Holly’s Challah

round challah

This fall, a quest to make apple cider challah had me reducing cider by the gallon, watching video after video on youtube, making French toast every other morning.

I had a post nearly ready to publish, but in the end, I just wasn’t satisfied. The loaves looked pretty and tasted good, too, but the final product didn’t warrant the work or cost involved in reducing the cider. So I took a break from all of my challah making, stashed the loaves in the freezer, and returned to eating my apple cider donuts without thinking about any other apple cider offspring.

But about a month ago, the subject of challah came up with my friend Holly, who told me she had a great recipe, one she learned from her friend, (a wife of a rabbi), and she offered to show me how if I were interested. Umm, yes, please.

[Continue reading]

Grand Marnier Chocolate Truffles

grand marnier chocolate truffles

After serving a delectable Thanksgiving Eve dinner of cedar-plank grilled arctic char and roasted Brussels sprouts, my mother and aunt poured coffee and passed around plates of these Grand Marnier chocolate truffles, a party trick they learned from their mother, something they always have on hand this time of year.

A cup of coffee, a boozy bite of chocolate — is there a better way to end (start?) the day? This time of year especially, when there never seems to be enough time, having a stash of truffles in the cupboard has been known, in our family at least, to save the day. Truffles make a simple dessert, an elegant homemade gift, a festive treat to break out at impromptu gatherings. One batch, which yields at least 3 dozen, can be made days in advance and stored in the fridge. Just be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving.

Easy to make and pretty to boot, what’s not to love? My gramma taught her daughters well. [Continue reading]

Butternut Squash Lasagna | Thanksgiving in VT

slice of lasagna

Snow, dogs, a constant fire — I couldn’t have asked for anything more of Thanksgiving in Vermont.

But, as always, all of the VT treats — the Jasper Hill Farm cheeses, the Dakin Farm ham (with the ham sauce!), Uncle Wade’s waffles with Vermont maple syrup, Shed beer — did make we want to pack up and stay forever. I left dreaming about all of my aunt and mother’s cooking, from biscotti and koulourakia to grilled artic char and coconut-milk marinated cauliflower steaks.

Punch and paté (following this recipe to a T) were a hit but hands down, the hit of all hits was this butternut squash lasagna, a dish brought to Thanksgiving dinner by a vegetarian friend of my aunt and uncle’s. Having taken a peak inside the insulated carry tote (which is the coolest thing…Santa, take note), I had to ask for some details immediately. Kris, the friend, kindly obliged and described the basic process, brushing it all off as an old recipe from Gourmet, just something she and her mother had been making for years.

[Continue reading]

A Few Gift Ideas From Food52’s Provisions // Plus A Giveaway: Hedley & Bennett Apron

Hedley and Bennet Apron

Hi Friends,

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I write today with a few gift ideas from the beautiful kitchen and home shop, Provisions by Food52. If any of you have visited the Provisions shop you’ve likely struggled to pull yourself away, to stay focused, to resist buying just a teensy tiny something.

From vintage pie servers to letterpress coasters to fluted stoneware tart pans, every item is striking in both form and function, screaming: You need me in your kitchen. Immediately.

[Continue reading]

Making Pie Dough? Watch This Video. // Also, Two-Month Free Membership to Salted

just-baked chess pie

A few weeks ago I received an email from the founder of Salted, a recently launched online cooking school designed for home cooks, comprised of videos from over 50 master chefs across the country.

Jeff Appelbaum, the founder, wondered if I or you, my Readers, might find this type of content helpful, and last week, after watching just a handful of tutorials, I emailed him back immediately: yes, absolutely, who wouldn’t want to watch Roy Choi of Kogi Truck fame make a stir-fried rice-and-beef bowl? or the pastry chef of Gramercy Tavern make apple crisp and cream biscuits? or Daniel Holzman make meatballs?

[Continue reading]

Ronnie Hollingsworth’s Most Excellent Squash Pie // A Few Ideas for Thanksgiving

butternut squash pie

May through September, it never crosses my mind to open a can of fruit to make a pie. But as soon as October rolls around, it never crosses my mind not to open a can to make my favorite pies and quick breads and muffins. Is this odd?

I hadn’t thought about it till last week, and the truth is that I had no intention of mastering pumpkin pie from scratch — using canned pumpkin never bothered me. Besides, last Thanksgiving I made Ina Garten’s pumpkin pie from Foolproof, and everyone, high on punch or otherwise, raved.

And I would have made it again had I not read The Dirty Life and been directed by one of you (thank you, Laurie!) to Ronnie Hollingsworth’s Most Excellent Squash Pie, one of four recipes printed at the back of the book. In the preface to the recipe, Kristin Kimball sold me: “Pumpkin shmumpkin, winter squash has more flavor and better texture.” She likes butternut best.

[Continue reading]

Canal House Chicken with Preserved Lemon

chicken in pan

Remember those preserved lemons we made last fall? Well, I think I’ve found my favorite use for them yet: this five-ingredient chicken, a recipe which arrived two weeks ago in my mailbox — my real, outdoor mailbox — on a 4×6-inch recipe card.

Shortly after the card, one of three, arrived, I secured it to my fridge, and I made the recipe, chicken thighs with lemon from Canal House, a day later. And then I made it the next day and the next. I should know by now not to be so confounded when simple meets spectacular, but one bite of these thighs left me puzzled: How can this be? How can salt, pepper and preserved lemon alone produce something so tasty? Why have I never used this method — 30 minutes skin side down, 10 minutes skin side up — to cook thighs? How can such a simple method create the crispiest skin, the juiciest meat?

[Continue reading]

AK Cookies

chocolate chip cookies

I need a cookie. You?

[Continue reading]

“Balance is Overrated” — Wisdom from Charlotte Beers and Others at Martha Stewart’s American Made Summit

Martha

Upon being asked how she was able to find balance in her work-dominated life, Charlotte Beers responded:  “I think balance is highly overrated,” adding that “if you find your life is out of control, it’s probably a sign of being very alive and in the game.”

I loved hearing this and what Barbara Corcoran followed up with: “Don’t strive for balance; strive for anti-exhaustion.” 

And the gems kept coming: After admitting to being in her fourth retirement, Beers said: “You are going to work longer than you think, so don’t get too unglued about the first 15 years,” adding that it’s important to “think about why you work,” and noting that her work allowed her, “to grow, to create an ever larger self.”

I felt like Charlie Simms listening to Colonel Slade dish out pearls on the plane to NYC.

This was the last panel of the event, and while I found all of the speakers over the course of the weekend to be inspiring, I can’t stop thinking about this one. These men and women, all seasoned veterans of big businesses, spoke candidly about their lives, about failure, success, divorce, affairs, etc. But I loved the bit about imbalance because that’s how life feels right now, and it feels good. So often it seems that Ben comes home, and I run out the door, and vice versa. But, when I think about what Beers said — “think about why you work” — it puts the imbalance in perspective. We both want to be engaged in meaningful activities — teaching a cooking class, being on the Co-op board, volunteering at various farm share events — and we want to show our kids that it’s important to make sacrifices and to contribute to things we feel strongly about. But alas, when life feels so busy, I can’t shake the words of my YouTube yoga teacher: “Balance, in both practice and life, is the key to finding inner peace.” (By the way, I’m not complaining. I have a happy and healthy family, and we live in a beautiful town with access to apple cider donuts at every turn. Just feeling reflective, that’s all. )

[Continue reading]

Farro Risotto with Squash and Kale | Also, Serial Podcast

farro risotto with squash and kale

So, I really want to tell you all about this farro risotto, made with homemade vegetable stock, roasted and puréed butternut squash, and a handful of thinly sliced kale, but I can’t right now.

If any of you have listened to one minute of Serial, you understand. I just got to the part in Episode 4 where Sarah Koenig says: “If you want to figure out this case with me, now is the time to start paying close attention, because we have arrived, along with the detectives, at the heart of the thing.”

And, Friends, I do! I am on edge! I will not be able to sleep until I hear more. But before I leave you, let me share a few thoughts: risotto is something I feel moved to make about once a season — it’s delicious, everyone loves it, and when it’s made with whole grains and lots of vegetables, it’s healthy to boot.

But it takes FOREVER to cook. I used pearled farro, which still cooked for over an hour before it became creamy. My mother and I gobbled up the whole pan sitting by a roaring fire, which made every effort worthwhile, but, just to be clear, this isn’t something to whip up at the end of the day. You kind of have to be in the mood to make risotto, right?

Anyway, have you listened to Serial? A friend told me about it over the weekend, and I have spent every spare second since streaming it over my phone, completely gripped by each detail that emerges. It makes me realize I haven’t explored the wonderful world of podcasts enough. Any suggestions? What are you listening to? Would love to have a few more podcasts in queue.

Hope you all had a Happy Halloween.

[Continue reading]