As a somewhat seasoned home cook, I know better than to start making cinnamon rolls from scratch at 7pm on a Tuesday. However these days, I’ve got nothing but time. While I’d usually save ambitious culinary projects for the weekend (or a winter snow storm), considering the unique opportunity of self isolation, I’m putting all the shortcuts aside and am digging deep into time intensive recipes. Some of these dishes, like fresh pasta or bread, have been notoriously hard to master and others just need a couple days of planning ahead. With that in mind, we promise that each one of these time intensive recipes will be worth all your hard work and effort in the end.
The first thing to go on store shelves, I noticed, was pasta. All shapes, all sizes, the aisles were empty. The fresh pasta variety has intimidated even the best of us, but with such few ingredients and no equipment required, now’s the time to tackle making it at home (just give the dough plenty of time to rest). You can even get the kids involved, if you’re looking to put their idle hands to work. With the help of YouTube personality, Binging with Babbish, host Andrew Rea is showing us just how easy it is to master the basics, like his fettuccine from scratch.
“Pasta—one of the most beautiful and elegant dishes you can make in your kitchen. Learn how to make pasta from scratch, by hand, as well as two ways to utilize the fettuccine: aglio e olio and cacio e pepe.”
– Andrew Rea, Binging with Babbish
Bread is finicky for a few reasons, but mainly because of how long each step takes. From rising to proofing to letting the flour hydrate and the gluten relax, it all sounds complicated. But nothing quite compares to a freshly-baked loaf that’s got a golden crust on the outside and a chewy bite on the inside. Bon Appetit’s Claire Saffitz (also a bread aficionado) has developed a recipe for what she likes to call “the best bread you’ll ever make at home.” And in case you happen to have some sourdough starter on hand, her and fellow BA staffer Brad Leone tackle making homemade sourdough bread as part of Leone’s “It’s Alive” series on YouTube—check it out below.
“To ensure you have fresh bread on time, count back three nights from the day you want to bake. If you want bread on Saturday, start Wednesday night. Bake it anytime Saturday.”
– Claire Saffitz, Bon Appetit
Milk Bar Birthday Cake
Ok, I actually made this monster of a cake for my own birthday a few years back and it took me about three days total. It’s like Funfetti on steroids, with layers of yellow cake laden with sprinkles and doused in a “vanilla milk soak,” piled with fluffy vanilla frosting and crunchy birthday cake crumbs. Fair warning, there are some specialty ingredients and equipment required, but nothing that I wasn’t able to find online. Pastry chef Christina Tosi is offering up Milk Bar’s actual recipe on their website, along with a few other signature desserts like chocolate pretzel cereal squares and compost cookies.
“We took the best parts of childhood, removed all of the awkwardness and added heaps of made-from-scratch birthday cake and frosting (inspired by the boxed supermarket stuff we grew up with).”
– Christina Tosi, owner of Milk Bar
Best Baked Ziti
Assuming you’re all stocked up on the aforementioned boxed pasta, here’s the perfect way to dump your pantry ingredients into one. Instead of traditional ziti, NYT Cooking’s Alison Roman is using rigatoni for her baked ziti recipe so that it gets those crispy, craggy edges when it’s in the oven. While there are quite a few different elements going on, like making homemade tomato sauce, the cheesy filling and then layering it all together, this dish ends up being heavy and large enough to feed your entire household for dinner, and serve as leftovers for a couple days after.
“This baked ziti is layered almost like a lasagna to ensure every bite has enough creamy ricotta, stringy mozzarella and tangy tomato sauce. But the key to its success comes from undercooking the pasta during the initial boil so it stays perfectly al dente, even after a trip to the oven.”
– Alison Roman, NYT Cooking
I know what you’re thinking, who’s eating kimchi at a time like this? However, terms like self isolation, quarantine and pandemic have got me thinking a lot about shelf life and in turn, fermentation. When it comes to time intensive recipes, kimchi reigns supreme. For those unfamiliar, kimchi is a popular side in Korean cuisine. In a process similar to making sauerkraut, it’s essentially fermented cabbage with Asian ingredients. Fermentation itself is an age-old technique that was used to extend a food’s shelf life, and therefore preserve it via controlled microbial growth and enzymes. What’s time inclusive about this recipe isn’t the prep, but waiting for nature to do its thing—anywhere from two days to two weeks.
“You’ll be pleasantly surprised with how simple it actually is.”
– MUNCHIES, Food by VICE
Main image by Milk Bar