So You Want To Know Eric King's Go-Tos?
Crispy. Brown butter. Chocolate chip cookies. Sold.
Even for the most joyful of little chefs among us, sometimes cooking is just… practical. That was certainly the case for me this week, who found the cooking between my many, many tasty meals out more based in self-preservation than self-love. And that’s ok! That’s what big bowls of random, innocuous ingredients loosely strung together and topped with chile crisp, tahini, or both, are for! This philosophy also rings true for baker, recipe developer, and food photographer Eric King, a.k.a. the pastry magician behind the blog Easy Gay Oven. In between making and styling truly stunning bakes, King finds cooking, “more practical than enjoyable”, calling on many dishes familiar to Gab & I; big salads, bowls of brown butter-laden pasta & saucy noodles, and comfort food galore. Oh, and chewy, crunchy cookies too, because why not? We’ve got his menu of staples plus our Best Bites of the Week, although both Gab and I have had a week of extravagant bites, so rather than one top mouthful, they’re a list of delicious bites, both made from scratch and by chefs, from restaurants on the East Coast and the West one.
SO YOU WANT TO KNOW ERIC KING’S GO-TO RECIPES?
With my blog easygayoven, I mainly focus on publishing recipes and tips for the home baker, while also sharing recipes from other sources. However, I try to show on my Instagram Stories the savory things I make for breakfast, lunch and dinner that might interest or inspire the people who follow me. The honest truth is, for me, cooking is more practical than enjoyable. I try to do it as often as I can for two reasons: firstly, because I find it easier to eat better (better meaning food that’s nourishing and makes me feel good, not necessarily “healthy”) and secondly, and more importantly, because it’s more affordable than takeout. (Joke’s on me because I can regularly be found buying $13 cheese, $10 chocolate, and $9 eggs.) All that being said, here are some recipes that I just can’t quit, and will always return to for satisfying dinners — and a bonus dessert!
Pasta With Sausage, Squash and Sage Brown Butter: Of all of my subscriptions, I’ll never get rid of my NYT Cooking one. The site and app are well-designed, letting me save and organize the recipes I like or want to try. And, the recipes are really reliable, especially for easy-ish dinners that I know will turn out. Anything by Ali Slagle is pretty much a guaranteed hit for me at this point (like this turmeric & black pepper chicken), but this warm, buttery pasta is the perfect fall or winter meal. But that won’t stop me from making it all year round.
1770 House Meatloaf: As someone who has almost all of her books (two of them are signed, thanks), and a real Barefoot Contessa apron *from her house* (long story), I’m an expert on the Ina Garten recipe canon. I make her Beatty’s chocolate cake every year for my birthday, and when I’m really needing some comfort food, I make this meatloaf from her book, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof. It is… huge. Like, the size of a football, so maybe halve the recipe or you’ll be eating it for the next week — which wouldn’t be the worst thing!
Sesame Noodles: I’ve been making this all the time (which means like once every two weeks). Sometimes I throw in sliced green onions or grilled asparagus, sometimes I sear little cubes of tofu. Sometimes I use rice noodles, sometimes I use spaghetti. I always add garlic, and sometimes I throw in grated ginger if I have it. Anyway, here is a very rough approximation of how I make the sauce: In a glass measuring cup or small mixing bowl, I pour, oh, I don’t know, ¼ cup of neutral oil, ¼ cup of dark sesame oil, a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a few tablespoons of rice vinegar, a tablespoon or so of sugar or honey, maybe 2 teaspoons of sambal oelek, two cloves of grated garlic and if I’m really feeling it, a heaping spoonful of smooth peanut butter. Whisk everything together (an immersion blender makes this really easy.) You’ll want to taste it and adjust from there. If it’s too oily, add more rice vinegar and soy sauce. If it’s too salty or tangy, add more sesame oil and/or sweetener. If the peanut butter makes it too thick, dilute it with some water. Prepare whichever noodles you choose as directed and toss them with just enough sauce to coat them and save whatever’s left. You can also use the leftover sauce to marinate the tofu in. It crisps up so nice in a sauté pan.
Crispy Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies: Unless I’m re-testing them, I don’t often make my own recipes because I’m just… onto the next thing! But these are one glaring exception. This is one of the most-visited recipe pages on easygayoven.com. Once you get past the brown butter, they’re super simple — oh, and did I mention they only require a 15-minute chill/rest time? I included them in my 2021 holiday cookie boxes and my friend (no bias there) called them “quite literally the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had.” Others who got the box ranked them as number 1 out of the 9 options. They’re crispy, crinkly, with a nutty, toffee-like flavor, not too sweet and just thin enough that you’ll have trouble stopping yourself from going for another.
BBOTW (BEST BITES OF THE WEEK):
Gab: I’ve had a week of making and eating things that turn out to be exponentially more delicious than expected. It all started when I ordered a haul from Davocadoguy for my Super Bowl party last weekend and transformed the flawless, buttery avocados and soft, juicy limes into chunky, cilantro-heavy guac for my guests. It turned out perfect, and was as delicious a topping for a simple, salty corn tortilla chip as it was for these tangy, slight-spicy, crispy, perfect-for-dipping corn chips. Then, I baked a batch of these lemon bars a la Cook’s Illustrated that sliced into stunning layers of soft but sturdy shortbread and sweet but intensely tart filling. Finally, the fanciest box of chocolates I’ve ever received also ended up being the most luxurious-tasting. My favorite bites were the first tiny ones of chocolate pearls and the last one, a big chunk out of the intense, dark chocolate, ganache-filled heart.
Court: On my unofficial mission to create the world’s greatest Google Maps guide to LA food, we hit a plethora of both new and classic spots last week. Among the BBs: everything at All Time (especially their cinnamon roll), an array of delicious, meticulous plates of raw fishes from Ceviche Project, a spicy (yes, spicy!) smoothie from Jitlada that hit in a way I never thought a blended bevvie could, and of course, plenty of ice cream. Standouts of the frozen variety include the vegan(!) matcha/ube swirl from SomiSomi, another vegan(!) choco-banana swirl from my true love, Magpies, and a scoop of what may be one of the most unique flavors I’ve ever tried, the shio koji ice cream from Iki Ramen. But some of my BBOTWs did come from my own kitchen, the best of which was choux hearts filled with Diaspora Chai Masala-infused pastry cream and farmer’s market berries — true romance in a bite.