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Arsip Tag: perfect
Does anyone really need a recipe for garlic bread? I mean, garlic + butter + bread = it’s impossible to imagine a bad outcome. And yet I do use one. I mean, prior to today it was in my head and did not include baguette weights because despite the impression this site might give you, I’m not that crazy upstairs. I use a recipe because like most people in the year 2016, I don’t take carb consumption lightly, and garlic bread is even more of a rare luxury. Because of this, if I’m going to make it I don’t want it to be almost right but could use a little more salt, or too much garlic and too little butter, and absolutely not pale and soggy or crouton-hard. I want each time I make it to be like the best time I ever had it, a beacon of bronzed edges, lightly drenched with garlic butter with a whiff of herbs and a kiss of salty heat.
I want this.
I want you to have it too.
… with a great big pot of easy meatballs, with a pile of crispy zucchini chips and a dollop of marinara, with a perfect green salad, so earnest, you might even earn seconds of bread or with a humble bowl of broth with beans and greens, for balance.
One year ago: Artichoke Gratin Toasts
Two years ago: Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms
Three years ago: Bee Sting Cake
Four years ago: Banana Bread Crepe Cake with Butterscotch
Five years ago: Blackberry and Coconut Macaroon Tart
Six years ago: New York Cheesecake
Seven years ago: Artichokes Braised in Lemon and Olive Oil and Chewy Amaretti Cookies
Eight years ago: Fork-Crushed Purple Potatoes and Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
Nine years ago: Potato Rosemary Bread
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: The Broccoli Roast
1.5 Years Ago: Fall-Toush Salad
2.5 Years Ago: Lazy Pizza Dough + Favorite Margherita Pizza
3.5 Years Ago: Quickie Chicken Noodle Soup
4.5 Years Ago: Apple Pie Cookies
My go-to garlic bread has always been 1 minced garlic clove and about 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper flakes per 2 tablespoons of melted butter, plus some parsley to finish because it just doesn’t look right without it. I use about twice this for half a baguette. But when I’m being fancy, I can’t resist the “with the works” effect of Carbone-style garlic bread, with oregano, parmesan and chives on top too.
1 large (about 12 ounces), not-too-firm seeded baguette
8 tablespoons (115 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted or salted butter (if salted, skip the salt below), cut into chunks
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan or aged pecorino cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon minced chives (optional)
Heat your oven’s broiler. Line a large baking sheet with foil to limit the mess you make. Cut baguette lengthwise and arrange pieces cut side up in pan. Put butter, garlic, pepper flakes and salt in a small saucepan and melt over medium-high heat, stirring, until garlic is sizzling in the butter (but not browning). Remove from heat and stir in oregano, if using. Spoon evenly over bread. Sprinkle bread with parmesan, if using, and broil — keeping a close watch on it and turning it as needed for even coloring — for 2 to 3 minutes. Seriously, watch it like a hawk. Nothing’s sadder than under- or over-cooked garlic bread.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley and chives, if using, and cut into segments. We keep extras in foil in the fridge and rewarm them in the oven, but you know it’s always best on the first day.
[Get the recipe for Even More Perfect Blueberry Muffins right here]
Since we rolled out the redesign, I’ve been flagging recipes in the archives I can’t stand looking at the pictures of anymore with plans to reshoot them. The perfect blueberry muffins were on this list except on my way to prettying them up, I made four other recipes first. Why make four other batches of blueberry muffins when you already have a favorite, is a pretty reasonable question, only if you’ve never shopped for jeans before even while wearing the pair you like most… or ordered steak at a restaurant besides the place you think makes it best. What I mean is, when a lot of people say “but the steak/jeans/cake here are amazing!” it’s hard not to wonder if maybe they’re onto something. What if they were just my favorite blueberry muffins at the time and there’s better out there that I didn’t know about yet? It’s been six years. Maybe it was time for a re-review. [Note: The prospect of a re-review with outside sources every few years is not recommended to be applied to spouses, children or hairdressers.]
New: Watch me make these muffins on YouTube!
Needless to say, this was a fun side project. There were a couple duds, but from most recipes, I picked up something new and worthwhile. From Stella Parks at Serious Eats, I came to agree that a full teaspoon of coarse sugar on top of each muffin sounds crazy but actually makes a delightfully crunchy lid. If the muffin underneath it isn’t too sweet, it doesn’t put it over the top at all — it’s just right. I also found her combination of coriander (I know!) and nutmeg crazy good and worth trying if you’re curious, even if I’m still defaulting to my lemon zest only here. From Blythe Danner, I realized you could put an inordinate amount of berries in each muffin and still have a very good muffin. I ended up doubling the berries in my go-to in the last batch and regret not-a-thing. (Should you be hesitant, just an increase from 3/4 cups to 1 1/4 is excellent but not over-the-top improvement.) From my own muffin recipes over the years, I knew I could one-bowl this (yes, a verb, at least around here) and while I was at it ditching the creaming of the butter, sifting (sifting! to make muffins! NO.) and ftlog, who — in practice, not just ambitious recipe writing — measures zest in half-teaspoons? Finally, it had always bothered me that my recipe made 10 to 11 muffins only. A muffin recipe should make an even dozen! Did I make it happen? Nope, I went the other way. I found in other recipes that very full cups of batter, so long as it’s a thick one, didn’t spill over but grew into perfect bronzed domes in the oven. The batter here is very thick. It makes 9 much prettier muffins that it ever made 10 to 11 of.
But mostly, I found that my go-to was still going to be my go-to, but with a bunch of improvements, improvements that have led to more blueberry muffins in our lives, and I hope yours too. I think you know what needs to be done.
[Get the updated recipe for Even More Perfect Blueberry Muffins right here]
Vacation Dispatch: Can you guess where I am right now? GUESS. GUESS! We’re in Portugal! Last week we dragged a very excited almost 7-year old and a 1 year-old who I’d expected to be the source of the next longform thinkpiece on “why do people have to bring kids on planes, whhhy” but ended up being perfectly wonderful. (They shall save the full extent of their true selves for the return flight, I expect.) We started in Lisbon and have now made it to the Algarve region; we plan a day in Sintra before we return in a week. If you’d like vacation dispatches, you should follow my personal Instagram @debperelman or on Snapchat @smittenkitchen for some outtakes. This is a beautiful country (and everyone is so nice to kids).
I did not intend to go on an apple pie making bender. I merely did what we always do in October: go apple picking, balk at the price of a bag, insist upon filling it way past the brim (because: economics) and then we ate some apples on the way home home and the bag was still overflowing. So I made an apple pie with 4.25 pounds of apples in it and the bag looked exactly as full as it had been at the orchard. Might they still be growing in there? It’s the only explanation.
NEW: Watch me make this on YouTube!
I started with the apple pie recipe that’s been on this site for 12 years, but over the years I’ve tweaked it a little at home in small ways (different spice levels, some brown sugar worked in, thinner slices). This time, with some help from the genius Bravetart book, I tweaked it a lot, and it was the best apple pie I’ve ever made. So I did the only rational thing and brought slices of my pie-brag to everyone I saw for a couple days and then I ran out of pie and made another one using the same tweaks and it, too, was the best apple pie I’d ever made, so I did the only rational thing and made a third one and now I think it’s time for us to talk about what I think has made it so much better.
Out of loyalty to the old pie recipe, I wanted to do talk about in a new post because I know there are people who make it yearly and I don’t want to change the way it’s written. But that pie is 12 years old — that pie recipe would be IN MIDDLE SCHOOL right now — it’s okay if it’s not the same person it was in its toddler years and no I’m not projecting, you’re projecting, this is about pie, okay? [WAAAH.]
Here’s what I do a little differently these days (and do skip right to the recipe if you’re not into the Inside Baseball of all it):
Time and temperature changes: Previously, I used the baking instructions from America’s Test Kitchen, which at the time were to heat the oven to 500°F, lower it to 425 after the pie was in, and then, 30 minutes later, reduce it to 375 for the remaining baking time, for about 60 minutes baking time total, which was also rarely enough. I bet you can guess what would actually happen every time I made this: I’d remember to reduce the temperature the first time, never the second, and it also looked overbaked before it was done. Stella Parks recommends baking the pie at a single temperature (400) for a longer period of time (75 minutes), and even gives you a suggested internal temperature if you’re nervous about doneness, and lo, it was perfect, with a crisp bottom crust (despite having no parbaking step) and with caramel-y juices. I haven’t looked back since.
I use more apples and I cut them thinner: One of the most frustrating things that happens when you make a pie is that you put in what seems like a massive amount of fresh fruit but after it slumps, shrinks, and nestles in as it bakes, you’re left with a very flat, if not concave, pie. Parks has a fantastic tip of having you mix your filling and let it macerate for a while so that the apples soften, allowing you to put a lot more in the filling and leading to pie slices stacked to the brim with apples. My original recipe calls for 3.5 pounds of apples; I’m now using between 4.25 and 4.5 pounds. Better to have too much filling (and bake it separately in a dish for the oatmeal or yogurt topping of champions in the coming days) than too little. I also cut the apples more thinly, a scant .25″ thick, which also allows them to nestle in more tightly so they don’t fall as much when baking.
Order of operations: Because we’re going to let the apples macerate a bit, I now prepare them first, and the pie dough second. They don’t mind waiting.
I like a mix of apples — usually: Most apple pie recipes, including my original one, want you to use hyper-specific amounts of hyper-specific kinds of apples, which is rarely what anyone has. I feel strongly that a mix of apples, ideally ones that won’t fall apart when baking, see this awesome page if you want more guidance as to which ones to choose, is the way to get the most nuanced and dynamic apple flavor in a pie. Nobody wants a one-note pie. That said, the orchard we were in had a ton of massive mutsu apples ready, and I made my last few pies with them only. Turns out they’re fantastic baking apples. “Uh, Deb, you just contradicted yourself.” Yes, and I want you, too, to go with the flow.
Flavor changes: Although I started skipping the lemon because we were out of lemons, when I didn’t miss the flavor at all, I never bothered putting it back in. Ditto with the lemon zest, which I found distracting. I also increased the cinnamon and added a little ground ginger (which won’t make it gingery, promise; it just seems to wake the pie up a little). Finally, I started swapping half, then more, of the sugar with brown sugar and I really don’t know why I wasn’t doing this all along. It’s lovely here.
Thickener changes: Over the last few years, as tapioca flour/starch (they’re the same thing) became more easily available (Bob’s Red Mill makes some, so check any store that stocks the brand, or here or here or here), I started using it as a pie thickener and never looked back. It’s clear and unchalky once baked, and doesn’t muffle the filling flavor the way I find some commercial thickening blends do. You’d never really know it’s there, which is basically the dream.
One year ago: Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Two years ago: Baked Alaska, Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup, and Skillet-Baked Pasta with Five Cheeses
Three years ago: Broccoli Cheddar Soup, S’more Cupcakes, and My Old-School Baked Ziti
Four years ago: Latke Waffles, The Crispy Egg, Better Chicken Pot Pies
Five years ago: Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl
Six years ago: Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto and Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Seven years ago: Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Yogurt
Eight years ago: Single Crust Plum and Apple Pie and Mushroom Lasagna
Nine years ago: Quiche Lorraine
Ten years ago: Black and White Cookies, Best Challah (Egg Bread) and Mom’s Apple Cake
Eleven years ago: Bronx-Worthy Bagels, Peanut Butter Brownies, and Arroz Con Pollo
[New!] Twelve years ago: Lemon Cake
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Fig Newtons
1.5 Years Ago: Cornbread Waffles, Mushroom Tartines, and Almond Horn Cookies
2.5 Years Ago: Spring Chicken Salad Toasts, Caramelized Brown Sugar Oranges with Yogurt, and Potato Pizza, Even Better
3.5 Years Ago: The Consolation Prize (A Mocktail) and Baked Chickpeas with Pita Chips and Yogurt
4.5 Years Ago: Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons
A little background: Smitten Kitchen is approaching its 13th anniversary on the internet, and I’m hoping for all of our sakes that its 13th year is nothing like mine (some very bad bangs decisions and a whole lotta awkwardness). When I began this site, I knew how to cook very few things. What I did know was what I wanted from the things I was cooking and where the dishes I was auditioning either exceeded my expectations or fell very short. I logged it all here like a dutiful aughts-era blogger with no larger agenda for what it would become, because how could I have known? I never knew I’d still be at it 1200 recipes, two cookbooks, and two children of unparalleled cuteness (no bias here whatsoever) later, although still in a small kitchen because I’d missed the Buy Tech Stocks or Possibly Have Become A Banker memo, but this is not a complaint — not about this lot, not in this lifetime.
I’ve learned how to cook hundreds of things over the years, and I’ve learned hundreds of things from the things I’ve cooked. An editorial conundrum I had never considered but that comes up pretty frequently is what I should do with a recipe way back in the archives that I no longer cook the way I once did. I could leave it. I mean, this website is an Important Historical Artifact. It’s essential that every stupid thing I’ve said in 13 years remain preserved intact on the web for all time. For, like, science. Needless to say, I am not devoted to this point of view.
I could change the recipes, and at times, I have. In general, I make changes to recipes when they’re not working the way they should, when the original way of making them is unnecessarily complicated, or when a small piece of new information will drastically change it for the better. However, this often leads to confusion. Imagine being in the middle of making a recipe and you reload it and it’s totally different. It’s happened; I’ve gotten the panicked DMs. Plus, just because I wasn’t happy with it doesn’t mean nobody else was. I try to make the changes clear but I blame nobody who doesn’t want to read small type while making a recipe you’ve made for 8 or 12 years now.
Sharing a new, better version of an older an old recipe seems the most straightforward (see: even more perfect apple pie, foolproof cacio e pepe, luxe butterscotch pudding, and tall, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, but I don’t do this very often. More often, I’ll make a recipe the newer way I prefer, write it up, take photos, and then… table it, until I figure out what to do with it. (v.5 of a roast chicken saga is not, to me, an engaging premise.) Earlier this year, I realized that my “let’s figure out what to do with this recipe later” list had grown quite large and it was a shame to keep you from what I consider newer, better versions of classic SK recipes. So, this month, let’s try something new.
✨ Newer, Better Month, which begins right now on Smitten Kitchen, is a chance to revisit recipes I’ve been making forever with new knowledge, new techniques, and new real-life time constraints. March seems like the perfect time to do it. It’s such a slog of a month, if you ask me; too wintry, too few holidays, and this year, a bit of bleh in the middle too. I’m eager for a little distraction.
And I want to begin with spaghetti and meatballs. One of my earliest cooking influences happened the day I watched an early-2000s Barefoot Contessa episode in which Ina Garten tells us her husband invited friends or colleagues over for dinner and they were probably expecting something fancy but she (surprise) was making spaghetti and meatballs. She knew then what so many more of us know now: entertaining doesn’t need showy, and as most of us aren’t getting treated to impeccable meatballs and spaghetti at home on a regular basis, this would be a welcome treat.
In 2008, I made them Ina’s way. They’re, of course, fantastic. But it makes an epic amount, frying meatballs is messy, there’s never enough sauce, and I prefer a simpler one that lets the meatballs shine. Although it didn’t physically pain me to look at it at the time, I know this isn’t everyone’s thing, but rewatching the episode now and seeing sauce poured over undressed pasta (vs. finishing the pasta in the sauce so they harmonize as the gods or at least the nonnas intended) is like fingernails on a chalkboard. The recipe below is the way I make it these days, and (surprise) now that I can make them beginning to end in under an hour, I do it fairly often, much to the delight of kids, friends, and I hope soon you too.
One year ago: Luxe Butterscotch Pudding
Two years ago: Butterscotch Pie
Three years ago: Everyday Meatballs and Roasted Yams and Chickpeas with Yogurt
Four years ago: The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake and Cornmeal-Fried Pork Chops with Goat Cheese Smashed Potatoes
Five years ago: Kale and Quinoa Salad with Ricotta Salata
Six years ago: French Onion Tart
Seven years ago: Multigrain Apple Crisps
Eight years ago: Pina Colada Cake and Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers
Nine years ago: Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze and Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart
Ten years ago: Devil’s Chicken Thighs with Braised Leeks and Red Kidney Bean Curry
Eleven years ago: Greens, Orzo and Meatball Soup and Big Crumb Coffee Cake
Twelve years ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Loaf
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Foolproof Cacio e Pepe
1.5 Years Ago: Tomato Bread + A Bit About Spain
2.5 Years Ago: Burrata with Lentils and Basil Vinaigrette and Eggplant Parmesan Melts
3.5 Years Ago: Crispy Peach Cobbler and Corn Chowder Salad
4.5 Years Ago: Smoky Eggplant Dip and Strawberries and Cream with Graham Crumbles
[Welcome to the second episode of the Sous-Chef Series, a sporadic feature on SK in which I invite cooks I admire over to my small kitchen to teach me — and thus, us — to make one of their specialties. Spoiler: I’m the sous! Previously: Making potato vareniki with Kachka’s Bonnie Frumpkin.]
Almost without fail, the more bafflingly short an ingredient list and the more stunningly delicious the outcome, the more likely it is to rivet me. I don’t need all recipes to have 5- or 10- or fewer ingredients — I fare poorly under arbitrarily restrictive confines — but doesn’t it just blow your mind that you can make the apple tarte tatin above with only apples, sugar, butter, lemon juice, and a sheet of defrosted puffed pastry?
Or, you should be able to. When made well, this upside-down apple tart looks like snug copper cobblestones on top of a rippling puff of flaky pastry. If you’re lucky, the apples will taste like they drank a cup of caramel and then napped in what they couldn’t finish. I love it enough that I’ve written about it twice (!) in eleven years but my efforts were… mediocre at best. I mean, just look at them — too thin, too sparse, too pale, apples either under- or overcooked, and way too many apples have dissolved long before the cooking time should have been up, despite being “good baking apples.”
I’d begrudgingly resigned myself a life of tatin mediocrity when I spotted one of the most stunning ones I’d seen to date on a magazine stand. And I had a feeling I knew who had cooked/styled it — my across-the-street neighbor. Her name is Susan Spungen and she’s a cookbook author and food stylist and whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably admired her behind-the-scenes handiwork on movies — see: that croissant scene in It’s Complicated, oh and everything Amy Adams and Meryl Streep cooked in Julie & Julia. It was on the latter project that she got very, very good at apple tarte tatins. She explains “It was a quick shot, but I worked hard to get the right look and technique, so I could make it over and over again, and have it look exactly the same each time, which is essential for a movie scene.”
I invited myself over and watched her make one in her tiny kitchen, not even breaking a sweat, and it was perfect. I thought it would fill me with the confidence I needed to replicate it at home. But two years later, it had not. So, this fall, I asked her to come to my place this time, I took 200 pictures and almost as many notes. I then made four more without her and all except the one I made with what turned out to be the wrong apples, looked exactly like hers. With this I knew it was time to write what I hope will be the last tarte tatin recipe you’ll ever need.
Here are a few things I learned from watching a professional, and basically making five tatins in two weeks:
1. The type of apple matters. You need one that holds its shape after it bakes. The internet is full of lists of “good baking apples” and “bad” baking apples and I cannot tell you which one will never lead you astray because there’s (believe it or not) a limit to my madness and I won’t be testing any recipe with every variety of apple. However, I was crazy enough to audition four here. I homed in on ones that I can buy at both grocery stores and local greenmarkets right now: Pink Lady, Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smiths. The first three worked great; the last one fell to mush. It may be because it was from a grocery store (I actually don’t find them at markets much) where they’re often very, very old, or maybe it’s just that they’re all wrong for this recipe. I don’t think it’s worth the risk to find out. If you make it with another kind with success, shout it out (and whether it procured locally or from a grocery store) in the comments.
2. You don’t need to cut them all crazy. I see recipes that call for halves (too big), quarters (too small), and some that call for thirds, which is about right but there’s no need to do exacting knife work to get every piece to be the same size, even if you have the patience to make finicky apple cuts. I’m using three sizes — a little less than half, a third, and about one-quarter in each that you see here — and cut them the way you would if you were snacking on an apple: imperfect and easy. A mix of sizes and shapes fits better.
3. Apples shrink a lot when they cook. If you’ve ever wondered why so many apples are called for in a 9- to 10-inch round tart, this is why. If you’ve ever made one and really thought you crammed the fruit in, only to have a tatin that looked like sparse apple cobble stones, ditto. It means that when you nestle the apples against each other before you bake it, you want each to lean onto the one behind it, overlapping it by one-third, so as it shrinks in the oven, they’re still tightly snugged together.
4. Three-quarters of the apple-cooking is done on the stove in the caramel; the rest happens in the oven. When the pastry is nicely browned and crisp, it’s done. This means that if the sautéed apples aren’t mostly cooked, that they’re still crunchy inside, it needs more time on the stove before it goes in the oven or the baked tatin won’t have perfectly tender apples.
5. Because of #3 and #4, you really want to use two pans make your tatin. Trust me — a person who will go to almost any length not to dirty two dishes when she could only dirty one — when I say that this is a place where it is unequivocally worth it. Almost every apple tarte tatin recipe makes life unnecessarily difficult by having you do the stovetop component (making the caramel and cooking the apples in it) in the same small pan as you’d might bake your final tart. Just look how many apples end up in the final tart, and that’s after they’ve shrunk. It’s very hard to cook the not-yet-shrunk apples evenly in caramel in a small pan. It’s much easier and will give you more consistent results if you use a big skillet. Then, arrange the apples exactly the way you want them in a smaller ovenproof skillet or standard pie pan. (And, it cools the apple mixture down a bit, essential because you don’t want to melt the butter in your pastry before it gets in the oven.)
6. Almost every apple tarte tatin recipe, including my previous ones, tells you to flip it out of the pan too soon. Give it time for the caramel and cooked apple juices to thicken up a bit. I found a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60 worked well. It’s not ruined if you flip it sooner, but the caramel will be thinner and more likely to run off and puddle.
Six months ago: Austrian Torn, Fluffy Pancake
One year ago: Roberta’s Roasted Garlic Caesar Salad
Two years ago: Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs
Three years ago: Roasted Cauliflower with Pumpkin Seeds and Brown Butter and Apple Strudel
Four years ago: Oven Fries and Chocolate Peanut and Pretzel Brittle
Five years ago: Squash Toasts with Ricotta and Cider Vinegar
Six years ago: Spinach and Egg Pizzettes
Seven years ago: Apple Cider Caramels
Eight years ago: Homesick Texan Carnitas
Nine years ago: Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese and Buckeyes
Ten years ago: Baked Chicken Meatballs and Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
Eleven years ago: Cabbage and Mushroom Galette and Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
Twelve years ago: Cranberry Caramel and Almond Tart and Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Thirteen years ago: Not Your Mama’s Coleslaw
I consider this at its core a classic red sauce and ricotta lasagna recipe, the kind you make for friends and family, the kind you make two of at once so you can freeze the other. If you like your lasagna on the very cheesy side (this is cheesy, but not heavily cheesy), you might increase the mozzarella to 1 1/2 pounds. I buy mozzarella that’s been packaged tightly in plastic, not the kind in water, for baked pastas. For the 4 cups of diced vegetables, use what you can get or what you love. I got about 2 cups from 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms (that I further diced) and 2 cups diced fennel (from a medium bulb). I’d definitely use peppers, zucchini, eggplant, or even broccoli here too.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large yellow onion, diced small
- 4 cups small-diced (about 1/2-inch pieces) vegetables (see Note)
- 5 ounces baby spinach or another green you like, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- Handful chopped fresh basil (optional)
- 1 pound dried lasagna noodles (not no-boil type)
- 1 pound (2 cups) whole milk ricotta
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
- 1 pound coarsely shredded low-moisture mozzarella
- 1 cup (4 ounces) finely grated parmesan
Vegetables and sauce
Make the sauce: In the same pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add garlic, a couple pinches of red pepper flakes and up to a full teaspoon if you want it spicy, and oregano and cook together for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the garlic is just barely golden. Add tomato paste (save the can) and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, don’t worry if it seems to be drying out. Add two tomato paste cans of water (a total of 1 1/4 cups) and stir up any stuck bits, cooking until smooth. Add canned tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and basil, if you’re using it. Simmer mixture together for 4 to 5 minutes; adjust seasonings to taste. You’ll have 4 cups of sauce.
Assemble lasagna: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place lasagna noodles in a large bowl or baking dish and cover with the hottest tap water you can get. Soak for 10 minutes. Mix mozzarella and parmesan. Mix ricotta with heavy cream, if you want to keep it as creamy as possible (skip cream if this doesn’t bother you) and season the ricotta with some salt and black pepper.
Coat a 9×13 baking dish at least 2.5 inches deep and ideally 3 inches deep lightly with oil or nonstick spray. Pour 1/3 cup of sauce into the dish and spread it evenly across the bottom. Shake water off noodles and arrange your first layer of noodles, slightly overlapping their edges.
Dollop 1/4 of the ricotta (about 1/2 cup) over noodles and spread it in an even layer with a spoon or spatula. Add 1/4 of vegetable mixture, then about 1/5 of mozzarella-parmesan mixture (just eyeball it). Pour a scant cup (more than 3/4 cup, less than 1 cup) of sauce evenly over cheese. Place next layer of noodles on top. Repeat this process (1/4 of ricotta, 1/4 of the vegetables, 1/5 of the mozzarella-parmesan, scant 1 cup of sauce) three times, using up all but the mozzarella-parmesan mixture and about 1/3 cup of the sauce.
Place final layer of noodles on top, spread the remaining sauce thinly over it and scatter the top with the remaining mozzarella-parmesan mixture.
Bake lasagna: Cover a large tray with foil (for easy cleanup) and place baking dish on top of it. Lightly coat a piece of foil with nonstick spray and tightly cover baking dish with foil, oil side down. Bake with the foil on for 30 minutes, or the pasta is tender — a knife should easily go through. Remove foil (carefully, so carefully) and bake for another 20 minutes, until lasagna is golden on top and bubbling like crazy. Keep it in the oven another 5 minutes for a darker color.
Wait, then serve: The best lasagna has time to settle before you eat it. When it comes out of the oven, it might seem like it’s a sloshy mess, but 45 minutes later (mine is always still very hot, but you might need less time in a cold kitchen) it will be glorious — the excess water absorbed into the noodles and filling, and ready for a relatively clean slice.
Serve in big squares.
Do ahead: Leftovers should stay in the pan. I like to reheat lasagna with the foil off because I like it when the top gets very dark.
the perfect margarita…
Here is my almost-summer wish for us: I think we should bring a pan of freshly-baked, thick, buttery, crisp on top, and plush with a flavor that absolutely reverberates with corn underneath, to your next park/picnic/potluck. It goes so well with summer salads and snacky things. And when cornbread is good, really good, it feels criminal not to share. This is.
If you go way back on this site, you might know I’ve been on the hunt for my forever cornbread recipe for almost as long as I’ve been blogging here. I’ve shared a few over the years that I like very much, they’re good cornbreads, I tell them while scritching them amicably behind their ears. But it wasn’t until more recently that I found the cornbread that will end my cornbread studies. Whatever will I do with my newfound free time? [Yes, write that next cookbook, I know.]
It started with a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I’ve tweaked it a bit in the approximately 38 batches I’ve made in the last two years — less sugar, more corn, no waiting for ingredients to warm up, and one bowl — we’re going to make the whole thing in a blender or food processor. We’ll melt the butter in the skillet we bake the cornbread in, and it’s going to swirl around the top as it bakes, lucky us.
The edges get crunchy. The rise is gorgeous. You’ll throw some foil over it and take it to the nearest park, along with some salted butter (yes, buttery cornbread needs more butter on each piece, it’s not even up for debate) and regular or hot honey, if you’re into it. You’re going to spend as much of the summer as you can outside with your favorite people, away from endless screens. You have definitely earned this, and I hope it’s as delicious as it can be.
Something new and exciting! I have launched an SK YouTube channel. Through the end of July, there will be a new recipe video each Wednesday morning. This summer I’m focusing on SK forever favorites. If you subscribe to the channel, you won’t miss even one (plus, YouTube cares a lot about number of subscribers so it helps me too). I hope you love it.
6 months ago: Vanilla Custard Slices
1 year ago: Beach Bean Salad
2 year ago: Raspberry Crumble Tart Bars
3 years ago: Ice Cream Cake Roll
4 years ago: Strawberry Graham Icebox Cake and Broccoli Rubble Farro Salad
5 years ago: Almond-Rhubarb Picnic Bars
6 years ago: Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake, Fake Shack Burger, and Swirled Berry Yogurt Popsicles
7 years ago: Carrot Salad with Tahini and Crispy Chickpeas
8 years ago: Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano and Two Classic Sangrias
9 years ago: Vidalia Onion Soup with Wild Rice and Tzatziki Potato Salad
10 years ago: Classic Cobb Salad, Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce and Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits
11 years ago: Asparagus, Lemon and Goat Cheese Pasta and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
12 years ago: Martha’s Mac-and-Cheese, Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
13 years ago: Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
14 years ago: Homemade Oreos and Cellophane Noodle and Roast Pork Salad
Perfect, Forever Cornbread
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
- 1 cup (135 grams) fresh or frozen corn kernels, no need to defrost
- 3 tablespoons (40 grams) light brown or granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- 1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk, well-shaken, cold is fine
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (155 grams) cornmeal
In a blender or food processor, blend corn, sugar, salt until well-chopped. Pour in buttermilk with the machine running. Add in all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, leaving the rest in the pan. [Roll it around the bottom and sides of the pan to coat it.] Add the eggs and blend to combine. Add baking soda and baking powder and blend well, then scrape down the sides. Add cornmeal and flour, blending just to combine. Pour the batter into the buttered skillet and spread it flat — the extra butter will roll over the top.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm, in wedges or squares with more butter on top, and a squeeze of honey, if you like.
Leftover cornbread keeps for two days at room temperature; for longer than two days, I think the fridge is best in the summer. Rewarm before eating, either wrapped in foil in a 350-degree oven or briefly in the microwave.