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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 tagged Holiday recipes

If you’re in New York today, you may be in need of our book, Winter Cocktails. It was SOLD OUT for a while but, it’s available again. (insert sigh of relief) If you don’t already own a copy, here are a few places you can order from. Our publisher: Quirk BooksApple, or Amazon. This cover image was actually a limited edition for William Sonoma that is no longer available online. Though, you may be lucky and find one at your local store that hasn’t sold out yet.

Enjoy!!

One of our favorite drinks from the book is the Golden Hog. The fresh pineapple & candied bacon will get ya every time!

 

Shoes. Sweaters. Pajamas. Toiletries. Check, check, check, and check. Your overnight bag is packed and you have your directions mapped out or your train or plane ticket printed, but The Gift for people hosting Thanksgiving dinner? Ugh. What to bring to your family’s or friends’ gathering? Booze is a given, and, now, you cannot be That Person Who Brings Salad. Oh, you know what I’m talking about. And, have you noticed? It’s never even an interesting salad, with say, kohlrabi and a horseradish dressing, but the worst offender: bagged and chopped romaine with tasteless out-of-season grape tomatoes and bottled LO-CAL dressing.

You can always choose to impress with a pricey present, but a thoughtful homemade addition to the meal can be even more noteworthy.These bite-sized treats travel well and can be tucked into the desserts table, or kept in their wrappings and enjoyed by the hosts once all the party and its stresses are over.

SPICED AND SALTED HONEY-CASHEW BRITTLE
Makes 1 sheet of brittle (approx. 9- by 11 inches)

Prep note: Brittle seems daunting, but its success relies more on having equipment ready than on being skilled. Be sure to have a candy thermometer (available at most supermarkets) and that your baking sheet is prepped.

For the Brittle
Cooking spray
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups (about 9 ounces) roasted and salted cashews

For the Chocolate Drizzle
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Maldon salt
Aleppo pepper
Ground cardamom

– Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat it with baking spray. Set up a small bowl filled with water and a pastry brush next to the stovetop.

– Combine the sugar, honey, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and (with the damp brush) brush the sides of the pan where the sugar mixture makes contact with it to dissolve any granules of sugar.

– Cook the sugar mixture until it registers 300¨F on a candy thermometer (hard crack stage), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and with the spatula, stir in the butter, salt, and baking soda. Stir in the cashews and immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Quickly spread the brittle out to the thickness of 1 cashew and cool completely.

For the Chocolate Drizzle: Once the brittle has hardened, melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave (try 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between zaps) or in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the brittle and sprinkle it with salt, Aleppo, and cardamom. Chill for 10 minutes, then break up into shards.

– Brittle will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week. *Refrigerate if you live in a warm place to prevent the chocolate drizzle from melting.

MEXICAN WEDDING CAKES
Makes about 42 cookies

These snowy cookies are crumbly and nutty and not too sweet. You might want to make a double batch and save some for yourself.

1 cup roasted and salted pecans
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (about 60°F)
6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus 1 cup for coating
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Orange zest for sprinkling (optional)

– Pulse the pecans in a food processor until finely ground.

– Beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and granulated sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, then increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the vanilla and beat to mix.

– Stop the mixer and add the flour, salt, cinnamon, and ground pecans to the butter. Beat on low until the mixture is cohesive, scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl as needed.  Beat just until a dough forms. If the dough seems too soft to handle, refrigerate it for 20 to 30 minutes.

– Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper and lower middle positions and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

– Using a 1-tablespoon (1/2-ounce) ice cream scoop or a 1-tablespoon measure, scoop out the dough, dividing it among the 2 prepared sheets. Bake the cookies until just golden on the sides, 15 to 20 minutes, alternating the sheets’ positions halfway through baking.

– Transfer the sheets to cooling racks, cool the cookies on the sheets for 10 minutes, then cool them completely on the racks.  Cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

MINI NUT PIES
Makes 24

These are a dainty alternative to classic pecan pie — try them with pecans, walnuts, or even a mixture of cocktail nuts. You’ll need a mini-muffin tin and a biscuit cutter about 2 1/4 inches in diameter.

1 package puff pastry or pie dough, thawed
All-purpose flour for dusting surface
Baking spray
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped and toasted

– Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

– Roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Stamp out 24 circles with a 2 1/4-inch in diameter biscuit cutter and press them into a mini-muffin tin. Lightly coat the whole thing with baking spray.

– Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then whisk in the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, espresso powder, and salt. Divide the mixture evenly among the dough-lined muffin tin, and top with the nuts.

– Bake until set, about 30 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool 10 minutes, then, with a wooden skewer or paring knife, gently pop the mini-pies out of the tins and onto the cooling rack. Cool completely and store, refrigerated for up to one week. You can also freeze the pies for up to 1 month and reheat them in a 300°F oven.

GINGER CAKE
This cake is moist and really spiced, packing quite a bit of fresh ginger in addition to the usual allspice, ground ginger, cloves, and cinnamon.  It’s meant to be baked in a 9-inch springform pan, but you can divide the batter among smaller vessels, filling each with batter about halfway up the sides.  When using smaller vessels, arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet for easier handling.  Click HEREfor the recipe.

Strapped for time? Order your packaging supplies at Paper Presentation.

And, if you’re looking to get festive and giving your room a quick makeover, try  Tempaper, temporary wallpaper!  The luxe gold and peacock feathers pattern featured in this post is one of our favorites.

We shared our potato salad with homemade ranch dressing a few weeks ago for 4th of July, but it’s just so good and perfect for holiday gatherings that we decided to give it a little more attention, including variations with summer staples like corn and the thing the defies all seasons and reason: BACON.

A few things about potato salad: Use new or waxy potatoes like red bliss. Have you ever had a potato salad that was one step away from being mashed potatoes? You can bet the potatoes were overcooked, but a starchy potato (like the coarse brown-skinned russet) was probably the main culprit. While russets are fantastic baked — fluffy flesh, ready to absorb copious amounts of butter and sour cream — when cut up in potato salad they soak up too much dressing and they don’t hold their shape. Use what you like, but, we’re sticking to our waxy spuds.

Dicing or slicing? You can do either, just make sure that the cuts are even: as with any food you cut up, the pieces should be of equal size for even cooking. If dicing, make cubes about 1 1/2 inches big, and if slicing, a 1/2 inch thickness will do. Peeling? I like to leave the jackets-just scrub thoroughly.

On cooking: Always start potatoes in cold water. If you dump them into already boiling water, the exteriors will start to cook immediately. While the interior tries to catch up, those outsides will start to get mushy. Bring the water, potatoes, and salt (like with pasta, they need to be seasoned from the start) up to a boil over high heat and immediately reduce the heat to keep the potatoes at a low simmer.

Let’s see…what else? Do pay attention to the 2-step dressing process. In step 1, the potatoes are tossed with oil and vinegar — a very basic vinaigrette – to add base flavor, and then, the real dressing is added.

I like to eat potato salad the day it’s made as when it sits in the fridge it seizes up a bit and isn’t as creamy. If you’re going to make it the day before serving, toss them with the oil and vinegar, then half of the dressing and reserve the remaining half for coating just before serving.

POTATO SALAD WITH HOMEMADE RANCH DRESSING
Serves 10

4 pounds new potatoes (such as red bliss), scrubbed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 bunch dill, chopped (about 1 cup)
½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
Worcestershire sauce
Fresh lemon juice

– Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the head to medium and simmer the potatoes until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with the vinegar and oil and gently stir them with a rubber spatula.

– While the potatoes are cooling, whisk the buttermilk and mayonnaise together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the garlic, dill, cilantro, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice to taste.

– Pour about half of the dressing over the potatoes and stir gently to combine — while warm, the potatoes will absorb the dressing. Reserve the rest. When the potatoes come to room temperature, transfer them to a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled. When ready to serve, add the reserved dressing to the potatoes and adjust seasoning, as food tends to lose flavor when cold.

 

POTATO SALAD WITH BACON RANCH DRESSING
– Cut 10 slices bacon crosswise into thin strips. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until they’re brown and crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat.

– Proceed with the recipe above, replacing the olive oil with the bacon fat. Stir 3/4 of the bacon bits into the salad with the dressing and sprinkle the rest on top.

 

POTATO SALAD WITH CORN AND CHIPOTLE DRESSING
Serves 10

3 ears of corn, shucked
4 pounds new potatoes (such as red bliss), scrubbed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, finely minced
6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
2 to 3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (more or less to taste)
Worcestershire sauce
Crumbled cotija cheese (optional)

– If you happen to be grilling, grill the ears of corn until charred on all sides. If you have a gas stove, you can char the corn directly on the range with the flame set to medium. To shave the corn off the cob: set a pie plate or wide shallow bowl on a rubber grip mat or a damp towel to secure it to the surface. Hold the corn with one hand, at the top, the base standing in the plate, and, carefully, cut the kernels, going parallel to the cob with a chef’s knife. If you’re not grilling at all, cook the kernels in 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat until browned. Reserve.

– Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the head to medium and simmer the potatoes until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle them with the lime juice and oil and gently stir them with a rubber spatula.

– While the potatoes are cooling, whisk the buttermilk and mayonnaise together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the garlic, scallions, cilantro, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chipotles Worcestershire sauce.

– Pour about half of the dressing over the potatoes and stir gently to combine — while warm, the potatoes will absorb the dressing. Reserve the rest. When the potatoes come to room temperature, transfer them to a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled. When ready to serve, add the reserved dressing to the potatoes and adjust seasoning, as food tends to lose flavor when cold. Sprinkle with the cotija cheese before serving. And yes, this also goes well with bacon.

GARLIC SHRIMP
This one of those non-recipes that’s quick and easy to make and pairs so well with any of our potato salads and a crisp green salad. Devein the shrimp, rinse them under cold running water, and pat them thoroughly dry. Season them with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and sauté them in vegetable or olive oil (remember, no extra-virgin for high heat cooking!) about 4 minutes until golden. Add a chopped garlic clove halfway through cooking, sprinkle fresh herbs like parsley and dill over them when you pull the skillet off the heat. Spritz with lime or lemon juice.

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