What We’re Eating Again: Baked Ziti from the NYT Cooking App

Winters in London can sometimes be a bit depressing: short days, damp, rainy, fog, dreary with VERY occasional snow showers. So the only answer on days like this is to have some comfort food, and if you ask me, you can’t get more comfort than baked ziti.

Having grown up in Northern New Jersey– where people take their Italian food very seriously with an Italian dish of one kind or another featured on every buffet table– I love Italian food (even if I am of Irish-German extraction). In the past, I’ve tried to make baked ziti without a recipe, but didn’t have much success doing so. But when I gave this one from the NYTimes a try, that all changed.

This reminds me so much of the ziti I was raised on– cheesy, tomatoey goodness. When I made it recently on one of the aforementioned December days described above, I added a new feature of smoked bacon lardons. It did not disappoint. It was just the thing this family needed to propel us toward another dreary December day.

If you’d like to give a try, the recipe can be found by clicking through this sentence.

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What We’re Eating Again: Baked Ziti from the NYT Cooking App

Our Verdict: NYT Cooking App

Kirstin: This is one of my favourite apps. It never ceases to cheer me up.

Maureen: There’s so many recipes to choose from! I would think of a recipe we wanted to eat and inevitably they would have one.

Kirstin: But we should point out that it’s crazy busy because it’s the end of term and other stuff happening, but we used this app way more than it would appear on the blog.

Maureen: That’s true. I made dozens more recipes than I actually got around to posting.

Kirstin: The comments are often worth having a peek at.

Maureen: There’s usually lots of good tips in there.

Kirstin: But just this week they announced that they’re going to start charging for access.

Maureen: They’re going to put a metered paywall, which means you’ll get a certain number for free, but after that you’ll have to start paying. It makes sense. I’m also from the school of thought that good content shouldn’t be free.

Kirstin: It’s a great app when you go on holiday because all the recipes are right on your phone.

Maureen: It’s also great when you’re out in the middle of the day when you don’t know what you want to make for dinner, so you can decide on the hoof and then stop at the shops for what you need.

Kirstin: Also, it’s got Melissa Clark and Sam Sifton. Do I need to say more?

Maureen: No. You do not. They are brilliant. I also liked the featured recipes at the top. They gave good suggestions.

Kirstin: Absolutely.

Maureen: It’s almost not a fair fight because the New York Times has so many good recipes over the years, and they’re all there. If you published all these recipes in books, it would be a multi-volume encyclopedia.

Kirstin: Also, the e-mails make my heart so happy. They just are so lovely. They have great suggestions. Sign up for the e-mail!

Overall Grade (A- F):  A (Maureen)  A (Kirstin)
Best recipes:  Salmon roasted in butter (Kirstin) The Katharine Hepburn brownies were definitely the most memorable, but the macaroni and cheese is a desert island dish in this house (Maureen)
Grade for Photography (A-F): A
Any disasters? Maureen: No. Kirstin: I’m trying to figure out how to spatchcock chicken.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Not applicable, but we’d put it on the front page of our phones.
Would you give this to a friend? (Both) Yes, though we would tell them to install it and to sign up for the daily e-mail.

Our Verdict: NYT Cooking App

“Steak Mock Frites” from “NYT Cooking App”

Here in London, we’re experiencing something that suspiciously feels like summer. I say it’s suspicious because I’m doubtful it will last. It never does. But in the meantime, we’re maximising our enjoyment of it while we can, which includes eating in the garden under the setting sun eating simple dishes that we love.

To wit: steak. Takes minutes to prepare, is delicious and we love it. As this is a rib-eye steak, it’s definitely a treat and not in the regular rotation, but still… full of yum. Also, we have a friend staying with us from the U.S. for the next week, so we wanted to treat her to one of the legendary steaks from our local butcher, Dring’s.

I’ve cooked steak enough times that I’m pretty confident on how to do it. But this recipe helpfully included a method for Maître d’Hôtel butter, which is pretty simple (butter, thyme, shoot, lemon juice & a splash of white-wine vinegar), but the real revelation was the recipe for “Mock Frites.” For this, you basically just boil new potatoes, dry them and smash them on a greased baking sheet and then bake them some more.

They. Were. Delicious. And so easy! Sam Sifton says in the introduction that the potatoes have “a terrific quality of French fry-ness, supreme crispness, with soft and creamy flesh within.” They really did all of those things. I plan to make these mock frites again. And again. And again.

If you’d like to make this yourself, click through this sentence to see the original recipe in the New York Times. 

 

“Steak Mock Frites” from “NYT Cooking App”

“Salmon Roasted in Butter” from NYT Cooking App

Kirstin: So this is a NEW salmon recipe. As recommended by the very lovely Deirdre on our fb page.

Ella: It is the death fish.

Kirstin: Seriously? This is the life fish!

Tom: She’d much prefer it if you cooked salmon else.

Ella: What are all these green things?

Kirstin: That’s flat leaf parsley. It adds flavour. Pretend it’s like salt but in leaf form, just adding flavour.

Ella: Salt is a rock! Not a leaf!

Kirstin: Well try it anyway. You might like it.

Ella: NEVER!

Kirstin: So I’m finally tasting it after the discourse with Ella and it’s YUM!

Ella: Why does the top taste different from the bottom? It tastes like that sea bass recipe I really like.

Kirstin: That will be the butter! And so good with the lemon.

Tom: It tastes really good with the rice too. It’s Of-fish-al.

Miles: [thumbs up while eating the fish].

Kirstin: Well thank you Deirdre. We shall definitely be making this one again! Epic.

And here’s the recipe for those who would like to give this recipe a try.

“Salmon Roasted in Butter” from NYT Cooking App

“Spice Rubbed Spatchcocked Chicken” from NYT Cooking App

Kirstin: Melissa Clark is VERY keen on spatchcocking chickens. So this is not the first time I have been inspired to make one of her recipes with the exciting part of spatchcocking beforehand. I’m definitely getting better at the part where you remove the backbone of a chicken, put it that way. Also the squashing part. And, as Melissa says in her video for this recipe, it is SUCH a good word! SPATCHCOCK! I particularly love it when she has all her utensils out and ready to use in the video. She is brilliant.

(And another small digression: I didn’t have any of the ancho chile powder for this recipe, so I found some of the dried whole peppers and ground them down in my new grinder which was very exciting, as you can imagine!)

And now to the recipe itself. The spice combination itself smelled incredible as I put it on the chicken. It’s one of the Top Ten recipes made from the New York Times this week and I could see why as I rubbed the spices on. However. There is just something about me and these spatchcocked chicken recipes that I am not getting right. Is it the temperature of the oven? Is it the length of time to cook? There is something that I continue to get wrong every time. While the chicken was not pink, it was chewier than usual despite me effectively burning all the spices on the top and also leaving the chicken to rest for a full ten minutes, or in fact longer as Tom had to edit something which took longer than I had anticipated. And I note that she adds olive oil before she cooks hers on the video, but not in the recipe. Maybe that made a difference.

So, the question is would I make this again? No. Would I try spatchcocking a chicken for Melissa? Probably not. No, not even butterflying one. But I might try spatchcocking for someone else’s recipe to see if I could get it right. And yes, that might be just so I could use the word again!

“Spice Rubbed Spatchcocked Chicken” from NYT Cooking App

“Sautéed Chicken With Meyer Lemon” from NYT Cooking App

Kirstin: My challenge this week was to cook something from the NYT cooking email the week that I received it. They are such lovely emails that often leave me salivating and also include podcast and music recommendations. So when I saw this recipe with lemons and also that it was by Melissa Clark, I was sold; I’m always on the lookout for recipes with lemon and chicken. They are some of my favourites and are usually very simple too. This was fairly straightforward, except for the interesting instructions about how to chop the lemon (I had to ask Ella to check I had interpreted the instructions correctly) and then blanching my lemon slices twice. The rest of the recipe was not difficult. But it wasn’t that amazing either. I still love you, Melissa Clark, just not this recipe that much. But it’s ok, because I know there will be more recipes from the NYT. I can wait.

If you want to make it yourself, here is the recipe.

“Sautéed Chicken With Meyer Lemon” from NYT Cooking App

“Roasted Salmon Glazed wth Brown Sugar and Mustard” from NYT Cooking App

Kirstin: We have salmon every week. It’s usually a tried and trusted recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book as it’s easily put together and has fresh tasting, clean Asian flavours. I used to make teriyaki salmon frequently too because our two love teriyaki but I got bored of cleaning out the saucepan every time. And then we tried sea bass for a while too, but it doesn’t have all those fishy oils that are so good for us.
So back to this salmon. Picture the scene. We’ve just returned from a week of sun, sea and salads in Sicily. It’s England. It’s raining, it’s cold, Drumpf has just insulted our mayor and I’m not impressed. So I wanted something quick and easy to try with our salmon this week. I’d favourited this recipe a good long time ago and saved it to my “recipe box”. I’m usually not very good at the tasting things until it’s right, which is what this recipe calls for when you mix the mustard and brown sugar (I’m the same with the piano; I like music to play and can’t improvise at all). But I gave it a go and was surprised at how easy it was to get a taste I liked.
Did we like it? Ella ate all of hers which is TOTAL WIN! This calls for celebration. So Yes. I shall make it again. And I’ve been looking for easy recipes to take on holiday. This would definitely fit the bill for that too.

And I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of the meal. So instead, here are some doughnut peaches from the food market at Siracusa.

“Roasted Salmon Glazed wth Brown Sugar and Mustard” from NYT Cooking App