The only good thing Verizon has ever done for me was sending me an ex-chef to fix my internet. When Jay, the ex-chef technician, told me he was making these Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Coconut Honey Caramel Balls for Thanksgiving, I knew I had to as well. Here’s the recipe…(drops the microphone).
Everyone knows the song “The Girl From Ipanema” with the line “when she passes each one she passes goes, Ahh…”. That would be the same reaction Brigadeirao, a Brazilian Chocolate Fudge Flan would get if it were sashaying down Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janiero. It’s HAWT!!!
I wasn’t looking for this dessert when I was cruising Pinterest in search of a chocolate version of the Pudim Molotov dessert I made this past spring for a brunch party. It found me. When I saw photos of Brigadeirao, I went, “Ahh…”. It looked dense, rich, and uber-chocolatey. I knew I had to make it.
Learn from your past mistakes and your past wins. When I mentioned I was working on my Thanksgiving menu for 2014, a friend asked to share what I was thinking of doing so he might gain some inspiration for his menu. I always write a menu, but I don’t know what I actually made until after I made it. So here’s what I actually made for my double Thanksgivings for this and year and the past fourteen years (I’ve been adding to this post every year). I could have gone further back, but enough already!
(UPDATED for 2021) VG = vegetarian, V = vegan, and GF = gluten-free
Thanksgiving 2021 APPETIZERS
Shrimp toast scotch egg with scallions, jicama, carrots, sesame seeds, and hand-cut tiny breadcrumbs with sweet soy chili sauce
Scotch egg with spinach, shallots, celery, garlic, oats, quinoa, flaxseed, poppy, thyme, rosemary, and a choice of olive tapenade or maple mustard sauce VG
Roasted butternut squash balls with bocconcini topped with toasted pistachios, and a chili, mint & lemon oil VG
Roasted grapes with bocconcini topped with toasted pistachios, and chili, mint & lemon oil VG
Roasted garlic feta spread with TJ’s onion crisps VG
Roasted eggplant with tamarind fig jam in Kataifi pastry topped with sesame seeds and served with chermoula sauce VG
“Allium-inati” Stuffing with roasted shallots, leeks, and fennel, sauteed onions, celery, chestnuts, prunes, bread, and eggs VG
Apple Cider Caramel Walnut Smashed Sweets V GF
Grandma’s Rice VG GF
Jax Mac & Cheese VG
Craig Claiborne’s Red Cabbage V GF
Creamed Rutabagas VG GF
Asparagus with Sautéed Green Tomatoes and Garlic V GF
Creamy Garlic Chive Mushrooms VG GF
Cranberry Sauce V
Spicy Rhubarb Cherry Chutney V
Canned jellied cranberry V
Espresso Chocolate “Flan-fait” VG
Cupboard Harvest Pandowdy with ginger creme fraiche and pie crust straws VG
Pumpkin Roulade with marscapone ginger filling VG
Chocolate caramel pecan cheesecake bites VG
VG = vegetarian, V = vegan, and GF = gluten-free
Thanksgiving 2020 (COVID aka weird Thanksgiving where I made a lot of dinners to go) APPETIZERS
Baked goat cheese with roasted grapes, roasted shallots, toasted hazelnuts, olive oil and a sprinkle of tarragon VG
Jamon with tres leches cheese and leatherwood honey
Endive with country pate, Dijon mustard, green tomato chutney, and microgreens
Shiitake Mushroom & Leek Stuffing VG
Candied Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries & Apples
Grandma’s Rice VG GF
Jax Mac & Cheese VG
Creamed Rutabagas VG GF
Brussels Sprouts with toasted almonds, crisped shallots and currants plumped with Pedro Jimenez sherry and sherry vinegar V
Cranberry Sauce V
Chocolate Semifreddo with cherry sauce and candied almonds made by Richard. VG
Cupboard Harvest Roasted Pear Hand Pies topped ginger sugar with crème fraiche VG
Chocolate & Caramel Dipped Granny Smith apples coated with walnuts, almond, toasted coconut or peanuts VG
Write on the blackboard 1,000 times: Food Gifts Do No Save You Money. Drill it into your head and give up this crazy notion. Labor + ingredients + packaging + delivery all come with a dollar value.
Don’t get me wrong, I love giving food gifts, but I never pretend that it’s less expensive than buying a gift. I just give them freely because that how I roll.
Ahhh, memories… the year my mom decided to sponsor a Save-the-Children child and not buy Christmas gifts for anyone, except her kids. Rather than give them a handwritten note with the simple explanation that their gift went to feeding a starving child, she decided it would be nice it give them something homemade as well. Think of the money we’d save!
We made gifts. We made pumpkin bread baked in coffee cans, rugelach, almond crescents, brownies and sugar cookies galore. For some reason, she decided that she would make her famous Cheese, Onion, and Tomato Pies based on Anna Thomas’s recipe in The Vegetarian Epicure (Random House) as well. I can still picture her crazed eyes as she stabbed pounds and pounds of onions and grated “all that goddamned cheese”, by hand. This was in the pre-food processor days. (Do you remember where you were when you got your first food processor?)
When someone says turkey meatloaf or turkey meatballs, I swear I can see a little puff of sawdust fly out of their mouth. Ground turkey is lean people! LEAN = DRY. Yeah, yeah… it’s supposedly good for you… whatever! But it’s no fun to eat if you have guzzle a can of lube to get it down your throat before eating it—that’s disgusting! Did I write that?
You have to add moisture back into ground turkey and that’s what I did by adding apples, cheddar cheese, and sautéed vegetables in my gluten-free turkey meatballs aka Fall Fowl Balls. I rolled them in crushed nuts for extra texture.
I was riffing off the classic pork sausage cheddar balls which I learned about a few years ago when I was looking for round food for my International Men With Balls brunch that I hosted when Obama was inaugurated for the second time. They’re normally made with Bisquick, but I made them gluten-free then and continued the theme here. Here’s the recipe for my Gluten Free Sausage, Cheddar & Chive Balls.You can substitute flour for potato starch if you want in this recipe. You could also use turkey sausage for this recipe and skip the spices depending on how delicious the turkey sausage meat you get is.
The only thing that’s better than the smell of freshly baked pie is the smell of eighty freshly baked pies. If you can see, smell, and eat one pie and describe that experience as great, orgasmic, heavenly, etc, then what are the words you would use to describe being able to see, smell, and eat eighty pies? I’m asking you because I really don’t have the words, but I do have the experience.
Ken and I hosted our most delicious event, Pie Party Potluck LIVE!, for the fourth year on October 3rd, 2015. It was held at the new campus of the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in Brookfield Place. The concept is simple. Food bloggers and food professionals all make and bring pies and we eat as much as we possibly can. We pack up the leftovers and take them home and continue to eat pie as long as our pie stash lasts. I made two pies, one savory and one sweet for pie party.
It’s not often that a person shimmies up to the barbecue buffet table and exclaims, “My that’s a might pretty cole slaw you’re serving today!”. This Pistachio Cherry Red Cabbage Slaw is a head turner. It also makes the transition from a summer grill side dish to a fall grill side dish, nicely. Slaw is for summer and red cabbage is for cozier times. Put some sparkle in your coleslaw. The green of the pistachios bounces against the purple slaw and catches your eye. The tangy of the slaw bounces against the tart dried cherries and catches your tongue.
I call my Southern-style potato salad, confetti because it’s colorful and tastes like a parade is happening in my mouth! My taste buds are like little cheerleaders marching, screaming with delight and doing cartwheels with every bite! There’s something about the combo of potato chunks, mayo, American mustard, sweet relish and hard boiled eggs that comforts me and makes me feel cozy and loved. Plus, you get a good dose of veggies, so it must be healthy-ish.
The 4th of July screams potato salad, but did I make it this year? No. My host and co-party chair made German potato salad for our Independence Day 2015 barbecue. I shelved this recipe until our Labor Day “End Of Summer” celebration. We threw a small shindig for eighty guests. We had so many people we made two different potato salads because we could!
I’ll admit I felt a twinge of sadness as I prepped this salad. I hate summer so I was not verklempt over the end of the hot, humid weather because I HATE IT. GOOD RIDDANCE! I had a bit of a pang over the tater salad. When you live in a place that has four clear seasons like New York, the end of summer means the end of making potato salad at what some might call a sensible, reasonable time of year. It’s the end of the time when making and eating potato salad with abandon goes unquestioned, unchecked. People might look at you funny if you make potato salad in the dead of winter, but if I ate it every day in the summer, nary an eyelash would flutter.
Leave your skinny jeans at home, it’s time to eat pie!
When I saw the slew of pies at the first Pie Party Potluck LIVE! we hosted back in 2011, I thought to myself, “This is the BEST EVENT EVER!”. Now, four years later, I love it when the food bloggers say it’s the best event ever. What’s not to love about making, bringing and eating pie with fellow pie enthusiasts? Feast your eyes on the pies we’ll be eating at Pie Party Potluck LIVE! 2015.
Pie Party Potluck LIVE! is an exclusive event for food bloggers and culinary professionals only. Each attendee will bring a homemade pie to share. If you fit this category and would like to come to Pie Party Potluck LIVE! please get on the waitlist for this sold out event.
The lyric for the song “Cry Me A River” should be, “Cry Me A Liver”? “I cried a ‘liver’ over you.” I have shed a tear over a big bowl of raw chicken livers because, let’s face it, chicken livers are pretty gross to touch and deal with. Yet, they are delicious. So delicious that I must delve into the bloody, gooey bits and prepare them.
Faced with a hankering and a need to make chopped liver for my nephew, Kaden’s baptism party, I decided to devise a recipe where I handled the chicken livers the least.
I skipped the deveining and defatting of the raw livers. I find it’s much less off-putting to sink my hands into cooked livers. After slow cooking the onions, I removed them from the pan and cooked off the chicken livers. Once they cooled, I pulled them apart and removed the grisly bits. Then, I chucked them in the food processor with the other ingredients, seasoned them to taste and it was done. The garnish of gribenes, chopped hard boiled egg and dill makes for a striking presentation on an otherwise unattractive dish, but you could skip them.
Since my Trinidadian sister-in-law was amongst the family visiting sweltering New York City this week for my nephew Kaden’s baptism, I decided to make her favorite beverage, Sorrel. It’s an iced tea made from hibiscus flowers. I added mint and lime to give a bit of a mojito treatment and am now calling it Hibiscus Mint Limeade.
Depending on where you are from the name changes. According to Wikipedia, the drink is called Rosella in Australia, Agua de Jamaica and/or Flor de Jamaica in Latin America, Arhul ka phool in India Karkadé in Egypt, Sudan, Italy and Russia, Chai Kujarat in Iraq, Chai Torsh in Iran, Gumamela in the Philipines, Bissap, Tsoborodo or Wonjo in West Africa, Sorrel in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, Red Sorrel in the wider Caribbean, and other names in other regions, including the U.S., where it is sometimes known as simply Jamaica.
Is it lazier to use dried split chickpeas to make hummus so you don’t have to slip the skins off each whole chickpea? Or is having to soak and boil the split chickpeas considered more work? What if you have a pressure cooker?
Whatever method you use to get skinned chickpeas, do it. Your hummus becomes downright sexy when you do.
Lora Wiley inspired this recipe when we had caramelized onion hummus at her place. Here is her recipe. Paul fell in love. She uses butter to caramelize the onions, he said it tasted like meat. Meat dip is dude heaven.
I made mine with crisped onions instead so it’s a little less rich, but quite tasty and vegan. I added fried sage on top and some sumac powder to add color and a citrusy zing!
“Stuff ‘em” is my usual stance when I invite guests over to a meal at my house. You will never leave hungry. You will be fed to the point of bursting. You may need to nap between the meal and the dessert. Lately, I’ve been easing up at tad when it comes to dessert. My guests are usually ready-to-explode from the appetizers and main course. To keep them from running, screaming, “I can’t! I just can’t!”, from my house, I’ve been making much lighter desserts.
This past Saturday, Marlena Spieler and I whipped up a brunch of epic proportions. The menu is below. A couple of guests took between-courses naps. They woke up to this ethereal and light Pudim Molotov with Matcha (Green Tea) Cream and Caramelized Black Sesame Almonds. I’d had a version of this dessert for the first time at a Meyer Corporation press dinner at the new, hot Portuguese restaurant, Lupulo, that Julia Stambules invited me to. It was love at first bite. I’d never heard of an egg white flan! So lovely and light. It reminded me of Ile Flottante, but baked in a mold as opposed to in freely formed shapes or quenelles.
Do Indians host BBQ’s like Americans do? I feel like I should know the answer to this question, but I honestly don’t know. I will find out and give you an update.
I’ve only ever been invited to a BBQ where my hosts cooked on a tandoor once in my life. It was in the 90’s, in Australia. They were not of Indian descent or even Aussies. They were from New Zealand, but they loved to cook so they had a tandoor built in their backyard and their tandoori chicken was pretty damn good. They did not serve coleslaw of any kind.
Recently, I was looking for suggestions of dishes that work well at a BBQ and can sit outside in the heat. My taste buds perked up when my friend George told me about this Indian Spiced Coleslaw.
Going to the Summer Fancy Food show is like taking your taste buds on Mr Toad’s Wild Ride—Tasting The Globe Edition. The Javits Center is packed with 2500 vendors from all over the world all vying for you to try and buy their specialty food wares. You can go from the finest Venezuelan chocolate to oddly delicious blue cheese infused salami to dried African baobab fruit to black garlic vinegar to camel milk. Yes, this year I had camel milk! You cannot taste everything or you’ll be disgusted, bloated and miserable in no time.
My system is to go all three days for a few hours and eat only savory things for first part of the day and then switch to only sweets. I don’t waste my limited stomach real estate on too many carbs either. This year, I ate my weight in fine pork and even finer cheese products. It was GLORIOUS! Often it’s the same old stuff from year to year, but there are always a few items that stand out:
Uh Oh the Ro Ro’s… The food snob in me did NOT want to even like Ro Ro’s Baking Company’s Cinn-A-Rolls, but D-Zamn!!! They were the cinnamon buns of my dreams. Often they’re too hard, too dry and made with cheap ingredients, but these were standouts especially for a frozen product. You pop them in the oven and you get soft, buttery, syrupy, divine cinnamon rolls. I understand they’re available at Whole Foods — we definitely did not need to know that… They also make dinner rolls that rocked too.