspeeled, halvedthinly slicedat the startfully caramelized onionssimmer for 15 to 20

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extra-billowy dutch baby pancake

[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: Perfect Spaghetti and Meatballs and Extra-Flaky Pie Crust.]

Sometimes “newer, betters” emerge because the original recipe wasn’t as good as it could be. But most of them — like this — come from real life. Like, when you’re really tired on a Saturday morning and you look at a recipe that you swore by at some time in your life when nobody dragged you out of bed at 7am on a Saturday [and then, instead of handing you a cup of coffee for your troubles, as you’d once daydreamed they’d be trained to do by now, demanded pancakes] and say “WHUT.” A blender? No, I am definitely not getting the blender out right now. Wait, why am I turning on the stove and the oven? Do I really need this much butter? Why are there lumps in the batter? Why isn’t this as puffy as I thought it would be? Can I go back to bed yet? I mean, just for a random example that’s definitely not going down in my kitchen as we speak.

beat your eggsadd the flour, whisk it smoothwhisk in the milkmelt the butterready to bakeextra-billowy dutch baby

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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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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.

I’ve learned how to cook hundreds of things over the years, and I’ve learned hundreds of things from the things I’ve cooked. An editorial conundrum I had never considered but that comes up pretty frequently is what I should do with a recipe way back in the archives that I no longer cook the way I once did. I could leave it. I mean, this website is an Important Historical Artifact. It’s essential that every stupid thing I’ve said in 13 years remain preserved intact on the web for all time. For, like, science. Needless to say, I am not devoted to this point of view.

meatballsready to bake

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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.

one minute latermake fork holesskip the weights and use foilpar-baked tart shell

It turns out it’s not just me. It’s “like pecan pie without all the goo” Pete Wells wrote in the New York Times. Tejal Rao described it as “a fine, low-to-the-ground number with a crisp pastry, plenty of actual peanuts, and very little of anything else” for Bloomberg. And Scott Lynch said “this gooey, crunchy, buttery beauty is like the peanut brittle of your dreams, and the whipped, fluffy dab of sour cream adds an unexpected and wholly welcome bit of tang to the party,” on Gothamist.

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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.

what you'll needdice the stemssmaller florets are betterginger, garlica bit saucier than traditionaladd the cauliflower

A week or so before I left, because the treadmill seems as good a place as any to think about what you want to eat next, I was overwhelmed with a craving for cauliflower cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. Gobi matar masala (cauliflower, peas, spices) is a a classic vegan North Indian recipe that fit the bill; the dotting of sweet peas adds is wonderfully complementary. When I came home and started looking through books and websites for recipes I realized that it’s more often a dry curry, made with a few tomatoes but most of the liquid evaporates, leaving a more concentrated mixture. The first time, I made it this way and it was fantastic, but my craving for a saucier version — more of a sabzi, if I understand correctly — remained. A friend confirmed that, like most traditional dishes, there’s no one agreed-upon way to make it and some days you may want it to be more of a stew than others. Feeling liberated, the next time I made it, I added a few cups of canned tomato puree and it was exactly what I’d hoped for. We ate it with rice but it would also be delicious with chapati, roti, or another flatbread.

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