Robin Bellinger

I spend most of my time daydreaming about what I'm going to make for dinner and wondering whether it's about time to bake some cookies.

  • Website
  • Location: Wellesley, MA
  • Favorite foods: steak, apples, bread and butter, gruyere, potatoes, Tex-Mex in Houston, hamburgers, milkshakes, sauteed leafy greens, salty caramels, grilled cheese, diner food in general, homemade strawberry shortcake, pound cake, vanilla ice cream
  • Last bite on earth: really good bread with really good butter

Eat for Eight Bucks: Green Pockets

Congrats, clt6156! I think this was originally a Deborah Madison recipe. (Attribution seems to have disappeared when this recipe migrated from old format to new?) Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is full of inspiration!

7-Layer Dip Showdown

I love this! I just did something very similar and did not think it was worth it for a dip...would have rather just had a nice bowl of guacamole. I have never had a seven layer dip that tastes as good as I remember it tasting when I was a teenager. The most important thing is just to leave off the canned black olives, ick.

HELP! with short ribs

Thanks for the reassurance, all--I didn't change a thing (it always looked as if there was enough liquid in the dish) and they were terrific.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Texas Turkey Hash

Hi, general millet is supposed to be soft and kind of fluffy. In this dish, the top layer of millet is sometimes ever so slightly crunchy for me, but it definitely shouldn't be crunchy below the surface. I like the idea of adding corn!

Sunday Brunch: Marion Cunningham's Oatmeal Pancakes

BronxAlicia, I have not tried it myself, but you probably can. This batter seemed quite thin to me, so making it with yogurt shouldn't thicken it up too much (i.e. it could stand to be a little thicker). You just want to make sure the griddle isn't too hot, because with a very thick batter the outside might burn before the center is cooked.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Ratatouille and Chickpeas

Hello, all, I apologize for not having made a note about the chickpeas. I just put my ratatouille on top of chickpeas that I had cooked separately and then put the chickpeas in the shopping list in order to tally up the total cost of the meal. You can cook your own chickpeas, put ratatouille on top of canned chickpeas that you have drained and rinsed, or forget about chickpeas and put ratatouille atop anything you like--rice, bread, couscous, baked potato, grilled is pretty versatile.

When I cook chickpeas, I either soak them overnight or boil them hard for 2 minutes and then let them sit in the boiling water, covered, for 2 hours. Either way, drain and rinse before covering with lots of cold water and then simmering very gently until they are soft throughout, usually about an hour for me but potentially much longer, depending on the chickpeas you get. I usually add a bay leaf, a heaping teaspoon of salt, and maybe part of an onion to the simmering water once it begins to bubble. I cook big batches of chickpeas and then freeze the extras in their cooking liquid in Mason jars--it's like making your own cans of beans.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Texas Turkey Hash

beerfoodie, I wondered the same thing myself. It should definitely "work" in terms of cooking all the way through. I think the textures of millet and ground meat bring out the best in each other, so I would prefer millet to both quinoa and rice. But I will probably get around to trying this with quinoa someday.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Pork Fried Rice

Hello--it seems when the recipe format changed, not every step migrated from the old stuff to the new. I just tried to update, but in case step 2 is still not showing up, I'll pate it here. Sorry it took me so long to take care of this:

The next day, preheat the oven to 375. Spread the pork in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet (it’s find if it’s crowded—it will shrink quite a lot). Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring and shaking occasionally, until the pork is browned crispy on all sides. Remove pork from the pan with a slotted spoon and spread on paper towel to drain.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Meat and Two Veg

Hi--the missing step just told how I make a simple carrot salad. I'm going to try to repost in the system, but in case that doesn't work, here it is again:

Make the carrot salad. Put aside 1 or 2 carrots. Use a box grater or your food processor to grate the rest of the carrots (I find that the box grater produces the nicest texture, but it’s such a pain in the neck). Put 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice in a bowl large enough to hold the grated carrots, season with salt and pepper, and whisk to emulsify. Toss the grated carrots with this dressing; taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

Sunday Brunch: Bacon, Leek, and Tomato Quiche

AmandE, I'm afraid I've never made a quiche with puff pastry before, so I'm not really sure. If you find a good method for the crust, though, I'm sure this filling would be great with it...albeit super super rich!

CheesePlease, I realized when I looked at the post that no tomatoes are visible in the photo. Sorry! They are in there, but this particular slice does not reveal them. The cookbook actually said to make a layer of leeks and then a layer of tomatoes, all topped by the egg-bacon mixture. But I didn't see how that would work with the volume of leeks I had, so I just laid the tomato slices on the crust and then scattered the leeks around and over them. Because the tomato slices did not completely cover the bottom of the crust, the bottom "layer" is a jumble of tomatoes and leeks, not exclusively one or the other. As for peeling, usually that is one step too picky for me, but I have to say that here I think it would actually be really nice not to have to deal with the tomato skins while eating the quiche. I don't know if you would peel before or after the brief frying, but I think that is a great idea!

Eat for Eight Bucks: Broiled Hanger Steak

Oh PS dhorst--I don't know what kind of corn this is--it's actually just from my reliable corner store, not the farmers' market. I'm always amazed by how good it is just cooked in the husk--no salt, no pepper, no fat, no nothing.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Broiled Hanger Steak

Yes, that big craggy thing is a biscuit. The butter I brushed it with was a little browned, and the top got a bit crispy! I never cut mine with a shaped cutter either, actually. I pat the dough out right on the baking sheet, cut it with a pastry cutter, and then pull the pieces a little bit apart. I think maybe I don't get the layers of flake that a skilled hand can get with a round cutter, but the biscuits are still mighty tasty.

My hanger steak cost $4.99/pound and came in around 1.3 pounds. To me, that's cheap for a piece of meat that isn't full of bones; I can tell you that it certainly looks cheap next to just about everything else in my butcher's case.

Sunday Brunch: Tomato-Basil Marmalade

Hi, sarahdlr--I did not cover the pan, and everything does happen in the oven. I don't know why he specifies a saucepan instead of a regular roasting pan or baking dish, but it worked out fine for me!

I don't know enough about canning, but there must be some way you could put this up. The amount of oil is very small, and you could make sure to use the scantest possible amount--however, as I said, I am no expert and so can't guarantee that you wouldn't end up with traces of rancid oil in your lovely marmalade.

Eat for Eight Bucks: Green Pockets

jlbrach, I froze mine after baking and cooling but have not yet defrosted them to see how that worked out.

I think cheese would be a GREAT addition. I will try that next time...

KimmieD, the inspiration was a recipe for vegetarian empanadas, but these didn't really taste like empanadas to me. The dough was not rich enough for that. But now I have to look up fatayer!

Eat for Eight Bucks: Pumpkin Seed Pesto

I used shelled pumpkin seeds. They are dark green and slightly larger than the pepitas (also shelled) I used to buy in New York, but I think either kind would work.

Sunday Brunch: Fish Hash

Wcchopper, it's funny you say that b/c my husband's comment was "this tricks you into thinking there's bacon in it." And I thought the potatoes here got the great texture they get when you cook them in bacon or duck fat.

Sunday Brunch: Baked Blintz Cake with Fresh Blueberry Sauce

Two pounds blueberries is correct.

Sunday Brunch: Spinach and Gruyère Strata

It's a matter of personal taste, of course, but I have tried substituting mild swiss for gruyere in similar recipes to save money and have never been satisfied. Maybe I just haven't found a mild swiss I like enough, but that's my two cents.

Sunday Brunch: Spinach and Gruyère Strata

Trabil22, I paid almost $9 for my gruyere at a Publix supermarket in Florida. I go back and forth on using gruyere in this kind of recipe--I love it, too, but it's so expensive that I sometimes decide I should just enjoy it in small quantities on its own and sub sharp cheddar for cooking. It depends on how flush I feel.

first time jam-maker

Thanks again for these tips. I made 4 pints of olallieberry jam, and everything looks to have set up and sealed up properly. My spaghetti pot is the perfect size to hold 4 of the short, squat kind of pint jar. I can forsee needing a pot that will hold more jars at once! But not quite yet.

Sunday Brunch: Spinach and Gruyère Strata

Sorry to have been unclear--the total amount of bread used in the recipe should be 8 ounces. The book was assuming that a loaf of French or Italian bread from the supermarket weighs a pound. Thanks for pointing out the ambiguity!

first time jam-maker

Thanks for all the answers. I'm good to go now--wish me luck!

Eat for Eight Bucks: Tofu with Tomatoes and Cilantro

The chicken I buy is never as inexpensive as $1.29 a pound, and, as I said, tofu is very convenient since it keeps for so long. I guess the main reason I keep trying new tofu recipes (at a rate of about once every two months, by the way--I am not exactly imposing a reign of tofu terror on my sweet husband) is that eventually I was sure to find one we all truly enjoyed. And in this one, I did!

Thanks for all the tips on crisping it up. I will keep at it (but not too often).

aureiden, Madhur Jaffrey often calls for cilantro to be cooked in her recipes, and she has not steered me wrong so far. The flavor is different from a fresh garnish but also very nice.

Sunday Brunch: Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

When I lived in New York, I loved to eat at EAT, where they always slice bagels into thirds. Although I was curious, I never got to try one because I always ordered something different, and then I read that Ina Garten slices bagels into thirds b/c Eli Zabar, who runs EAT, taught her to. We don't often have bagels at home, so I thought I would try the thirds this time. I enjoyed the way it looked, but more importantly, I appreciated the lower bagel-to-egg ratio the thirds afforded. That, however, is an entirely personal preference... is, lemons, the way you eat this dish. The authors of the cookbook say to eat it with a spoon, but I found that method unbearably rich. If your house is a just-folks kind of place (mine certainly is), you could eat the eggs on a bagel as pictured simply by picking up the pieces and biting right in. I ate the bottom two slices, the ones topped with egg and salmon, first, one at a time, and then I used the top slice to mop up the plate. You could try to eat it like a big fat sandwich, but I prefer to eat each slice individually. If you want to keep your hands clean, I suppose you could eat the bagels and eggs with a knife and fork, but that sounds a bit fussy to me. You could also tear the bagel into pieces instead of or in addition to slicing it and then use your fork to push some eggs onto each bite. You could spoon a bite of egg straight into your mouth and then chase it with a bite of bagel. It's really up to you.

Sunday Brunch: Brown Sugar Breakfast Cakelets

Dea89, that sounds so good! I have had great luck with whole wheat flour in cookies but have not really tried it in cake. I'm also intrigued by what olive oil might bring to these and look forward to trying it out. Thanks!

HELP! with short ribs

I am planning to braise some short ribs this afternoon. My recipe calls for the puck-shaped cut, but I brought home the long-cut kind. Will the recipe work about the same, or do I need to adjust cooking time? The braising liquid and vegetables only reach about a third of the way up the meat, and recipe does not call for dish to be covered.

I'm a little sad about how un-meaty they look. I feel as if I mostly bought bone and fat. I'm crossing my fingers anyway!

first time jam-maker

I am preparing to make and can jam for the first time and am wondering if I may safely use my pasta pot as a boiling canner. It has a colander insert that the jars could rest on during processing (in the simmering water, above the bottom of the pot), but they might rub shoulders--is that ok?

Sorry to seem like a slacker--I have been researching this online but thought I would throw the question out to an experienced crowd, too!

What to do with a pork bone?

Yesterday I cut most of the meat off of a bone-in pork butt (picnic shoulder) to make a stew. Now I have a meaty bone and am wondering what the best thing to do with it is. Can I make a stock, or will it be too greasy? Throw it in a pot of beans?

Homemade "Pepperidge Farm Stuffing"?

This year I am hosting Thanksgiving for the first time (yay!) for my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. Everything will be made from scratch except for the Pepperidge Farm stuffing, which my sister REQUIRES--no substitutions. I'll admit that I like it, too, but I've been wondering if I could make a Pepperidge-Farm-style stuffing myself so we can do a side-by-side taste test (and possibly move away from the bagged stuff in the future). Does anyone have any ideas about how to replicate it?

The requirements are that it be very bready and contain no chunks or weird stuff--celery, oysters, giblets, mushrooms, chestnuts, etc. We're talking bread-herbs-butter, yum!

The Life of Mashed Potatoes

I've always been puzzled by the standard gourmand's policy that mashed potatoes are no good unless you eat them right away. Reheated mashed potatoes may not be quite as good as freshly made, but I think they're still pretty delicious. Melissa Clark's article in the New York Times about solving the "problem" of leftover mashed potatoes pushed me over the line, so now I'm dying to know: does everyone out there really finds day-old taters inedible?

Memaw's Buttermilk Biscuits

Note: While it's nice to pop pre-made biscuits into the oven, without having to wash a single spatula, the homemade ones are really where it's at. Our intern Tressa took control here, making us all wish we had Memaws too.... More

How To Make Tortillas

I'm not going to lie. Making fresh corn tortillas is more time-consuming and difficult than using storebought. And if you live in the right area, the storebought kind can actually be pretty good. That said, they don't come close to the intense corn flavor and pillowy, steamy softness of a fresh, handmade tortilla fresh off the comal (or the nonstick griddle, as the case may be), and they really aren't that hard to make. More

Mexican 'Fondue' with Chorizo and Tomatillo Salsa

It didn't take long to convince my wife that we would indeed be eating a bowl of bubbling cheese for dinner. It would be stuffed with crumbled Mexican chorizo, I explained, then spooned into tortillas doused with a vibrant tomatillo salsa. It would be ready in about 15 minutes—as simple as grating some cheese, cooking the chorizo, and mixing them together to bake. Just think of it as a Mexican-style fondue ("fundido"). More

Dinner Tonight: Chicken Parmesan

Most of my chicken parmesan experiences have been bad ones. You probably know where this is headed—the oversized portions of heavily breaded chicken topped with boring tomato sauces and layer upon layer of greasy cheese. But this recipe is well-proportioned, light on the grease, and clean in flavor. It's easily the best chicken parmesan I've ever had. More

How to Make Clarified Butter

When butter is clarified—the milk fats boiled out and separated, until only thick, golden butter fat remains—its smoke point is raised to, well, let's just say it's high enough to sear a thick steak or panfry a potato in. It also keeps longer than whole butter and imparts a concentrated, caramelly and delightfully nutty flavor More

How to Make Goat Cheese

This easy (no wait, ridiculously easy) recipe doesn't require rennet or a backyard farm. All you need is goat's milk, lemon juice, cheesecloth, a candy thermometer and some herbs. Bam. You are a cheesemaker. More

Seriously Meatless: Tortilla Casserole

Note: Serious Eater Michael Natkin of the vegetarian blog Herbivoracious drops by every Wednesday to share a delicious recipe to expand our vegetarian repertoire. [Photograph: Michael Natkin] Tortilla casserole isn't authentically Mexican, beautiful, or fancy in any way. It's simply... More

Seriously Italian: Zuppa di Farro

"Like pasta, farro absorbs and unifies with whatever flavors you add to it." [Photographs: Gina DePalma, unless otherwise noted.] Previously Punctuating Flavors with Ricotta Salata » All Seriously Italian recipes » The onset of chilly, blustery days is the perfect... More