It’s week trazillion-and-four of pandemic cooking, and you’ve hit a rut. Nay, a trench. Winter’s produce is less than inspiring, you’ve done all the things one can do to a bean, and while the digital cook-o-sphere is loaded with ideas, there are just too many of them. You scroll a few blogs, flip through some cookbooks, and give up. Beany Thursday strikes again.
We’ve been there. We are there. But help is here. To sort through the noise of TikTok tortilla wraps and chickpea pastas, Eater has compiled a handful of the recipes — from blogs, magazines, publications, and cookbooks — that put the pep back in our pans this week, and which we hope will do the same for you. These are the dishes that Eater editors from across the country actually made recently, and we’re passing along any first-hand tips, hacks, or dietary substitutions that, hey, worked for us. Here, then, are this week’s must-try recipes from Eater’s very-much-average but highly enthusiastic home cooks.
February 5, 2021
As someone who onc frequently hosted dinner parties, it saddens me to think I have no idea when it might ever be safe to have another one. That hasn’t, however, stopped me from making party food, even if it’s just for my husband and me. One such recent craving involved me making me Nigella Lawson’s beef and aubergine fatteh, or as Nigella very aptly describes it “a form of Middle Eastern nachos.” Baked, crunchy pita triangles are topped with garlicky yogurt, sautéed ground beef and tiny chunks of aubergine (that’s eggplant to you) cooked with generous spoonfuls of ground coriander and cumin, and sprinklings of pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts, and mint leaves. There are so many textures and flavors with each bite that you’ll be hard-pressed to stop even when you’re full. My only suggestion is to toast the pita closer to when you’re about to eat so the dish retains more heat as you dig in. — Tanay Warerkar, Eater NY reporter
A year ago, I’d have laughed at a 24-hour waffle recipe. But this week, 40 weeks pregnant in the middle of an epic NYC snowstorm, I’m in search of projects that take the most time. And these waffles — crunchy and caramelized on the outside, almost gooey, definitely stretchy on the inside — were 100% worth the investment. It’s also, truth be told, the easiest brioche dough I’ve ever made. I ate six, each topped with more whipped cream than the one before, and they were so delicious that I was happy to spend the 25th hour cleaning my destroyed waffle maker. —Britt Aboutaleb, VP of development
Do you have a whole head of cabbage? Do you have an onion? Maybe also a carrot and definitely an oven? Great news: you have the makings of a dish with one of the greatest effort-to-pleasure ratios I know of. For his column in Taste, Scott Hocker adapted a Molly Stevens recipe which he calls, correctly, the world’s best braised cabbage. A cabbage cut into eighths is scattered with sliced onion, a roughly chopped carrot, and water or stock if you have it. After two hours in a low oven, it falls apart into a sweet, caramel-y, hearty side dish for anything from a pork chop to beans, or a meal on its own with the help of maybe some bread and an egg. It’s my go-to cabbage recipe, and it keeps beautifully in the fridge to fuel lunches and dinners throughout the week. — Meghan McCarron, special correspondent
I had pretty much given up on the hope that I could ever make restaurant-grade flour tortillas at home — believing that short of buying a BE&SCO machine, the rounds found throughout the country’s best Tex-Mex restaurants were simply not attainable on my own stove. Previous attempts always left me with stiff dough that didn’t puff, or that always tasted underdone even if I burned them in spots. This week, though, I tried a Serious Eats recipe for Northern Mexico-style flour tortillas from Christian Reynoso that shook up my whole outlook. Lard, I already knew, was a key ingredient. But using hot whole milk instead of water upped the fat content and, according to Reynoso, contains additional proteins and sugars that help the tortillas brown. Because kneading still remains largely a mystery to me, I also appreciated that this recipe calls for paddling the living daylights out of the tortilla dough in a stand mixer. I think it’s the first time I pushed my KitchenAid to full throttle. Subtle rolling cues — roll from the middle to the lip, rotate 45 degrees frequently — helped me form more even circles than I was used to. The finished product was rich and soft and folded as easily as a blanket. — Gabe Hiatt, Eater DC editor
My boyfriend introduced me to Ali Slagle’s beans and rice in the first months of the pandemic, when all we wanted to do was eat our feelings, quickly and affordably. Its virtues are as numerous as its list of ingredients is brief. Oil, an onion, a can of beans, long-grain rice, and some vegetable stock all get dumped into a Dutch oven or lidded saucepan and hang out there for 20 minutes, and what emerges is a miracle of comfort and economy. It’s a deceptively plain dish, one whose impressive flavor and intense degree of satisfaction sneak up on you; its secret, I think, lies in the fact that you cook it with the bean liquid, which does happy things to the rice. I usually dress it up with Cholula, and sometimes a soft-boiled egg or avocado if I’m feeling festive. And more often than not I start eating it straight from the pot because who needs niceties anymore, anyway. — Rebecca Marx, senior editor
Tofu has wiggled its way into a lot of my cooking the last several months, ever since I made this Yotam Ottolenghi favorite and felt ready to tackle other tofu dishes. Still, months later, this is the dish I go back to regularly. It comes together easily in about 30 minutes and does well with any number of riffs and modifications I throw at it. (More often than not, I’m swapping the asparagus for other veggies like brussels sprouts, eggplant, or green beans; really anything will do here.) As I write this I’m thinking I’ll swap in some beef or chicken soon. However you prep it, it’s excellent for a quick dinner over rice or with some more veggies. Oh and haphazardly chopping the peppercorns with a chef’s knife or wrapping them in a paper towel and smashing the hell out of them with canned beans works very fine if you don’t have a spice mill or mortar and pestle. — Patty Diez, project manager
January 29, 2021
I probably haven’t had a muffin in two years, which seems excessive for something so basic, but I’m just not usually a person who counts pastries as breakfast. I sugar crash by 10 a.m. if I don’t get a little more nutritive bulk. But flipping through this month’s Bon Appétit, I spied the blueberry spelt muffins from LA pastry chef Roxana Jullapat and felt a tug; it seemed approachable, nutritious (it’s form her forthcoming cookbook dedicated to whole-grain baking), and gave me a chance to use up the random bag of spelt flour I purchased on a whim a while back. The muffins were all of that, and glorious — tender, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, moist, crumby, and chock full of blueberries. My kids loved picking off bits of the streusel topping then gobbling the muffins whole. The first time I made them, I mixed up most of the batter the night before and popped ’em in the oven on a Sunday morning and they turned out perfect. A few days later I made a second batch with a few vegan swaps and again, divine. They kept me way more satisfied than the morning usual pastry — but then again, I scarfed three. — Lesley Suter, Eater travel editor
Ali Slagle’s crisp gnocchi with Brussels sprouts and brown butter from NYT Cooking has all the hallmarks of a perfect weeknight recipe: one pan, an ingredient list focusing mostly on pantry and fridge staples, but not something I would have thought of myself. I must disclose, however, that like a total commenter, I made some modifications. I used broccoli as well as Brussels sprouts because a) I didn’t have enough sprouts but b) did have too much broccoli in my fridge. I cut the butter from six tablespoons to four because I was trying to still have some of my precious Kerrygold left over, and I delayed adding the lemon zest so its flavor didn’t get too muted by sizzling away in the skillet. When I make this again — because I will be making this again — I’ll also add a squeeze of lemon juice just before serving. But no matter! Recipes that work well as templates for personalized futzing are the ones I’m most likely to incorporate into my regular cooking rhythm, and this one definitely does. — Hillary Dixler Canavan, Eater restaurant editor
When I was a baby Angeleno (read: a new transplant from New York), I discovered a Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake that had the most curious taco. It was drippy beef nestled in a fried corn tortilla, finished with shaggy cheddar strands, dill pickles, and hot sauce. It was gringo. It was great. I came back many times to chase a trio of these beef and pickle pockets with beer — because this was the Before Times (before I developed the gluten-intolerance endemic to Los Angeles). The restaurant closed in 2018, but one day, I found the recipe on a food blog: Joy the Baker’s adaptation of Malo’s beef and pickle tacos. So I started to make what is ostensibly cheeseburger tacos at home. The recipe is simple, straightforward, and fast, the beef mixture made more robust with chopped potato. It fell out of my cooking circuit a couple years ago, but recently, to answer a craving somewhere between burger and taco, I made them again, this time with turkey meat (and no potato) for a leaner iteration. I seasoned the meat with way more spices than the recipe calls for (use your taco night intuition), and topped it with spicy pickle chips and sharp cheddar. Slightly different than the Malo classic, but equally good. — Nicole Adlman, Eater cities manager
Nigella’s simple, incredibly gratifying sheet-pan recipe (trendy!) involves dumping a lot (seriously, a lot) of frozen peas on a half sheet pan along with chopped leeks, dill, garlic, and a big splash of dry vermouth, with chicken thighs roasted on top. The recipe calls for seasoning the chicken simply with salt and olive oil, but with half a carton of buttermilk hanging around in the back of my fridge, I opted for marinating the chicken thighs overnight a la Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. The end result was a sheet of bronzed chicken with a heap of soft-but-not-mushy peas and leeks infused with the rendered chicken fat. It’s excellent for dinner with some potatoes, and arguably better as lunch for a few days stretched out with rice. — Adam Moussa, lead social media manager
A recent chilly Austin day seemed like the perfect excuse to make something warm and soothing from the gorgeous Jubilee cookbook that I had gotten for myself as a just-cause present. The chicken and dumplings soup was an all-day project, which I anticipated: there’s properly chilling the ingredients, kneading and chilling the dumpling dough (which was fun), and simmering the chicken for a while. I’d recommend using a big Dutch oven and adding that optional cup of white wine the recipe suggests. Rather than using the entire frying chicken, I opted for boneless chicken thighs cut up into smaller pieces. I’m not sure I cut the dumpling dough correctly, but my weirdly sized and shaped dumplings worked for us. Also, as I tend to like my food on the spicier side, I also added more black pepper than the recipe calls for and did not regret it, plus a touch more whipping cream (I wanted to use up the entire little carton). The result was beautiful: creamy, spiced just right, with supremely juicy chicken thighs. I slurped down the broth. — Nadia Chaudhury, Eater Austin editor
This recipe has the highest deliciousness-to-ease ratio of maybe any dessert I’ve ever made. It takes no time, requires one bowl, and uses ingredients you already have in your kitchen (assuming you keep frozen fruit in the freezer). They have the consistency of a gooey blondie, but… peanut butter. And for those of us deprived of fresh fruit right now, they bring some much-needed summery sweetness to a winter kitchen. — Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief