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6 cooking projects if you’re stuck at home due to coronavirus

Have some time on your hands at home? Try making these comforting dishes.

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Maybe there’s a recipe you’ve always wanted to try, but it requires more ingredients and steps than you have ever had time to take on. Maybe there’s a dish you crave when it feels like the world is ending. Either way, staying home due to fear of the spreading coronavirus is a great excuse to spend all day tinkering in the kitchen. Here are some foods that would make for a fun and eventually delicious project.

Pizza

Ever made your own pizza crust? No? Well, I can’t think of a better time to do so. It’s time-consuming but relatively hands-off. After mixing yeast and flour and water, you let the dough sit for a while, like overnight, before working it into a crust and topping it with whatever your heart desires.

Click here for a dough recipe.

And once you’ve mastered the dough, here are some topping suggestions.

A bunch of casseroles

Things are moving fast. I don’t know what tomorrow will look like. But I do know that if you make yourself a bunch of casseroles now and stick them in the freezer, you will be glad you did. Casseroles feed a household, don’t dirty a ton of dishes and can be portioned and reheated easily.

Here are 14 (!) ideas.

Pudding

What could be more comforting in these trying times than pudding? I’m not talking about those little plastic snack cups. I’m talking about fresh pudding made on the stove, still slightly warm, pudding skin fully intact. My favorite kind is budino, an Italian version that is slightly more decadent and usually caramel-flavored. I made the recipe below once for a dinner party, and I still have dreams about it. You could even pull a George Costanza and slice off the fatty film that forms on top of the pudding to make “pudding skin singles," the ultimate Seinfeld-inspired comfort food.

3 cups whole milk, divided

¼ cup cornstarch

¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar

5 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk ½ cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside. Heat remaining 2 ½ cups milk in a small saucepan just to a simmer; set aside. To make caramel, stir sugar and ¾ cup water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; cook without stirring until an instant-read thermometer registers 210 to 220 degrees.

Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a large pitcher. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk, then cornstarch mixture. Slowly whisk in caramel. Return mixture to saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and a thermometer registers 175 degrees, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat; whisk in butter, vanilla and salt. Pour through prepared sieve. You can portion into individual servings at this point, too. Cover; chill until set, 4 to 5 hours.

Source: Adapted from Bon Appétit

Candy

Leave no sugary stoned unturned, friends. Despite the great rewards, homemade candy is the ultimate time suck, so it will keep you occupied in the kitchen for a while. Investing in a candy thermometer would help. But there are plenty of things you can make without it.

From easy truffles to more complex caramels, we walk you through the candymaking process here.

Ice cream toppings

One of my favorite cooking party tricks is making this chocolately topping that resembles Smuckers’ Magic Shell. The secret is coconut oil, which helps the ingredients solidify once poured. It’s a natural topper to ice cream, but I also like it over fruit like strawberries or any sort of coconut-flavored dessert.

Here’s how to make it: To make your own, combine ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, add 4 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate and ⅓ cup coconut oil and microwave at 50 percent power until melted. This should take about 3 minutes. Whisk in vanilla mixture and 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder and stir well, then let it cool before using. Store it in the fridge for up to 2 months. Just before you want to use it, microwave for a minute or so until melted and smooth.

A large cake

If ever there was a moment to bake an entire layer cake, that moment is now. Try this one, which one of our writers calls her Famous Brooklyn Blackout Cake. The rich, intensely chocolate cake was inspired by a puddinglike cake that had a cult following among Brooklynites.

According to our writer, “The blackout cake was named during World War II, when blackout drills were performed in homes around the borough to avoid silhouetting battleships leaving the Brooklyn Navy Yard.”

Sounds appropriately apocalyptic.

Find the recipe here.

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus guide

Q&A: The latest and all your questions answered.

EVENT CANCELLATIONS: Get the latest updates on events planned in the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks.

PROTECT YOURSELF: Household cleaners can kill the virus on most surfaces, including your phone screen.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY: Foods that should always be in your kitchen, for emergencies and everyday life.

FACE MASKS: They offer some protection, but studies debate their effectiveness.

WORKPLACE RISK: A list of five things employers could be doing to help curb the spread of the disease.

READER BEWARE: Look out for bad information as false claims are spreading online.

OTHER CORONAVIRUS WEBSITES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Florida Department of Health

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