Making pie crust in a food processor is my new favorite technique.
I made several pies this year, including some delicious apple and pecan varieties.
Making pie crust has always been my weakness, and I typically go for store-bought. But thanks to Ina Garten, I now feel confident making my own.
I tested Garten’s pecan-pie recipe, and although the filling was good, the crust is what really impressed me. It was buttery and flaky like any great pie crust should be.
The most impressive part is that the crust is easily made entirely in a food processor — no need to use pastry cutters or knead by hand.
I won’t buy store-bought crust again.
Brining spuds makes for a more flavorful baked potato.
Baked potatoes are hard to mess up, but there are ways to turn this basic meal or side into something really impressive — enter Guy Fieri’s brining tip for flavorful spuds.
Soaking potatoes in salty water for several hours requires some patience, but these are worth the wait. The result is a potato with a super soft interior and an extra crispy exterior.
Fieri also coats the exterior in a mixture of salts, making for great textures and a lot more flavor than a basic baked potato.
Pureed cauliflower can be a great substitute for cream.
I love creamy pasta sauces, but I’m also not against adding some more nutrients to a dish with hidden veggies.
Cauliflower, which is high in vitamin C and folate, is an undetectable cream replacement in Katie Lee Biegel’s recipe for fettuccine Alfredo.
The dish takes less than 45 minutes to make, and I was surprised at how flavorful the sauce was despite skipping the cream and going light on the Parmesan cheese. I’m not normally a fan of cauliflower, so I was really impressed that I couldn’t taste it at all.
I’ve made this pasta recipe several times already, and I hope to use this trick in other sauces in the new year.
Adding just a little bit of pumpkin puree to French-toast batter masks the egg flavor.
One thing that keeps me from making French toast very often is that it always tastes too eggy. I like eggs, but I don’t want my sweet breakfast tasting like them.
This year, I learned that pumpkin is a clever way to mask the flavor of eggs in a French-toast batter.
Sunny Anderson’s recipe for pumpkin-pecan pie French toast includes a bit of pumpkin puree, which made it so I couldn’t taste the egg. I’ve also tested this trick for an apple-cinnamon French toast, and I couldn’t taste the pumpkin.
The puree is just rich and sweet enough to disguise the egg without changing the flavor of the whole dish.
Specialty mustards are great for thickening pasta sauces and adding flavor.
I have a couple of go-to pasta sauces for busy nights, but after speaking with celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli, I learned several new tricks using ingredients I usually have on hand.
One of my favorite tricks from the chef is adding Dijon or whole-grain mustard to thicken pasta sauce.
It helps give the sauce more body and a deeper flavor, and I’ve used it again and again when I want an easy but flavorful pasta dinner.
Microwaving eggs doesn’t have to be gross or disappointing.
This year, I tested many different ways to make eggs and omelets. Although I found some great tricks, what surprised me most was that I could make omelets in the microwave that didn’t end up spongy or rubbery.
Carla Hall’s recipe for a microwaved soufflé omelet is quick and easy, and it includes plenty of broccoli and cheese on top. The texture turned out fluffy, and I loved that it was ready in minutes without dirtying a bunch of dishes.
I also enjoyed Ree Drummond’s omelet recipe, which turned out more like scrambled eggs but was made in just one mug in the microwave.
I still like to fry up eggs in a skillet most days, but I’ll be taking these impressive microwave omelet tricks into 2022, especially for busy mornings.
The key to a good sandwich is contrasting textures.
Making sandwiches is easy, but Fieri told me some of his excellent tips for making a good sandwich better.
The secret is adding texture — and lots of it.
Whether it’s creamy sauces, crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, or crunchy pickled vegetables, Fieri knows how to make meat, cheese, and bread into something more exciting.
Now I keep pickled veggies on hand to spice up my humble lunch sandwiches. It’s really inspired me to be more creative with even the most basic meals.
Garten has perfected the best method for hard-boiling eggs.
I’ve tried many, many different ways to hard-boil eggs in my life. But the most effective method I’ve found for nearly perfect results is from Garten.
While testing her recipe for egg salad, I followed her specific instructions. I added the eggs to a pot with cold water, then brought the water to a boil. The eggs simmered for exactly five minutes before I turned off the stove and let them sit on the hot burner for another five minutes.
Then, I drained the eggs and put them in cold water. Once they cooled, I cracked them lightly against a wood cutting board and gently rolled them across the surface.
It seems trivial and simple, but the shells came off easily without tearing up the egg white. The centers turned out perfectly fluffy and bright yellow.
It’s now my preferred method for boiling eggs for just about any recipe.