The first step of our tarte Tatin recipe was on the stovetop, not in the oven. We arranged apple quarters in concentric circles in a skillet on their cut side so we could fit more fruit, and flipped the apples over as they caramelized. We prepared the caramel right in the skillet with the apples so the flavors melded and the apples were boiled in the buttery caramel sauce until they absorbed the syrup and become virtually candied. We then covered the syrup-soaked apples with an egg pastry that contained confectioners' sugar rather than granulated sugar, which can make the dough grainy. After baking our tarte Tatin recipe, we flipped the tart over, revealing concentric circles of apples glazed with golden caramel.
This hearty Southern take on chicken soup features tender shreds of chicken and chewy strips of pastry in an ultra savory stock. Browning the chicken before simmering it in store-bought chicken broth provided a flavorful base. We opted for chicken thighs rather than lean breasts because they stayed tender throughout the long stewing process. Rolling the “pastry”—which we made from just flour, butter, milk, and baking powder—to 1/8 inch thick before adding it to boiling broth made it fluffy and soft. And cutting the dough into diamond shapes rather than squares added just a little flair to this homey dish. Keep the root ends of the onion halves intact so the petals don’t separate during cooking and the onion is easy to remove from the pot.
We wanted a cheese soufflé with bold cheese flavor, good stature, a light, but not-too-airy texture, without the fussiness of most recipes. To bump up the cheese flavor without weighing it down, we added light-but-potent Parmesan cheese to the Gruyère. To get the texture just right while keeping the preparation simple, we beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then—rather than carefully folding them into the cheese-bechamel—just add the sauce right to the mixer, and beat everything until uniform.
To roast a side of salmon that was silky throughout and evenly browned across its surface, we salted it for an hour, which helped the flesh retain moisture and protein (which would otherwise seep out unattractively during roasting). Placing it on a greased aluminum foil sling ensured that it was easy to transfer to a serving platter. For cooking, we set the salmon on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet to encourage air circulation around the fillet. Evenly brushing the salmon's surface with honey encouraged rapid browning. We found that a three-step cooking process gave us the best results. First, we preheated the oven to 250 degrees to warm the entire oven, which ensured that cooking happened quickly and evenly. Second, we broiled the fillet until it just began to brown. Third, we again turned the oven heat to 250 degrees to allow the fillet to gently cook through.
Grilling paella lends the dish subtle smoke and a particularly caramelized crust and makes it a great dish for summer entertaining. In place of a traditional paella pan, we cooked ours in a large, sturdy roasting pan that maximized the amount of socarrat, the prized caramelized rice crust that forms on the bottom of the pan. Building a large (7-quart) fire and fueling it with fresh coals (which ignited during cooking) ensured that the heat output would last throughout cooking, but we also shortened the outdoor cooking time by using roasted red peppers and tomato paste (instead of fresh peppers and tomatoes), making an infused broth with the seasonings, and grilling (rather than searing) the chicken thighs. To ensure that the various components finished cooking at the same time, we staggered the addition of the proteins—first the chicken thighs, followed by the chorizo, shrimp, and clams. We also deliberately placed the chicken on the perimeter of the pan, where it would finish cooking gently after grilling, and the sausage and seafood in the center, where they were partially submerged in the liquid so that they cooked through; once the liquid reduced, the steam kept them warm
Falafel are a Middle Eastern specialty of savory fried chickpea balls or patties generously seasoned with herbs and spices. The best falafel have a moist, light interior and a well-browned, crisp crust.
Sazón is the go-to spice blend in many Latin American home kitchens. While it is available in the international aisle at most supermarkets, it is easy to assemble at home.
Though chicken and rice is a classic combination, creating a single Latin American version was far from simple.
Skirt steaks come from two different muscles and are sometimes labeled as inside skirt steak or outside skirt steak. The more desirable outside skirt steak measures 3 to 4 inches wide and 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Avoid the inside skirt steak, which typically measures 5 to 7 inches wide and 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, as it is very chewy. Skirt steak is most tender when cooked to medium (130 to 135 degrees). Thin steaks cook very quickly, so we recommend using an instant-read thermometer for a quick and accurate measurement.
To create a flavorful yet balanced “cooking” liquid for our Peruvian fish ceviche, we made what's known as a leche de tigre by blending lime juice, aji amarillo chile paste, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, and a small amount of fish. Once strained, the liquid was an intensely flavorful and silky-textured emulsion. We then soaked thinly sliced and briefly salted fish (red snapper, sea bass, halibut, and grouper were all good options) in the leche for 30 to 40 minutes until it was just opaque and slightly firm. To complete the dish, we added sweet oranges; crisp, peppery radishes; and chopped cilantro. We served the ceviche with corn nuts and popcorn, which provided salty crunch.