real life test kitchen: beef and scallion stir-fry

Asian food is a cuisine I have yet to master. Though I dip my toe into Thai, Indian and Korean, Chinese has been off the books so far. This insanely easy beef and scallion stir-fry recipe from Everyday Food a few years back reminds me of the takeaway dinners I used to have delivered to my door in Manhattan — minus the MSG of course. It only takes 25 minutes to make, and the ingredients are common for most pantries. We were pleased enough with the results that I am going to add it my rotation. Now, all I need is a recipe for cashew chicken, and our palettes will be complete! Here’s my take on the recipe, below.

Beef and Scallion Stir-Fry


2 tbls hoisin sauce
2 tbls rice vinegar
1 tbl cornstarch
1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving (optional)
1 tbl plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 lb flank steak, cut diagonally across the grain into bite-size thin strips
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, sliced crosswise into 1 1/2 inch long pieces, white and green parts kept separate
Cooked white rice, for serving


1.In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup water, hoisin sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp dash of red-pepper flakes; set aside.
2. Heat 1 tbl oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. In two batches, cook steak until lightly browned, turning once, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add remaining oil to pan along with garlic and whites of scallions. Cook, tossing often, until fragrant, about a minute. Add to pan along with scallion greens.
4. Return meat to pan; cook, tossing to coat steak with sauce, for another minute. Remove from heat.
5. Serve immediately, over rice and sprinkled with red-pepper flakes, if desired.

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real life test kitchen: turkey meatloaf with fontina cheese

The other day, I was hit by a huge and undeniable craving for meatloaf. It’s one of those dishes that are so simple, but somehow has slipped out of my normal recipe trick box in favor of more trendy and convenient things (like braised-anything). So last week, I dressed up a meatloaf for Easter night dinner. Pulling out a recipe I have used in the past, Martha Stewart’s Turkey Meatloaf with Fontina and Mushrooms, I served this up with some lemony string beans and creamy garlic mashed potatoes. The cheese, leeks and mushrooms makes this little baby supremely moist and tasty. No ketchup required!

Here’s my take on Turkey Meatloaf with Fontina.

What You Need:

2 tbls olive oil
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large leek, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup shredded fontina cheese (Gouda works too)
1 cup day-old bread, cubed
1 large egg
3 or 4 finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (I used a mix of dark and white meat)

How To Make:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 oil over medium-high. Cook mushrooms, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
2. Add another tablespoon of oil to pan and reheat. Add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes; Add to bowl with mushrooms and let cool. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add fontina, bread, egg, and sage to bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Mix in turkey, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. You might want to roll up your sleeves and use your hand for this! On a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, form turkey mixture into a 10-inch loaf. Bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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real life test kitchen: goop’s kapama (or braised cinnamon chicken)

Say what you will about Gwyneth Paltrow, (personally I have a girl crush on her) but Goop is lovely site. Lately I’ve been drawn to its recipes, especially when they fall into the one-pan only category. This recipe for a Greek dish called Kapama (or braised chicken) is the first one I’ve tackled from Goop. Basically you put a cut up chicken in a pan with some canned tomatoes, broth, onion, garlic and a whole cinnamon stick and let simmer for a couple of hours on the stove. Your whole house will smell divine, and the dish is amazing. I served it with fettuccine tossed with garlic and it was a nice accompaniment. It reminded me of chicken catetori, but with a comforting spice twist. I opted to take most of the skin off the chicken before searing. Next time it might be nice to leave it on and really give it a good sear in the pan so it stays a bit crunchy. Here’s my take on Goop’s kapama.


1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can of Italian tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cinnamon
salt, pepper, olive oil
freshly grated Romano cheese, for serving


1. Wash and dry chicken. Season with salt, pepper and a light sprinkling of ground cinnamon on each side. (Note: I cut most of the skin off, but that is up to you).
2. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, deep pan. When sizzling hot, add chicken and sear chicken pieces for a couple of minutes on each side, until browned. Remove chicken pieces from pan and set aside.
3. Lower heat to medium-high and add onions. Cook for a couple of minutes, while stirring, until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute until translucent.
4. Add cinnamon stick, tomatoes, broth and season with salt and pepper. Stir and bring to simmer. (Note: I smushed the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon.)
5. Add chicken pieces back into the pot. Simmer for about 2 hours, until chicken is falling off the bone.
6. Garnish with grated cheese and serve over pasta and/or with crusty bread.

From our partners

real life test kitchen: garlicky pasta with swiss chard and beans

This is the second recipe I found on Pinterest and decided to give a try. And boy, am I glad I did! The recipe comes from The Lemon Bowl, whose wholehearted endorsement of substituting what you have is right up my alley kitchen. (That’s a terrible joke, but I do have a tiny alley kitchen.) Not only was this recipe super easy (canned beans and tomatoes make it so), it was so delicious that we actually ate all of it the first night — and then I made it again two nights later! It’s that good. Looks pretty, too. See below or get it direct from The Lemon Bowl.

Garlicky Pasta with Swiss Chard and Beans

What You Need:

8 oz whole wheat pasta (Okay, I just used regular linguine.)
1 tbs olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard – stems removed and finely chopped (keep stems)
Pinch kosher salt
½ tsp chili flakes – optional (I did use these.)
2 garlic cloves – grated with microplane (I actually did grate the tiny garlic cloves!)
15 oz can diced tomatoes (I also added a few grape tomatoes that I had, chopped.)
15 oz can cannelini beans – drained and rinsed
Fresh parsley and basil – optional (I had and used the basil.)
Parmesan cheese to serve

How to Make:

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. (For al dente pasta, cook one minute less than package suggests.)
2. Reserve ½ c starchy cooking liquid before straining pasta; set pasta aside. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in the same pot you cooked the pasta over medium-high heat.
3. Add Swiss chard stems and a good pinch of salt.
4. Saute for 5-7 minutes until stems start to soften.
5. Add in roughly chopped Swiss chard leaves and reserved cooking liquid.
6. Put cover on the pan and let steam to wilt about 2-3 minutes.
7. Stir in chili flakes, garlic, tomatoes and beans. Cook for 5 minutes to warm through.
8. Toss in reserved pasta. Serve with fresh parsley, basil and parmesan cheese.

From our partners

real life test kitchen: dennis’ crockpot beef stew

Happy St Patrick’s Day! There are no Irish folk in our household, but that doesn’t mean we can enjoy some classic dishes from the Emerald land. Okay, so this one is more French than Irish, but it’s the thought that counts, right? On Tuesday, our friend Dennis came over to spend the day. He and his five-year-old helper had this lovely beef stew simmering in the crock pot for hours. The results were impressive. It is insanely rich and hearty and the meat just falls apart on your folk. Just the thing to take the chill out of a cold, damp March day.

Dennis’ French Crockpot Stew

What You Need:

1 1/2 lbs. to 2 lbs. stew beef (keep cut pieces fairly large)
12 garlic cloves
2 shallots (peeled and left whole)
3 onions (peeled, cut in 1/4ths)
(bag small peeled carrots)
(bag tiny- red or white- potatoes)
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef broth
1 15 ounce can (diced tomatoes) (with green chilies if possible)
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh chopped Rosemary
2 tsp.. finely chopped fresh chopped Thyme
dash of cloves
1 bay leaf

How To Make:
1. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot.
2. Cook garlic and shallots 5 minutes (remove with slotted spoon)
3. Cook beef until all sides browned (remove with slotted spoon)
4. Pour in wine to deglaze pan
5. Throw in all other ingredients, stir and heat slightly
6. Pour into crock pot
7. Cook on Low for 10 hours… (or high 5 to 6 hours)
8. During the last half hour mix in a bowl: 1/3 cup and 3 tbs. flour….mix well and pour into crock pot, mix in and close lid for the last half hour.
9. Serve with buttered egg noodles.


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