So You Want to Bake Like Gracie?
A day-off menu from the queen of cookies, Gracie Baked, plus some Sifted news.
How’d you spend your time Snowed In™? Personally speaking, we’ve spent the last few weeks inside strategizing what readers want from Sifted and the best ways to get them those things. We have some big ideas, ones that require more time and bandwidth than we’ve been able to dedicate until now. Hopefully, these changes will add a little more structure and search-ability to Sifted, helping it serve the purpose it was born to better: to take the guesswork out of breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, really anything and everything you want to eat. In order to do all of that, we’re pausing all paid subscriptions starting today, February 1st. That means you—yes, all of you— will get all the Sifted we’ve got to give including guides, original recipes, and recipe reccs. You can still expect a menu from us or a guest every week, and speaking of, we have Gracie a.k.a. @graciebaked, maker of the thick, gooey, stuffed cookies you’ve probably seen while scrolling through Instagram, here to tell us about what she cooks when she’s not baking those.
GRACIE’S 2022 PLANS
I honestly avoid cooking at all costs, especially after a long day of baking. I’m tired, I’m lazy, and I’m not the best cook. Baking is a science, cooking is an art, or so they say. With cooking, you can constantly add ingredients, taste and try and modify as you go; there seems to be little structure, recipes can feel like suggestive guidelines, and I get lost. But… a girl’s gotta eat. So occasionally I venture into the kitchen, forgo the chocolate chips for some herbs, and attempt to make a meal. Here are some of my ‘recipes’ for when the moon turns blue and I cook:
Chicken Bread: This is a dish created by my friend Julia. It’s one I have eaten many, many times, but never actually made myself. I usually hover around the kitchen, watch with trepidation as she handles a whole chicken and then take my assigned seat at the island ripping herbs for the salad. But Julia is in South Carolina, and I figured if I was going to include this recipe, I should make it first. As it turns out, it was pretty freakin’ easy and insanely delicious. At the end of it all you have a lemony, garlicky chicken with the most incredibly crisp and juicy chicken-soaked bread.
If you have the time and the care, salt the chicken for a few hours before you cook it. This helps get the skin crispy. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat your oven to 400°F. In a large cast iron skillet, or any other heavy-bottomed roasting pan (this is crucial, otherwise that juicy, crispy chicken bread that the whole recipe is really all about will burn), place thick-cut slices of bread (French bread, ciabatta, etc). Then, place the chicken, breast-side down, on top. Grab a bunch of garlic and shallots (whole or halved) and shove them inside the chicken, along with half a lemon. You don’t need to use thyme, but Julia strongly suggests it. After the chicken is plump and loaded, you’re going to nestle more garlic and more shallots (skin on, otherwise they will burn) around the chicken. Thyme, too. Then, pour about 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the chicken, squeeze some lemon on top and pop that baby in the oven. Every 20ish minutes, or whenever you can be bothered to do so, tilt the chicken, until all the juices that have accumulated in the cavity pour out onto your bread. I cooked a 4-pound chicken for about an hour.
To accompany the chicken bread, make a shallot salad. I highly recommend using a mandoline — while not essential, it will revolutionize your salad-making game. Grab a base (kale, cabbage, etc.), mandoline a ton of celery, rip a bunch of herbs (dill is my go-to), toss in a handful of nuts or seeds, and a crumbly cheese (like feta). For the dressing: mandoline a large shallot to add to a nice amount of mustard. Add apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, then as much olive oil as you want. Salt and pepper, taste and modify.
Toast 2 Ways: I discovered the joys of toast when my roommate got an air fryer. There’s something about heating up an entire oven for toast that seems ridiculous and time consuming. But the air fryer… It’s just perched on the counter, sitting all pretty, waiting, begging to turn bread into toast. Not only is it quick and easy, but you just can’t beat the ASMR of spreading butter on top of that crispy surface. When I make toast for dinner I like to make it 2 ways: first we have our savory, breakfast-y toast. Slice up some bread (I like pumpernickel), toast it in the air fryer, schmear on some cream cheese and top with a generous dollop of whitefish salad (preferably from Shipwreck Seafood Boutique in Bed-Stuy). Finish with pickled red onions, a squeeze of lemon juice and dill. Toast Way 2 is a sweet and tangy combination, perfectly encapsulating my Jewish and Argentinian sides. Slice up and toast some challah (preferably Challah Dolly), lather with butter, then goat cheese, a hefty drizzle of dulce de leche and if you’ve got it, chunky sea salt.
Oreo Balls: I love having frozen, poppable desserts around for snacking, in case of emergencies, or if you need to bribe someone to help dig your car out of the snow. Grab a pack of Oreos, an 8oz block of cream cheese, and a bowl. If you have pent up anger (who doesn’t?!) put the Oreos in a bag and whack the sh*t out of them with whatever you have in your kitchen — wooden spoons and rolling pins work well — and think about whoever or whatever it is that’s making you mad. Continue until small chunks remain, then transfer them to a bowl and add the cream cheese (it helps if it’s room temp). Mix the crumbs and cream cheese together until you have a homogeneous mixture. You can use a spatula, but I honestly find using my hands is easier. If it’s too crumbly, add more cream cheese, too wet, more Oreos. Roll into balls and freeze. Melt some chocolate and dip the balls into it. Return them to the freezer until you’re ready to eat. Variations: Add peanut butter, chocolate chips, mint extract, whatever other flavors you want. If you’re feeling fancy, top the balls with sea salt or maybe a white chocolate drizzle.
Bonus dessert: I live close to Mekelburg’s which has the bougiest (albeit a tad expensive, but worth it) frozen food section. For dessert, you can find my all-time favorite ice cream, Graeter’s. (Sifted can confirm the greatness of Graeter’s.) Get any flavor, as long as it’s a chip flavor, but really you should just get Black Raspberry Chip, or Mint Chip and Mocha Chip (you have to get both and eat them together). And if it just so happens to suit your fancy, grab some Gracie Baked cookies on your way out. Make a cookie ice cream sandwich, mash cookies into the ice cream Cold Stone style, or warm them in the oven (350°F, 5 minutes) and make a hot-cold ice cream sundae.
BBOTW (BEST BITES OF THE WEEK):
drivensat in the passenger seat for nine hours feeding my boyfriend Chex Mix to and from Maine enough times to find a solid road trip routine: three homemade sandwiches to eat between 11am and 3pm, a 4:30pm stop for the aforementioned Chex Mix, arrive in the evening hungry. On our most recent drive home, though, we found ourselves without any homemade sandwiches and noticeably empty stomachs just as we were approaching Portland. After consulting Portland resident Emily Schultz’s restaurant map of the city, we placed and picked up a laughably large order from Banh Appetit, including a vermicelli salad plate and crusty banh mi. Both were stuffed with their absolutely perfect BBQ pork, but the thick, eggy, umami-heavy mayo on the banh mi is what I can’t stop thinking about days later.
Court: What do I do when I’m stuck inside in below-freezing temps, daydreaming of summer vacations past? Try to induce a Proustian moment by recreating the foods I ate at on said vacation. This pork Chile Verde did just that, transporting us from a semi-functioning NYC kitchen in a snow storm to the dry heat and ‘Christmas’ Chiles of New Mexico in August. Charring produce over an open flame or under a hot broiler is 1. fun and 2. an excellent way to add depth of flavor in a short span of time. Stewed for hours on a low simmer instead of in the oven because of the aforementioned semi-functioning kitchen, the result was tender, pleasantly verdant, and tasted better with each passing day, especially when paired with a fatty topping like cheese or crema and some fresh lime juice and cilantro. It’s just the ticket if you’re looking for something to distract from how quickly snow goes from mesmerizing to mush in this godforsaken city.