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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Dinner In A Broth Bowl


An elegant broth bowl, with duck breast and
foie gras. Photo courtesy Duet Brasserie.


Are bowl bowls trending? Last month we wrote about layered salad bowls. Today it’s broth bowls—a dish that dates back to prehistory*, as soon as vessels were made to hold soup.

Homo sapiens (us modern humans) emerged about 200,000 years ago, and for the majority of our existence, we have had no soup. The earliest humans had nothing to boil liquids in. Boiling was not easy to do until the invention of waterproof containers, probably pouches made of clay or animal skin, about 9,000 years ago. Here’s the history of soup.

But back to broth bowls: For a hot yet lighter summer dinner, serve your protein and veggies in a bowl of broth (photo at left).

Inspired by this dish from Duet Brasserie in New York City’s Greenwich Village, we’ve been making our own. It’s easy, and you can get away with more vegetables and less meat, which is both healthier and less expensive.

Duet’s chef created a gourmet broth bowl: duck consommé, smoked duck breast, duck foie gras, scallions, Chinese broccoli and a hard-boiled quail egg.

Panera Bread has an earthier approach to the concept with soy-miso broth bowls. One version has soba noodles and chicken or edamame, with spinach, napa cabbage, mushrooms, onions, sesame seeds and cilantro. Lentil and quinoa bowls have brown rice and chicken or hard-boiled egg, kale, spinach and tomato sofrito.

You can do just as well at home with chicken, beef, seafood or vegetable broth.

While there’s nothing better than homemade broth, we took the quick and easy route and purchased ours from the Pacific Soup Starters line. Our favorite is their Organic Soup Starters Phö, in beef, chicken and vegetarian varieties.

Food 101 Quickie: Phö, pronounced FUH (like duh but with a drawn-out “uh” and often spelled without the umlaut in the U.S.), is the beloved beef and rice-noodle soup of Vietnam. It may be the world’s greatest broth bowl, worth seeking out at the nearest Vietnamese restaurant. Phö means noodles, and the broth can be made with up to 30 ingredients—beef, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fish sauce, ginger, onions and star anise, for starters—exclusive of what you choose to add on top of the broth. Here’s more about phö.
*The writing of language was invented independently in at least two places: Sumer (Mesopotamia) around 3200 BCE and Mesoamerica around 600 BCE. The writing numbers for the purpose of record keeping began long before the writing of language.

The combination are unlimited! Just a sampling:

  • Asian accents: bean sprouts, water chestnuts, lime (squeezed into the soup after serving)
  • Fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, spearmint
  • Grains: barley, corn, couscous, rice, quinoa, etc.
  • Heat: black pepper, chiles, nuoc mam (sriracha sauce)
  • Noodles: ideally flat rice noodles, but you can use any flat or round pasta
  • Proteins: any—fish/seafood, meat, poultry or tofu, cut or diced into stir fry-size pieces so no cutting in-bowl is needed
  • Vegetables: any! We like to use carrots (cut into flower shapes with a vegetable cutter) mushrooms, onion (green onion, leek, yellow onion), red bell pepper or tomato for color, zucchini
  • Seasonings: chipotle, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Wild card: anything else—you’re the chef!
    Cook each ingredient as appropriate. Add the hot broth into bowls, then the other ingredients in an artistic arrangement, and top with fresh herbs.


    Aspic. Aspic is jellied broth made from meat or fish stock. It is refrigerated, where it becomes solid, like gelatin; then is cubed and used as a relish for meat, fish or vegetable dishes. Or, it is used as a filler in a molded dish that includes meat, fish or vegetables.


    Bone broth. Like stock (see below), bone broth is typically is made with bones and the small amount of meat adhering to them. As with stock, the bones are typically roasted first to improve the flavor of the broth. The key difference is that bone broth is simmered for a much longer time, 24 hours or more. This long cooking time helps to extract the maximum amount of minerals and other nutrients from the bones.

    Bouillon. Bouillon is a clear, thin broth made typically by simmering chicken or beef in water with seasonings (bouillon is the French word for broth). It is stock (see below) that is strained, and then served as a clear soup or used as a base for other dishes and sauces. Bouillon can be made from mixed sources, e.g. chicken and vegetables. It can be enhanced with other flavors—for example, sherry, herbs and spices. The key difference between bouillon and plain broth is that bouillon is always served plain (with an optional garnish), whereas broth can be made more substantive with the addition of a grain (corn, barley, rice) and vegetables.



    Broth bowl of chicken in soy miso broth with ramen and vegetables. Photo courtesy Panera Bread.


    Bouillon cube. No serious cook would use a bouillon cube to make bouillon, but it became an important kitchen ingredient for time-strapped home cooks to increase the flavor in dishes. The small, dense cube is dehydrated bouillon or stock with seasonings and a substantial amount of salt. Vegetarian and vegan cubes are also made, and bouillon is also available in granular form. Dehydrated meat stock tablets date back at least to 1735, but bouillon cubes were first commercialized by Maggi in 1908. By 1913, there were at least 10 brands available.

    Broth. Broth is typically made with meat and sometimes a small amount of bones. It is typically simmered for a far shorter period of time than bouillon—45 minutes to 2 hours. The result is very light in flavor and thin in texture, although rich in protein. Plain broth can be thickened with starch or the addition of rice, barley, vegetables or eggs. Examples with eggs include Chinese chicken egg drop soup, Greek avgolemono soup and Italian stracciatella soup. The terms bouillon and broth are often used interchangeably, but as you can see, there are differences.

    Consommé. Consommé is a refined broth, a clear liquid made by clarifying stock for a more elegant presentation. Typically, egg whites are added to the stock. The cloudy particles in the stock attach themselves to the egg whites and rise to the surface, where they are skimmed off. The word consommé means consumed or finished in French, indicating a more finished soup than a stock or a broth. In classic French cuisine, a bowl of consommé was often served at the beginning of a meal.

    Stock. Stock is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat that adheres to the bones. The bones are often roasted before simmering, which improves the flavor. Stock is typically simmered for a longer time than broth, 3 to 4 hours. The result is rich in minerals and gelatin and more flavor than broth, extracted from the longer cooking time.

    Velouté. Velouté is broth thickened with eggs, butter and cream.



    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Smoke Fish On A Gas Grill


    Smoky flavor from a gas grillPhoto courtesy Tony Roma’s.


    Mild hardwood chips add a delicious smoky flavor to grilled fish. Altough most commonly added to charcoal grills and grill-smokers, gas grills can easily be employed to produce tasty smoked (and grilled) fish.

    We’ve previously reviewed Savu Smoker Bags, an excellent way to add smoke Smoking Salmon on a Gas Grill

    Who says you need a gigantic smoker to get that great smoked flavor? Chef Bob of Tony Roma’s tells us how to use wood chips to smoke fish on a gas grill.

    Any fish can be smoked, but those that are high in fat are best because they absorb smoke faster and have better texture (note that the fat is heart-healthy, with omega-3 fatty acids).

    Lean fish tend to be dry and tough after smoking, although you can brine them to retain some moisture. Here’s how to brine fish.

    High-Fat Fish For Smoking On A Grill

  • Bluefish
  • Salmon: chinook, coho, pink and red/sockeye
  • Rainbow trout
  • Lake whitefish, sablefish, striped mullet
  • Tuna: albacore and bluefin
    What wood should you select? It depends on the delicacy of the fish and your preference for light versus heavy smoke flavor. Here’s a chart of the flavors imparted by different types of wood.

    In the recipe below, Chef Bob pairs salmon with hickory chips. Alder, apple, cherry and oak all work well for smoking fish.



    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 salmon fillets, 4-6 ounces each
  • 1 1/2 size aluminum foil pan
  • 1 bag hickory wood chips
  • 1 whole lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Water
  • Aluminum foil


    Trout, ready for grilling and smoking. Photo by Rose Vita | Morguefile.



    1. PREHEAT the grill to 300°F (only preheat one side of the grill). Mix the seasonings in a medium bowl and season both sides of the salmon fillets.

    2. ADD 4-5 cups of wood chips to the pan, fill the pan with water and let the chips soak for 30 minutes. Drain and cover the pan with aluminum foil.

    3. CUT 6-9 holes in the top of the aluminum foil (while the foil covers the pan) to let the smoke escape. Place the pan on the preheated grill.

    4. WAIT 30 minutes; then check to see if the pan is smoking. If not, check your heat setting and wait until smoke appears before adding the fish. Don’t worry if the smoke isn’t billowing: Too much smoke can produce bitterness.

    5. PLACE the fish on the opposite side of the grill and close the lid. Cook the salmon until it is fully smoked and flaky, about 30-35 minutes. The smoke will envelop the fish and give it that delicious smoked flavor.

    Enjoy the flavor…and the aroma while the fish cooks.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Great Cocktail From Scratch


    Celebrate Bastille Day with a French 75
    cocktail. Photo courtesy Tanqueray.


    Today’s tip will help you make a perfect cocktail, with advice from the experts at Cabo Flats.

    Along with the cocktail best practices, we’re rolling in today’s food holiday. Well, it’s sort of a food holiday, since it concerns one of the great culinary countries of the world.

    It’s Bastille Day in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 that launched the French Revolution. Just as the holiday we call July 4th is formally named Independence day, the official French name for Bastille Day is La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration), and commonly Le Quatorze Juillet (the fourteenth of July).

    Today, make your cocktail something French. First and foremost, we love the Kir and Kir Royale, invented by a mayor of Dijon, France. The Kir Royale recipe, made with sparkling wine, is below.

    Made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar, the French 75 is attributed to bartender Harry MacElhone, created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris (later called Harry’s New York Bar). Some say it was actually the idea of American officers who frequented the bar.

    The drink was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. The gun was also called a Soixante Quinze (the number 75 in French) and a 75 Cocktail. The latter name was bestowed upon alcoholic cocktail.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 1.25 ounces gin
  • .5 ounce simple syrup
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • Champagne
  • Garnish: lemon peel curl
  • Ice

    1. SHAKE the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker.

    2. STRAIN into a rocks glass or Champagne coupe and top with Champagne. Garnish with lemon peel.



    According to the expert mixologists at Cabo Flats, whatever you’re mixing up, you need:

    1. Balance. Balancing the amount of alcohol with bitter taste to sweet taste. Some believe that more alcohol is better, but the taste has to be considered. Correctly measure the alcohol, mixer, and sweetener.

    2. Fresh Juice. Whether its fresh squeezed orange juice, pink grapefruit juice, lemon juice, or lime juice – it is extremely important to use fresh squeezed juice and nothing packaged or pasteurized.

    3. Sweetener. Agave needs to be used with tequila, simple syrup needs to be used for vodka or gin. For brown spirits, according to Cabo Flats, you should use pure cane sugar.

    4. Quality of Alcohol. Some people think you can get away with cheap (low quality) spirits; but they will ruin your drink every time.

    5. Final Touch. The last component of a perfect cocktail is the garnish: foam, fruit, oil, rim, savory garnish (celery, olives, shrimp, etc.). This will have a huge effect on the taste and look of the cocktail.



    Invented in Dijon, France, Kir and its variations have a base of crème de cassis, blackcurrant liqueur. Photo courtesy Chandon USA.



    There are many variations of the original Kir cocktail. There is also a “cousin” made with Chambord, raspberry liqueur.

    If you have Chambord but not crème de cassis you can substitute it. This creates a Kir Impériale.

    Ingredients For 4 Cocktails

  • 1 bottle crème de cassis
  • 1 bottle Champagne* or other sparkling wine, chilled
  • Optional garnish: blackberries or raspberries on a pick

    1. PLACE 4 Champagne flutes in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove and add 1 tablespoon of the liqueur to each flute.

    2. FILL each flute to the top with Champagne and serve immediately. If you want a more fruity flavor, use more liqueur.
    *CONSIDER OTHER SPARKLERS. Sparkling wines from other regions are more affordable than Champagne and make more sense in this recipe, given that the strong currant flavors will cover the delicate toastiness of Champagne. Consider Asti and Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Crémant from France (eight different regions produce it), Espumate from Portugal and Sekt from Germany. Also consider sparklers from Australia, Austria, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.S. and other countries We often use the inexpensive but delightful [yellow tail] from Australia, and especially the rosé [yellow tail] (yes, that’s how the winery spells it!).


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make The Best French Fries


    If you love to make French fries, you need a fry basket. Photo courtesy Calphalon.


    Today is National French Fry Day, the perfect day to explore how to make the best French fries.

    We contacted our friends at the Idaho Potato Commission, a website with tons of tips and recipes.

    They start by advising you to buy Idaho potatoes, which are branded russet potatoes. In actuality, depending on where potatoes are grown, they will have more or less moisture. Idaho russets have less moisture, which is desirable for crisper fries.

    Here’s how chefs do it—a twice-fried method:


    1. WASH and scrub the potato skins well, and allow to air-dry in a single layer on a sheet pan.

    2. USE a French fry cutter to cut the potatoes into the desired size and shape, leaving the skins on. RINSE thoroughly so the excess starches and sugars are removed.

    At this point, you can leave the sliced potatoes covered with water in the fridge up to 24 hours in advance of cooking.

    3. SPIN the potatoes dry with a salad spinner or drain on a drip screen (i.e., cooling rack) before frying.

    4. BLANCH or partially cook the fries to keep the potatoes from oxidizing/darkening, in a 250°F fryer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the fryer and drain. Allow the fries to cool to room temperature before the final fry. Fries should be bendable. Then, chill in the fridge before the final fry.

    5. FINISH the fries in the fryer at 350°F for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and fully cooked. Remove and drain well. TIP: Fill the fry basket only half full. Better oil circulation results in crisper fries.

    6. After draining on a screen, season with salt. Do not season over the hot oil! Consider seasoning with dried herbs as well—rosemary or thyme, for example—or substituting garlic salt.



    Potatoes originated in Peru and spread to other parts of Latin America. Fried potatoes—cooking potatoes in fat over a fire—is a practice that’s thousands of years old.

    Potatoes were “discovered” and brought back to Europe by the Spanish conquistadors—where they were uses as hog feed! The French were convinced that potatoes caused leprosy, and French Parliament banned the cultivation of potatoes in 1748.

    A French army medical officer, Antoine-Augustine Parmentier, was forced to eat potatoes as a prisoner of war, and discovered their culinary potential. Through his efforts, in 1772, the Paris Faculty of Medicine finally proclaimed that potatoes were edible for humans—though it took a famine in 1785 for the French to start eating them in earnest.

    In 1802, Thomas Jefferson’s White House chef, Honoré Julien, a Frenchman, prepared “potatoes served in the French manner” for a state dinner. The potatoes were “deep-fried while raw, in small cuttings.” French fries had arrived! By the early 20th century, the term “French fried,” meaning “deep fried,” was being used for other foods as well (onion rings and zucchini sticks, anyone?).



    Season your fries with rosemary, thyme or other favorite herb. Photo courtesy Alexia.


    Our French Fries Glossary has 27 different types of French fries.

    You can make number 28, by creating your own signature French fry recipe. Here’s how.



    TIP OF THE DAY: 12+ Uses For Flat Beer

    When leftover beer goes flat, there’s no need to toss it. With respect to all of the household and personal care uses, we prefer to consume it. When you add it to recipes, the flatness doesn’t matter at all; it becomes analogous to adding still wine.

    The beer is substituted for all or some of the water (or, in the case of a marinade, another liquid). Here are 12+ uses for flat, leftover beer:

  • Batter: Make beer batter shrimp, chicken, anything battered and fried.
  • Beans: Substitute for water, as in the Mexican recipe Frijoles Borrachos, “drunken beans”.
  • Beer Can Chicken: Set a whole chicken atop a beer can, atop a grill (recipe).
  • Braises: Add to pot roast and other slow-cooked meats like short ribs and pork butt. Check out this Belgian recipe for chicken with beer and prunes or carbonade flamande, a Belgian beef stew.
  • Brats and Franks: Steam them in beer.
  • Bread: Check out recipes for beer bread. There are a number of beer bread mixes, too: Just add the beer!


    Who knew: You can add flat beer to pancake and waffle recipes. The slight bitterness is a nice counterpoint to the sweet syrup. The Silver Dollar Waffle Griddle is from Nordicware.

  • Butter: Make “beer butter,” a compound butter used for cooking. There’s a recipe below to use as a bread spread.
  • Cheese Soup: This was a popular breakfast soup in medieval Europe, sometimes poured over yesterday’s bread (or toast). Try it for lunch or dinner (recipe).
  • Honey Beer Sauce: Cook chicken breasts in this tasty sauce.
  • Marinades and Brines: Beer helps to tenderize and adds flavor.
  • Pancakes and Waffles: Replace the water with beer.
  • Sauces: Use beer instead of wine.
  • Seafood: Combine with water to steam clams, mussels, shrimp, etc. Consider adding some Old Bay seasoning.


    Use leftover beer in a hearty cheese soup—a breakfast staple in medieval Europe. Photo courtesy




  • 1 stick/8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon or honey mustard
  • 1 tablespoon beer
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    1. BEAT the butter in a mixing bowl until very soft and silky, 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle in the honey and continue mixing until well incorporated.

    2. ADD the mustard, beer and salt. Beat until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Use immediately or tightly wrap and store in the refrigerator or freezer.


    Adapted from a recipe on, where it was used with Irish soda bread.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Day-Old Croissants


    Turn yesterday’s croissants into today’s ice
    cream sundae. Toast them first. Yummy!
    Photo courtesy California Cherry Board.


    We just came back from the bakery with a bag of warm, fragrant croissants for breakfast. We know we’ll have leftovers tomorrow—even when we use some of them tonight to make Croissant Ice Cream Sundaes. Here are our favorite uses for yesterday’s croissants:


    Sure, you can nuke them for 5 seconds in the microwave to refresh them, or toast them. Or, you could turn the croissants into something else entirely:

  • Almond croissants (halve lengthwise, fill with frangipane or almond paste and warm)
  • Breakfast sandwich, toasted with scrambled eggs
  • Bread pudding (too many recipes to count!)
  • Custard dessert (recipe)
  • French toast, pan-fried, baked or ice cream sundae (see photo)
  • Garlic bread (halve lengthwise, spread with garlic paste or garlic butter and warm)
  • Grilled cheese sandwich
  • Lunch: chicken salad, ham and cheese or whatever on a toasted or warmed croissant (slice before warming)
  • Soup thickener, an age-old trick (add bread to a food processor, top with some soup, blend and stir the blend into the pot of soup)
  • Stuffing
    Can’t Decide? Freeze The Croissants.

    Place the croissants on a baking sheet (not touching) and put in the freezer until just frozen. Then wrap each croissant individually in aluminum foil, place in a freezer bag (since they’re pre-frozen, they won’t crush) and return to the freezer.

    Heat and eat: Remove the foil and place the croissants on a baking sheet for 5 minutes in a 325°F oven. Or, reuse the foil to line the tray of a toaster oven. You can also microwave them.

    Here’s something out of the ordinary for National Ice Cream Month, incorporating cherry season.

    Croissant French Toast with Fresh Bing Cherry Sauce was originally developed by the California Cherry Board as a brunch item. Frankly, with the chocolate sauce and whipped cream, it is just too much for a brunch main course.

    So we added ice cream and turned it into a dessert—a riff on profiteroles, the ice cream-stuffed cream puff pastry, drizzled with chocolate sauce.



    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • 2 cups pitted fresh cherries*
  • Four croissants
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pint ice cream (cherry, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla)
  • 2 cups fresh whipped cream (recipe)
  • ½ cup chocolate sauce
    *While the original recipe used bing cherries, buy whatever is the freshest and sweetest-tasting. Check out these cherry facts.



    Bing cherries. Photo courtesy Washington State Fruit Commission.



    1. HEAT the orange marmalade in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the cherries and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.

    2. SLICE the croissants in half lengthwise, as if to make a sandwich.

    3. WHISK the eggs, milk and cream in a flat-bottomed baking dish. Lay the croissant halves in the egg mixture, flipping several times to absorb the liquid.

    4. ADD the butter to a griddle and heat it on medium flame. When the fat is hot, cook the croissant slices until golden brown on each side.

    5. PLACE bottom croissant slices on serving plates. Top with the ice cream and the cherry mixture.

    6. ADD the croissant tops, a dollop of whipped cream a drizzle of chocolate sauce.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Polka Dot Pie & The Pie-Tart Difference

    A few days ago we featured the lattice pie crust, a beautiful top crust for fruit pies (and optionally, to decorate tarts, which typically don’t have top crusts). Some home bakers may be wary, not knowing if they have the patience to evenly cut and weave the strips of dough (fear not—it’s really easy).

    But You don’t need much extra time or skill to turn a conventional pie crust into a polka-dot pie, an inspiration of one of our baking heroes, Audra, The Baker Chick.

    As beguiling as a homemade pie is when you bring it to the table, this peekaboo pie is even more so (and even more so when there’s a bright-colored fruit peeking through).

    How simple is it? When you make your pie recipe, simply use a small cookie cutter to cut polka dots in the top crust. (You can sprinkle the cut-out circles of dough with cinnamon sugar or grated cheese and bake them.)

    Here’s the recipe for Audra’s succulent peach pie. Take the time to peruse The Baker Chick website for many wonderful recipes.

    Do you know the difference between a pie and a tart? Many people use the terms interchangeably, but that’s incorrect. Would you call a muffin a cupcake?

    There are some similarities, but more differences. Here’s the scoop:



    Showcase your fruit pie. Peach pie photo courtesy The Baker Chick.




    A pie has a thin crust, generally un-sweetened. A tart has a thick crust, typically sweetened and almost cookie-like. The sides stand up straight, without the need of support from a baking dish. Blueberry tart photo courtesy Chilean Blueberry Committee.



    The terms aren’t interchangeable, even if the products are equally delicious for dessert (or a savory versions—think vegetable tart and chicken pot pie—for lunch or dinner). Here, the differences between pies and tarts. First…

    Pies & Tarts: The Similarities

  • Crust & Filling. Both tarts and pies comprise a pastry crust with a filling that can be sweet or savory.
  • Multiple Or Individual Servings. Both pies and tarts are multiple serving dishes. While individual-size pies are called mini pies, an individual tart is a tartlet.
    Pies & Tarts: The Differences

  • Number Of Crusts. A pie can have a full top crust, a lattice, or be open-faced (no top crust). A tart has only a bottom crust. Flans and quiches are also tarts; and a cheesecake is a cheese-custard tart.

  • Type Of Crust. While both pie and tart crusts use the same ingredients (flour, shortening, cold water, salt and sometimes sugar), they are in different proportions for different purposes.
    > Pie crusts are thin, soft, flaky pastry that can be made with different types of shortening. Typically, vegetable shortening or lard is used. The pie is served from the pie pan.
    > Tart crusts are traditionally made with butter to achieve a buttery pastry flavor. The tart crust is firm such that the tart can stand independently when removed from the tart pan. A tart is meant to be unmolded before serving. While it can be served from the pan, the idea is to enjoy the beauty of the standing tart without the pan. This is especially true with a beautiful fluted crust.
  • Type Of Pan. The sides of a pie dish or pan are sloped and the dish can be made from a variety of material, such as ceramic, glass or metal. A tart pan is metal with straight or straight fluted side with a removable bottom. A pastry ring atop a baking sheet can also be used.
  • Size. A standard pie pan is 9 inches in diameter and 1-1/4 inches deep. Other common sizes are 9-1/2 inches and 10 inches. Tart pans range from 10 to 12 inches in diameter, with a depth from 3/4 inches to 2 inches. There are also rectangular tart pans, typically ranging from 11 inches to 15 inches in length, that make a handsome presentation.
  • Consistency Of Filling. Pie fillings can be loose (fruit pie) or firm (custard pie and pecan pie, for example). Tarts have firm fillings, based on more eggs or other binders. This is especially important since the tart is free-standing—no pie plate for the juices to run into.
    Now that you know the difference, take a look at the different types of pies in our beautiful Pie & Pastry Glossary.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Cookie Crumble Sundae


    Celebrate National Ice Cream Month with a
    cookie crumble sundae. Photo courtesy
    James Beard Foundation.


    July is National Ice Cream Month, an enticement to explore new ways to enjoy ice cream sundaes.

    There are ice cream sundaes with fudge or butterscotch sauce; sundaes atop brownies, blondies and pound cake; and the less common but fun fried ice cream sundaes.

    And there’s the ice cream cookie crumble, which crumbles the cookies as a base.

    It’s an opportunity to combine your favorite cookies and ice cream, with a drizzle of anything from dulce de leche to fruit coulis. We’ve put together a list of options below.

    The recipe in the photo is from Chef Todd Shoberg of Molina in Mill Valley, California. It was created for a fall dinner at the James Beard Foundation dinner. Chef Todd made the ice cream with Fernet—a bitter Italian herbal liqueur that is drunk as an after-dinner digestif (and, according to Wikipedia, is popular in the San Francisco Bay Area where Molina is located).

    His cookie crumble has a base of homemade gingerbread cookie crumbs topped and a syrup made by reducing Coca-Cola. The syrup and ice cream moisten the cookies in a most delightful way.


    Think beyond the obvious (chocolate or vanilla ice cream with fudge sauce over crumbled Oreos), and consider that you can:

  • Go childhood: Our favorite sundae was pistachio ice cream with hot fudge and mini almond biscotti. What was yours?
  • Go nouvelle: Combine modern ice cream flavors, like blood orange sorbet and deep chocolate cookies with a blackberry coulis; green tea ice cream with Chinese almond cookies and fresh raspberry sauce; espresso gelato with crumbled orange zest shortbread and dulce de leche sauce.
  • Go old-fashioned: Our Nana served vanilla ice cream with molasses clove cookies and butterscotch sauce.
  • Go seasonal: Pick flavors that represent the season—summer stone fruits, fall spices, Christmas peppermint, winter citrus, spring berries and herbs.
  • Go tropical: How about mango or passionfruit sorbet with coconut macadamia cookies?


    Pick Your Frozen Dessert

    Pick your flavor of:

  • Gelato
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Ice Cream
  • Sorbet
    Pick A Complementary Cookie

    Some options:

  • Butter cookies/shortbread
  • Chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies
  • Fruit cookies: Fig Newtons, linzer, oatmeal raisin, thumbprints
  • Nut cookies: almond, amaretti, macadamia, pecan, pistachio, walnut, etc.
  • Spice cookies: clove, gingerbread/gingersnaps, molasses
  • More: anything from biscotti to meringues


    Vanilla ice cream, brownie crumbs and Baileys Irish Cream.


    Pick A Sauce

    For complexity, you can add a tablespoon of alcohol to any topping. Here are the different types of dessert sauces.

  • Buttery: butterscotch, caramel, dulce de leche, hard sauce, rum sauce/rum raisin sauce
  • Chocolate: fudge sauce or syrup
  • Cream: hand-whipped to flowing (not stiff peaks), flavored as you wish
  • Custard: crème anglaise, custard sauce, zabaglione
  • Fruit Coulis or Purée: coulis is an extra step to strain a fruit puree and remove the seeds
  • Liqueur: coffee, chocolate (like Godiva), cream (like Baileys), fruit liqueur.
  • Syrup: flavored syrups for coffee can be used here
    You can also let guests make their own sundaes, by setting up an ice cream buffet with cookies and toppings. Either way, a good time will be had by all.



    TIP OF THE DAY: One Pot Clambake


    No sand pit on the beach is needed for this
    one-pot clambake. Photo courtesy Williams-


    The clambake has long been a popular New England summer festivity. Sand pits are dug on the beach to steam the seafood. It’s not only delicious food—it’s a fun event.

    But you don’t need a beach to enjoy the deliciousness. This recipe from Williams Sonoma’s One Pot of The Day Cookbook will do the trick.

    Get out or borrow a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot (16-20 quarts) and fill it to the brim with everybody’s favorite clambake ingredients: clams, corn, lobsters, mussels, potatoes and sausages.

    Advises Williams-Sonoma: Just provide plenty of napkins, a bowl for the discards and crusty bread to soak up the broth.

    We’ll add: bibs and a clam chowder starter!

    For vegetables: Prepare a green salad without adding dressing. If anyone’s still hungry after the main course, dress and serve the salad. Otherwise, keep it for the next day.


  • While traditional clambakes serve cold beer, you can pour your favorite white wine or rosé.
  • If you want everyone to have a lobster, get four. Otherwise, detach the tails of the two lobsters prior to cooking, so two people will have tails and two get the upper body with the claws and legs.
  • If you have large bowls, consider using them instead of plates. Then, each person can have as much broth as he prefers with his/her meal.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, chopped, any fronds reserved for garnish
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1-1/2 cups white wine
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound kielbasa or other smoked sausage, thickly sliced
  • 2 one-pound lobsters
  • 2 ears of corn, each cut into 3 pieces
  • 24 mussels*, scrubbed and debearded
  • 24 clams*, scrubbed
  • 12 large shrimp in the shell
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

  • Crusty bread, sliced
  • Absorbent napkins
  • Bibs (we use hand towels)
    *Discard any clams or mussels that are cracked or open before cooking. Mollusks should be closed before cooking and open afterward.



    1. HEAT the oil in the stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, fennel and thyme. and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the fennel is soft, about 8 minutes.

    2. ADD the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and then layer the other ingredients on top in this order: the potatoes, the kielbasa and the lobsters. Cover the pot tightly and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and nestle in the corn, clams, mussels and shrimp. Cover tightly and cook for another 10 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels or clams.

    3. TRANSFER the corn, potatoes, sausage and seafood to a large platter, using a slotted spoon. Season the broth in the stockpot to taste with salt and pepper and spoon it over the top of the seafood (we pour the excess broth into a pitcher for the table and reserve whatever is left for to enjoy next day). Garnish with fennel fronds and lemon wedges, and serve immediately.



    Find more easy one-dish dinners in this cookbook by Kate McMillan. Order yours online. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.


    A lobster clambake is a 2,000-year-old tradition that began with Native Americans in what is now New England. The Pilgrims first learned about it by watching them gather the seafood from the water and prepare the community meal on the beach.

    Native Americans did not have large cooking vessels. Instead, a sand pit was dug and lined with hot rocks and coals. The seafood was set into the pit and covered with wet seaweed and more hot rocks, steaming the food in seawater. (Today, a tarp is added to keep the steam in.)

    What was a subsistence meal for the Native Americans of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island has evolved into a modern-day festive beach dinner, often held at sunset.

    At some point after the Europeans arrived, seafood was not considered sufficient protein source for the men working hard to dig the pit and gather the seafood. Meat was added as an energy food—first as hame or bacon in clam chowder, and then in the “bake” itself.

    The only “given” in a clam bake are the clams; but if you don’t eat seafood you can include different fish fillets.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Lattice Pie Crust


    Many people think a lattice is the prettiest
    pie crust. Photo courtesy Completely
    Delicious via Go Bold With Butter.


    “A home-baked fruit pie with a lattice crust is a guaranteed crowd pleaser,” says Annalise Sandberg of If you’ve always wanted to make one but haven’t yet, Annalise is here to help with a step-by-step photo tutorial.

    A lattice crust is a top crust for pies or tarts made from strips of dough woven into a criss-cross pattern.

    In addition to the eye appeal, the openings between the strips of dough allow steam to escape during baking. Some of the water in the fruit juices evaporates, which can caramelize the filling and makes for a less drippy filling. That’s why you typically find a lattice top on fruit pies.

    The lattice is made from the top crust dough of a double crust pastry recipe. The dough is cut into strips using a sharp knife or, preferably, a pastry wheel cutter which provides a beautiful crimped edge.

    If you need to buy a pastry wheel, we like this one which has both crimped and straight cutting blades. You can use the same tool to cut ravioli.


  • Chill the dough before cutting.
  • If you don’t want to rely on your eye, use a ruler to make the strips even-width.
  • Some people use an egg wash to make their top crusts golden brown. We think a lattice looks nicer without the egg wash.
  • Here’s a video.


  • Your favorite fruit pie recipe and a double pie crust recipe (how about a delicious peach pie recipe?)


    1. MAKE the fruit filling of your choice. Set aside and make your favorite pie crust recipe, divided into two disks. Chill the dough.

    2. ROLL out first disk of dough, place it in the pie pan and fill it with the fruit.

    3. ROLL out second disk of dough. Use a plain or decorative pastry wheel cutter (or a very sharp knife) to slice the dough into strips approximately 1-inch wide. Use 10 strips as you first master the technique. Later you can get creative with the width of the lattice and the number of strips you use.

    4. PLACE 5 dough strips on top of pie, spaced evenly. The longest strips should be in the center.

    5. WEAVE the second group of strips under and over the first five (and if these instructions sound confusing, look at the photo at right, watch the video or this photo layout).



    Ready, set, bake! Photo courtesy Annalise Sandberg of Here’s her recipe.

    > PULL back the second and fourth strips halfway and place another strip down center of the pie, perpendicular to first set. Lay folded strips back down.
    > FOLD the first, third, and fifth strips back and place another perpendicular dough strip on top of pie. Unfold those strips, and again fold second and fourth strips. Lay one more perpendicular strip.
    > ROTATE the pie 180 degrees and repeat on the other side until you have finished the lattice.
    > TRIM the ends of the strips so that they match up with the overhang of the bottom crust. Pinch the top and bottom crusts together to seal, fold under and crimp as desired.

    6. BAKE as directed and impress your friends and family!


    Before it was adapted to a pie crust design, a lattice was a structure of crossed wooden or metal strips, often arranged to form a diagonal pattern on trellises (for vines), gazebos, summerhouses, arches and other structures.

    The word first appears in print as an English noun in the late 13th century, derived from an Old English variant of laett, from the German latte—which is not a beverage but a thin slat of wood. The root can be found in numerous old languages, including Proto-Germanic, Old Norse and Old Saxon. The verb appears in the 1530s.

    Im Middle English the word was spelled latis; in Middle French, lattis. The French spelling is the same today.



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