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Julia Turshen's Small Victories is probably my favorite cookbook. I've written about it several times on this site, and here I am doing it again because I tried yet another amazing recipe that I need to share with the world.
This one is the cryptically named "Afternoon Cake." It's an orange, ground nuts, and olive oil cake — and I see now why they chose to give it such a vague name. As Turshen puts it, this cake is "perfect for that 'it’s four o’clock and I need a little something with a cup of coffee' moment."
The recipe is simple and highly customizable. The ground nuts can be any nut you want. I was feeling kinda fancy, so I went for pistachios and it tasted amazing. And feel free to swap the orange for another citrus (I used a mix of orange and blood orange). It's soft, not too sweet (but sweet enough), super satisfying, and the kind of cake you can't stop eating but also don't feel bad about devouring. —Marie Telling
Get the recipe here.
I'm always looking for hearty vegetarian recipes, and anything that doesn't include a ton of beans/lentils or tomato gets bonus points from me. I don't have an Instant Pot but followed the stovetop instructions for this wild rice soup and was blown away by how tasty it turned out. I don't cook much, but this was by far the most delicious thing I've ever made myself. —Gyan Yankovich
After seeing this recipe makes its rounds among my friends on Instagram, I decided to finally try it. It was a cold winter day and I had recently become obsessed with all things Italian after watching Call Me by Your Name, so it seemed like the perfect meal for me. And perfect it was.
I swear I'm not being dramatic when I say that this recipe is magical. It's so easy and low-effort, a child could probably put it together. There is barely any chopping involved, and all you have to do is pretty much throw everything in a pot and stir from time to time. The only other step is heating up some olive oil with a bit of garlic and rosemary in a pan to make a super flavorful finishing oil that'll top your pasta.
The final dish is delicious, comforting, and surprisingly rich in flavor for something that requires so little effort. Don't skip the finishing oil though, it really takes the pasta to a whole other level. —Marie Telling
Every now and then a new recipe comes along that blows up Instagram, and TBH, they usually don't live up to the hype. However, one ultra-hyped recipe I recently made that actually lived up to the buzz was Sarah Kieffer's pan-banging chocolate chip cookies. I mean, a quick search on Instagram for #panbanging comes up with over 200 posts, and a Google search shows several articles written about the technique — including one from the New York Times — which told me that these cookies were definitely worth a try.
The technique itself is pretty simple, but it will cause a ruckus. What you do is bake chocolate chip cookie dough from semi-frozen — as the cookies begin to melt, you bang the sheet tray every few minutes to deflate them and form wrinkles. These wrinkles turn into chewy-yet-crisp edges that border the gooey center. The technique is fun, unusual, and delicious. Your neighbors won't be too happy with you, but your stomach will. —Jesse Szewczyk
I looove gnocchi, but it always seemed to me like a food that's very intimidating to make at home. So when I stumbled upon a recipe for two-ingredient sweet potato gnocchi (the recipe says three, but one ingredient is just salt), I couldn't help but try it out.
This recipe was really so simple. All you have to do is bake a sweet potato, grate it over a mound of flour, knead it into a ball of dough, and then cut the dough into 1-inch pieces, and boil them for a few minutes.
Voilà: delicious homemade gnocchi that's even better for you than the traditional regular potato version. I topped mine with some thyme butter, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese as a savory contrast to the slightly sweet gnocchi, and it tasted like something I'd get at a restaurant (which, trust me, has nothing to do with my cooking skills). I'll be making this recipe time and time again. —Hannah Loewentheil
Get the recipe here and learn about more pasta hacks here.
Ok! So, I didn't have halva — and didn't even know what it was before making these (I've since found a recipe for halva and made some. Turns out, it's delicious!) But even without the halva, this brownie recipe is spectacular. Very fudgy, and the tahini swirl was the perfect compliment to the richness of the chocolate. These brownies are RICH without being overly sweet and they are good at literally any temperature (I tried them all). I found black tahini to swirl into the top as well as the normal tahini — which made for an extra beautiful swirl. This is my new go-to brownie recipe — can't wait to try this again (with halva next time!) —Scott Loitsch
Call me crazy, but I've had a thing for cabbage recipes lately. It started when I first started to cook some Indian and Ethiopian dishes at home and noticed how versatile cabbage is. Cabbage seemed to easily soak up the flavor and spices of anything cooked with it, so I figured, why not try a whole soup? Yes, it may take some time to slice up all of the vegetables if you don't have an automatic slicer or Veggie Bullet machine. That said, it was well worth the effort, and the soup was delicious. Definitely recommend. —Whitney Jefferson
Oh boy, these cookies. These cookies are so delicious I ended up eating 12 of them in a row, which is good for no one. But I regret nothing.
The recipe comes from Sweet, Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh's excellent baking cookbook. I had been eyeing these cookies since I first got the book, and finally decided to make them one Sunday night.
The process is very easy, but you have to chill the dough twice for a total of three hours. So make sure you plan ahead so you don't end up stuffing your face with chocolate cookies at 1 a.m., like someone I know. Or maybe that's exactly what you want, in which case: enjoy! —Marie Telling
I'm trying to branch out from baking my usual loaves of bread, so I recently made this rosemary, garlic, and tomato sourdough focaccia (adapted from Artisan Sourdough Made Simple). If anything, it was easier than making a loaf of bread because I didn't have to worry about shaping it!
It does take a lot of time, but most of that time is just waiting for the dough to rise. I took it to a get-together with friends, and it was devoured within 10 minutes. The fresh rosemary really makes a difference in flavor, and the roasted garlic was perfect — people who didn't want garlic plucked the whole clove off, and those who did want it slid the garlic out of the skins and spread it on top of the focaccia like butter. It was absolutely delicious! —Cates Holderness
Thanks to Whole30, I've been cooking most of my dinners for the last three weeks, and this has been hands-down my favorite recipe I've tried. As with all Whole30 meals, it's dairy-, grain-, sugar-, and legumes-free, but so, so flavorful thanks to a magical combination of squash, coconut milk, and lots of bacon.
I love spaghetti squash as a base because it's crunchy, giving you the satisfying bite of pasta, and also a good netted "holder" for the creamy egg and coconut milk sauce that you dress all over it. For the fillings, I used savory mushroom slices, charred broccoli, and a ton of bacon, medium-cooked for a bit of extra chew.
The only cumbersome part about this recipe is that you'll have to either prepare your spaghetti squash on a separate day or just wait for it to bake for an hour or so before you begin prepping all the other parts of the recipe. If you're okay with a slightly limper or less crunchy base, you can also try it with zoodles. —Michelle No
You know how this goes. It's the end of a long day and you're finally finished with your midterms, your kids, your latest Netflix binge — whatever! And you're craving something sweet, but SUPER low-effort. Cue this cookie: It's a single-serving, five-ingredient, ready-in-10-minutes ~miracle~. You probably have everything you need to make it in your kitchen already: peanut butter, instant oats, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and chocolate chips. (And flaky sea salt, but only if ya want.) You mix it. Freeze it. ❄ Drizzle on the chocolate. And enjoy. —Natalie Brown
Last year, I bought Audrey At Home, a cookbook/family album written by Audrey Hepburn's son, Luca Dotti. It's a lovely book, filled with the star's family pictures, personal recipes, and handwritten notes. For some reason, I hadn't tried any of the recipes until recently, when I decided to make Audrey's pasta alla puttanesca.
What makes pasta alla puttanesca, a Neapolitan specialty, so delicious and unique is its sauce: tomato-based with olives, anchovies, capers, and garlic. It gives the dish an amazing depth of flavor, especially for a recipe that's so low-effort.
The only change I made to the ingredient list is that I skipped the green olives and only used black cured olives instead. The recipe itself was extremely straightforward and easy and it didn't take me more than 30 minutes to put the perfect weeknight meal together. —Marie Telling
If you feel like you're barely keeping it together these days (most of us, TBH), may I recommend a nice cup of Cozy Tea? Pretty much all tea is perfectly nice, especially at this time of year, but the tea drink I've been obsessed with for the past several months combines David's Tea Alpine Punch (a caffeine-free rooibos tea), a little vanilla syrup, and a splash of cream or half-and-half. It has a cherry/almond flavor with light floral vibes and is basically liquid hygge. It's so delicious and soothing, and having it every night before bed has become such a pleasant and comforting ritual. —Rachel Wilkerson Miller
If you've been on Instagram recently, you've probably seen these cookies. They're from Alison Roman's Dining In cookbook, and I had planned to follow everybody else's lead and make them one afternoon. But as I was going through the book, I saw this tart and all my plans changed.
This is a chocolate-tahini tart and chocolate, tahini, and tarts happen to be three of my favorite things. Put them together and it's hard to resist.
The recipe involves a few different steps but nothing too crazy. Sure, the dough is homemade, but you don't need to chill it or roll it out. You just press it down straight into the pan, flatten it with your hands, and bake it for about 15 minutes. The filling doesn't require any baking, but you'll have to let the tart rest for at least a couple hours before you can dive in (the recipe says "at least 1 hour" but I found that wasn't long enough for mine). So make sure to plan accordingly.
The result is a rich, intense, and very chocolatey tart. The crunchy salt on top is crucial as it really brings the whole thing together and perfectly balances the bitterness of the chocolate. Now, if you like your desserts sweet, I'm afraid this one isn't for you, but if you're a fan of strong chocolate flavors, you're in for a treat. —Marie Telling
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