Archives for posts with tag: cooks illustrated

the first corn of the season started showing up at the farmers market a couple weeks ago, which means any cookout, BBQ, or gathering that has a grill, i will be asked to make mexican grilled corn. happily i will abide, because it is so damn good. i first came across this recipe in the october 2009 issue of cook’s illustrated, and without a doubt it is the number one dish my friends ask me to make during the summer months.



  • 6 ears of corn, husks + silks removed
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, minced
  • 1-2 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 oz pecorino romano cheese, about 1/2 cup
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • vegetable oil for cooking grate


mix together the mayo, sour cream, cilantro, garlic, 1/4 tsp chili powder, black pepper, cayenne, lime juice and cheese in a bowl.



add the remaining 1/2 tsp of chili powder and salt to the vegetable oil and whisk together. brush this oil mixture all over the corn.


once you have heated your grill to hot, wipe the grate with a paper towel wad and tongs dipped in vegetable oil. put the corn directly on the grill and shut the lid. check after about 5 minutes, or if you start hearing it pop, and rotate so all sides get brown, about 10-15 minutes.


transfer to a platter or dish, and slather on the sauce.



this is a perfect side to bring to, or make for any BBQ or grilling event you might be having for this memorial day. please take note that this monday is not our national day to have a cookout, but to honor and remember the men and women who have died while serving in our armed services. peace + love.




it has become a bit of a tradition to have an ‘orphans’ thanksgiving at my place for a few years now. i start with the usual list of friends, but anyone is invited, and there are always a few last minute add ons. this year it tipped the scales with almost 20 guests. from shopping at the farmers market all the way to the leftovers, here is the feast in photos:

the farmers market fairy delivered this 18+ lb beauty on monday:

i did a majority of my shopping at the wednesday morning santa monica farmers market:

on my way to the market, kcrw had a wonderful segment with christopher kimball, of america’s test kitchen and cook’s illustrated, talking about a julia child thanksgiving. of course he spoke of her simplicity and her use of the best ingredients. it was just the motivation and inspiration i needed. this is the beautiful and colorful loot i came home with:

the pie prep: cranberries, rhubarb, and roasted pumpkin.

the veggie prep: roasted winter vegetables, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and creamed corn with crispy bacon.

the free range willie bird all buttered up, stuffed, and carved to perfection:

the buffet: the aforementioned creamed corn with crispy bacon, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted winter veggies, along with sausage + fennel stuffing, and gravy. my guests brought sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, salad, cranberries and homemade bread.

the table as people were plating up their food:

the pies: cranberry rhubarb (as well as, a crisp from the extra fruit) and pumpkin. not shown: pumpkin cheesecake and paleo pumpkin bread.

the dead soldiers the next day:

a few of us took off for big bear the next afternoon to just chill out (and digest) for a couple of days. these were some of the leftovers by the fire at the little cabin in the woods the next night:

i made stock from the carcass yesterday, and there was just enough turkey leftover to make soup today. recipe to come…

note: more (professional) photos from the evening can be found at rafiel chait photography. the photos above were just taken by me with my crummy iphone and hipstamatic.


  • 8 hardboiled eggs, halved lengthwise, yolks removed and set aside
  • 3-4 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tsp sweet relish
  • 1 tsp whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • dash of cayenne
  • s+p
  • paprika for dusting on eggs
  • 1 cornichon, sliced thin, for garnish
  • dill or fennel sprigs for garnish

use a fork and mash the yolks in a medium bowl. add mayo, relish, mustard, horseradish, vinegar, cayenne, salt + pepper and whisk together until combined well. dust egg whites with a little paprika. i just used my fingers with pinches dusting high over the eggs to make it uniform, and i still didn’t get it how i wanted. note: my first go around at this was a disaster, which i did so after i had put the filling in the whites. there was paprika everywhere! i ended up scooping out the filling, washing the whites with cold water and starting a new. 

i used a pastry bag with a flower type tip to distribute the filling, but i’m sure using a small spoon works just as well, it’s just not as pretty. i topped mine with a cornichon slice and a sprig of fennel top.

transporting them in my vehicle turned into disaster number two. note: just putting them in a pie dish and covering them with tinfoil just doesn’t work, plain and simple. i wish i would have taken the advice in cook’s illustrated’s the new best recipe cookbook:

“cut a clean piece of rubberized shelf or drawer liner to the size of the dish…with relatively high sides- a square plastic storage container with a lid is perfect. place the fitted liner on the bottom…the liner keeps the eggs from sliding.”

or i might need to invest in something like this:

this was my first attempt at making deviled eggs, and though i had major paprika and transport snafus, they still turned out delicious. regardless how devilish my eggs act next time, i will be prepared.

it’s tomato season! that, and our national heat wave, makes me think of delicious and refreshing gazpacho. i can’t remember how old i was (probably early teens?) when i first learned of cold soup. i was with my dad in nyc during an especially hot summer, and gazpacho was on the menu. he told me that it can vary depending on the freshness of the tomatoes, ingredients used, and done wrong will just taste like salsa, or worse, like cold campbell’s soup. i was intrigued. i ordered it, and it was amazing.

as a cook’s illustrated recipe tester, i made their authentic spanish gazpacho last year and fell in love with the recipe. it reminded me of that first time. they have adjusted it a bit from the test version, and it can be found on the america’s test kitchen website as creamy gazpacho andaluz. there is also a video.

i have made a couple of minor changes:


  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded
  • 1 medium green pepper (i used a sweet hungarian this time, which is white in color, and like a milder green pepper, but depending on your taste any type of bell pepper will work.)
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
  • 1 small serrano chile, stemmed, halved lengthwise (and seeded if you don’t want as much heat.)
  • 2 tbsp hanapepe salt (i prefer the smokiness of hanapepe, but pink hawaiian or sea salt are good substitutes.)
  • 1 slice high-quality sandwich bread, crust removed, torn into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp finely minced parsley, cilantro, chives or basil
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • avocado, sliced thin for garnish
  • sour cream, for garnish

roughly chop 2 pounds of the tomatoes, half of the cucumber, half of the bell pepper, and half of the onion. put them in a large bowl with the garlic, chile and 1 1/2 tbsp of the salt. toss until mixed well. set aside.

cut up the remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and pepper into 1/4 inch dice. mince the remaining onion and add to the diced vegetables. toss them with 1/2 tbsp of salt and transfer to a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl to collect the juices. set aside for 1 hour.

transfer drained diced veggies to a medium bowl and set aside. add the bread pieces to the exuded liquid and let soak for 1 minute. add the soaked bread and any remaining juice to the rough chopped veggies. toss to combine.

transfer 1/2 the veggie-bread mixture to a blender, or food processor, and process for about 30 seconds. then, while blending, slowly drizzle 1/4 cup of the olive oil into the mixture. strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, or container you are able to cover. using a rubber spatula press the soup through the strainer, until you are basically left with any left over veggie chunks or skin, and discard.

repeat with the remaining veggie-bread mixture and 1/4 cup olive oil. stir in the vinegar, minced herb, and 3/4 of the diced veggies. season to taste with more salt if needed, and black pepper.

cover and refrigerate preferably overnight (or at least 2 hours) to allow the soup to chill completely, and let the flavors develop. serve with remaining diced veggies, avocado, and sour cream as garnish.

i have had bad gazpacho, but nothing as bad as cold campbell’s soup. though, i have to wonder if you have good ingredients and a good recipe, how can it be bad? really.

enjoy! has a contest to revive your leftovers, and i succumbed (succame?) to it, not only because i made a dish from my leftovers that was delicious, but also because i hate waste. a while back i made a cook’s illustrated test recipe for bolognese sauce that unfortunately i am not able to share until it is in print, but i must say it is one of the best i have had. there are 7 different kinds of meat used in the recipe…how could it be bad? well, after eating pasta a couple of nights in a row and freezing the rest, i found myself one morning with just a small amount left. i thought to myself ‘how would this be on eggs’? turns out…AMAZING! so much so, that the next time i make batch, i will reserve some just to have for breakfast.

(note- you’ll have to play with amounts, but this is based off a single serving)

1/2 cup bolognese sauce (even though i recommend the cook’s illustrated recipe…that i can’t provide [yet], i bet this would be almost as delicious with your own version…probably not, but you can try)
2 eggs
splash of milk (1 tbsp?)
butter (1/2 tbsp?)
parmesan cheese, grated fine, to taste
s+p, to taste


heat the leftover bolognese sauce in a pan til hot.

in a bowl, whisk your eggs well with a little milk. meanwhile heat your pan hot enough to melt your butter til it bubbles, and then swirl it around the pan.

add your eggs and use a rubber spatula to continually mix your eggs over medium-low heat. eventually they will be fluffy, and not browned.

plate the eggs, top with the sauce, and sprinkle with parmesan, and s+p.


i love pie…which is actually a gross understatement. i have always preferred pie to other desserts, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that i decided to make my first pie with a homemade crust. it all began while working in griffith park, where there was a quaint little place across the street from where we were shooting called the trails, and it served pie. i collected some money from interested individuals, and bought one of their apple pies. the filling was good, but they chose not to peel their apples, which i personally don’t care for. what was unbelievable was the crust. it was flaky, thick, buttery and ultimately so much better than the filling, that it made me realize…it’s all about the crust. i began my mission to make a pie with the best crust…ever. i have tried a few different recipes, but the one i settled on is pretty much based on the cook’s illustrated version of basic pie dough.

shortly after making my first pie i entered the  kcrw 1st annual good food pie contest. i made a sweet potato pecan pie with jack daniels whipped cream. i didn’t even make it to the 2nd round, but it sure was a lot of fun.

photo courtesy of dennis barth jr.

since then, pies have been my contribution to many a cookout, holiday gathering, and birthday celebration. in fact, i have made several different pies over the past few years, but this is my first plum pie, and it might just be in the running for the 3rd annual good food pie contest.


pie dough/crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cut into tablespoon sized chunks
  • 3-4 tbsp ice water
  • 3-4 tbsp cold vodka
  • 2 tbsp whole milk, or and an egg beaten
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar (turbinado)


  • 5 cups pitted plums, sliced and drained
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


make your dough first, so while it chills in the fridge you can make the filling. cut up your butter and shortening, and put it in the freezer, so it is extra cold when making the dough.

while they are in the chillin’ with your frozen goods pull out your food processor. put 1 1/2 cups of the flour, 2 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt and pulse to mix.

by this time your butter and shortening will have chilled enough.  add the shortening.

i use the crisco sticks so it is easier to cut them up into tablespoon sized chunks, but if you use the tub kind, just dollop in equal amounts, and process for about 10 seconds. it will look like coarse sand.

then add the butter pieces, scattering them over the flour mixture.

process again, about 10 1-second pulses. the butter bits should be no larger than the size of a pea. add the remaining 1 cup of flour and process about 4-6 quick pulses.

turn the mixture into medium bowl.

sprinkle in 3 tbsp of the cold water, and 3 tbsp of the cold vodka.

with a rubber spatula using a folding mixing motion, pressing down with the broad side of the spatula as you turn the dough letting it stick together. you will more than likely have to add an additional tbsp each of water and vodka if it isn’t coming together.

divide the dough into 2 flattened circular discs about 4 inches in diameter, and wrap in plastic.

refrigerate for an hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling out.

in the meantime, make your filling. pit and slice up the plums. my plums were especially ripe, so many of them didn’t need to be sliced because they basically became pulp in my hands. let them drain.

whisk the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cloves and allspice together in a large bowl. add the plums, lemon juice and vanilla and mix to combine.

adjust a rack to the middle position and pre-heat oven to 450º.

once you take the dough out of the refrigerator, let it sit for a few minutes, or even more if it has been in longer than an hour. flour your work space and roll out the bottom. christopher kimball, from america’s test kitchen, has an excellent video on his blog as to how to roll out dough.

pour in the filling.

re-flour your work space and roll out the top. cover the filling. trim the edges leaving about 1 1/2 inches hanging over the edge of the pie pan.

fold both layers of dough under.

using your thumb and pointer finger on one hand and your thumb on the other, crimp the edges. (i had to hold the camera, so imagine using all three digits at the same time.)

with a brush wash the top of the dough with milk or egg. cut 6 1-inch slits on the top to vent, and sprinkle with raw sugar.

place on a baking sheet and put it in the oven. reduce the temperature to 375º.

start checking on it at 45 minutes, but mine took just over an hour. the crust should be golden brown.

it’s what i like to call a single girl’s staple. i first tried this recipe almost a year and a half ago when i received my january/february 2010 issue of cooks illustrated. it seemed simple enough, but i had to whittle down the 4-6 servings to a portion that i could whip up on a night when cooking for only myself. i have made a few changes, but it has become a regular go-to pasta dish that never seems to disappoint. the great thing about this recipe is that you can make it with basic things you already have in your kitchen, not to mention, i have gotten it down to a science and it only takes me about 15 minutes to throw together.

also, it is optional, but depending on what veggies i have on hand, i do a little sauté and toss them in as well. my usual is broccoli and mushrooms, but another good combination is red bell peppers, red pepper flakes and garlic. tonight i found baby carrots, mushrooms, and wee little red onions in my possession. make sure to chop up veggies such as carrots and broccoli smaller since you will only be cooking them for a short time. you can prep them while boiling the water, and then sauté them in olive oil while cooking the pasta.

for one good-sized serving:

  • 1/4 lb linguine
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pecorino romano, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cream, or whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp pepper, finely ground
  • 1/4 cup+ reserved pasta water

bring the 2 cups of water to a boil.

once the water boils add the salt and pasta. stir continuously, otherwise the pasta will stick especially closer to the end.

once it gets closer to being done the water seems to evaporate more quickly and it doesn’t seem to cook as quickly, so you may have to add a splash or two of water to allow it to finish cooking. the idea is to have the pasta al dente, but still have just over 1/4 cup of pasta water left once you have drained it.

drain the pasta, reserving the pasta water.

start with 1/4 cup of the reserved water and whisk it into the finely grated cheese. add the cream (or milk) and whisk. add the oil and whisk. finally add the pepper and whisk. if the sauce is still too thick at this point add a little more pasta water until the desired consistency. the picture below is too thick. it should be thinner.

toss in the pasta, then add any sautéed veggies you want.

toss again. sprinkle with fresh parsley to taste.


fyi, the proportions will change slightly and adjustments will have to be made, but ultimately i did simple math from the original recipe to make this for one. if you want to make it for more, multiply by 4 in order to make it for 1 lb of pasta, serving 4-6. it is a really good option for meatless mondays as well. as for my gluten-free friends, i have not tried this with rice (or other wheat-free) pastas, but part of the science of this recipe has to do with getting starch in to the mix by infusing the semolina into the pasta water, so i don’t see why other starch pastas wouldn’t work, but i haven’t done the research…yet.

%d bloggers like this: