Stovetop Naan with Fresh Herbs and Garlic


Stovetop Naan with Fresh Herbs and Garlic

Living a year in England gave me a love of Indian food that would last all my life. But I never thought I could create my own naan, the yeast-risen flatbread essential to Indian cuisine... until I pulled out the iron skillet .

Naan dough is only a simple flour mixture moistened by yogurt that needs a really hot surface to cook. It seemed natural to let the skillet mimic the floor of the tandoori oven. And so, I set to work.

Naan is an old Indian bread, and some people believe it originally came from Persia (Iran). Because it contained yeast and a good bit of technique to pull off, it was considered a bread of the wealthy and royal households. Thus you see all the elaborate naan fillings on the menu at Indian restaurants. Fruits, coconut, meat, anything can be added to naan when your budget allows it. Today, we can make a much simpler version in our own kitchens.

This recipe makes about a dozen, so save this for parties where Indian or grilled foods with nice sauces are served. Flatbreads like naan seem to capture and soak up all the delicious flavors on the plate. Or, they can be served as a snack or appetizer with hummus. Yum!


Makes: 12 to 15 naan | Prep: 20 to 25 minutes | Rise: 1 1/2 hours | Cook: 2 to 3 minutes, per batch

1/4 cup warm water
1 package (.25 ounces; 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (6 ounces) whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) plain full-fat yogurt
Vegetable oil for oiling your hands and bowl
Flour for dusting the work surface
4 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano)
Kosher salt, for sprinkling

  1. Measure the water into a 1-cup glass measure. Stir in the yeast and sugar until dissolved. Set the yeast mixture aside to bubble up, about 6 to 8 minutes.

  2. Place the flour, baking powder, and soda in a large bowl, and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and add the yeast mixture, milk, and yogurt. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. With oiled hands, knead the dough until it becomes a smooth ball, about 3 to 4 minutes. Brush vegetable oil in a large bowl, and turn the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap, and place the bowl in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

  3. Punch down the dough with your fist, and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead it lightly and divide into 12 to 15 equal pieces. Roll each piece with a small rolling pin, dusted with flour, until it is about 1/4-inch thick and about 6 to 7 inches across.

  4. Place a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke.

  5. Brush each naan with melted butter or olive oil. Press the garlic slices into the dough. Place two or three naan at a time into the skillet. Cook over medium heat until the dough puffs up on top and is lightly browned on the side next to the pan, about 1 minute. Turn the naan. Sprinkle with a few fresh herbs. Cover the skillet, and cook about 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove the naan to a platter and drizzle with more melted butter or olive oil, if desired. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Repeat with the remaining naan.

Morning Glory Muffins


Morning Glory Muffins

One of my favorite muffin recipes is also one of the healthiest.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love a great blueberry muffin. And I adore chocolate muffins with dried cherries and chocolate chips. But I just might choose Morning Glory over those two because it is packed with all kinds of great ingredients - carrots, coconut, nuts, cinnamon - and is fun to experiment with if you don’t have those ingredients!

This muffin meets carrot cake has the cinnamon spice and richness we love in carrot cake, but without the heavy cream cheese frosting. It’s a breakfast muffin, something you don’t feel guilty about feeding to children or to yourself on weekday mornings.

I make a bunch of these and freeze them, which allows me to grab and go. With a cup of my home-brewed tea, I’ve got a cheap, healthy, and glorious way to start the day!


Makes: 12 to 14 muffins | Prep: 10 to 15 minutes | Bake: 18 to 23 minutes

1/2 cup raisins, softened in hot water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated peeled carrots
1 apple, peeled and grated
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
3 large eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Set aside a muffin pan with 12 wells. Soak the raisins in hot water to cover and set aside.

  2. Place the flour, brown sugar, soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the carrots, apple, coconut, and pecans. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, oil, orange juice, and vanilla. Drain and fold in the raisins. Stir the ingredients together until just mixed.

  3. Spray the muffin pan with vegetable oil spray or line with paper liners. Scoop batter into the pan, filling each well nearly to the top. The batter will fill 12 to 14 wells. Place the pan in the oven, and bake until the muffins brown and are just firm on top, 18 to 23 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Overnight Refrigerator Rolls

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Overnight Refrigerator Rolls

As much as I love crusty bread baked in a wood-fired oven, one of my favorite breads insn’t crusty at all. It’s those soft and Southern yeast rolls, which are as much a part of my food story as cornbread or biscuits.

My mother made yeast rolls each and every time company came to visit. And when she was in a hurry, she made overnight rolls.

Overnight rolls, refrigerator rolls, icebox rolls, sometimes called “Frigidaire” rolls, this do-ahead bread dough goes by myriad names. It’s an age-old concept, perfected in the 1930s when women were busy in the workforce, so meals were planned ahead. And with a little forethought, and a refrigrator, bread was freshly baked and served warm at each meal.

The concept of setting dough aside for a longer, slower rise has been around for generations, or at least, until refrigeration came on the scene. You see, cooler temps slow down the growth of yeast, which means the rising dough stands still in the fridge until pulled out and placed in a warm spot to begin rising again.

And the added bonus is that while the dough seems slow to rise, it is developing flavor and its texture is improving. Dough left to rest in cold temperatures overnight will be easier to work with the next day. It will be less sticky and require less flour for rolling out, and thus, the bread doesn’t dry out from too much flour.

Overnight rolls just taste better, too. And whatever you like to call them, these rolls are a nice addition to your baking repertoire. They freeze well, too, if there are any left!


Makes about 4 dozen | Prep: 20 minutes | Rise: 1 hour, plus 30 minutes at room temperature, plus overnight in refrigerator | Bake: 15 to 18 minutes

1 1/2 cups cubed, peeled potatoes (from 1 medium russet potato)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more, melted for brushing and greasing
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 cup whole-wheat flour

  1. In a small saucepan, cover the potatoes with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.

  2. Place the reserved cooking water and the butter back into the small saucepan and heat to 110 degrees over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the yeast to dissolve.

  3. Transfer the cooked potatoes to a large bowl and mash. Stir in the sugar, eggs and salt. Stir in the yeast mixture, followed by the flours. Continue to mix with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until smooth. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, place in the fridge at least overnight, and for up to three days.

  4. When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a shallow baking pan or two, depending on the number of rolls you are baking.

  5. Remove as much dough as you like from the bowl, and, on a lightly-floured surface, press into a round about 1/2 inch thick. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut into rounds.

  6. For round rolls, place the cut rounds side-by-side in the prepared pan and brush the tops with melted butter. For Parker House rolls, dip the rounds in melted butter and fold the dough over as if you are closing a book. Place side-by-side in the pan, and brush the tops with additional butter. Either way, place in a warm place in the kitchen to rise for about 30 minutes.

  7. Bake until the rolls are golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve warm.

Iron Skillet Cornbread

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Iron Skillet Cornbread

The best cornbread is crusty on the outside and creamy inside. It’s all about the crust.

And to achieve this perfect cornbread, you need the right ingredients, like a seasoned cast-iron skillet, and some know-how. First up - make a creamy and pourable batter. It should be more like pancake batter than cake batter, able to slide out of the mixing bowl and into the hot skillet.

You also need the right cornmeal, which is preferably white and finely ground. The easiest route is to use self-rising cornmeal, which has the leavening in it. Add to that full-fat buttermilk and lots of it. You want the acidic twang of buttermilk and can even use full-fat plain yogurt stirred into whole milk in a pinch.

Whether to add eggs or skip the eggs is up to you. But I will add that purists down South prefer egg-less cornbread because it’s creamier in texture and not cakey.

Heat about 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet either on top of the stove or in the preheating oven. Always pour batter into a hot pan for the absolute crispiest crust. And once the cornbread is baked to golden brown perfection, turn it out onto a board or rack - don’t let it sit in the pan!

You want to slice that cornbread into crisp wedges and eat them hot with plenty of butter.


Makes: 8 to 10 servings | Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 12 to 15 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon grease
1 3/4 cups self-rising white cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups full-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Butter and honey for serving

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the oil or bacon grease in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and place the skillet in the oven while it heats.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and flour. Stir in the buttermilk and oil until smooth. The mixture should be creamy and pourable.

  3. Once the skillet is quite hot, carefully remove it from the oven, and pour in the batter. It should sizzle. Place the skillet in the oven, and let the cornbread bake until deeply browned on top and around the edges. The center should spring back when touched lightly with your finger, from 12 to 15 minutes.

  4. Remove the pan from the oven, run a knife around the edges, and turn the cornbread out onto a board to slice and serve.

My Grandmother's Spoonbread

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My Grandmother’s Spoonbread

The soft, ethereal cornbread known as “spoonbread,” used to be the souffle of the South. It was the most divine use of cornmeal, and no truly Southern cookbook was without a recipe for this bread to be served with a spoon. It was and still is the best example of how European culinary techniques married with native ingredients of the new world.

Although historians say the name has only been used to describe this bread since the end of the 19th Century, it is older and went by other names like “batter bread.” The Low Country, thanks to Sarah Rutledge in her 1847 The Carolina Housewife, has an “Owendaw” version, in which the cornmeal, butter, egg and milk batter is placed in a big pan with room to rise. She writes that it has the “delicacy of a baked custard.”

But of all the Southern states claiming to be spoonbread’s birthplace, Virginia is the most likely. Baked ham and spoonbread are woven in time, and in Virginia, spoonbread recipes took a decidedly French turn when the method of beating egg whites, and folding them into the cornmeal batter in a souffle-like method, created the high, puffy spoonbread we have grown to love.

Years ago, I studied spoonbread in great detail for Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I perfected a basic recipe, and then I went off in different directions to see if the recipe would allow cheese, shaved corn, shredded zucchini, and chopped ham to be incorporated. (The answer is yes.)

In my favorite spoonbread, white cornmeal is cooked with milk until very thick. I use no flour. Egg yolks are added for richness, and then egg whites are beaten into nearly stiff peaks and folded in carefully. No other leavening is needed.

It’s my grandmother’s recipe, and one that rested in her recipe box and now my recipe box and perhaps yours as I share it with you now.


Makes: 6 servings | Prep: 25 minutes | Cook: 40 to 45 minutes

Soft butter for greasing the pan
3 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup white cornmeal
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 large eggs

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart casserole or 8-cup souffle dish with the soft butter. Set aside.

  2. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the milk and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and once boiling, slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, whisking, until the mixture is very thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the butter, sugar, nutmeg, and cayenne. Continue to whisk until the butter melts.

  3. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a small bowl and the whites in a large stainless steel or glass bowl with a pinch of salt.

  4. Stir about a tablespoon of the cornmeal mixture into the egg yolks to raise their temperature. Repeat. Add the egg yolk mixture to the remaining cornmeal mixture and stir until smooth.

  5. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold the beaten whites into the cornmeal mixture until nearly smooth. Transfer to the prepared casserole and smooth the top.

  6. Bake until the spoonbread is golden brown and puffed, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve immediately.