Weather is the biggest factor in determining what’s for dinner in my home. And during this, the winter that refuses to end here in Minnesota, I’ve been in the mood for nothing but cozy, unfussy classics—which is an apt description of Katie Quinn Davies’ cookbook, “What Katie Ate.” A graphic designer-turned-photographer/food stylist/blogger, Davies is the whole package. Loaded with brilliant recipes and stunning photos, each page is more beautiful than the next, making this the perfect book to snuggle up with (and cook from) on a cold winter’s eve. Here’s what we tried our hands at in the Betty Crocker Kitchens.
Orecchiette with Roast Tomatoes & Pecorino Cream Sauce
Few things can repair a broken spirit in the middle of an Upper Midwest winter like a heaping bowl of pasta in cream sauce. And this recipe certainly delivers with its spirit-lifting flavors and generous portions (warning: it says it serves four, but I would definitely serve it as a main dish for six adults, no problem).
This is a straightforward recipe with several steps, but it’s easy to multitask (roasting the tomatoes while browning the pancetta, blanching the peas, toasting the pine nuts and bringing the pasta water to a boil). Although the recipe doesn’t call for it, I drained the grease once the pancetta was nice and crisp, because there was a lot of it, and I didn’t want it to separate in the heavy cream and pecorino, which melted beautifully.
I also used two large vine-ripened tomatoes instead of several small ones, and they worked just fine; I cut one in half for a pretty garnish and chopped the other one to toss over the completed dish along with the pine nuts and a little fresh parmesan. So good! —Erin Madsen, executive editor
What the heck is a friand, you ask? A dainty little French cake, sort of muffin-esque in its shape, only more spongy and delicious than any muffin ever. As far as baking projects go, this one was easy to tackle: it only took half an hour from start to finish and was easy to follow. In addition to plenty of good old fashioned butter, Katie’s recipe called for a combination of almond flour and regular flour that created a well-balanced texture and taste—not too soft, not too hard, and sweet without being overwhelmingly rich. A duo of sweet-tart raspberries topped each individual cake before they went into the oven for about 25 minutes. When I took them out, I gave them a dusting of powdered sugar and bit into my very first friand. The center was so immaculately buttery and warm that I instantly popped two more into my mouth without much thought. Later that day, a friend stopped by to have a bite and nonchalantly did the same. Lesson learned: keep your friands close and your enemies eating friands, because then they will no longer be enemies. These would be perfect for a baby shower, brunch or any old day you have 30 minutes to bake and a craving only a certain kind of cake can satisfy. —Claire Davidson, associate editor
Beef and Guinness Pie
Every St. Patrick’s Day, I invite my big brother over for an evening of hearty comfort food and whiskey drinking. On the lookout for a new dish to serve, I spied a deep-dish pot pie in Davies’ book, packed with organic beef, veggies and my favorite full-bodied black beer. Adding Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes was a last-minute decision that lent the silky gravy extra depth. While this dish required a little more hands-on time than my go-to slow cooker corned beef, the resulting dish so luscious and well worth the extra work. —Meghan McAndrews, senior editor
Mini Pork, Apple and Pistachio Rolls
No one wants to be the fifth person to show up at a cocktail party with a cheese ball. Enter these light, flaky and slightly sweet sausage rolls. Guaranteed, no one else will have anything even close (or as impressive!). They’re slightly time-consuming, but what recipe that serves 90 isn’t? And it’s not difficult or fussy work. In fact, once I got in my zone, it was rather therapeutic: spoon, roll, cover in poppy seeds, then on to the next one. I did notice that a little puff pastry goes a long way, so there’s no need to cut the squares larger than the recommended 2x3 inches. And to really make these guys sing, it’s important to have a dip or four at the ready—ketchup is a no-brainer (bonus points if you make your own), and a variety of mustards should do the trick. —Kayla Knudson, managing editor