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Lunds and Byerly’s




SWEET HOLIDAYS Classic treats with a twist


Celebr and ke ate e local w p it it our ne h w




ITALIAN TRADITION: Seasonal celebrations from Sicily to the Alps HOT POTATO: A place on the table for the timeless tuber BREAKING BREAD: Quick recipes to bring friends and family together

y LOVE our


everyday! LakeCountry r ❘ 952.474.7121 ❘ ry

“The e Thri Thrill r ll is Building ” ri ™

SINCE 1976


Skin by Crutchfield Dermatology “Why do I travel from Pennsylvania to Minnesota for all of my skin care? Because it’s worth it! Thank you Dr. Crutchfield and Crutchfield Dermatology!” — Jessica Billings MISS PENNSYLVANIA USA

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Parasole Restaurants Holiday Gift Cards

100 $25 FREE for you 2 014

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Welcomed at all Parasole restaurants and available in any denomination, Holiday Gift Cards are offered Nov. 1 through Dec. 24 and redeemable after Dec. 25, 2013.

Purchase yours at, by calling 1-866-541-4438 (GIFT), or at any of our restaurants.


News That Connects.

Those who love to cook make more than food in the kitchen. They make the most of every moment together—sharing stories, creating delicious flavors and simply enjoying the company of close friends. For more than 80 years, Le Creuset has been a part of these special times, and a colorful companion to all who savor food—and life—to the fullest. To learn more about Le Creuset’s classic French quality, and the joys of cooking with premium enameled cast iron, visit


real food winter 2013

Features 26 Celebrating the Italian Winter

54 Sweet Holidays

Holiday traditions come stateside.

Add these delicious cookies to your holiday tradition, to eat or gift.



40 Hot Potato This timeless tuber deserves a designated spot at your table. BY MARLENA SPIELER

60 Joie de Vivre Thirty years in France have taught chef and writer Patricia Wells not only how to cook, but how to live. BY TARA Q. THOMAS

48 Breaking Bread Quick breads to bring friends and family around the table. BY SERENA BASS



Our Cover Sparkling Snowflake Cutout Cookies (page 55). This page: Hasselback Potatoes with Watercress and Watercress Sauce (page 44). Photographs by Terry Brennan 2 real food winter 2013

The Rebirth of a Legend.


TWIN® Four Star II

from Zwilling J.A. Henckels, the

TWIN is a registered trademarks of Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Inc.

© 2007 Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Inc.

dramatic successor to FOUR STAR, the world’s most popular fine knives for 30 years.

Perfectly balanced. Precision-forged from a single piece of our exclusive high-carbon, no-stain steel. Like every Henckels knife, it comes with our famous lifetime warranty.




The leading independent product testing organization ranks Henckels TWIN knives #1 and #2 among all brands.


Departments 6 Contributors

26 Bites Turkey Potpie with Sweet Potato Biscuits is a great use of leftover turkey or dishes up flavors of the holiday table anytime.

18 Countertop Fun and functional gadgets, cookware, and more make great gifts—or a little something for yourself.


64 Pairings


22 Kitchen Skills Build a better gravy—it can enhance a great turkey dinner and help save a bird that stayed a little too long in the oven.

Port is the perfect sipper to savor this season—and there are plenty of treats to make a sweet match.




64 22


VOLUME 9, NUMBER 4 Real Food magazine is published quarterly by Greenspring Media, LLC, 706 Second Ave. S. Suite 1000, Minneapolis, MN 55402, 612.371.5800, Fax 612.371.5801. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or otherwise reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Real Food is exclusively operated and owned by Greenspring Media, LLC. Printed in the USA.

4 real food winter 2013

The pages between the covers of this magazine (except for any inserted material) are printed on paper made from wood fiber that was procured from forests that are sustainably managed to remain healthy, productive, and biologically diverse. Printed with soy-based inks.


Hot or cold, brewed fresh, not shaken or stirred. Drink something good for you ... Bigelow green tea. To your health! - The Bigelow Family Visit for tea drink recipes, gift ideas, and health information.


Serena Bass

is known for being New York City’s caterer to the stars and has thrown parties for Andy Warhol, Giorgio Armani, Kate Spade, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nathan Lane, and countless others. Her cookbook, Serena, Food & Stories, won the James Beard Award for best entertaining book. Currently, Bass is also the executive chef at Lido restaurant in Harlem, New York, and holds monthly cooking classes in St. Paul, Minnesota. Photograph by David Loftus.

Marlena Spieler

broadcasts and writes internationally on her favorite subject: food—cooking, eating, and sharing it. With over 70 cookbook titles (including contributions) to her credit, Marlena conjures up flavors and dishes from the Mediterranean to Mexico, California to France to the Italian islands and single subjects including Yummy Potatoes for which she was invited as an ambassador to the high Andes of Peru for the 2008 UN Year of the Potato conference—to say “Thank you for the potato!” She lives in Britain.

Georgeanne Brennan

is an award-winning cookbook author and journalist who lives in northern California on a small farm and spends part of the year at her long-time home in Provence. She teaches on-line French cooking classes at and consults on improving school lunch. Visit her at

Lara Miklasevics Terry Brennan

is an award-winning photographer who has worked for General Mills, Pillsbury, Budweiser, Target, and many national advertising agencies. “My real passion lies in editorial work,” he says, “in which a photographer’s freedom to create a story or look through the photograph is much greater.”

6 real food winter 2013

Tara Q. Thomas

gave up cooking professionally to become a culinaryobsessed writer. She’s been a senior editor at Wine & Spirits for the past decade and writes regularly for the Denver Post, Culture, Gastronomica, and Gourmet. com. The Brooklyn, New York–based mom of two is also author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine Basics.

began her food career on the other side of the camera, cooking at the renowned New French Café. Today her work as a stylist is in demand at corporations including Heinz, Target, and General Mills, as well as with many magazines. She prides herself on using her experience as a chef to make food as appealing on the page as it is on the plate.

Erica De Mane

became infatuated with cooking as a teenager, drawing inspiration from her Southern Italian–American family’s kitchen. She cooked in restaurants including Le Madri and Florent in Manhattan, and has written articles on Italian cooking for Food & Wine, The New York Times, Gourmet, Fine Cooking, and other publications. Her cookbook, Pasta Improvvisata, which was published in 1999, was singled out for praise by The New York Times in its twice-yearly cookbook roundup. She is working on a book about Italian savory tarts and also gives private and group cooking classes on Southern Italian cooking and the Mediterranean diet. She lives in Manhattan.

Jason Ross

is a culinary instructor at Le Cordon Bleu in Minnesota and has worked as a consultant to help develop menus at many Twin Cities restaurants. He grew up in New York City but now calls St. Paul home, where he lives with his wife and two young daughters.

FLAME® is Emile Henry’s newest innovation in ceramic technology. Designed to work on the barbeque, (gas, charcoal, natural wood or electric cooking), in the oven and under the broiler at temperatures up to 750°F (400°C).

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From our perspective, there’s only one way to grow

superior cocoa beans. Organically. Call us traditional, but we believe it’s worth the extra effort because we care deeply about the environment, about our growers, and about achieving the richest, most complex chocolate flavor we possibly can.

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© 2007 Green & Black's USA, Inc.

Lunds and Byerly’s welcome LUNDS Bloomington: 952-896-0092 Edina: 952-926-6833 Minneapolis Downtown: 612-379-5040 Northeast: 612-548-3820 Uptown: 612-825-2440 Minnetonka: 952-935-0198 Navarre: 952-471-8473 Plymouth: 763-268-1624 Prior Lake: 952-440-3900 Richfield: 612-861-1881 St. Paul: 651-698-5845 Wayzata: 952-476-2222

BYERLY’S Burnsville: 952-892-5600 Chanhassen: 952-474-1298 Eagan: 651-686-9669 Edina: 952-831-3601 Golden Valley: 763-544-8846 Maple Grove: 763-416-1611 Ridgedale: 952-541-1414 Roseville: 651-633-6949 St. Cloud: 320-252-4112 St. Louis Park: 952-929-2100 St. Paul: 651-735-6340


FOOD QUESTIONS? Get answers from our FoodE Experts. 952-548-1400 Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m–6 p.m.

CLASSES & EVENTS Cooking Classes • 952-253-3409 Catering • 952-897-9800

REAL FOOD COMMENTS Aaron Sorenson • 952-927-3663

STAY CONNECTED: Sign up for our e-newsletter at Download our app by texting LB APP to 95173. Join our Text Club by texting DEALS to 95173.

A NUTRITIOUS JOURNEY “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” —Hippocrates


’ve been thinking a lot about this simple, yet profound quote during the past several months as I’ve been on my own personal journey to eating better. While I’m certainly not planning to completely eliminate some of my favorite calorie-filled treats lacking nutritional quality, I am committed to eating them less often while consuming more foods with clean, less processed ingredients. It’s a desire to flip the focus from calorie-dense, nutrient-sparse meals to those that are calorie sparse and nutrient dense. The reality is food is the fuel that powers our overall health and wellness, and we here at Lunds and Byerly’s are committed to being a key resource for those seeking to put more nutritious meals on the table for themselves and their families. Our new deli salads are one example of our renewed focus on offering more nutritional choices in our stores. Earlier this year we introduced more than 20 new salads, many of which feature fresh herbs, grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Some early customer favorites are the Farrout Broccoli Kale Salad, Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad, and the Greta Garbanzo Salad, which includes kalamata olives and fresh tomatoes in a dressing made with olive oil, lemon, mint, and garlic. Another example is our revamped salad bar. A little more than a year ago we went back to the drawing board to

ensure our salad bar s featured more fresh and nutritious offerings. They now i n c l u d e m a ny seasonal raw and roasted vegetaTres bles, nuts, grains, Lund and nutritional boosts, such as chia seeds and flax meal. At the same time, we also introduced an entire line of Better For You frozen entrées. Each offering adheres to strict nutritional standards, including defined limits on the amount of sodium, fat, and calories. Many of the less healthy ingredients were replaced with flavorful spices and fresh foods such as lean proteins, whole grains, and vegetables. We know there is still much more we can do, and I assure you we will continue to unmask the benefits of real food and all of its wonderful flavors. Wherever you are on your health and wellness journey, we look forward to providing you with nutritious options and inspiration along the way. Sincerely,

Tres Lund Chairman and CEO real food 9

Lunds and Byerly’s meat department

t i g n i p e Ke


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Lunds and Byerly’s meat department

A centerpiece to any holiday table, finding the perfect turkey is a job in and of itself—and we’re keeping it local for our new Apple Cider Brined Turkey Breast. BY MICHAEL SELBY, Lunds and Byerly’s Executive Chef


n our search to provide you with another wonderful turkey option, a group of us visited Ferndale Farms in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and met with John Peterson, a third generation turkey farmer, to get an up-close look at how his local farm runs and how the turkeys are raised.The passion and authenticity that goes into raising their turkeys is incredible. It was just what we were looking for to create our new Apple Cider Brined Turkey Breast. On a tour of the grounds, we discovered Ferndale Farms is immaculate and free range like nothing we’ve seen before. Not only do the birds enjoy a free-range environment, but they’re also rotated to fresh grass weekly. When John opened the fence doors to visit the turkeys, we walked right into the center of the flock and were met by friendly turkeys. I held one of the 40-pound

Toms and couldn’t believe how beautiful, curious, and stress-free he was. What a gift to know where your food comes from and that it has been raised responsibly. Just down the road from our private flock of turkeys, we found the next ingredient for our local Apple Cider Brined Turkey Breast in Montgomery, Minnesota. At the Montgomery Apple Orchard, owner Scott Wardell and his family take great pride in the quality of apples and cider they produce. Their crisp apples are handpicked and freshpressed into a chemical-free cider using a special process called UV pasteurization. By using light instead of heat or chemical preservatives, this process keeps the flavor of the apples intact. After sourcing the turkey and cider, it was time to add our culinary expertise to the mix. We combined a light coating of

Michael Selby and free-range turkeys at Ferndale Farms in Cannon Falls, Minnesota.

sea salt and herbs with the turkey and cider. This French-cut breast is about as easy as it gets to both cook and serve. This cutting technique removes all bones from inside the bird, but the drumette is attached on the outside. Your knife will slice right through it just like a loaf of bread. French-cut turkey breasts yield full flavor with all the functional benefits of a true boneless turkey breast. The brine we created is equally important to your turkey. Brine is a type of marinade that usually contains salt and sugar. Brines are used to start the curing process, but are usually rinsed off before any curing actually takes place. This is what makes the white meat so tender. Our particular brine is very mild and will stay on the bird until you rinse if off at home. If you want a richer flavor, bake as is without rinsing off the brine. We have a limited supply of this turkey and would strongly encourage you to preorder your turkey by visiting or calling your nearest Lunds or Byerly’s. This holiday season, we welcome you to support Minnesota family farming by enjoying our succulent new Apple Cider Brined Turkey Breast. Cheers! ■ real food 11

Lunds and Byerly’s dietitian's corner

The Whole Story on

Whole Grains Make half your daily grains whole for optimal health benefits. BY JANICE COX, RDN, LD, Lunds and Byerly’s Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist


ave you heard the recommendation to make half the grains you consume each day whole grains? It’s not always easy deciphering what constitutes a whole grain so let’s dive into what it really is and how to get your fill. Whole grains are complex carbohydrates rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, and fiber. The term “whole” means that all three parts of the grain are present—germ, bran, and endosperm. A whole grain can be crushed, rolled, cracked, or even ground into flour as long as the end product contains all original parts of the seed. Whole grains include oats, corn, bulgur, brown and wild rice, amaranth, quinoa, and many more. Other types of grains, such as refined and enriched, don’t offer the same nutritional qualities as whole grains. Refined grains remove the bran and germ of the grain, leaving the starchy inner layer. For enriched grains, some of the nutrients that were lost in the milling process are added back in, but this doesn’t bring back the fiber found in the original seed. Examples of non-whole grains include white flour, white rice, and certain types of breads and pastas. The current U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend at least half of the grains we eat should come from whole grain sources

12 real food winter 2013

(about 48 grams per day). Unfortunately, most Americans don’t hit that mark. In fact, less than 5 percent of us consume the minimum recommended amount. Eating more whole grains can lead to a number of health benefits. According to the Whole Grains Council, eating more whole grains is associated with reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. It also helps us control weight and maintain proper levels of cholesterol and blood glucose. A good way to ensure you’re eating whole grains is to look for the word “whole” next to the grain name, like whole wheat. Another test is to look for the Whole Grains Council stamp or other FDA-approved health claims on the package. If you’re looking to add more whole grains to your diet, I encourage you to try our new collection of Lunds and Byerly’s

grains and rice blends. We’ve developed 12 rice blends and nine single-ingredient, culturally authentic rices and grains—many of which feature whole grains. From the familiar to the exotic, they will provide you with mealtime inspiration filled with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. With more of us striving to serve family and friends creative, delicious, and wholesome cuisines, these grains and rice blends are perfect options for side dishes or as a base for main dishes. As you’re shopping our aisles for whole grains, remember to keep an eye on the package labels and be sure to try a few whole grains you haven’t experienced yet; you might just love it! ■ For more information on whole grains, visit


Lunds and Byerly’s clip-and-keep guide




Bulgur Wheat

Quick-cooking form of whole wheat that’s been parboiled and ground.

Versatile grain, perfect for salads, pilafs, soups, and stuffings.

Red Jasmine Rice

Long-grain rice with a red bran. Nuttier flavor than regular rice.

Slightly sticky texture makes it great for sushi, cakes, and timbales.

Greenwheat Freekeh

Roasted green wheat with a nutty flavor. Heartier texture than farro, but softer than barley.

This superfood can be used as a ground meat substitute in any recipe.

White Quinoa

Buttery, earthy taste with a crunchy texture. Features eight essential amino acids.

Use in soups, salads, and pilafs.


Ancient strain of cultivated wheat, pearled to eliminate the need for soaking.

Delicious in risottos and soups.

Bamboo Rice

Short grain rice with a creamy texture. Infused with chlorophyll extract from green bamboo.

Ideal alternative to risotto rice. Also great for making sushi.

Israeli Couscous

Even-sized toasted pasta pearls that absorb flavors easily when cooking.

Pairs well with fresh herbs, nuts, and cheese. Use in side dishes or salads.

Nerone Italian Black Rice

Ancient strain of black rice, with a freshly baked bread aroma and a rich, buttery flavor.

Great addition to savory and sweet chicken or pork dishes.

Black Barley

Grain prized for generations in Ethiopia that cooks to a glossy black sheen. Bran layer of grain still intact.

Combines well with rice. Perfect in soups, stuffings and as a base for vegetarian dishes.


Lunds and Byerly’s what’s in store

CAT CORA’S KITCHEN Iron Chef Cat Cora only uses the best ingredients in her cooking. Those same quality ingredients are used in her Cat Cora’s Kitchen products. Try her vinegar and thyme honey, snack packs, and tapenades. Each is all natural, created in Greece, and is a great addition to a healthy, Mediterranean diet.

Did you know? Proceeds from Cat Cora’s Kitchen products support Chefs For Humanity in the fight against hunger.

SHEILA G’S BROWNIE BRITTLE Do you love the crispy edges of a brownie? Then you’ll devour Sheila G’s brownie brittle. Her newest flavor is salted caramel covered with caramel chips and sea salt. Along with her original chocolate chip and toffee crunch flavors, Shelia G’s brownie brittle will be the perfect treat at your holiday gatherings!

Tip: Crush brownie brittle in the food processor and use it to prepare the crust in any of your favorite crumb crust recipes, including cheesecake or lemon bars. It will add a flavorful surprise to your holiday baking.

CRIO BRÜ BREWED COCOA Crio Brü brewed cocoa has one ingredient: 100 percent pure, premium cocoa beans. That’s it. Crio Brü is a healthy and delicious drink with all the health properties of dark chocolate that brews and tastes just like coffee. Their cocoa beans are hand-selected, dried naturally, then roasted and milled for a satisfying start to your morning.

Did you know? Crio Brü has only 10 calories per 6-ounce cup and is loaded with antioxidants, which are beneficial for heart health. Also, the energy in this brewed cocoa is a natural stimulant found in the beans.

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Lunds and Byerly’s what’s in store

BRIE L’INDULGENT Brie L’Indulgent is a rich, smooth, triple cream cow’s milk Brie from the Vosges region of France. Under its white, downy rind this cheese holds a satiny interior that melts in your mouth.


It’s perfect for holiday entertaining. Pair with a rich fig spread, spicy fruit jam, or put the Brie in a starring role on a charcuterie platter surrounded by smoked ham, salami, pâté, French olives, mustard, and cornichons. Champagne is the traditional pairing with a creamy Brie—for a more modern take, enjoy Brie L’Indulgent with a crisp Pale Ale!

Did you know? Visit the specialty cheese counter at any Lunds or Byerly’s for tips and advice on putting together your holiday entertaining platters. Our cheese specialists love to share their passionate expertise!

MOKK-A COFFEE Bringing the charm of Europe straight to your coffee cup is Mokk-a Coffee’s mission. They’ve traveled the globe in search of the most authentic, Old World tastes for their gourmet blends. With flavor inspiration straight from passionate southern Italy to historic Sweden, Mokk-a Coffee will delight the senses.

The newest collection in our Lunds and Byerly’s offerings is premium wine and beer jellies. Flavors include golden IPA, porter, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Each jelly is all natural and made with only three ingredients, giving the jellies a clean taste and bold flavor. Try all four!

Tip: Try our beer jellies on ham and Brie sandwiches. Use our Chardonnay jelly on a cheese plate with soft cheeses, grapes, and nuts. Pair our Merlot jelly with bratwurst.

Tip: Try all five varietals: Italia, Holland, Suisse, Svenska, and France. Each varietal is roasted using authentic European recipes to create high quality, smooth blends. real food 15

Lunds and Byerly’s resources


From extraordinary food to gifts, FoodE Experts, and more Lunds and Byerly’s is your resource to make the season shine. HOLIDAY GIFTS


Our gift baskets and gift cards are sure to please the food fanatics in your life. A Lunds and Byerly’s gift card always makes for a perfect holiday gift. To purchase a gift card, stop by our stores or visit Need something special for that “hard-to-buy-for” person? Create a Minnesota-themed gift basket (or any kind you can think of) with the help of our gift basket shop at Byerly’s St. Louis Park. The baskets can be picked up from the shop or delivered to a home or business locally or nationally. For more information, call 952-548-5328.

Are you planning an office holiday party or hosting a large family gathering? The experts at Lunds and Byerly’s Catering are eager to turn your vision into a reality. Choose from a wide variety of menus in all price ranges, and enjoy delicious food, efficient delivery, and exceptional service. To speak with a catering expert, call 952-897-9800 or visit

FREE KNIFE SHARPENING As you’re cutting, chopping, and dicing this holiday season, don’t let a dull knife blade slow you down. Our meat departments offer free knife sharpening. Simply bring in your non-serrated knives and our staff will sharpen them within 24 hours. Please note: limit three knives per visit.

WINES & SPIRITS Our wines and spirits shops offer an impressive selection of wines, liquors, and beers from around the world. Our staff is eager to help make your next event memorable. Did you know we also have a wine club? Become a member and take advantage of special discounts and invitations to dinners, tastings, and private sales. To learn more, go to or visit us at Lunds Plymouth, Hennepin, Byerly’s Chanhassen, Eagan, Golden Valley, Maple Grove, Ridgedale, or St. Louis Park.

FOODE EXPERTS Whether you’re seeking menu inspiration for an upcoming holiday gathering, interested in learning a new cooking technique, or simply need help finding an item, we have FoodE Experts in all 22 stores who have a passion for food and an eagerness to share it with you. Easy to spot in their blue coats, our FoodE Experts have one mission: to make your time in our stores and your kitchen more enjoyable. 16 real food winter 2013

©2006 Unilever


The perfect blend of tomato,100% Bertolli ® Olive Oil, basil, garlic & onion. No wonder chefs are taking it so hard. Now you don’t have to be an Italian chef to be an Italian chef.


Tool Time Fun and functional kitchen tools make great gifts—or something for yourself. PRODUCTION & STYLING STYLE ARCHITECTS PHOTOGRAPHY TJ TURNER

A Pinch of SALT Magnetic salt and pepper mills keep your favorite seasonings close at hand—on the fridge and off the countertop. Magnetic Salt & Pepper Mill Ball, $15.00, Chef’n,

MiTT’S off Keep fingers safe from hot cookie pans. Silicone Mini Mitt, $9.99, Dexas,

SofT AS BuTTer Keep butter soft yet fresh without refrigeration. Antique Red Butter Bell, $24.95, L.Tremain,

Sharp Ideas cArVe iT uP Invest in the perfect knife and fork set. Classic Carving Knife, $135, Wusthof, GourMeT SoLuTionS Easily collect food juices with the perimeter groove. Gourmet Series Cutting Board, $49.99, Epicurean,

18 real food winter 2013

PerfecT To A TeA Steep a perfect cup-o-tea for one. Perfect Tea Maker, $19.95, Teavana,

Holiday Entertaining By Rachelle Mazumdar, Director of Weddings + Events, Style-Architects

Cherry Red Whip up your favorite homemade chili. Heritage Cherry Bean Pot, $100, Le Creuset,

Mr. Misty Get that perfect dusting of olive oil. Tabletop Oil Mister, $19.99, Prepara,

Down To A Science Trusty non-slip base and easy-pour spout. 4 piece Mini Measuring Beaker Set, $9.99, Oxo,

Brush It Off Get vegetables squeaky clean. Vegetable Brush, $5.95, Bürstenhaus Redecker,

With the holidays comes the sudden urge to entertain and host soirees with closest family and friends. However, we all know that being “behind the scenes” isn’t always the most enjoyable way to entertain. This season, we suggest investing in some kitchen must-haves to ensure smooth (yet stylish) preparation. Oftentimes, guests like to congregate in the kitchen, right as you are rushing to put the final touches on the meal. We suggest adding some color to your cookware, like this Le Creuset Heritage Cherry Bean Pot. It will be sure to leave your guests impressed with your chic cookware that’s perfect for that soup or stew. Let’s face it, your kitchen can be become a disaster zone. Pick up magnetic salt and pepper shakers that attach to the fridge to avoid taking up countertop space—leave that for guests’ cocktails and your gorgeous food presentation! Sick of the same-old plastic cutting board that needs to be swapped out every year? This year, we’re loving this Epicurean Cutting Board with Wüsthof Gourmet Carving Set equipped with a juice groove that’s great for collecting unwanted juices! Style-Architects is a boutique creative services company based in Minneapolis offering awe-inspiring weddings and events, and distinctive styling services. Check out their website:

Dice & Pop This handy tools makes holiday chopping a breeze. Dice & Pop Cuber, $15.95, Progressive,

winter 2013 real food 19


Au nATureL Delicous Belgian chocolate swirling with Dutch cocoa. Hot Chocolate Parisienne, $21, Sarabeth’s,

Tasteful Gifts Epicurean gifts will delight your foodie friends and family this season. PRODUCTION & STYLING STYLE ARCHITECTS PHOTOGRAPHY TJ TURNER

MuG ShoT Sip hot cocoa from this beautiful solid copper mug. Copper Mule Mug, $42.86, Old Dutch International,

SeeinG DoTS Polka dot bread molds make homemade bread even better. Polka Dot Bread Molds Set of 6, $8, Welcome Home,

BAKer’S SecreT Extracted from the world’s finest vanilla beans. Pure Madagascar Vanilla Extract, $18.95, Nielsen-Massey,

MASTer chef Put your cooking skills to the test with Julia. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, $40, Where books are sold

TASTe of frAnce Delicious mushroom infused olive oil. Porcini & Truffle Olive Oil, $17, A l’Olvier,

Keeping it Clean LooKin' ShArP Ideal gift for your favorite chef. Knife Apron, $21.99, Now Designs,

20 real food winter 2013

kitchen skills

Building Better Gravy BY JASON ROSS Culinary Instructor Le Cordon Bleu, Minnesota


he gravy can enhance a great turkey dinner, and even help save a bird that stayed a little too long in the oven. Here are the steps that go into making great gravy. Build flavor and transform brown bits left at the bottom of the turkey-roasting pan into decadent sauce. Learn to use fundamentals of cooking and maybe even turn gravy from forgotten sauceboat to star of the show.

TRICKS of the TRADE: Use up scraps if you have them. Before roasting pans there were bones. Similar to a roasting rack, bones and scraps help elevate a roast above the pan. In addition, they add flavor and browning to the gravy. If you have any scraps, turkey necks, wing tips, or poultry left in the freezer, add them to the roasting pan around the bird or under the rack. Any extra bones or meat added to the pan will increase the amount of browned bits in the pan, and strengthen the flavor of the finished gravy. Use them if you have them. Roux tips. 4 ounces of roux (that is 2 tablespoons of butter and a little less than ½ cup of flour) will thicken 1 quart of liquid gravy. The more the roux browns the more flavorful but the less thickening power. Conversely, the less the roux browns the stronger the thickening power.


22 real food winter 2013

©201 ©201 011 Sargen rg ttoo Foods o , Inc. ood c


The amazing Sargento Natural Blends.. ®

A whole new way to enjoy slices and snacks. Available in 3 delicious varieties.. Learn more at and find us on Facebook..

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kitchen skills

Classic Turkey Gravy MAKES 1 QUART

This recipe begins after the turkey is cooked and uses the browned remains in the pan. Any size will do, but 14-18 pounds works well.

1-2 1-2 1 1

onion, minced carrot, ¼-inch slices stalk celery, ¼-inch slices ounces or ¼ cup reserved fat from turkey drippings ounces or ½ cup flour cup white wine water added to drippings, enough to make 6 cups total liquid sprigs fresh thyme bay leaves clove garlic teaspoon whole black peppercorns salt to taste


3. 1. Intensify the browning in the pan: (“Pincer le suc” as the French say) After the turkey finishes cooking, remove the bird to rest on a platter. Pour off the drippings, and separate the liquid fat from the rest of the drippings. Reserve the liquid fat to be used later. The rest of the drippings will be used to flavor the sauce. Next, heat the pan with the brown bits on medium heat, and cook until they turn deeper brown, like rich caramel. For extra flavor, try adding the giblets and neck to the pan and brown them as well. This should take between 5-10 minutes, depending on the level of heat, and will add flavor later to the finished gravy. 2. Brown “mire poix” vegetables (that’s French for onions, carrots, and celery) Add onion, carrot, and celery to the roasting pan. Brown the mire poix on medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Take care not to burn any bits in the pan. 5. 3. Dislodge and dissolve the brown bits by adding wine (deglaze) Add wine to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to push and scrape the bottom of the pan. The wine helps loosen all the flavorful bits. Cook until the alcohol in the wine evaporates and the aroma of raw alcohol dissipates. 4. Add water and drippings to the pan (“Mouiller”) and additional seasoning Next add enough water to the reserved drippings to make 6 cups of liquid when combined. Add the combination to the pan and loosen any brown scraps not already loosened by the wine. Add black peppercorns, bay leaf, garlic, and thyme and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer. With the heat on low, simmer for roughly 20-30 minutes. Skim any fat as it floats on the surface. 5. Make the roux Roux is a thickener using 1 part flour to 1 part fat, usually butter, but in this case use the fat left from the roast turkey. While the sauce simmers in the roasting pan, start the roux. In a saucepan large enough to hold at least 1½ quarts, heat the reserved fat from the turkey on high. When the fat begins to sizzle, add the flour all at once to the pan, and immediately whisk to incorporate, which will help ensure a smooth gravy, without lumps. Make sure to whisk into the sides of the pan, coating all the flour with the hot fat. As the flour cooks, it will turn blonde in color, and then over time more and more brown. Switch to a wooden spoon and cook the roux stirring for roughly 10 minutes until golden brown. Leave the roux in the pan to cool to room temperature as the sauce simmers in the roasting pan. 6. Strain and thicken the sauce VARIATIONS Pour the sauce through a strainer removing all the vegetables, scraps, giblets, and • Use liquor, such as brandy or seasonings, reserving the flavorful liquids. The solids may be discarded. Add the liquid bourbon, instead of wine for a to the roux in increments and avoid the dreaded lumpy gravy. Add ¹⁄³ of the hot liquid to more intense and sweet flavor. the room temperature roux in the saucepan, whisking to incorporate into a thick sauce. (Be prepared for an impressive Add the next third and whisk, turning the heat onto low. Add enough of the last third to show when the alcohol ignites reach a good consistency. Gravy should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon or with a short burst of flames on pool on a clean plate. Leave the gravy a little thin, as the sauce will thicken as it cools. the stovetop!) 7. Taste and finish the gravy with salt and pepper • Add sage or rosemary to the Taste the gravy and add salt and black pepper as necessary. Though typically made and other seasonings. served immediately, gravy can be stored in a container in the refrigerator for 7 days. ■

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Love Your Leftovers BY MOLLY STEVENS


ake this homey pie from turkey dinner leftovers or anytime you're craving the taste of the holiday table but don't have time to roast a turkey and prepare all those side dishes.

Turkey Potpie with Sweet-Potato Biscuits MAKES 8 SERVINGS

Filling 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 large leek (about 2 cups), white and pale green parts trimmed, washed, and chopped 2 celery stalks, cut into ½-inch dice 2 large carrots, cut into ½-inch dice 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped ¹⁄8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated salt and pepper to taste 2 cups diced parsnip or celery root 1 cup button mushrooms, halved or quartered 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth 4 cups cooked turkey meat, chopped or shredded ½ cup cream or half-and-half 1 cup frozen peas, thawed ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Biscuits 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon sugar ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon fine-grain salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper ¼ teaspoon paprika 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese 1 cup mashed sweet potato, chilled ½ cup buttermilk, or more as needed


1. For the filling: Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, celery, carrot, thyme, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook about 8 minutes, until vegetables are almost tender. Add parsnip and mushrooms, stir, and cook uncovered 2 minutes. 2. Sprinkle in flour, stirring to incorporate evenly. Gradually add 1 cup broth, stirring gently, until thickened. Stir in remaining broth, turkey, and cream. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. 3. Remove from heat and stir in peas and parsley. Let cool slightly before proceeding. This recipe can be made ahead until this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated up to 2 days. 4. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour turkey and vegetables into dish. 5. For the biscuits: Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt, pepper, and paprika in bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add butter and cheese, and pulse again until mixture looks pebbly with small oat-size lumps. Transfer to a mixing bowl. 6. Whisk sweet potato with ¹⁄³ cup buttermilk until very smooth. Add to biscuit mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula just until roughly combined and dough comes together. Add buttermilk as needed if dough seems dry. Avoid overmixing. TURKEY POTPIE W. 7. Using a large spoon, drop dough onto turkey filling in 8 biscuit-shaped SWEET-POTATO BISCUITS: mounds. Use back of a fork to flatten and shape biscuits. Bake 45 to PER SERVING: CALORIES 559 (227 from fat); FAT 26g (sat. 50 minutes, until biscuits are nicely browned and filling is bubbling hot. Let 15g); CHOL 129mg; SODIUM sit 10 minutes before serving. ■ 657mg; CARB 51g; FIBER 5g;

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No Leftovers? No Worries. If you don’t have holiday leftovers, you can still make a delicious potpie. Here’s how: Place 1½ pounds boneless, skinless turkey meat (thigh, breast, or cutlet) in a saucepan and cover with chicken broth. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and adjust heat so bubbles barely break the surface. Poach turkey until just cooked through and an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F, anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes depending on cut of turkey. Remove turkey and let cool. When turkey is cool enough to handle, chop or shred into bite-size pieces. Reserve broth and use for potpie. For the biscuits, place 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound) on a piece of foil and roast in a 400°F oven 45 to 60 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel and whisk to purée.

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Celebrating the Italian Winter The grand Italian holiday traditions come stateside. 28 real food winter 2013



Bucatini with Fresh Tuna, Capers, Pistachios, and Spicy Breadcrumbs

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irst comes the big Christmas Eve celebration, then Christmas Day, and before you’ve got time to recuperate, it’s New Year’s. This is high holiday season in Italy, from Sicily to the Alps. And in a country that's culturally more a collection of regions than a unified whole, the holiday traditions are amazingly diverse. Italy is such an ancient land that one might assume Christmas Eve traditions would be set in stone and all hell would break loose if anyone tried to change them. That may be true for some families, but customs always change, becoming more contemporary and streamlined every year. But this isn't always a bad thing. If families can't produce as much for the holidays, they certainly make up for it in quality, getting more culinarily creative than ever. Italians thrive on celebration, especially when it involves showing off cooking skills. And they still do their best to make holidays very special.

Christmas Eve in Sicily Southern Italian tradition prescribes seven, nine, or thirteen fish dishes on La Vigilia (the vigil), also known as Christmas Eve: seven for the seven sacraments, nine for the Trinity multiplied by three, or thirteen for Jesus and his disciples. The number depends on the region and the stamina of the cook. The dinner is meant to be meatless and thus in theory a kind of fast. Well, Southern Italians know how to bend the rules without completely breaking them. The fast can include whole-roasted eels; octopus salad; fresh anchovies, baccalà with potatoes and white wine; snails with tomato and garlic; scungilli; fried sardines; pasta with lobster; pasta with clams; pasta with shrimp; pasta with calamari; roasted swordfish steaks; 10-pound whole fish stuffed with crab—not to mention the stuffed artichokes, stuffed tomatoes, stuffed zucchini, and broccoli with raisins and pine nuts. And that's all before the green salad. Many families now trim their Christmas Eve dinners down to just a few special recipes. My mother usually prepared three courses: a shellfish antipasto with good olive oil; a pasta with shrimp, clams, or mussels; and a seafood main dish, sometimes lobster fra diavolo, sometimes tuna with capers and lemon. Her parents were Sicilian, so tuna and swordfish, the two most popular seafoods on that island, usually made an appearance. To keep this family tradition alive, I always prepare Sicilian dishes on La Vigilia, but with a clean, contemporary feel. Here are two that I especially love.

Bucatini with Fresh Tuna, Capers, Pistachios, and Spicy Breadcrumbs Makes 6 servings

This is a classic Sicilian pasta with fresh tuna, finished not with grated cheese but with the traditional breadcrumb garnish that is considered more appropriate for seafood. There are many ways to put this kind of pasta together. I’ve punctuated mine with two of Sicily’s most beloved products: capers, the preserved flower buds from a common Mediterranean bush, and pistachios. The capers from the hot, dry islands of Pantelleria and Lipari are considered the best in the world.They’re packed in Sicilian sea salt and, once rinsed, have a gorgeous floral taste that you don’t find in the vinegar-preserved varieties. Pistachios from Bronte, a town near Mount Etna, are famous for their rich, buttery flavor. Both crops were first cultivated during the Arab occupation of the island, which began in the mid 800s. Offer this pasta as a first course with a Carricante wine, a white from Mount Etna. Planeta is a good producer. extra virgin olive oil ¾ cup homemade breadcrumbs, dry and not too finely ground 1 teaspoon dried pepperoncino, ground, or another medium-hot dried chili 1 big pinch sugar 2 small, tender inner celery stalks, cut into small dice, plus a palmful celery leaves, lightly chopped 1 small onion, cut into small dice 1 palmful fennel seeds 4 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 1 28-ounce can plus 1 15-ounce can plum tomatoes, well chopped and with the juice ¹⁄³ cup salt-packed Sicilian capers, soaked 10 minutes, rinsed, and drained 1 handful unsalted pistachios, shelled (Sicilian if available) 1 pound bucatini 1½ pounds tuna steak, cut into small cubes (yellowfin or albacore are the most sustainable choices) 1 splash dry Marsala 12 basil leaves, lightly chopped

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Blood Orange Salad with Mint and Black Olives

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1. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, chili, sugar, and a little salt. Stir then sauté 1 minute, until breadcrumbs are lightly golden. Transfer to a small serving bowl. 2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add celery and leaves, onion, fennel seeds, and anchovies, and sauté until soft and fragrant. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute without browning. Add tomatoes, season with salt and black pepper, and cook uncovered at a lively bubble 10 minutes. Add capers and pistachios, and turn off heat. 3. While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt. Drop bucatini into water, giving it a stir to prevent sticking. 4. In another large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot. Dry tuna and add to skillet, spreading out to cook evenly. Season with salt and black pepper, and cook 2 minutes, just until tender. Deglaze skillet with Marsala, letting it bubble a few seconds. Add tuna, with skillet juices, to sauce. 5. When bucatini is al dente, drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Drizzle with oil and scatter on basil. Toss. Add sauce, toss again, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot, giving each bowl a generous sprinkling of breadcrumbs.

Blood Orange Salad with Mint and Black Olives Makes 5 servings

I love the way Sicilians treat oranges as a savory food, preparing them with sea salt, black pepper, onion, and herbs. That’s one of the many culinary legacies of Sicily’s long Arab rule. Sicily grows many varieties of oranges, but it's proudest of its blood oranges. Moro,Tarocco, and Sanguinello are three great varieties.They differ in sweetness and in color, some with deep burgundy flesh throughout and others mostly orange with streaks of deep red. A version of this salad is often presented at the end of the Christmas Eve meal as a palate cleanser before the desserts are brought out. Blood oranges weren’t easy to find when I was a kid, so I never tasted this salad until my first trip to Palermo, in the 1980s. Now I find imported Sicilian blood oranges (and Californian ones, too) in the winter. 8 to 10 blood oranges or a mix of blood and regular oranges, peeled, all the white removed, and sliced into thin rounds a few very thin slices red onion 1 handful black olives, unpitted sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (preferably a Sicilian brand) 1 handful fresh mint leaves 1. Arrange oranges in a circle on a large, festive serving platter. Scatter on onion and olives. Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a generous drizzle of your best olive oil. Garnish with mint. (The oranges can be arranged on the platter ahead and refrigerated for a few hours, but all the other ingredients should be added at the last minute.)

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Osso Buco with Sage Gremolata and Risotto Alla Milanese

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Christmas Day in Lombardy For Southern Italians, Christmas Eve is the main event, but head up north, and Christmas Day takes on real culinary significance. Lombardy, the region that encompasses Milan, Mantua, Como, Cremona, Garda, and Pavia, is night and day from the Southern Italy of my grandparents. It’s wealthier, more industrial, part chic, part medieval, part rustic. The dishes that show up there on Christmas Day will most likely not be scented with olive oil, like in the South, but with butter. Bresaola, an air-dried beef, may serve as an antipasto. Tortelli di zucca, filled with squash or pumpkin, and risotto with sausage, porcini, or even with frog legs are classic first courses. Then you might go on to braised wild duck or rabbit; vitello tonnato; the Milanese classic osso buco, which is braised veal shank; or cotoletto alla Milanese, a huge, pan-fried, breaded veal chop, served only with lemon. Mantua holds onto certain medieval dishes, such as turkey stuffed with a rich assortment of ground meats and spices, making for a grand centerpiece. Gorgonzola, the region's famous cow’s milk blue cheese, will likely make an appearance. And no Christmas is complete without Milan's creation: the panettone, that brioche-like sweet bread studded with candied fruit. These are classics, but an old friend of mine from Cremona told me her family now prefers grilled steaks, mashed potatoes, and martinis on Christmas Day, thinking them exotic. Go figure. When I was 16, I decided to make a true Milanese Christmas Day dinner: osso buco. It was a dish I was in awe of, having eaten it in Manhattan restaurants with my parents. I found the giant round piece of meat with the bone in the middle mind-boggling, so glamorous yet so carnal. I was worried that I’d screw up the fancy dish, but when my brother came charging into the house after it had been slowly cooking in the oven for several hours and announced, “Hey, it smells like a restaurant in here,” I knew I had nailed it.

Osso Buco with Sage Gremolata and Risotto Alla Milanese Makes 6 servings

I’ve always loved braised dishes that are heavy on wine and light on tomato, and that’s what the classic osso buco is. Here’s my take on the winter holiday classic. It’s fairly standard—you don’t want to mess with a classic—except for a few personal flourishes like fresh thyme and nutmeg.The dish is usually seasoned with gremolata, a raw mix of garlic, parsley, and lemon zest, all minced together and scattered over the meat a few minutes before serving. I’ve become fond of adding a few sage leaves to my gremolata for a true holiday flavor. The only instance I know of where risotto is served as a side dish instead of a first course is alongside osso buco.They’re a time-honored, festive pairing. The bright yellow risotto is flavored with saffron, a spice made from the dried stigmas of a particular type of crocus. It’s a costly spice that’s been used in Milan for many centuries. The resulting risotto is fragrant and not too heavy—a great match for the rich meat. A Barbera d’Alba, such as Vietti’s, would be a perfect light red wine to serve with this meal. 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 6 ¾-pound center-cut veal shanks, tied horizontally with string salt and pepper to taste ½ cup all-purpose flour 1 ¼-pound chunk pancetta, cut into small dice 1 sweet onion, such as Vidalia, cut into small dice 1 carrot, peeled and cut into small dice 1 celery stalk, cut into small dice 1 fresh bay leaf ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg 6 large thyme sprigs, leaves lightly chopped 1 cup dry white wine 2 cups veal or chicken broth (preferably homemade), or more as needed 1 15-ounce can chopped plum tomatoes, drained Gremolata 1 small bunch (about ¾ cup) flat-leaf parsley, stemmed and well chopped 8 sage leaves, well chopped 1 clove garlic, minced grated zest of 2 lemons Risotto Alla Milanese ¾ teaspoon saffron threads 1½ quarts chicken or veal broth 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 sweet onion, such as Vidalia, cut into small dice 2 cups Vialone Nano risotto rice ½ cup dry white wine ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

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1. For the osso buco: Preheat oven to 350°F. 2. Have ready a large baking dish that holds veal in one layer with just a touch wiggle room. 3. In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over mediumhigh heat. Dry veal well, season with salt and pepper, and dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Brown on both sides and place in baking dish. 4. Reduce heat to medium, add pancetta, and sauté 2 minutes, until just starting to crisp. Add onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, nutmeg, and thyme, and sauté 4 minutes, until fragrant and slightly softened. Add wine and let bubble 2 minutes. Add broth and tomato, and heat through. Season with a little salt and black pepper. 5. Pour mixture over veal to nearly cover, adding more broth as needed. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 1½ to 2 hours, until meat is very tender, turning twice. If liquid cooks down too much, add broth or warm water. (This can be made a few hours ahead and gently reheated.) 6. For the gremolata: In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients. 7. For the risotto: To allow saffron threads to release their perfume, they need to be gently dried and ground. Place saffron in a small sauté pan over low heat 30 seconds, until stiff. Grind to a powder using a mortar and pestle. 8. In a large pot, bring broth to a boil. Turn off heat. Remove ½ cup broth to a bowl, stir in saffron, and set aside. 9. Choose a wide pan with high sides (12 inches wide and about 4 deep would be perfect) so the broth will both soak into the rice and evaporate easily. (You’ll have more control and be less likely to overcook the rice.) Heat pan over medium heat and add half butter. Add onion and sauté 4 minutes, until just starting to soften. Increase heat a bit and add rice, stirring to coat well, 1 minute to seal rice and prevent it from becoming mushy. Add wine and let it boil away. 10. Reheat broth over low heat and add ½ cup to rice, stirring until almost completely absorbed. Keep adding ladles of broth and letting absorb, stirring, until rice is al dente, 16 to 18 minutes total. Turn off heat and add saffron broth and remaining butter, stirring to combine. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and season with salt, if needed, and a few grinds black pepper. Add a final ladleful of broth so texture is a little loose. 11. To serve, remove string from veal and gently transfer to a large serving platter. Season sauce to taste and reheat as necessary. Pour some sauce over veal and scatter on gremolata. Plate risotto and place one veal shank on each serving, along with a good amount of sauce. And don’t forget to put out little spoons for scooping marrow.

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Budino di Panettone with Almonds, Lemon, and Vanilla Makes 6 servings

I’ve never spent Christmas in Milan, but I’ve certainly inhaled my share of the Milanese specialty panettone, now a Christmas classic all over Italy and beyond. When I was a kid, we ate it every Christmas morning while tearing into our gifts. We’d usually buy an extra one so we could make a version of panettone bread pudding, slicing it up in the morning so it would be sufficiently dry by early evening, when we’d throw the simple but decadently rich preparation in the oven. I love almonds, lemon, and vanilla together, but you also can use walnuts or pine nuts. Almost all panettone already contains candied fruits and raisins, but if you’d like, add more raisins, chopped figs, or a few sliced, cooked chestnuts in sweet syrup. It’s a perfect accompaniment to a glass of Moscato d’Asti. I like Il Conte’s. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 12 1-inch slices panettone, slightly stale and cut from a large panettone 3 extra large eggs, at room temperature ¾ cup sugar 1 pinch salt ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg ½ teaspoon grated cinnamon 1 tablespoon vanilla extract ¾ cup whole milk, at room temperature 1 cup cream, at room temperature ¼ cup rum grated zest of 1 large lemon ½ cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted 1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 9-inch-by-12-inch baking dish with butter and lay down a layer of panettone, overlapping slices a bit. 2. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients except remaining panettone. Pour ¹⁄³ of custard over panettone. 3. Make another layer of panettone and pour over another third of custard. Make a final layer of panettone and pour over remaining custard. 4. Bake uncovered 40 minutes, until just set and lightly golden. Let sit 20 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.

Budino di Panettone with Almonds, Lemon, and Vanilla

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New Year’s Eve in Emilia-Romagna My Italian teacher, Niki, comes from Bologna, in the Emilia-Romagna region. She tells me that many families there now eat contemporary fish dishes on New Year’s Eve. Smoked salmon, braised salmon (salmon isn’t even native to Italy), seared scallops, and even sushi are becoming common. I asked her about the tradition of eating good-luck foods. Lentils, for example, have always been served on New Year’s Eve or Day. Their shape is thought to resemble coins, so eating them supposedly brings riches into your life, monetary and otherwise. “Younger people don’t really think about that anymore,” Niki tells me. Young people don’t want good luck? Maybe old-fashioned superstition doesn’t appeal to them. Well, I still need all the luck I can get, so I’m sticking with tradition and eating lentils.

Lentils with Leeks and Zampone and Pears with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar

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Lentils with Leeks and Zampone makes 6 servings

Zampone is Modena’s most famous sausage, and it’s traditionally eaten with lentils on New Year’s Eve or Day all over Emilia-Romagna. It’s an odd-looking sausage: a stuffed pig’s foot filled with all that is pig, plus nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and black pepper. It has been a specialty of the region since at least the 1500s. Italian zampone is not yet exported to America, but I find very good locally made versions in some New York Italian specialty stores in winter months. I also find Modena-style cotechino, a big, fat sausage with a similar flavor but made in standard sausage casing. A famous version of that sausage is made in Cremona. Both are paired with lentils for the New Year’s good-luck meal. If you can’t find those, a good-quality fresh Italian sausage will make a more than decent stand-in, but choose a sweet sausage without hot pepper in it. Italian lentils are small and firm, and hold their shape after cooking, not breaking down into a mush. Many areas of Italy produce wonderful lentils. The type I’m most likely to find here are from Castelluccio, in Umbria. French Le Puy lentils are similar and make a great substitution. Serve this dish with a Lambrusco, a classic red wine from the region. Fattoria Moretto makes a nice one, with only a hint of sweetness. 1 2 2 ½ 5 1 2 5 1 ¼


4 1

pound italian or le puy lentils bay leaves tablespoons red wine vinegar teaspoon ground allspice generous pinch salt tablespoons extra virgin olive oil tablespoon dijon mustard thin slices pancetta, chopped medium leeks, white part only, finely chopped carrot, peeled and cut into small dice cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus extra sprigs for garnish rosemary sprigs, leaves well chopped 2½- to 3-pound zampone or cotechino sausage, or 12 sweet italian sausages salt and pepper to taste

BUCATINI W. FRESH TUNA, CAPERS, & PISTACHIOS: per serving: calories 645 (141 from fat); Fat 16g (sat. 2g); chol 40mg; sodium 978mg; carB 84g; FiBer 8g; protein 40g

BLOOD ORANGE SALAD W. MINT & BLACK OLIVES: per serving: calories 176 (89 from fat); Fat 10g (sat. 1g); chol 0mg; sodium 60mg; carB 22g; FiBer 5g; protein 2g

OSSO BUCO W. SAGE GREMOLATA & RISOTTO ALLA MILANESE: per serving: calories 1159 (516 from fat); Fat 58g (sat. 27g); chol 369mg; sodium 1677mg; carB 64g; FiBer 4g; protein 88g

1. In a large saucepan, cover lentils with 3 inches cold water, add bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar, the allspice, and a generous pinch salt and cook 5 minutes, until lentils are tender. Drain. Discard bay leaves. 2. In a small bowl, whisk 3 tablespoons oil with mustard and remaining (1 tablespoon) vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. 3. In a large skillet, heat remaining oil. Add pancetta and cook over moderately high heat 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned. Add leeks and carrot; cook 5 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add lentils and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Turn off heat. Stir in vinaigrette, parsley, and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste. 4. While lentils are cooking, prepare sausage. Pierce sausage skin in a few places. Place in a large pot and cover with cool water by 4 inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 to 25 minutes. (Most of the zampone or cotechino I buy here is precooked, so I only need to warm them through. If you happen to find a fresh one, you’ll want to simmer it 45 minutes. If you’re using the more standard Italian sausage, brown in a skillet, splash with a little wine, cover, and cook 10 minutes, until just tender. You can’t really boil that kind of sausage.) 5. Transfer lentils to a wide serving bowl. Slice sausage thickly on an angle and arrange on top. Garnish with parsley sprigs and serve.

Pears with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar makes 6 servings

Emilia-Romagna is also the home of Parmigiano-Reggiano and balsamic vinegar. That beautiful cheese is often served at the end of a meal with a drizzle of high-quality balsamico. Here I’ve added pears to the combination to be served as an appetizer or dessert. 3 fragrant but not too soft pears, such as red anjou 1 ½-pound wedge parmigiano-reggiano 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (the best will be labeled “aceto Balsamico tradizionale di modena”) 1. Put out 6 small plates. Cut pears into thin slices. 2. Cut Parmigiano-Reggiano into 6 pieces. 3. Divide pears among plates, fanning out slices. Place a piece of cheese at base of pears and drizzle with vinegar. Serve immediately. ■

BUDINO DI PANETTONE W. ALMONDS, LEMON, & VANILLA: per serving: calories 658 (251 from fat); Fat 27g (sat. 12g); chol 291mg; sodium 359mg; carB 81g; FiBer 3g; protein 18g

LENTILS W. LEEKS & ZAMPONE: per serving: calories 910 (486 from fat); Fat 54g (sat. 17g); chol 84mg; sodium 1867mg; carB 60g; FiBer 14g; protein 48g

PEARS W. PARMIGIANOREGGIANO & BALSAMIC VINEGAR: per serving: calories 204 (87 from fat); Fat 10g (sat. 6g); chol 26mg; sodium 608mg; carB 16g; FiBer 3g; protein 14g

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Hot Potato The timeless tuber deserves a designated spot on the table.

by Marlena Spieler

Photography Terry Brennan Food Styling lara miklasevics

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Potatoes are delicious.

Hasselback Potatoes with Watercress and Watercress Sauce (recipe page 44)

We all know that. But they are also full of potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, niacin, and fiber: good reasons to indulge in their deliciousness. Potatoes are endlessly versatile. When faced with a couple spuds, you need only choose: roast, fry, boil, or bake? Lavish them with the richness of butter or remain virtuously abstemious and serve them with only a whisper of embellishment, letting the potatoes’ own character shine. Given the popularity of this tuber of goodness, you’d think that the route of the potato to the table of the world would be an easy one: The potatoes arrive, people eat them! But that was not the case. When the potato arrived in Europe, people valued it mostly for its beautiful blue flowers; Marie Antoinette was said to wear a bouquet in her hair. But they were frightened to eat the tubers, suspecting them poisonous. Thus for centuries Europeans chose hunger over potatoes. From war in Eastern Europe (during which potatoes kept soldiers nourished) to the French government holding an all-potato dinner at Versailles (in an effort to woo chefs and eaters alike), each European culture realized the potato was harmless and healthy. Easy to grow and endlessly versatile, this “new” vegetable quickly became a treasured part of the cuisine in culture after culture. The potato was cultivated in the High Andes about 4,000 years ago but most likely arrived on the doorstep of North America having crossed the ocean with the Europeans, many of them, ironically, fleeing a potato blight in their homelands. Today the whole world loves the potato. I’ve eaten them throughout Europe and America, as well as in many places I didn’t expect: stewed with curry spices in Malaysia, stuffed with meat in Jerusalem, fried with chorizo in Mexico, stir-fried with chilies in Beijing. But truly, when it comes to savoring the spud, I think they are best at their simplest: boiled or baked, sprinkled with salt and vinegar, or dipped in yogurt with a bit of onion on the side. Here are a few of my favorite potato recipes, adapted from my cookbook, Yummy Potatoes.

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POTATO STORAGE AND SAFETY Store potatoes in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard. Do not store them in the refrigerator; the low temperature can give an unpleasant sweetness to the spuds as starches are converted to sugars. Avoid potatoes with a green tint to the skin. These have been exposed to too much light and have developed the toxin solanine. Such a potato also will have a bitter taste.

Potato Frittata with Feta, Mortadella, and Thai Basil and Andalucian Potatoes and Eggs with Chorizo, Peppers, and Tomatoes

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Potato Frittata with Feta, Mortadella, and Thai Basil Makes 4 to 6 servings

A very versatile dish, serve this frittata sliced in wedges or squares as an appetizer. 12 ounces new potatoes, or other waxy type 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed 3 ounces Italian mortadella or cooked sausage, cut into small dice 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 4 eggs, lightly beaten 6 ounces feta, cut into small dice ²⁄³ cup Thai basil leaves, coarsely torn up 1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 2. Parboil potatoes 6 to 8 minutes depending on size. Drain and set aside. When cool enough to handle, cut into a small dice. 3. Heat a heavy frying pan to medium and add 3 tablespoons oil. When hot, add potatoes and brown without stirring to avoid breaking up. Turn with a spatula when cooking side is golden. Turn again and cook until lightly browned. 4. Add mortadella. Sprinkle in garlic. 5. In a large bowl, combine eggs with feta. Add potato mixture. 6. In a baking pan, heat remaining oil in oven. 7. When pan is hot, pour in potato mixture and smooth until flat. 8. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until mixture feels firm and egg is no longer runny. 9. To remove from pan, loosen sides with a knife and bottom with a small spatula and invert onto a plate. Leave to cool slightly until firm. Cut into small canapé-size pieces, sprinkle with basil, and serve.

Andalucian Potatoes and Eggs with Chorizo, Peppers, and Tomatoes Makes 4 servings

The flavors of Andalucia rock this brunch dish—and it makes a wonderful supper, too. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, diced ½ green pepper, diced 2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and diced 2 to 3 roasted red peppers, diced 4 ounces chorizo, linguiça, or other spicy sausage, cut into small pieces salt and pepper to taste 4 cloves chopped garlic 1½ cups diced tomatoes plus their juices 1 large pinch ground cumin 4 eggs 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley 1. Heat oil in a large frying pan until medium-hot. Add onion, green pepper, potatoes, and red peppers, and cook until potatoes begin to soften. Add chorizo and keep frying until potatoes are browned in spots and sausage is cooked and has imparted its taste to potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on garlic. 2. Add tomatoes and cumin, and mix well. Make 4 wells down to bottom of pan if possible, and into each place an egg. 3. Cover and cook over medium-low heat 4 to 5 minutes, until whites have set but yolk is still runny with a thin white veil over it. 4. Serve immediately, sprinkled with cilantro or parsley.

Potato Primer Potatoes come in three basic groups: starchy (floury), waxy, and those in between (often referred to as all-purpose). Their classification is determined by the amount of moisture and starch they contain.

» Starchy/floury potatoes, such as russets, are great for baking and frying because the dry nature of their flesh is delectably fluffy inside. When baked, they can absorb butter like a delicious sponge; when fried, they get crisp and savory. An easy way to identify floury potatoes is that they are usually big with a thick skin. Uses: baking, frying, layering into a gratin, or shredding and browning. They can be used for mashing, but care should be taken not to overwork them or the result is a sticky goo (never mash potatoes in a food processor or blender for exactly this reason). They are not ideal for boiling; cooked a moment too long, they fall apart and dissolve into the water. For this reason, however, they make great soup! They can be oven-roasted, though they should be parboiled (cooked just long enough to stabilize the starch but not break apart). » Waxy potatoes (often referred to as “new potatoes”) are smaller, can be round or oblong, and have continued on page 44

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continued from page 43

a thin skin and a smooth, tender texture. Waxy potatoes hold their shape while cooking. The small ones are often called “creamers,” “fingerling or finger potatoes,” or, if very small, “marbles.” Pink fir apple, rose finn apple, la ratte, Russian banana, red gold, purple majesty, Peruvian blue, and baby Yukon gold are among the best waxy potatoes. Uses: Soups, stews, salads, or simply boiled and buttered morsels. (Though good mashed, they can be lumpy or sticky. ) When potatoes are very small (marble size) and very tender, they are delicious roasted and do not need to be parboiled. Simply toss them with olive oil and sprigs of rosemary and roast in medium-high heat until the tiny tubers are browned.

» All-purpose potatoes have less starch than starchy potatoes and are less waxy than waxy potatoes. They work in most dishes but don’t possess a special character for any particular purpose.

Boiled New Potatoes with Toppings Makes 4 servings

Tiny young potatoes are at their best simply boiled in salt water and shaken to dry. Boiling is also the best way to showcase the whole gamut of different potato types. They are luscious as is, though I adore them with butter and chopped, fresh dill, or with yogurt and chopped green onion. 1½ pounds small new potatoes large pinch salt 1. Wash potatoes, place in a saucepan, and fill pan with cold water. Add a large pinch salt. 2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook over a low boil or bubble until just tender. Depending on their size, potatoes will be ready in about 10 minutes. Test every so often with a skewer or tip of a small knife to avoid cooking until mush. 3. When potatoes are cooked through, drain (a small amount of water will remain in pan). Return to stove to help them dry. Over medium low heat, shake pan occasionally until any cooking liquid has evaporated. (The bottom of the pan in between the potatoes should appear dry.) Remove from heat, then cover to keep potatoes moist and warm until ready to use. Eat simply, in their skins, with any of the following toppings: • Butter, chopped, fresh dill, and chives • Yogurt, Greek yogurt, or sour cream and thinly sliced green onions • Sour cream, caviar or shredded, smoked salmon, and chopped chives • Raita (Indian yogurt mixed with a little mint or cumin) with a few dabs spicy pickle on the side • Pesto • Extra virgin olive oil, chopped parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper • With melted cheese, raclette-style: Bake cheese until melty then serve on a plate that keeps it hot along with a plate of cornichons and thinly sliced onions. • Baked Camembert: Open a package of Camembert, cut a tiny bit out of the top, pour a little white wine in it, and replace lid. Bake in a hot oven, in its box resting on a baking sheet, about 10 minutes, until cheese is melty and ready to ooze. • Fromage blanc, or cottage cheese puréed and mixed with a little crème fraîche or sour cream, then mixed with a bit of soft butter, dry white wine, chopped onion, chopped garlic, parsley, tarragon, dill, chives, and salt and pepper to taste. This is delicious when the cheese mixture is cold, the potatoes hot.

Hasselback Potatoes with Watercress and Watercress Sauce Makes 4 to 6 servings

In general, when potatoes are young, they are waxy, and when older, they are floury. For example, potatoes such as the golden ones sold under a variety of names can be waxy and good for salads when young, good for everything when middleaged, and when older, best for frying, baking, and all the things floury spuds are known for.

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Don’t be tempted to use massive potatoes for this dish; they take forever to cook. Medium spuds give a nice assortment of textures in a reasonable amount of time, and smaller potatoes are good, too. 1½ pounds medium to small-medium potatoes, unpeeled 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 4 cloves chopped garlic 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (optional) Watercress Sauce 1 green onion, thinly sliced 1 to 2 cloves chopped garlic several handfuls watercress (about 1½ cups) plus more for serving ½ cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped, or 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped 6 to 8 tablespoons melted butter continued on page 47 2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice

Boiled New Potatoes with Toppings

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basil MasHed Potatoes and roasted sMall new Potatoes witH roseMarY and vinegar and roMesco sauce

POTATO FRITTATA: Per serving: calories 378 (265 from fat); Fat 30g (sat. 10g); cHol 190mg; sodiuM 592mg; carb 15g; Fiber 2g; Protein 13g

ANDALUCIAN POTATOES & EGGS: Per serving: calories 508 (269 from fat); Fat 30g (sat. 8g); cHol 211mg; sodiuM 711mg; carb 43g; Fiber 4g; Protein 18g

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BOILED NEW POTATOES (WITHOUT TOPPINGS): Per serving: calories 128 (0 f r o m f a t ) ; Fat 0 g (sat. 0g); cHol 0mg; sodiuM 417mg; carb 30g; Fiber 4g; Protein 3g

HASSELBACK POTATOES: Per serving: calories 463 (349 from fat); Fat 40g (sat. 13g); cHol 45mg; sodiuM 270mg; carb 26g; Fiber 3g; Protein 4g

BASIL MASHED POTATOES: Per serving: calories 387 (181 from fat); Fat 21g (sat. 13g); cHol 60mg; sodiuM 546mg; carb 46g; Fiber 4g; Protein 7g

ROASTED POTATOES W. ROSEMARY & VINEGAR: Per serving: calories 188 (61 f r o m f a t ) ; Fat 7 g (sat. 1g); cHol 0mg; sodiuM 418mg; carb 30g; Fiber 4g; Protein 3g

ROMESCO SAUCE: Per serving: calories 73 (57 f r o m f a t ) ; Fat 6 g (sat. 1g); cHol 0mg; sodiuM 61mg; carb 3g; Fiber 1g; Protein 1g

continued from page 44

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 2. For the watercress sauce: In a food processor or blender, whirl green onion, garlic, watercress, mayonnaise, and dill until a smooth, green purée. Slowly add butter then lemon juice. Season to taste and chill until ready to use. 3. For the potatoes: Place a potato in the bowl of a large soup spoon and cut into potato in thin slices until you reach bottom of spoon. (The spoon prevents the knife from slicing all the way through.) Repeat with remaining potatoes. 4. Combine oil with garlic and rub over potatoes, getting into crevices. Pour remaining mixture over potatoes, sprinkle generously with coarse salt, and place in oven. 5. Depending on size and age of potatoes, roast 45 to 60 minutes, until browned and crunchy on the outside, tender within. Baste potatoes with oil once or twice to encourage more crunch. 6. Just before serving, sprinkle with thyme. Serve on a bed of watercress with watercress sauce.

Basil Mashed Potatoes Makes 4 to 6 servings

This side dish is absolutely luscious with duck breast, rare steak, or grilled fish. 2½ pounds floury potatoes, such as Idaho 2 to 3 cups basil leaves 2 cups cream 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1. Peel potatoes and cut into medium chunks. 2. Place in a saucepan with cold water to cover. Add a large pinch salt. 3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a rolling but not violent boil and cook 10 to 15 minutes, until potatoes are softened. Drain and return to stove. Cook, covered, over medium heat, shaking several times, causing potatoes to lose some of their moisture. 4. Turn off heat. Mash to preferred consistency—I like slightly coarse and therefore use a potato masher—then set aside, covered. 5. Blanch ²⁄³ of basil in boiling water then plunge into ice water. Remove, squeeze out excess liquid, and set aside. 6. Combine cream with garlic and bring to a boil in a saucepan, taking care that it does not boil over. Simmer 1 to 2 minutes over medium-low heat. Remove from heat. 7. In a blender, purée basil with garlic cream. Pour into potatoes and mix with a wooden spoon. Work in butter and season with salt and pepper. 8. Serve immediately, sprinkled with remaining basil. Variation: Green Onion Mash Follow the Basil Mashed Potatoes recipe, substituting 2 bunches green onions for the basil. Reserve some onions for garnish. Chop remaining onions coarsely, warm through in garlic cream, purée, and add to potatoes. Sprinkle with reserved raw onions, thinly sliced, just before serving.

Roasted Small New Potatoes with Rosemary and Vinegar Makes 4 servings

Roasting is a great way to fully appreciate the goodness of creamy little new potatoes, and these unique sherry vinegar– soaked spuds are so good! These are delicious served hot and even better at room temperature, so the vinegar has had a chance to soak into the potatoes and mellow. The roasted potatoes are also delicious with the Romesco Sauce. 1 batch boiled potatoes (see recipe on page 44) 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 3 to 5 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional) coarse salt to taste 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or more to taste 1. Heat oven to 375°F. 2. Toss potatoes with oil, rosemary, and a large pinch coarse salt, and place in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate them in a single layer. 3. Roast 20 to 30 minutes, checking every so often and turning for even roasting. 4. When golden brown and crunchy, remove from oven. Serve sprinkled with vinegar.

Romesco Sauce Makes 2 to 3 cups

This thick, creamy Catalan mixture can be made last-minute but is even better when made ahead of time, though it may need to be thinned. If thickened, add a few drops vinegar, olive oil, or water. ½ to ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 slice country bread, broken up into crumbs (about 3 to 4 tablespoons) ¼ cup roasted almonds 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped 3 large ripe tomatoes plus 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste, or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes 2 roasted red peppers 1 teaspoon pimentón ¼ teaspoon chili powder, such as New Mexico ½ teaspoon cumin 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar 1. H eat 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs and fry until golden brown, stirring as they brown. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. 2. I n a blender or food processor, combine almonds, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, pimentón, and chili powder, and whirl to create a smooth paste. 3. To the tomato, breadcrumb, pepper paste add about a quarter of the olive oil, whirling until smooth, then add the rest in small batches, waiting until the previous oil has been absorbed before you add more, as if you were making mayonnaise. 4. A dd salt to taste (smoked salt if available), cumin, and sherry vinegar. Mix well and taste for seasoning. 

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Breaking Bread Quick breads bring family and friends together.

How wonderful to have a kitchen full of the delicious aromas of baking! a quick bread is an easy way to arrive at this ideal without too much whisking, beating, creaming, and generally worrying about the results. These recipes are pretty much foolproof and, as you’ll see, yield really satisfying results. Just follow along and you’ll have something warm and fragrant to cut into or be proud to give as a gift—and in no time. BY SERENA BASS


Date and Prune Quick Bread (recipe page 52)

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Apple, Pine Nut, and Cardamom Quick Bread

Cherry and Poppyseed Bread with Almond Topping (not pictured)

Makes 10 slices per 11-inch loaf

Makes 10 slices per 11-inch loaf

This is a wonderful bread that freezes very well and can be kept wrapped in the fridge for at least 10 days. It is quick to make and has a haunting flavor that comes from the apples resting in the lemon juice for a few minutes. I have made this with and without the cardamom; either way it is fantastic and seems to get even better a day or two later.

This pretty bread is pale and interesting due to the use of egg whites rather than the whole egg. It has a speckling of poppy seeds and is studded with juicy, dried cherries. Personally, I must have crunch somewhere, so the top is scattered with almonds and sugar, but you could easily leave that off. As with any quick bread that includes dried fruit, this one just gets better and better. I have kept it for two weeks in the refrigerator, and it was still perfect.

4 Golden Delicious apples 1 zested lemon 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 cup sugar, divided 5 large eggs 10 tablespoons melted butter 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2½ cups flour, Heckers or King Arthur 1 tablespoon baking powder 1½ teaspoons ground cardamom ½ teaspoon salt ¹⁄³ cup pine nuts 1. Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease and flour an 11x4-inch loaf pan. 2. Peel apples, cut into thin ½-inch pieces, and place in bowl. Add zest, juice, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Mix together and set aside. 3. In a standing electric mixer, beat eggs and remaining sugar 2 minutes. 4. Gently stir in butter and vanilla. Slowly stir in flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt. 5. Remove bowl from mixer, pour batter over apples, and fold in. 6. Pour mixture into pan and sprinkle pine nuts on top. 7. Bake 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Will keep for a week wrapped well in the refrigerator. Will not freeze well as the apples become wet and mushy.

2 cups Gold Medal flour
 2 teaspoons baking powder
 ½ teaspoon baking soda
 ½ teaspoon salt
 2 tablespoons poppy seeds ¹⁄³ cup vegetable oil
 ¾ cup plus 1½ teaspoons sugar
 3 egg whites ²⁄³ cup buttermilk
 ¾ cup sour cream
 1½ teaspoons pure almond extract
 1 cup dried sour cherries (or canned sour cherries, very well drained and patted dry) ¼ cup almonds, skinned and sliced 1. Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease an 11x4-inch loaf pan. 2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then stir in poppy seeds. Set aside. 3. In a large bowl, mix oil, ¾ cup sugar, egg whites, buttermilk, sour cream, and almond extract until combined. 4. Fold in dry ingredients. When nearly combined, add cherries and keep folding until evenly distributed. 5. Scrape batter into pan, smooth to level, and scatter on almonds and 1½ teaspoons sugar. 6. Bake 60 to 65 minutes, until a skewer inserted in center comes out dry. Will keep for a week well wrapped in the refrigerator, and will keep for 2 months, well wrapped, in the freezer.

Lessons Learned • Even though these recipes are for quick breads, they are only quick if you have the ingredients on hand. If you like the idea of baking (avoiding preservatives and mysterious additives) but only do it occasionally, it can become anything but quick, so consider what you have in your pantry and start building a useful collection of baking ingredients. • Sort your dried herbs and spices so you can access them quickly. In my kitchen, the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar, for instance, are all in the same area. You’ll be more aware when you're running out. • Arrange and measure everything you’ll need for the recipe and put it all in one spot in your chosen work area of the kitchen. It may sound like double the work, but it actually saves time and mistakes. I admit—and really, who hasn’t done this?—to carefully shutting the oven door on a carrot cake and turning to see two eggs or a cup of walnuts sitting on the kitchen table.

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Baking Tips • To line a loaf pan with parchment paper: Set the pan down along the edge of the paper and run a sharp knife tip around the pan. Spray the whole pan with non-stick spray (over the sink for less airborne grease), settle the paper on the base, and spray the paper. That way when you remove the paper, it won’t stick to any fruit. • Want to see if baking powder still has its original leavening power? Put a little in a cup of hot water. It should start fizzing and bubbling right away. • To make buttermilk: Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice to 1 cup milk and let sit 5 minutes. • Rinse any utensil or bowl that has flour on it with cold water first; hot water will make glue of the flour.

Apple, Pine Nut, and Cardamom Quick Bread

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Date and Prune Quick Bread

Orange Quick Bread

Makes 10 slices per 11-inch loaf

Makes 6 to 8 slices per 8-inch loaf

This quick bread is thick with dried fruit and walnuts. It has a deliciously damp and chewy texture and is almost medieval in concept. I have been giving this bread as a gift during the holidays for years now, and everyone loves it.

In my recipe book, I have this listed as The Best Orange Quick Bread In The Whole World. A bold claim, but I guarantee you will agree. It spans the day, as I often make it plain and have a slice with my morning coffee or add the tart glaze and serve it for visitors around teatime. To get very luxurious, I add the chocolate ganache. Orange and chocolate are a favorite combination, and because some of the chocolate sinks into the quick bread, it is a wonderful gooey surprise and can be served with vanilla or chocolate ice cream for dessert.

1 cup dates, cut in thirds 1 cup prunes, cut in thirds ½ cup golden raisins 1 teaspoon baking soda 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1 cup sugar 1 extra large egg 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1¹⁄³ cups flour 1 cup walnuts, toasted at 325°F℉for 12 minutes 1. Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease an 11x4-inch loaf pan and line bottom with parchment paper. 2. Place dates, prunes, raisins, and baking soda in a bowl and pour over 1 cup boiling water. Mix together and set aside for no less than 1 hour and up to 2 hours. 3. In a standing electric mixer, cream butter, add sugar, and beat 2 minutes. 4. Add egg and vanilla, and beat 2 minutes. Add flour and slowly stir in. Add fruit and stir slowly to combine well. Stir in walnuts. 5. Pour into pan and bake 60 to 70 minutes, until a skewer inserted in middle comes out dry. Cool in pan. Will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Will not freeze well.

Wrap it Up • I prefer not to have aluminum foil touching any foods, so the first layer when wrapping a quick bread is parchment paper, sealed neatly and as airtight as possible. Next comes the label with the name of the quick bread and the date it was made. To gift a bread, follow with festive wrapping paper or a chic, utilitarian brown paper and rustic string, which I rather like. • When freezing a quick bread, wrap in paper towel then in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place in a zip-top bag to avoid ripping the foil. The paper towel will keep the cake fresh and mop up any juices seeping from dried fruit. A crispy crust will be a thing of the past, but you can always bring it back by heating a slice or two in the oven or, judiciously, in a toaster.

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2 cups flour, Heckers or King Arthur ¾ teaspoon sea salt 1 tablespoon baking powder 1½ cups sugar ½ cup milk ½ cup fresh orange juice ½ cup vegetable oil 3 extra large eggs 1½ tablespoons grated orange zest Ganache (optional) ¹⁄³ cup heavy cream ½ cup Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips Glaze (optional) 1½ cups powdered sugar 2 teaspoons orange zest, finely grated 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, strained 1. Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch loaf pans. 2. For the ganache: Heat cream until small bubbles appear around edge. Remove from heat, add chocolate chips, and shake pan to level chocolate. Set aside for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth and set aside. 3. For the quick bread: Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl. 4. In a small, deep bowl, whisk together milk, juice, oil, eggs, and zest. Add to dry ingredients. Quickly fold and stir in until just combined. 5. Divide batter equally into pans. Bake 15 minutes then open oven, pull out rack without jogging too much, and quickly dribble about ¼ cup ganache over batter in each pan. (If ganache has become too firm to dribble, set bowl in a bowl of warm water for a few seconds to melt. Stir to smooth again.) 6. Gently slide rack back in and bake 20 minutes, until quick bread is slightly shrinking away from pan. 7. For the glaze: Mix together ingredients. While bread is still warm, poke several holes in it with a skewer and slowly pour on glaze. 8. Cool bread completely before removing from pan. Will keep, wrapped in the refrigerator for 1 week and will freeze well without glazing for 2 months.


orange Quick BreaD With oPtional ganache

CHERRY & POPPYSEED BREAD W. ALMOND TOPPING: Per serVing: calories 348 (119 from fat); fat 14g (sat. 3g); chol 10mg; soDiuM 329mg; carB 51g; fiBer 2g; Protein 6g

DATE & PRUNE QUICK BREAD: Per serVing: calories 399 (143 from fat); fat 17g (sat. 7g); chol 43mg; soDiuM 136mg; carB 62g; fiBer 4g; Protein 5g

ORANGE QUICK BREAD: Per serVing: calories 242 (81 from fat); fat 9g (sat. 2g); chol 40mg; soDiuM 248mg; carB 37g; fiBer 1g; Protein 4g

APPLE, PINE NUT, & CARDAMOM QUICK BREAD: Per serVing: calories 396 (154 from fat); fat 18g (sat. 8g); chol 124mg; soDiuM 398mg; carB 54g; fiBer 2g; Protein 7g

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SWEET HOLIDAYS Baking your own holiday cookies is truly rewarding. Part of the enjoyment is choosing intriguing ways to package them and giving them as gifts, from my home to yours. Here are some simple but classic recipes with a twist or two to keep things fun and flavorful. BY GEORGEANNE BRENNAN


Sparkling Snowflake Cutout Cookies Makes 2 To 3 dozen cookies

I like to make snowflake cutouts in different shapes and sizes, then ice some with white frosting and some with blue, and decorate with sparkling white and blue sprinkles. For a variation, use holly-leaf cookie cutters and green food coloring with red hot candies for berries. Like all iced, cutout cookies, these are best eaten within 1 week. cookies 1¾ cups all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt ²⁄³ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature ½ cup sugar 1 large egg 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

icing 2 egg whites 4 cups powdered sugar, or more as needed blue food coloring or blue gel

1. For the cookies: Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing each time until a smooth, not sticky, ball can be formed. Divide into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 15 to 20 minutes. 3. Flour a rolling pin and lightly flour a working surface. Roll a ball out to a generous ¹⁄8 inch thickness. Using snowflake cookie cutters, cut out several shapes and sizes. Using a metal spatula, transfer to baking sheet, spacing cookies at least ½ inch apart (they will expand as they bake). Shape remaining dough scraps into a firm ball and repeat. Repeat with second dough ball. 4. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, until delicately browned on bottom and pale golden on top. Remove from oven and let cool on sheet at least 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, gently loosen cookies and transfer to a flat surface to cool slightly before icing. (If cookies are warm, icing will spread more easily. However, icing when cookies are fully cooled is fine.) 5. For the icing: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together egg whites and sugar 5 minutes, until stiff enough to spread. If too stiff, add 1 teaspoon water and beat. If too thin, continue beating and add up to ½ cup powdered sugar. 6. Divide icing into 2 bowls. To 1 bowl, add 2 drops blue food coloring and mix well with a spoon. 7. Using a knife or stiff spatula, gently spread icing on cookies. Add sprinkles immediately. Set aside on a flat surface to cool completely. A Sweet Gift Choose a special teacup 8. Arrange cookies in a single layer on a platter and cover loosely with wax or and saucer set and package it with a bag parchment paper. They will keep up to 3 days at room temperature. To store of cookies and a favorite tea to create a in an airtight container up to 1 week, line container with wax or parchment gift for a perfect pause, a quiet minute. paper. Place cookies in single layer. Top with a layer of wax or parchment paper and repeat.

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Spicy Pfeffernüsse Cookies Makes 3 dozen cookies

These classic German holiday cookies, hard and crunchy with a spicy kick, are made ahead of the festivities to allow the flavors to ripen and the cookies to harden. They are ideal dippers for coffee, tea, mulled wine, or cider. This recipe requires fresh and fully flavored spices. The cookies are quick and easy to make and can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 6 weeks. 3 ½ ½ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ½ ½ ¼ 4 ½ ¼ 3 1

cups all-purpose flour teaspoon salt teaspoon fleshly ground black pepper teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seed teaspoon freshly ground allspice teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon stick teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg teaspoon freshly ground cloves teaspoon freshly ground anise (fennel) seed teaspoon baking powder tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature cup light brown sugar, firmly packed cup sugar large eggs cup powdered sugar

1. Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper, cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, anise, and baking powder. Set aside. 3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs until well-blended. 4. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, beating well after each. 5. Flour your hands and gather enough dough to make a 1½-inch-diameter ball. Roll between the palms of your hands to make a smooth, firm ball. Place on a baking sheet, spacing balls 2 inches apart. 6. Dampen your hands with water, rub each ball between palms to smooth surface, and replace on baking sheet. 7. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until tops are just firm to the touch and lightly golden and bottoms are just beginning to brown. They may begin to crack a bit. Do not overbake. Transfer sheets to racks and let cool slightly. 8. Place powdered sugar in a paper bag and add still-warm cookies a few at a time, shaking gently to coat. Place cookies on a wire rack and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Alternatively, uncoated cookies can be cooled completely and frozen in airtight containers up to 2 months. To serve, thaw and coat with powdered sugar. 9. Store at least 2 weeks (and up to 6 weeks) before serving. The longer cookies are stored, the harder they get—up to rock hard, perfect for dipping into hot drinks.

Grind Your Own Spices Freshly ground spices are vastly different than already ground or powdered spices. Investing in an inexpensive coffee grinder to use exclusively for grinding whole spices will make it easy to maximize the spices in your cookies and other dishes. Store the whole spices (such as clove, nutmeg, mace, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel seeds, and others) in airtight jars or tins up to six months, and grind only what you need.

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Check Your Pantry Before starting your holiday baking, review your pantry for out-of-date spices (if they smell dusty, discard), different types of sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and flour, and any other items you might need. Make a list of what needs to be replenished along with any special ingredients for specific recipes.

Walnut Lace Cookies Makes 3½ dozen cookies

Aptly named, these delicate cookies are rich and crispy, and they are quite quick to make. For a variation, use pistachios, almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts. When still warm, the cookies can be rolled into a thin, cigar-like shape. Or put two cookies together, sandwich style, with chocolate frosting between. Lace cookies tend to absorb moisture, so they should be stored in dry, cool conditions, such as an airtight container. ¼ 4 ¾ 1 1

cup walnut halves or pieces tablespoons unsalted butter cup light brown sugar, firmly packed tablespoon molasses tablespoon light corn syrup

¾ 1½ ¼ 1

cup quick-cooking oats tablespoons all-purpose flour teaspoon salt teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a small frying pan over medium heat, toast walnuts, shaking or stirring. When they become aromatic, after 3 to 4 minutes, remove to a work surface and finely chop. Set aside. 2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 3. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. When it foams, add sugar, stirring, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Stir in molasses and corn syrup, and add walnuts, oats, flour, salt, and vanilla, and stir until well-blended. 4. Remove from heat and drop by teaspoon onto baking sheet, spacing at least 2 inches apart (cookies will spread while baking). Bake 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and edges are slightly darker and beginning to pull away a tiny bit from parchment. 5. Let cool on sheet 5 minutes, until slightly firm. Using a metal spatula, transfer to a flat surface or wire rack to cool. If desired, while still pliable, form cookies around handle of a wooden spoon to make a cigar-like cookie roll. 6. Let dry at room temperature 45 minutes, until no longer pliable. 7. To store in an airtight container up to 1 week, line container with wax or parchment paper. Place cookies in single layer. Top with a layer of wax or parchment paper and repeat. If desired, make a cookie sandwich by spreading 1 teaspoon chocolate frosting on bottom of 1 cookie, then topping with bottom of a second cookie, gently pressing together. Enjoy within 1 to 2 days.

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Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies

Stenciled Gingerbread Cookies

Makes 30 brownies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

These intensely chocolate, not-too-sweet bites are perfect for a dessert buffet.With a creamy, dark, dark chocolate frosting scattered with just a few grains of sea salt, these brownie bites are a tasty marriage of chocolate and a hint of savory. There are many artisanal, domestic, and imported chocolates to choose from; just be sure to use an unsweetened one.

As these cookies bake, your kitchen will be filled with their spicy aroma. If possible, grind your own spices for the ultimate gingerbread taste. The smooth, dark brown surface of the cookies is ideal for stenciling using powdered sugar. Stencils with holiday motifs can be purchased at craft stores, or you can make your own using card stock.

Frosting ½ cup evaporated milk 1 cup sugar 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

Brownies ¾ cup all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon fine sea salt 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature 1 cup sugar 2 eggs, beaten ½ teaspoon vanilla 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate ½ teaspoon medium coarse sea salt 1. For the frosting: Blend milk and sugar in a blender at high speed 30 seconds to mix well. 2. Over medium heat, bring water in a double boiler to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and put chocolate in upper pan. The simmering water should not touch the bottom of the pan. Melt chocolate 3 minutes, stirring. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool 3 minutes (not too long or it will firm up again). 3. Add chocolate to blender and blend 1 minute to mix. Scrape down sides of blender. Blend on medium to high speed 4 minutes, until mixture has thickened. It will be very creamy. Refrigerate 1 hour, lightly covered, or up to 1 day. 4. For the brownies: Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. 5. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and fine salt. 6. Melt the chocolate. (See step 2 in "For the frosting" above for instructions.) 7 In a large bowl, using an electric beater, beat butter 2 minutes, until creamy. Gradually add sugar and when well-blended, add eggs and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla then chocolate. Blend well. Add flour mixture in 2 to 3 batches, beating well after each. 8. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with butter. Pour batter into dish and smooth with a spatula. Bake 20 minutes, until center is firm to the touch, edges have pulled away slightly from pan, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 9. Remove to a wire rack to cool. When cooled, cut into 1½-inch squares. Frost immediately or within a day. 10. To frost, place 1 teaspoon frosting in center of each brownie and swirl. Just before serving, sprinkle each brownie with 3 to 4 grains sea salt. If sea salt seems too coarse, crush a bit using a mortar and pestle or the back of a wooden spoon. 11. Unfrosted brownies will keep up to 4 days; frosted, unsalted brownies, 2 days. Store in a single layer, lightly covered with aluminum foil (do not let foil touch frosting).

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8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature ½ cup light brown sugar ½ cup light molasses 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon freshly ground cloves ½ teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon stick ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger ½ teaspoon sea salt ¼ to ¹⁄³ cup whole milk 1 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses until wellblended. Set aside. 3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt, and whisk until well-mixed. 4. Add half of flour mixture and beat until well-blended. Beat in ¼ cup milk and add in remaining flour mixture, beating well. Dough will be very stiff. If so stiff that it is crumbly, add 1 tablespoon milk and beat. 5. G ather dough and press together with your hands into a ball. On a floured work surface, pat ball into a 2-inch-thick round. Using a floured rolling pin, roll to a generous ¼ inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter 2½ inches in diameter, cut out rounds and, with a metal spatula, transfer to baking sheet. 6. B ake 6 to 8 minutes, until puffed and spring back when pushed. Let cool on sheet a few minutes before removing with a metal spatula to a flat surface. Let cool to room temperature before decorating. 7. T o decorate, place a cookie on a clean work surface covered with aluminum foil. Place stencil over cookie, using pieces of card stock or other firm paper to cover any exposed cookie. 8. P ut 3 tablespoons powdered sugar in a fine wire mesh strainer and place over cookie. Gently tap strainer and cover entire surface of stencil with a fine layer of sugar. Set aside strainer. Gently remove card stock, lifting straight up. Lift stencil straight up, taking care not to tilt sugar onto cookie. Remove cookie to a flat surface or wire rack. 9. A rrange cookies in a single layer on a platter and cover loosely with wax or parchment paper. They will keep up to 3 days at room temperature. To store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks, line container with wax or parchment paper. Place cookies in single layer. Top with a layer of wax or parchment paper and repeat. Decorations may smear if not stored carefully. 


SPARKLING SNOWFLAKE CUTOUT COOKIES: Per serVinG: caLories 142 (38 from fat); FaT 4g (sat. 3g); cHoL 17mg; sodiUM 35mg; carb 25g; Fiber 0g; ProTein 1g

SPICY PFEFFERNÜSSE COOKIES: P e r s e rV i n G : c a L o r i e s 87 (16 from fat); FaT 2g (sat. 1g); cHoL 19mg; sodiUM 43mg; carb 16g; Fiber 0g; ProTein 2g

WALNUT LACE COOKIES: P e r s e rV i n G : c a L o r i e s 38 (14 from fat); FaT 2g (sat. 1g); cHoL 3mg; sodiUM 16mg; carb 6g; Fiber 0g; ProTein 0g

DARK CHOCOLATE SEA SALT BROWNIES: P e r s e rV i n G : c a L o r i e s 120 (50 from fat); FaT 6g (sat. 3g); cHoL 22mg; sodiUM 105mg; carb 17g; Fiber 1g; ProTein 2g

SPICY GINGERBREAD COOKIES: P e r s e rV i n G : c a L o r i e s 150 (36 from fat); FaT 4g (sat. 3g); cHoL 10mg; sodiUM 108mg; carb 27g; Fiber 1g; ProTein 2g

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60 real food winter 2013

By Tara Q. Thomas

Joie de vivre Patricia Wells on cultivating vegetables and enjoying the pleasures of French cooking

A house in Provence, a pad in Paris, an illustrious cooking school and thirteen cookbooks to her name: Not bad for a reporter from Milwaukee. Back when Patricia Wells started writing about food, the term “food writer” barely existed. Today, of course, she’s one of the very reasons “food writer” looks like such an attractive occupation.

Patricia Wells at home in Provence, France

That she’d become the woman who essentially introduced Americans to French cuisine in the 1980s she couldn’t have predicted. “Betty Crocker was our only role model,” Wells quips when I phone her in France one August morning. She’s thinking back to when she joined the newly-formed Living section of The New York Times in 1976, trading in the heels she wore to gallery openings as an art critic to boots for tramping around upstate New York farms. Now she’s one of the essential role models, living what looks to be a charmed life if the gorgeous, sun-dappled photos of her latest book are any proof. The French Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Lessons from Paris and Provence (William Morrow, NY; 2013) is the culmination of 30 years spent cooking and living in a foreign land, amassing a wealth of knowledge and experience about not just how to cook, but how to live. Flipping through the pages, seeing her surrounded by friends, family, and the culinary objets d’art she’s spent a lifetime amassing, the volume sparks an immediate desire to book a one-way ticket to France. It wasn’t all as easy as that, though. It’s true that the move to Paris was a lucky break for a budding food writer: Her husband, Walter Wells, was offered a position in Paris at the International Herald Tribune in 1979, and she figured a couple of years in France could only be good for her career. But then, there was the exchange rate, and two reporters’ salaries. “It was so expensive,” she says. “I remember I cried because I

couldn’t afford to buy strawberries. The prices were shocking.” Nevertheless, what Wells had wanted to do since she was in the third grade was be a reporter, and report she did, spending every waking moment exploring the best foodstuffs the city had to offer and the stories behind them. They decided to stay an extra year beyond the two they’d planned; then, just when they were supposed to be packing up, she got an offer to compile all of her research into a book. The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris was an immediate hit when it came out in 1984, celebrated by Americans for its no-nonsense, unpretentious exposition of all the things we’d always assumed the Parisians worked to keep secret from us, and respected by the French for its accuracy and unfailing good taste. Unflagging in her energy and appetite for information, she took on the entire country as a research project, publishing The Food Lover’s Guide to France in 1987. The very next year, she was tapped to be the restaurant critic for L’Express, making headlines as the first foreign and female restaurant critic for a French newspaper. She also began translating all of the great food she encountered in her travels around the country into recipe form, testing the results rigorously. Bistro Cooking, released in 1989, remains a classic, a guide to recreating the sorts of food real French people eat and cook. “I like to joke that we came for Walter’s job and we stayed for mine,” she says. But the truth

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Julia Child's art deco-style La Cornue stove is a treasured reminder of her mentor and friend that has a special place in Patricia's home in Provence, known as "Julia's Kitchen."

Below: Patricia Wells' garden in Provence cultivates inspiration as well as vegetables and herbs.

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is, she says, the 18th-century farmhouse in Vaison-la-Romaine she’s sitting in right now provided the turning point. Known as Chanteduc—“song of the owl”—they’d intended it as a weekend escape from the bustle of Paris. Instead it became her touchstone, and an essential part of their life. “As a food writer, the property in Provence really gave me insight into what goes into the food we eat,” she says. “It gave me an empathy and sympathy for the farmer; rather than going to the store and saying, ‘wow, these are really crappy tomatoes,’ I can think now, ‘hmm, this was a hard season, and this farmer did the best he could.’” She’s feeling particularly empathetic at the moment, as she looks out her window to her garden. “My figs, they look like olives they are so tiny,” she says, explaining that a cold, rainy spring set them back. Then she notes some unexpectedly bare patches of earth. “I have to admit that I planted too early. I learned my lesson. The seeds just sit there, like hey, what did you expect me to do? I need sun! I need warmth!” But she finds the payoff for the work she puts into it well worth it. “In our cooking classes, at the end of the week, I ask the students what lesson they are taking home with them. Time after time the answer is the freshness of vegetables,” she tells me. “People are so surprised by how much difference this can make. You can get intense flavor from just three ingredients. When the ingredients are really good, it can be like two plus two equals sixty-five.”

Of course, you don’t have to grow everything yourself to have great fresh food. But even if you let someone else do the growing, finding good ingredients still takes work. One of her biggest surprises upon moving to Paris was the size of the refrigerators. “You have this tiny fridge, and you just have to shop daily.” But what initially seemed like a burden quickly revealed a bright side: She no longer had the common American problem of a large fridge filled with food going bad. Shopping frequently may be slightly easier in France, with its plethora of farmer’s markets and specialty food stores, but Wells stresses that shopping takes work no matter where you are. “I’m constantly thinking, I can get this at this shop; why walk ten more blocks to get it at the other one?” But, in the end, she knows she’ll be happier if she puts out the energy to get the best possible product, rather than working to make a lessthan-great ingredient sing. This attention to detail didn’t grow entirely out of tending a garden; she points to her time in the kitchen with Joël Robuchon, one of France’s greatest chefs, as pivotal. That was in the early 1990s, when she was working on Simply French: Patricia Wells Presents the Cuisine of Joël Robuchon. “Even today, I can hear Robuchon over my shoulder saying, ‘Did you taste it? Did you season it?’ I remember him telling me something he learned as a young chef: Whenever you take out a pan, even if you know it to be clean, wipe it out, because there might be a dead bug or something in it. It’s one of the rituals of cooking, one of the things you just do.” Why do something you “just do,” though? Wells answers: “I remember asking him, ‘Do you really need to strain this three times?’ and he looked at me and said, ‘There’s no one thing that makes a dish; it’s all the little things that go into it.” This level of attention to detail is on full show in The French Kitchen Cookbook, where she advises chilling plates for cold dishes and warming those for hot entrees; where she suggests which Champagne you might want to try with her addictive little hamand-cheese squares; where every plate and bowl photographed comes from her own extensive collection—for, as she says, “It’s not just that all these objects are practical and useful; they add a touch of pleasure to the day-to-day cooking process.”

That’s not to say the recipes are fussy. “I’m always looking for ways to make a dish just as good as possible but easier,” she says— and potentially more affordable. She points to an old favorite of hers, a monkfish bouillabaisse she developed early in her career, that she’s reworking right now. “Fish is extremely expensive here; I have to really work to find a fish dish to serve twelve,” she explains. “So I find myself turning to vegetables first. And I look at the ingredients in this bouillabaisse and there’s fennel, saffron—these are very powerful flavors; the dish doesn’t really need the monkfish.” Wells is not above taking shortcuts, either. “You know, for our recipes [in the cooking classes], we can either make our own puff pastry or buy it; we can either make our own brioche or buy it. We do both. And I’ve never seen people so excited as when their brioche comes out of the oven. It’s not that you have to—or ought to—make your own brioche, but it can be a special occasion event. Cooking should be both the joy of simplicity and of accomplishment.” With that in mind, we’ve excerpted a recipe from the book that embodies all that Wells stands for: freshness and simplicity with an element of surprise. You could, of course, make mushroom duxelles and stuff them into tiny packets of fresh pasta dough, and then make a sauce to bathe them in while they boil. But try her Open Ravioli with Mushrooms instead, simply sautéing garden-variety grocery-store mushrooms (very fresh, please!) in butter, adding some cream, and draping a square of fresh pasta over the top. It’s an incredibly elegant dish based on a produce-aisle staple, and it takes only about thirty minutes. Served on your best plates with a cool, crisp white wine on the side, it’s an easy way to infuse your evening with joie de vivre. 

Open Ravioli with Mushrooms makes 4 servings

Mushrooms amaze me—they give so much for so little. One of the least expensive vegetables to be found in the market year-round, the common button mushroom is a treasure of flavor, texture, aroma. A good fresh mushroom needs little embellishment: Here I simply cook the mushrooms in a touch of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice, then bathe them in a sauce of reduced light cream and stock. Top the mushrooms with a sheet of pasta and a garnish of parsley, and you’ve got dinner on the table.

2 cups homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock 2 cups light cream or half-and-half 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 pound mixed domestic or mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and halved lengthwise 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt 4 5-inch squares of fresh pasta fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish 1. In a saucepan, combine the stock and cream and reduce by half over high heat, 20 to 25 minutes. 2. In a large saucepan, combine the butter, mushrooms, and lemon juice. Cover and cook over moderate heat until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the reduced stock mixture, and stir to coat the mushrooms. Keep the mushrooms warm while finishing the dish. 3. Fill the pasta pot with 8 quarts of water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the coarse salt and the pasta, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until tender. Drain. 4. Arrange the sauced mushrooms in the center of each shallow soup bowl. Drape a sheet of pasta on top of the mushrooms. Garnish with parsley and serve. Wine suggestion: I like white wine with my mushrooms: Try the simple, light, refreshing Picpoul de Pinet from Domaine Félines Jourdan.

photos and recipe from THE FRENCH KITCHEN COOKBOOK, reprinted with permission from William Morrow; Copyright © 2013 by Patricia Wells

Make-ahead note: Prepare the mushrooms and sauce earlier in the day, combine them, and refrigerate. At serving time, warm them while the water boils for the pasta.

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A Sipper to Savor


Port is a great wine to bring people together this holiday season. Enjoyed on its own after dinner or paired with desserts and cheeses, it has a long history as a sipper to savor. To make port, which is a fortified wine, brandy or a neutral grape spirit is added to wine partway through fermentation, which stops the fermentation process of converting sugar to alcohol and allows the wine to retain much of its natural sweetness. The wines are then aged varying lengths of time, depending on the style—vintage, ruby, or tawny. As a sweet wine, it’s a perfect choice to sip alongside the many treats served throughout the holiday season—with descriptors such as “caramel, honey, and dried fruit,” port can’t help but make a match. And chocolate is always among the favorites, especially dark chocolate candies or chocolate desserts. Ruby port is one of few wines that complements milk chocolate. Also enjoy port with nuts, fresh fruit such as pears, sliced apples, raspberries, plums, or fruity desserts— and pumpkin pie. There are also some ports, such as Warre’s Otima 10, which aim to bring a lighter style of tawny port to the table.

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Profile for Lunds & Byerlys

Lunds and Byerly's REAL FOOD Winter 2013  

Lunds and Byerly's REAL FOOD Winter 2013