It’s a Good Day for a Project

I made a vow to myself last fall: No whining on the blog about the weather this winter. Besides the fact that it’s, uh, whining, professionally speaking it’s just lazy — certainly there are more interesting angles for writing about beef stew than Baby it’s Cold Outside. (Though I have to say, that was a pretty good post…and a pretty great recipe.) Well, anyway, as anyone who lives in the Northeast knows, my vow has been extremely easy to keep: We celebrated Christmas on a 70-degree day; the girls didn’t break out their parkas until January 1; and Saturday is the first time this winter that we are expecting some real snow.

I can’t even believe it’s winter-hating me saying this, but I cannot wait.

Why? It’s almost Pavlovian. When I hear the phrase “expecting up to a foot,” I immediately think “It’s a good day for a project.”

As in a kitchen project. As in the opposite of the make-it-to-get-it-done kind of cooking mindset that we’re locked into all week. Anyone who has read Dinner: The Playbook might recognize these as recipes that Keep The Spark Alive. Some examples:

A zillion-ingredient Chicken Mole

Bon Appetit‘s Shoyu Ramen

Andy Ricker’s Real Deal Pad Thai

Giuliano Bugialli’s luscious-but-laborious Minestrone

Maya Kamal’s Chicken with Green Chilies and Tamarind

There’s also homemade sushi, pictured way up top (exact instructions coming soon to a blog near you), and Homemade Fettuccini with Leeks and Bacon, which you can find on page 228 of Dinner: A Love Story.

But here’s the thing, there has been a lot of snow in the past few years, which means this particular rotation in my house is threatening to run its course. And so I ask: What about you? Have you guys had any triumphs in the Project Cooking category? I’d love to hear about them — preferably in time to shop before the storm hits. The fussier, the fancier, the more complicated the better. Thanks in advance and stay warm!

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Erin in PA

Homemade soft pretzels (Smitten Kitchen’s recipe is a great starting point), I am gearing up to make shrimp potstickers and an asian slaw from a magazine all about appetizers (not sure of the title while I sit here at work…), also in past snowstorms I have made Julia Child’s pot roast, baked beans from scratch (from a Serious article), and macarons. I have to totally agree with how this winter has played out so far for my mental health compared to last year!


Some favorites that take a long time, though some of them are more hands-off than others:

Thomas Keller’s Chicken Pot Pie
Kenji’s Lasagna Bolognese –
David Lebovitz’s Caramel Pork Ribs –
Alton Brown’s Coq au Vin –

I’m thinking we will be making your pork shoulder ragu, since we have half a pork shoulder in the freezer and zero concerns about heating up the kitchen.


Two beloved projects: bagels by Peter Reinhart, and Momofuku’s Bo Ssam which is amazing for guests


I have on my list to pick up tomorrow: ingredients to make beef chili on Saturday (the kind that will have to simmer on the stove for a few hours and I therefore rarely get to make), as well as some baking necessities. I have some Costco-procured meyer lemons at home already and I figure we’ll either bake something with those or possibly make some homemade soft pretzels. Or both if the snow gets really bad. We also have a 1000-piece puzzle sitting around…and lots of hot chocolate. Which reminds me we’re out of marshmallows!

ginger m

This one’s easy. Julia Childs Boeuf Bourgionne (sp? running to pick up a kid, no time to check) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Lots of steps, but all easy ones. You will not regret the time spent, plus bonus: leftovers that just get better and better!!!

Raising The Capable Student

I have a recipe from a school fundraising cookbook given to me when we lived in Pittsburgh. All the recipes in it are the kind of recipes that get passed down from generation to generation and they are all really good, but the one for pastitsio is my favorite. It’s time consuming to the max, but oh so worth the effort.


I tend to bake fussy things when I’m homebound. Otherwise, I love to slowly simmer a pot of soup and make a loaf of bread. That plus wine for dinner makes it feel like a holiday.


Huge batch of pot stickers, some to eat, some to freeze. (I make the recipe from MS Everyday Food)


Chocolate croissants!! I made them one winter when my first daughter was 18 months old. If I could do it, anyone can. And it’s definitely a project–lots of chilling and rolling and waiting. And the payoff is amazing!

MB@Bourbon and Brown Sugar

We’re bracing for a “snowpocalypse” in DC this weekend (latest estimates: 20 to 30 inches). I’m contemplating trying my hand at a cassoulet… or some sweet potato gnocchi… or sausage rolls… or a really great pie.

Lynn BB

I feel like I’m missing out in Chicago! I think I would try to tackle macarons if I had several days at home, plus some homemade soup.


Cinnamon buns – yeasty, spicy, sweet glaze drizzled on top. That is, if the power stays on. We are bracing for a direct hit.


I have Bolognese sauce in the fridge, so I am thinking of making some fresh pasta (hand cut, since I don’ t have a pasta machine). Project-y, but also doesn’t take so long that I won’ t have plenty of time to play in the snow with my kids.


I had a similar mentality last weekend, when we had -20F windchills and planned everything around staying indoors, having things in the oven for hours, etc. We had a minor hiccup around 2pm, when a car hit a power box nearby and our power briefly went out. It’s funny that my initial reaction at the time wasn’t “Oh no, we’re without heat!” but rather “Oh no, I’m in the middle of this elaborate cooking!”


Giada’s Butternut Squash Lasagna–it’s got a lot of steps, dirties a million dishes and takes awhile to cook, but it is SO delicious and warm and comforting. The basil cream sauce is the best, though I skip the amaretti cookies. Instead of blending the squash, I just add a little extra liquid and let it cook a little longer until I can use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to make it all creamy!

Darcy Troutman

Do you have the cookbook Date Night In? That’s become our go-to when we feel like making something fancy. Plus, even though the food is complicated, my kids love it too.

Stephanie Pease

Oh please oh please oh please oh PLEASE post the sushi project recipe SOOOOOON!

I tried to make homemade sushi a few months back after realizing it was either that or go broke trying to take my sushi loving and ever-growing-hungry-children out to eat. I tried making the sushi rice as recommended on Alton Brown’s sushi show, but it was completely undercooked – he relies on a “cook for awhile, then take off the heat and let the ambient heat in the pot do the rest of the cooking”, but those methods never ever work as expect for me because….

I live at high altitude! I’m in Boulder, CO, which is at about 5,000 feet above sea level, which means that water boils at slightly lower temperature, so recipes that rely on ambient heat (particularly hard boiling eggs) tend not to work well.

HELP!!!! How do I cook Sushi rice! 🙂


Homemade lasagne bolognese– noodles, sauce, and ricotta. You can do it! Lots of reliable recipes from tested bloggers out there!


Momofuku ramen! The recipe makes so much broth that you will have quick ramen dinners for the rest of the winter.


Thomasina Miers has an amazing recipe for twice cooked Tamarind pork. First you boil it, in a crazy marinade stock thing, then it dries out in the fridge overnight to be sure of crackling. Next day it gets roasted and is hands down one of the best fiddly recipes!

That and Conish saffron buns.


My cooking project triumph is a classic: Julia Child’s boeuf bourgignon. My question to you is how did the Bo Ssam turn out? I think a great idea for a post is to report on how tackling a recipe like that turns out “in real life”… Thanks!


I always throw a bag of dried beans in a pot to simmer. That’s easy. I also tried pierogi from a Jamie Oliver recipe. Just stock up on sour cream!


I’m a week late with my comment… anyway, my go-to recipe when i have time to cook would be pumpkin lasagna. Think: homemade pasta from scratch, roasted pumpkin, bechamel/cheese sauce from scratch (i’m sure you do that all the time, but it is a big thing for me), chopped and roasted hazelnuts (more work if you have a hazelnut tree in the garden and have to crack the nuts as well), throw it all together and in the oven it goes. Delicious, warm, comfort food. And it would keep you busy for some time, and the kids can help (even my kids, 3yo and 4,5yo love to ‘help’, think eating hazelnuts and turning the handle on the pasta machine). Good luck, and i see there are plenty of new ideas for you here.

Aaron Samoska

I used to sit at the kitchen counter and watch my grandfather make pirogi from scratch. My family fills them with cheese, prune, and cabbage. I have to go to a special polish store in town to buy the proper cheese, then it is several hours of work making all the fillings, making the dough, and lastly making the pirogi themselves. 15 yr old me frantically wrote the recipe on a post- it note and now 22 years later I still refuse to use anything but the recipe on the post-it.