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the online magazine that loves food bloggers, their recipes & photography

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Easy Winter Wonders

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The best Brunches, cocktails, cookies & food blogging Buddies

Mini Pavlovas with Pomegranates


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r 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

Dreaming of a White Christmas

1. Braun Round Alarm Clock, White, $37, fab.com 2. Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, $24, sephora.com 3. Pawling Textiles Gift Wrap, $4.50, etsy.com 4. Tokyo Craft Studios, Medium White Porcelain Bud Vase, $18, etsy.com 5. West Elm, Owl Lamp, White, $99, westelm.com 6. Union Products, Pair Plastic Snomingo White Flamingos, $36, amazon.com 7. Holga 35mm Camera, White, $48, urbanoutfitters.com 8. Umbra Casa Tissue Box Cover, White, $4, amazon.com 9. Poppin White Tape Dispenser, $12, poppin.com 10. Illamasqua Nail Varnish, Scorch White, $14, sephora.com 11. Cachette white enamel cutlery, $16, cachette.com

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2012-13

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on the cover

Mini Pavlovas with Pomegranate Seeds is featured in ‘Tis the Season for Traditions. Created and photographed by Denise Kortlever of the food blog TLT—The Little Things.

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contributors

Melissa Coleman

Blogging Buddies and Beyond In a world where instant messaging and e-mails have replaced making a phone call or writing a letter, it’s no wonder that meeting love interests over the internet has become the new normal. But what if you don’t need a romance? What if you’re looking for someone to gossip with, to compare outof-control shopping habits or get advice on how to get picky eaters to actually eat. You know, a friend. In this issue we highlight three sets of food bloggers who met online and have since developed friendships that go well beyond the blog, to become friends in real life. You’ll also meet—and hear in a FoodieCrush exclusive—the two popular bloggers who share their best buddy-dom banter on their popular podcast Homefries. And what better way to show friends you care than to ring in new beginnings by hosting a hipster holiday brunch. In this busy season I can’t help but be thankful for you, the reader, for taking time to explore this new issue and discover a slice of the food blogging community. So please, dig in and enjoy.

xoxo, Heidi Larsen ,

is a designer by day and a baker by night and guest edited and designed the “Food Blogger’s Holiday Tips” article. She plays with her food, gets messy, and makes all things from scratch over at her blog, The Fauxmartha. She’s also a founding partner of Wooden Spoons Kitchen, a web design company specializing in creating blogs. When she’s done designing or baking for the night, you can find her knitting cowls, running, or catching up on her favorite shows with a glass of wine in hand. Melissa lives in New Haven, CT with her husband.

Bethany Nauert

is an LA based photographer whose work has been seen in Apartment Therapy.com, The LA Times, C Magazine, Angeleno, Rhubie and Rhett, Town + Country etc. When she’s not working with her clients behind the camera, she’s probably enjoying brunch, hunting for LA’s best tacos, and searching for her next house tour project. She’s secretly addicted to fashion blogs, flea markets and collecting jewelry. Catch her on Instagram at @bethanynauert or at www.bethanynauert.com.

c h i e f f o o d i e c r u s h - e r , e d i t o r , c r e at i v e d i r e c t o r & d i s h wa s h e r


Brian Samuels

is a Boston-based event and food photographer and writer. He is the creator of the food blog A Thought For Food and managing editor of The Boys Club, a site focusing on cocktail recipes and history. His work has been featured in Saveur.com, Improper Bostonian, Edible Boston and TheKitchn. When not blogging Brian can be found snapping shots of Boston locals, restaurants and chefs or snuggling on the couch, cocktail in hand with his husband Eric and their dog Maki.

Elyse Taylor

is a UVU graphic design student who relied on her Pinterest obsession and keen design sense to curate the section “Dreaming of a White Christmas.” Elyse is a craft book buyer, matchbook collector, an online shopaholic and a New York wanna-be. Elyse believes in magic and supporting local which made her create a blog called Wander and Find while living in Provo, Utah.

Sarah Kieffer

is a baker turned stay-at-home mom, who still finds herself in the kitchen most days, baking. Her blog, Vanilla Bean, is all about creating a food history for her family, and focuses on moments in the kitchen with her two children. She also contributes photography to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day and guest edited “‘Tis the Season for Traditions.” Any free moments are spent lost in a good book, or singing softly to Ms. Ella Fitzgerald.

Do you have a special food blog crush?

Tell me about it via e-mail, Facebook or send me a Tweet.

Privacy policy and disclaimer All content copyright (c) FoodieCrush LLC unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without express written permission from the publisher. The opinions expressed by our contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the of the publisher. We have sought to ensure accuracy and completeness of our content wherever possible, but neither FoodieCrush LLC nor the publisher assumes responsibility for claims or recipes submitted or reprinted by our contributors, errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or other inconsistencies, including those related to quotations. Neither FoodieCrush LLC nor the publisher is responsible for any statements, claims or representations made by contributiors, advertisers, or others, nor is FoodieCrush LLC or the publisher responsible for anyone’s reliance on the content herein.


tip

Celebrate The Holidays Like King George

holiday tips i p at a t i m e s u rv i v i n g o n e t

In the spirit of sharing, we asked a group of food bloggers to share their best holiday-related tip. Let’s face it, we all need a little extra help during this season. tips compiled by melissa coleman of thefauxmartha . com recipe and photo by imen mcdonnell of marriedanirishfarmer . com


Christmas is simply not Christmas in the U.K. and Ireland without a pudding at Christmas dinner. A tradition dating back to the 15th Century, the Christmas pudding or plum pudding is essentially a steamed or boiled fruitcake that is soaked in brandy or rum, and is often flambéed when served. Puddings are accompanied by brandy or spiced butter or, if you are joining us at the farm, homemade rum raisin ice cream. Get a customary head start on festive treats by preparing your Christmas pudding on “Stir-Up Sunday” falling on the Sunday before the first day of Advent (this year it will be 25th November). Put all of your ingredients together and allow family and friends to give it a stir and make a wish. Leave the pudding to mature in a cool place overnight, and on the following day, steam the pudding. Since these puddings improve

tip

with age, keep it in a cool, dark place for the weeks leading up to the holiday. If you fancy, feed it with brandy or rum once a week. It is also common practice to include small silver coins in the pudding mixture. Historically, a silver threepence or a sixpence was used, but any coin will do. The coins were believed to bring wealth in the coming year. imen from {farmette}

Traditional Christmas Pudding 225g/8oz golden caster sugar (sub superfine sugar) 225g/8oz vegetarian suet 340g/12oz sultanas 340g/12oz raisins 225g/8oz currants (sub dried blueberries or cranberries) 110g/4oz candied peel, chopped 110g/4oz plain flour 110g/4oz fresh white breadcrumbs 55g/2oz flaked almonds 1 lemon, zest only 5 eggs, beaten 1 level tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground ginger ½ tsp ground cloves 5g/1 level teaspoon ground nutmeg pinch of salt 150ml/5fl oz brandy or rum 1. Lightly grease 4 X 600ml/1 pint or 2 X 1.2 litre/2 pint pudding basins (sub custard cups). 2. Mix together all the dry ingredients. 3. Stir in the eggs and brandy or rum and mix well. 4. Leave in cool place overnight to mature. 5. Spoon the mix into basins. Put a circle of baking parchment and foil over the top of each basin and tie securely with string. Make a string handle from one side of the basin to the other so it is easier to pick the basin out of the pan after cooking. 6. Put the basins in a large steamer of boiling water and cover with a lid. Boil for 5-6 hours, topping the boiling water up from time to time, if necessary. If you do not have a steamer, put the basins in a large pan on inverted saucers on the base. Pour in boiling water to come a third of the way up the sides of the pudding bowls. Cover and steam as before. 7. Cool. Change the baking parchment and foil covers for fresh ones and tie up as before. Store in a cool cupboard until Christmas Day, feeding with brandy or rum once a week. 8. To serve, steam for 2 hours then serve flambéed with a dollop of brandy or spiced butter, rum sauce, rum raisin ice cream or homemade custard.

Always make ahead anything that can be! For instance, in early November I make & freeze pie crusts for the holidays because they keep for 2 months. Made in a standing mixer or food processor stocking up a ton is a cinch & all that’s left to do is dream up fillings! beth from local milk


o l i day t i p s more h

Always keep a jar of unsulphured molasses on hand. In the event you

run out of brown sugar, mix one cup of cane (or granulated) sugar with one tablespoon of unsulphured molasses

trash your old baking soda and baking powder and buy fresh boxes for holiday baking. Leavening agents can go flat pretty easily, and the last thing you want is to pull hockey pucks out of the oven on an important holiday.

Between all of the holiday parties, cocktail hours and meals, I find that

lighter fare is under represented. I offer to bring dishes on the vegetablefocused side, as the heavy items are always around without saying. I don’t feel good with a super heavy meal of starches and sauces and sugar, so I offer to bring a big chopped green salad with pretty things like pomegranate seeds and marcona almonds or a green bean salad with quinoa and apple cider vinaigrette.

sommer from a spicy perspective

sara from sprouted kitchen 

to equal one cup of brown sugar. ashlae from oh ladycakes

Living in a ski town, our house is always full during the holiday season.

Make your green salad this year a raw kale salad . Vegetarians and vegans will be thankful for a hearty salad to fill up on, and meat-eaters will enjoy it as a side. Keep it dairy- and grainfree to satisfy your vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free/paleo eaters! kathryne from cookie + kate

I try to keep a few meals on hand that are not only freezer friendly but can go straight to the

When even that seems to daunting, make a reservation!

slow cooker.

kelley from mountain mama cooks

Looking for an easy vegetarian dish that everyone will enjoy? Quiche works perfectly! Use any extra ingredients from your sides for a great, hassle free vegetarian addition.

erin from naturally ella

when i’m working on my menu, the first thing i think about are any d i e ta ry r e s t r i c t i o n s . a s a

pescatarian,

i u n d e r s ta n d

h o w i m p o rta n t i t i s t o h av e o p t i o n s f o r e v e ryo n e . b u t

t h at d o e s n ’ t m e a n t h at yo u need to make special dishes s p e c i f i ca l ly f o r t h o s e

a vegetarian’s entree can easily be the carnivore’s side.

i n d i v i d ua l s .

brian from a thought for food

Plan! Plan! Plan! The holidays will be here before you know it. Make a list of recipes you want to cook and make sure to test new recipes before the big day. Hit the grocery store with list in hand days before. Prep in advance and ask for help in the kitchen, so you can stay sane and enjoy the party too. adrienne from mince and type

This time of year I find myself baking constantly. Working in a professional kitchen I learned the importance of using the freezer when high production is involved. Even now, in my small home kitchen I’ll often make a double batch of doughs and

freeze the

extras for impromptu pies, tarts, and cookies. ashley from not without salt


To be the perfect hostess, I advise you not to start on the champagne before your guests arrive. If you’re anything like me, a few glasses of fizz will make you forget what’s in the oven and think that a cocktail of Baileys and grappa will be delicious (it’s not). When all your guests are fed and watered, then you can let your hair down. kathryn from london bakes

Add finely chopped, fresh herbs to sweet pie crust recipes for an unexpected flavor boost. I love adding rosemary or thyme to mine, as they pair particularly well with Fall and Winter fruits.

kasey from turntable kitchen

if unsure of guests dietary needs, i recommend having at least 1 gluten-free & 1 vegetarian option. For instance; deviled eggs as an appetizer, salad, potato dish, serve rice crackers in a separate basket, labeled gluten-free with the cheese plate, shrimp cocktail, etc.

lisa from with style & grace

When cooking a holiday meal, I plan it out as if it’s a vacation itinerary,

beginning with meal time and working my way backward, to ensure that each step is completed in a timely manner and that each piece of dinner is completed on time.

cassie from bake your day

I love the holidays. But they are never as calm or quiet or stress-free as we’d like. this year , i am making a list of ten things that make me happy as a reminder to focus on those things as much as possible. Little things, like a mug of tea on a grey day or a small bunch of flowers every week or taking a walk in the evening or remembering to buy fresh citrus to enjoy.

Somehow, if I feel organized in my cooking, everything else falls into place. As the holidays approach, I take a look at my calendar and each week plan 1-3 items to cook or bake. Freezer friendly items first, more perishable items closer to the date they are needed. alison from this homemade life

freeze a bag of cranberries and toss a few in your holiday cocktails for an easy and festive garnish. They look especially lovely bobbing around a champagne flute.

kimberley from the year in food

I bake so much during the holidays that even though I stockpile ingredients, it never fails I’ll run out of something & not realize it. It’s during these times I turn to kitchen substitution. One of my current favorites is baking powder substitute. Simply whisk together 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda with 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tarter to make baking powder. This has saved my baking hide more often than I should admit! kristen from dine and dish

My tip to holiday sanity is to be organized in the kitchen.

yossy from apartment 2b baking co.

When cooking for a large group, plan ahead. Write down prep & cook times and group them together. Things that cook with the same temperature can go in the oven together.

julie from table for two blog


Drea of a White C

1. Braun Round Alarm Clock, White, $37, fab.com 2. Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, $24, sephora.com 3. Paw 5. West Elm, Owl Lamp, White, $99, westelm.com 6. Union Produ 7. Holga 35mm Camera, White, $48, urbanoutfitters.com 8. Umbra Casa Tissue Box 10. Illamasqua Nail Varnish, Scorch White, $14, sephora.com


aming a Christmas

wling Textiles Gift Wrap, $4.50, etsy.com

4. Tokyo Craft Studios, Medium White Porcelain Bud Vase, $18, etsy.com

ucts, Pair Plastic Snomingo White Flamingos, $36, amazon.com

9. Poppin White Tape Dispenser, $12, poppin.com 11. Cachette white enamel cutlery, $16, cachette.com

Cover, White, $4, amazon.com

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Hol i

D az e

Homefries with

a v e ry s p e c i a l p o d ca s t

featuring

Tracy

&

fr

n

Benjamin

om

Shut

e erb

a

Joy

wilson f ro

m

j

o

y

th

e baker

We’re turning the tables on two food bloggers turned podcasters to find out how they morph their wit and written word into weekly entertainment for thousands of virtual ears across the world wide web. portrait by Brian Samuels

written by Heidi Larsen


W

hen two of food blogging’s most popular, dynamic and offbeat personalities met thanks to the blogosphere, sparks flew, a friendship blossomed and Homefries was born. Food bloggers Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker and Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean share why they take their conversations beyond the blog to thousands of listeners with their podcast Homefries.

You two are really good friends. Did that happen before or because of the podcasting and how has it brought you closer together? Tracy: We met at the BlogHer Food Conference in 2009 and it was love at first site! I feel like we had a spark and there was something very fun/magnetic/weird about our relationship. Joy brings out my inner weirdo and I absolutely love that about her. Podcasting has definitely brought us closer together. Since we’re talking about the most important/unimportant things you can’t help but be bonded. Joy: It really was love at first sarcastic joke. Tracy is an absolute wild-card. I feel like I never know what sort of ridiculousness is going to come out of her mouth. I totally love that about her. Podcasting every week has definitely brought us closer together and really helped us to see what a good working relationship we have. Where do the two of you find inspiration for your podcasts? Tracy: We do a lot of brainstorming together through text/email. Most of the time we talk about things that are pertinent to our lives at that moment and sometimes/most of the time it’s just completely random. We also get a lot of input from our wonderful lis-

teners through emails & voicemails. Joy: The podcasts aren’t super planned out. We have a rough outline of topics that have to do with the season or an upcoming holiday, but then we usually just devolve into discussions of nail polish and childbirth. Michael (our producer) is also a big part of helping us shape each episode —until we start talking about nail polish and childbirth. j oy & t r a c y

share

How to start your own podcast tracy

Be organized & be yourself! The more authentic you are and the more comfortable you are being recorded, the better. If you have a problem listening to your own voice (like I did) GET OVER IT. It’s a podcast for crying out loud. Joy

Find a good gin and an amazing, totally tech savy producer like Michael.


Joy & Tracy's

HOliday traditions

Tracy We always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve as a kid. It was a tradition in my dad’s household that has carried on into ours. It was so awesome to celebrate a day before, but we had to wait FOREVER for the adults in the family to finish their coffee & dessert before we could open presents. It seriously felt like half a lifetime to us kids. Joy I love Christmas in my family because we really take it easy. We usually make a huge pan of enchiladas, pour some margaritas and eat waaay too much guacamole. It’s not formal at all. We also don’t exchange a lot of gifts, we really just soak up the family goodness. One year my Mom made us go caroling. That didn’t go over very well. We can’t sing. It was a very short-lived tradition. But one tradition that has carried on every year is my Dad makes a Sweet Potato Pie. I think he loves that pie more than he loves his own family.

What is the best part of podcasting for the two of you? Tracy: For me, it’s catching up with my friend each week. The connection we have with one another is so special and I am absolutely blown away by the sense of community we’ve found in listeners. It’s also incredible to be part of a team with someone who also has a strong work ethic! It’s a rarity these days. Joy: I LOVE the feeling of connection I get from our listeners. I feel like I can share with them in a way that is different that how I share on my blog. I’m much more personal and real in the podcast. There’s less editing and no filter. It’s been amazing to see people connect with that side of Joy the Baker. And what’s the worst? Tracy: On weeks when we don’t get to record because of travel, I feel kinda lost because podcasting has become so apart of my routine. I NEED my girl talk! Joy: We try our best to record every single Wednesday night. On the rare occasion that we can’t record and must skip a week of podcasting I feel so guilty. I know that a lot of our listener’s look forward to the podcast for their morning commute on Thursday and Friday mornings, and I feel like I’m putting a damper on their routine. What are your podcasting traditions and or routine? Tracy: We record almost every Wednesday night to post on Thursday mornings. I usually have an alcoholic beverage during our podcast while Joy is usually fighting her cat/airplanes in the background. Wonderful visual, huh? Joy: We record the podcast from three separate locations. Michael is at our homebase in Los Angeles and all the audio filters through him. Tracy sits in her office in the


tracy’s favorite part of of podcasting

Joy’s favorite part of of podcasting

For me, it’s catching up with my friend each week.

he ad ph o nes: Al e x Kop l i n , f ro m T h e No un P roj ect

Bay Area after her kiddo has gone to bed. I sit on my couch in Venice...yes, with a crazy cat and planes flying overhead. It’s literally a three-ring circus. What’s in store for the future of Home Fries? Joy: There are so many things we want to do with Homefries. We’d like to add more shows and different voices to our podcasting schedule. We’re also really excited about creating a space for people to learn, so we’re building a place where people can take online courses with Homefries personalities. Now that we have an enthusiastic community, we’re building.

I’m much more personal and real in the podcast.

Exclusive

for

ush FoodieCr

Joy & Tracy's

Holiday Do's & Dont's HomeFries Holiday Podcast


Online & Offline

BBFs blogging buddies forever

Who says blogging is a lonely profession? Meet six bloggers who have taken their internet friendships offline to become best buddies in real life.

M

by Heidi Larsen

aybe its thanks to their former lives in marketing and advertising or perhaps its their sweet Southern drawls. Whatever it is that connected the pair, Add a Pinch’ s Robyn Stone and She Wears Many Hats ’ AmyJohnson have cemented a relationship that goes far beyond the computer screen. What inspired each of you to start a blog? Robyn: I left my career of marketing and business development to stay home with my husband and adorable, adventurous, hilariously funny son. The first week was full of organizing my house, the second was spent eating lunches with friends and by the third I knew I


Robyn Stone add a pinch

& Amy Johnson S h e W e a rs M a n y H a t s


You can almost hear Robyn’s southern accent as you read her words. She’s a gem and what you read and see on her site is how she really is in person.

inch add a p

Southern Caramel Cake


needed a fun creative outlet. I began blogging shortly after that and love it more every day! As I was struggling with a name for my new home online, I remembered when cooking with my Grandmother, she hardly ever measured anything. When I would ask her about it, she’d say, “Add a pinch of this and a pinch of that and it’ll be just right.” I knew that the same adage she used while teaching me to cook could easily apply to a recipe for a great life and thus, the blog was born. Amy: Honestly, I was needing a way to break out of a rut, and as a former art director/graphic designer, a blog seemed like a good place to be creative, and connect with other creative folks. It was a tad difficult to find a name that would work allowing me to incorporate a variety of topics. The day I settled on She Wears Many Hats as my name was actually my birthday. I was expressing my frustration to my husband over the lack of available domain names that wouldn’t box me in, and he said “It’s because you wear so many hats.” Any woman knows that’s very true about all of us. I snagged up the name and have been sharing from underneath my hats ever since. How and where did your friendship start and how long have the two of you been friends? Robyn: Amy and I are the best of

friends. Our friendship did begin online, actually over Twitter and then through our blogs. I remember the first time we talked on the phone over two years ago now, it felt so surreal to cross over from those 140 character tweets and emails to real voices. I was nervous! Amy: And then we met in real life the summer of 2010 at an intimate blogging event, Big Summer Potluck. We became fast friends, and have been laughing and giggling ever since. How often do the two of keep in touch with one another? Robyn: Oh my goodness. I absolutely hate to talk on the phone. I’d rather text or email anytime, with the exception of extremely close family and Amy. When I realized that she’d crossed over to someone I would actually call instead of texting, I knew she was a special friend. Amy: We chat on the phone and text several times a week, and our families get together every so often to play. Our sons are buddies now, and I think my daughter forgets that they we are not related to the Stones. What do you admire most about one another’s blogs? Robyn: I admire Amy’s creativity. She is one of the most artistic and creative people I know. She can absolutely do anything beautifully —from drawing, painting, singing,


cooking, to her stunning photography. Amy: Add a Pinch is a true reflection of Robyn. Her warm and caring personality shine through with her stories about her family and friends. You can almost hear her southern accent as you read her words. She’s a gem, and what you read and see on her site, is how she really is in person: a genuine lady that I get to call friend. If you could acquire one of the other’s personality traits what would it be? Robyn: Amy always makes me giggle. She has the funniest sense of humor and comes out with some of the wittiest things just right off the cuff. But as much as she makes me laugh, she also makes me think. Amy: Robyn is a gracious and humble hostess. I wish I had her knack for serving others with a smile. What about her blogging traits? Which would you borrow? Robyn: Again, I’d have to say her creativity. She can take popcorn to a whole new level! Her photography makes me want to just reach through the computer screen to sample a bite of her delicious cooking or pull up a chair alongside her on the beach. It’s incredible! Amy: Gosh, she’s so talented … it’s hard to choose just one trait. She’s as consistent as they come. I’m not. So I’d say consistency. What is it about one another’s recipes inspires you most?

Robyn: I love that Amy’s recipes are real and approachable. They are definitely recipes I’d make for my own family. Amy: I so much enjoy how Robyn weaves her family stories through her recipes and shares real food that anyone can relate to. Which one of your BBF’s recipes is your favorite? Robyn: While I call so many of her recipes my favorites, if I could only say one, it would have to be her Meyer Lemon Crème Brulee. Crème brulee has to be one of my favorite desserts, but Amy’s addition of the meyer lemon takes it to a whole new level of deliciousness. Amy: Her Southern Caramel Cake has haunted me ever since it was posted. Why? Have you seen it? If you could go on a dream trip with your blogging BBF, what would it look like? Robyn: Amy and I have traveled together a good bit and anytime we get together is wonderful. I can think of all sorts of dream trips for us to take together – renting a beach house for both of our families, a couples trip for a long weekend in wine country, or a visit to a cooking school would be fun for the two of us. Really though, a weekend where our families get together is always perfect. Amy: Definitely on a tropical beach sipping fancy frozen umbrella garnished drinks as we laugh about nothing. Totally.


a n y h at s she wears m

Meyer Lemon Creme Brulee

Amy’s photography makes me want to just reach through the computer screen to sample a bite.


S

Shelly Jaronsky

Cookies and Cups

&

Kristan Roland

c o n f e ss i o n s o f a cookbook queen

ugar might be the common ingredient on their blogs, but the mutual offfline admiration of one another’s style, humor and creativity is what took their relationship to a whole new level. Here’s why Shelly Jaronsky of Cookies and cups and Kristan Roland of Confeessions of a cookbook queen have become buddies beyond the blog.


We were friends before, but after I met Kristan face to face, I knew this was a girl who would be in my life for a very long time.

How and where did your friendship start and how long have the two of you been friends? Kristan: Shelly and I met through our sites—I was commenting on hers, she was commenting on mine. I think we just genuinely enjoyed what the other had to say and were able to relate. We emailed back and forth a bit starting in 2010, and when my husband and I took a trip to New York in 2011, I asked her if she wanted to meet for lunch (she lives in New Jersey). I was a little worried it would be weird, but we connected immediately like we had known each other forever. Shelly: Well, Kristan basically internet stalked me for years before I met her. Ok, totally kidding.  We first “met” online. We both have dessert blogs and I definitely admired her treats, but mostly her humor and authenticity.  Honestly, Kristan is EXACTLY who you think you would be when you meet her. Her site is her and vice versa. There’s nothing worse than meeting someone who you admire and having them be a completely different person in real life than you imagine they would be from their internet voice. We were friends before, but after

I met her face to face, I knew this was a girl who would be in my life for a very long time. How often do the two of keep in touch? Kristan: We talk every day. We usually chat on Skype off and on throughout the day as we work, and if one of us is away from the computer (like evenings and weekends) we text. Little of our conversation is about actual work…it’s mostly personal. Our kids, something cute we saw on sale, our husband’s not knowing how to load a dishwasher…that type of thing. We do call occasionally too, and we manage to get together a few times a year. This year we met up and shared a room at Blogher Food in Seattle, then I came to New York for a long weekend in August and we spent a few days just shopping and eating together. Shelly: Obviously since we don’t live close to each other—I’m in New Jersey and she’s in Arkansas—we have to make the time to see each other. We’ve been lucky with a lot of the trips we’ve taken. and I have been able to see her three times this year! Once she has her little girl, Lucy, I plan on getting down there to pinch some cute baby cheeks!  We both have an aversion


I get so worried about offending someone or getting mean comments. But Shelly is always able to laugh and shrug it off.

to talking on the phone, we save our phone calls for “OMG” moments!  But when we do get to see each other we can pick up exactly where we left off. What is it about one another’s blogs you admire most? Kristan: The way she consistently posts great content. She’s always sharing terrific recipes and rarely takes a break. There are days I just say, “Forget it, I’m tired, I don’t feel like messing with the internet today.” But Shelly really treats it very seriously. Shelly: Beyond her yummy treats I admire Kristan’s voice and humor.  She is completely relatable, hilarious and honest, which is most important.  If you could acquire one of the other’s personality traits what would it be? Kristan: Her thick skin! I get so worried about offending someone or getting mean comments…a mean comment will make me want to go cry in a corner. But Shelly is always able to laugh and shrug it off. Shelly: This is a hilarious question, but the answer would have to be her ability to make me laugh even in the worst situations.  She’s a

funny chick.  Although her creativity and humor runs a close second to her loyalty as a friend.  She’s honestly one of the best people I know.  She’s the friend that every girl needs. If you could borrow one of the other’s best blogging trait what would it be? Kristan: Her work ethic for sure. She posts more often than I do, and I don’t know how she comes up with some of her recipes! They’re ALWAYS great and creative and they’re always stuff I’d want to eat! I don’t know how she does it. Shelly: Kristan has an extremely engaged audience. People love her.  Not everyone has that quality and it’s one that I greatly admire. It comes from being honest and open. People can read authenticity. Which of the other’s recipes is your favorite? Kristan: The Sour Patch Kid Cupcakes she created when she surprised me with a post on my last birthday. She really made my morning feel special and captured exactly the kind of recipe that I love. Shelly: My all time favorite recipe of hers isn’t really a recipe...more


nd cups cookies a

Sour Patch Kid Cupcakes

like a totally genius idea. She came up with turning a Mini Reese’s Cup into a cute cupcake.  It’s been done over and over a million times since she first did it, but it was that recipe that made me love her and also be completely jealous of her at the same time. Kristan’s recipes are approachable and easy enough for everyday... and then she has some amazingly creative cupcakes that I could only dream of coming up with!  I mean, turning a donut hole into the New Year Eve ball..who thinks like that?!  If you could go on a dream trip

ook queen confes sions of a cookb

Cupcake Cupcake Toppers

with your blogging BBF, what would it look like? Kristan: Anything with tons of shopping, food, and margaritas!! And maybe some interesting people watching because if we are being honest, Shelly and I can be snarky sometimes…we crack up constantly. Shelly: Anywhere Kristan and I could shop, get spa treatments and eat cupcakes all day long. And one day I really hope both of our families can take a trip together. Our boys are about the same age and I know they would get along great!


e, e at, l i v

run

Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust

Jessica Merchant How Sweet It is

&

O Jenna Weber

e a t, l i v e , r u n

One’s a self-taught home cook the other a culinary graduate. But How Sweet It Is ’ Jessica Merchant and Eat, Live Run ’s Jenna Weber know no boundaries when it comes to food, fashion and friendship.

What inspired you to start your blogs? Jessica:  My blog is based on my admiration for both of my grandmothers and the name, How Sweet It Is, was taken straight from my adoration of James Taylor. Jenna: I started Eat, Live, Run when I was a culinary school student five years ago so my friends and family could keep up with my culinary adventures. What’s your cooking style? Jessica: I am definitely just a home cook—completely mom-taught, grandma-taught and selftaught. Coming up with my own recipes is probably the only talent I possess. Well that, and the ability to justify all foods made with sugar, cheese and bacon. Jenna: I’m a trained chef and I’ve worked as a pastry chef and bread baker in the past, but would rather sit behind my computer than work on the line. How did your friendship start? Jenna: We’ve been friends for about three years now but met in person for the first time just last year. But I felt like we knew each other so well from building a friendship online. Jessica:  And we have a ton of common inter-


fun, outgoing nature! I’m more of an introvert and get shy in big crowds. Barbeque Jessica: Her gratefulness and her fashChicken ion sense. I wish I could be more like her. Enchiladas What inspires you most about your BBF’s recipe creations? Jessica:  I think that Jenna has a much more mature and sophisticated palate than I do, so she is always inspiring me ests: Food—obviously—but also makeup, to try new things. shopping, shoes…total girl stuff. Jenna: I love the way Jessica can take How do the two of you keep in touch? an everyday recipe and turn it into Jessica:  Unfortunately we live, like, as something very unique and special. far away from each other as two people Which of the other’s recipes is your can—across the county—so visits only favorite? happen when we are at a blog event. Jessica: Ah! I have to say her Chicken We email often but also text a bunch. Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust. It is simEspecially when shoes are on sale.  ple, but to die for and is my husband’s Jenna: I keep trying to convince her and my mom’s favorite meal. and her husband to move to California Jenna: Her Barbecue Chicken Enchilaso we can be neighbors, but so far that das. Hands down. I make them probably hasn’t happened. a few times a month— the flavor comWhat is it about one another’s blog bination is amazing! you admire most? If you could go on a dream trip with Jenna: I admire Jess’s authentic voice your blogging BFF, what would the more than anything. She writes just like two of you do? she talks in real life and I think people Jessica: Wine tasting, followed by a can really identify with that. restaurant tour, followed by a bakery Jessica: Jenna’s incredible recipes. tour, followed by shopping and then a They are never, ever fails. Ever. last stop at Sephora, preferably with an If you could borrow one of the other’s unending bag of cash. personality traits what would it be? Jenna: It could be dangerous though. Jenna: I think it would have to be her Very dangerous. e how swe

t it is


From Robyn of Add a Pinch

From Amy of She Wears Many Hats

serves 12

serves 6

Southern Caramel Cake Recipe

1 cup butter (2 sticks) 2 cups sugar 4 eggs 3 cups flour, self-rising 1 cup buttermilk 2 teaspoons vanilla Southern Caramel Icing Recipe, doubled 1. Preheat oven to 350° F and prepare 3 9-inch cake pans. 2. Cream butter til fluffy and then add sugar and cream for about 8 more minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and cream after each. Add flour and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and beat well. 3. Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely. Prepare Southern Caramel Icing as cakes are cooling then ice cake. Southern Caramel Icing 2 cups sugar 1 cup buttermilk ½ cup Crisco ½ cup butter 1 teaspoon baking soda 1. Mix all ingredients in a 3-4 quart cast iron dutch oven. Swirl pan to keep ingredients moving in the pan. Cook to softball stage when tested in a cup of cold water. 2. Remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon until creamy and ready to spread.

Meyer Lemon Creme Brulee

1 vanilla bean or 1 ½ teaspoon good vanilla 2 ½ cups heavy cream zest from 2 Meyer lemons, about 1 teaspoon 7 large egg yolks ½ cup granulated sugar hot water—enough for water bath 6 tablespoons superfine sugar (caster sugar, granulated, turbinado or demerara will work too) 1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Place 6 ramekins (about 6 ounces each) onto a roasting pan, baking pan, or rimmed baking sheet. 2. If using a vanilla bean, split it in half and scrape the seeds out with a knife. Add vanilla bean and seeds (or vanilla/vanilla paste), to a saucepan along with the cream and Meyer lemon zest. Slowly warm cream mixture over medium heat, just until foam begins to form around edge. Remove from heat, and let mingle for about 10-15 minutes. 3. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until it begins to lighten in color and slightly thicken. Strain the cream mixture at this time. While continuing to stir, very gradually add the cream mixture into the egg/ sugar mixture until all is combined to create the custard base. Work slowly to avoid cooking the eggs. 4. Pour equal amounts of custard mixture into the ramekins. Transfer baking pan (with filled ramekins) to oven and pour enough hot water into baking pan to come to halfway up the

side of the ramekins. Bake until custard is set, but still a little jiggly in the center, anywhere from 35-45 minutes, remove from oven, let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days. 5. When ready to serve, evenly spread the superfine sugar over tops of custards. Using a torch, carefully melt the sugar until golden brown. Let cool until sugar hardens. From Kristan of Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Cupcake Cupcake Toppers

Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Small sprinkles Frosting of your choice 1. Unwrap the Reese’s cup, leaving the paper liner on. Using a #21 star tip, pipe frosting on top like you would a cupcake. Or, load frosting into a Ziplock freezer bag, snip off the corner, and pipe a swirl. Add miniature sprinkles. From Shelly of Cookies and Cups

Sour Patch Kids Cupcakes

For the sugar Baked cupcakes Frosting of your choice ¼ cup citric acid or powdered lemonade ¼ cup sugar 1 /3 cup strawberry jelly Sour Patch Kid candies 1. In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup citric acid with ¼ cup sugar. 2. Use a paring knife to cut a small hole in the top of each


cupcake. 3. Fill a Ziplock freezer bag with strawberry jelly. Cut one of the corners off and squeeze some jelly into the cupcakes. 4. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and sprinkle evenly with the sour sugar. Top with Sour Patch Kid candies.

3. Pour a drizzle of enchilada/ BBQ sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Take each tortilla and fill it with half of chicken mixture. Roll each up and set it in the baking dish. Dump remaining enchilada/BBQ sauce on top of tortillas and add remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

From Jessica of How Sweet It Is

From Jenna of Eat, Live, Run

BBQ Chicken Enchiladas makes 8 enchiladas

8 large whole wheat tortillas 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded 28-ounce can red enchilada sauce ½cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (or more depending on your tastebuds) ½ large sweet onion, sliced 1 tablespoon BBQ seasoning pinch of cayenne pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese 1. Preheat oven to 375° F. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on low-medium. Add sliced onions with a pinch of salt, and let caramelize until soft and golden – about 10 minutes. While onions are cooking, dump enchilada sauce into a bowl and whisk in your favorite BBQ sauce until combined. 2. Add shredded chicken to onions with BBQ seasoning and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly. Pour in about a half of a cup of enchilada/BBQ sauce mixture, and add ½ cup cheddar cheese and ½ cup colby cheese. Stir until mixture comes together and turn off heat.

Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust serves 6-8

3 medium sized carrots, chopped 2 large stalks celery, chopped 4 small red potatoes, peeled and chopped 1 quart chicken stock 6 tablespoons butter 1 yellow onion, diced 6 tablespoons flour 1 ½ pounds chicken breasts ¼ cup cream 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper 2 sheets frozen puff pastry 1. Preheat your oven to 425° F and take puff pastry sheets out of the freezer to defrost. 2. In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil and add the carrots, celery and potatoes. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Remove veggies with a slotted spoon and pour stock in a large measuring cup or bowl to save for later. 3. Fill the pot up with fresh waster and bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and let chicken cool before cutting into cubes. Set aside. 4. Melt butter in a dutch oven. Add onion and cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add

flour and stir constantly to make a roux. Cook for another five minutes, or until the roux begins to smell toasty and darken a little bit in color. Slowly stream in reserved stock while stirring to make the sauce (it will get thick!). Cook and stir for another three minutes then turn off heat and slowly stream in the cream. Add cooked veggies and chicken back to the sauce as well as the salt and pepper. 5. Pour pot pie filling in a large casserole dish that holds at least two quarts. Unfold defrosted puff pastry sheets and gently lay over the top. Brush top with a beaten egg for shine. 6. Cut small slices in the pie to let steam escape and then bake for 10 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 more.

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a better happier

christmas Brunch The holidays aren’t just for relatives, they’re about celebrating friends who’ve become part of the family too. Food blogger Jillian Guyette and partner Robert Luessen share their secrets for a jolly, mid-morning fete.

photography by Jillian Guyette of A Better happier st. sebastian .com recipes by Jillian Guyette and robert Luessen


Jillian and Robert


m enu for

Jillian & Robert ’s Christmas Brunch Winter Wine Punch Blanc de Blanc Champagne with Cranberries Brunch Snack Board Citrus Salad with Mint Sugar Red Quinoa Winter Salad Leek and Asparagus Frittata Cranberry Dutch Baby Mini Cranberry Spice Upside-Down Cakes


R

ecently relocated from New York City where she worked in the photo department at Martha Stewart’s Whole Living magazine, Jillian Guyette joined her partner Robert Luessen in the Philadelphia neighborhood Northern Liberties. She now does freelance photography and works in the photo studio at the clothing retailer Free People, while Robert is a studio manager for a prominent commercial photographer. After meeting in photography school and realizing their joint love of food, family and friends, they’ve merged their passions and discovered food blogging as the perfect outlet for them. You blog at A Better Happier St. Sebastian. What’s the significance in the name? The name is from a poem by Frank O’Hara titled “Having A Coke with You”. A friend of mine read it to me years ago and the poem has stuck with me ever since, specifically that line. The title felt so perfect because when you’re in a long distance relationship, the time you spend together is so important and special. There’s an overwhelming feeling of happiness when you’re

finally with the other person. You feel better when you’re together, and that’s how the blog came to be.   How did you two become such foodies? My mother brought our family together with food. She grew up in a first generation American household where she learned to cook for her family at seven years old. Her grandparents were from Malta and Sicily, bringing with them recipes that our family still use today.  


Winter Wine Punch


It’s so nice for us to have a melting pot of people to gather with. It keeps everything so interesting.


Citrus Salad with Mint Sugar

How do the two of you balance the content creation on the blog? We each bring something different to the table in regards to our creative process.  I’m all about going with the flow, craving an organic process to what I’m doing, while Robert is a perfectionist.  If anything feels staged, I get antsy. He thrives when he can control and manipulate to his liking.  We end up blending these two styles, and we’ve found it works well for us.

You’ve recently moved to Philly from New York City and have a wide swath of friends as family. What sort of get togethers do you usually share?  We have a wide array of friends scattered between New York City, Upstate New York and Philadelphia. We’ve both always had a slew of people from different backgrounds in our life and like to bring different friends together that may not know each other well. One of my best friends from my


Red Quinoa Winter Salad

hooked on tapas style, deliberately spacing out our courses so there’s always something new to eat and therefore to talk about. It’s a good way to keep the conversation moving when you have a group of friends that might just be getting acquainted with one another. What inspired the theme of this party? About the Party What’s your entertaining style? I had some casual ideas of food that I wanted to serve for a We like to keep things in the kitchen, and Robert makes sure holiday brunch with our friends, but I mostly had a color palette everyone has a drink as soon in mind. Robert took over the as they walk in. We’ve gotten childhood that’s attending is an apprentice in a string shop. She’s learning how to make Cellos. Another close friend is an accountant, and another in law school. It’s so nice for us to have a melting pot of people to gather with. It keeps everything so interesting.  


Brunch Snack board Save yourself some time and stress and pull together a few favorite store bought seasonal treats that complement your color scheme.

Dried apricots Salted pistachios Macarona almonds Salted pumpkin seeds Dried cherries Rosemary honey with walnuts Linzer cookies Cinnamon sweet olive oil tortes Sliced ancient grain bread with cranberries Fresh raspberries Spanish almond fig cake


We love to keep bringing food out, but you’ll be more inclined to interact with your guests if you just have to put the finishing touches on the food once it’s arrived.

Cranberry Dutch Baby


menu from there. I’m big on creating a party color palette and like to keep the serving dishes white so the food stands out. For brunch we stray from confining everyone to one big table and instead set up more of a buffet style arrangement. I love having everyone spaced out over multiple tables—our apartment has a very open layout and lends itself to this arrangement perfectly. How did you invite your guests? We keep things casual with invites. Usually it’s an email or a

text for something like brunch. What are your essential party tips to make it a success? Do as much prep as you can ahead of time. We love to keep bringing food out, but you’ll be more inclined to interact with your guests if you just have to put the finishing touches on the food once they’ve arrived. And good music is essential! What should you try to avoid? Try to avoid complex dishes for brunch. It’s my favorite meal to plan because you can essentially mix and match simple dishes to create a really


beautiful and delicious spread. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but variety is always nice.

About the Food

What are your menu creation tips and how do you decide if you have enough to go around? Choose foods that compliment each other. A balance of sweet to savory is essential for me to remember—I tend to lean towards wanting to make sweet dishes. Aside from coffee and hot chocolate to warm everyone up, we’re pouring blanc de blanc champagne with cranberries and

sparkling shiraz punch (obviously the drinks have to match the color palette of the party) and the bubbly adds a festive feel for a mid-morning meal. In terms of having enough… we always make too much food.  I like to plan for leftovers, rather than just enough for everyone who is coming. How do you come up with your recipes? These recipes are a mix of some we found online or from one of our various cookbooks that we’ve modified—usually to make them healthier! It’s also nice to balance


Mini Cranberry Spice Upside-Down Cakes

“

Brunch is my favorite meal to plan because you can essentially mix and match simple dishes to create a really beautiful and delicious spread.

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kitchen

Staples f o r t h e e n t e r ta i n e r

When it comes to entertaining these are the three things Jillian and Robert can’t cook without. 1.

A well stocked spice cabinet. 2.

A glass of wine, or three to get the cooking mojo going. 3.

Sharp knives—this sounds so nerdy, but chopping with a dull knife can be incredibly frustrating when cooking for a crowd.

Leek and Asparagus Frittata


healthy with indulgent. We’ve learned that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for a healthy dish. How do you divvy up the cooking responsibilites? I’m the baker and cocktail tester, while Robert does almost all of the heavy cooking. I like to help out with prep, but he’s usually the one modifying and tweaking the recipes. I’m also pretty good at picking the perfect cooking music! What are your food prep tips? Definitely do as much in steps as you can, and you’ll feel much less overwhelmed. I don’t like having a huge list the night before a get together, it always feels like a lot to conquer. If you spread it out the week prior, the day before can be a stress-free prep day. I’m also always on the prowl for food inspiration. If I see a chutney or a tapenade that sounds interesting it can end up inspring a whole new theme for the next gathering.  Any additional tips about holiday entertaining?

The biggest tip is to simply remember that it ’s the holidays. It’s all too easy to get swept up in the details and minutia when it comes to entertaining and forget the fact that friends and family are coming together to share a meal and enjoy each other’s company.

If you’re too busy making it all happen, the holidays will be over before you even realize it.


Winter Wine Punch serves 6-8

Sparkling Shiraz may not be the easiest thing to find, but it’s certainly worth the extra effort. It adds color and dimension to the punch and really makes the drink stand out. 1 bottle sparkling shiraz 1 ½ liters club soda 1 cup St. Germain ½ cup simple syrup 1 lime, squeezed ½ cup fresh cranberries Handful of mint sprigs Mix simple syrup and lime juice in a large punch bowl, add shiraz, club soda and St. Germain. Serve with ice and garnish with mint sprigs and fresh cranberries.

Citrus Salad with Mint Sugar

Red Quinoa Winter Salad

The longer the fruit mixes with the Grand Marnier, the better this will taste! Let everything mingle overnight before serving to your guests

This recipe can be prepared the night ahead, and thrown together right before the guests arrive.

adapted from Bon Appetit

4 grapefruit 4 navel oranges 6 clementines 2 limes 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier ¼ cup sugar 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped 1. Begin by cutting peel from all fruit, leaving aside clementines. Peel clementines and separate into segments. Cut all remaining peeled fruit crosswise into slices. 2. Mix all fruit in a large bowl, adding the Grand Marnier. Combine sugar and mint in a food processor and pulse until it’s finely chopped. Sprinkle mint sugar on top of fruit and serve.

adapted from Fine Cooking serves 8

1 cup red quinoa 5 t ablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 t ablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 large red onion, thinly sliced 3c  ups arugula, trimmed and thinly sliced 3 medium celery stalks 1 large, crisp apple, cut into ½ inch dice ¾ cup dried cranberries ½ cup pomegranate seeds Freshly ground black pepper Sea salt 1. Rinse red quinoa with water. Bring quinoa, 2 ½ cups water and ½ teaspoon sea salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered until the quinoa is tender, around 15 minutes. Drain the water from the pot and let quinoa rest covered for 5 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and set aside. 2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. Add the sliced onion, and a pinch of sea salt. Cook until tender. Stir in balsamic vinegar with onions, stirring until the vinegar cooks down. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature. 3. In a large bowl combine the quinoa with onions, arugla, celery, apple, pomegranate seeds and cranberries.


Leek and Asparagus Frittata serves 8

Lining the dish with parchment paper makes for easy removal from the pan. ½ tablespoon olive oil, divided ¼ cup half and half 8 large eggs 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese 1 cup chopped leeks 1 12-ounce bunch thin asparagus, trimmed ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a 9”x9” baking dish with two overlapping sheets of parchment paper cut to size. 2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil and sauté leeks until tender, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, scramble eggs with the half and half, cheese, leeks, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and carefully place in oven. Bake 10 minutes. 3. While the eggs are baking, trim the asparagus to less than 9’’ in length. Toss with a ½ tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. 4. Remove the dish from the oven and place the asparagus spears on top of the egg mixture in an alternating pattern. Return to the oven and back for approximately 15 minutes. The center should be springy, with browned edges when it is finished. 5. Let the frittata cool for a few minutes then slide knife around the edges of the pan. Divide the frittata into nine segments, first

cutting in between the strips of asparagus. When cutting across asparagus, use a gentle see-saw motion to ensure a clean cut. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cranberry Dutch Baby adapted from Martha Stewart

Preheating the cast-iron skillet in the oven is key to a successful rise of the egg. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp 3 eggs ¾ cups 1% milk ½ cup flour ¼ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar ¼ cup fresh cranberries 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Powdered sugar 1. Preheat oven to 425° F. In a 12” cast-iron skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and remove from heat. In a medium sized bowl combine eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla and ¼ cup sugar. 2. Whip until the mixture is foamy and pour into skillet and top with cranberries. Place skillet in heated oven for 20 minutes, or until the pancake is lightly brown. 3. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Mini Cranberry Spice Upside-Down Cakes adapted from Martha Stewart

For this I used a mini-cake pan with 6 wells, the batter will make 8 mini cakes 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature 1 cup sugar ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon allspice 1 ¾ cups fresh cranberries 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 ¼ cups flour 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt ½ cup 1% milk 1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Rub the bottom and sides of a mini cake pan with about 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk together ½ cup sugar, cinnamon and allspice and sprinkle evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place fresh cranberries on top of the mixture in a single layer, set aside. 2. Using an electric mixer, cream 6 tablespoons of butter with ½ cup sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add flour mixture, alternating with milk into the butter mixture. Stir until well combined. Spoon the mixture over cranberries and smooth out. 3. Bake 30-35 minutes, until golden. Let cool on a wire rack, flip over and serve.

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t he ultimate

Hanukkah As a food anthropologist, blogger Tori Avey immerses herself in the heritage of food and the symbolic beliefs that surround them. As the popular author of the Jewish food blog The Shiksa in the kitchen , Tori happily shares how and why she gets her latke on. featuring Tori Avey of the shiksa . com photography by Bethany Nauert . com by heidi larsen

icon: Irit Barzily, from The Nou n Project

Hos te s s


e

ating not only nourishes our bodies, it feeds our souls. Hanukkah, a holiday steeped richly in customs of both food and belief, carries with it many symbolic dishes that link the past with cherished traditions of today. Tori Avey of The Shiksa in the Kitchen shares how her conversion to Judaism, and the role she plays in her Hollywood Hills kitchen, has created a relaxed entertaining style her family is happily prepared to celebrate for years to come.


You call yourself a food anthropologist, a rather unique occupation. What’s your interpretation of the term? Everything has a story—absolutely everything, including you, your family, a street, a stone, the universe, or an apple seed. I take great joy in learning the stories of people and the things they eat. I like to dig deep into the heritage

of recipes and ingredients to better understand the roots of our food. It’s incredibly rewarding to talk about recipes, or cook with somebody you don’t know very well, and experience an intimate window into their childhood, their life, their culture. Eating a great meal is a pleasure, and it’s often strongly tied to memory. That is why we have such a


strong, visceral connection to the things we eat, and the dishes we love—especially the foods we adored growing up. One of my favorite things to do is interview people and learn the role that food plays in their family history. I also break down vintage and historical recipes, providing a window into a different time period, place or culture. It connects me to the past in a real, sensual way. I’ve been called a culinary anthropologist, a food historian, a food writer and a blogger. All of those things describe me. To be honest, I’m not really sure what the most appropriate title is for what I do. I’m the Shiksa in the Kitchen. I love to cook, read, research and explore. It’s my passion. For non-Jewish readers, will you describe what Hanukkah is? Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, the holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE. In 175 BCE, Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes gained control of Judea. He outlawed the Jewish religion, and in 167 BCE he desecrated the Jewish Holy Temple. A rebellion was led by a Jewish family known as the Maccabees. The Jews managed to defeat their oppressors and rededicate their sacred temple. According to the

Talmud, after the temple was cleaned, olive oil was needed to fuel the light of the menorah (candelabrum). Though there was only enough oil to burn for one day, the oil lasted eight days…or, as Adam Sandler says in his famous Hanukkah song, “eight crazy nights.” On Hanukkah, Jews celebrate their religious freedom and what is considered to be a great miracle that occurred. The holiday is celebrated for eight days, in honor of the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days in the Holy Temple. On each day, Jews light candles on a hanukkiah (a nine-branched candelabrum), starting with one candle and adding one more each day. Blessings over the candles are chanted and festive songs are sung, commemorating the Maccabean Revolt. Children (and adults!) play a game called dreidel—a spinning top that shows four Hebrew letters: nun, gimel, hey, shin, which stand for the phrase “A great miracle happened there.” It is customary to give Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) as small gifts. Though many Jews today give more elaborate gifts during Hanukkah, a practice that developed because of the holiday’s proximity to Christmas, but isn’t a traditionally Jewish custom.

3 things TOr i can’t live without in the kitchen

My Wusthof chef’s knife, my food processor, and a glass of wine. As a blogger, I usually have my camera on hand as well, just in case something fun happens.


i th n wu c e o a alm S l S l d i D re S e ar e a m y C

K a l e a n d R o a st e d B e e t Salad

B u tt e r B e a n S o u p

ah k k u ot � arm W e Han viv c “ L es w i th a S u r e tt ec o l a t i r F Ch o


You’ve celebrated Hanukkah dinner for 10 years, but only two of those as a Jewish convert. What have you discovered about the Hanukkah celebration that you didn’t expect? Ask most non-Jewish Americans what the most important Jewish holiday is, and I’m guessing the majority would say Hanukkah. The truth is, it’s a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish religion. I was surprised to learn during my conversion studies that Hanukkah is not a Torah-based holiday. It’s not an unimportant holiday, by any means, but it’s certainly not significant in the way Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are. Over the past century, Hanukkah has become more culturally significant, in large part, again, because of its proximity to the Christmas holiday. What are some of your husband’s family’s Hanukkah traditions you have incorporated into your own holiday celebration? Levivot! These crispy fried beignet-type treats are a wonderful family tradition. It wouldn’t be Hanukkah without them. In Hebrew, levivot means “latke.” In our family, it is the nickname for any fried little treat for Hanukkah. Our levivot are an Israeli version of bunuelos, a Spanish Sephardic delicacy. Traditional bunuelos are small dough balls that are fried, then drenched in sweet honey syrup before serving. Instead of honey, my mother-in-law’s recipe includes warm simple syrup infused with rosewater or orange blossom water, which gives the levivot an exotic Middle Eastern perfume. They are one of life’s great pleasures, and my family looks forward to them each year.

How has your conversion into the Jewish faith influenced your husband’s family’s traditions? What new traditions have you brought to the family? Thanksgiving has always been a big holiday for my family, and for me. I suppose it’s because I was born on Thanksgiving, and my birthday falls on the holiday once every seven years or so. It happened this year, actually! Thanksgiving was never a big deal for my husband’s family, because they are from Israel. Now, it’s one of our biggest holiday celebrations. Family comes in from all over the state, and I cook with my mom. My stepdad carves the turkey. It’s fabulous. Another family tradition I’ve brought to our celebrations is my Aunt Carol’s rocking recipe for Spinach Dip with sourdough (it must be served with San Luis Sourdough, the ultimate in sourdough amazingness). I make this Spinach Dip for pretty much every holiday celebration, Jewish or not. It’s a very American dip, and I always serve it as an appetizer. It has little to do with our largely Jewish-inspired menus, but I make it anyway, and everybody adores it!

ABOUT THE PARTY

What’s your entertaining style? We are definitely a relaxed and easy family and my mission is making people feel comfortable and at home when they visit. To me, that means never getting too fussy with the décor, and never taking myself too seriously. For example, when my husband and I got married, instead of a wedding cake, I turned our backyard fireplace into a dessert bar, so everybody could roast marsh-


pa n k o p o ta t o l a t k e s

mallows and make s’mores. That’s how we roll. For me, it’s about fun, easy, comfortable and colorful. I want my table settings to bring a smile to everybody’s face. What day of Hanukkah do you celebrate with family and friends? The first night of Hanukkah is when we do our most festive meal. We say the blessings and light the menorah, and I serve a nice dinner. Usually I serve fish

or brisket as a main course, soup, salad and mezze. And latkes, always latkes! The other nights of Hanukkah, I cook a nice dinner, but usually just for our immediate family and maybe a friend or two. My stepdaughter opens a little gift each night. There are eight for her to choose from, and one big gift at the end of the holiday. How do you set your holiday table? I tend to serve holiday meals Thanks-


b u tt e r b e a n s o u p

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The first night of Hanukkah is when we do our most festive meal. We say the blessings and light the menorah, and I serve a nice dinner. Usually I serve fish or brisket as a main course, soup, salad and mezze. A nd l at k e s , a lways l at k e s !

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Make It a Success

Tori’s

party tips Keep it simple. I’ve found that at parties, I tend to remember the guests, the conversation and the food more than the décor. I’ll add a few decorative touches here and there, but I don’t go overboard, nothing too fancy. Plan ahead, and make/prep dishes in advance as much as possible. With larger meals, I’ll often start two days before and make certain mezze that will taste better after marinating overnight. Assemble everything you can ahead of time, like casseroles, soups and kugels, so all you need to do is pop them in the oven or warm them up on the stovetop before serving. Write out a schedule to keep on track. For more complicated dinners, I create a list to remind me that the brisket goes in the oven at 2 pm, kugel is assembled at 3:30, etc. Give your guests something to toast. As a girl who grew up in California wine country, it’s essential to have some great wines to serve. Don’t forget to chill your white wine ahead of time! It’s also fun to serve a “mocktail” for the kids…something yummy and colorful to make them feel special. What should you try to avoid? Stress. What’s the point of having a party if you can’t enjoy yourself?

giving-style, with several dishes in the middle of our dining table to pass and serve. When we have a bigger meal, like Passover or Thanksgiving, I serve it buffet style. Plated dinners are too fussy for my taste­­—I’d rather be hanging out with my guests and drinking a glass of wine than rushing to and from the kitchen with plates of food! I do serve the soup, though, since that can get messy as a self-serve or at a buffet. After that, it’s a food free-for-all. Because my husband’s family is part Sephardic and he has a Middle Eastern background, we tend to serve lots of small salads at the beginning of the meal—we call it “mezze”—hummus, beet salad, marinated cucumbers, baba ganoush, etc. Then I bring out a main dish and a few sides. Sometimes we fill up on the mezze…it’s like the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean version of Spanish tapas. They’re so yummy it’s easy to do! I’m not fussy with the “theme” and décor or table settings but I do love adding candles to the table—little antique-looking votives add warmth and charm. I enjoy color and character in my place settings. I like hand-painted vintage dishes, Moroccanstyle plates and glasses, and wood serving platters and utensils. For some holiday meals, I use a set of multi-colored glass goblets that my mom bought me for my birthday a few years ago. They’re funky and fun, and the kids love fighting over which color they end up with. Those are the kinds of fun traditions kids remember and look forward to each year.


k a h” k m u o t Wa r v Han i v e “ L es w i th auc S r e tt ec o l a t i r F Ch o


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Making a great meal is like composing a song— you need to understand which flavor notes will compliment each other, so everything goes together in perfect harmony.

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Hanukkah gives us an excuse to eat fried food for a week. It’s awesome!

In Judith’s honor, we eat dairy foods during Hanukkah. How does your menu relate Due to the dairy food Hanukkah to Hanukkah? tradition and the kosher restriction On Hanukkah, we eat food that is of mixing milk and dairy, kosher Jews deep-fried in oil, another (tasty) rewill often serve fish as a main course minder of the miracle of the oil. A classic Hanukkah dish is crispy potato (fish is neutral in kosher law, considered neither meat nor dairy). I don’t pancakes called latkes, often served keep strictly kosher, but I do like to with applesauce and sour cream. We serve fish at the Hanukkah meal. Bealso serve sufganiyot (jelly-filled fried cause of all the fried foods and oil we donuts), usually topped with poweat during the holiday, a lighter fish dered sugar. Smaller Sephardic Hanukkah donuts are called bunuelos (or entrée seems ideal and provides some bimuelos), and are traditionally dipped balance to the menu. I also love dairy foods, especially cheese, so any exin honey. And as I mentioned, our cuse to serve cheese-related dishes Middle Eastern version of bunuelos works for me! is called levivot. These fried fritters are drenched in warm flavored simple What are your menu creation tips? syrup instead of honey. Blintzes, keft- How do you decide what’s a good balance and if you have enough es, and other fried treats often make to go around? an appearance. Hanukkah gives us an Making a great meal is like composing excuse to eat fried food for a week. a song—you need to understand which It’s awesome! On Hanukkah, dairy foods are often flavor notes will compliment each other, so everything goes together in perfect served in honor of the Jewish heroine Judith. The custom of eating dairy harmony. I think knowing how to profoods for Hanukkah dates back to the vide a great balance comes with pracMiddle Ages, when the Book of Judith tice; the more menus you create, the played an important role in the Hanuk- more you understand how flavors blend. As for enough to go around, I alkah narrative. Judith was a celebrated ways, always, ALWAYS make way too Jewish heroine who saved her village much food. Several years ago I made from an invading Assyrian army. A a terrific dinner, and I ran out of the beautiful widow, she plied the Assyrian army’s general with wine and salty entrée when a few guests asked for cheese. When the general passed out seconds, then thirds. That was a horrible feeling. Now I err on the side of drunk, Judith beheaded him with his way too much food…and I always send own sword. The Israelites launched a some home with any guests who want surprise attack on the leaderless Asthem. Leftovers are my friend! syrian army and emerged victorious.

About the Food


Kale and Roasted Beet Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing serves 8 Kosher Key: Dairy

5-6 small roasted beets (red and/or golden) ½ cup pecans 1 /3 cup real maple syrup, divided Dash of cayenne 1 bunch curly kale 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (good quality) 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil ½cup crumbled feta or goat cheese (optional—omit to keep vegan/pareve) 1. Peel your roasted beets, then slice them into wedges and set aside. Place the pecans in a small skillet and toast over medium heat for 4-5 minutes till fragrant. Pour ¼ cup maple syrup over the pecans and bring to a boil over medium. Sprinkle the pecans evenly with a dash of cayenne. Let the syrup boil for 1-2 minutes over medium, stirring frequently or until most of the liquid evaporates. Pour the pecans immediately onto a piece of parchment or wax paper and spread them out with a spoon into a single layer to cool and dry out. 2. Meanwhile cut kale leaves into small pieces and place in a salad bowl. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Massage the kale with clean hands for 2-3 minutes till it wilts and loses its bitter flavor. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and lemon juice. Whisk briskly and drizzle the olive oil very slowly into the mixture until the dressing is emulsified and thickened.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. 3. Add the roasted beat wedges and crumbled feta or goat cheese to the salad. Break apart the candied pecans into small pieces. Sprinkle the pecans over the top of the salad. Serve each portion of salad drizzled with a bit of dressing (about 1 tablespoon per serving).

Butter Bean Soup serves 8 Kosher Key: Pareve

1 lb. dry butter beans/lima beans (substitute cannellini or navy beans if needed) ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds 2 celery ribs, sliced 1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes 6 tablespoons fresh chopped dill, divided 1 bay leaf Salt and black pepper 1. Cover the dry beans with cold water and soak them overnight. Drain and rinse. 2. In a large pot, heat ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat until hot. Add chopped onion and sauté for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add carrot, celery, and soaked lima beans to the pot. Cover the ingredients with 8 cups of water and bring to a slow boil for a few minutes. Skim any foam that rises to the top of the pot. When foam dissipates, add the crushed tomatoes to the pot, along with ¼ cup of fresh chopped dill and bay leaf. Season

with salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup simmer for 75-90 minutes till beans are tender. If the soup becomes too thick while it’s cooking, add a little more water. Taste and season again towards the end of cooking, if needed. Serve garnished with the remaining fresh dill.

Seared Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce serves 4 Kosher Key: Dairy

4 boneless salmon fillets 3 t ablespoons extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper 1 /3 cup mayonnaise 1 /3 cup sour cream 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill 2 teaspoons prepared or grated horseradish 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice ¼ teaspoon garlic powder Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste Fresh dill sprigs for garnish 1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Season fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat till hot (not brown or smoking). Add the fillets to the skillet—if your fillets are skin-on, place the fillets skin side up, meat side down. Sear them on one side for 2-3 minutes till a golden brown crust forms on the meat. Without flipping the salmon, transfer the skillet to the oven and let it cook for 7-10 more minutes to desired doneness. Thick fillets will take longer. 2. While salmon is cooking, mix sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl till well blended. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.


3. Remove salmon from the oven. Use an oven mitt, that skillet handle will be hot! Serve cooked salmon fillets topped with sauce and garnished with a sprig of fresh dill.

Crispy Panko Potato Latkes

makes about 22 latkes Kosher Key: Pareve

2 ½ lbs Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes 1 large onion ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs 2 eggs, beaten 1 tablespoon potato starch Salt and pepper Grapeseed or peanut oil for frying 1. Before you begin making the latkes, place your wire cooling rack close to the area where you will be frying the latkes. Place a layer of paper towels below the cooling rack to catch excess oil. Peel the potatoes, then grate them using a hand grater or food processor shredding attachment with fine holes. Place grated potatoes into a bowl and immediately cover with cold water. Meanwhile, grate the onion. Drain the potato shreds in a colander. 2. Place drained potato shreds and grated onion in the center of a clean tea towel or multiple layers of cheesecloth. Wrap the shreds up in the cloth, twist and squeeze firmly to remove excess liquid from the shreds. Pour potato and onion into the clean, dry bowl. 3. Pour oil into skillet to a depth of 1/8 inch and bring to 365° F. While oil is heating, stir the panko breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, potato starch, salt and pepper into the potato shreds. Add salt

and pepper to taste. 4. Scoop up 3 tablespoons of the potato mixture and squeeze the mixture firmly in your palm over an empty dish to remove any excess liquid and shape the potato mixture into a tightly compacted disk. Place the disk carefully into the hot oil. Use the first latke to test the oil temperature, and don’t fry a whole batch until the temperature is right. 5. Continue shaping the latkes an fry in batches of 4-5 latkes at a time for 2-3 minutes per side till brown and crispy. 6. Remove the latkes from the pan using metal spatula and place them on wire cooling rack to drain. Serve warm with applesauce or sour cream, if desired.

Hanukkah “Levivot” Fritters with Warm Chocolate Sauce makes about 24 fritters Kosher Key: Dairy

for the Fritters 1 ½ cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder Pinch of salt 1 egg 1 cup milk 1 large bottle of grapeseed or peanut oil for frying Powdered sugar for dusting 1. In a mixing bowl, use a fork to mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Whisk the milk into the egg till well combined. Add the egg and milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a batter forms. Warm oil over medium heat to 365° F. 2. Use a metal soup spoon to scoop up each portion of batter. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into the hot oil.

Between each scoop of batter, dip your metal spoon into a dish of water to keep the batter from sticking to the spoon. Make 4-5 fritters at a time. Keep a metal slotted spoon handy to turn the fritters as they become golden. Fry the fritters for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Drain fried fritters on a wire rack. For the Chocolate Sauce 4 ounces semisweet chocolate 3 t ablespoons sugar (or more to taste) 1 tablespoon unsalted butter Pinch of salt ¾ cup half and half 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon rosewater 1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat till smooth. Whisk in the sugar, butter, and salt, stirring constantly, till the butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Whisk in the half and half, a few tablespoonfuls at a time, stirring to combine after each addition. Whisk the sauce over medium heat till the mixture is smooth and the half and half is fully incorporated. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and optional rosewater. Taste; add additional sugar or salt to taste, if desired. 2. Sprinkle the fried fritters with powdered sugar. Pour the warm chocolate sauce over the fritters and serve. Pairs well with fresh, cold whipped cream; you can also serve fritters and sauce over vanilla ice cream.

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‘tis the

season f or

traditions During the busiest time of the year these food bloggers make it a point to get back to their roots, reviving family food traditions and creating new ones. compiled by sarah Kieffer of the vanilla bean blog .com written by Heidi Larsen

F i l l e d w i t h h i g h e x p e c tat i o n s o f

ourselves and others, the holiday season too often becomes a time of materialism and a springboard for stress. But refocusing and remembering family food traditions like Grandma’s perfect sugar cookie or slicing up the holiday ham sets up an occasion of giving and memory making.


adition sa r a h ’ s t r

Mom’s Christmas Eve Pumpkin Bread

recipe & photography by

I

Sa ra h ki effer the vanilla bean blog .co m

have vivid holiday memories of counter tops lined with cookies and bars, candy and breads. My mom would spend much of her vacation days baking goodies for the neighborhood, sending my sister and I off Christmas Eve morning to deliver it all to eager souls. I remember the thankfulness expressed at our gift, neighbors greedily taking plates off our hands only to place more sweet things in them; their own baked goods of Christmas cheer. More than one household would express delight at the bread we gave them. ‘Oh good, there’s pumpkin bread!’ they would exclaim, “I look forward to this all year!’ I watched hearts grow light in a simple act of giving. Now I live on a street where barely anyone is on a first name basis; neighbors are acknowledged with quick nods and quicker steps. This winter season I want to be more like my mom and find myself in the kitchen, mixing and baking this spicy pumpkin treat. Perhaps when we send ourselves out to deliver it, the same cheer from Christmas’ past will find us yet again: our hearts beating fa-lala, our hands quietly bringing joy to the world.


‘Oh good, there’s the pumpkin bread,’ neighbors would exclaim. ‘I look forward to this all year!’ I watched hearts grow light in one simple act of giving.

Pumpkin Bread makes 2 loaves

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 1 cup whole wheat flour ½ teaspoon baking powder 2 teaspoon soda 1 ½ teaspoon salt 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg ¾ teaspoon ginger 3 cups sugar 4 eggs 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin (or 1 ¾ cups) ½ cup sour cream 1 cup canola oil 1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 2 bread pans (8” x 4” is preferred, but 9” x 5” will work.) 2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Set aside. 3. In a standing mixer, beat together the sugar and the eggs until wellcombined. Add the pumpkin, then sour cream, and then oil, and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Add the pecans and mix until combined. Pour batter into the two prepared pans and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove bread and let cool at room temperature. This bread tastes great the day of, but even better the next two days. Wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge or at room temperature.


Southern Deviled Eggs with Country Ham & Sriracha Powder makes 24

12 eggs (note: older eggs peel better, so best bought a week ahead) 6 tablespoons homemade or good quality mayonnaise 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 3 dashes Tabasco  2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish pinch of cayenne pepper kosher salt thinly sliced country ham fried crispy scallions, green part only, sliced thin 2 tablespoons Sriracha For Sriracha Powder

1. Heat oven to 200° F. Smear the Sriracha on a silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes until dry. Cool and crush into a powder. Set aside.  For Eggs

1. Cover eggs with cold water. Bring to a full boil, cover, remove from heat and let sit for 12 minutes. Pour off hot water. Fill pot with ice and cover with cold water. Let sit until cooled, about 5 minutes. 2. Peel eggs, slice in half, and carefully remove yolk to a medium bowl, reserving whites. Combine yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, relish, and cayenne. Mix until thoroughly incorporated and creamy. Season to taste with salt.  3. Pipe or scoop mixture into egg whites. Top with Sriracha powder, bits of ham, and scallions. 

di beth’s tra

tion

Dad’s Deviled Eggs


recipe & photography by

b et h kir by local milk .b lo g s pot. co m

D

eviled eggs are a fine Southern tradition and talk of them is often peppered with references to Mama and church potlucks. Deviled egg carriers are coveted and passed down from generation to generation, and the humble eggs, with their bright dusting of paprika standing out against the creamy yolk, are the common denominator at every holiday supper from Easter to Thanksgiving to Christmas. My family is no different, except that they’re the province of one person and one person only, and it isn’t Mom. It’s Dad. We don’t even call them “deviled eggs” but rather “Dad’s deviled eggs”. They’re his territory, one of only a handful of things he makes at all, and there seems to be an unspoken rule that no one else is allowed to make them. This is for good reason. His are perfect every time, and enjoy the honor of being the most hoarded item on the holiday spread. He doesn’t use a recipe and they’re judged to be perfect

when they reach that “know it when you see it” state of creaminess, never dry or runny. I have so many memories of him furrowed over a mixing bowl, tasting and adjusting. His are manly eggs after all, so there’s no piping involved, the filling is simply scooped generously into each egg white before being hit haphazardly with the iconic dusting of paprika. He insists that they have to be made with Kraft mayo, French’s yellow mustard, and “sweet salad cubes”, not pickle relish. Neither he nor I are much one for rules. So here’s my homage to my father’s deviled eggs replete with Sriracha powder standing in for the paprika. Who knows, they might even make it to the table this year if he’ll let me!


recipe & photography by

C

Kat hry n West mor e london bakes . co m

hristmas lunch in my family was always a riotous affair. We would have a turkey, as tradition dictates, served with all the trimmings. Three generations of the family would squeeze round our dining table, shouting over each other as dishes were passed back and forth in a jumble of hands and arms. Of all the dishes on the table, this stuffing, which my mother makes every year, is probably the family’s favorite. In the days after Christmas, when the fridge is groaning with leftovers, this is what everyone nibbles on. I have now reached the age when every year seems to bring one less face at the table and Christmas has become a time for remembering those we have lost rather than a time for celebration. Eventually, I hope that a new generation of the family will join us at the table and, as the oldest of the youngest generation, the responsibility for making sure that our traditions live on is weighing heavily upon my shoulders. di beth’s tra

tion

Mom’s Sausagemeat & Apple Stuffing

In the days after Christmas, when the fridge is groaning with leftovers, this is what everyone nibbles on.


Sausagemeat and Apple Stuffing serves 8

  1 tablespoon olive oil 1 onion, chopped finely 1 clove of garlic, chopped 28ounces (700g) good quality sausage meat (approximately 8 large sausages) 1 large apple, grated 1 large egg A handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Heat the oil in a large skillet of a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry until translucent (between 5 - 10 minutes). 2. Add the sausage to the skillet, breaking it up as you do so. Fry it until browned. Place the cooked sausage in a large bowl and set aside for 10 minutes or so to cool. 3. Once slightly cooled, add the grated apple, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Use your hands to combine everything and then put the mixture in a

2lb loaf tin or medium ovenproof dish. Bake for about 35 minutes until the top is golden brown. 4. Remove from the oven and carefully remove any fat that’s bubbled to the surface. At this point you can either freeze the stuffing until required or cook it for a further 15 minutes before serving.


I

Mini Pavolovas makes 6

1 egg white A pinch of salt ¼c  up plus 1 tablespoon fine white sugar Freshly whipped cream Pomegranate seeds 1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. 2. Whisk the egg white with some salt in a very clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar. 3. Form six mini pavlovas on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake for 6 minutes. 4. Lower oven temperature to 250° F and bake for another 15 minutes. Let pavlovas cool in the turned-off oven. 5. Serve with whipped cream and sprinkle over pomegranate seeds.

adition Denise’s tr

Mini Pavlovas

recipe & photography by

D en i se kortlever tlt - the little things . co m

t isn’t really Christmas until I’ve baked—and eaten—my mini pavlovas for dessert. It’s been that way for years. One of the first things I ever baked from scratch was a simple passion fruit pavlova and I immediately fell in love. The airiness, the lightness and the contrast of the crispy base with the indulgent creamy topping. These two-bite pavlovas have been part of many festive desserts I’ve

made and are very easy to prepare and are light as a feather. Crunchy on the outside and a bit gooey inside, exactly the way pavlovas should be. I like to serve these as part of a grand dessert; with a small scoop of good ice cream and a mini trifle. The pomegranate seeds add to the Holidays spirit, but you could top them with raspberries or cherries and whip cream instead.


I just love how a pavlova always looks festive and impressive, like you’ve been working on it for hours and smaller portions are perfect for the Holidays.


recipe & photography by

Yossy A r e f i -Afsh ar apt 2b baking co .b lo gs pot. co m

M

aking and hanging these gingerbread cookie ornaments is a fairly new tradition in my family, but it has quickly become one of my favorites. My boyfriend and I are both transplants to our fair city, which means that we spend a good chunk of the holiday season out of town visiting family, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a few holiday rituals of our own. We usually skip trimming a tree but like to make our tiny apartment look festive so we spiff up the mantle on our non-functional fireplace instead. Sometimes I hang garland and sometimes I make a wreath, but the constants are a long strand of white twinkly lights and homemade gingerbread cookie ornaments. The best part about making your own ornaments is getting to spend an afternoon drinking boozy hot chocolate and playing with sprinkles. It’s even more fun when I convince a few friends to come over and help.


Gingerbread Cookies

makes about 3 dozen 3 inch cookies

3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour ¾ teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons ground ginger 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon finely grated nutmeg ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper ¼ teaspoon ground cloves ¼ teaspoon allspice ½ teaspoon orange zest ½ teaspoon salt 14 tablespoons softened unsalted butter ½ cup packed dark brown sugar 1 large egg ½ cup unsulfured molasses 1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside. 2. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then the molasses. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and

adition Yo s s y ’ s t r

Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing

mix until thoroughly combined. Divide the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hr before rolling. 3. Preheat oven to 350º F. Place one half of the dough on a lightly floured surface, and using a lightly floured rolling pin roll the dough 1/8’’-¼ ’’ thick. Use a cookie cutter or stencil to cut out desired shapes. For cookie ornaments, use a skewer to poke a hole through the top of the cookies before baking. 4. Place the cut out cookies onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges have just barely begun to brown. For cookie ornaments bake the cookies until they are lightly browned all over and firm to the touch. Cool the cookies on the sheet pans for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired. Royal Icing

1 egg white ½ teaspoon lemon juice 1 ¾ cup confectioners sugar 1. Combine all of the ingredients and beat with a hand mixer (or in a stand mixer) until stiff peaks form. If the icing seems too thick, add a few drops of water or lemon juice. If it seems runny, add a few tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar. 2. Use a pastry bag fitted with a #2 or #3 round tip and the stiff icing to add lines, shapes and dots to your cookies. Sprinkle with colored sugar, sprinkles or nonpareils if desired, just make sure to do it while the icing is still wet. 3. To make the cookies into ornaments, thread a string through the hole and tie it to make a loop.


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di erin’s tra

tion

Roated Butternut Squash, Leek & Gorgonzola Gratin

recipe & photography by

eri n a l derso n naturally ella . co m

am always amazed at how food has shaped our holidays. We’re not big gift-giving people, but rather we enjoy being together as a family, eating delicious foods, and playing some occasional music. Often there are lazy afternoons around fires, and enjoying a bit too much to drink while all the food is being prepared. Our small family gatherings at my aunt’s or my mother’s house for an afternoon meal often consisting of not-sonormal holiday dishes like roasted Brussels sprouts instead of green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes in place of traditional potatoes, and cheesecake, because I make amazing cheesecakes. What I love most is that I’ve always been blessed to have all of my family so close. Both sets of grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles all live within 20 minutes, while my cousins live a mere three hours away. The holidays have become just another time we get together and eat amazing food.

We’re not big g we enjoy being toget foods, and play


Roasted Butternut Squash, Leek and Gorgonzola Gratin serves 4

1 medium butternut squash 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided ½ teaspoon salt, divided 3 leeks 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1 ¾ cup 2% or whole milk ¼ pound gorgonzola cheese 2o  unces mozzarella cheese, shredded 2 pieces whole wheat bread

gift-giving people, but rather ether as a family, eating delicious ying some occasional music.

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Peel butternut squash and slice in to ¼ ” thick slices. Toss with 1 tablespoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Place butternut squash in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until butternut squash is tender. 2. Slice leeks in to half moons and place in a dish of water, let soak for 10 minutes to clean. In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Drain leeks and add to melted butter, cooking for 3-4 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour, cooking for one more minute. Whisk in milk and cook until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in gorgonzola.   3. Place ¼ of the sauce in the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish. Layer 1/3 of the butternut squash, and top with ¼ of the sauce. Continue with remaining squash and sauce. 4. In a food processor, combine bread, 1 tablespoons olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pulse until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumbs, followed by mozzarella, on top of the gratin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Top should be lightly brown and cheese should be bubbling.


recipe & photography by

l au ra wri g ht the first mess . co m

M

y mum started making up a version of this Bundt for Christmas mornings when I was a teenager. The anticipation for it was always pretty intense. Smells of yeasty dough, cinnamon and caramelizing sugar would float in and around the house, cozying around us while we drank coffee and opened gifts. Sitting down to a nice slice in my fuzzy winter pajamas is a vividly simple and happy memory. Family, warm house, a day off, and something sweet for breakfast; a wonderful life for sure. We aren’t huge on the big Holiday dinner with the usual trimmings in my family. The big day usually finds us in our winter jackets, hovering over the barbecue with the snow flying, totally smashing any resemblance to traditional holiday dinners. But breakfast! That’s one thing that stays the same year to year and on the more conventional tip at that. Breakfast sets the tone for the day all year and this special one works out perfectly: warm, sweet, and comforting. Everyone smiles over a slice and our world is perfect in that little space of time.

adition L a u r a’ s t r

Sticky Vanilla & Demerara Sugar Bundt


Sticky Vanilla and Demerara Sugar Bundt makes a regulation-sized Bundt D oug H

1 cup milk of your choice (I used almond) ¼ cup orange juice ¼ cup maple syrup 2 tablespoon melted coconut oil 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour 3 cups light spelt flour (or all purpose) 1 package of quick-rise yeast (2 ¼ tsp) ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

Va n i lla a nd Demera ra Mix

¾ cup demerara or dark brown sugar 2 tablespoons natural sugar 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder ½ teaspoon fine sea salt ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out ¼ cup melted coconut oil 2 tablespoon milk

1. Combine the milk, orange juice, maple syrup, and coconut oil in a small saucepan over

medium heat. Heat the mixture and stir a few times until the liquid is very warm. Combine the flours, yeast and salt in the bowl of a mixer with the dough hook attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the very warm milk mixture to the flour. Flip the mixer to medium speed and kneed the dough for 7 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, roll it to coat, cover, and place in a warm spot to rise for an hour or until doubled in volume. 2. While the dough is rising, combine the demerara sugar, natural sugar, cinnamon, arrowroot powder, sea salt and vanilla bean seeds in a medium bowl and rub the mixture together with your fingers. 3. After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn out onto a cutting board. Flatten the dough a bit more and cut into about 25 pieces. Roll the pieces into balls and place into a greased Bundt pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture. Evenly pour the melted coconut oil and milk on top. Cover the pan and let the Bundt rise in a warm place for another hour or overnight in the refrigerator. 4. Bake in a 350° F oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is deep golden brown. Let the Bundt cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto your serving plate. Shake the pan a bit if you have to to loosen it. Serve warm. Note: You could make this right up to the second rise stage the night before. Just cover the Bundt pan with all of the dough balls and brown sugar mix in it, place it in the fridge and bake it off as instructed the next morning.


Sarah kieffer vanilla bean blog

Pumpkin Bread makes 2 loaves

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 1 cup whole wheat flour ½ teaspoon baking powder 2 teaspoon soda 1 ½ teaspoon salt 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg ¾ teaspoon ginger 3 cups sugar 4 eggs 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin (or 1 ¾ cups) ½ cup sour cream 1 cup canola oil 1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 2 bread pans (8” x 4” is preferred, but 9” x 5” will work.) 2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Set aside. 3. In a standing mixer, beat together the sugar and the eggs until well-combined. Add the pumpkin, then sour cream, and then oil, and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Add the pecans and mix until combined. Pour batter into the two prepared pans and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove bread and let cool at room temperature. This bread tastes great the day of, but even better the next two days. Wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge or at room temperature.

beth kirby local milk

Southern Deviled Eggs with Country Ham & Sriracha Powder makes 24

12 eggs (note: older eggs peel better, so best bought a week ahead) 6 tablespoons homemade or good quality mayonnaise 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 3 dashes Tabasco  2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish pinch of cayenne pepper kosher salt thinly sliced country ham fried crispy scallions, green part only, sliced thin 2 tablespoons Sriracha For Sriracha Powder

1. Heat oven to 200° F. Smear the Sriracha on a silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes until dry. Cool and crush into a powder. Set aside.  For Eggs

1. Cover eggs with cold water. Bring to a full boil, cover, remove from heat and let sit for 12 minutes. Pour off hot water. Fill pot with ice and cover with cold water. Let sit until cooled, about 5 minutes. 2. Peel eggs, slice in half, and carefully remove yolk to a medium bowl, reserving whites. Combine yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, relish, and cayenne. Mix until thoroughly incorporated and creamy. Season to taste with salt.  3. Pipe or scoop mixture into egg whites. Top with Sriracha powder, bits of ham, and scallions. 

Kat h ry n W e st m o r e london bakes

Sausagemeat and Apple Stuffing serves 8

  1 tablespoon olive oil 1 onion, chopped finely 1 clove of garlic, chopped 28ounces (700g) good quality sausage meat (approximately 8 large sausages) 1 large apple, grated 1 large egg A handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped Salt and pepper to taste 1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Heat the oil in a large skillet of a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry until translucent (between 5 - 10 minutes). 2. Add the sausage to the skillet, breaking it up as you do so. Fry it until browned. Place the cooked sausage in a large bowl and set aside for 10 minutes or so to cool. 3. Once slightly cooled, add the grated apple, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Use your hands to combine everything and then put the mixture in a 2lb loaf tin or medium ovenproof dish. Bake for about 35 minutes until the top is golden brown. 4. Remove from the oven and carefully remove any fat that’s bubbled to the surface. At this point you can either freeze the stuffing until required or cook it for a further 15 minutes before serving.


D e n i se ko rt l ev e r tlt - the little things

Yo ssy A r e f i - A f sha r apt 2b baking co

makes 6

makes about 3 dozen 3 inch cookies

Mini Pavolovas

1 egg white A pinch of salt ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon fine white sugar Freshly whipped cream Pomegranate seeds 1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. 2. Whisk the egg white with some salt in a very clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar. 3. Form six mini pavlovas on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake for 6 minutes. 4. Lower oven temperature to 250° F and bake for another 15 minutes. Let pavlovas cool in the turned-off oven. 5. Serve with whipped cream and sprinkle over pomegranate seeds.

Gingerbread Cookies

3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour ¾ teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons ground ginger 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon finely grated nutmeg ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper ¼ teaspoon ground cloves ¼ teaspoon allspice ½ teaspoon orange zest ½ teaspoon salt 14 tablespoons softened unsalted butter ½ cup packed dark brown sugar 1 large egg ½ cup unsulfured molasses 1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside. 2. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then the molasses. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Divide the dough in half, wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hr before rolling. 3. Preheat oven to 350º F. Place one half of the dough on a lightly floured surface, and using a lightly floured rolling pin roll the dough 1/8’’-¼ ’’ thick. Use a cookie cutter or stencil to cut out desired shapes. For cookie ornaments, use a skewer to poke a hole through the top of the cookies before baking. 4. Place the cut out cookies onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges have just barely begun to brown. For cookie ornaments bake the

cookies until they are lightly browned all over and firm to the touch. Cool the cookies on the sheet pans for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired. Royal Icing

1 egg white ½ teaspoon lemon juice 1 ¾ cup confectioners sugar 1. Combine all of the ingredients and beat with a hand mixer (or in a stand mixer) until stiff peaks form. If the icing seems too thick, add a few drops of water or lemon juice. If it seems runny, add a few tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar. 2. Use a pastry bag fitted with a #2 or #3 round tip and the stiff icing to add lines, shapes and dots to your cookies. Sprinkle with colored sugar, sprinkles or nonpareils if desired, just make sure to do it while the icing is still wet. 3. To make the cookies into ornaments, thread a string through the hole and tie it to make a loop.


erin alderson naturally ella

l au r a w r ig h t the first mess

serves 4

makes a regulation-sized Bundt

Roasted Butternut Squash, Leek and Gorgonzola Gratin 1 medium butternut squash 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided ½ teaspoon salt, divided 3 leeks 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1 ¾ cup 2% or whole milk ¼ pound gorgonzola cheese 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded 2 pieces whole wheat bread 1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Peel butternut squash and slice in to ¼ ” thick slices. Toss with 1 tablespoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Place butternut squash in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until butternut squash is tender. 2. Slice leeks in to half moons and place in a dish of water, let soak for 10 minutes to clean. In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Drain leeks and add to melted butter, cooking for 3-4 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour, cooking for one more minute. Whisk in milk and cook until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in gorgonzola.   3. Place ¼ of the sauce in the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish. Layer 1/3 of the butternut squash, and top with ¼ of the sauce. Continue with remaining squash and sauce. 4. In a food processor, combine bread, 1 tablespoons olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pulse until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumbs, followed by mozzarella, on top of the gratin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Top should be lightly brown and cheese should be bubbling.

Sticky Vanilla and Demerara Sugar Bundt D ougH

1 cup milk of your choice (I used almond) ¼ cup orange juice ¼ cup maple syrup 2 tablespoon melted coconut oil 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour 3 cups light spelt flour (or all purpose) 1 package of quick-rise yeast (2 ¼ tsp) ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt Va nilla a nd Demera ra Mix

¾ cup demerara or dark brown sugar 2 tablespoons natural sugar 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder ½ teaspoon fine sea salt ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out ¼ cup melted coconut oil 2 tablespoon milk

1. Combine the milk, orange juice, maple syrup, and coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture and stir a few times until the liquid is very warm. Combine the flours, yeast and salt in the bowl of a mixer with the dough hook attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the very warm milk mixture to the flour. Flip the mixer to medium speed and kneed the dough for 7 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, roll it to coat, cover, and place in a warm spot to rise for an hour or until

doubled in volume. 2. While the dough is rising, combine the demerara sugar, natural sugar, cinnamon, arrowroot powder, sea salt and vanilla bean seeds in a medium bowl and rub the mixture together with your fingers. 3. After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn out onto a cutting board. Flatten the dough a bit more and cut into about 25 pieces. Roll the pieces into balls and place into a greased Bundt pan and sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture. Evenly pour the melted coconut oil and milk on top. Cover the pan and let the Bundt rise in a warm place for another hour or overnight in the refrigerator. 4. Bake in a 350° F oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is deep golden brown. Let the Bundt cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto your serving plate. Shake the pan a bit if you have to to loosen it. Serve warm.

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t s e g g i b s ’ s b r e a t s w g e n i h t m o g c n d i n s a a p c u s d w n o p a h s bloggers d -u f ood

e p i c e r

n u ro

g n i ir y

h p p a s r g n o s t g i o o bl h

e p h t d f o s o t w o s e f e i b v r the nte

from

l b d foo

i r e ogg

www.foodiecrush.com


This born and bred Texas food blogger cruises past beers and brews for a retro spin on the holiday cocktail.

MadMi

Russell sets the holiday tone


Mulled Wine Punch

ixology featuring chasing delicious .com

recipes, photography and styling by Russell van Kraayenburg by heidi larsen


Hot Apple Buttered Rum


B

logging may have been the introduction to the wide world of food and drink for Russell van Kraayenburg but he’s made it uniquely his own ever since. Here’s why running the popular food blog Chasing Delicious is only one of this visionary web publisher’s passions.

You’ve been blogging at Chasing Delicious for two and a half years. How did you get started? I’ve always enjoyed the storytelling process, especially with visual media like photography. Chasing Delicious was a chance to explore storytelling on a few fronts, with recipes, photos and of course the stories that accompany each recipe.

What is your holiday custom or tradition that takes center stage each year? I’m not often surprised when I’m put on dessert duty for all of the holidays. I’m lucky in that most of my extended family lives here in town so our holiday meals are huge gatherings. We typically get together for three or four different meals around each of the holidays and for each one I get to make Your photography is equally dessert. I usually will put some as inspiring as your storytell- twist on a classic. As soon as I ing and your downloadable walk in with the pastry boxes kitchen posters are hugely everyone starts guessing what popular. Is there one medium I’ve made this year. you enjoy more? I’m also put on drink duty. It’s hard for me to say. There Over the years I’ve become are some days I enjoy the pho- known for being able to hide tography more and other days a lot of alcohol in a delicious where I enjoy designing a new drink. Apparently strong drinks kitchen infographic. Both are are a popular thing at family very different when it comes to dinners. We all still talk about executing, so I suppose it dethe Mexican Martinis I made for pends on if I want to stare at a New Years in 2009 —the parts computer screen for 12 hours we remember at least. on end, or if I want to stare at a set up, trying to decide where a What are your secrets to crefork should sit for half the day. ating a festive holiday party


free download

when cocktails are alcohol tolerance will give Get Russell’s involved? you an event free of party Holiday Cocktail I know it can be danfouls and where no one Encyclopedia gerous territory, but has to be walked home I always try and put a early. twist on classic holiday fare and drinks. Yes, that egg Do you try new cocktail nog you’ve been having for the last recipes on guests or go for the 20 years is delicious, but I bet by spictried and true? ing it up with some new ingredients, I I definitely like trying new recipes on can make an even better one! Don’t be my guests. My friends and family are afraid to take risks with recipes. all very aware of how much my two I think finding a way to get people blogs run my life, and have come to involved is fun as well. You know, expect that they will be the guinea everyone is going to be in the kitchen pigs for all my new recipes. I not only with you anyways, so why not make enjoy the candid feedback they give them work? And teaching them me, but it is fun watching them try something new can be quite fun too. to guess what I’ve changed or what When I begin making drinks for evparticular ingredient is hiding in a new eryone I explain when you should recipe. shake or when you should stir (shake for drinks with fruit juice, dairy prodWhat trend do you see in ucts or eggs; stir for drinks that are cocktail parties today? all liquors and liqueurs). Then I hand I see a big move towards classic someone a cocktail and tell them to cocktails, particularly cocktails mixed mix. There are so many little bits of following the classic definition of a information and party tricks that this cocktail (liquor, water/ice, sugar and almost never get old. bitters). Skip the cliche holiday drinks A trick I use, that I don’t often share that contain peppermint, or are colwith my guests, is I adjust the alcohol ored green or red and serve classic content for each party goer’s drink cocktail like a sazerac, hot buttered depending on their tolerance to alcohol. rum, hot toddy, egg nog, or even a When you’re around family and friends simple whisky sour or classic gin a lot you quickly learn whether they are martini. a lightweight or not. Making drinks the same across the board can leave half How do you know how much your party quite tipsy and the other half to have on hand? wondering when the party will start Knowing what to have on hand can but taking the time to cater to a guests’ be tricky, especially as a well stocked


Egg Nog Cocktail

“

Try and build a menu that has common ingredients, or perhaps drinks that come from a particular era.

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Spicy Spiked Hot Cocoa


bar can get expensive. As for liqueurs and bitters, ingredients that are used sparingly, I suggest only buying what you know you’ll be using in a particular recipe, overtime you will eventually have an impressively stocked collection of every possible mixer. As for liquors, you will need at least one of each of the six main liquors: vodka, gin, rum, whisky, brandy & tequila and I suggest buying at least a bottle more than you think of one of the bottles. Great parties and events will always run long, and that means extra drinks. Nothing puts a damper on a party more than running out of drinks and if you live in a state or county that is semi-dry (with curfews on alcohol purchases) then it could be a problem that will have no remedy. welco

What foods do you pair with your cocktails at a party? It really depends on the event though I do always try and build a common thing with all the food and drinks. If drinks contain pears or apples then I will try and work those ingredients into appetizers, snacks and desserts. If an event is an appetizer only event then I will always try and sneak in a couple of finger desserts. Snacking on savory items all night can get old, and not all drinks pair well with only savory ingredients. As for the drinks, aperitifs should wet the appetite and thus not be too sweet or filling. Drinks served with a meal should let the food stand out. And digestifs can be a bit sweeter and serve as the “dessert” of the drinks. me to

T H E B OYS C LU B

The Boys’ Club is a recently introduced destination blog serving as a resource for mixology with cocktail recipes tips and tricks for mixing drinks and hosting events, what tools and glassware you should have on hand, and a look at the history and science behind some of our favorite drinks. The Boys’ Club has pulled some of the great male voices in food and drink blogging. Our contributors include Brian Samuels of A Thought for Food, Mike Lewicki of Verses From My Kitchen, Ken Leung from Hungry Rabbit, Jonathan Melendez from The Candid Appetite, Colin Price from From The Weekend, Alex Young from Eat Style Dallas, and Peter Georgakopoulos from Souvlaki For The Soul. For story submissions and information on how to join the team, contact Russell at editor@theboysclub.net


6 stress-free k ey i n g r ed i en ts to a

b o o z e y h o l i d a y pa r t y

1

A good rule of thumb is, the more ingredients a drink has (particularly strongly flavored mixers), the cheaper the liquor you can buy as it tends to get covered up anyway. But drinks like martinis, sours and other simple concoctions, where the liquor is the star, require bottles that sit higher up on the shelf. 2

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Simple syrup

Extra ice

Lemons

Extra glasses

A good bottle of scotch

This is a very Make a large important inbatch of this gredient even ahead of time. during the holIt dissolves idays. Drinks much easier aren’t shaken than sugar in with ice just drinks that are to cool them meant to be down. The ice sweet. Also, is used to wasome guests ter the drink will ask for down ever you to make so slightly as a drink a bit well, which is sweeter than very important you may typi- when it comes cally serve it. to flavor.

The juice can be used in a jiffy to make a sour, and a twist of the rind can brighten up almost any drink. It also makes a simple, attractive garnish.

Nothing says “unprepared host” like serving wine in mugs or a martini in a collins glass. You can expect a holiday dinner will have numerous aperitifs, a wine or two at dinner and a digestif or two.

Inevitably, as the night begins to wrap up, guests are going to want a drink to settle their stomachs and they’re not going to want anything sweet. Scotch served neat or on the rocks is perfect here. Most guests will milk it too, so your bartending duties will slowdown.


Mulled Wine Punch


Mulled Wine Punch

makes 12 glasses serve in a pitcher & punch glasses

750ml red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon 1 cup apple cider 1 cup bourbon 2 ounces raw honey 1 vanilla bean, split 4 cinnamon sticks 4 cloves 1 orange - juice and rind 1 lemon - juice and rind 1 handful thyme Oranges & Lemons, sliced 1. Add all the ingredients to a pot and heat over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes. 2. Pour into a pitcher. Add sliced oranges and lemons. 3. Serve immediately while hot.

Egg Nog Cocktail makes 1 cocktail serve in a cocktail glass

Hot Apple Buttered Rum

1 egg 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon milk 1 ounce cream 1 ounce bourbon 1 ounce brandy ¼ tsp cinnamon 1 /8 tsp nutmeg

3 ounces boiling water 1 ounce butter 1 ounce sugar 2 ounces rum 1 ounce apple juice ½ ounce lemon juice ½ teaspoon cinnamon

1. Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake vigorously for a minute until the mixture is homogeneous and frothy. 2. Pour into a cocktail glass. 3. Top with a dusting cinnamon.

Spicy Spiked Hot Cocoa makes 1 cocktail serve in a large mug

makes 1 cocktail serve in a mug or a jar

1. Bring the water to a boil. 2. Put the butter and sugar into a cocktail shaker. Add the boiling water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the butter has melted. 3. Add the rum, apple juice, lemon juice and cinnamon. Stir vigorously until the drink is completely mixed. 4. Pour into the glass and serve immediately.

½ cup milk ½ cup cream 2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped ½ teaspoon cinnamon 1 /8 teaspoon cayenne 1 ounce tequila ¼ cup heavy whipping cream 1. Whip the heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks. Set aside in the fridge. 2. Add the milk and cream to a pot. Heat over medium heat until scalded. 3. Remove from the heat and stir the dark chocolate into the milk and cream until melted . 4. Add the tequila and spices. Stir until mixed. 5. Pour the hot cocoa into a mug. Top with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon and cayenne.

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Marian of Sweetopia


The Grande Dame of

Cookie Decorating featuring sweetopia .net cookie photography by Marian Poirier portrait by heidi larsen

The key to creating art is possessing great skill complemented by the right tools. Meet Mar i an Poi r i e r of Sweetopia , a cookie artist who posseses both, plus a steady hand and a cookie-crazed imagination.


B

aking cookies is something even novices in the kitchen can pull off without needing much technical skill. But creating decorating masterpieces is an art all of its own, one that Marian of Sweetopia has down to a science.

You’re a full-time Culinary Arts teacher by day, cookie creator by night. How did that come to be? It’s funny, I never imagined myself becoming a teacher. Although I grew up in a food-focused family—my father is a chef and taught Culinary Arts at George Brown College for 28 years and my mother is an excellent cook and always made sure we had healthy, home-made meals—I didn’t really become interested in cooking until shortly after University, and in baking even later.  My fascination with decorating sweets began over 10 years ago

when an illness prevented me from engaging in physical fitness; what I had previously spent much of my free time doing. I like to keep busy, and as it was the Christmas season and gingerbread houses had always charmed me, I decided to try my hand at one. The first house I made wasn’t the prettiest, but I was hooked! The more I made them, the more I found there was to learn. Thank goodness the illness only lasted about six months, and I’m grateful for it now, because it led me to find one of my favorite hobbies. At the time, I was teaching

H ow to D eco rate Co o ki es w ith M a r b led I ci n g What you’ll need: Gingerbread or Sugar Cookie Recipe, Royal Icing Recipe, Christmas Ornaments Cookie Cutters, Piping Tips, Piping Bag Coupler, Piping Bags, Dragées, Icing Bag Ties (You can use elastic bands), Toothpicks

1 2 3

outline the edge

side fill the in

shake


French at the high school level. Because I had made a few houses to raffle off for fundraisers at school and had participated in various baking initiatives, the principal the principal of my school asked me to interview to teach Culinary Arts. At the time, it was difficult to find people to fill the spot, and it was only suppsed to be temporary. I ended up getting the job and ended up loving it. Luckily, the previous teacher luckily wanted to teach a different subject when she returned from her leave, so I spent two summers at Queen’s University upgrading my qualifications for the permanent job.  How did Sweetopia get it’s start? Sweetopia and blogging came about a few years later (February, 2009), because of my older brother. He noticed that whenever I made sweets for events with family and friends, there would inevitably be some people who would want me to show them how to make the various sweets. Since I didn’t have the

Sweetopia’s Secrets to creating t h e p e r f e c t ly d e c o r at e d c o o k i e Use a good icing recipe. Figuring out icing consistency made the biggest difference in improving my cookie decorating.  Trace it. My drawing capabilities are limited, so I use a Kopykake projector to project an image onto a cookie and then just trace. Practice piping before you begin your cookies.  I usually find I need a few minutes of playing around before my piping improves and my hand gets the feel of it.  Decorate your least favorite cookies or extra cookies first. That way if you make a mistake it won’t matter as much! Lift, lift and away. When you’re outlining the cookie, begin lifting the piping bag away from the cookie about a centimeter in from the edge, so that the icing just falls  onto the surface. You’ll be able to control your piping easier that way.

4 5 6 es Pipe lin

ain s h a k e ag

d r ag t o o t h

pick


When someone gives me a gift, I’m looking at the design of the wrapping paper and wondering how I can make it into a cookie.

time to teach everyone individually, he suggested I start a blog showing how I made them there. I originally planned to blog about more than making sweets, like my love for fashion and home decor, and although I still mention those here and there, Sweetopia has emerged into mainly tutorials on making decorated cookies, cupcakes and other sweets. It’s become such a passion, a stress-reliever, and even a job. It does keep me extremely busy, and although I love it with all my heart, ideally I’d like to be able to teach part-time instead of full-time, and blog on Sweetopia part-time. How would you describe your blog, Sweetopia? Very pink? Just kidding. I would describe Sweetopia as a place to learn about how to make and decorate sweets, especially cookies covered in royal icing. Cupcakes and other decorating tutorials are included, and I’d like to eventually delve more into cakes. But cookie decorating has taken a front seat for now.  Your cookies are so original in theme and extremely detail oriented. Where do you get your inspiration and how do you translate something people


relate to in real life to a cookie? Call me a cookie nerd, I guess, but I’m always thinking about decorated cookies and therefore end up ‘seeing the world in cookies’. For example, when someone gives me a gift, I’m looking at the design of the wrapping paper and wondering how I can make it into a cookie. I don’t come up with pretty designs all on my own. I copy many designs with permission and/or attribution to the artists. The world is my inspiration: Fabric, stickers, scrapbooking paper, ads, nature, holidays, paint palettes, books, art. It all has cookie potential! You have some great video tutorials on your site. What is it that your readers are most eager to learn?  It seems like they enjoy cookie decorating basics the most, for example, how to outline and fill in a cookie with royal icing. Which of your cookies is the most popular?   I’m not really sure how to know. If one way to find out was by how many times a post has been pinned on Pinterest, I would say my elephant cookies which have been pinned 281,000 plus times at this point. Which one was the hardest or didn’t turn out like you’d hoped?  I once had to ask a friend to change her request for 100 motorcycle cookies to another theme, when I realized I wouldn’t be able to make a nice looking cookie, as my motorcycle drawing skills aren’t great.

video

Marian s 10 Second Rule I like my Royal Icing a bit thick because the icing holds its shape and doesn’t run too quickly out of the piping bag.With thicker icing I can outline and fill in right away, you just have to shake the cookie a bit to help the icing settle. To check the icing’s consistency, drag the tip of a butter knife through the surface of your icing, letting the knife go approximately an inch deep, and slowly count to ten. If the surface of the icing smoothes over in approximately ten seconds, then your icing is ready to use. If it takes longer, the icing is too thick. Slowly add more water. If your icing surface smoothes over in less than 5-10 seconds, it is too runny. Mix your icing longer or slowly add more sifted icing sugar to thicken it.


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Step by Step

Sweetopia's Decorating Tips

with Royal Icing

Outline the cookies first, and wait at least 15 minutes before you flood the inside of the ‘dam’. If the outline is a dark color such as brown or black, I wait 24 hours before flooding the cookie. It lessens the chance that the colors will seep into each other. If you live in a humid climate, air conditioning or a dehumidifier will help prevent color seepage as well.

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To outline the cookie, hold the bag at a 45 degree angle and position the tip at a corner of the cookie. Put enough pressure on the bag so that the icing comes out and start moving towards the direction you’d like your icing to flow at the same time.

About a centimeter after you’ve begun your outline, start lifting the piping bag away from the cookie, so that the icing just falls onto the cookie. Start coming back closer to the cookie when approaching another corner. If the cookie is more intricate, or has more corners, you may not be able to just let the icing fall as there won’t really be room to. Start to apply less pressure as you approach the corners.

Cookie decorating has become such a passion, a stress-reliever, and even a job. It keeps me extremely busy, I love it.

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To flood or fill in your cookies use a #3 –#5 sized piping tip. The larger the cookie the larger the tip. Start at one area and quickly zig zag back and forth until you’ve covered your cookie. Don’t worry if you haven’t filled in every little spot; speed is more important at this point. Use your piping bag, a toothpick or a paintbrush to push the icing around and fill in the gaps.


Gingerbread Cookies

Sugar Cookies

6 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 cup unsalted butter 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon 3 teaspoons ground ginger 1 teaspoons ground cloves 1 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 1 cup molasses

2 ½ cups butter (at room temperature) 2 cups sugar 2 large eggs seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 3 teaspoons vanilla) 5 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy. 2. Mix in spices first, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. 3. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder and add to bowl; mix until just combined. 4. Wrap dough in a disc shape in saran wrap. Let it rest by refrigerating until cold, about 1 hour. 5. Preheat oven to 350° F. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface or between two sheets of parchment paper to about ¼-inch thick. 6. Cut shapes out with cookie cutters and place them approximately 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. 7. Refrigerate until firm; at least 15 minutes to 1 hour. 8. Bake cookies until lightly golden; 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

1. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer on low to medium speed. (Use the paddle attachment). Mix until thoroughly incorporated–for about one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula and mix again for a few seconds more. 2. Add eggs slowly and mix. Scrape down the bowl with your spatula at least once and mix again. 3. Cut open your vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out. Add to mixing bowl. Alternatively, add liquid vanilla extract. Stir briefly. 4. Sift your dry ingredients together. 5. Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl. Place a large tea towel or two small tea towels between the edge of the bowl and the electric mixer so that the flour won’t escape. Mix on low speed for 3o seconds. Remove the tea towels and observe the dough mixing; when it clumps around the paddle attachment it’s ready. It’s also important at this stage not to over mix the dough (the glutens in the flour develop and the dough can become tough). 6. Roll the dough out between 2 large pieces of parchment paper. Place on a baking sheet and into the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.

7. Roll out the dough further if you need to, and cut out cookie shapes. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. 8. Put cookie dough shapes back into the fridge for 10 minutes to 1 hour to chill again. 9. Preheat your oven to 350° F. 10. Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes or until the edges become golden brown. 11. Let cookies cool to room temperature and decorate.

Royal Icing /4 cup warm water 5 t ablespoons meringue powder 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 2 ¼ lbs. powdered sugar *Note: If your meringue powder has no vanilla flavor in it, add a teaspoon of clear vanilla to this recipe.

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1. In mixer bowl, pour in the warm water and the meringue powder. Mix it with a whisk by hand until it is frothy and thickened, about 30 seconds. 2. Add the cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more. 3. Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer. 4. Using the paddle attachment on the lowest speed, mix slowly for a full 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy. 5. Cover the bowl with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying. 6. Tint with food colourings or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency. download recipes


D N E E H T Clink! Clink! cheers!

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FoodieCrush Holiday/Winter 2012-2013