For some, summer is grilling season. That’s great in theory, but in practice, not everyone has a grill. Apartment dwellers shouldn’t be left out of the fun just because they don’t have easy access to a yard. Blue Apron Chef Andrew Mumma set out to find the best way to enjoy the flavor of the grill without starting a fire in your home.
Chef Andrew tested out three different methods, but the simplest technique prevailed. An indoor smoker filled his home with smoke, and left foods with a bitter taste that bore little resemblance to the grill. The electric griddle was easier to control, but couldn’t deliver the grill’s signature char or grill marks. After testing, the humble grill pan emerged as the best way to grill indoors, it getting outside just isn’t an option.
How to use a grill pan
A grill pan is a heavy pan with raised lines that mimic the grates of a grill. It’s used on the stovetop like a traditional skillet. When it comes to grill pans, the heavier the better. With a material like cast iron, not only will you be able to get the pan hotter, it will retain heat better once food is added.
Although it isn’t an exact replica of a grill, a grill pan will help develop a nice char on meat and vegetables. To achieve this, the pan needs to get very hot. Preheat the pan on the stove before adding anything, and don’t be afraid if you start to see some smoke. It’s normal for a grill pan to get very smoky. Just make sure the hood fan is turned up to the highest setting, and an exterior window is open to air things out a bit.
Chef Ashely Giddens has been spending more time than usual at home over the past few weeks. When she isn’t cooking, she’s keeping busy with crafts. Her latest project? Tie-dyed Easter eggs. Here’s Ashley:
Being cooped up at home leaves plenty of time for crafty experiments. Last week I tie-dyed a sweatsuit, and I loved the results. With Easter around the corner, I wondered if I could apply the same methods to dying Easter eggs.
I discovered ice dying when I was researching tie-dye techniques for my matching set. Basically you surround whatever you’re dying with a little wall, top it with crushed ice, and then drop random bits of dye directly onto the ice. When the ice melts, the dye falls onto the item and creates a watercolor effect. It worked so well on my clothing, that I wanted to see if the process could work on other projects: Enter, eggs.
For dye to adhere to eggshells, you need to add an acid. To adapt the ice dying process for eggs, I just doused the ice in a splash of vinegar before dotting the dye over the cubes.
For variety, I also dyed a few eggs with my tried and true practice of dying: wrapping eggs in various objects from my craft bin (string, wire, stickers, rubber bands, etc) and soaking in dye baths. I also colored a few with a food safe marker.
Make sure your eggs are hard-boiled, it makes it easier to handle them without cracking.
I used both white and brown eggs, the brown had less color but were still pretty.
Protect your work surface, I covered my countertops with some parchment paper.
If they’re available, use gloves.
Have fun! There’s no need to stress about perfect results this year. Consider this a fun time to be creative, either on your own, or with loved ones.
If you want to be able to eat the eggs, stick to food safe dyes and edible glitter. Other than that, go wild!
Working from home can be unpredictable. Sometimes there’s a lull in the middle of the day, and you find the time to take a break and make something special. Other days, things are so busy that you can only grab a minute to eat a few spoonfuls of peanut butter before you jump back online. No matter what type of day you’re having, a good work from home lunch is important for keeping you alert and happy all afternoon.
Here’s how the team at Blue Apron makes work from home lunch a treat, even on those rushed days.
Switch things up
I was getting tired of eating the same turkey sandwich for lunch so I decided to deconstruct it into a salad. You can do this with whatever produce you have at home, just top it off with a simple vinaigrette. I also sprinkled some dill on top, as it was about to go bad in my fridge. Chef tip: fresh herbs are a great way to add lots of flavor to a salad! — Chef Sarah Entwistle
Reinvent your leftovers
This week I made a salad with chopped romaine, sesame seeds, lightly sautéed snow peas, and a tahini-ponzu dressing. I had some leftover chicken from dinner, and I tossed that on top for extra protein. I also sautéed the snow peas for 1-2 minutes, just to make them a bit more tender. — Chef Ashley Giddens
Give yesterday’s noodles new life
When you’re reheating pasta, drizzle a little water into the bowl (I use my fingertips to kind of “spray” water) before microwaving, it gives the noodles new life. Sometimes I’ll even make a little extra sauce on the side so that when I reheat and stir it together they’re still nice and coated with sauce. — Chef Emily Ziemski
Work in advance
You can make a big batch of pancake batter ahead of time. The longer the batter sits, the more it “ferments” and builds flavor. Pancakes for lunch? Yes! In these weird WFH times, don’t be afraid of treating yourself to comfort foods. — Chef Emily Ziemski
Perhaps no piece of cookware is more iconic—or dependable—than the cast iron pan. This tried-and-true workhorse is beloved for its durability and versatility: you can fry, grill, sauté, braise or bake in it. Best of all, with proper care, cast iron actually improves with use. Below, we break down how to maintain it.
After use, wipe your skillet clean, then rinse under hot running water. Scrub off stuck-on debris with salt and a damp towel.
Immediately and thoroughly dry your pan with a towel. (Leaving water in it can lead to rusting.)
*If your pan rusts, not to fear! To bring a rusted pan back to life, bake at 450ºF for about an hour, then remove from the oven and carefully rub with oil and a paper towel to loosen and wipe out the rust. Scrub out any remaining rust with salt, then rinse, dry and carefully rub with an oiled paper towel.
Use a paper towel to evenly coat the inside of the pan with a small amount of vegetable or canola oil. (Use enough oil to give the inside of the pan a nice sheen, but not so much that it feels sticky.)
*If you won’t be using your cast iron pan for a while, it’s important to heat the pan to help the oil form a protective seal with the iron. Place the pan on the stovetop and heat on high for a few minutes, until hot and the oil starts to smoke lightly. Remove from heat; when cool enough to handle, carefully wipe out the pan with a dry rag. Let cool completely before storing.
Long days, warm nights and sun to spare: August is all about the dog days of summer. For us, this month is a celebration of summer’s most flavorful bounty: eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, melons and cucumbers. If it’s juicy, colorful and fresh, we’re eating it in August.
Happy Birthday, Leo! This month belongs to you, the zodiac’s warm-hearted, passionate and (occasionally) headstrong lion. If you’ve got a bit of extra pep in your step this month, it’s no accident: that same bountiful energy feeding the August harvest is in your corner, too. You’ve got energy to spare, so now’s the time to tackle those ambitious projects you keep putting on the backburner. Have you long dreamed of canning your own veggies or making your own hot sauce? The farmer’s market should have no shortage of peppers for your homemade spicy masterpiece, or tomatoes to make and can the perfect marinara. Trust us: you’ll be glad you did when you’re enjoying a delicious bowl of spaghetti come fall.
You’re thinking big this month, Virgo—Jupiter is keeping you optimistic and open-minded, which makes August the perfect time for travel. If you’d rather stay close to home, why not take a culinary odyssey? Try cooking a cuisine you’ve never attempted before and experience a whole new culture without leaving your kitchen.
Diplomatic Libra, August is a great month for you to work on repairing fraught or challenging relationships. If there are any olive branches you’ve been waiting to extend, this is the month to do it. And is there anything that brings people together better than a delicious home-cooked meal? So fire up that barbecue and get ready for some catharsis!
If you’re feeling competitive this month, Scorpio, it’s no accident. In August, your determined and resourceful attitude is laser-focused, which makes it the perfect time to challenge yourself and set expansive personal goals. Have you always wanted to try your hand at soufflés? Never roasted a whole chicken before? Roll up your sleeves and dive in, because if there was ever a time for you to achieve a major culinary milestone, it’s now.
For Sagittarius, this month is all about simple pleasures. You’ll find that it won’t take a lot to delight you in August! Nurture your love of the outdoors by taking in a gorgeous sunset or meal al fresco. Even a simple breakfast in bed will feel like the ultimate treat—so go ahead and indulge!
August is a month of reversals: that is to say, Capricorn, you may find yourself with a new appreciation for things you once disliked. It might finally be time to revisit some of your least favorite foods—you may just find the way to prepare them and create something irresistibly delicious.
We feel you, Aquarius—there’s no shortage of delicious ways to eat, drink and be merry in August! It’s definitely a month for you to treat yourself and enjoy every minute of it. Of course, try not to go overboard: at the end of the day, there is such thing as too much of a good thing (even when that good thing is ice cream).
With options, requests and information coming at you from all angles, it’s no wonder you’re feeling a bit scattered this month, Pisces. We get it: it’s hard to know what you want, but we say, embrace the chaos—when it comes to your food, at least! Try Japanese one night, Southern comfort food the next, then Mexican or Filipino. A range of different flavors is sure to appease your subconscious desire for variety.
Aries, your August will be full of adjustments. You may find yourself in a new position at work, starting new relationships, or just in a new environment. To balance out all the adjustments you’ll have to make in your work and personal life, it will help to enjoy some familiar flavors. Try cooking a favorite family recipe, or bringing back homemade pizza night. Some deliciously comforting meals will be the key to keeping you sane this month.
You may be feeling stressed or worried in August, Taurus, but fear not! While you’ve got a lot going on, a well-timed break from the day-to-day will help get you out of your head. Bake bread, go berry picking and make your own pie or do some grilling. A few hours working with your hands will do you a world of good.
Someone wants burgers, someone else wants pizza. It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a different demand. But what do you want? When you close your eyes and think about tonight’s meal, what’s in your heart? If it’s breakfast-for-dinner, we say go for it! Make yourself happy for once, because if there’s a lesson for this month, Gemini, it’s that you can’t please everyone.
Feeling inspired, Cancer? Run with it! Your sudden interest in new cultures, ideas and cuisines is no accident. Follow those impulses and you may find yourself with a whole new perspective on life. Go ahead and book the dumpling-making class you’ve been eyeing, or take that barbecue-centric road trip. Even trying out some totally unfamiliar recipes may do the trick—anything to get you looking at the world in a different way.
The heat is on its way, chefs! With warmer temperatures comes the allure of outdoor activity with friends and family. How do we balance our need for delicious food with our need for Vitamin D?
In this new series, we’re sharing recipes perfect for those busier weekends when you want to both enjoy the outdoors AND entertain with a delicious meal (with minimal prep.) Stay tuned for monthly recipes perfect for your weekend lifestyle: only 5 ingredients, 20 minutes of active cooking time, and 6 or more servings. Don’t get us wrong – we love spending time in the kitchen. But when the sun is shining, we want to make time for picnics, bike rides, beach days, and lemonade stands.
First up, we’re cooking North Carolina-Style Pulled Pork. North Carolina barbecue is more vinegar-y and less tomato-y than other barbecue styles. This recipe was originally created for families, but we quickly realized the appeal for those without any tots around. There’s just one small adjustment: use your favorite beer in place of the stock if you’re cooking for adults!
Five-Ingredient North Carolina-Style Pulled Pork
8 to 10 Pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder (also known as Pork Butt)
3/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar 1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes 1 Cup White Vinegar 3 Cups Broth (Chicken, Beef, Vegetable or whatever you’d like!) or 3 Cups Beer of Choice
Dutch Oven (or Slow Cooker)
Salt and pepper the pork shoulder liberally, cover and refrigerate overnight. By seasoning the meat well in advance, you allow the flavor to develop to the fullest. Preheat the oven to 200°F (or the lowest setting on your oven). Place the seasoned pork shoulder and half the broth (or beer) in a Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid. Braise in the oven for 6 to 7 hours, or until the meat is tender, falling apart and a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 190°F.
Remove the pork from the Dutch oven and carefully transfer to a cutting board. Discard the cooking liquid and wipe out the Dutch oven. Using 2 forks, shred the pork, making sure to discard any large pieces of fat or sinew. Return the shredded pork to the Dutch oven and add the sugar, as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, vinegar and remaining beer. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, or until well combined and heated through to ensure that the sugar dissolves.
Serve on toasted potato rolls with coleslaw, barbecue sauce, or your topping of preference. We enjoy apple slices for their bright crunch. Traveling for the weekend? This recipe packs up really well.
In April, we polled moms across the country, asking what they hoped to receive for Mother’s Day. Here’s what we found: Moms want to cook with their families on May 10th. So, while we love to surprise mom with the classic breakfast-in-bed, this year, we’re advocating that you make breakfast with her instead of for her. That’s where our recipe comes in! We’ve created the ultimate, foolproof Mother’s Day breakfast recipe that get’s the whole family involved – from ages 2 to 20.
In order to make sure your family cooking surprise goes perfectly, we created a recipe that not only looks and tastes delicious, but also doesn’t take a whole lot of work in the kitchen (or grocery store, for that matter.) The shopping list is short (and flexible), the directions are straight-forward, and the finished meal is truly a masterpiece. Pun intended.
Now, let’s get to it, chefs!
Mother’s Day Landscape Tart
INGREDIENTS 1 Box Puff Pastry, Thawed 1 Egg (For Egg Wash) ½ Cup Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream
TOPPINGS (pick your favorites – here are some of ours) Asparagus, Trimmed Cherry Tomatoes, Quartered & De-seeded Bacon, Thinly Sliced Ramps, Cleaned & Trimmed Red Onion, Thinly Sliced Olives, Pitted Capers, Drained Fresh Greens, For Garnish
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Using a rolling pin or wine bottle, roll 1 sheet of puff pastry to form a 15-inch by 11-inch rectangle. Using a knife, gently mark (without cutting through the dough) a border about 1-inch from the edge of the dough around the perimeter, to create a frame. Using a fork, prick the dough inside the frame (this allows steam to escape and prevents pockets while the baking). Transfer the dough to a lightly-oiled sheet pan.
In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water to create an egg wash. Brush the egg wash onto the border of the dough. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the border is golden brown and the dough seems almost cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before topping.
Using a spoon, evenly spread the crème fraiche over the dough, inside the frame; season with salt and pepper. Carefully arrange your toppings to create a landscape. For example, asparagus stalks, chives and ramps as “grass,” a cracked egg as the “sun,” or tomato slices to form a “flower.” Get creative!
Return the tart to the oven and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the dough is cooked through and the egg whites are cooked but the yolk is still soft. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the fresh greens and serve. Don’t forget to share your masterpieces with us! We always love to see how you’re playing with your food. Show us with #blueapron and #TartArt on Instagram!
And, if you need a last minute present, you can always give mom a Blue Apron gift box plus an I.O.U for two (or four) nights of family cooking.
Blue Apron meals are pre-portioned so you can avoid extra ingredients cluttering up your refrigerator, but sometimes you may be cooking for one or simply can’t finish your half of the Chicken, Baby Artichoke & Spinach Casserole.
Leftovers happen–but they don’t have to go to waste. Though simple microwave reheating can’t always get your dish back to its former just-cooked glory, our tips will help you reinvigorate almost anything that’s been left languishing in your fridge.
First things first: Be sure to tightly wrap your leftovers before storing them to prevent as much water loss as possible, and for safety’s sake, don’t let foods sit out for hours before you chill them. The USDA recommends refrigerating leftovers within two hours and eating them within three to four days.
HOW TO REHEAT…
That perfectly seared medium-rare hanger steak will never taste the same as it did hot off the grill, but America’s Test Kitchen has a simple tip for reheating steak: Reheat it like you cooked it, but in reverse. Warm the steak in the oven until its center reaches 110°F, then sear it on both sides on the stovetop over high heat.
Reheated rice can sometimes get crunchy or mushy. Avoid this by placing the rice in a microwave-safe bowl with an ice cube tucked into the middle. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a hole to let steam out. Zap it for a minute and a half and voilà your coconut rice is soft and fluffy again.
Try steaming scrambled eggs or a leftover frittata for 5 to 8 minutes to avoid the dry, rubbery texture that comes from microwaving eggs. If you’re heating up quiche, wrap it in foil and warm it in the oven at 300°F for 20 to 25 minutes.
According to Andrew Janjigian, associate editor at Cook’s Illustrated, the best tool for reheating pizza is a griddle, but a lidded skillet will also do. Place the slices on a cold griddle, cover, set the temperature to 200°F. You’ll get a crisp crust and gooey cheese after baking for 30 minutes.
Pasta with sauce can be reheated in the microwave. RecipeTips.com suggests you place the leftover pasta in a deep baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap (try not to let it touch the pasta) and leave one corner slightly open to allow steam to escape. Microwave on medium power for one and a half minutes. Check to see if it is warmed through. If it’s not, continue to cook in 15-second intervals until it is.
PopSugar has good tips for reheating pasta on the stove: Start off by melting a pat of butter or oil in a large saucepan. Add the pasta along with 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (whichever was used to make the sauce). Stir until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is soft.
To reheat a dish of lasagna, preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a skewer to evenly poke holes all the way through the lasagna noodles. Fill these holes with a total of a couple tablespoons of milk or water. Cover the dish with foil, tightly sealing the edges, and bake for about 20 minutes.
Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn of amazingribs.com says to wrap the meat in two layers of foil along with 1/4 cup of water or stock. If you are using barbecue sauce, slather the meat all over. Place the foil-wrapped meat on a baking pan and heat in a preheated oven set to 225°F for about an hour. Unwrap the ribs and place under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes with the door open until the sauce begins to bubble. Turn the ribs over and broil for a few more minutes until sauce is bubbly on that side, too.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place a dab of butter or a tablespoon of white wine on the leftover fish and seal it inside a tinfoil pocket. Place it directly on the oven rack for 10 to 15 minutes, until warmed through.
The guys at Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken say your best chance at a decent reprise meal is to throw leftover pieces on a baking sheet and bake uncovered at 250°F for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat up a little oil in a skillet and toss in the fries. Sauté for a few minutes until hot and crispy. Like anything fried, those taters might not every be the same.
The New York Times suggests you spread your turkey leftovers on a baking pan, cover it with foil, and bake at 325°F for 30 minutes. Crisp up any skin pieces under the broiler, uncovered.
A thick soup will splatter if you reheat it in a microwave. Instead, heat it up on your stovetop over medium heat and let it simmer slowly. Patience is key here, because high heat will quickly cause liquid to evaporate.
Food52 cofounder Amanda Hesser suggests you reheat that slice in the oven at 200°F for 20 minutes. “You want it warm, not hot,” she says. If the pie filling is gooey, use tinfoil to encase the cut sides to keep the filling from spilling out.
Pop yester-morning’s flapjacks into the toaster oven for 5 to 10 minutes at 350°F.
Place cold muffins on a baking tray and cover with tinfoil. Heat in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes to warm them through, then uncover and continue for another 3 to 5 minutes to crisp up the tops, which we can all agree is the most important part.
Risotto becomes very dry when kept in the refrigerator, which is why steaming is the best way to reheat it. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a bowl of leftover risotto into the steamer basket. Cover and reduce heat to low. This technique takes some time, but it keeps your risotto fresh. Add a dab of butter or some wine to bring back its creaminess.
It’s virtually impossible not to make a mess while cooking. After all, you’re trying to make a culinary pièce de résistance, not win first prize for a sparkling kitchen! So when spills and splatters do happen, check out some easy ways to get your kitchen counters and workspaces spick-and-span.
Clean while you cook
This is the first rule of thumb for cleaning your counters: clean up as you go. Professional chefs may look like they never make a mess, but that’s because they’re taught to wipe up spills in culinary school to avoid messiness that could later taint their food or interfere with their workspace. Be like them and keep a damp sponge, bottle of wipes or wet dishtowel handy. Wipe spills when they are made to cut down on your final cleaning time. Dried-on spills and food are tougher to clean, so get them while they’re fresh.
Even if you ignore this advice most of the time, for highly pigmented foods like berries or sauces, really do clean spills right away–especially if you have porous countertops that stain easily, like white marble or wood. A quick scrub with dishwashing liquid gets even tough-to-remove turmeric off your counter if you clean immediately after contact.
Basic method for cleaning
If you do have dried-on splatters or stains, apply a little hot soapy water from a kitchen sponge or bowl of soapy water. Let it soak for a few minutes and wipe that mess away! The water should be as hot as you can stand it – cold water doesn’t play so nice with grease. For really stubborn stains (like rust), add a shake of Bar Keepers Friend to the offending mark, let sit for a few minutes and wipe.
For spotlessly clean countertops, use disinfectant disposable wipes. Or, mix a teaspoon of mild disinfectant or white vinegar with water and wipe surfaces with a sponge; rinse with soapy water. Hate the smell of vinegar? Do another rinse of water with lemon juice or a drop of eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree or lemon essential oil to freshen. Here’s one more tip: keep a spray bottle with these premixed solutions ready to avoid making each time.
All surfaces are not created equal
It’s best to follow manufacturers’ instructions to clean special materials, like copper and wood (they can require special polishes to keep them at their best). Clean stainless steel, granite, and marble with the basic method.
But–and this really is the key!–surfaces get more and more difficult to clean the longer the grime on them sits and dries. Wiping up spills right away makes your total cleaning effort when you’re done cooking much easier. And that’s good. Because you still have washing your pots and pans to look forward to.