Food and Cooking Things We Tried and Loved in 2021

2021 was our second year of working from home and the year we ramped up our home cooking. How will we do it? Mail-order frozen soup dumplings, fancy pizza ovens and grills, and the humble, but incredibly effective herb preserver.

These items were selected independently by the employees and, except for what was mentioned, they spent their own money on them. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may get a share of the sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI – prices are accurate and items are in stock as of the time of posting.

Traeger Ironwood pellet grill – $1,400 – $1,600 at Withdrawals

The Traeger Ironwood Grill is pretty much the best thing I’ve tried this year because it’s responsible for so many wonderfully smoked meals but also because I’m a huge grill idiot and that might just be the Holy Grail (I loaned a Traeger BuzzFeed a Grill for a review). I’ve still had to cook a bad meal on this thing, and I’ve cooked more than a few of those in the past on the previous grill (RIP) – despite setting several nightly alarms to check the grill’s temperature on a 32-hour brisket. It’s hard to explain the disastrous despair and frustration of discovering that brisket has been obsessively tried using hard-earned techniques from 50 different grill shapes and tastes like the bottom of an old flip-flop. But the Traeger pellet grill, to me, has made this a thing of the past. Instead of coal, it burns pellets that are systemically fed by a temperature-controlled auger that holds a slow, low smoke capacity for as long as you need it (and has its own “super smoke” feature). And she’s nailed everything she’s cooked on it—chicken, ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, sausage—in a way that often inspires “this is your best food here yet” accolades from family and friends. Honestly, I wish I had saved (not cheap), raised my teeth, and bought this a few years ago. —John Baczkowski

Xiao Chi Jie Frozen Soup Dumplings Shipment – $39.95 PRICE Xiao Chi Ji

This Seattle-based restaurant will send you a package of 50 frozen soup dumplings (xiao long bao) that you keep in your freezer and then cook drunk when you come home late but want to reward yourself with the most delicious food known. for human being.

For starters, soup dumplings are humanity’s greatest achievement. You can nibble on the top, sip on the delicious filling, and then eat it with the sauce of your choice. Fabulous.

These types are filled with either pork or shrimp and pork or chicken. Of course, they also sell accompanying sauces. There’s the classic vinegar, plus chili oil that’s worth studying and the umami source of ginger and green onions I want to take a shower in. They also sell bamboo pitchers if you need one.

They even offer a VIP dumpling program where they will mail packages to you every month if you want, which is a really cool idea for which they are worth making a fortune. – David Mac

Sam Henig / BuzzFeed News

tomato pie

I had never heard of tomato pie until this summer. If you asked me if tomato pie was a thing, I suppose I would have said yes? I do not know. Life before tomato pie is all blurry. Here’s what I remember: going to the farmer’s market on the way home from the weekend in a north rental area, getting flooded with produce selection, and almost doing what I always do when I’m overwhelmed with farmer’s market produce, is buying some tokens non-produce something (baked good , honey, soap) and let it go, but then my husband said, “What if we bought a bunch of heirloom tomatoes and made a tomato pie?” It was a well-established plan, presented as if we had made a tomato pie before, and there was no response but to buy those tomatoes and make that pie. I was going to make a recipe, but I actually googled and put some together. The bottom line is this: Slice and drain the tomatoes a bit, layer them with basil in a pie crust, then add the mozzarella/mayonnaise mixture that doesn’t taste like mayonnaise once you’re done. Then you bake it. It’s basically like a fresh pizza eaten first with tomatoes, and it’s the best possible solution to farmers’ market decision fatigue in late summer. –Sam Heng

Ooni Koda 12 inch Pizza Oven$319 in Williams SonomaAnd Bloomingdales

I craved this pizza oven for several years before I finally bought it, and when I bought it, it was a Christmas gift for my dad. But playing with it forced me to buy one of my own. It was very good.

this is the reason:

  • It gets really hot – 950 degrees Celsius. There are things where an ordinary home oven is not hot enough, which are places where an Ooni oven lights up.

  • It does more than pizza! Toss in a cast iron skillet with broccoli, asparagus, brassica steak, or actual steak, and you’ll have a great meal ready in just a few minutes. Seriously: There are many applications here. kebab! Nan! Branzino!

  • The pizza is wonderful. Really better than any restaurant I’ve been to. Your edges will sing a little, which isn’t bad. I prefer quick pre-baking of the crust (with constant rotation for an even baking) before adding sauces and toppings. For a funky but delicious white pie, roast a large head of garlic, then mash it up and mix it in béchamel with some fresh sage. Top with tomato sauce and top with your choice of vegetables. –Emily Baker White

Ayako & Family Hanabi plum jam – $16 at Ayako and family

I chose to believe that jam could be classified as a technology because my body is a machine and food makes it work. This summer, I was expecting to eat about 50% of my food with fruit. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t get the fix I needed; Almost every stone fruit I ate was grainy and tasteless, not at all the sunshine flavor I had been craving. So I decided to make up for it with fancy jam in the fall and winter. When I say fancy, I mean this stuff is $16 a jar. But second-generation jam maker Alessandra Gordon makes plums I’ve never heard of. This jam is not sweet at all; One tablespoon of rich, dark Hanabi Plum on yogurt tastes like something I’d pay $15 for in a really cool place. It’s basically rescue Money. Plus, once you consider that the company’s base wage is $18 an hour and all employees are people of color and/or weirdos, the price seems more than appropriate. – Estelle Tang

Anova Steam Oven – $599 at Anova

My wife succinctly refers to the Anova Precision Oven as “another of the most unnecessary kitchen gadgets.” Nevertheless, I ate, with great enthusiasm, the cakes cooked to perfection that I had made them in. I also ate the baguette I made in it during the baguette marathon which has had me baking bread every other day for over a month. And that pork shoulder slow-cooked for 12 hours in a sous steam bath? She ate that too. Same with good *shocking* pizza. Sure, it’s unnecessary, and yes, it’s probably reckless to spend $599 on a steam-cooking oven when you already have a real one. But steam makes better bread crusts, and video cooking keeps foods at the perfect temperature pretty much without fail. And this thing does it all – air frying and baking, included – and it works really well, and you can run it from an app on your phone. If my kitchen and bank account were both bigger, I’d probably buy one. (Anova BuzzFeed loaned a furnace to review.) —John Baczkowski

Herb Preserve Can Do – $12.69 at Amazon

After years of watching cilantro and basil rot in the fridge, I finally broke down and bought an herb preservative. My husband and kids were very skeptical, but the cilantro was fresh and green after two whole weeks. I’ve enjoyed fresh cilantro at three separate dinners (if you were wondering: guacamole, butter chicken, Vietnamese tofu, and pork). It fits perfectly in the refrigerator door, and at just $13 it will easily pay for itself in a couple of months. – Dao Nguyen

Original Baking Steel – $119 price hard bread

Look, I’m totally aware of how silly he seems to endorse a $119 kitchen gadget that’s basically a piece of steel pulled from an aircraft carrier, but this thing has proven to be an incredible ally when it comes to baking bread, pizza – anything with a crust, really . The Original Baking Steel is exactly that – 16 pounds of it. And because steel retains and conducts heat more efficiently than other materials, it can knock pizza out of your kitchen. Baking Steel’s creators claim it can function as “the equivalent of a 900-degree wood-burning oven despite being in a home 500-degree oven”. I have absolutely no idea if this is true. What I can say is that the bread and pizza I cooked on them definitely looked like and tasted, and that’s all that really matters. —John Baczkowski

Editorial illustration by Raymond Besinger for BuzzFeed News

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