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Burnt food is every cook’s nightmare, but you shouldn’t be afraid of a good char. It’s a fine line, but charring sweeter vegetables such as corn or sweet potatoes builds flavor by introducing a bit of bitterness that balances their natural sugars.

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NEW YORK (AP) — Trisha Yearwood is a collard greens kind of gal, but her husband, Garth Brooks, is definitely not a collard greens kind of guy. So she had to be a little sly when it came time to perfect her Collard-Stuffed Wontons.

My dad, Jack, used to reminisce about small fried apple fritters that his mother, Elizabeth, would make for him when he was a kid. Of course, like many passed-down family recipes, this one wasn’t written down anywhere, so Mama went to work, trying to figure out how to make them just like his mama had. That’s never an easy job, because our childhood memories often make those original flavors impossible to replicate. Beth and I remember those premade dough pockets sitting on the kitchen counter, and Mama frying them up in a cast iron skillet. We also remember how happy Daddy was with the result. We’re not surprised she got it right! Grandma Yearwood always fried with lard, but if that scares you, vegetable oil is perfectly fine!

After eating our way through Vietnam, it became clear that contrast was one of the defining features of the cuisine. Tender and crunchy. Spicy and fresh. Hot and cool. Many times all in the same dish.

Eton mess — Britain’s luscious mixture of berries, whipped cream and broken meringue cookies — takes its name from the English boarding school, where it is served during cricket matches. All the ingredients are layered in a jar, which gives the dessert an appealing premise.

Many Americans think of only a handful of countries when they hear the word Mediterranean. But that sea is surrounded by a diverse set of peoples and cuisines that have been blending — deliciously — for millennia.

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