February may be a short month, but with a new online cooking class that will teach you how to cook pasta like an Italian, radio interviews with some of the most interesting personalities in food, and a trick for getting kids to eat their vegetables, we kept plenty busy.
See below for a collection of recent highlights, including a window into the creative process of our food editor and the global adventures of our editorial director. Plus, cooking tips straight from the kitchen, and new store items that our kitchen staff loves.
In the kitchen
Food Editor Matthew Card has been using guajillo dried chilies in a variety of slightly unorthodox fashions—crisped as a garnish, crumbled into relishes and simmered in oil to use for dressings and mayo. To follow his lead, stem and seed 6 guajillo chilies, then cut crosswise into thin rings. Add to ½ cup neutral oil in a very small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low, stirring frequently, until the oil is sizzling and the chilies are just beginning to darken, 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately strain the chilies from oil and blot dry on paper towels. Use as a garnish for soups, stews, pastas and tacos. Once the oil cools, use it to flavor vinaigrettes and salad dressings, to spice up mayonnaise or aioli, or to sauté with all manner of dishes to add a subtle warmth and ruddy color.
On the road
Milk Street Editorial Director J.M. Hirsch just got back from a trip to Cambodia. He fell in love with freshly squeezed sugarcane juice—the flavor is bright, refreshing and not nearly as sweet as you’d think—and found himself mesmerized by the knife skills of the people selling fresh pineapple at local markets. With a few quick, clever slices using a knife seemingly too large for the task, the fruit is peeled and spiral cut, all in a matter of seconds. They sell for two for $1. To check out all of Hirsch’s travels, follow him @jm_hirsch or check out #MilkStreetontheRoad.
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Back to school
For kid-approved sides, you should treat your vegetables like steak, our Boston School discovered. Lately, cooking school instructors have been charring dense vegetables—think broccoli and cauliflower—in a hot cast iron skillet and then topping them with really boldly flavored dressings. It’s so much faster than roasting, and yields the same toasty flavor. When they tried this technique with the Monday night class for the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester, the teens devoured the broccoli.
Meanwhile, our online school just launched a new class: Pasta Perfect, which condenses our travels to Rome, Naples, Sicily and Genoa into four rules that will teach you to cook pasta like an Italian.
On Milk Street Radio
Celebrity baker and former graffiti artist Duff Goldman of “The Ace of Cakes” spoke about selling cakes out of his apartment to pay rent while he played in a band, and why he once had to dump a full can of paint on himself to avoid arrest. Later in the month, Yasmin Khan, author of the just-released “Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen,” revealed why falafel is so bad in the U.S., and how she handles unripe avocados. Listen here.
In the store
Finally, our favorite item in the store right now proves that a lifesaving kitchen tool doesn't have to be pricey. At just $29.95, the Knapp Made Chainmail Dishcloth Pot Scrubber is the best way to clean cast-iron, carbon steel and stainless pans, and it will be perfect when grilling season rolls around.