For our latest contest, we asked for your smartest, thriftiest, most head-turning tricks and techniques. And you delivered!
We got flavorful, face-changing condiments made entirely from pantry ingredients; ice cream cakes that require no churning, no baking, and no fancy equipment; vegan brownies moistened with tofu; tater tots where cauliflower stands in for potatoes...
You are a bunch of smarties. A-pluses all around! But we had to pick two finalists—and with the help of our community reviewers, we've narrowed down the contenders. These two are at the top of the class. (And now it's your turn to choose the winner by heading to the contest page and casting your vote.)
First up: Super Fluffy Rolls 3 Ways (Plain, Garlic, and Pretzel) from Jenya | BlueGalley. The dough's a dream to work with—like a well-zhuzhed comforter under your hands—but the real smarts of Jenya's technique lie in how she customizes the shaped rolls within one pan.
Instead of brushing all twelve risen buns with egg wash, she only gives one-third of the pan that classic treatment: Half of the remaining rolls get a garlic-herb butter brush, and then the rest get a baking soda wash that makes them pretzel (that's a verb, right?) in the oven.
We can't wait to use Jenya's dough and technique to create more variations within the same baking dish: We're thinking cinnamon-sugar, curry butter, and Parmesan. (Of course, we're just as tempted to triple the recipe and make three pans, each with a separate theme...)
For the rolls:
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon to activate yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup luke warm water (preferably 110 to 115 degrees, but 105 to 115° F)
- 1 packet "bread machine" active dry yeast (can use regular active dry yeast, but bread machine is better)
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 eggs, beaten
- flaky salt for sprinkling (Maldon is great, kosher works too)
To pretzel and garlic:
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Our second finalist, also in the Starch Family, is Brittany's Better-Than-a-Restaurant Home Fries, which actually come from her husband—"it's one of the top five reasons I married him!" Now that's love
Instead of frying the potatoes (or heaven forbid par-boiling them, then frying them), Brittany (slash her husband) purées half an onion with neutral oil, paprika, salt, and a whole head of garlic. The potatoes get tossed in this slush, spread out on baking sheets, and baked.
You get potato cubes with crispy edges, soft insides, and garlicky intensity, through and through. We ate so many of these straight from the baking sheet, we weren't sure they'd make it onto the plate. But we're glad a few did—they're even better with ketchup (and Brittany recommends a three-part mix of ketchup, mustard, and horseradish cream).
- 2 pounds red or yellow potatoes
- 1/2 medium onion (about 2 ounces)
- 1 head garlic
- 1/2 cup frying oil (we use grapeseed)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Now it's time to vote! Head to the contest page to weigh in.
Share your favorite technique for rolls or home fries in the comments below!