Love pumpkin-carving and other Halloween crafts? Then give this spooky gingerbread house template a whirl. (Demons sold separately.) Read More

The Food Lab: The Best Way to Bake Bacon for a Crowd

October 20, 2016 // Uncategorized

Cooking bacon for one or two people is easy: Just grab a pan and cook over moderately low heat until it's as crisp as you want it. The problem comes when you're trying to cook bacon for a crowd, which is when we switch to the oven. But what's the best way to cook bacon in the oven? I tested four common methods, then compared the results. Read More

Once thought of by many (and still viewed by some) as primarily a punishment food, beets are enjoying a new period of vogue. They're terrific roasted, as many home cooks already know, but can work just as well served in crunchy raw slices or steamed. Already in love with beets and want to get a little crazy? Try making beet green pesto for pasta, or experiment with beet juice in refreshing, vegetal cocktails. Here are 11 recipes to get you fully into the spirit. Read More

"Never refrigerate your tomatoes!" You hear it every single year, starting in summer and repeated into fall, as gardens across the country give up the last of their fresh tomatoes. The problem is, it's not good advice—when it comes to tomato storage, best practices are significantly more nuanced. Here's the real scoop behind the science. Read More

Whether you're making a haunted mansion for Halloween or a more traditional home for Christmas, you can't make a gingerbread house with any old dough. No, what you need is something very specific: structural gingerbread. Read More

21 Smashing Pumpkin Recipes to Try Tonight (Tonight)

October 19, 2016 // Uncategorized

Love it or hate it, the return of the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte may be the most reliable sign of the changing season. But, with no disrespect meant to the PSL's many fans, we'd like to make the return of pumpkin itself at least as much of a symbol of fall. Here are the 21 recipes you'll need—for savory dishes like pasta and pizza, sweets like muffins and pie, and even cocktails—to celebrate pumpkin season the old-fashioned way. Read More

Maybe you’re superhuman, but the rest of us mere mortals can’t possibly make an entire, elaborate holiday dinner all on the big day and have everything as warm or cold as it should be, all at the same time, just as guests are ready to eat. And maintain our sanity. I mean, really. You’ve got to have a strategy.

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52 founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is a playbook for stress-free weekly meal-planning. (Don’t you just love making nouns into verbs? If you can lunch, you might as well dinner.) The book can help with the biggest holiday meals you’ll make all year too.


And for some help before those big days, Hesser and Stubbs gave us two recipes that can create a meal plus another meal with the leftovers, which is so necessary on busy weekdays. Get our Pan Roasted Chicken recipe and our Brussels Sprouts Salad with Anchovy Dressing recipe.

To help you plan ahead for the coming fall and winter holiday meals, we did a little Q&A with the authors.

Chowhound: How can we apply your cookbook’s tips to our holiday cooking?

Amanda Hess and Merrill Stubbs: As busy parents and entrepreneurs, we don’t have much time to cook during the week – even though food is our business! After years of trial and error, we figured out that if we want to eat well, we need to plan ahead and do the bulk of our cooking over the weekend. So our book puts forth seasonal plans for getting it all done: grocery lists, cooking plans for the weekend, and then how to mix and match the food through the week. This new way to dinner will change the flow of your weeks and improve your life. You’ll have more time with the people you love. You’ll save money on groceries and waste less food. You’ll become faster, better and more focused in the kitchen. This is especially important during the holidays, when time is tight, so all the tips in the book about using grocery lists (organized by area), planning, and cooking over the weekend apply. Merrill’s even included a holiday dinner party menu for six in the book, which utilizes some base dishes you prep over the weekend for a stress-free party.

C: What can we make ahead for Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Christmas?

A & M: Cooking ahead for holiday meals frees up your oven and allows you to sit down and have a cocktail with everyone! Our book is full of holiday-friendly recipes (along with reheating information where necessary) — from short ribs in red wine to overnight roast pork to mashed potatoes, to cakes, cookies, and even cocktails. Amanda’s butternut squash puree is perfect for Thanksgiving and stores and reheats beautifully. We both make sour cream mashed potatoes (Merrill sometimes adds parsnips), which you can rewarm easily in a saucepan over low heat, adding a little water or warm milk to loosen. Use leftovers to make mashed potato cakes! If you want to talk turkey, Amanda plans for her turkey to finish roasting 2 hours before dinner so she can carve it, arrange it on a platter, dampen it with some gravy, and simply rewarm it in the oven 15 minutes before she serves it.


C: Tell us about a time when something didn’t work out when you cooked for your family’s holiday, and how you’ve learned from that.

Merrill Stubbs: I once forgot about a pan of Brussels sprouts roasting in the oven; they didn’t burn, but the texture turned to mush. I was doing too many things at the last minute — and trying to talk to people — and the food suffered. From this I learned to have pretty much everything finished by the time my guests walk through the door, so that I’m just keeping things warm or reheating before the meal.

Amanda Hesser: One year I got too ambitious about cookies and bought all sorts of great sanding sugars, dragées, and cookie cutters. I made the dough, and then work and life got busy and I never got around to making them. So the sugars and cutters just stared at me, forlorn, on the counter until February, when I finally gave in and put them away for another year. The holidays should be about pleasure, not self-flagellation — and ever since then, I’ve been more thoughtful about what I can really get done before building up a senseless pile of guilt!

C: What is a dish your family wants you to make every year for the holidays?

MS: My mother-in-law always talks about how much she likes my gravy (she says hers comes out lumpy and flavorless), so I’m on gravy duty no matter who’s hosting.

AH: I’m always on reserve dessert duty, which I love. I fill in whatever holes there might be — if we need an apple pie, I make. Something pumpkin? I’m on it!

Food52/Rocky Luten

C: Are there any differences in how we should prepare and entertain for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Christmas dinner, and Christmas brunch?

MS: Thanksgiving usually means a bigger crowd than Christmas at my house, which necessitates better planning and more advance prep. More people equals not only more food, but also more distractions — er, opportunities to socialize — which makes last-minute cooking a significant challenge. (See above!)

AH: Thanksgiving for us is sometimes with family, sometimes with friends, so it’s rarely the same. But Christmas is often with my husband’s family, and is a fairly relaxed affair. I like to volunteer to cook for Christmas Eve because after a busy work season, it’s a chance for me to putter around the kitchen and cook a bunch of things. I don’t stick much to tradition. Last year I made a pork ragu over pasta, and a big salad. For Christmas brunch, I either make a cherry almond danish or order stollen (from Big Sur Bakery).

C: What are the best ways to store certain types of leftovers like cheese, turkey bones for soup, etc.?

A & M: Store-washed (and dried) greens or par-cooked vegetables like green beans separately in the fridge in paper towel–lined containers or bags. Make sure to use cooked vegetables within a couple of days; wait much longer, and they will have lost most of their crunch. Whenever possible, refrigerate dishes like stews, braises, baked pastas, and pilafs right in the pan they were cooked in. You’ll cut down on dishes, and it makes reheating simple. You’ll see in the book that we call for shaking up most of our salad dressings in a jar. It’s the easiest way to emulsify the ingredients, and then you’re left with both a handy storage container and one step to re-emulsify the leftovers.

Keep leftover cheese wrapped in waxed paper instead of plastic to let it breathe a little, and store bones and vegetable scraps in bags or containers in the freezer for the next time you make stock — no need to defrost before tossing them into the pot.

— Head photo by James Ransom.

Related video: 5 Portable, Make-Ahead Holiday Desserts

Thanksgiving feasts are heavily rooted in tradition, whether it’s universal or unique to you and your loved ones. With a busy schedule and many engagements to attend, there’s nothing wrong with adding some variety to the menu from time to time. Not all Thanksgiving feasts need to center around the beloved turkey bird. Start making your own traditions this year with some unique dishes to embrace the best of the fall seasonal ingredients. Here are 13 easy alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving staples, all sans turkey.

Roasted Cod with White Beans, Tomato, and Truffle Oil

Ditching the traditional turkey roast can save quite a bit of time—this seared cod dish requires only about 30 minutes to prepare. It’s healthy and light, making room for the array of comfort food undoubtedly accompanying it. Get our Roasted Cod with White Beans, Tomato, and Truffle Oil recipe.

Savory Pastrami and Cheese Pie

For the true meat lovers looking to break away from turkey, this savory pie is flavorful and filling. From pastrami to Brussels sprouts, it’s loaded with autumn favorites. The filling allows for a little creativity—you can choose vegetables to complement the rest of your feast. Get our Savory Pastrami and Cheese Pie recipe.

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Homemade Tofurkey with Brown Rice Stuffing

Make Your Own Tofurkey for Thanksgiving

Tofurkey isn’t just for vegans. Our faux-turkey roast is wholesome, nutty, flavorful, healthy, and filling—and much easier than cooking up a whole bird. Get our Homemade Tofurkey with Brown Rice Stuffing recipe.

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

A popular substitute for those looking to cut down on carbohydrates, mashed cauliflower is a light and creamy side dish to accompany a heavier main protein on the table. This recipe utilizes umami to spice up a typically bland vegetable. Get our Creamy Mashed Cauliflower recipe.

Mushroom and Fennel Bread Pudding

This bread pudding (essentially a stuffing) loads up on vegetables and bread to soak up its delectable flavor. Although it’s vegetarian, it’s a filling and complex side to add substance to a lighter feast. Get our Mushroom and Fennel Bread Pudding recipe.

Brown Bread Stuffing with Chestnuts, Apple, and Sausage

This easy stuffing breaks from the traditional white bread staple while taking advantage of some of autumn’s best flavors. Get our Brown Bread Stuffing with Chestnuts, Apple, and Sausage recipe.

Acorn Squash with Red Onion and Currants

This classic winter squash is loaded with flavor and spice to allow it to stand strong as a side dish  in our Thanksgiving—a lighter alternative to mashed potatoes. Get our Acorn Squash with Red Onion and Currants recipe.

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini fritters are a great way to feign healthiness this Thanksgiving while adding creativity to the traditional menu. This recipe yields 48 deliciously fried fritters for large families. Get our Zucchini Fritters recipe.

Sausage-Stuffed Baked Pears

While these stuffed pears make for a wonderful breakfast treat, we recommend using them as a creative Thanksgiving appetizer. They’re easy to prepare and add an aesthetic value to the table. Get our Sausage-Stuffed Baked Pears recipe.

Baked Onions Stuffed with Cornbread and Pecans

These baked onions break from tradition while adding a touch of sophistication for the meat lovers. Trust us, they only require about 30 minutes of active preparation, and they’re worth every minute. Get our Baked Onions Stuffed with Cornbread and Pecans recipe.

Pecan and Sweet Potato Bread

This is a light and easy quick bread that adds a little spice to the traditional Thanksgiving carbohydrate side while using up those extra sweet potatoes. Get our Pecan and Sweet Potato Bread recipe.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

These fluffy, sweet, buttery biscuits blow traditional rolls and buns away. With only 20 minutes of active preparation, you’ll never go back to store-bought. Get our Sweet Potato Biscuits recipe.

Pumpkin Bread

Who says you need to save the pumpkin puree for dessert? This recipe adds some tips and tricks to make a delectable, perfectly moist loaf of pumpkin bread to share this Thanksgiving. Get our Pumpkin Bread recipe.

Related Video: Vegan Friendsgiving Cauliflower Meze

The other week, I found myself swamped with boneless lamb legs for recipe testing. I still had a few left when I was done, so I figured, why not make use of what I've got for another recipe? I immediately thought of pairing the lamb with black olives, a flavor combination I've loved ever since I cooked olive-crusted lamb with blue cheese fondue at a restaurant where I worked. For this sous vide version, instead of putting those olives on the outside, I'm putting them on the inside. Read More

Shepherd's pie, the British casserole of minced meat and vegetables topped with buttery mashed potatoes, delivers perfection in every bite. This version features extra-rich and creamy mashed potatoes and a hearty, carrot- and pea-studded meat sauce, made ever so slightly in the style of a classic Italian ragù. Read More