Graduation is such an exciting time, and for many former coeds, it's a chance to try out a new city, pursue dream jobs, and rent an off-campus apartment. It also may mean stocking and maintaining a "real" kitchen . . . at least one that's used for more than steeping ramen noodles and unpacking fast-food bags. We've rounded up 10 kitchen items that are essential to any postcollegiate kitchen (hint, hint, gift givers).
It wasn't too long ago that wedding food options were limited to beef, chicken, or fish with a champagne toast and frosted white cake to follow. Of course, with infinitely creative couples finding new ways to set their celebrations apart, there's no longer a set formula to the American wedding menu. Drawing upon traditions from other world cultures, couples can honor their diverse backgrounds or create new traditions that define them as a pair. We've rounded up several customs worthy of consideration for your unique nuptials!
Whether you enjoy them hard-boiled, poached, fried, or deviled, eggs are a kitchen staple and delicious in any form. While breakfast has made the egg a culinary celebrity, it's Easter that has transformed the egg into a cultural icon. Springtime brings us eggs colorfully dyed or reincarnated in chocolate, but the Easter egg actually boasts a rich history, dating back thousands of years to pre-Christian cultures. Want to learn more? Just read on.
A spiral-cut ham seems right at home as the centerpiece of a hearty Easter meal. Of course, deliciously elegant substitutions exist, but why not have some fun with other kinds of cured or smoked pork? Ham, which comes from the hind thigh of the pig, is a cut revered internationally for its marbled fat content and complex flavors when cured, smoked, or cooked. So while picking up a prepared HoneyBaked ham is a perfectly acceptable option, consider giving these other options a try for some salty Easter goodness on a plate.
Black Forest ham
For some nontraditional Easter ham ideas, keep reading.
It's still officially Spring, which means you can still enjoy the bounty of fresh fruits that sweeten up the season. Just like with peak Spring vegetables, enjoying these treats can be as easy as taking a juicy bite, but we've rallied together five recipes that highlight each fruit's delectable essence.
In New Orleans, revelers celebrate one last hurrah before the Lenten season during debaucherous Mardi Gras, but in Munich, there's less of a need to blow off steam thanks to Starkbierzeit, or "strong beer season." Each March, breweries in the region churn out doppelbock, a high-alcohol, intensely rich and malty brew, in celebration of the 17th century monks who created it. Characterized as Oktoberfest minus the tourists, Starkbierzeit isn't highly publicized, but the beer it honors has quite a following in Germany and in many other parts of the world. Ready to drink in some strong beer fun facts? Just read on.
With so many state dinners and committee meetings to attend, President Obama knows a thing or two about fine dining. But watching these formal festivities got me thinking that it must be a rare occasion when the commander in chief gets to eat what he's truly craving. Likewise, the first lady aspires to a day when school lunches teem with veggies grown behind the playground, but it's undoubtedly tough to score local produce when jetting between speaking engagements. So on a day dedicated to this nation's highest office, we're dreaming up a smorgasbord of Barack, Michelle, Sasha, and Malia's favorite foods. Though we're not certain what the first family will be up to today, we hope they enjoy something good to eat!
With their vibrant colors and lacy frills, dainty, crisp-crusted French macarons are the perfect Valentine's Day baking project. But these lovely little delicacies are temperamental enough to stump even the most accomplished chefs. Even if you follow a detailed recipe down to the letter, a batch of macarons can go very wrong very quickly. Thanks to humidity, an unreliable oven temperature gauge, or an overly enthusiastic stirring hand, you may find yourself facing macaron-ageddon rather than baking bliss. But before you throw in the tea towel, we've assembled a few tips to solve your sugary conundrums.
Lunar New Year celebrations usher in the Year of the Snake and, with them, a buffet-full of culinary delights. If you've been lucky enough to partake in a traditional Chinese New Year feast, you also may have learned the significance behind each dish. Otherwise, here's a look at common Chinese foods eaten during the New Year and what they represent.
Fans of nostalgic packaged sweet treats may be racing to stock up with the news that Hostess Brands is closing, but we have a different approach: making our own! Several enterprising chefs have re-created their favorite nostalgic treats which look even better than the original. And an added bonus? Those preservatives that will keep those Hostess treats (and possibly your gastrointestinal tract) fresh through the next nuclear event aren't a concern when the Twinkies and Ho Hos come from your oven.
According to a 2008 interview, our nation's chief is quite the home chef, and his favorite preparation is his family's chili recipe. This multi-ingredient, all-American stew has apparently made the rounds at family dinners and potlucks and, when you stop to think about it, perfectly embodies our multicultural President and nation.
And given that he's perhaps one of the busiest men in America, it's also rather fitting that this chili recipe is incredibly fast and simple. It may lack that slow-simmered flavor depth that a carefully cultivated pot of chili gains over the course of an entire day on the stove, but we certainly won't veto it as a tasty homemade dinner.
Flexible as a president should be, this recipe is receptive to any fresh herbs and spices you have on hand. And don't forget the toppings: sour cream and cheddar cheese are the classics, but I broke free of those bipartisan politics with some crumbled Fritos corn chips! Read on for the recipe.
While dining out at your local seafood joint or your neighborhood bistro, you've undoubtedly encountered them by the dozen (or half). Oysters on the half shell are ubiquitous these days, but they're not just a restaurant treat. Many seafood markets sell them for home consumption, and the right tools and plenty of ice will see you shucking and slurping in no time.
A quick squeeze of lemon juice or a drizzle of hot sauce is perhaps the simplest accompaniment, but a classic mignonette — a vinegar and shallot-based condiment — nicely balances that from-the-sea brininess and can be thrown together in no time. Just place all ingredients in a jar, shake, shake, shake, and your elegant oyster appetizer is ready!
Whether you prefer gas or charcoal, cooking on a grill is an incredible way to infuse flavor into your favorite meats and vegetables. But if you're ready to take your grill mastery up a notch, try using a long, slow burn in a process known as smoking. In the US, smoking finds its roots in American Indian cooking, where it was used as a means of preserving food. As the technique proliferated among other cultures, it became a proven way to turn normally tough cuts of meat into culinary delights. These days, any reputable joint in the barbecue belt uses smoking as a way to make ribs, shoulder, brisket, and more fall-off-the-bone tender.
Ready for the tutorial? Read on for smoking basics.
Your Summer grilling soiree was a hit, and all that's left to do is pack away leftovers and dump out your grill full of charcoal ash and spent hickory chips. But before you upend that Weber, take care to dispose of the mess safely (ash can still be hot!) and properly.
To dispose of charcoal and wood ash: Let the ash cool for 48 hours. You can speed up this process by pouring water over the hot charcoal and stirring it very carefully. When the ash has cooled completely, wrap it in aluminum foil and place it in an noncombustible outdoor trash bin.
If you used additive-free lump charcoal: Fertilize your plants! Charcoal ash contains potash, an important nutrient for some plants. It's also a great way to increase the pH of the soil.
Grilling and barbecue may roost at the pinnacle of American food traditions, but that doesn't mean they aren't popular elsewhere in the world; in fact, most nations claim grilling over open flames as a major cooking style. One of the most popular international grilling trends to hit the US is Korean barbecue, with its succulent marinades and charcoal-charred meats; the most clamored-for meat is undoubtedly kalbi, a beef rib cut with ample marbling for a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
In restaurants, traditional kalbi gui (literally, "grilled rib") is served as a long, thin strip of meat attached to a single two- to five-inch rib bone. But the cut prevalent at most Asian markets is known as "LA kalbi," which is cut in thin strips across the rib bones. LA kalbi is also fun to eat: those little bone nubs are awfully useful as handles! When buying this cut, go for the most marbled pieces you can find, and make sure there are no jagged edges on the bones.
You'll want the meat to be nice and caramelized on the outside and cooked all the way through on the inside. This will make it easier for you to tear the meat from the bone and make little lettuce wraps. To assemble, tear off a green or red lettuce leaf, line with a perilla leaf (if you can find them at your local Asian grocer), add a piece of deboned kalbi, and top with a dollop of Korean spicy bean paste (ssamjang) and a slice of raw garlic. Roll it up and pop it in your mouth for a vibrant burst of flavor. For the kalbi and spicy bean paste recipes, just keep reading.
June may be all about grilling on YumSugar, but there's one noncharred dish that deserves a place next to its blackened counterparts: pork carnitas. While often deep-fried or oven-braised, this taco-truck staple is just as comfortable on its own as it is served beside carne asada and chorizo.
While preparations vary, my favorite incarnation of carnitas is fork-tender in the middle but encircled in a flavorful crust — a result of the aforementioned deep-frying technique or of the meat frying in its own rendered fat. Not the healthiest of taco options, but definitely worth the extra calories!
This recipe oven-braises the meat with fragrant seasonings before cooking off the liquid and basting the pork in the fat that remains at the bottom of the pan. Toppings are limited to your imagination, but I love the fresh, tangy flavor of salsa verde alongside sweet pickled red onions and salty cotija cheese. Serve up this delicious meat at your next taco bar gathering: it's sure to be a crowd favorite! Keep reading for this simple recipe.
Now that corn is officially in season, I can't get enough of those sweet, juicy ears. Packaged in their own wrappers, corn on the cob is nature's entry into the food-on-a-stick category, making it the perfect accompaniment for Summer grilling. With a Mexican street snack and another South-of-the-border-inspired version under my belt, I decided to head across the Atlantic for my next corn attack, drawing inspiration from France's prolific use of fresh, fragrant herbs.
Some people have green thumbs, but mine is decidedly black. So rather than turning to an abundant herb garden, I turned to the organic section at my local grocer for rosemary, sage, chives, and lemon thyme, which highlighted the wonderful citrus notes from the added lemon zest and juice.
In this recipe, quantities aren't important. Just grab a handful of your favorite herbs, mince 'em, and toss 'em in with the butter. They'll play up the sweetness of the grilled corn and possibly send you back for a few seconds. For the recipe, just keep reading.
We've been exploring the topic of controversial foods and so far have cracked open the arguments surrounding three of America's favorites: chili, mac and cheese, and barbecue. But we'd be remiss to overlook the importance of a good ole burger . . . and the passionate opinions around its composition.
While this popular delicacy attributes its name to Hamburg, Germany, a city that popularized the minced beef "Hamburg steak" in the 18th century, the origin of the sandwichlike hamburger is vague. Several US cities — New Haven, CT; Athens, TX; Hamburg, NY; and Seymour, WI, to name a few — claim to be the birthplace of the first hamburger, but these days, it's less about where the burger came from and increasingly about what's in it and on it.
Today, the only limit to the number of burger toppings is the imagination. But the controversy surrounding burgers usually focuses on two key areas: patty and bun. Some versions offer alternative ground meats (turkey, pork, buffalo, salmon), while others substitute meat-free ground substances (tofu, black beans, vegetables). Sometimes the patty takes on a solid form like chicken breasts, portobello mushrooms, or tomato slices. And the vehicles for these juicy delights are more often than not some type of bun or roll, but sometimes a ground beef patty shows up on slices of rye bread (as in a patty melt), is slipped into a pita, or is elongated into a hot dog bun.
So our question for you today is, at what point does a burger stop being a burger and become a sandwich?
The grill has a reputation for being the noncook's appliance: the tool for the burger-flipping weekend warrior. The truth is that grilling takes a more skilled hand than you'd think . . . although you certainly don't need a culinary degree to wield a set of barbecue tongs. Whether you prefer charcoal or gas, follow our simple tips to get the best out of your grate.
- Preheat your grill properly. For best results, use a grill thermometer to make sure that the temperature is correct for the type of food you are cooking.
- Use indirect heat for larger, thicker cuts of meat like ribs and roasts: place the meat on the grate away from the heat source (usually at a low temperature) and cover the grill. The food will cook from all sides, not unlike an oven, but with that great, grilled flavor.
- Use direct heat for smaller, thinner cuts of meat like chicken parts, steaks, and burgers. The temperature should be medium to hot, and cooking time should be under 30 minutes. For best results, turn the food only once, about halfway through the cook time.
- Grilling is the perfect way to bring out the flavor in vegetables. Large or long vegetables (like portobello mushrooms and asparagus) can lie across the grate to keep from falling through. For smaller veggies or cut portions, try a grill wok to evenly cook each morsel without losing it to the coals below.
- For an additional flavor punch — especially when cooking over low, indirect heat — consider smoking. An hour before you begin to cook, soak some fragrant wood chips (like hickory, mesquite, or apple wood) in water. Once the grill is preheated, drain the chips and wrap them up in foil. Poke several small holes around the packet, place it directly on the heat source, and be sure to close the grill while you're cooking to infuse the food with that delicious smoky flavor!
- Don't turn your food too often while it's on the grill. Flipping meat too frequently will cause it to lose juices and become tough and dry.
Source: Flickr User woodleywonderworks
The arrival of cherry season has always signaled that transition from bright, warm Spring into the long, languid days of Summer. There's something about savoring a cherry and trying to scrape every last scrap of sweet fruit off the pit that mirrors those slow, balmy days and nights. But just as Summer months are fleeting, so is cherry season: it lasts only through July. So if you're craving a handful, run to the farmers market now! To learn more about the varieties and how to choose and cook with cherries, just read on.