Category Archives: Savory

Cornmeal Biscuits

Cornmeal BiscuitsOn the last night before I went on holiday break, I cooked for a dinner party in Brooklyn Heights. The hostess wanted to keep it all very casual, so we quickly settled on a menu of chili, salad, and chocolate pudding for dessert, but determining which carby side to serve was more difficult.Cornmeal BiscuitsI mean, I get it. When you’ve got a warm bowl of chili on a cold winter’s night, deciding between a wedge of cornbread or a flaky biscuit is like deciding which child you like better.

But actually probably not because children and bread are not the same. Oops.Cornmeal BiscuitsCornmeal BiscuitsCornmeal BiscuitsCornmeal BiscuitsIf you’ve ever found yourself in a cornbread vs. buttermilk biscuits quandary, this is a recipe for you! There’s no more need for minor bread-related anxiety—these Cornmeal Biscuits are the best of both worlds 🙂 Cornmeal BiscuitsThey’re essentially buttermilk biscuits with yellow cornmeal swapped for some of the flour. The resulting biscuits are buttery and tender in the centers, but have crispy, nubbly edges from the coarse texture of the cornmeal.Cornmeal BiscuitsCornmeal BiscuitsThey’re perfect by themselves or with a pat of butter…Cornmeal BiscuitsCornmeal BiscuitsCornmeal Biscuits…but I think they’re especially good with a drizzle of Habanero Honey.Cornmeal Biscuits

Cornmeal Biscuits
makes about 11 biscuits

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
2/3 cup buttermilk, very cold

For finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For serving:
butter
jam
honey (habanero or otherwise)

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and use a pastry blender (or two forks or very clean fingertips) to break it down until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir in buttermilk until a dough forms.

Flour a surface and your fingertips. Turn dough onto the surface and pat until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut biscuits. Make sure to cut directly down—do not twist. Place cut biscuits a couple of inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Chill dough/baking sheet if anything becomes too warm/sticky at anytime in this process.

Bake biscuits 12-15 minutes, or until puffy and golden. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.

Let biscuits cool until you can handle them. Serve with butter, jam, and/or honey, if desired.

Cornmeal Biscuits are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.Cornmeal BiscuitsCornmeal BiscuitsCornmeal Biscuits

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Potato Soup

Potato SoupWhat was the first recipe you ever committed to memory?Potato SoupFor me, it was this Potato Soup—my mom’s. It was our traditional pre-church Christmas Eve dinner for our entire childhood. Every year, Mom would make a double batch and serve it with a spinach salad and warm rolls. It was a tradition we all loved and something we remember fondly.

As we got older and were more able to help in the kitchen, it fell to my little sister and me to make the soup (and the Christmas morning breakfast casserole) while Mom worked on other holiday-related tasks. It was fun to help out, and Mom’s Potato Soup is so simple that it wasn’t long before I ceased needing to peek at the recipe card and started making it from memory.Potato SoupSince then, I’ve made Potato Soup for friends, boyfriends, student film shoots, and even once for 125 Hurricane Katrina relief volunteers. My sister doesn’t even particularly like white potatoes,* but she had no problem putting away this soup on Monday night. Everybody—and I mean everybody—loves this soup.

*She also doesn’t like cinnamon rolls and stuffing. Freaking weirdo.Potato SoupIt’s easy to see why. My mom’s recipe is simple and straightforward. There are only seven ingredients (plus salt and pepper), so the flavors of buttery potato, onion, and garlic really shine through. Half-and-half is swapped for the usual heavy cream, so this soup won’t weigh you down either.Potato SoupAll that rich, creamy deliciousness is accented with a sprinkle of celery seed…Potato Soup…and melty cheddar, crispy bacon, and fresh scallions.Potato SoupIt doesn’t get simpler or more delicious than that.Potato Soup

Potato Soup
makes 3-4 servings

2 pounds red potatoes (about 7-8 potatoes)
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large white or Spanish onion, diced small
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

For serving:
shredded cheddar cheese
crispy bacon, crumbled or chopped
sliced scallions

This recipe makes enough for 3-4 people. If you have very hungry people and/or want seconds, double the batch.

Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch chunks (mine were quartered). Place them in a large (6+ quart) heavy-bottomed pot and add stock. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Cook diced onion until translucent (but not brown), about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Set a large strainer over a large heatproof bowl. Pour potatoes & stock through the strainer, reserving stock.

Place potatoes back in the pot. Add onion mixture. Use a potato masher to mash potatoes until no large chunks remain. Stir in reserved stock (about 4 cups). Cover pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot frequently to prevent burning, until thickened a reduced slightly (about 20-30 minutes).

Remove soup from heat. Stir in celery seed and half-and-half, followed by salt and pepper.

Place soup over medium-low heat (do not boil) for 5-7 minutes, just to bring it back to temperature.

Serve soup with cheddar, bacon, and/or scallions, if desired. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.Potato SoupPotato Soup

Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese

Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese This Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese is the sweet, spicy, buttery, cheesy vegetarian main you didn’t know you needed. Heck, I didn’t know I needed it until last week when the idea hit me about two minutes before I was going to fall asleep.Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese I got up to write it down, thereby ruining the effect of my melatonin, but it was totally worth it because this tart is ridiculously good, as almost all spicy things with blue cheese are.Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese You should make this tart this weekend. You’ll be glad to have it while you take down your holiday decorations or watch football or yell at the TV during the Golden Globes (that last one might just be me 🙂 ). Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese Beyond being absolutely delicious, this savory tart is incredibly simple to make. And it’ll make you look very fancy. It’s hard not to look fancy when you make your own Habanero Honey.Quick Habanero HoneyQuick Habanero HoneyQuick Habanero HoneyQuick Habanero HoneyAnd speaking of Habanero Honey, you’re going to be really happy to have this stuff in your fridge. It takes all of 25 minutes to make and is delicious painted onto butternut squash, of course, but I think it would also be great drizzled over fried chicken, as a flourish on a cheese plate, or even swirled into tea (if you’re feeling adventurous). You could even tie a ribbon around a jar of Habanero Honey and give it as a hostess gift!Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese But back to the tart. I mean, do you see this thing? What are you waiting for? Get to it, y’all!Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese
Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese
makes 1 tart, about 6 servings

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For assembly:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
12-15 1/8-inch thick slices (8 ounces) butternut squash (from the neck)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
a few grinds of black pepper
2-3 tablespoons habanero honey (recipe below)
3-4 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles

Special Equipment:
2 quarter sheet pans, preferably matching

Make Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

(This is a good time to make the Habanero Honey. Recipe below.)

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Make an egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to apply egg wash over any exposed crust.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Trim any overhang to 1-1 1/2 inches. Dock center of the dough with a fork. Brush entire surface with egg wash. Arrange butternut squash slices in an overlapping pattern over the docked area. Fold overhang toward the center and brush exposed pastry with more egg wash. Refrigerate for 15 minutes if dough becomes too sticky.

Cover tart with a sheet of parchment and place another quarter sheet pan on top. Bake 10 minutes to lightly steam the squash. Remove tart from oven, lift off top pan and peel away parchment. Brush squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Bake an additional 20-22 minutes, or until edges are puffed and golden brown.

Let tart cool 10 minutes in the pan. Brush exposed squash with habanero honey. Let sit 5 more minutes before using parchment to remove it to a cutting board. Sprinkle with blue cheese. Slice and serve.

Tart is best eaten the day it’s made, but may be refrigerated for up to three days. If stacking slices, use wax paper as a barrier.

Note:

You may use frozen all-butter puff pastry instead. Thaw according to package directions and begin the recipe at the paragraph that begins “Make the tart.”

Quick Habanero Honey
makes 1/2 cup

1-2 fresh habanero peppers
1/2 cup mild honey

You may want to use latex gloves when handling hot peppers.

Slice off habanero pepper stems and slice in half. Remove seeds with a spoon, if desired. Mince peppers and put into a small saucepan. Wash your hands immediately. Do not touch your face or anything else.

Pour honey over minced peppers. Bring pot to a simmer over medium-low heat. Do not boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes before straining out pepper bits.

Pour honey into a jar and let cool completely.

Cover jar and store in the refrigerator for up to three months.
Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese Butternut Squash Tart with Habanero Honey & Blue Cheese Quick Habanero HoneyQuick Habanero Honey

Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork

Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkHappy 2019! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are refreshed and ready to get back to normal. I am dragging my feet about the whole thing, but keep reminding myself that this is only a three day work-week. Thank goodness.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the last couple of months have left me a little sick of sugary baked goods—not enough to quit making them or anything, but I need a little break. This is a yearly pattern so predictable that I’ve organized my blogging calendar around it. January on E2 Bakes means lots of savory dishes, including many weeknight meals. There may be a dessert or two as well, but that remains to be seen.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkThe first recipe of the year is one of my favorites: Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork. I started making it about four years ago and haven’t looked back.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkI realize that you probably already have a pulled pork recipe that you love. Slow cooker pulled pork became ridiculously popular in the 2000s—one quick google search of those four words will yield approximately a gazillion variations on putting a pork shoulder in a slow cooker and letting it cook for 8 hours or so before being shredded/pulled, combined with barbecue sauce, and served on hamburger buns.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkBut, um, unpopular opinion: I don’t like slow cooker pulled pork. I’m sure yours is great (!)—not trying to yuck your yum—it’s just not for me. You see, every slow cooker pulled pork I’ve ever had has been soft, mushy, stringy, too wet, too saucy, bland, or some combination thereof. I have eaten it when it’s been offered because when other people cook for me I eat what they make, but I just don’t like it. I can’t help it. Every time I eat slow cooker pulled pork, I wish it were more moist and less wet (if that makes sense) and had a simpler, pork-ier flavor. Oh, and crispy bits. You simply can’t get crispy bits with a cooking method that doesn’t allow air circulation…but you can in an oven.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkWhen I found Cara Nicoletti’s pulled pork recipe a few years ago, I felt the need to make it immediately and then many times since. It was pretty perfect already, but I’ve made some adjustments over time to suit my own preferences and now…well, I make the pulled pork I want to eat.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkSlow-Roasted Pulled PorkSlow-Roasted Pulled PorkThis stuff is moist and meaty and not at all stringy or watery. It has an unabashedly porky, slightly salty flavor—perfect piled high on a roll with some crunchy vegetables and a drizzle of barbecue sauce (I go for a mustard-based sauce). It freezes like a dream. Oh, and it has plenty of crispy bits.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkSlow-Roasted Pulled PorkMaking pulled pork in your oven is not as easy as just throwing a pork shoulder in there and calling it a day. It takes time and lots of it—this is a weekend project for sure—but only about 60-90 minutes of it requires your immediate attention. Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork is coated in a mixture of Kosher salt, sugar and black pepper before chilling uncovered in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours. This is called a dry brine, and it’s magical: all the flavor of a traditional brine, but without the big vat of liquid taking up space in your fridge.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkAfter the brining time, the pork is rinsed and dried before being roasted at a low temperature for 6-7 hours. I like to throw some apple cider vinegar in the roasting dish—it adds moisture and flavor over the long cook time.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkSlow-Roasted Pulled PorkAfter the slow roast, the heat goes way up to crisp the skin. One short rest later, those cracklings are chopped and mixed with the finished pulled pork. Then it’s time for sandwiches. And picking at the leftovers every time you pass the fridge.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkSeriously, good luck not eating it all.Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork

Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork
adapted from Cara Nicoletti
makes 12-16 servings

1 6-7 pound bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup apple cider vinegar

For serving:
sliced rolls
barbecue sauce (I use a mustard-based sauce)
pickles, onions, cabbage/slaw

Read recipe completely before beginning. This is a multi-day process, but requires minimal hands-on time.

A day or two before:

Remove pork shoulder from any packaging and place on a large cutting board. Dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.

Use a large, very sharp (the sharper, the better) chef’s knife to slice a crosshatch pattern into the skin side of the shoulder. Do not slice into the meat.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together Kosher salt, granulated sugar, and black pepper. Use your clean hands to apply mixture to the entire surface of the meat. Place in a large pot or roasting dish (I use my dutch oven), skin-side-up.

Place pork shoulder, in its dish, into the refrigerator. Leave uncovered for at least 12 hours or up to 48.

The day you want to eat pulled pork:

Line a large cutting board with a clean kitchen towel or couple of layers of paper towels.

Remove pork shoulder, in its dish, from the refrigerator. Some liquid may have accumulated.

Lift pork out of its dish. Rinse well in cold water—there may still be some specks of black pepper, even after a few minutes. Place pork on prepared cutting board. Dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Let sit a room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 275F. Place pork skin-side-up in a clean, dry oven-safe pot or roasting dish (I wash and reuse my dutch oven). Pour apple cider vinegar into the dish. Roast pork for 6-7 hours, about an hour per pound. The internal temperature (not taken near the bone) should be 180F. Some liquid may have accumulated.

Turn oven heat up to 500F. Let pork cook, rotating every 5 minutes, until crosshatched skin is dark golden and crispy. Remove from oven.

Let pork sit a room temperature for 20-30 minutes before slicing off the skin/cracklings. Give it a rough chop and aside.

Remove meat from the bone, discarding any excess fat. Place meat in a large heatproof mixing bowl and toss with cracklings.

Serve on rolls with barbecue sauce and other toppings, if desired.

Leftover pork may be frozen in freezer bags for up to 3 months. Bone may also be frozen for use in stock or soup.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkSlow-Roasted Pulled Pork

Polenta Breakfast Bake

I rarely post on days that aren’t Wednesday or Friday, but I really wanted to get this recipe on here in time for Christmas. Consider this extra post a little gift from me to you.Polenta Breakfast BakeWe may not have done any holiday baking when I was a kid, but we still had plenty of Christmas food traditions. When I was growing up, my mom used to make a breakfast casserole every Christmas morning. While I was (and, honestly, continue to be) wary of any dish with “casserole” in the name, I made an exception for that one. Paired with Mom’s traditional all-citrus fruit salad,* it was impossible for even the pickiest of us to resist. It was so good that we didn’t complain when we were told we had to eat breakfast before opening our gifts. It was magic, I tell you.

*This is not a recipe—it’s literally just bite-sized pieces of navel orange and ruby red grapefruit with their membranes removed. Mix ‘em together in a bowl and chill overnight. Polenta Breakfast BakeNow, you may have noticed that I am speaking about my mom’s breakfast casserole in the past tense. That’s because she stopped making it about ten years ago, right about the time that my sisters and I started wanting more input in our holiday menu.

Another reason? Mom’s casserole was made with Bisquick. I have nothing personal against that mix—it’s responsible for every homemade pancake I ate as a child and I am forever grateful for its convenience—but I don’t use mixes these days.Polenta Breakfast BakeLong story short: today’s Polenta Breakfast Bake is an homage to the Christmas Morning Casserole of my childhood, minus the Bisquick, plus a creamy polenta base and some extra greens. It’s not my mom’s recipe, but it’s damn good.Polenta Breakfast BakePolenta Breakfast BakeAlso, it’s naturally gluten-free (thanks, coarse ground cornmeal!). And people think you’re fancy when you say you made polenta anything, so there’s that.Polenta Breakfast BakePolenta Breakfast BakeMy favorite thing about this recipe is that, like my mom’s, it doesn’t require any specific timetable. Flexibility is important when it comes to any holiday meal planning, but I am particularly opposed to any recipe that might require me to get up and start puttering around the kitchen when it’s still dark outside. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sleep > baking (and, um, cooking too).Polenta Breakfast BakePolenta Breakfast BakeThis Polenta Breakfast Bake can be prepared morning-of, if you are an early bird, but I love that I can assemble it a day or two ahead and then just bake it for 25 minutes before serving. I have a hard time doing anything in the morning without the aid of coffee, but I can absolutely turn on the oven and bake a breakfast casserole for 25 minutes.Polenta Breakfast BakeHot from the oven, this Polenta Breakfast Bake will be a little hard to slice cleanly, so feel free to scoop it instead. I was able to slice the casserole pictured after letting it cool for about half an hour, but I’d be happy to eat this stuff in any shape (or lack thereof). Leftovers keep very well in the refrigerator and will slice & reheat like a freaking dream.Polenta Breakfast BakeOne last thing before I get to the recipe. Like all recipes on this site, I’ve made this Polenta Breakfast Bake to suit my own flavor preferences. I used breakfast sausage and cheddar cheese because those were prominent flavors in my mom’s recipe, but you can swap them for any meat and/or cheese you like in weights equal to those in the recipe. My only word of advice here is that if you choose to use bacon, remove it from the pan while you sauté the onion, garlic, and greens so that it doesn’t burn. Oh, and speaking of greens, feel free to leave ‘em out if you have picky eaters (or if breakfast vegetables just aren’t your thing).

That’s all a very long way of saying that you should take my favorite and make it yours ❤ Polenta Breakfast Bake
Looking for more holiday breakfasts? Check out these overnight Cinnamon Rolls, this Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}, and this whole round-up of breakfast time favorites!

Polenta Breakfast Bake
makes 8-12 servings

2 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk (preferably whole)
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
1 1/2 cups polenta or coarse ground cornmeal
8 ounces freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups), divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces raw breakfast sausage, removed from casings
1 medium white onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 ounces fresh greens, roughly chopped (I used a mix of baby spinach and baby kale)
4 large eggs
1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (based on preference)

Grease a 9×13-inch pan or other large casserole dish (a broiler-safe one, if possible).

Make polenta. Bring water and milk to a simmer. Keep an eye on it, as milk can boil over dramatically without much notice. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Whisking constantly, add polenta in a thin stream. Reduce heat to medium-low, whisking very frequently for 25-30 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat. Whisk in 6 ounces (~1 1/2 cups) cheese, cayenne and dijon, followed by butter. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and let sit 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add breakfast sausage and cook, breaking it up with the edge of a spatula, until browned (about 8-10 minutes). Add diced onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add about half the greens and let wilt. Add remaining greens and cook until wilted. Remove from heat. Stir mixture into polenta.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Stir eggs into polenta mixture. Transfer everything to prepared pan. It may be covered and refrigerated at this point for up to 48 hours.

Preheat oven to 425F. Scatter remaining 2 ounces (~1/2 cup) of cheese over the top. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until golden at the edges, and slightly puffed and a little jiggly in the center. For an extra golden top, broil for 1-2 minutes. If your dish is not broiler-safe, you can heat the oven to 475F with the casserole on the top rack. Watching it closely, let it cook 5-10 minutes, turning as needed, until cheese has browned in places.

Let casserole cool for a few minutes. Scoop or slice and serve. Casserole will slice like a dream once cooled.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Cold slices reheat well in the microwave.

Leftovers may be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Polenta Breakfast BakePolenta Breakfast BakePolenta Breakfast Bake