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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 Holidays Category

Guest Chef Jessica O'Brien

2014. Here it begins with trying to tidy up and pack up the old year, looking back to reflect, and making resolutions, of course… New projects, fresh ideas, daydreams, decisions.

And celebrations. This is our first, with our dear friend and talented chef, Jessica O’Brien. These recipes are delicious and lovely to look at, as well. Gather your friends, toast the new year, and tie on that apron.

About our charming guest…

Occupation: Private chef

Culinary background: The Spotted Pig, Le Cirque, Tasting Table to name a few

Residence: West Village, NY

Most humiliating moment in the kitchen: When Chef April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig threw a bowl of salad across the kitchen room because she said it was over-dressed.

Most rewarding moment in the kitchen: When I got promoted to the Grill Station at the Pig. It meant you’d made it to the top.

Favorite food to cook at home: In the fall and winter I cook a lot of soups and stews for their heartiness and comfort. In the spring and summer I like to cook fish or shellfish for their simplicity and lightness.

Favorite takeout: Chinese, for sure. I order almost everything off the menu.

Favorite thing to cook for company: Surf & Turf. Best of both worlds.

Tip for entertaining at home: Shop and prep as much as possible in advance.

About these recipes: A menu that is simple, delicious, and elegant. Perfect for any occasion. And can prepare so many of the steps in advance.

Favorite drink: Jameson. Straight and to the point.

Music at your parties:  Pop or dance music. It has to be fun and upbeat. It’s a party after all.

New year traditions:  Spending the first day of the New Year with my husband.

Resolutions:  I like to set myself up for success, and resolutions usually end up being a disappointment so I don’t make any.

Guest Chef Jessica O'Brien

HERB-CRUSTED PORK LOIN WRAPPED IN PANCETTA

2 pounds boneless pork loin
Kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper
Olive oil, as needed
¼ cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped, plus 1 whole sprig
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Dried red chili flakes, to taste
1 pound assorted small potatoes, such as fingerling, Peruvian, and Yukon Gold
½ pound baby carrots
1 baby fennel (about ¼ pound), or 1 regular fennel, cut into 6 wedges
¼ pound small Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed and exterior leaves removed
½ cup dry white wine
1 pound thinly sliced pancetta (about 20 slices)

- Remove pork from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.

- Pat pork dry with a paper towel and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat about 1 tablespoon oil (enough to coat) a large skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Sear the pork on all sides until deep golden brown, then transfer to a plate and allow to cool.

- In small bowl, stir together chopped rosemary, thyme, garlic, lemon zest, and chili flakes. Stir in 6 tablespoons oil. Rub half of the herb mixture all over the pork and once again, season with salt and pepper.

Guest Chef Jessica O'Brien

- Cut kitchen twine into four 2-foot-long pieces and two 3-foot-long pieces.  Lay the 4 pieces horizontally, a few inches apart from each other, then the 2 longer pieces crosswise.  Arrange 12 slices of pancetta on top of twine, overlapping them slightly in a rectangular shape about 3 inches wider than the pork on all sides (since you want the pork to be completely wrapped).

- Place pork loin in center of pancetta slices and roll pancetta slices over it using the parchment paper as a guide. Place remaining pancetta on top of pork to fully cover, then, lay rosemary sprig on top. Tie shorter, horizontal twine pieces first, then tie longer ones. Transfer pork to a roasting pan.

Guest Chef Jessica O'Brien

Guest Chef Jessica O'Brien

Guest Chef Jessica O'Brien

- In large bowl, toss vegetables with remaining herb mixture and season with salt and pepper. Arrange vegetables around the pork and pour wine over them.

- Roast, basting occasionally with wine and pan juices until an instant read thermometer registers 138°F, 40 to 50 minutes. Allow pork to rest 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Guest Chef Jessica O'Brien

ROASTED TOMATO TARTS

2 pounds (10 to 12 medium), plum tomatoes halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, plus additional leaves for garnish
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
All-purpose flour, for work surface
½ cup (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reddiano cheese, plus ¼ cup (.5 ounce) shaved for garnish
Aged balsamic vinegar, as needed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed backing sheet with parchment paper.

- In large bowl, toss the tomatoes, oil, 2 teaspoons of the chopped thyme, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and toss once again to combine. Arrange tomatoes in single layer, cut-side up, on prepared baking sheet.

- Roast 30 minutes, then reduce temperature to 325°F and continue to cook until the edges of the tomatoes are slightly browned, about 1 ½ hours.

- While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare puff pastry. Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour, unfold pastry, and cut crosswise into 3 rectangular pieces (the creases will be your natural guide to where you should cut).  Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll each rectangle pieces into 11- by 4.5-inch rectangles.

- With a sharp pairing knife, score around the edges to create a ¼-inch border. Using a fork, prick wholes inside the border (to release steam while cooking). Repeat with remaining 2 pieces pastry.

Guest Chef Jessica O'Brien

- Whisk egg and water together in small bowl and brush all over pastry. Sprinkle the center of pastries with grated cheese and remaining chopped thyme. Carefully transfer to parchment paper-lined trays and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.

- When tomatoes finish roasting, return oven temperature back up to 400°F. Bake pastry until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Top each tart shell with shaved cheese while still warm, then top with roasted tomatoes, cut sides down. Sprinkle more cheese to taste and thyme leaves, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Cut into pieces and serve.

Guest Chef Jessica O'Brien

SPICED BAKED CHICKPEAS
Makes about 3 cups

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

- Pat the chickpeas dry with paper towels and transfer them to a medium bowl. Toss them with the oil, rosemary, garlic, cayenne, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour chickpeas onto prepared baking sheet, spreading out into single layer. Bake until crisp, 45 to 50 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to ensure even baking.

- Transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack and cool completely. Serve, or store them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

ZUCCHINI LATKES WITH APPLE-BEET COMPOTE

For the Zucchini Latkes
1 ½ pounds russet potatoes
1 ½ pounds zucchini
1 medium Vidalia onion
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup fine plain breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch ground cumin
Generous pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
Schmaltz, bacon drippings, or canola oil, as needed

For the Apple-Beet Compote
2 pounds firm apples, such as Granny Smith, Gala, or Pink Lady, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound red beets, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt

For Serving
Crème fraîche (optional)

- For the Zucchini Latkes: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°F.  Set a cooling rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.

- In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients.

- Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop the vegetable mixture in 1-tablespoon-sized spoonfuls  into the skillet and lightly flatten with a spatula, being careful to not overcrowd the skillet.
Cook the latkes until light golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer the finished latkes to the prepared cooling rack and baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm and crisp.

- Repeat cooking procedure with additional oil and remaining batter.

- For the Apple-Beet Compote: Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and arrange on platter. Dollop latkes with compote and (optional) crème fraîche.

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We’ve been celebrating the release of our book, Winter Cocktails , for a few weeks with book signings, demos, and most importantly,  with loud and punch-drunk parties at home and with friends who’ve supported us every step of the way. Celebrate with us at home with one of our cocktails, and share in our glee while you look at these pictures, graciously taken by photographer Shinsuke Kishima.

A special thanks to Penelope Bouklas and Emily Rickard our prop stylists, without whose magical touches and hawk-eyed attention to detail, our book wouldn’t be as sumptuous as it is. Thank you to Geraldine Pierson, who put up with a vast number of photos that needed to be scoured through and pruned. Thank you to Lea Siegel for getting us camera-ready for our portraits. Thank you to Benny Mouthon, who added sound to our video and also took the lovely portrait at the back of our book, catching us in all of our early-morning/no makeup glory.

Finally, thank you to Ed Levine, Kenji López-Alt, and Leandra Palermo at Serious Eats for hosting a great party and cheering us on. And, congratulations to old friend and Author of One Bowl Baking Yvonne Ruperti who celebrated her book with us, too.

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.

We’re no strangers to stiff drinks and bubbly, and admittedly, once in a while, the party goes on longer than expected and the next morning finds us with pillow-creased faces, raccoon eyes, and The Dreaded Hangover.

Usually, a greasy diner breakfast egg on a roll with extra bacon and half-bottle of ketchup plus a full pot of coffee (Mexican Coca-Cola on ice is my go-to) helps smooth us out, but a stronger antidote is sometimes absolutely necessary: enter the michelada, a spiced and seasoned Mexican beer cocktail.

The drink’s base is always a chilled pale lager, like Corona, Pacícifo, Sol, or Modelo Especial – you want something refreshing and light, save the hoppy dark stuff for the pub. The bracing backbone is provided by umami-dense Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce (Cholula and Valentina are our favorites), and a good amount of freshly-squeezed lime juice. A “cubito Maggi,” a bouillon cube made by Maggi (pronounced Ma-ghi) is a common addition and adds extra seasoning. You can skip the cubito, but do rub a lime around the lip of your glass and rim it with coarse salt, pepper, and if available, powdered red chili. And always, always, always pack your glass with crushed ice.

And, while we’re talking about getting pickled, I recently made Paula Deen’s pickled shrimp and thought they’d make a great side to the michelada. Our version has hotter-than-hell Serrano peppers, impossibly fragrant kaffir lime leaves, toasty fresh curry leaves, spices, and a hit of tequila.

Note: Of course, the michelada is also perfect for any sweltering day, not just a fuzzy morning. Try it this summer, and, for the condiment-phobic, mix up a chelada: salt rim, lime juice, ice, and beer.
¡Salud! And ¡Happy cinco de mayo!

MICHELADA

Serves 1

Note: For an extra frosty drink, chill your glass prior to assembling. For a quick cool-down, fill a glass with ice and water, swirl for 1 minute, then drain.

¼ cup fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Hot sauce, such as Cholula or Valentina, to taste
½ Maggi bouillon cube (optional)
Crushed ice
1 (12-ounce) bottle of pale lager such as Corona, Pacífico, Sol, or Modelo Especial, chilled

- Rub a lime around the rim of a pint glass or equal capacity glass. Combine 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in small plate and dip rim in mixture, turning glass until rim is coated.

- Add lime juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and (optional) bouillon cube to glass and stir to combine. Add crushed ice, pour in beer, gently stir, and drink. Refill glass with beer as needed.
PICKLED SHRIMP

Makes 2 pints

Note: Kaffir lime leaves and fresh curry leaves can be found at specialty Middle Eastern markets or online. They keep well frozen, so stock up and store them in zipper-lock bags.

You will need 2 (1-pint) mason jars for this recipe.

24 – 30 large cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp (tails on)
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
8 garlic cloves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons white tequila
4 serrano chiles, halved lengthwise
12 kaffir lime leaves
4 sprigs fresh curry leaves

- In small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, peppercorns, coriander, salt, and garlic. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in lime juice and tequila.

- Pack the shrimp, serranos, kaffir lime leaves, and curry leaves into 2 (1-pint) mason jars. Pour in the vinegar mixture, adding water if needed to fully submerge the shrimp. Seal the jars and chill for at least 8 hours and up to overnight prior to serving.

Jolly Holidays

We are surely not the only ones baffled at how the holidays crept up on us, but really, here so soon? Again, no tree or twinkle lights, and many a holiday gift has turned into an IOU. At least in my case…Tara pulled it together in a much more civilized fashion.

What I have to offer: quick and festive recipes that will give you at least an air of hostess/host with the mostes’/most.

More importantly, Cookin’ and Shootin’ wishes you the warmest and jolliest of holidays, full of friends and family, gifts and goodwill.

Champagne Pomegranate Cocktail

PICKLED APPLE AND POMEGRANATE GRANITA

Champagne and prosecco bring sparkle to holiday festivities, but we also like to add color and punch to the bubbles. This granita is tart, sweet, and reddest red—it doesn’t get any more jolly than this.

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole allspice
2 teaspoons cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons finely grated zest plus ¼ cup juice from 2 blood or regular oranges
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 cups pomegranate juice

Chilled champagne or prosecco, for serving

Combine apples, vinegar, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon in medium saucepan. Rub orange zest into sugar until sugar is damp and no zest strands remain. Stir sugar into apple mixture and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce head to medium-low and simmer about 15 minutes or until apples are completely soft.

Strain mixture into a 13- by 9-inch metal baking pan, pressing apple chunks through with a spoon. Discard solids. Whisk pomegranate juice into mixture and place pan in freezer. Freeze granita for at least 1 ½ hours, scraping every 30 minutes until a frozen, slushy consistency is reached.

Spoon granita into champagne glasses and pour in champagne. Toast!

Appetizers

SPICED CHEESE STRAWS

16 short straws

Aleppo pepper, za’atar spice, and sumac are available in the spice aisle of specialty markets or online. If you can’t find them, substitute with your favorite blend of spices and herbs such as oregano and rosemary.

1 1/2 cups (3 ounces) finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, chopped
2 teaspoons za’atar spice
1 teaspoon sumac
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
All-purpose flour for dusting work surface
2 frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
1 large egg
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Adjust 2 oven racks to upper middle and lower middle positions and preheat to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine cheese, salt, pepper, marjoram, za’atar, sumac, and Aleppo pepper in medium bowl. Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour. Roll out 1 puff pastry sheet to about 12- by 10-inches. Whisk egg and cream together in small bowl and brush over pastry. Sprinkle half of cheese mixture evenly over pastry and press in gently.

Cut the sheet in half lengthwise, then crosswise into eights to yield 16 rectangles. Carefully twist each rectangle to form a curl and arrange on prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Repeat entire procedure with second puff pastry sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until puffed and golden. Using a spatula, turn the cheese straws over and bake for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer trays to cooling racks and cool about 5 minutes before serving.

HOLIDAY CHEESE BALLS

Makes about 6 2-inch cheese balls.

Cheese balls are a little bit funny and retro, but after the slightly raised eyebrows have returned to the horizontal position, everyone admits to loving them. The great thing about cheese ball recipes is that they’re simple to make and lend themselves to any number of additions. Here are some festively flavored and decorated ones, but do feel free to take the recipe and add your own personal touches to them—anything from chopped nuts and herbs to fancy preserves and caviar are fair game.

Serve the cheese balls with crackers, good bread, or crudités.

An ice cream scoop with spring release is a perfect tool for easy cheese ball shaping.

Master Mix
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely grated shallots
2 teaspoons dry mustard
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated or 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
2 teaspoons finely grated zest plus 2 tablespoons juice from about 2 lemons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Additions and Coatings
Finely chopped pitted green olives
Fresh marjoram, finely chopped
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Fresh dill, finely chopped
Green peppercorns
Pink peppercorns
Aleppo pepper

Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in shallots and dry mustard and  cook for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add cream cheese, cheddar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir together until smooth and season with salt and pepper.

To flavor cheese mixture, stir in green olives and/or herbs to taste. Shape into approximately 2-inch balls and roll in peppercorns or Aleppo pepper. Refrigerate cheese balls until ready to serve.

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.

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