As a kid, I was overly studious, overly serious, very academically driven. It was important to me on a cellular level to do well. And then I went to college at Harvard, and I relaxed a little bit.
I have made cassoulet more times than is advisable - first in culinary school, once with a friend for a dinner party, and at least half a dozen times in the BA Test Kitchen.
Caramelized white chocolate is a mind-blowingly simple and delicious technique that will silence all the alleged white-chocolate haters out there.
Quince may resemble pears and apples, but unlike their fruit brethren, raw quince are inedibly tannic and sour. This means you do have to cook them, but the transformation is dramatic, and well worth your efforts.
Serve as a sweet brunch treat or with tea in the afternoon. No one would turn it down as dessert after a big holiday meal, either. You'll find there's no bad time for babkallah.
If soggy, baked choux can be re-crisped in a hot oven for several minutes.
Pate a choux is a mixture of simple ingredients - flour, water, milk, eggs - but the proper technique is essential. Unlike other doughs, the pastry is pre-cooked on the stovetop before being enriched with eggs, piped, and baked.
I don't like a too-perfect cake. You want people to know it came from your kitchen and not the cake case in the bakery aisle.
Canned chickpeas are my tried-and-true pantry fallback for those days where I get home late with no game plan and no energy to cook. More than just about any other canned bean, they retain their shape and texture really well.
If anything betrays my Ashkenazi Jewish heritage - besides the Casper-the-friendly-ghost-like skin tone - it's my love of fishy fish.
The mild creaminess of cottage cheese makes it a perfect blank canvas for almost any flavor combination, savory or sweet. Since it's so soft, I usually try to give it some textural contrast in the form of something crunchy. Brightening it up with acid is also a must.
The last time I ordered soup in a restaurant was - well, let me see - possibly never. That's because in my mind, soup is something to be made and eaten at home, ideally with a cuddly animal at your feet in front of a blazing fireplace while the wind whips outside.
All cold brew coffee is more or less made the same way - by long-steeping coarse coffee grounds in unheated water - but it's not all created equal.
No stuffing is complete without chopped onion and celery - they're the building blocks. If you want to deepen the flavor, consider adding leeks, sage, and/or hardy greens.
If you think about it, composed salads are like nachos (I'll explain). When you're eating a plate of nachos, it's always a bummer when you get to those naked, topping-less chips on the bottom of the pile. It's the same with salads. No one wants to find a naked leaf on the end of their fork.
Canned chickpeas have terrific range, which is why I make sure I always have at least a can or two lying around at home. They puree easily into a smooth and creamy hummus or crisp into crunchy little nuggets as a component of a sheet tray dinner.
When making tartare, keep everything chilled as you go, including the mixing bowl and plates. Presentation matters, too: The meat should be fridge-cold when served and cut as precisely and neatly as possible.
Even as a little kid I knew that spinning a dreidel on the floor for literal pennies was a sad consolation for the joys of trimming a Christmas tree.
A well-crafted cocktail isn't complete without the right garnish. This final flourish - often citrus or fresh herbs - enhances the drink's taste, smell, and look.
Pierogies are textbook comfort food.