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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 Side Dishes Category

ThanksgivingOnce a year, we gather and give thanks. We had the chance to do that early, as a warm-up if you will, this year, when we got together to put this Thanksgiving spread together.

The cold had crept in, with rain and gusts of violent wind. Those weather conditions mirrored some of our emotional states as well. But, as we settled into the evening and into the kitchen, all was calm and warm and safe.

Let’s be thankful for the moments, little and big, that bring us together with the people we hold dear, be it a Tuesday night or a calendar holiday.

And, a special thanks to the talented Penelope Bouklas and Jessica O’Brien for making these images come to life.

ThanksgivingCRUCIFEROUS CRUDITES

Serves 4 to 6

I’m a word geek, and “cruciferous” gives me no end of pleasure. I like that it sounds like a description of a tree creature in a Tolkien novel, but also, that it sounds like a biting into something crunchy and spiky and nubby and slightly juicy. It’s perfect, because cruciferous vegetable (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and kohlrabi, to name a few) are just all those things.

Here is one of my favorite crucifers: Romanesco. Pale green and spiraled and spiky like an underwater sea creature, it’s a more robust yet more sophisticated version of cauliflower. And, did you know? The spirals in each funky floret follow the Fibonacci sequence. Look it up: mind-blowing.

This is a pretty and simple recipe that really ups the ante on the basic crudité platter. Romanesco florets get a blanch in boiling water and a shock in cold, while purple cauliflower, another cruciferous beauty, is quickly sautéed for warm, buttery contrast.

Make the dip first:
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup crema or crème fraîche
2 garlic cloves, miced or grated
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

- Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and store, covered, until ready to serve.

Prep the crudités: 
1 head Romanesco, cut until florets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 head purple cauliflower, cut into florets
2 teaspoons lemon juice

- Line a large baking sheet with 3 layers paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice. Add enough cold water to fill bowl about three-quarters of the way. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons salt and Romanesco florets and cook for 1 minute. Drain and immediately add florets to prepared ice bath. When completely cooled, drain florets and spread them on prepared baking sheet.

- Cook butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until bubbling and beginning to brown. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing or stirring , until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice (Surprise! Did you see the color change?!).

- Arrange the Romanesco and cauliflower florets on a platter and serve with garlic dip.

Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingPUMPKIN SOUP

Makes about 7 cups

Equipment: paring knife, soup spoon or ice cream scoop, baking sheet, cooling rack, large mixing bowl, blender, large skillet, soup pot, slotted spoon, paper towels

There are numerous gourds for sale this time of year, from pie-friendly sugar ones to quick roasting ones like acorn. We opted for this large cheese pumpkin in order to make enough soup for a crowd.

Wipe the exterior of the pumpkin clean with a damp rag, then carve it as you would a jack-o’-lantern (well, don’t carve out a face on it or the soup will ooze out): run a sharp paring knife around the pumpkin, about a quarter of the way below the stem, then remove the “hat” and scoop out the seeds and membrane. I like to use a sharp-edged ice cream scoop to do this. Now you’re ready to make the soup.

For the soup:
1 (6 to 7-pound) cheese or Cinderella pumpkin, prepared as instructed above
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth (*low-sodium if not homemade)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Place pumpkin on a large baking sheet. Rub inside of pumpkin with 1 ½ teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, Aleppo pepper, and butter. Rub the exterior of the pumpkin and its hat (place it beside the pumpkin on the sheet) with oil and roast until flesh is easily pierced with a skewer, 45 minutes to an hour.

- Transfer pumpkin on sheet to a cooling rack, and allow to cool about 10 minutes. With a large spoon, scoop out flesh and accumulated juices into a large mixing bowl. Leave about 1-inch of flesh all around the interior of the pumpkin so it doesn’t collapse. Scrape the flesh from the underside of the pumpkin’s hat, too.

- Puree the pumpkin in a blender, in batches, until smooth. Transfer each batch to a Dutch oven or soup pot. Heat the soup over medium heat, stirring, and adjust consistency with chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and lemon juice. When ready to serve, place pumpkin on a large serving tray or platter, and ladle in the soup. Serve with garnish (see below).

For the garnish:
4 slices slab bacon (about 1/2-inch thick slices), cut into ¼-inch thick batons
1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, hen of the woods/maitake, and cremini, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, if needed
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 bunch sage
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Latin American crema or crème fraîche

- Line a plate with 2 layers paper towels. Place bacon in a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Once bacon starts rendering fat, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until crisp and deep golden brown, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to prepared plate.

- Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Taste mushrooms and season to taste. Transfer to plate with bacon.

- If skillet is dry, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add pumpkin seeds and sage and cook until crisp, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return bacon and mushrooms to skillet and toss to combine. Transfer to serving plate and pass at table along with crema.

ThanksgivingSPAGHETTI SQUASH IN ROASTED POBLANO CREAM SAUCE

Yield: 1 (3-pound) squash yields 4 cups, serving 6 to 8 as a side

Equipment: chef’s knife, mallet and metal bench scraper (if available), cutting board, kitchen towel, soup spoon, baking sheet, foil, fork, large skillet

We’re obviously not going to tell you to skip the mashed potatoes this year, but include this lush side in your menu: think creamy, spicy mac’n’cheese sauce over golden, sweet spaghetti squash.

Lickety split!
We hate splitting spaghetti squash, but, we’ve tried roasting the thing whole and even thought the skin softens, it takes forever it’s a big old mess inside afterwards. Microwave? Sure, but proceed with caution—explosions have been known to happen.

Here’s what we find is an easier approach to cracking that nut-hard skin: Place a damp kitchen towel on a *stabilized cutting board and place the squash on it. Tap a metal bench scraper into the squash with a meat mallet or hammer until it begins to crack. Pry it out, then, use a large knife to finish the job. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come apart in two completely even halves, as they rarely do.

Scoop the seeds and membranes out with a soup spoon or, better yet, with a metal ice cream disher.

Stabilizing cutting boards: Never chop on a board that’s slip-sliding all over your work surface. Set the board on a rubber grip mat, a damp paper towel, or a damp kitchen towel.

Roast the squash:
1 (3-pound) spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easier cleanup).

- Season the cut sides of squash with salt and pepper and sugar, then brush with butter. Roast, cut-sides up, until fork tender, 45 minute to 1 hour.

- Transfer squash on sheet to a cooling rack and, when cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh with a fork. If immediately proceeding with recipe, leave flesh in the shell, cover, and keep warm. Otherwise, refrigerate flesh and shells separately until ready to use. When ready to use, drain any accumulated liquid and reheat flesh in a lightly oiled saucepan over medium heat, or in the microwave.

Sauce it!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 poblano peppers, stems, ribs, and seeds removed, cut into thin strips
2 jalapeño peppers, stems, ribs, and seeds removed, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced from pole to pole
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
1 cups Latin American crema or crème fraîche
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 ounces cotija cheese or feta, crumbled

- Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the poblanos, jalapeños, and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is softened and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

- Add the flour and stir to coat. Cook 2 minutes to eliminate raw flavor in flour. Add the milk in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly to avoid lumps from forming. Stir in crema and cook until heated through and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and adjust seasoning. If you prefer a soupier sauce, stir in milk as needed.

- Pour sauce over spaghetti squash and sprinkle with cheese. Serve.

MacGyver your leftovers!
Use leftovers to make grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas.

ThanksgivingBUTTERNUT SQUASH DRESSING 

Serves 6 to 8

Equipment: Peeler, chef’s knife, baking sheet, cooling rack, large skillet

Whether you’re having roast beast or fowl this Thanksgiving, dressing is a must. Why am I not calling stuffing? Because I’m not putting it into anything other than my mouth, and also, please only stuff your turkey with aromatics like onions, apples, lemons, and herbs. The bread mixture will only act as a sponge, soaking up turkey blood and juice and not really tasting like anything much at the end. The texture is a horror, too.

This dressing is crisp and multi-textured, with nubby bits of hot Italian sausage, good bread, and sweet pieces of butternut squash. Avoid prepackaged stuffing: crumbly bread and to many dry spices that taste like forgotten crouton crumbs at an all-you-can-eat salad bar.

You can roast the squash & toast the bread up to 2 days in advance!
1 large loaf sturdy bread, such as ciabatta, cut into 1-inch cubes to make 6 cups
1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch dice to make 3 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons orange zest plus 1 tablespoon orange juice

And pick it up from here, on the stovetop before serving: 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more as needed
4 fresh hot Italian sausages, casings removed and crumbled
2 large shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
8 sage leaves, chopped

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange squash in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with zest and juice and use hands to evenly coat. Roast until tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.

- Melt butter over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

- If the skillet is very dry, add 1 tablespoon butter. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and sage and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

- Add butternut cubes and sausage to the skillet and stir to combine. Taste and season. Add bread and stir to combine. Add broth, and once again stir to combine. Cover and keep warm.

- When ready to serve, adjust oven rack to upper third and heat broiler to high. Transfer dressing to an oven-safe serving dish, or, if going super casual, leave it in the skillet. Run the dish under the broiler until crisp and golden, 1 – 3 minutes. Serve.

ThanksgivingPUMPKIN HAND PIES 

Makes 6

Equipment: Dutch oven or 6- to 8-quart pot, slotted spoon or spider, blender, strainer, rolling pin, chef’s knife, baking sheet, parchment paper, cooling rack

A few months ago, I needed a pumpkin for a photo shoot, but they were nowhere near being in season. Enter ayote or zapayo, or what I call “Latin pumpkin” or calabaza. It’s just one more of the gourd family, with the unique exception that you can find it year-round at many grocery stores. I grew up eating ayote en miel: ayote cooked in dark brown sugar syrup until dark and tender. Usually, to offset the sweetness, it, along with other stewed fruits, are served with salty cheese.

We had a piepalooza last year and were reluctant to revisit, but this Pop Tarts-inspired dessert brought together some heritage, a departure from the usual pie, and a great option for sending your guests off with an edible gift. If you’re pressed for time, do use store-bought pie crust, otherwise, visit our 2013 “Pie-Faced” Thanksgiving post for our recipe and method. Prepare the recipe for a double-crust pie and divide the dough into 2 rounds for easier handling. You can make the dough a couple of days in advance.

For the ayote en miel: 
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
3 pounds ayote, zapayo, calabaza, or sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into large chunks
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
Water
½ teaspoon salt
Peeled zest of 1 orange, plus its juice

- In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot of 6- to 8-quart capacity, toast peppercorns, allspice berries, and cinnamon over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

- Add the pumpkin cubes, sugar, salt, orange zest and juice, and enough water to cover the pumpkin by about ½ inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until completely tender, 1 to 2 hours.

- With a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the pumpkin to a bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature, then, purée in a blender until smooth. Strain cooking liquid and use it to sweeten and flavor anything from tea, to mulled wine, warm cider, and simple cocktails.

To assemble: 
All-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch salt

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

- Dust a clean, dry work surface with all-purpose flour and roll each dough circle out to about 12- by 13-inches. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons pumpkin purée on the lower half of the dough, leaving a “frame” of about 1 inch around each mound of filling. Fold the top half of the dough over, with a chef’s knife cut into 3 hand pies (each will be roughly 4- by 5-inches), and use a fork to crimp and seal the tarts.

- Whisk together the yolk and cream and brush evenly on each hand pie. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

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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