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Holiday Eggnog Cake with Apricot Filling

Holiday Eggnog Cake with Apricot Filling

holiHoliday Eggnog Cake with Apricot Filling


1 package (18.25) yellow or vanilla cake mix, plain or with pudding

1 1/4 cups eggnog

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 large eggs

3 T. bourbon (optional), for brushing the tops of the cake layers


1 jar (10 ounces) apricot all-fruit spread

1 T. bourbon or water

Spiced cream cheese frosting:

4 T. (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Heaping 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon


Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist three 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust them with flour. Shake out the excess flour; set pans aside. Place the cake mix, eggnog, oil, vanilla, nutmeg and the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for two minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again, if needed. The batter should look well blended. Divide the cake batter evenly among the three prepared cake pans, about 11/2 cups of batter per pan, smoothing the tops with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven. If your oven is not large enough to hold three pans on the center rack, place two pans on that rack and one in the center of the rack above. Bake the cake layers until they are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18 to 20 minutes. The cake layer on the higher rack may bake faster, so it for doneness first. Transfer to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen the cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. If desired, brush the cakes with the 3 T. of bourbon, using 1 T. for each; set aside to cool, 15 minutes longer. Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the fruit spread and 1 T. of bourbon or water in a small bowl and stir until well combined.  Make the spiced cream frosting: Place the butter and cream cheese in a medium-size bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the confectioners’ sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon and beat with the mixer on low speed until the ingredients are well incorporated and the frosting has a spreading consistency, 1 to 2 minutes. To assemble cake, transfer one layer, right side up, to a cake plate. Spread half of the filling to the edge of the first layer, about 1/2 heaping cup. Place a second cake layer, right side up, on top of the first and spread the remaining filling over it. Place the third layer on top, right side up, and frost the top and side of cake, working with smooth, clean strokes. To make slicing easier, place the uncovered cake in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. Store in a cake saver or loosely covered with waxed paper in the refrigerator for up to one week. Freeze the cake, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to six months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

White Chocolate Cranberry Tart

White Chocolate Cranberry Tart

White Chocolate Cranberry Tart



1 1/2 C. gluten-free oats

1/2 C. almonds

5 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

2 tbsp maple syrup


cranberry layer

2 C. cranberries (fresh or frozen)

1 C. water

1/4 C. maple syrup

1 tsp agar agar


white chocolate layer

â…” C. coconut milk

â…“ C. cashew pulp (optional)

1 C. cashews (soaked overnight)

¾ C. cacao butter

¼ C. maple syrup

Pinch of salt

Optional: 4 tbsp vegan white chocolate


For the crust add oats and almonds into a food processor. Pulse until combined and add maple syrup and coconut oil. Process into a moist mixture. Firmly press dough into the tart and press up on the sides as well. Bake at 350F for about 10-15 minutes until crust appears golden brown. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes and then transfer onto a cooling rack.  In a small saucepan add cranberries, water and maple syrup. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes over low-medium heat until cranberries have broken down. With a hand mixer puree cranberries and add a little bit of water if sauce is too thick. Add 1 tsp of agar agar powder and simmer for another 5 minutes over low-medium heat. Set aside to cool for a couple minutes, then spread cranberry jam/sauce into the crust (½ way full) and let set in the fridge for another 15 minutes. In the meantime prepare the white chocolate layer. Melt white chocolate and cacao butter in a small saucepan over low heat and set aside.  In a food processor or high speed blender add cashews, maple syrup, coconut milk and cashew pulp. Process until completely smooth. Add melted chocolate/cacao butter and process until combined. Pour white chocolate mixture into the tart and let set in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours. Garnish with cranberries and white chocolate chips and serve immediately. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


So This is Christmas Cocktail

So This is Christmas Cocktail

So This is Christmas Cocktail


1/2 ounce Rosemary Simple Syrup (see below)

1/2 ounce pomegranate juice

1 tsp. pomegranate seeds

Champagne, for topping glass

Rosemary sprig, for garnish


Rosemary Simple Syrup:

1/2 C. water

1/2 C. sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

2 cardamom pods

2 small fresh rosemary sprigs



In a champagne flute or highball glass, combine the rosemary syrup, pomegranate juice, and pomegranate seeds. Top off the glass with champagne and add a rosemary sprig for garnish.


Rosemary Simple Syrup: Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Strain, transfer to a lidded jar and refrigerate; the syrup will keep for up to 2 weeks.


Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 11mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 48g


Wild Mushroom and Chestnut Stuffing

Wild Mushroom and Chestnut Stuffing

Wild Mushroom and Chestnut Stuffing

For a 20-25 pound turkey


6 C. Brioche, Cut into ½ Cubes

6 Challah Bread or Pane Di Me, Cut into ½ Cubes

8 T. Unsalted Butter

6 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced

½ Cup Finely Chopped Shallots

1 Cup Finely Chopped Onion

1 Cup Finely Chopped Celery

4  Pounds Mix Fresh Wild Mushrooms, Cleaned, Trimmed and Sliced

1 oz. Dried Porcini Mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 C. Water, Drained, Finely Chopped, Liquid Reserved

2 Tsp. Coarse Sea Salt

1 Tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Cup Finely Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley

2 C. Roasted Chestnuts, Coarsely Chopped

8 Large Eggs

1 Cup Heavy Cream

1 Cup Homemade Chicken Stock or Canned Low Sodium Chicken Broth

½  Cup of the Reserved Porcini Liquid, Strained Through Cheesecloth to Remove Sand

1T. Dried Rubbed Sage


Preheat oven to 225°F. Divide the bread cubes between two rimmed half-sheet pans in 1 layer on each pan. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring the cubes half way through the baking time. Turn oven off and allow bread cubes to dry in oven for at least an hour. Remove from oven and place in a large bowl. At this point you can cover the bread cubes in the bowl with foil. The bread cubes can sit overnight on the counter. Melt the butter over medium high heat and in a large heavy skillet, sauté the garlic, shallots, onion and celery, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook until liquid mushrooms give off has almost evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add parsley and chestnuts and cook, stirring about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Whisk together, eggs, chicken stock, reserved porcini liquid, cream and sage in a large bowl. Stir in mushrooms and bread cubes until coated with the liquid. Gently fold the ingredients together. Cool completely and refrigerate overnight. Loosely stuff the cavity and neck of the turkey just before putting the turkey in the oven. Place the rest of the stuffing in a ceramic 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Cover the dish with foil and bake the stuffing in a 350ºF pre-heated oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until a slight crust forms on top and is cooked all the way through, about 20 minutes longer.

Roasted Prime Rib with Sautéed Mushrooms and Creamy Horseradish Sauce

Roasted Prime Rib with Sautéed Mushrooms and Creamy Horseradish Sauce

Roasted Prime Rib with Sautéed Mushrooms and Creamy Horseradish Sauce


2 T. kosher salt, plus more to taste

3 tsp. ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic

2 medium shallots

2 T. fresh rosemary leaves

2 T. fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup olive oil

1 ( 8lb) standing rib roast, trimmed (to multiply or divide the recipe,this translates to roughly 1 rib for every 2-3 people)


1 cup heavy cream

6 T. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper


2 pounds mushrooms, washed, dried, and if large, chopped

4 T. unsalted butter

2 T. olive oil

1 1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

6 T. fresh parsley, chopped


MARINATE: In a food processor, place salt, pepper, garlic, shallots, rosemary, thyme, and olive oil. Pulse until combined. Place the roast bone-side down in a large pan and pour the marinade over it. Rub as much as you can into every crevasse. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours. ROAST: Remove the meat and let it come to room temperature, about 1 hour before you plan to put it into the oven. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 550° F and place the rack in the center. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. When the oven is ready, place the roast, uncovered, into the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 350. Cook until the thermometer registers 125 degrees, about 15-20 minutes per pound, or 2 1/2 hours for an 8 lb roast. Check the temperature of the meat in several other places. A range of 125-155 will give you a good variety of doneness. Cover the roast with foil and let it rest on the counter at least 15 minutes before carving. MAKE THE SAUCE : You can do this while the meat cooks. In a medium bowl, beat cream until stiff. With the mixer on, add lemon juice, salt, paprika, cayenne and horseradish. Chill until ready to serve. SAUTE THE MUSHROOMS: Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the butter and olive oil. When the butter foams, give the pan a shake and then add the mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic. Toss the mushrooms until brown, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with parsley and then place in a serving dish. CARVE: Slice the first piece between the ribs, close to the bone. Cut the second piece half way to the next bone and so on and so on giving each person basically half of the meat between the ribs. SERVE: Top with sauteed mushrooms and whipped horseradish sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley.


Cranberry White Chocolate Tart

Cranberry White Chocolate Tart

Cranberry White Chocolate Tart



1 1/2 C. gluten-free oats

1/2 C. raw almonds

5 T. coconut oil (melted)**

2 T. maple syrup


cranberry layer

2 C. cranberries (fresh or frozen)

1 C. water

1/4 C. maple syrup

1 tsp. agar agar (substitute with gelatin powder 1:1 ratio)


white chocolate layer

â…” C. coconut milk (sub with cashew milk)

1 C. raw cashews (soaked*)

¾ C. cacao butter (sub with vegan white chocolate), melted and cooled

1/3 C. maple syrup

Pinch of salt

4 T. vegan white chocolate, melted and cooled


For the crust add oats and almonds into a food processor. Pulse until combined and add maple syrup and coconut oil. Process into a moist mixture. Firmly press dough into the tart and press up on the sides as well. Bake at 350F for about 10-15 minutes until crust appears golden brown. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes and then transfer onto a cooling rack. In a small saucepan add cranberries, water and maple syrup. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes over low-medium heat until cranberries have broken down. With a hand mixer puree cranberries and add a little bit of water if sauce is too thick. Add 1 tsp. of agar agar powder (or gelatin powder) and simmer for another 5 minutes over low-medium heat. Set aside to cool for a couple minutes, then spread cranberry jam/sauce into the crust (½ way full) and let set in the fridge for another 15 minutes. In the meantime prepare the white chocolate layer. Melt white chocolate and cacao butter in a small saucepan over low heat and set aside.  In a food processor or high speed blender add cashews, maple syrup and coconut milk. Process until completely smooth. Add melted chocolate/cacao butter and process until combined. Pour white chocolate mixture into the tart and let set in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours. Garnish with sugar coated cranberries and white chocolate chips and serve immediately. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.



*soak cashews in water overnight or for at least 3-4 hours.

**use refined (vs unrefined) coconut oil to avoid coconut flavor

Baked Eggnog Donuts with Eggnog Glaze

Baked Eggnog Donuts with Eggnog Glaze

Baked Eggnog Donuts with Eggnog Glaze


1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup Traditional Eggnog

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 egg

2 T. melted butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Eggnog Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

2 T. Traditional Eggnog


Christmas Sprinkles to taste


Preheat oven to 375F and grease a donut pan with butter or oil. In a medium-large bowl combine the dry ingredients (whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt). In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggnog, maple syrup, egg, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Spoon or pipe the batter into the donut holes. Bake for 9-11 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean and donuts are fully set. Wait about an hour to let the donuts fully cool to room temperature. Then, mix the powdered sugar with the eggnog to make the glaze. Dip donuts in the glaze and then add sprinkles. Eat immediately or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat!

Kahlua Spiked Pecans

Kahlua Spiked Pecans

Kahlua Spiked Pecans

1 C. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 large egg white

3 T. Kahlua

4 C. pecan halves


Preheat oven to 325F. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and Kahlua. Add pecans and stir well to combine. Sprinkle half the sugar mixture on top and mix well. Pour the rest of the sugar on top and stir until completely combined. Scoop the mixture onto a large baking sheet lined with foil and coated with nonstick spray. Spread the pecans to an even single layer. Bake until pecans are lightly toasted and browned, stirring every 10 minutes, about 20 to 25 minutes total. Remove from the oven and scoop the hot pecans onto wax or parchment paper to cool completely.

Prime Rib with Cognac-roasted Vegetables and Crunchy Greens

Prime Rib with Cognac-roasted Vegetables and Crunchy Greens

Prime Rib with Cognac-roasted Vegetables and Crunchy Greens

1 (5-pound) bone-in or (4-pound) boneless prime rib roast

4 large carrots (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 2-inch sections

1 (3/4-pound) fennel bulb, cut into 8 sections through the core

1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved if large

6 small shallots, peeled

6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 T. plus 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

2 T. plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 C. chopped winter greens, such as kale, collard greens, or chard (about ¼ pound), ribs removed if large

1⁄3 C. cognac


Remove the roast from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour while you prepare the vegetables and preheat the oven.  Place the carrots, fennel, potatoes, shallots, and garlic cloves in a large roasting pan. Add 2 tsp. of the thyme, 1 T. of the oil, salt and pepper to taste, and mix the ingredients together. Nestle the roast into the center of the vegetables (bone side down, if using a bone-in roast). Coat it with the 2 tsp. oil, then sprinkle with the remaining T. of thyme, salt, and plenty of pepper. Preheat the oven to 450°F. When the oven is hot, roast the beef and vegetables for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and roast for 40 minutes longer. Mix the greens with the remaining T. olive oil, nestle them into the vegetables, then cook for 20 to 30 minutes longer (80 to 90 minutes total) or until the inside of the roast reaches 125°F on an instant-read thermometer for rare—the timing will depend on the shape of your roast. (You’ll want to cook it to 135°F for medium, or 145°F for well-done meat.)  Transfer the roast to a large cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes. Drizzle the cognac over the vegetables and roast for 10 minutes longer. Cut the meat into thin slices and serve immediately, when the vegetables are piping hot.

Vegetable Spiral Tart

Vegetable Spiral Tart

Vegetable Spiral Tart

Tart Crust

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp kosher salt

16 tbs butter (chilled and cut into 1/2″ pieces)

1/2 cup water (very cold)

Vegetable Filling

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 1/4 cup parmesan (finely grated, 1/4 cup reserved)

2 tbs kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper (ground)

1/4 tsp nutmeg (grated)

1/4 tsp chili powder

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3-4 purple carrots (medium)

2 russet potato (large)

2 green zucchini (medium)

2 sweet potato (large)


Sprinkle the cold water on top and pulse again just until the dough comes together into a ball, but it won’t be completely smooth yet. You should still see small bits of butter. Place a piece of plastic wrap on your working surface and turn the dough out onto it. Fold the plastic over and press the dough into a 1-inch thick disc. Make sure it is wrapped completely and refrigerate the disc of dough for 2 hours (or overnight). When chilled, place the disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out until 1/8 inch thick, periodically lifting and rotating to make sure it isn’t sticking to your surface (dust your surface as needed). Carefully transfer the dough to your tart pan, easing it in without stretching the sides, and gently press into place. Trim with a sharp knife even with the rim of your pan. Chill until firm to touch, 30 min – 1 hour. At this point it can be frozen (well- wrapped) for 2 weeks if needed. No thawing necessary if you freeze it! Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (or dried beans). To partially bake, bake until the surface looks dry and pale, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the paper and weights. Return to the oven a bake for 5 minutes longer.


Tart Crust


To make the dough in a food processor, put your flour and salt in the food processor and sprinkle on your cold butter pieces. Cover and pulse several times until the butter is cut into pea size pieces.


Vegetable Filling


As your tart shell is being partially baked, prep the vegetables by shaving them into thin ribbons. A mandolin would work but I find a vegetable peeler even easier and faster – and you get even finer shavings, which cuts down on the cooking time of the tart. For the potatoes and sweet potatoes, I recommend cutting them in quarters, length-wise. All the vegetables should roughly be around the same width so when they’re laid upright in the tart, you can visibly see all the pretty, colorful layers. In a large mixing bowl, combine cream, parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg and chili pepper. Whisk until combined. Toss the vegetable ribbons into the cream mixture until they’re all coated. Take a ribbon (I like to use zucchini here) since it’s so flexible. Roll it into a tight spiral and place it on the center of the partially baked tart shell. Take another vegetable and wrap it around the center spiral. Continue working outwards, alternating vegetables. The cream actually makes the vegetables stick to each other so it’s not as hard as it looks! Once you’ve reached the edge of the tart shell, brush the top of the tart with olive oil and sprinkle with a good sprinkling of finely grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 °F for 50 to 60 minutes, until vegetables are soft and cooked through. Cool in tart pan for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.


Baking time will greatly depend on how thin your vegetables are. Using a good quality, sharp Y-peeler is preferred over a mandolin, and much safer and faster to use. If you use a mandolin, I recommend covering the tart with foil to bake for 20 minutes and then removing the foil and bake uncovered for another 45 minutes. In the spring and summer,  you can replace the root vegetables with different varieties of squash and eggplant. I would just decrease the baking time.

Pan-Roasted Miso Brussels Sprouts and Shiitake Mushrooms

Pan-Roasted Miso Brussels Sprouts and Shiitake Mushrooms

Pan-Roasted Miso Brussels Sprouts and Shiitake Mushrooms

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

1 pound shiitake mushrooms

2 tsp. grapeseed oil or other neutral flavored oil for high-heat cooking, you may need more

¼ C. shiro (white) miso

2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. maple syrup

1 small garlic clove, very finely minced,

salt to taste

optional: crushed red pepper or togarashi (Japanese chili spice)


Wash Brussels sprouts and peel off any wilted or browned outer leaves. Trim the base of each Brussels sprout, then cut into quarters length-wise. Wash shiitake mushrooms, trim off stems (save stems for vegetable stock or other use later). Cut shiitake mushrooms into roughly the same size as the Brussels sprouts quarters. For small/baby shiitakes, cut caps into halves; for larger shiitake mushrooms, cut caps like you would a pizza, into quarters.  Heat grapeseed oil in large pan over medium heat. When hot, add the Brussels sprouts, turning the quarters so one of the cut sides faces down. Allow to cook until starting to brown, about 3 minutes, then turn each Brussels sprout so the other cut side is down. Allow to cook for another 3 minutes. While the Brussels sprouts are cooking on their first side, whisk together the miso, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and minced garlic in a small bowl. Set aside. Turn the heat under the pan to medium-high. Add the shiitake mushrooms to the pan with the Brussels sprouts. Cook while stirring so the shiitake mushrooms do not stick to the pan. Once the shiitake mushrooms are browned and the Brussels sprouts are just starting to char, remove the pan from the heat. Pour in about half the miso mixture and stir to coat the Brussels sprouts and shiitake mushrooms. Taste a Brussels sprout. Add more miso mixture if necessary. Season with salt to taste. Miso is salty so you may not need any salt. Transfer Brussels sprouts and shiitake mushrooms to large shallow serving bowl (or serve straight from skillet). If you are using chili pepper or togarashi for heat, sprinkle over Brussels sprouts and shiitake mushrooms. Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for about 2 days.

The Walking Dead Brain Cupcakes

The Walking Dead Brain Cupcakes

The Walking Dead (Zombie) Brain Cupcakes

Pink or white paper Cupcake liners

1 recipe batter for Red Velvet Cupcakes

1 recipe Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting

Red and black food coloring

Pastry bag and large round tip


Line Cupcake tins with the liners. Fill the Cupcake liners two-thirds full with the batter and bake the Cupcakes as directed in the recipe. Mix a drop of red and black food coloring into the frosting to make it a pinkish gray brain color. Using the pastry bag, pipe the frosting in a squiggly pile on half of each Cupcake top (brains have two hemispheres, you know). Now pipe the frosting in a squiggly pile on the other half of the Cupcake top.

Colcannon Cakes with Poached Eggs & Hollandaise

Colcannon Cakes with Poached Eggs & Hollandaise

Colcannon Cakes with Poached Eggs & Hollandaise




2 1/2 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks


5 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 lightly packed cups of chopped chard, kale, spinach, or cabbage

1/2 cup of green onion greens, chopped

1 cup milk or cream

Colcannon cakes:


About 3 cups of colcannon

1 cup flour

1 egg

2-3 teaspoons salt

4 Tbsp butter or vegetable oil

Lemon for garnish


Poached Eggs, for serving

Hollandaise Sauce, for serving

Diced Scallion or Chives, for serving


Make the colcannon: Make the colcannon first (see our colcannon recipe.) Put potatoes in a pot, cover with cold, well salted water by an inch, bring to a boil, and cook until fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and remove them from the pot. Melt the butter in the still warm pot, add the chopped greens, cook for 3-4 minutes until wilted, then add the green onions and cook for another minute. Add the potatoes, milk or cream to the pot, mash until everything is well mixed.  Mix with egg, flour, salt, and chill: Mix the egg, flour and salt in with the colcannon. You may want to chill the mixture for 15 minutes or longer to make it easier to shape the patties.  Form into patties: Form into little cakes of whatever size you want but make them flat so they will cook through without burning. If the mixture is too wet, add more flour until the mixture is easy to shape. Fry until golden: Heat the butter or vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place the formed patties in the pan so they are not touching. Lower the heat to medium and gently fry until golden, about 3-4 minutes.  Turn and cook the other side. Let the cakes rest on a paper towel while you cook the others.  Top with Poached Egg, Hollandaise, and diced Scallion or Chives for garnish.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast and Stuffing (Thanksgiving for a Small Crowd)

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast and Stuffing (Thanksgiving for a Small Crowd)

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast and Stuffing (Thanksgiving for a Small Crowd)

8 T. (1 stick) butter, divided

1 1/2 pounds sage sausage, removed from casing

1 large onion, finely chopped (about 2 C.)

4 large stalks celery, finely chopped (about 2 C.)

4 cloves garlic, minced or grated on microplane, divided

1/4 C. minced fresh sage leaves (or 2 tsp. dried sage leaves)

32 ounces (4 C.) low-sodium chicken or turkey broth, preferably homemade

3 whole eggs

2 1/2 pounds (about 2 loaves) high quality sandwich bread or soft Italian or French bread, stale or dried in the oven

1/2 C. minced fresh parsley leaves

2 T. minced fresh oregano leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 whole bone-in, skin-on turkey breast (about 4 to 5 pounds), patted dry


Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. In large Dutch oven, melt 5 T. butter over medium high heat until foaming subsides (don’t allow butter to brown), about 2 minutes. Add sausage and mash with stiff whisk or potato masher to break up into fine pieces (largest pieces should be no greater than 1/4-inch). Cook, stirring frequently until only a few bits of pink remain, about 8 minutes. Add onions, celery, garlic, and sage and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add half of chicken stock. Whisk remaining chicken stock, eggs, and 3 T. parsley in medium bowl until homogeneous. Stirring constantly with wooden spoon, slowly pour egg mixture into sausage mixture. Add bread cubes and fold gently until evenly mixed. Using poultry shears, cut off and remove any back portion that may be attached to the turkey (there may not be any). Fill cavity under turkey breast and under flap of fat around neck with stuffing. Transfer remaining stuffing to a buttered 9- by 13-inch casserole dish and place turkey on top. Using your hands, carefully separate the turkey skin from the meat by inserting at the bottom of the breast, being careful not to tear it. In a small bowl, combine remaining butter with remaining parsley and oregano. Add 1 T. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Stir with a fork until homogenous. Rub mixture evenly over and under turkey skin. Transfer to oven and roast until stuffing starts to brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer turkey to a wire rack set in a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, and return turkey to oven. Continue roasting until turkey is golden brown and crisp, and thickest part near bone registers 145 to 150°F on an instant read thermometer, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven, transfer to a plate, and let rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, pour exuded juices back over stuffing. Return stuffing to oven and cook until it’s golden brown and registers 160°F on an instant read thermometer, about 15 minutes. Carve turkey, spread over stuffing, and serve.

Tee’s Corn Pudding

Tee’s Corn Pudding

Tee’s Corn Pudding


1/4 C. sugar

3 T. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. table salt

6 large eggs

2 C. heavy cream

1/2 C. butter, melted

6 C. fresh corn kernels (or thawed frozen)

Vegetable cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk eggs together in a large bowl; whisk in cream and melted butter. Gradually add sugar mixture, whisking until smooth; stir in corn. Pour mixture into a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until mixture is deep golden and set. Let stand 5 minutes.


Bûche de Noël Log

Bûche de Noël Log

Bûche de Noël Log

6 egg whites
3/4 C. sugar
6 egg yolks
3/4 C. flour
1 C. canned pumpkin
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 C. confectioner’s sugar
1/4 C. chopped pecans, toasted
2 T. each butter and milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Prepare 15″ x 10″ x 1″ jellyroll pan. Spray with non-stick cooking spray; line with wax paper; spray again. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 C. sugar, beating until stiff peaks form when beater is raised. Set aside. Beat yolks at high speed gradually adding 1/2 C. sugar until very thick. At low speed, beat in flour, pumpkin, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Fold mixture into egg whites. Spread into jellyroll pan. Bake at 375º for 15 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip. Turn out on towel sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. Remove wax paper. Roll up starting with short end. Cool on rack 1 hour, seam side down. In bowl beat cream cheese with confectioner’s sugar, pecans, butter, milk and vanilla. Unroll cake. Spread cheese mixture to within 1-inch of edges. Roll cake; place seam side down on serving plate. Chill at least 1 hour. Makes 10-12 servings. Refrigerate leftovers.

Pile o’ Presents Cheeseballs

Pile o’ Presents Cheeseballs

Pile o’ Presents Cheeseballs

1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
24 oz. (3 packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 T. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground white pepper

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
3/4 C. dried cranberries, finely chopped
2 T ginger apple chutney (or other flavorful chutney)
6-8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 shallot, finely chopped (should yield about 1/4 c)
1 C. finely chopped pecans
8 oz. chèvre
1/2 C. green onions, finely chopped (whites & greens)
1/3 C. fresh parsley, finely chopped
Additional dried cranberries, green onions, parsley leaves, and pecan halves to “wrap” packages
Various crackers for serving

Combine butter, cream cheese, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper, salt, and white pepper in a large bowl. Mix well until smooth & creamy. Divide the mixture evenly into three separate bowls, using the original mixing bowl for one third. To the first bowl, add the cheddar, cranberries, and chutney and mix well. To the second bowl, add the feta, shallot, and pecans and mix well. To the third bowl, add the chèvre, green onions, and parsley and mix well. Find a serving platter large enough to hold three cheeseballs and crackers and set aside. Stretch out a piece of plastic wrap to about 2 feet long. Scoop the contents of one bowl onto the plastic wrap and fold the wrap around the cheese. Mold the cheese to the desired shape using your hands. Gently pull the plastic wrap away from the cheese and carefully place the cheeseball onto the serving platter. Repeat with new plastic wrap for the other two mixtures, shaping each one slightly differently to make your pile of packages more interesting. Refrigerate for at least one hour. After an hour, the cheeseballs should be fairly firm. “Wrap” your packages by arranging the additional cranberries, green onions, parsley leaves, and pecan halves (each to their respective flavor) as you would ribbons and bows. Use your creativity! Return the cheeseballs to the fridge until 1 hour prior to serving. Remove one hour prior to serving. Arrange crackers around the cheeseballs, providing an additional bowl of crackers on the side.

Prime Rib Roast

Prime Rib Roast

Prime Rib Roast

1 (3 to 4-lb.) bone-in rib-eye roast

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 C. olive oil


1 large shallot, finely chopped

1/2 bottle drinking red wine, such as Malbec

5 C. beef stock


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Using a heavy hand, season rib-eye roast with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or a roasting pan. Place beef in hot pan and sear until deep golden brown on all sides. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for about 15 minutes per lb. for medium-rare, making an approximate hour of cooking time. Remove the pan from oven and transfer the beef to a cutting board. Allow meat to rest for at least 15 minutes, tented with foil, before carving. Pour off excess fat from the Dutch oven (reserve for Thyme for Yorkshire Pudding, if desired) and place on the stovetop over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft and brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Deglaze the pot with 1/2 C. of the wine, scraping up browned bits from the bottom. Add remaining wine, bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add stock and simmer until reduced again by about half. Pass the gravy through a fine mesh sieve and return to the pan. Bring back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until desired gravy consistency is reached. Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary. Carve beef against the grain, into thin slices, and serve with gravy.

Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta, Prosciutto and Arugula

Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta, Prosciutto and Arugula

Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta, Prosciutto and Arugula

15 or so 1/2-inch slices from a baguette, cut on the diagonal

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

1 whole clove garlic, peeled, halved

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

15 arugula leaves

4 ounces prosciutto or other salty, cured pork such as coppa, lomo or speck

Best quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Place the bread on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Grill the bread until golden all over, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Rub one side of each with the garlic clove.   Spread a tablespoon or two of the ricotta on each bread slice, then press an arugula leaf into the cheese. Place a slice of the prosciutto on top, drizzle with the best quality olive oil, and serve.

Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin Roll

Vegetable cooking spray
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Garnishes: powdered sugar, chocolate-coated pecan halves

Coat bottom and sides of a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, and line with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; set aside. Beat eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer 5 minutes or until thick and lemon-colored; gradually add granulated sugar, beating until well combined. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients. Gradually add to egg mixture, beating well. Combine pumpkin, pecans, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and gradually add to mixture, beating well. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Sift 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a 15- x 10-inch rectangle on a clean, dry dish towel. Run a knife around edges of pan to loosen cake, and turn cake out onto prepared towel. Peel wax paper off cake. Starting at narrow end, roll up cake and towel together; place, seam side down, on a wire rack to cool completely.

Red Cider Zipper

Red Cider Zipper

Red Cider Zipper

1 quart apple cider, preferably fresh
8 whole cloves
8 allspice berries
3 cinnamon sticks
3 inches of fresh ginger, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
5 orange slices, including rind
4 tea bags of red hibiscus and rosehip herbal tea, such as Red Zinger or Tazo Passion
2 C. boiling water
1 tsp. honey (optional)
9 fluid oz. apple brandy (optional)
Orange or Angostura bitters (optional)

Pour the cider into a medium saucepan with all of the spices, the ginger, and the orange slices. Bring to a low boil on medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to simmer gently for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, steep the four tea bags in two C. boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, stir in the honey, if using, and set aside. After the cider has simmered for 20 minutes, pour the herbal tea into the cider. Serve immediately or leave to mull further on low heat until ready to drink. For a cocktail, ladle 6 oz. cider into a mug or hot toddy glass. Stir in a shot (3 T.) of apple brandy and two or three dashes of bitters.

Roast Chicken with Prosecco Herb Sauce

Roast Chicken with Prosecco Herb Sauce

2 lb. chicken thighs and drumsticks
3 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
½ C. flour
â…“ C. shallots, diced
1.5 C. Prosecco (or any champagne)
1.5 C. chicken stock
1 T. fresh oregano, chopped (see notes)
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
½ C. heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350º. In a Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge in flour. Place in skillet and let the chicken cook for ten minutes undisturbed. This is what creates that wonderful crispy skin. After ten minutes, turn the pieces and cook an additional ten minutes. Remove chicken and place on a plate. Set aside. Add shallots to the pan. Sauté until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add Prosecco, stock and herbs. Using a wooden spoon, loosen the crusty browned chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. This is the good stuff and it will add so much flavor to the final dish. Simmer for ten minutes. Add chicken pieces back to pan, cover and place in the oven for thirty minutes. At that point, remove chicken from pan and pour in the cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Give it a good stir and add chicken pieces back in. Serve immediately. Notes: Herbs de Provence already has oregano in the mix, but the addition of fresh adds a different flavor. You could skip fresh oregano and replace with fresh parsley, but I do like the way the fresh oregano plays with the Prosecco in this dish.

Butternut Squash Chips with Cranberry Toppings

Butternut Squash Chips with Cranberry Toppings

1½ lb (1 medium) butternut squash
2–3 T. oil—walnut oil would be nice
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage leaves (6–7 leaves)
½ tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground white pepper
2 T. finely chopped dried cranberries
1 T. honey
½ tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Coarse salt, such as Celtic or Maldon sea salt
Fresh rosemary for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350°F, with the racks positioned in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and spray or lightly brush them with some of the oil. To prepare the squash, remove about ½ inch from the top and bottom. Divide it into two sections where the neck meets the seed bulb, then remove the skin with a sturdy vegetable peeler or a paring knife. If you plan to use the seed bulb, scoop out the seeds. Cut each section into even, ⅛ inch slices, about as thick as two stacked quarters. A Mandoline or food processer would be helpful here. If the flesh around the seed bulb is less than ½ inch thick, save it for another use. In a wide pot or deep skillet, bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil. Place a bowl of ice water near your cooktop. Cook the squash in 2 batches, boiling each for 1½ to 2 minutes. Don’t overcook them or they’ll break apart. Carefully scoop the slices into the ice water. Lay the slices on a kitchen towel and pat them completely dry.
In a mixing bowl combine the sage, black pepper, rosemary, salt, and white pepper. Pour the oil into another bowl for brushing. Combine the cranberries, honey, and lemon juice and set the mixture aside. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets so that they’re close but not touching. Brush them generously with the oil, flip and brush the other side, and then sprinkle them with some of the herb mixture. Bake the slices for 15 minutes, flip them and sprinkle them with more of the seasoning, then rotate the baking pans and return them to the oven on opposite racks. Continue cooking the chips until they’re a deep amber-brown and crisp—10 to 15 minutes longer, depending on thickness. Check the chips frequently—they can burn quickly—and remove the ones that finish early. Note: The chips will get crisper as they cool. To serve, spread the chips on a platter and drizzle them with the cranberry topping, coarse salt, and fresh rosemary.

You can use other winter squash for this recipe— kabocha, delicata, acorn—but I think the butternut squash was custom-designed for chip-making. Its neck section yields perfect rounds, and its sturdy, dense flesh makes it easy to handle. Look for a squash that has a long, straight neck and a small seed bulb on its end.

Fry. Butternut squash chips fry up nicely in a couple of minutes in hot oil! Par-boil and dry the slices as described above, then follow a basic frying technique

Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake

Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake

3/4 C. (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus melted for pan
8 Oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/3 C. sugar
1/2 Tsp. salt
2 1/2 C. whole milk, room temperature
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 T. pure vanilla extract

Bring 1/4 C. water to a rolling boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, whisking to combine after each addition. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate until completely melted. Set aside. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla in another medium bowl. Gradually add milk mixture to flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Add chocolate-butter mixture, whisking until smooth. Pour through a fine sieve into an airtight container; discard lumps. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Lightly coat an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet with melted butter. Heat over medium heat until just starting to smoke. Remove pan from heat; pour about 2 T. batter into pan, swirling to cover bottom. Reduce heat to medium-low; return pan to heat. Cook, flipping once, until edges are golden and center is dry, about 30 seconds per side. Slide crepe onto a plate. Repeat process with remaining batter, coating pan with butter as needed. Crepes can be refrigerated, covered, up to 1 day. Place a crepe on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Spread with about 3 T. hazelnut filling. Top with another crepe. Continue layering with hazelnut filling and crepes, using about 32 crepes and ending with a crepe on top. Insert a plastic straw down the center of the cake to provide stability. Cut off any of the straw that sticks up above the top of the cake. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Spoon 1/2 C. glaze on top of the cake, spreading to edges. Spread remaining glaze around sides of cake, coating completely. Refrigerate until glaze is firm and set, about 20 minutes. Cake can be refrigerated up to 3 days. Garnish with toasted and candied hazelnuts.

Hazelnut Filling

2/3 C. heavy cream
6 large egg whites
1 2/3 C. sugar
1 3/4 C. (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
1 Tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 C. hazelnut cream, (available from Whole Foods Market,
1 salt

Put cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Refrigerate 1 hour. Whisk egg whites and sugar in the clean bowl of mixer set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved and mixture registers 160 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment; beat on high speed until slightly cooled and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, several pieces at a time, mixing well after each addition (meringue will deflate slightly as butter is added). Add vanilla, hazelnut cream, and salt; mix until mixture comes together, 3 to 5 minutes. Fold in whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Use immediately.

Chocolate Glaze

1 1/4 C. heavy cream
1 T. light corn syrup
1 salt
10 Oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Bring cream, corn syrup, and salt to a boil in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium- medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; swirl pan to cover completely with cream. Let stand about 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let cool completely.

Candied Hazelnuts

9 hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
1 C. sugar

Thread each hazelnut onto tip of a long wooden skewer; set aside. Place a cutting board along the edge of a countertop; set a baking sheet on floor next to edge. Cook sugar and 1/4 C. water in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides with a wet brush to prevent crystals from forming. Let boil until syrup turns light amber, about 5 minutes; remove from heat. Let stand until slightly cooled, 8 to 10 minutes. Dip 1 skewered hazelnut into syrup, coating completely and letting excess syrup drip back into pan. When dripping syrup becomes a thin string, secure end of skewer under cutting board, letting caramel string drip over edge onto sheet. Repeat with remaining hazelnuts. Let stand until caramel has hardened, about 5 minutes. Break strings to about 4 inches. Carefully remove skewers.

Pumpkin Spice Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

1 C. unsalted butter
3/4 C. light brown sugar, packed
1/2 C. turbinado sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
1 T. milk
3 1/4 All Purpose Flour (or 2-3/4 C. whole wheat flour)

Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light & fluffy (about 3-4 minutes on medium speed). Add in the turbinado sugar, and cream for an extra minute or so. Add the baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice; mix well. Add the egg & milk; beat well. Add the flour, mixing until well-combined. The dough should be soft & not sticky. Turn out onto sheets of waxed paper & roll. Cut out shapes, and transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat liners. Freeze sheets for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 365°. Remove cookies from freezer and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to have a hint of brown. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Christmas Cookies – From Simple to Spectacular

Christmas Cookies – From Simple to Spectacular

Everyone is pressed for time during the holidays, but that shouldn’t stop you from making a lovely batch of Christmas cookies. Our treats look great whether unadorned or dressed to the nines, so you can tailor them to suit your interest (and schedule). They’re all made with the same sugar cookie dough and frosting, so you can mix and match. And even the most basic versions are pretty enough to decorate a tree or window. You’ll find sources for the special equipment and decorations, plus packaging ideas. Or try different cookie cutters and add your favorite colors and decorations. Just get baking!

Christmas Cookies – From Simple to Spectacular

Favorite Sugar Cookie Dough

1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat room-temperature butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Stir or beat in flour until well blended. Flatten dough into a 1-inch-thick disk. On a lightly floured board, roll dough about 1/8 inch thick. Follow directions below to make cookies.

Royal Icing

4 cups (1 lb.) powdered sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
food coloring

In a large bowl, combine 4 cups (1 lb.) powdered sugar, 6 tablespoons water, and 3 tablespoons meringue powder (or omit water and meringue powder and use 6 tablespoons pasteurized egg whites). With an electric mixer on low speed, beat until evenly moistened, then beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Controlling consistency of icing is simple: If icing is too thick, add a few drops of water; if it’s too thin, gradually add more powdered sugar.

Tint icing with food coloring as desired; to make all three cookie designs with Favorite Sugar Cookie Dough, divide icing into four portions and tint three blue, green, or red, leaving one white.

1. With a floured cookie cutter, cut ornament shapes from cookie dough.
2. Make an imprint in the center of each cookie by lightly pressing a star-shape cookie cutter into dough, making sure not to cut all the way through.
3. Use a drinking straw to poke a hole in each cookie. Transfer to baking sheets lined with cooking parchment.
4. Bake in a 300° oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.
5. Serve when cool, or thread a ribbon through each hole, tie, and hang from a tree or in a window.
To make them special: Prepare cookies as above, but skip step 2. With a small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of tinted icing on each ornament.
To make them spectacular: Follow directions above for special version; let icing dry. With a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with icing, create raised accents. Sprinkle sanding sugar over the still-wet piping, then tilt and tap cookie to remove excess. Add dragées.

1. With a floured 3- to 4-inch fluted-edge cookie cutter, cut out large circles from cookie dough. With a floured 1- to 2-inch cutter, cut out a circle in each cookie. Transfer cookies to baking sheets lined with cooking parchment. Gather scraps, reroll, and cut out more wreaths.
2. Bake in a 300° oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.
3. Serve when cool, or thread a ribbon through each wreath and hang from a tree or in a window.
To make them special: With a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with green icing, pipe “branches” onto the wreath. Or with a small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of tinted icing on each wreath.
To make them spectacular: Follow directions for special version; with a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with red icing, apply “berries” to each wreath. Sprinkle sanding sugar over the still-wet icing, then tilt and tap cookie to remove excess.

Cutout Cookies
1. With a floured square cookie cutter with a fluted edge, cut out 20 cookies from cookie dough. Transfer to baking sheets lined with cooking parchment.
2. With smaller floured cookie cutters (we used a pear shape), cut out 20 top pieces from dough. If necessary, gather scraps, reroll, and cut out more top pieces.
3. Brush the back of each top piece with a little water and press gently onto squares.
4. Bake in a 300° oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.
To make them special: With a small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of tinted icing on each top piece.
To make them spectacular: Follow directions for special version; use a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with icing to create dots and leaves. If desired, apply a bit of gold leaf while icing is still moist.

Everything you need to make holiday treats: You don’t need many tools to make our Christmas cookies―just cookie cutters, a pastry bag, a straw, a small spatula, and some ribbon. You’ll find the following decorative sugars and candies at gourmet specialty markets, but you can also make substitutions: Use granulated sugar instead of sanding sugar, and swap in cinnamon Red Hots or nonpareils for the dragées.
Assorted cookie cutters. We used a piece of cardboard as a template for the ornament, but the fluted-edge round and square cutters for the wreath and cutout cookies can be found on A similar mini pear cookie cutter is available from the Cookie Cutter Factory (866/255-9194). Pinocchio Productions sells an eight-point star cookie cutter. (620/421-0654) has a vast selection, including many star shapes, as do Michaels craft stores (800/642-4235 for store locations).
Decorative sparkle. We used a combination of dragées (dra-zhays), edible gold, matte red decoratifs, and sanding sugar. (Silver dragées are for decoration only; avoid eating them.) Look for nonmetallic dragées and sanding sugar in gourmet supermarkets, kitchen stores, Michaels, at (877/337-2491), or on Fancy Flours (406/522-8887) sells decoratifs, sanding sugar, and dragées. Edible gold is available at Sur La Table ($35 for 150 mg; 800/243-0852).
A pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip. Fill it with icing to create fine lines for making branches on the wreath cookies and adding stripes and dots to the ornament and cutout cookies. You’ll find bags and tips at kitchen stores such as Sur La Table as well as at craft stores like Michaels.

Holiday Dungeness Crab Feast

Holiday Dungeness Crab Feast

Start with garlic-and anchovy-laced bagna cauda for dipping raw veggies and crusty bread, followed by cracked crab and pasta in a homemade tomato sauce redolent of garlic and basil.

Juicy and briny-sweet, Dungeness is celebration food. Any evening that begins with crabcakes instantly feels festive and special. And cracked crab is great to eat with close friends and family or with people you’d like to get to know better ― because it requires rolling up your sleeves and diving in with both hands.

What could be more fun than that? Reach across the table for legs and claws and just a little more dipping sauce, dig out morsels of meat, and go for it.

Cracked Crab with Lemongrass, Black Pepper, and Basil

2 stalks fresh lemongrass, ends trimmed and coarse leave

FS=Randy Mon

s discarded
2 T. chopped fresh ginger
1 T. chopped garlic
1/4 C. honey
1/4 C. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 T. freshly ground black pepper
3 fully cooked Dungeness crabs (about 2 lbs. each), cleaned, legs cracked, and bodies quartered
3 T. peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 C. loosely packed cilantro sprigs
1 C. loosely packed Thai basil leaves or small regular basil leaves


Chop lemongrass. Put in a food processor with ginger and garlic; whirl until minced. Scrape into a large bowl and stir in honey, soy sauce, and pepper. Add crabs and stir to coat well. Cover, then chill at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Pour oil into a 14-in. wok or a wide 8- to 10-qt. pot over medium-high heat. With a slotted spoon, add crabs (reserve marinade). Cover and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes (omit this cooking time if using fully cooked crabs). Uncover pan, add marinade, and cook, stirring often, until crabs are steaming and meat is opaque, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and basil, then transfer crabs and juices to a serving bowl.

Ultimate Crabcakes

4 ounces sea scallops
2 T. lightly beaten egg
3 T. heavy whipping cream
1 pound (3 cups) shelled cooked crab
2 T. diced (1/4 in.) red bell pepper
2 T. diced (1/4 in.) yellow bell pepper
2 T. finely chopped cilantro
3 T. finely chopped chives, divided
2 tsp. green hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
2 T. olive oil
Devil Sauce

In a food processor, pulse scallops and egg just until scallops are chopped. With motor running, pour in cream and whirl until smooth. Scrape scallop mixture into a bowl. Stir in crab, bell peppers, cilantro, 2 tbsp. chives, the hot sauce, salt, and cayenne, breaking up most large chunks of crab. Lay an 18-in. sheet of parchment paper on a work surface. Scoop 6 equal mounds of crab mixture onto parchment. Shape each into an even cake about 1 1/4 in. thick, using your fingers or, for neater sides, a 2 1/2-in.-diameter ring mold. Pour olive oil into a 12-in. nonstick frying pan and heat over medium-low heat. Using a thin, flexible spatula, carefully transfer cakes to pan. Cook, turning once, until nicely browned and no longer wet in center, about 10 minutes total. Divide crabcakes among 6 warm plates, scatter with remaining 1 tbsp. chives, and serve with Devil Sauce.
Devil Sauce

3/4 C. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
About 1 tsp. red hot sauce, such as Tabasco

In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, coriander, and 1 tsp. hot sauce. Taste and add more hot sauce if you like.

Mocha-Caramel Tree Cookies

Mocha-Caramel Tree Cookies

Mocha-Caramel Tree Cookies1 C. butter, softened
1/3 C. sifted powdered sugar
3 T. granulated sugar
1 tsp. instant espresso coffee powder or 2 tsp. instant coffee crystals
1 T. vanilla
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2/3 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. semisweet chocolate pieces
1 tsp. shortening
1/2 of a 14-ounce package vanilla caramels (about 24)
2 T. milk 1/4 C. butter

In a large mixing bowl beat first 3 ingredients with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Dissolve instant coffee powder or crystals in vanilla; add to butter mixture. Beat in cocoa powder. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. By hand, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover; chill about 1 hour or until firm. On a floured surface, roll one half of dough at a time to 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch trees, reindeers, or other shapes. Place cookies 1-1/2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until set but not over browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; transfer to wire racks. Cool completely. Heat and stir chocolate pieces and shortening over low heat until chocolate begins to melt. Remove from heat; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cookies. Let stand until set. Heat and stir the caramels, 1/4 C. butter, and milk over very low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Drizzle over cookies.

Vanilla Orange Sugared Cranberries

Vanilla Orange Sugared Cranberries

Vanilla Orange Scented Cranberries3 ¾ cups sugar, divided
1 ¾ cups water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. orange extract or grand mariner
1- 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)

Combine 2 ½ cups of sugar, water, vanilla, and orange extract in a sauce pan. Heat over medium until the sugar has completely dissolved—but not boiling. Pour in the cranberries and stir. The hot syrup will loosen the skin, saturate the berries and adhere to the berries over time. Cover the cranberries with a small plate to keep them mostly submerged. Then cover the pan and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Place the remaining 1 ¼ cup of sugar in a rimmed dish. Strain the cranberries and place them in the sugar. Shake until they are completely coated. Carefully transfer them to a baking sheet to dry—about an hour. Once the sugar coating is hard, place them in an air-tight container and keep in a cool spot for up to a week!

Caramelized Onion & Olive Puff Pastry Tart

Caramelized Onion & Olive Puff Pastry Tart

4690303_281271_CarmOnion11 sheet puff pastry
plain flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons water
1 cup Kalamata olives
fresh thyme
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F, 220C. Roll out the puff pastry so that it fits on a baking tray covered in parchment paper. Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onions on medium heat for about 20 minutes. Add water and stir until the onions are golden and soft. Place on top of the puff pastry. Add olives and thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and puffy, about 12 minutes.

Cheddar Potato Puff

Cheddar Potato Puff

8 cups potatoes, hot, mashed or riced
4 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 scant teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup shredded sharp or mild Cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Mash hot mashed potatoes with butter, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, cheese, and onions. Beat until well blended. Pile into a buttered 2 to 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Bake at 350° for 35 to 45 minutes, or until puffed and nicely browned.

Beverage Mixes – Easy Gifts

Beverage Mixes – Easy Gifts

Beverage Mixes

cappuccinomixes1Beverage Mixes make wonderful gifts for teachers, family, friends or those last minute gifts for unexpected company. You can package them in Mason jars, jelly jars or any pretty container, including tins, that you have on hand. In the tins be sure to put in a plastic bag first then place in the tin. These are easy, tasty recipes that will bring rave reviews!



~Orange Cappuccino Mix~

1/2 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup instant coffee
1 tsp. dried orange peel
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Place all items in blender or food processor. Cover and blend on high or 30 seconds, stopping blender after 15 seconds to stir until well mixed. Store in tightly covered container. For each serving, place 2 teaspoons mix and 2/3 cup boiling water in mug.
~Spiced Mocha Mix~

1 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1/2 cup cocoa
3 tablespoons powdered instant coffee
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
In large bowl combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container. For single serving place 3 tablespoons mix in mug and add 3/4 cup boiling water. Makes 2 1/2 cups mix.

~Peach Tea Mix~

1 cup instant tea mix
1 3 ounce box peach-flavored gelatin
2 cups granulated sugar
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix well. Store in an airtight container. Give with instructions to serve. For one mug use 2 tsp. tea mix with 8 ounces hot water. Makes about 3 1/2 cups tea mix.


~Sugar Free Cherry Tea Mix~

We all know people who are diabetic or simply need to cut down on their sugar intake. This is a great gift, combined with some pumpkin or zucchini bread in a nice basket!

1 package unsweetened cherry-flavored soft drink mix
1 1/4 cups sugar-free instant tea mix (artificially sweetened)
combine items in a small bowl until well blended. Store in an airtight container. To serve, stir 2 teaspoons tea mix into 8 ounces hot or cold water. Makes 1 1/4 cups tea mix.


Instant Cappuccino Mix

1 cup powdered chocolate milk mix
3/4 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1/2 cup instant coffee granules
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container. To serve: Place 1 heaping tablespoon mix in a cup or mug. Add 1 cup boiling water and stir.


Hot Chocolate Mix

1 8 quart box nonfat dry milk
1 6 ounce jar coffee creamer
1 16 ounce dry chocolate milk mix
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Mix all items until well blended. Store in airtight container. To serve add 1/4 cup mix to 2/3 cup hot water. Make 3 quarts. You can also create a gift basket with mini marshmallows, a nice mug, a chocolate coated spoon, and a few peppermint sticks. Place all in a nice wicker basket a6574nd wrap with colored cellophane tied with a bow. Any chocolate fan would love this!
Tips for Wrapping and Giving

Any of the above can be placed in a quart or pint canning jar. Place jar on a large piece of colored cellophane, bring up to the top, gather and tie with raffia. Attach a gift tag with instructions. *The coffees can be part of a gift basket with petite cookies, a pretty coffee mug and a sterling silver spoon, which can be easily found at any antique or thrift store. Place in a nice wicker basket and wrap with cellophane or place in a large gift bag.

Composed Fruit Salad with Ginger-Lime Syrup

Composed Fruit Salad with Ginger-Lime Syrup

fruitMost fruit salads are served as chunky mixes — appealing to the mouth, yes, but less so to the eye. With a stylish green-and-gold palette, this composed salad is an elegant alternative. A zingy ginger-lime syrup to pour on top makes the flavors sing.

Fresh Ginger
Fresh Fruit: Choose from mangoes, yellow watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, nectarines, golden raspberries, yellow and green kiwi fruit, green grapes, and golden plums.

In a 1- to 1 ½-quart pan, combine 1 ½ C. water, 1 C. sugar, 10 slices unpeeled fresh ginger (each about the size of a quarter), and 5 slices (¼-in. thick) lime. Simmer until liquid is infused with ginger flavor, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 T. fresh lime juice; strain and cool. On a platter, arrange 3 quarts sliced or chopped fruit. Pour syrup into a bowl or glass; garnish with 3 lime slices. Serve with fruit.

Alternatives to Typical Party & Picnic Foods

Alternatives to Typical Party & Picnic Foods

Shrimp Lafayette (instead of chilled shrimp cocktail)

Fill a frying pan with about 1/3 C. of olive oil, add 4 or 5 bay leaves and heat on medium. Add about 2 lb. of raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined, raise the heat a notch and cook until they start turning opaque. Then add a can of beer, a tsp. of corn starch and hot pepper flakes. Cook for another 4 or 5 minutes, then transfer shrimp and the juice to a serving bowl and enjoy.


Mediterranean platter (instead of celery, carrot sticks and dip)

On a large serving tray, arrange several slices of pita bread cut into triangles, a pile of broken-up feta cheese, a couple handfuls of shelled, halved walnuts, a few scoops of flavored hummus, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. Park a ramekin of olive oil in the middle of it all, and viola.


Baked green olives with bacon (instead of a relish tray)

Wrap each pimento or garlic-stuffed green olive in a thin thread of bacon and fasten with toothpicks. Bake on a cookie sheet in preheated 325-degree oven until bacon is cooked (about 10-12 minutes). Arrange on a platter with canned black olives and jarred pepperoncinis.


Chicken-stuffed endive leaves (instead of green salad)

Start with two C. of either homemade or store-purchased chicken. Add fresh tarragon, walnuts and finely diced apples to the mixture. Then fill the bottom tip of a dozen or more baby endive leaves with the salad. Arrange the leaves in a star formation on a large platter and sprinkle with dried chives.


Pierogis (instead of pasta or potato salad)

Boil one or two dozen of frozen potato-cheese-stuffed pierogis (purchased from freezer sections of major grocery stores) for 5-10 minutes. Drain and transfer into shallow baking pan filled with two sticks of cut-up butter and 2-3 chopped brown onions. Salt and sprinkle generously with black pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes in 225-degree oven, occasionally turning the pierogis with an oven spoon. Serve in a wide, shallow bowl with a ramekin of sour cream on the side.


Asian pork tenderloin (instead of meat skewers)

Marinate a two-or-three-lb. pork tenderloin overnight in a half-C. each of orange juice and Hoisin sauce, one-quarter C. each of dark molasses and soy sauce, four cloves of minced garlic and dash of salt and pepper. Bake in a roasting pan according to package instructions. Let cool 20 minutes and then roll the meat in toasted sesame seeds before slicing. Serve on a cutting board with sliced baguette or Kaiser rolls.


Turkey-cranberry rolls (instead of cold-cut platter)

Spread thin layer of cream cheese over three to five sheets of Lavash bread (from Trader Joe’s), then top with another layer of cranberry sauce, covering only about half of each sheet. Add over the cranberry sauce a thin layer of shaved turkey. Roll each rectangular sheet beginning at one of the shorter edges. Refrigerate one hour. Cut into one-inch-thick pieces and transfer to large plate garnished with parsley sprigs.


Smoked turkey asparagus (another alternative to plain cold cuts)

Remove the hard bottoms of a dozen or so asparagus spears and discard. Then blanch the spears in boiling water for about four minutes and let cool. Roll each spear in a slice of medium-thick smoked turkey, arrange onto a platter and serve with aioli, hollandaise or plain.

Sausage & Chestnut Stuffing

Sausage & Chestnut Stuffing

ei1b06_turkey_sausage1 loaf day-old rustic Italian bread (about 1 pound), trimmed of crust and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
1 pound fresh chestnuts
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup homeade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 T. chopped fresh thyme
2 T. chopped fresh sage
2 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp. coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Unsalted butter, for baking dish

Let bread cubes stand on a baking sheet at room temperature 3 hours to dry. Lay each chestnut flat on a work surface, and cut an X in the pointed tip of shell with a paring or chestnut knife. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Boil chestnuts 2 minutes; remove pot from heat. Remove chestnuts with a slotted spoon; peel away shells. Quarter nutmeat; transfer to a large bowl. Add bread. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Split sausages; scrape meat into a large saute pan set over medium heat; crumble with a fork. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Add oil; swirl pan. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 15 to 17 minutes. Add to bread mixture. Add wine to pan. Scraping up any brown bits from bottom with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat until wine is reduced by half. Add to bread mixture. Add stock to bread mixture; toss. Add thyme, sage, and parsley. Add the salt, and season with pepper. Stir in eggs. To bake stuffing: Place stuffing in a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish; cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes; remove foil. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. To cook in turkey: Stuff as directed. Place remaining 5 cups stuffing in a buttered 8-inch square baking dish; bake as directed above.

Southern Cranberry Salad

Southern Cranberry Salad

1 (3-o355275-cooked-cranberry-saladunce) package strawberry or cherry gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 (16-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
2 (11-ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

Place the gelatin in a large bowl and pour in boiling water. Stir with a fork until gelatin is dissolved. Add the cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges and pineapple; stir until well blended. Pour into bowl or mold; cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. If molded, sit mold in 1 inch of hot water briefly. Run a sharp knife around the edges, and then shake to loosen the salad. Invert onto platter

Cranberry Compote

Cranberry Compote

orange-cranberry-compote_400x4001 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups plus 2 T. water, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 T. sugar
1 tsp. orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 T. cornstarch

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries, 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, orange zest, and orange juice. Cook until cranberry skins begin to split, about 5 to 10 minutes. Using a potato masher, crush cranberries until no whole berries remain. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine remaining 2 T. water and cornstarch, and stir until smooth. Pour into the cranberry mixture and cook for 6 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Cheese and Charcuterie Plate

Cheese and Charcuterie Plate


Creating your own version is a great opportunity to experiment with different meats and cheeses – ask your cheese monger what varieties complement each other. You could even organize the board thematically – go Spanish with Manchego cheese and Chorizo sausage with Marcona Almonds or if Italy is your inspiration, use chunks of good Parmesan Cheese and slices of Proscuitto with a small bowl of roasted red peppers. I like to serve this meal on a rustic wooden board.

selection of 3 cheeses (one cow, one goat, one sheep), slicing a few servings of each
selection of 3 cured meats (bresaola, soppressata and proscuitto), thinly sliced
tupelo honey
raisin walnut loaf, sliced
baguette, sliced

Artfully arrange meats and cheeses (wedges and slices) on a board or platter. Fill in the gaps with small bowls: one with olives (along with a smaller bowl for the pits) and the other filled with honey. You want the board to look elegant but overflowing with goodness. Place your sliced breads in a basket, bowl or platter nearby.

What Cheeses And Meats Should You Use?

The best cheese and meat boards are diverse — don’t be afraid to experiment. Try to include at least one cheese from each of these predominant category:

1) A fresh cheese (fiore di latte and/or burrata)
2) A soft-ripened cheese (camembert and/or brie)
3) A semi-soft cheese (friulano, havarti and/or gouda)
4) A firm cheese (piave, spillembergo, aged provolone and crotonese)
5) A hard cheese (grana padano and parmigiano reggiano)
6) A veined cheese (gorgonzola and/or stilton)

If you want to add in meats, there should be an array ranging from smoky speck to a cooked item, like mortadella or a bacon-like pancetta. You may also want a cured sausage like salami or aged items like bresaola and especially the renowned prosciutto di parma.

Too Much, Too Little… How Much Should You Buy?

Since the cheese board is likely to be a starter to an abundant meal to follow, a recommended quantity is one to two ounces of cheese and three slices of meat per person. Remember, you’re trying to delight your guests’ palate, but keep their appetites intact for later courses.

What Do I Plate It All On?

Take the time and plate it right since it’s Thanksgiving. Treat the cheeseboard like a centrepiece. Use platters that are both ornate and practical. Food grade wood boards are great; if you have them, marble slabs are the best (flat, rimless and aesthetically pleasing, they’re also easy surfaces for cutting cheese on).

To Cube Or Not To Cube…

The look of wedge-cut cheeses is more authentic and requiring guests to cut cheese to their taste adds an interactive element. Only resort to pre-cut tasting pieces (like cubes) out of necessity.

How Many Knives Do I Need To Use?

Always use separate cheese knives for each cheese. This ensures the distinctive notes of each cheese are kept pure. Regarding meat, there is very little risk of intermingling flavours so a simple fork is fine.

What Else Should I Add To The Board?

Surrounding the board with appropriate accompaniments adds interest and contrasting yet complementary flavours. They also serve as palate cleansers in between cheese samplings and simply enhance all flavours. Notable accompaniments are: dried fruit like apricots and figs; nuts (natural and unflavoured) such as almonds and walnuts; sliced fresh fruit with mild notes like pears (or with a slight tang like apples). Meats are robust in flavour and their pleasantness is heightened by cured olives. The gaeta and cerignola species are marvelous. Also, accompanied meat with fresh fruit, like figs and melon, is divine.


What Condiments Should I Add To The Plate?

Condiments, condiments, condiments! Use them. They enhance the flavours of cheeses. The best ones to use include: wine-based jelly; lightly sweetened, concentrated fruit-based jams (pear and fig are ideal); fruit compotes; honey; and, especially, a product from Cremona, Italy, known as mostarda cremonese, which is a condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard-flavoured syrup. Finely sliced meats are best as is; adding the above alters the taste too much.

What Type Of Crackers Should I Use?

As a textural contrast, serve crusty bread, plain crackers, plain breadsticks or plain crostini. Mellow tasting items such as these achieve the texture contrasting element while their subtleness allows the flavour profile of the cheese to be at the forefront and untainted.

When Should I Pull The Platter Together?

Arrange the selected cheeses anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes before guests arrive to bring the cheeses to room temperature and optimum flavour; 15 to 20 minutes ahead is ample for plating the meat.

Now, What Type Of Wine Should I Serve?

Does cheese enhance wine or does wine enhance cheese? Don’t worry about it — just combine the two. Some brilliant pairings to the cheese categories listed above in tip number one are:
1) San Giovese and Pinot Grigio
2) Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir
3) Zinfandel and Riesling
4) Chianti and San Giovese
5) Chianti and Barolo and Brunello
6) Prosecco and Port

Burrito Party

Burrito Party

fajitas-de-pollo-xThrow a Cinco de Mayo burrito party in minutes

As a holiday, Cinco de Mayo stirs up more hoopla north of the Mexican border than south of it—but any excuse for a party that involves Mexican food is good enough for us. Best yet, it’s easy to do: Just buy what you need for a burrito buffet at the supermarket; if there’s a Mexican market near you, the choices for fillings and fixings get even better. Guests build their own burritos, so all you have to make is the slaw. When it’s this easy, you just might want to think about a Cinco de Junio next.

What to buy ( Makes about 10 servings.)

Appetizers and drinks
Tortilla chips and salsa and/or guacamole
Fried pork rinds (chicharrónes)
Pickled jalapeño chiles
Chile-lime roasted peanuts or garbanzos
Mexican beer and sodas

Burrito bar
8 ounces cotija or feta cheese
1 1/2 C. crema (Mexican sour cream) or sour cream
1 1/2 C. salsa (1 or 2 types)
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 ounce fresh cilantro
5 green onions
2 avocados (8 oz. each)
or 1 1/2 C. guacamole
1 lime
2 or 3 cans (16 oz. each) black, pinto, or refried beans
About 2 pounds boned cooked meat or 2 roasted whole chickens (1 3/4 lb. each)
10 fresh flour tortillas (10 in. wide)

slawMexican slaw
2 limes
3 T. vegetable oil
1 head cabbage
4 to 6 ounces radishes
1 ounce fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper

Pineapple sundaes
3 pounds peeled and cored fresh pineapple
1 1/2 C. caramel sauce like Mexican (goat-milk) cajeta
1 1/3 C. sweetened flaked or shredded dried coconut
2 1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream
Guests build their own burritos, so all you have to make is the slaw.

Burrito Bar

Notes: At many Mexican delis, you can find great cooked filling choices like carnitas (slow-cooked pork) and carne asada (marinated beef steak). And meat sections often carry ready-to-grill marinated meats such as lomo de res (beef), puerco adovado (pork), or fajitas de pollo (chicken). If those options aren’t available, look for rotisserie chickens from a supermarket deli.

1. Crumble cotija cheese and put in a bowl. Place crema and salsa in containers. Rinse lettuce, cilantro, and green onions. Finely shred enough lettuce to make about 5 C. and place in a container. Chop cilantro and thinly slice onions (including green tops); put in containers. Pit and peel avocados, thinly slice into a bowl, and mix with 2 T. lime juice.

2. In a 2- to 3-quart covered pan over medium heat, stir beans often until hot (adding a little water, if needed, to refried beans), about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. Or heat, covered, in a microwave oven at full power (100%), stirring once, until hot, 3 to 4 minutes. If using whole beans, lift beans from liquid with a slotted spoon or drain in a colander.

3. Tear cooked meat into coarse shreds or cut into thin slices. If using a whole roast chicken, pull meat off bones and shred; sliver skin and include (or discard if desired). If meat is raw, grill it, then slice into bite-size pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature. To reheat, place meat in a microwave-safe bowl, cover, and heat in microwave oven at half power (50%), stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Drizzle 1/4 C. water over a dish towel. Wrap tortillas in towel and overwrap with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Heat in a microwave oven at full power (100%) until hot and steamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and set towel-wrapped tortillas in a basket or covered casserole.
5. Arrange cheese, crema, salsa, lettuce, cilantro, onions, avocados, beans, meat, and tortillas on the table. Makes 10 servings.

Mexican Slaw

1. Squeeze 3 T. juice from limes into a large bowl. Add vegetable oil and mix.

2. Rinse cabbage, radishes, and cilantro. Finely shred enough cabbage to make 3 quarts. Thinly slice radishes to make about 1 C. Chop enough cilantro to make about 1/2 C. Add cabbage, radishes, and cilantro to dressing. Mix gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pineapple Sundaes

Notes: Scoop balls of ice cream onto a baking sheet and freeze for easy serving. Cut pineapple into bite-size chunks. Put pineapple, caramel sauce, coconut, and ice cream balls into bowls (see notes). Makes about 10 servings.

Orange Pomegranate Salad

Orange Pomegranate Salad

Pomegranate-Orange-Salad2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
Salt and pepper
2 oranges, cut into supremes or 1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained
1 pkg. (5 to 6 ounces) arugula or spring mix lettuce
1/4 to 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup goat or feta cheese, crumbled

Add first 3 ingredients to a glass jar with a lid. Add a little salt and pepper. Screw on lid and shake well. Shake dressing well before serving. Put arugula or lettuce in a large bowl. Drizzle a little of the dressing over the salad. Toss to coat. Place on one big platter or individual plates. Top with oranges, pomegranate seeds and cheese.

Extra dressing keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days. To cut an orange into supreme, slice off the top and bottom of the rind. Then remove the rest of the rind, slicing from top to bottom, making sure to remove all the pith but leaving as much fruit as possible. Next, slice through the fruit along either side of each membrane to remove only the fruit sections.