Tag Archives: Bon Appetit

Shishito Dogs

Shishito Dogs

Shishito peppers are somewhat annoying – there I said it. Their growing season is quite short – I mean, not sour cherry short, but much shorter than I’d prefer seeing as I’ve completely fallen in love with them. Also, they can be hard to find. I have relatively easy access to about seven or eight grocery stores plus a few farmer’s markets, and I can never count on them being there, even during their height of seasonality. Like I said – annoying!

Shishito Dogs

But, their irritating qualities are quite forgivable for being so unique and delicious. The heat level can vary with these guys. Some batches I’ve made have barely registered on the spice scale where others have blown our heads off.

Shishito Dogs

If you can get your hands on a batch, you should totally put them on hot dogs. It’s probably my favorite shishito preparation yet, and I don’t anticipate being able to top it anytime soon.

Shishito Dogs

Everything about this hot dog is perfect. Highly recommend! Enjoy!

Shishito Dogs

Source: Bon Appetit Magazine, July 2016

Ingredients:

SPICY MAYO:
½ cup mayonnaise
3 tbs sambal oelek
1 tbs unseasoned rice vinegar
Salt to taste

BLISTERED SHISHITO PEPPERS:
6 oz. shishito peppers
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbs unseasoned rice vinegar

8 hot dogs, warmed/charred
8 hot dog buns, toasted if desired
Toasted nori sheets
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Directions:
To make the SPICY MAYO: Mix the mayo, sambal, rice vinegar and salt until smooth. Set aside.
To make the BLISTERED SHISHITO PEPPERS: preheat a grill or indoor grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss the peppers with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning occasionally, until tender and blistered all over, about 3 minutes. Toss in a bowl with the rice vinegar. Let cool, then remove the stems.
You can use the grill to char/warm your hot dogs and toast the buns for convenience.
To assemble: spread one or both sides of the bun with spicy mayo – your preference there. Add a hot dog to each bun, then line one side of the bun with toasted nori sheets. Top the dog with the peppers, then sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Serve immediately.

Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned #SundaySupper

Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned

Wow, I think this may be the longest hiatus I’ve taken from blogging, ever! Two weeks. Not entirely planned. But, that’s another story for another day. Today we celebrate Sunday Supper! With a fantastic theme – Retro Food!!! How awesome is this one – today we’re all bringing you recipes from the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s – a culinary throwback to a different time.

As I’m sure you’ve no doubt noticed, vintage cocktails are all the rage right now, and I’m not fighting this trendiness one bit. Admittedly, my dear husband is the mixologist in our family, and lately we’ve been, as he puts it, stepping up our game on our drink making. We’ve let go of the sloppier, haphazard and sweeter mixed drinks of our twenties and swapped them for stronger, more mature, sipping-instead-of-sloshing cocktails now that we’re in our thirties.

vanilla bean old fashioned

So when Sunday Supper announced that today was Retro Food day – well, I immediately knew a throwback cocktail was in order. I chose one of the most iconic, the old fashioned, and gave it a (more modern?) twist by adding in the flavor of vanilla. Result? Utter deliciousness. Of course bourbon and vanilla are quite capable of being the bestest of all the bestest friends, so this pairing just works. The vanilla takes the edge off that straight up bourbon and adds an interesting almost-but-not-quite sweet note.

Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned

I highly recommend giving this one a try, it’s just so delicious and such fun to drink. Find yourself an evening you can slow down a little, fix yourself a glass of this baby, and serve some bar nuts alongside. You’re in for a perfect night! Enjoy!

Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned

And don’t forget to check out the rest of my Sunday Supper peeps!

{One Year Ago: Short Rib Chili; Iced Banana Cookies; Chocolate Chip Cookie Mini Scones; Banana Buttermilk Waffles; Gorgonzola and Spinach Spaghetti; Coconut Bread}
{Two Years Ago: Spaghetti Squash and Black Bean Tacos; Spinach Artichoke Paninis; Guinness Beef Stew; BLT Turkey Club Burgers; White Chocolate Mousse; Parsley Chive Biscuits; Banh Mi; Tex-Mex Cheesy Chicken Tart; Buttermilk Macaroni and Cheese; Broccoli Cheese Soup}

Source: slightly adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, October 2008

Ingredients:
¼ cup water
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 (1- or 2-inch) pieces vanilla bean, each split lengthwise
2 (1- or 2-inch) squares of orange peel, bitter pith removed with a sharp paring knife
1 tsp Angostura or orange bitters
Ice cubes
½ cup bourbon
2-4 maraschino cherries

Directions:
Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Shut off the heat and cool – this is your simple syrup.
Place 1 piece vanilla bean, 1 piece orange peel, and ½ tsp bitters in each of 2 old-fashioned or regular rocks glasses. Using a muddler or wooden spoon handle, gently mash to blend and bring out the flavors (be very gentle here and don’t shatter your glass – that would be sad!).
Add 1 tbs simple syrup to each glass. Fill glasses with ice, then pour ¼ cup bourbon over ice in each glass. Stir very well to blend; make sure the bits of vanilla are well incorporated into the drink and not just sinking to the bottom of the glass. Garnish with cherries and serve immediately.

Bodacious Breakfasts and Appetizers:

Made in the Shade Main Dishes:

Swell Side Dishes:

Dreamy Desserts:

The Bee’s Knees Beverages:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Savory Gorgonzola, Walnut, and Sage Cheesecake

Savory Gorgonzola, Walnut and Sage Cheesecake

If you should ever find yourself looking for an extremely elegant and beyond delicious appetizer you could set out at a holiday (or other) party that will feed a small army, then you are in the right place. If you ever need an appetizer to blow people away, you’ve come to the right place. This is it.

Savory Gorgonzola, Walnut and Sage Cheesecake

First of all, people will go, “Wow, you made a savory cheesecake?”. Secondly, well, you will completely blow them away with this dish. I would know. My darling husband and a decent handful of close friends plus some acquaintances are floating their way back to Earth right now because I served this to them.

Suffice it to say, everyone went crazy over it. It’s rich, filling, tangy, creamy, and unique. Also, it’s better the second day, so this is perfect make-ahead food for a party. And honestly, I can’t say enough good things about it!

savory gorgonzola, walnut and sage cheesecake

I’ve definitely done my part dabbling in dessert cheesecakes, but this was my first savory cheesecake. It’s something I’ve been curious about for awhile now, but I really had no idea if I would like it at all. I approached the whole endeavor with a bit of uncertainty, but I’m most assuredly now a savory cheesecake convert. I was thoroughly impressed with the whole thing.

Savory Gorgonzola, Walnut and Sage Cheesecake

The crostini toasts are optional. I found it fun to smear the cheesecake on the little toasts, but it’s also delicious just eaten with a fork. (Or with your fingers when you’re pretty sure no one’s looking.). Enjoy!

Savory Gorgonzola, Walnut and Sage Cheesecake

Sources: adapted from Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Mark Scarbrough and Bruce Weinstein and The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild

Ingredients:
CRUST:
1 ¾ cups fresh bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan
6 tbs unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of kosher salt

CHEESECAKE:
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
4 oz. sour cream
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream
6 oz. crumbled gorgonzola
2 tbs minced fresh sage
4 oz. walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 French baguette, sliced (optional)

Directions:
For the crust, preheat your oven to 350 F. Mix all crust ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-10” diameter well-greased springform cake pan. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust while preparing the filling. Maintain oven temperature.
For the filling, add the cream cheese and sour cream to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together until the mixture is fluffy. Add the salt and pepper, and with the mixer on medium-low, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the heavy cream and mix until just combined, then add the gorgonzola, sage and walnuts. Mix gently until combined. Shut off the mixer.
Pour the filling into the cooled crust, then wrap the bottom of the cheesecake pan well with aluminum foil. Place the pan in a roasting pan or large, high-sided baking dish. Carefully pour hot water into the pan so that the top of the water level barely comes halfway up the cheesecake. Bake in the preheated oven for 70-90 minutes, until the cheesecake is lightly browned on top, slightly puffed and set on the sides and the center moves slightly when shaken. Remove from the oven, transfer to a rack and cool completely. Serve chilled or at room temperature. To serve, either slice and eat with a fork, or use a butter knife or cheese knife to smear a portion onto the baguette slices.

Chocolate Strawberry Short Cakes

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Happy June, everyone! The summer season is upon us, which I’m sure makes everyone very, very happy, especially those of us who had the brutal winters. And if your summers are like mine were growing up, then ‘tis the season for strawberry short cake!

Chocolate Strawberry short cakes 074

Strawberry short cake was quite the popular dessert in my family or origin all summer long. My mom would buy the little individual sponge cakes that are shaped like a small, shallow bowl, fill them with sweetened, lightly macerated strawberries, and freshly whipped cream.

And though I wasn’t one to pass up dessert of any kind as a kid (save coconut), I actually didn’t care for the sponge cakes all that much. Don’t get me wrong, I still ate them; I mean, it was cake – hello! But the minute I discovered that lots of people use biscuits as the cakey vehicle for their strawberry short cakes, well, I had to make the switch.

Chocolate Strawberry Short Cakes 052

And now for a twist – how about we make the biscuit part with chocolate, and then drizzle chocolate syrup over the whole thing? Yes, please! This version may not be traditional, but it’s really amazing. Matt described it as the love child of chocolate covered strawberries and regular strawberry short cake. He’s correct. And after you try this, you’ll conclude that they should hook up more often.

chocolate strawberry short cake 046

Happy summer, everyone! Enjoy yourself some strawberry short cake, chocolate or not!

{One Year Ago: Chile de Arbol Salsa}

Source: adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild

Ingredients:

SHORT CAKES:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbs baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
8 tbs unsalted butter, very cold, chopped
1 cup heavy cream, whole milk, or buttermilk, or some combination thereof
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tbs raw sugar
Chocolate syrup or fudge sauce
Sweetened whipped cream

Directions:
First, make the chocolate short cakes. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, and using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles the size of peas. Add the cream or milk, plus the chocolate chips. Stir gently together with a spatula until the flour mixture is completely coated and is starting to come together. Knead with well-floured hands a few times until it comes together completely.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and pat it out to about 1 inch in height. Flour a 3 inch round biscuit cutter and stamp out 8 biscuits. Reroll the scraps if need be.
Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
When you are ready to serve, add the strawberries to a large mixing bowl and toss thoroughly with the raw sugar. Let them sit while you prepare the whipped cream, or about 5-8 minutes.
To serve, split open the biscuits and lay the bottom half on a dessert plate. Top with a generous helping of macerated strawberries plus their juices. Drizzle chocolate syrup over the strawberries, then dollop with whipped cream. Place the biscuit top on top or on the side. Serve immediately.

Garbanzo Bean, Lentil, and Vegetable Stew

garbanzo bean, lentil, veggie stew

Happy Friday everyone! Today we wrap up Winter Stew Week by being good and eating our vegetables, like mom said we should. In deciding what kinds of stew to make for this week, I wanted to be sure and have a vegetarian option in there, but of course didn’t want it to be bland. Or too light. I mean, it is stew after all. This legume-and-potato-filled bowl really fits the bill on all counts. Very hearty and filling, without weighing you down. And it comes together much more quickly than beef stew, yet tastes like it slow cooked all day. Win!

Garbanzo Bean, Lentil and Vegetable Stew

So now let’s recap Winter Stew Week.

First up, I could not do a theme of stew without including a classic beef version. This one was delicious, and included some dark greens for our health!

Red Wine Beef and Chard Stew

 

 

 

 

 

Next up, we ventured down South for a classic: Brunswick Stew! Easy, hearty, delicious.

brunswick stew

 

 

 

 

 

And yesterday we had a Spanish-inspired fish stew, which was light, healthy, and very scrumptious.

fish, fennel and saffron stew

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this week and this gave you some good ideas for what to make on those bitterly cold days when you need something earthy and cozy. Also, be sure you check out some other stew recipes from the blogosphere!

Garbanzo Bean, Lentil and Veggie Stew

Recipe Round-Up:
Cabernet Braised Short Rib Stew from How Sweet Eats
Guinness Beef Stew from The Texan New Yorker
Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken Stew from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
Fish and Zucchini Puttanesca Stew from Closet Cooking
Spicy Calamari Stew with Garlic Rubbed Ciabatta Toasts from The Texan New Yorker
Crock Pot Chickpea, Butternut Squash, and Red Lentil Stew from Eat Live Run

Source: adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook, edited by Barbara Fairchild

Ingredients:
2 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large sprig of rosemary
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp cayenne
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
½ cup water
1 cup dried lentils
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped Yukon gold potatoes
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 (10 oz.) bag of baby spinach

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and carrot. Sauté until softened. Add the rosemary, garlic, tomato paste, coriander, caraway seeds, and cayenne. Stir for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the stock, water, and lentils. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover the pot, and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are mostly cooked. Add the beans, potatoes, and parsley. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
Stir the spinach into the stew. Let it wilt, about 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls and serve; but don’t forget to fish out the rosemary stem!

Cherry Upside-Down Cake

Cherry Upside-Down Cake

In your opinion, what is the best compliment someone can pay your cooking? Is it effusive praise with superlatives like “amazing!” and “delicious!”? Is it when they close their eyes, moan “Oh my gaaawwwwdddd” and look like maybe you should leave them alone with the food? Is it when they go back for seconds? Or when they ask for the recipe?

making cherry upside-down cake

cherry upside-down cake, before baking

Not to sound like some giant approval junkie, but of course, as a cook, baker and blogger, I love it when people love my food. It’s validation that I’m executing my craft well, and when I’ve made something that people are going to take time to consume, of course I want it to taste great and be pleasing to their palate.

Cherry Upside-Down Cake

Of course, if something you make doesn’t receive any of the above-described compliments it doesn’t mean it wasn’t awesome. But someone telling you it was is very nice to hear, and tells you that you’re on the right track. Or that you have exceedingly polite guests. Ha!

Cherry Upside-Down Cake

This cake is delicious, and yes, I had a request for the recipe, which is what got me thinking along these lines. It’s very cakey and not too sweet. I found it easy to flip, and only had a couple cherries stay in the baking pan. No matter, it was easy enough to place them where they belonged, and I don’t think anyone was the wiser. Enjoy this one with the last bit of cherries for the season!

cherry upside-down cake

Cherry Upside-Down Cake

{One year ago: Pickled Peach Orzotto}

Source: adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild

Ingredients:
TOPPING:
4 tbs unsalted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
14 oz. fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved

CAKE:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbs baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
8 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk
¼ tsp cream of tartar

Directions:
First, make the topping. Preheat the oven to 350 F. grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan that is at least 2 inches high on the sides.
In a small saucepan, melt the 4 tbs butter over medium-low to low heat. Add brown sugar and whisk until blended, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, then spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Arrange the cherries, cut side down, in a single layer in the bottom of the pan and press lightly to adhere. Set aside.
Make the cake. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the granulated sugar and softened stick of butter together in a large mixing bowl, until light and fluffy. Mix in egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in flour in 3 additions alternating with the milk in 2 additions.
Using electric mixer with clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar in a clean, dry mixing bowl until stiff but not dry. Stir ¼ of the whites into the cake batter to lighten. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining egg whites into the batter. Spoon the batter atop the cherries and smooth evenly.
Bake until top is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes.
Run a small paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a plate or round platter over the cake and quickly invert the cake onto the platter. Let stand 5 minutes, then remove pan. Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired. Although it’s quite nice on its own.

Toffee Coffee Cake

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As a habit, I do not eat candy bars. I find most of them to be very unsatisfying and cloying. And that’s even before reading the scary labels or considering the health ramifications. There is one exception to the “very unsatisfying and cloying” rule though: Heath bars. Those could be a serious vice for me if I allowed myself to eat them. So I don’t.

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I did, however, allow myself to make this awesome Heath-bar-topped cake and take it to an awesome pool party. And over the course of several hours, seven people (cough*myself included*cough) managed to demolish it. The calories don’t count if you’re out in the sun? Right? Yeah, we’ll go with that.

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This cake is ridiculously easy to throw together and it’s unbelievably delicious. It’s not overly sweet and the texture is perfectly moist and cakey without being the least bit dense. And that’s just the cake part. There’s also the toffee bar and pecan streusel on top, and that just makes it food-gasmic. Try it. You’ll see. 😉

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Recipe notes: definitely chill the Heath bars before attempting to chop them; this way your knife and fingers won’t be a gooey mess (and it means that more of the candy bar will make it onto the cake!). Also, chopping even a chilled candy bar is not a pretty sight. The Heath bars will fall apart on you – it’s fine. Don’t worry about it. They aren’t there to look pretty, they are there to blend into a streusel topping and taste amazing. And they do. Oh, they do.

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Oh, and apologies for the pictures not being up to usual par. That’s kind of what happens when I take food to a gathering. (sheepish shrug)

Source: The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
½ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp kosher salt
4 (1.4 oz.) chocolate-covered English toffee candy bars (I used Heath bars), chilled and chopped
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. grease a 9×13-inch glass baking dish.
Using an electric mixer, beat the flour, both sugars, butter, and salt in a large bowl until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer ½ cup of the mixture to a medium bowl and mix in the toffee and pecans. Set toffee topping aside.
Stir baking soda into remaining flour-butter mixture in the large bowl. Add buttermilk, egg, and vanilla, beating until just combined. Transfer batter to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle toffee topping evenly over batter.
Bake the cake until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool completely in dish. Cut into squares and serve.

Malted Chocolate Ice Cream

Malted Chocolate Ice Cream

Today I have the yawns for having lost some sleep last night. No matter, it’s for a good cause: my sister gave birth to a baby girl late last night! My niece made her entrance into this world in very dramatic fashion, keeping everyone on pins and needles. Today we will have this wonderful ice cream in celebration and honor of baby Claire.

Chocolate in Double Boiler

This ice cream is delicious, rich, decadent, and fit for a queen. Despite its richness, it goes down easy – perhaps too easy! It’s one of those where you can eat half the carton in mere moments without realizing what you’ve done.

Malted milk powder is a genius thing.

Malted Chocolate Ice Cream

So while Claire cannot eat ice cream quite yet, someday she will partake, and hopefully she will love this one. Hopefully I’ll get to make it for her one day. I’m anxiously awaiting when I get to meet her and I can’t wait to watch her grow up!

Malted Chocolate Ice Cream

Miss Claire – I, like you, for whatever reason decided to make a rather dramatic entrance into this world. Take it from me, you’ll never live it down. But someday when you’re older, we can bond over how we both traumatized all our family members. Okay? 🙂

Malted Chocolate Ice Cream

Source: adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook, by Barbara Fairchild

Ingredients:
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half and half
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup plain malted milk powder
1 tbs vanilla extract

Directions:
Fill a small saucepan with water about half-way up. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place chocolate in a glass bowl and set the bowl over the simmering saucepan, but make certain that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Let it sit until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the saucepan and set aside.
Bring the cream and half and half just to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan, then shut off the heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. If they don’t cooperate, a small splash of water or milk will do the trick. Whisk until the yolks are pale yellow and thick.
Now you want to temper the eggs so they do not scramble on you. To do this, add about half a cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Now gradually pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the cream mixture, whisking constantly. Return the heat to medium-low and stir continuously until the custard becomes thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not boil.
Gradually whisk the custard into the melted chocolate. Use a bigger bowl if necessary. Whisk in the malted milk powder and vanilla. The custard may appear grainy; that’s okay.
Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 2 hours.
Churn the custard in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze until firm. Note: this takes a LONG time to completely firm up. If you want it really firm, I would recommend letting it sit overnight. But, it’s still good with a more soft-serve texture!

Butternut Squash Latkes with Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce

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Happy December 26th everyone! This marks the beginning of the week where most of us pretend to work until New Year’s, which is why my opener wasn’t something along the lines of “back to the grindstone”. Because, let’s be realistic and say that it’s really not for tons of us. That being said, I hope your Christmas Day was lovely and enjoyable and delicious.

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These latkes were part of the festivities while we put up our tree a few weeks ago. They were insanely good and the flavors were perfect for the occasion. I’ve made potato latkes before, but I’d never tried the method with any other vegetable. I’m happy to report that butternut squash makes a perfect vehicle for latke goodness.

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Since we made these to accompany setting up the Christmas tree, it’s got me thinking: how long is the ideal time to leave the tree up? It seems as though no two families agree on this one, and of course whether you use a real or artificial tree plays a large determining role. In my family of origin, my parents generally were fans of taking it down pretty quickly after Christmas Day ended. It was usually an artificial tree (though a few years it was real), and I always remember wistfully wishing we could leave it up just a few more days. But I can also understand wanting to go into the New Year with that large chore checked off one’s to-do list.

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Now that I’m grown with my own family, I do things differently and have new traditions. Matt and I always get a real tree, mostly because we have a small NYC apartment and there’s simply no space to store an artificial one the other eleven months of the year. And we generally leave it up until the second full week of January. I’m not sure why, other than we both just really enjoy it. Though perhaps it’s a sign of things to come. Maybe we are inadvertently becoming *those* people, and when we have a house we’ll be the idiots who still have Christmas lights on their roof in March. Hopefully not.

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What’s your tradition? Real or artificial tree? And do you take it down right away, or leave it up for awhile?

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Source: heavily adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, December 2008

Ingredients:
PINE NUT YOGURT SAUCE:
1 (7 oz.) container plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs pine nuts
1 tbs chopped fresh sage
Kosher salt and black pepper

BUTTERNUT SQUASH LATKES:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and seeded
4 large fresh sage leaves, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 shallots, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 egg white
Kosher salt and black pepper
Vegetable or olive oil

Directions:
PINE NUT YOGURT SAUCE:
Place the yogurt in a small to medium sized bowl. Melt butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir until nuts and butter turn brown, about 4 minutes. Stir butter mixture into the yogurt. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH LATKES:
Using a box grater, grate the squash on the coarse setting. Transfer the grated squash to a clean dish towel. Wring out the liquid and then transfer the squash to a large mixing bowl. Do this in batches if necessary.
To the squash, add the sage, garlic, shallot, cumin, and egg white, plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a spatula to combine well.
Drizzle some olive oil into a large, nonstick saute pan and place over medium-high heat. You want a good film of oil on the bottom of the pan, but don’t go overboard – you’re not deep-frying here.
When the oil is hot, place several mounds of the squash mixture carefully in the pan. Use the back of a spoon to flatten them a little. The size of the mounds is up to you; I just used a large cereal spoon to make mine. There’s no need to roll them in your hand like you’re making a meatball, just use your fingers to tuck in any loose squash strands as needed.
Let them cook until nicely browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip them and cook another two minutes, or until the second side is nicely browned. Adjust your heat level as needed, as you want them browned but not burned. Cook in batches as needed.
When each latke is done, remove it to a plate. When ready to serve, place the latkes on a platter and top each with a dollop of the Pine Nut Yogurt Sauce.

Blue Cheese Hazelnut Drop Biscuits

I don’t have any kind of substantive story to accompany this recipe. I made these because I had leftover Gorgonzola and leftover hazelnuts from this wonderful dish, and that’s about as profound as it gets today.

They were delicious and awesome, of course. Perfect fluffy texture, with the light crunch of the nuts and the tang of the blue cheese. Matt all but demanded that I make these again sometime.

Drop biscuits are an ideal initiation to the world of biscuit making. I understand that making biscuits from scratch can seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before. After you do it once, though, you realize how ridiculously easy it is and then you want to make them all the time. But, if there is any nervousness on your part, first try some drop biscuits. Basically, all you do is mix together the dry ingredients, cut in the butter, then add the liquid and any add-ins, mix together, then drop spoonfuls of the batter onto a baking sheet. No rolling pins, no kneading, no dough sticking to your counter or cutting board because you forgot to flour it. I’ve never done that, by the way. I’m just saying, hypothetically, one could forget. 😉

So whether you’re a novice or a pro in the biscuit world, definitely give these a shot. I think you’ll love them. You can use any blue cheese you like. The original recipe called for Stilton, I used Gorgonzola because it’s what I had on hand (and because it’s Matt’s favorite type of blue cheese, that’s usually what I have lying around). You could also play around with the choice of nuts. Hazelnuts are in the original recipe, and that’s what I used, but this would be equally delicious with walnuts, I think. See what strikes your fancy!

Source: adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups flour
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs baking powder
¾ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut or sliced into pieces
1 cup chilled buttermilk
1 large egg
¾ cup blue cheese crumbles
2/3 cup chopped, skinned, toasted hazelnuts

Directions:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter. You can do this with a pastry blender (my preferred method), two forks (that’s never worked for me) or your fingers, which works quite nicely. If you’re using your fingers, I recommend running them under cold water first, then drying them thoroughly with paper towels.
Whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Make a well in the center of the dough and pour in the buttermilk. Then add the blue cheese and nuts and mix with a spatula until it comes together.
Using 1/3 cup dough for each biscuit, drop 12 mounds onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and tester inserted comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.