couscous salad

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Cous Cous Salad with Green Tomatoes, Melon, and Black Olives wit


Recipe published by Food and Wine, contributed by Sarah Bolla

½ cup dried cherries
¼ cup orange juice, room temperature
1 box couscous, about 1 2/3 cups, dry
2 cups water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ pound ripe green cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup cantaloupe, quartered and sliced very thin
½ cup radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup sun-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 cup sheep’s milk yogurt, or whole milk yogurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 oranges, zested, plus 2 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, soak the dried cherries in a 1/4 cup of orange juice to cover. In a medium saucepan, bring water and salt just to a boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat, and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous lightly with a fork to break up any large pieces and set aside to let cool.

In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper. Reserve in the refrigerator. Quarter the tomatoes and slice the melon and radishes paper thin, place in small bowls and set aside. Coarsely chop the olives and then the parsley. Drain the cherries of their soaking liquid. Add the chopped parsley and cherries to the saucepan of couscous, and lightly toss to distribute throughout. Transfer the couscous to a large serving platter and top with the tomatoes, thinly sliced and swirled melon ribbons, olives, and radishes. Fetch the dressing from the refrigerator, spoon over the salad, and serve immediately.

bruleed butternut squash pie

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Dairy-Free / Dessert / Pie / Sweet / vegan

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BRÛLÉED BUTTERNUT SQUASH PIE  *VEGAN // makes enough for two 9′ inch pies or six 4′ inch pies. Filling and crust recipes adapted from Andrew Weil, M.D.

1 box graham crackers
3 tablespoons sesame tahini
6 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon water

6 cups pureed butternut squash, (from about 2 large butternut squash)
1/2 cup cashews 1 cup water
4 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1/2 cup vegan granulated cane sugar
1/2 cup vegan light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup brandy

COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM // makes about 3 1/2 cups
2-14-ounce cans coconut cream, chilled for 24 hours, cream separated
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400° F. Peel the butternut squash and cut into 1/2 inch squares, discarding the seeds and fibrous parts of the squash. Place the pieces over and into the center of a large sheet of tinfoil. Place onto a baking sheet and fold the sides of tinfoil over the squash pieces to cover. Bake for 30 minutes until the squash is soft enough to pierce easily with a fork. Set aside.Meanwhile, in a bowl of a food processor, grind the graham crackers to fine crumbs. Add the tahini, maple syrup, canola oil, salt, and water and pulse just to incorporate. Pour the crumbs into two 9’inch pie pans, or six 4’inch tart shells. Spread evenly over th bottom; then create a circle about 1 inch in to separate the crumbs for the sides from the crumbs for the bottom. Start pressing the outer ring of crumbs evenly up the sides and into the corner (where the side meets the bottom) of the pan. Press the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottom to meet the sides; use a flat bottomed tool or cup to smooth out the bumps. Freeze until crust is firm, about 15 minutes. Keep chilled until ready to fill.

In a blender, pulse the the cashews until finely ground. Add the water and blend on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the baked squash and puree until extremely smooth. Add the cornstarch or arrowroot powder and blend on low speed for 30 seconds.In a large mixing bowl, combine the squash mixture with the sugars and spices. Pour in the brandy and stir to combine. Divide the pie filling equally between the pie crusts. Bake the pies for 50-60 minutes until lightly browned, cracked, and well-set. Remove the pies from the oven, cool, then refrigerate overnight to allow filling to firm up.

To make the coconut whipped cream, scoop the coconut cream layer from the chilled can and discard the coconut liquid or save for later use. With a hand mixer, whip the cream until light and fluffy, about 20 seconds. Add the sugar and vanilla extract to taste.Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the pies with a little granulated sugar and using a kitchen torch, brûlée until the sugar is melted and dark brown.Serve pie cool or at room temperature and top with coconut whipped cream.


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Chewy Chocolate Slice-And-Bakes with White Chocolate-Peppermint


Cookie Swap // Food and Wine Cookie Week  // Makes 36 – 2 ½-inch cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup Valrhona cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated cane sugar + ½ cup for dusting
2 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 egg yolks
3 ounces candy canes, crushed for garnish

Peppermint Ganache
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
2 ½ tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon peppermint extract

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a small and set aside. Using an electric mixer on a medium-high speed, beat the butter, sugar, and molasses in a large bowl until fluffy, occasionally scraping down the sides. Add the egg yolks and beat to just incorporate. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Beat until the flour is evenly mixed, while scraping down the sides. The dough should come together easily with your hands. Divide the dough in half and roll into two 7-by-2-inch logs. Wrap each one in plastic, and gently square off the edges against a flat work surface to form 4 evenly long sides. Chill the dough until firm, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, arrange the racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Add ½ cup of granulated sugar into a small bowl and set aside.
Unwrap 1 dough log, and using a sharp knife, slice into ¼-inch thick squares, lightly re-forming into 2-by-2-inch cookies once sliced. Lay the cookies into the sugar while giving the bowl a swirl. Dust them evenly with the sugar to cover all sides. Slice and dust the remaining and transfer to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart.
Bake for 7-8 minutes, until the edges are set and the centers are still very soft. Let cool for 2 minutes, then gently press a shallow circle into the center of each cookie with your thumb. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Repeat the baking steps with the second log, making sure baking sheets have cooled.

Chop the white chocolate into very fine pieces and place into a small heatproof bowl over a saucepot with warm water on low-heat, ensuring water is not touching the bowl. Stir the chocolate constantly until almost melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the heavy cream in a small microwave proof bowl until it begins to simmer, about 25 seconds. Pour the cream over the warm chocolate, let stand for 2 minutes. Add the confectioner’s sugar to the mixture and stir until smooth, pressing out any lumps with the back of a spoon. Add the peppermint extract and whisk until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Makes about 1 ¼ cups. *Note: If the ganache is too thick, loosen with a ½ tablespoon or more of heavy cream and whisk to combine.

Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of the ganache into the centers of each cookie. Sprinkle with crushed candy cane flakes and serve. Store in an airtight container overnight.

The dough can be made 2 days in advance, keep chilled.

tea cake and clams

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Dessert / Gluten Free / Seafood

Silvana Nardone's Gluten-Free Almond-Streusel Tea CakeSilvana-Nardone's-Almond-Streusel-Tea-Cake

In August, I had the opportunity of baking and shooting a few of Silvana Nardone’s gluten-free desserts featured on Food and Wine. For those of you who don’t know Silvana, she is the cookbook author of Cooking for Isaiah, where she shares tips and stories to cooking delicious gluten-free and dairy-free recipes. One of my favorites from the shoot was this Almond-Streusel Tea Cake. It’s soft, almond-rich crumb is perfect alongside cups of green tea in the afternoon. You can find the recipe here.

For part II, clams.

I just received a copy of F&W’s Best New Chefs All-Star Cookbook! It’s a fabulous new release honoring 25 of the world’s most exceptional chefs and some of their amazing recipes! So I wanted to share a quick one with you. I chose this clam recipe from Southern Chef Linton Hopkins, awarded Best New Chef in 2009. The recipe is a standout—clams that open up into bourbon, bacon, and jalepeño..  They were nuts! So good.

Be sure to check out this new book from Food and Wine! It’s a stunner. I plan to be back here soon with a cookie recipe or two for the holidays. Yum. Thanks for visiting!


PAN ROASTED CLAMS WITH BACON,BOURBON, AND JALEPEÑO // Serves 4  adapted from Linton Hopkins
One 3-ounce slab smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup very finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons very finely chopped garlic
24 littleneck clams, scrubbed and soaked in cold water for 15 minutes

1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup bottled clam broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 jalapeños, thinly sliced into rounds
1 tablespoon very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Crusty bread, for serving

In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate.Add the chopped shallots and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the drained clams and bourbon to the skillet and simmer over moderately low heat until the bourbon is almost evaporated. Add the clam broth, cover and cook until the clams open, 5 to 7 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.

Transfer the clams to shallow bowls. Add the cream, jalapeños, parsley and the bacon to the skillet and simmer until the cream is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Swirl in the butter. Pour the cream sauce over the clams and serve with crusty bread.

huckleberry duck sliders and a green tomato salad

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“So I’m back, to the velvet underground.
Back to the floor, that I love.
To a room with some lace and paper flowers.
Back to the gypsy that I was,
To the gypsy that I was.
And it all comes down to you.
Well, you know that it does,
And lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice.
Oh, and it lights up the night
And you see your gypsy.
You see your gypsy.”
  Stevie Nicks / Fleetwood Mac 

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1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
8 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed, roughly chopped
4 small duck legs,  rinsed and patted dry
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or rendered duck fat
12 3-inch slider rolls, sliced lengthwise in half

Combine the salt, pepper, and thyme in a small bowl. Season the duck legs evenly and generously with mixture, and set them flesh side down into a large resealable plastic bag, over a plate or sheet pan large enough to hold them securely in one even layer. Make sure that bag is sealed and air tight. Refrigerate for 24 hours.Return to duck legs the next day, and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  With a few paper towels, rub off seasoning from the legs, mostly removing the larger bits of thyme leaves. Heat half of the olive oil in a large oven-safe sautoir pan or skillet over medium to high heat and sear the duck legs, fat side down until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the remaining oil to the pan and flip duck legs so that they’re resting in the oil flesh side down in pan. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for two hours, until meat is extremely tender. Remove from the oven and allow to rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes.. Remove the duck legs from fat, may reserve fat for other uses. Pick the meat from the legs, keeping the skin intact. Discard the bones. Reserve duck confit in a bowl until ready to prepare sliders. Serve hot or warm.

Simple Citrus – Huckleberry Sauce // Makes 1 cup
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons water, to loosen
1 pod star anise
2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 cup huckleberries
pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon butter, optional

Juice a lemon, lime, and an orange, reserve juices and zest of lemon in a small bowl. Place the maple syrup, water, and star anise in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the huckleberries, stirring constantly with a spoon until pieces are well coated, 3-4 minutes. Then promptly add the citrus juices and zest, continue to cook for about 10 minutes over medium to high heat until mixture has reduced slightly, and huckleberries have cooked down into a syrupy consistency. Sauce should be somewhat loose. Discard star anise pod, remove saucepan from heat, set aside. The sauce will thicken as it cools, may loosen with additional citrus juice or water. Keep warm or at room temperature to serve.

Fennel and Red Cabbage Slaw // Makes enough for 12 sliders, about 2-3 cups
1/3 head red cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced crosswise
1 large fennel bulb – halved lengthwise, cored and very thinly sliced crosswise, – reserve a small bunch of green fennel fronds
1 serrano chili pepper, thinly sliced, optional
1 tablespoon greek yogurt
2 tablespoons vegenaise, or mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
fennel sprigs, roughly chopped or torn
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, stir the yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, and fennel fronds together until combined. Season with salt and pepper, set aside. In a bowl, toss the fresh red cabbage and fennel slices. Add the dressing, and lightly toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately onto duck confit  and huckleberry slider.

To Finish: You’ll need some slider buns! Dinner or egg rolls work great if you can’t find mini hamburger buns.  — I brushed mine with a light egg wash right before they went into the oven.

To Serve: Warm the buns in the oven. Slice and then place pieces of confit on the bottom bun, spoon over the huckleberry sauce, slaw, garnish with a few chili pieces, and cover with the top bun.



A few persimmon salads

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“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.”
Pema Chödrön


Happy January!!