Our Favorite Cooking Projects
Having more time at home means more time for project cooking. Which does not mean cumbersome or difficult cooking. The best kind of project cooking is a fun activity that you can really sink your teeth into—the kind of stuff you can make a day of. Some of these recipes take a lot of inactive time while you wait for an ingredient to be ready (anything fermented or cured, like kimchi or gravlax), and some might be beyond what you’re up for on a typical weeknight (like making pretzels or marmalade). Others come together more quickly but benefit from busting out the assembly line, making a big batch, and freezing for future meals (like ravioli and dumplings).
Who knew DIY gravlax was within reach. This takes a couple of days but is as easy as sprinkling salt onto a piece of fish. The grated beets give the salmon a beautiful red color.
Salt-Cured Egg Yolk
This is absolutely delicious as a dairy-free Parmesan substitute. Extracting the water from the yolk concentrates the fat, and the curing process brings out the umami flavor. We like it grated over pastas, salads, and risottos or blended into dressings to add creaminess.
Duck Confit with Green Salt
Duck confit may sound like it’s too deluxe to make at home, but it’s surprisingly simple. It just takes some planning. You’ll want to salt the duck at least overnight before slowly simmering until fork-tender. Then it can be stored in its own fat and kept for up to a month. When you’re ready, remove from the fat and prepare the duck any number of ways: seared, in cassoulet, or in duck fried rice.
Chicken, Cabbage, and Zucchini Dumplings
Dumplings freeze beautifully, so if you’re going to make them, you might as well make a giant batch for future dinners. It’s fun to set up your dumpling station and start crimping with a friend. You can steam, pan-fry, or boil them fresh or frozen.
Three-Cheese Tortellini en Brodo
Similar to dumplings, these tortellini cook nicely from frozen, so make a few extra batches to stash in the freezer. To prepare them with brodo, bring the broth to a boil and drop the frozen tortellini in. They’ll rise to the top when they’re done—it should take only a few minutes. Then you’ve got the most comforting, warm bowl of aromatic broth filled with pillowy cheese tortellini.
Cauliflower and Collard Kimchi
Caroline Hwang shared this kimchi recipe with us. (It’s not traditional per se; she shared some more traditional versions with us, too.) The combination of cauliflower, collard, and caraway seeds is so savory and addictive. Plus, this recipe has a pretty quick turnaround for at-home ferments—you’ll be able to eat your kimchi as soon as three days after making it.
If you’re new to making jam, marmalade is a good place to start. Citrus peel is naturally high in pectin, so getting the right consistency is nearly foolproof. Flavorwise, the key to any marmalade is the balance between tart and sweet. The addition of grapefruit here gives a fragrant floral note, and our favorite way to serve it is on buttery toast, swirled into yogurt, or on a warm muffin.
Dark Stout Pretzel Bites
There are a few moving parts to this recipe, but it is well worth it. You can of course shape them however you like (logs or traditional twists) but the bites are a good place to start. We loved them dunked into a spicy, grainy mustard alongside a crisp lager.
Pumpkin Pie Macarons
If the multiple steps seem daunting, you can always cheat by filling them with a quick or store-bought frosting. Just use a simple vanilla and add the pumpkin spice mixture and canned pumpkin. No one will know the difference.
Powdered Sugar Beignets
All the warm, sweet, golden-fried doughiness of a doughnut, but with a lot less work. Serve with hot cocoa or chicory coffee à la Café du Monde.