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"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

Posts from the Desserts Category

I always feel like I need to bring something to a party, aside from my sparkling personality. I’m a cook and a stylist, and it just wouldn’t do for me to show up empty-handed, or worse yet, with a store-bought dessert. Sometimes, I bring booze. When I do, I start stuttering through a series of excuses, “Oh! It’s been madness! All of this travel! I’m never home anymore! I…etc.etc.etc.” Ultimately, I’m sure no one cares, but I feel dreadful.

Enter this dessert. It’s one of those Key lime pie recipes that you can find in the Wild West that is the Internet, or even on the side panel of a box of Grahams or a tin of sweetened condensed milk. You can make this thing blindfolded, even those of you who proclaim themselves non-bakers. AND! While there is a crust recipe here, go ahead, get one of those ready-made things if you want.

Top this tart with the most seasonal fruits you can find, like raspberries and plums, and not only will this be a refreshing and delicious dessert, it’ll look very “wow!”

KEY LIME FRUIT TART

Makes 1 (9-inch) tart, serving 8

IF YOU’RE MAKING YOUR OWN CRUST:
1 ¾ cups Graham cracker crumbs
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula, then scrape into a 9-inch round pie plate. Press crumbs into bottom and up sides of plate.

- Bake until golden, 7 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and reserve.

WHILE THE CRUST IS COOLING, MAKE THE FILLING and TOPPING
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened*
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
Pinch salt
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 12 limes
3 cups assorted fruits, such as berries and sliced peaches, plums, and nectarines

- With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until light and fluffy. With machine running, gradually beat in condensed milk, lime zest, and salt. Slowly add the lime juice and beat just until mixture is combined.

- With a rubber spatula, scrape mixture into prepared pie shell. Top with fruits and refrigerate until chilled and set, about 2 hours. Serve.

*SOFT AND SUPPLE: Don’t try to beat this cream cheese when it’s cold: you’ll wind up with a filling that’s lumpy, like cottage cheese. If you’re in a rush and don’t want to wait for the cheese to come to room temperature, buy cream cheese in the carton with the foil wrapper on the cheese. Massage the cheese while still wrapped.

Thanksgiving Pies

The holidays are upon us! Again, they caught us by surprise, but there is no denying that in the city the streets are carpeted in thick layers of fallen leaves and the windows of shops are screaming out invitations to shop.

We had another early celebration, a dry run, so that we could share our Thanksgiving with you. Last year we honored the turkey and showed you how to roast and carve, but this year, we decided to go straight for what people most ogle at the table: PIE. Here you’ll find sweet and savory pies with classic flaky crusts, nut-based crusts, puff pastry berets, and crunchy layers of phyllo. We’ve included the standard but regal apple pie, and included a reimagined version of candied yams and marshmallows, as well as brown butter pear and cranberry, potato, and of course, turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

And a very special thank you to our friend and rock star prop stylist, Emily Rickard!

Thanksgiving Pies

Thanksgiving Pies

Thanksgiving Pies

INDIVIDUAL TURKEY POT PIES
Makes 8 to 10 pot pies

Notes: You can roast the turkey up to two days in advance.  
My rule of thumb for seasoning poultry is ¾ teaspoon salt per pound of meat.
- I prefer Dufour brand puff pastry; it is pricier, but well worth it for true butter flavor.
- Warming the milk makes it easier to incorporate into the roux.

For the Turkey
1 (6-pound) bone-in turkey breast
4 ½ teaspoons salt* and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup mixed herbs, such as thyme, sage, and rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Turkey: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F.  Set an oven-safe cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet.

- Gently separate the skin from the flesh of the turkey with your fingertips. Rub most of the salt and pepper directly on the flesh, then rub the remaining on the skin. Combine the butter with the herbs and smear the butter in between the skin and flesh.

- Drizzle the breast with the olive oil and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue cooking until the thickest part of the breast registers 150°F (usually it is 160°F, but there will be carryover cooking and the turkey will be cooked within the pot pies).  Cool turkey to room temperature, then carve and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces.

For the Filling and Topping
3 pounds red waxy potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 tablespoons (9 ounces) unsalted butter
12 ounces slender carrots, peeled and cut on the bias into ½-inch-thick slices
12 ounces mushrooms, such as maitake or shiitake
4 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons sherry
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting counter
4 cups whole milk, warmed*
2 sheets puff pastry*, thawed according to package instructions
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the Filling and Topping: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F.

-Place the potatoes in medium saucepan and cover by 1 inch with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer on medium heat until potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in large skillet. Add carrots, season with salt and pepper, and sautée until golden about 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.

- Melt an additional 2 tablespoons of butter in now empty skillet. Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, thyme, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook until mushrooms are golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in sherry and cook an additional 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl with carrots.

- Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in now empty skillet. With a wooden stirring spoon, stir in the flour to make a paste (this is the roux). Cook, stirring, until beginning to turn golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and slowly pour in milk while vigorously whisking. Simmer on medium-low heat for about 2 minutes until thickened; it should be like gravy. If too thick, add more warm milk.

- Pour sauce over vegetables in bowl and fold in potatoes and turkey.

- Divide the mixture evenly between (6- to 8-ounce-capacity) ramekins.

- Dust a clean, dry work surface with flour and rub a rolling pin with more. Roll out the puff pastry — this will depend on the size of your ramekins. Use a round cookie cutter to punch out “lids” for the ramekins, or cut it into squares. Cover the pot pies with pastry. Whisk the egg yolk and cream together in a small bowl and brush over pot pies.

- Set the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve.

CLASSIC DOUBLE-CRUST APPLE PIE
Makes one 9-inch pie, serving 8

Notes: Granny Smiths are firm and tart and will retain their shape while they bake. Avoid softer-fleshed apples like Golden Delicious, which will blow out and turn mushy.

For the Double Crust
400 grams/14 ounces (about 2 ½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting counter
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup sugar
200 grams/7 ounces (15 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Ice water, as needed

For the Filling
2 ½ pounds Granny Smith apples*, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons finely grated zest plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Demerara or other coarse-granule sugar for decorating

For the Double Crust: See Brown Butter Pear and Cranberry Pie crust recipe above for method. The only difference will be that once you’ve kneaded the dough, you’ll divide it in 2 before wrapping in plastic and refrigerating.

- Once your pie has been filled, roll out the second disc of dough and cut out decorative pieces, if desired. For the design in this picture, I lopped off the top third of a green apple and placed it on the topping. I then used a cookie cutter to cut out an opening in the center of what would be the lid and placed it over the filling and green apple. Rather than trimming off the edges of the dough to make a classic fluted edge, I decided to go a more organic route and simply pinched the bottom and top doughs together, letting the rest ruffle.

For the Filling: In a large bowl, toss together the apples, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and juice, and salt.  Pour mixture into prepared dough shell. Cover with second dough round, decorate as desired, and refrigerate for 20 minutes (this will allow the top dough round to rest and also allow the apples to release some of their juices).

- Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F. Whisk the egg yolk and cream together in small bowl and brush all over pie dough. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake until pie is deep golden brown, about 1 hour. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

SWEET POTATO PIE WITH NUT CRUST AND FLUFF TOPPING
Makes one 8- by 8-inch pie, serving 8 to 12

For the Crust
Baking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into thin slices and chilled

For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

- Lightly coat an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with baking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, laying down first one piece and allowing about 3 inches of excess to hang over the edges, then a second piece crosswise to create a sling. Coat with spray once more.

- In a food processor, pulse the flour, pecans, sugar, and salt until the pecans are finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer dough to prepared baking pan and press into bottom of pan in an even layer.

- Bake until just set, about 20 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

For the Filling
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 pounds garnet sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup apple cider
Water
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sorghum syrup or molasses
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ an orange
2 large eggs

For the Filling: Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add the allspice and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sweet potatoes, apple cider, and salt and bring to a simmer (if potatoes are not covered, add enough water to cover by about 1 inch). Cover and cook over low heat until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 12 minutes. If liquid remains in pot, remove lid, increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking until no liquid remains. Remove pan from heat, cool potatoes to room temperature, and transfer to the bowl of a food processor.

- Add the orange zest and juice and eggs to food processor and blend until mixture is completely smooth. Scrape mixture into prepared crust and smooth out into even layer. Prepare topping.

For the Topping
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch salt
1 (16-ounce) tub marshmallow fluff

- Beat egg whites and with wire whisk in large bowl until they hold soft peaks. Scrape fluff into a second large bowl. Stir in 1/3 of the egg whites, then fold in the rest using a rubber spatula.  Spread over sweet potato filling.

- Bake until marshmallow fluff is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Using the overhanging parchment paper, pull pie out onto a cutting board and cut into 8 to 12 pieces. Serve.

BROWN BUTTER PEAR AND CRANBERRY PIE
Makes one 9-inch pie, serving 8

Notes: In the images in this post, the pie was baked in several different-sized pie plates. Feel free to do the same.
- The measurements for the crust are provided in grams and ounces as I normally use a scale when preparing it.

For the Crust
200 grams/7 ounces (about 1 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting counter
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
100 grams/3.5 ounces (7 ½ tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Ice water, as needed

For the Filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds firm Bosc pears, peeked, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt
3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup demerara sugar
1/4 cup brandy

For the Crust: Combine flour, sugar, and salt on a clean, dry, and cool work surface. With a bench scraper, cut in butter until it resembles wet sand. Alternatively, combine flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand, then transfer mixture to work surface.

- Form a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in beaten egg and 1 tablespoon ice water. Working quickly, use the bench scraper to combine the ingredients.  If the mixture appears very dry and crumbly, add ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until mixture is cohesive but not overly wet.

- Bring dough together with lightly floured hands. Pinch off small pieces of dough and, working quickly, with the heel of your hand extend on work surface to ensure even distribution of butter. Gather dough together into a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

- Clean and dry off counter and sprinkle with flour. Rub flour on rolling pin. Roll dough out, starting in the center and working outwards (never roll back into center as it will just bring the dough back). Dough should be about 12-inches in diameter.  Roll dough lightly onto rolling pin, then transfer to 9-inch pie plate. Press into the bottom and sides, trim off edges and reserve them, then pinch the edges into a decorative pattern. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, during which time you can prepare the filling. (The dough may be prepared up to 1 week in advance to this stage and frozen).

For the Filling: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

- Melt the butter in large skillet over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it begins to foam. Once the foam subsides and small brown flecks can be seen in the butter (it will smell nutty, too), add the pears, lemon zest and juice, and a pinch of salt and cook, tossing and stirring, until pears are browned and beginning to soften, about 8 minutes.

- Stir in the brandy, sugar, and cranberries. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Then, pour into prepared crust. Pinch off pieces of the reserved dough scraps and scatter over pie. Bake until bubbling and edges of pie are brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Serve.

POTATO, LEEK, AND CHEESE TART
Makes 1 tart, serving 6 to 8

Notes: This is a great appetizer.
- I used a rectangular tart pan, about 7- by 11-inches. Any tart pan in that general size will work.
- Phyllo is a tissue paper-thin dough that dries out and breaks if exposed to air even for a few seconds. Set the pile of phyllo sheets on your counter, cover it with wax or parchment paper, then cover it with a damp towel. You will work with only one sheet of dough at a time.
- I used Cana de Cabra, a Spanish cheese with a chalky exterior and soft center. Avoid using the chalky logs of goat cheese here as it is lacking in flavor.
- A mandolin makes quick work of thinly slicing potatoes. While working, keep potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from oxidizing.

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 leeks, white and pale green parts thinly sliced (or 5 shallots, thinly sliced)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 sheets phyllo dough, thawed out according to manufacturer’s instructions
6 ounces goat cheese or brie*
2 teaspoons thyme leaves plus additional for garnish
2 ½ pounds red or yellow waxy potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced*

- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F.

- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks or shallots, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

- Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter. Brush a tart pan with butter, then press 1 phyllo sheet (see notes above about working phyllo) into the pan. Brush the sheet with more butter, then repeat layering and buttering process until you’ve used all the sheets. Crumble or break apart the cheese and scatter over the dough. Scatter the leeks or shallots over the cheese.

- Arrange the potatoes in a slight overlapping pattern over the leeks and cheese.  Brush the potatoes with butter, lightly season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with some of the thyme. Repeat the process until you’ve run out of potatoes. Trim off any excess pastry hanging over the edges of the tart mold.

- Bake until potatoes are tender and golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

*Leftovers are great reheated and served with a fried egg on top.

The Lone RangerOn a recent trip, I found myself alone in a darksome wood, driving for miles under cover of pre-dawn darkness.  The road meandered and snaked, unspooling like a cat’s ball of yarn. It was lonesome, but not lonely. Quiet, calming, sleepy, yet coursing with adrenaline, a soft, insistent thudding underneath the ribs keeping the time. The moon, even as morning hours progressed, shone high beam-bright, Night resolutely ignoring daybreak.

Seldom am I away from the din of cities, home and work pushing me back and forth between crowded spaces. Being alone comes with its own noise, however.

A while back I wrote about dining by myself and many of you responded with your experiences. Some of you applauded the activity and others wondered if they had the stomach for it – your thoughts have stayed with me…

This has been a particularly travel-heavy year and eating out on my own is becoming increasingly more routine. It’s ever easier, but admittedly, it has exhausting and trying moments. Food is about community, family, and sharing, and a party-of-one-dinner lacks in companionship. I do still try to pick interesting and popular restaurants that are easy to slip into as a single diner, but now there’s a bit more exploration: each new city, each new seat at the bar, each new dish provides space for thought.

Those thoughts have of late focused on eating alone at home. It is now a treat to do so, and, on occasion, I avoid having lunch at my desk or standing in the kitchen. This steak and mashed potato meal (cocktail included!) is a treat. Approach its preparation and consumption as if you’re a guest.

The Lone Ranger

The Lone RangerThe Lone Ranger

SALTED WHITE CHOCOLATE, LAVENDER, AND HONEY MOUSSE
Serves 6

Notes: When buying white chocolate, read the ingredients list and be sure it contains cocoa butter. Many brands omit it, and the quality of the dessert suffers.

This recipe is clearly not for 1, but leftovers keep for about 5 days.

1 (0.25-ounce) packet powdered plain gelatin
½ cup lukewarm water
3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup fresh lavender (or 3 tablespoons dried lavender buds), plus additional for garnish
1 vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped out, pod reserved
Table salt
10 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped*
Maldon salt, for garnish

- Stir gelatin and water together in small bowl and allow to stand until softened, about 5 minutes.

- Bring 1 cup cream, honey, lavender, vanilla bean pod,  and a pinch of salt to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and steep 15 minutes. Strain and discard solids.

- Return cream to pot and bring to a simmer once again. Add the vanilla bean seeds and white chocolate. Stir until smooth.

- Transfer mixture to bowl, cover with plastic, pressing down on surface. Refrigerate about 30 minutes until firm.

- Whip the mousse to soften and lighten. In a separate bowl, whisk (or whip with electric mixer) remaining 2 cups cream until soft peaks form. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the mousse, then, fold in the rest with a rubber spatula. Serve in bowls or cups and garnish with lavender and Maldon salt.

STEAK

I don’t have much of a recipe for this one, but some guidelines that will hopefully help you:

-  Pat the steak dry with paper towels.
–  Season it generously with salt and pepper.
–    Heat about 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and be sure the oil is beginning to smoke: the skillet needs to be raging hot in order to get a proper sear on the meat.
–  Cook the meat to your desired doneness – I like mine bloody, so I go for 4 to 6 minutes on each side. The more you cook, the more familiar you will become with steak – you’ll be able to touch it with a fingertip and tell how done it is. In the meantime, an instant-read thermometer is helpful.
–  Allow the meat to rest at least 5 minutes before eating.
–  Always cut against the grain.

MASHED POTATOES

When it comes to mashed potatoes, I like a russet potato. Peel and cut about 1 pound into 1-inch cubes and bring to a boil over high heat, starting with cold water and 1 tablespoon salt. If you start with boiling water, the potatoes will cook from the outside in and they’ll blow out. DON’T DO IT!

-  Cook the potatoes until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot over the heat. Allow them to dry out for a few minutes. Mash them or put them through a ricer or food mill, then stir in melted butter and warm heavy cream (warm butter and cream will incorporate much more easily into your mash, and you  won’t have to reheat them). Add as much butter and cream as you like, then season with salt, and sprinkle with chopped chives if desired.

Home Made Doughnuts

The dog ate our homework. And our set food.

Actually, we have a very good excuse for having left C&S to gather dust, mold, and hairballs: we were working on a BOOK! Our very first, and we are oh-so-thrilled and in that pinch-us-till-we-bruise-because-we-can’t-believe-it phase.

Due out this fall, our first collaboration in print will feature original recipes perfect for the chilly months, so get ready to cozy up with us because we will make it very much worth your while. Guaranteed, or your money back.

For the past few months we’ve been meeting and talking and researching (the research is still classified, but the nature of it will be vodka-clear come fall) and plotting and stressing and sprouting more grays etc. etc. etc. But, finally, in recent weeks, everything came together: I handed in a manuscript with recipes I’m sure will make you giddy, and we got to shooting.

Our shoots began in a Brooklyn brownstone that prop stylist and all-around fabulous girl Emily Rickard has outfitted with her incredible taste and unique style. You must visit her site and blog AppleKetchup for inspiration on how to live.  In the brownstone we shot several of our chapter openers: light, airy, and inviting, Emily’s hand helped us add a touch of welcome and celebration to our images.

Next, we packed, unpacked, packed again, and shot our tabletop images at Good Light Studio in Midtown. We’ve both shot at numerous studios around town, but this is one of our favorites: generous daylight, a too-comfortable kitchen (I was in the depths of despair when I got home to my Lilliputian-sized one), and incredible studio managers. An average of 14 shots a day—in photo speak, that is almost twice as many as are normally accomplished on a normal shoot day—made possible by having two sets going at the same time, as well as the invaluable help of digitech Geraldine Pierson and friend and chef Dean Sheremet—if you haven’t already, do check out his site for recipes and food tips that you shouldn’t be carrying on without.

We realize that this post has turned into an acknowledgments page of sorts, but we really couldn’t have made the shoots and book happen without our crew. Speaking of which, Penelope Bouklas, prop styling goddess, brought us countless surfaces, linens, glasses, plates, and an array of dreamy utensils (one of which I pocketed) that made our lovely book that much lovelier.

Phew. OK, here are some outtakes from the shoot. I’m a ham, so I’m the nerd with the glasses behind the quince branches willing to be photographed. The shot with the grape tomatoes is a peek at one of our juicy double-page spreads, and the doughnuts… Well, you’ve suffered through our Oscar-winner-ish thank you’s so you get a sneak peek recipe. You’ll love it and it will make you the most popular gal or dude at the party. Srsly.

Behind the Scenes

Bloody Mary

CHEATER DOUGHNUTS

Toss the doughnuts in simple cinnamon sugar, or add some extra zing with citrus or vanilla bean sugar, dip them in warm maple syrup (give your guests a small bowl), make them savory with sugar, pinch of salt, pinch of cayenne pepper, fried sage crumbled

1 tin store-bough biscuits
8 cups vegetable oil

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet with high sides over medium-high heat until temperature registers 350°F. (Oil should be 1- to 1 1/2 inches deep). Add half of the doughnuts and half of the doughnut holes and fry until the bottoms turn golden brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes small doughnuts and 2 to 2 1/2 minutes for large doughnuts. Using chopsticks or the handles of 2 wooden cooking spoons, turn the doughnuts and holes and fry for until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Transfer doughnuts to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool slightly, 1 to 2 minutes before dipping in glaze or coating in sugar. Serve warm.

SPICY SAGE SUGAR
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sage leaves
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes

Melt butter over medium heat in small skillet. Add sage leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

Crumble sage with fingertips and combine with sugar, salt, and Aleppo pepper in large plate. Toss warm doughnuts in sugar and serve immediately.

PLAIN JANE GLAZE
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place confectioners’ sugar and salt in medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter, milk, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately.

CHOCOLATE GLAZE
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk

Place confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk in milk and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately.

BROWN BUTTER GLAZE
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4  teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a small stainless steel saucepan. Cook the butter until browned, 5 to 8 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally. The butter will begin to foam; the subsiding foam is an indicator that the butter is almost done.   Once the solids are caramel brown the remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour it into a medium bowl, scraping in all the solids. Add the confectioners’ sugar, salt, vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately.

Makes 8 to 10 doughnuts, depending on biscuit tin contents

Time to make the doughnuts: I use Pillsbury® biscuits for this recipe. One roll of “Buttermilk” biscuits yields ten small (about 2 1/2-inch inches in diameter) doughnuts and ten tiny doughnut holes. You’ll need a 1/2-inch round cutter to punch out the holes. One roll of “Grands Homestyle Buttermilk” biscuits yields 8 large (about 3 1/2 inches in diameter) doughnuts and eight doughnut holes. You’ll need a 1-inch round cutter to punch out the holes.

Homemade Granola & Yogurt

All the chubby-cheeked cupids, bows-and-arrows, and glittery cards screeching out love songs are a bit much for me…and don’t even get me started on heart-shaped bakeware. Perhaps years of being the only girl who didn’t get bouquets of flowers or “Be Mine”-inscribed sugar hearts made me wary of Valentine’s Day, but I’ll be a good sport this year, especially because it involves larger-than-life scones that are also cinnamon rolls (a genius recipe from Tate’s) and eating in bed.  Treat your better half — or yourself — on Valentine’s Day, or any other day for that matter.

Recipe note: Prepare the dough for the scones up to 1 day in advance and keep them refrigerated and wrapped in plastic. Bake the following day.

ORANGE-ROSEMARY GRANOLA

Makes about 5 cups

½ cup honey

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons finely grated zest plus 1/3 cup juice from 2 oranges

½ teaspoon salt

3 cups whole rolled oats

1 cup walnuts or hazelnuts, chopped

¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

½ cup fresh rosemary, chopped

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.

Whisk together honey, oil, orange juice, and salt in liquid measuring cup. Using hands, combine oats, nuts, and coconut in rimmed baking sheet. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and use hands or rubber spatula to thoroughly combine. Spread out into even layer.

Bake 20 minutes, then stir in orange zest and rosemary. Continue baking until golden and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Transfer baking sheet to cooling rack and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month, or frozen for up to 2 months. Bring frozen granola to room temperature prior to serving, or quickly warm through by toasting desired amount in a dry skillet over medium heat, 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve atop yogurt.

QUICK BLACKBERRY JAM

Serves 4

This quick jam is a prefect complement to the Orange-Rosemary Granola. Prepare it up to 1 day in advance.

2 cups fresh blackberries

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons water

Pinch salt

Combine 1 cup blackberries, sugar, water, and salt in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring and smashing berries with wooden spoon, until mixture is thick and jam-like, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 cup blackberries. Cool to room temperature and serve with yogurt and granola.

Breakfast in Bed

We love Tate’s crunchy, buttery cookies, and when we got the opportunity to cook and shoot a few things from their inspired creator, we jumped at the chance. These Maple, Bacon, and Date Scones and extravagant Cinnamon Swirl Scones are perfect for spoiling your significant other – or yourself.

The following recipes are from Baking for Friends by Kathleen King, creator and owner of Tate’s Bake Shop

Maple, Bacon, and Date Scones

Makes 16 scones

1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) cold salted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

1 ½ cups pitted and chopped dates

12 ounces sliced bacon, cut into ½-inch-wide pieces, cooked until crisp, drained, and cooled

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Grade B pure maple syrup

1 large egg

1 tablespoons Demerara or other raw sugar

Position oven racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

To make the scones: In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat and all-purpose flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly with some pea-sized pieces of butter. Add the dates and toss to coat with the flour mixture. Repeat with the bacon. Whisk the buttermilk and 1/3 cup of maple syrup together in a measuring cup. Pour into the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Do not overmix.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times. Roll out into a 1-inch-thick round. Using a 2 ½-inch round cookie cutter, pressing firmly to cut through the dates, cut out the scones as close together as possible to avoid excess scraps. Arrange at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Gently press the scraps together roll out again, and cut more scones.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and remaining 1 tablespoon maple syrup.  Brush the tops of the scones lightly with the egg mixture and sprinkle with the Demerara sugar.

Bake, switching the positions of the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, until the scones are golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Let cool on the pans for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Cinnamon Swirl Buns

Cinnamon Swirl Scones

Makes 12 rolls

Filling

8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature

½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Dough

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold salted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

1 cup dark raisins

1 ¾ cups half-and-half

Icing

½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon water

Position oven racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

To make the filling: In a small bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until smooth.

To make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work in the butter until the mixture is crumbly with some pea-sized pieces of butter. Do not overmix. Mix in the raisins. Stir in the half-and-half and mix just until the ingredients are moistened.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 17-by-12-inch rectangle about ¼-inch thick. Spread the cinnamon filling evenly over the top of the dough, leaving a ½-inch border on all four sides. Starting at the long side, tightly roll the dough up into a log. Cut the dough into 2-inch slices and arrange them, cut sides up, 4 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake, switching the positions of the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking, until the rolls are slightly golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on the pans for 10 minutes.

To make the icing: In a small bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar and water with a fork until smooth. Drizzle over the buns. Serve warm, or let cool to room temperature.

Roasted Bone Marrow

M.F.K. Fisher on being a woman and dining alone, 1938:
“More often than not people who see me on trains and in ships, or in restaurants, feel a kind of resentment of me since I taught myself to enjoy being alone. Women are puzzled, which they hate to be, and jealous of the way I am served, with such agreeable courtesy, and of what I am eating and drinking, which is almost never the sort of thing they order for themselves. And men are puzzled too, in a more personal way. I anger them as males.”

I eat alone often, sometimes standing at the kitchen counter, feet bare, one resting on the other. Other times, after a rushed morning of errands, in a corner of a restaurant with nothing to look on but the empty seat across from me. The quiet, disturbed only by a gurgling pour of wine and the sharp rap of a plate being set down, is a brief respite from the louder clatter of daily details.

There is, as Fisher noted, a mistrust of a woman enjoying a meal alone, and for years, when I dared do it, I fidgeted and pretended to be busy looking through my bag while my food arrived. It takes time to feel at ease with oneself, but once it happens, it’s relief, reward, and perhaps a touch of defiance.

These recipes are a feast for one, but they do easily multiply to feed more, should the mood suit you.

ROASTED MARROW BONES
Serves 1
Ask your butcher to trim the bones down to size. This is a make-ahead recipe.

3 beef marrow bones, about 3 inches long
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
Maldon salt for serving
Blackberry preserves and crusty bread for serving

- 24 hours prior to serving, combine cold water and 2 tablespoons salt in a large bowl. Add the bones and refrigerate. Drain and rinse the bones about every 6 hours, replacing the saltwater solution. This will eliminate impurities and season the marrow.

- Drain the bones and pat dry. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly oil a small baking dish and arrange the bones in the dish, standing straight up. Roast 20 to 30 minutes or until the blade of a knife slips easily down the center.

- Transfer the dish to a cooling rack and cool about 5 minutes. Scoop out with a knife or small spoon, spreading marrow on crusty bread. Sprinkle with maldon salt and, for a touch of sweetness, top with a small spoonful of blackberry preserves.

Roast Chicken & Beets

ROASTED CHICKEN & BEETS
Makes 1 chicken
Nothing says comfort like a perfectly roasted chicken. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll find yourself making it at least once a week.
If you find beets with nice green tops, wash them, thinly slice them, and toss them with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper and serve them alongside the chicken and roasted beets.

4 beets, scrubbed, green tops reserved
1 (3 ½- to 4-pound) whole chicken
Kosher salt and pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kitchen twine

- Adjust oven racks to middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange an oven-safe cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet, or, set a V-rack in a roasting pan. Wrap beets in foil.

- Make a small inverted “V” incision at the point where the chicken breasts meet the cavity and pull out the wish bone—this will make carving easier. Run fingers between the skin and flesh, just to loosen it.  Measure out ¾ teaspoon salt per pound of chicken and rub directly on the flesh and on the skin. Season liberally with pepper.

- Cut 4 tablespoons butter into thin slices and tuck under the skin.  Tuck the wings behind the chicken, then use kitchen twine to tie the ends of the drumsticks together. Arrange the chicken breast side down in the prepared rack. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and lightly brush on the chicken.

- Set the beet packet on the bottom rack of the oven and the chicken on the middle rack. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, then transfer to the stovetop. Carefully, using wadded paper towels or two kitchen towels, turn the chicken breast side up. Brush with melted butter.

- Return the chicken to the oven and increase the temperature to 450°F. Roast until golden and thigh meat registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 40 minutes longer. Transfer roasting pan or baking sheet to cooling rack and allow chicken to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

- Meanwhile, transfer beets to a cutting board and open foil packet. When cool enough to handle, peel off beets’ skin with paper towels. Carve chicken and drizzle serving with rendered juices. Cut beets in half, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Profiteroles

PROFITEROLES
Makes 10
Once cooled, freeze leftover choux puffs in a zipper-lock bag. When ready to use, warm through in a preheated 350°F oven, then allow to cool to room temperature.

For the Choux Puffs
Cooking spray
½ cup water
2 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream

- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with vegetable cooking spray.

- In medium saucepan, combine water, butter, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until butter melts. Stir in flour all at once, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a smooth ball of dough, 4 to 5 minutes.

- Remove from heat and transfer dough to a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, add the whole eggs one a time, beating well after each addition. The eggs should be well incorporated and the dough smooth. Transfer dough to a pastry bag or large zipper-lock bag with 1-inch of bottom corner trimmed off. Scrape dough into bag and pipe dough out into about 1 ½-inch mounds, spacing them about 2 inches apart from each other. Alternatively, use a 1 ½-inch ice cream scoop with spring release to scoop out dough.
Beat egg yolk, pinch of salt, and cream in small bowl. Brush tops of dough with egg wash. Bake puffs for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is puffed and dark golden. Transfer puffs directly to cooling rack and cool completely.

For the Chocolate Sauce and Assembly
For easy assembly, scoop out ice cream onto a tray and place in freezer to set.

1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or chocolate chips
Pinch salt
Ice cream flavor of choice

- Bring cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Add chocolate and salt and stir until chocolate is fully melted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

- With fingertips, carefully split the puffs and fill with ice cream. Drizzle with warm chocolate sauce.

Thanksgiving is for many the perfect holiday: nondenominational, lacking the stress of shopping for presents, and the one time of year you can take the luxury of not checking your e-mail every 5 minutes. There are some stresses however, namely cooking. That’s where we want to add our two cents.

C&S’s Thanksgiving is very side dish-centric—the turkey, as we’ll explain a bit later, is not the focus of our attention. We’ve got the expected vegetables, cranberry sauce, mash, and bread but with our usual casual touch: delicious and unfussy is what we’re after, so we can spend more time toasting and cozying up with friends and family.

First, our take on creamed onions and green bean casserole: pearl onions and Brussels sprouts in creamy white sauce, topped with toasty buttered breadcrumbs, fragrant hazelnuts, and crisp Brussels sprout leaves.

Instead of mashed potatoes, a chunky mash of potatoes (you don’t even need to peel them) and caramelized parsnips, flecked with Aleppo pepper and chives.

For a salad that’s there to be enjoyed rather than make you feel better about your caloric intake: mixed greens fresh from the greenmarket, tossed with chunky homemade croutons.

Finally, dessert: layers of crackling, marshmallow-y meringue spread with lightly sweetened butter.

Are you ready to eat?

ROAST TURKEY and SAUTEED CLEMENTINES

Serves 10 to 12

The turkey is Thanksgiving’s totem, but it’s not our favorite item at the table. It just wouldn’t be seemly to not have the big bird at the table, however, so here it is. This is by far the easiest turkey method we’ve encountered: no fussing, no brining, no nothing. Rub the turkey with salt, put it in the oven, and all done. It’s juicy, perfectly seasoned, and dressed only with butter-laced pan drippings: simple, sensible, and the perfect accompaniment to rich and comforting side dishes. Oh, but, do remember to thaw the thing out. And take out the goody bag that’s inside.

This recipe is courtesy of Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats. Sheer brilliance.

1 (10 – 12 pound) fresh turkey
Salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 clementines, cut in half
¼ cup sugar
Fresh sage leaves
Fresh thyme sprigs

Remove racks from oven and place roasting pan directly on oven floor. Preheat oven to 500°F. Rinse turkey under cold running water, then pat thoroughly dry with paper towels.  Carefully loosen turkey skin by gently slipping fingertips between skin and meat. Rub salt directly on meat (you should use ¾ teaspoon per pound). Remove roasting pan from oven. Arrange turkey in a V-rack or oven-safe rack that will fit in roasting pan and place in pan. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F and return roasting pan to oven floor. Roast, basting turkey three times throughout baking with butter, until deepest part of breast registers 150°F on an instant-read thermometer and legs register 160°F, 3 to 4 hours.

Transfer turkey (on rack) to rimmed baking sheet and allow to rest at least 30 minutes prior to carving. Pour released juices into gravy boat or serving bowl and reserve.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Dip cut halves of clementines in sugar, then cook until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

When ready to serve, carve turkey: Place turkey on large cutting board, preferably one with a canal to catch any juices. With a sharp boning knife (long and narrow)  or sharp chef’s (all-purpose) knife, begin cutting one breast half, starting from the neck and going towards the tail, keeping the knife flush with the breastbone. Angle the knife and run it along the rib cage, then place the breast on cutting board. Repeat procedure with second breast half. Hold the turkey by the drumstick/thigh area and pull it away from the turkey carcass until it lays flat on the cutting board. Using the tip of the knife, find the point where the leg socket meets the carcass and cut through it until the drumstick and thigh come away. Cut through the point where the drumstick meets the thigh. Repeat procedure with second leg. Slice breast halves against the grain. Arrange all turkey meat on platter. Warm drippings and drizzle over turkey. Garnish with clementines, sage, and thyme.

CREAMED BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND PEARL ONIONS WITH CRUNCHY TOPPING

Serves 6 to 8

This recipe is easily doubled; if doing so, assemble in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.

2 pounds yellow pearl onions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
½ cup hazelnuts, coarsely choppe
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Zest and juice from 1 lemon

Recipe may be made 1 day in advance; if doing so, arrange the sauce-coated vegetables in dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Store breadcrumbs and hazelnuts in a zipper-lock bag. Roast the sprouts’ leaves the morning of Thanksgiving, then toss with crumb mixture and sprinkle over vegetables. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until dish is warmed through.

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add onions and cook until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. While onions are boiling, prepare an ice bath by combining equal amounts of ice cubes and water in a large bowl. Drain onions and drop in ice bath. Cool 10 minutes then drain. Using a paring knife, trim the root ends and peel onions. Reserve. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Rinse out pot and fill once again with water. Bring to a boil and prepare a second ice bath. While the water comes to a boil, trim ends off Brussels sprouts and remove enough leaves to make them about the size of the pearl onions; reserve the leaves. Add 1 tablespoon salt and sprouts to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and drop in ice bath. Cool 10 minutes then drain. Reserve. Season the leaves with salt and pepper and toss with oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until crisp and dark brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter. In medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs, melted butter, hazelnuts, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.  Melt an additional 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat in large skillet and sautée sprouts and onions. Transfer to 8-by-8-inch baking dish and wipe out skillet.

In liquid measuring cup, combine cream and broth. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium heat.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Slowly and steadily whisk in cream-broth mixture and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in mustard, lemon zest, and juice. Season with salt and pepper, then pour sauce over vegetables and stir to combine. Top vegetables with breadcrumbs and leaves, carefully stirring them with fork to combine. Bake until topping is crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

BACK-OF-THE-BAG CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH GINGER

I make cranberry sauce with wine, citrus, etc., etc., etc., but always, always I start with the recipe on the back of the bag: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is a basic sauce perked up with fresh, sharp gingerroot and for extra punch and sweetness, chopped crystallized ginger. You may want to make an extra batch for that leftover sandwich.

Although not absolutely necessary, pulsing the sugar and ginger in a food processor breaks down the fibrous root and releases more of its flavor. Sauce may be prepared up to 3 days in advance and stored, covered and refrigerated.

Serves 8

3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 (12-ounce) bags fresh cranberries

Pulse ginger and sugar in a food processor until the sugar is damp and the ginger is no longer visible. Stir the sugar, water, and salt together in a large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the cranberries and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until the mixture is jam-like and the cranberries have started to pop. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

ROASTED PARSNIP AND POTATO MASH

This rustic mash can be prepared one day in advance. If doing so, stir in only half the melted butter, and re-warm over low heat in a large pot. Stir in the remaining butter and the chives.  If making the mash the day of, keep them warm in a bain marie (fill a pot with water, bring to a simmer, and place the bowl of mash in the water and cover with foil).

Serves 8

2 ½ pounds parsnips, peeled
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
4 pounds waxy potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup minced chives

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut parsnips in half lengthwise, then in half crosswise. Cut out and discard woody centers from parsnip pieces (you’ll see it’s a bit more pale than the rest of the parsnip). Trim parsnips to roughly ¼-inch-thick batons and arrange them in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle them with oil, and season with salt, pepper, and Aleppo; toss to coat evenly. Roast parsnips until caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting. Transfer to cooling rack and cover with foil. Let rest 10 minutes.

While parsnips are roasting, place potatoes in large pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain potatoes in colander in sink and transfer to large bowl. Coarsely mash the potatoes and parsnips; combine in large bowl. Stir in butter (add more or less if you like) and chives. Adjust seasoning and serve.

MERINGUE AND SWEET BUTTER CAKE (PASTEL RUSO)

Serves 8 to 10

For the Meringue Layers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 cups (about 14 ounces) granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 teaspoons white vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Butter Spread
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Meringue Layers: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 275 deg;F. Grease 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with butter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and tap out excess. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper rounds.

Combine sugar and cornstarch in small bowl. Beat egg whites, vinegar, and salt on medium low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium high, and, with mixer running, slowly add the sugar-cornstarch mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. When finished, continue mixing until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 2 minutes longer.  Add vanilla and beat just until combined. Spread an equal amount of meringue in prepared cake pans. Bake until dry and crisp, about 1 hour, rotating and alternating pans halfway through baking. Shut off oven, prop open with wooden cooking spoon, and allow meringues to sit in oven for 1 hour.

For the Butter Spread and Assembly: Meanwhile, prepare the butter spread: Beat the butter, ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl with mixer on low speed, about 1 minute. Once confectioners’ sugar is combined with butter, increase speed to medium and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Carefully invert 1 meringue onto a plate and remove and discard parchment. Place the meringue, top side up, on a serving plate or cake stand. Spread with half of butter mixture. Repeat inversion method with second meringue, arrange on top of butter mixture, spread with the remaining butter mixture, and top with third meringue. Sift remaining 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar over meringue. Serve.

It has been a long, hot, sweaty summer. We’ve enjoyed the sunshine stretching out lazily into the evening, pink twilights spent drinking frosty beers on crowded restaurant patios, and eating farmers’ market seasonal produce like garnet red cherries and bright yellow squash blossoms. But, despite the summer fun and sun, we do admit to ogling boutique mannequins as they unblushingly strip out of flowy sundresses and slip into leather pants and boyfriend sweaters. It’s time to turn the page, but, not before we squeeze in one last recipe that hip-hip-hoorays the bounty of the warmest months.

Cobblers are the perfect dessert to highlight and celebrate fresh produce: quickly cooked and lightly flavored with little other than a bit of butter and sugar, the fruit, as it rightfully should, remains the main attraction. This version begins on the stovetop, where butter is cooked until nutty in aroma and color. Next, slices of marigold yellow-and-crimson peaches are sautéed briefly with a touch of sugar and a splash of smoky Bourbon just to get their juices flowing.

This is where you should pay special attention: we’ve had many cobblers that are topped with biscuits. A lovely concept in that biscuits are light and tender and will imbibe all the gooey runoff from the cobbler, but in practice, often a disappointment. The biscuit topping becomes mired in the fruit and the point of contact between the dough and the filling never cooks through properly, resulting in a soggy-bottomed—and often raw—mess.

To avoid this problem, the biscuit topping here is frugal and scattered in small pieces over the topping. These will bake along with the fruit in under 15 minutes, and the result will be properly cooked, crisp, textured mini-biscuits that contrast the supple peach filling. Oh, and, there’s fresh thyme in the topping that adds the subtle herbal scent of a late summer garden.

Gather ye peaches while you may — and, also, happy Labor Day weekend!

SWEET & SAVORY PEACH-THYME COBBLER
Serves 4 to 6
Fresh thyme leaves in the biscuit crumble topping of this cobbler add a savory hint to this classic summer dessert.

For the Thyme Biscuit Topping
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus additional for garnish
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into slices and chilled
5 tablespoons buttermilk, chilled

For the Peaches
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
4 ripe but firm peaches, pitted and sliced into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice1 tablespoon Bourbon (optional)
⅛ teaspoon salt

For the Thyme Biscuit Topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, lemon zest, thyme, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add butter slices to flour mixture and toss to coat. Working quickly, press slices of butter between thumb and forefinger, tossing in between presses, until butter is evenly distributed.

With a rubber spatula, stir in buttermilk, working dough just until combined. Quickly gather dough into ball and refrigerate while you make the peach base.

For the Peaches: Melt butter in 10-inch shallow skillet over medium heat until it begins to foam and brown flecks begin to be visible, 3 to 4 minutes. Add peaches, brown sugar, lemon juice, optional Bourbon, and salt, and cook, stirring gently and occasionally, until peaches begin to soften and release juices, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pinch off ¼-inch pieces of biscuit dough and scatter over peaches. Bake cobbler until biscuit topping is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer skillet to cooling rack and allow to cool 5 minutes prior. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and serve.

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