'The Essential New York Times Cookbook' on Serious Eats

Pimento Cheese Spread

This Pimento Cheese Spread from Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cookbook adds a few extra ingredients to the mix, elevating the classic Southern spread with two types of cheddar and homemade mayonnaise. The recipe calls for the cheeses to be ground in a meat grinder, which I'm sure adds a distinctly coarse texture but the large holes of a box grater or even the grating blade of a food processor work just as well. More

Cook the Book: Potato, Ham, and Piquillo Pepper Croquetas

Adapted from Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cookbook, this Spanish accented croquette recipe came from Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite column. Inspired by a glut of leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving, Clark mixed them up with little chunks of salty Serrano ham, smoked Spanish paprika, and sweet-spicy piquillo peppers. Rolled in flour, dipped in egg wash, and finally dusted in breadcrumbs, the little croquetas fry up with a beautifully crisp crust and soft, smoky centers filled with creamy potato dotted with diced ham and pepper. More

Gougères

Depending on how you look at it, gougères can be a cheesy Burgundian specialty that makes for an elegant amuse-bouche or a fancy-pants cheese puff. Either way, they are just about perfect with any sort of apéritif, whether it's a... More

Cook the Book: Smoked Mackerel on Toast

While eating a few slices of baguette spread with this, it occurred to me that the creamy, fishy spread is almost like a fancied-up version of that Jewish deli staple, whitefish salad. The smoothness and smokiness were there, but the olive oil and crème fraiche added elegance and rich, fatty flavor. More

Cook the Book: Cheese Ball with Cumin, Mint, and Pistachios

According to author and recipe tester extraordinaire Amanda Hesser, this cheese ball was introduced in 2003, when the classic appetizer had moved out of the mainstream and into the world of the deliciously ironic. Cream cheese and goat cheese are whipped together with a whole slew of bright, thrilling flavors: lemon zest, cumin, coriander, fresh mint, and thinly sliced celery hearts. More

James Beard's Champagne Punch

Where does the legendary James Beard come into play with this recipe? Well, Beard was known to favor a glass of Champagne as an aperitif, perhaps the bubbly base for this punch had a little something to to with that. It's a classy, heady mix of Champagne (or more economically, prosecco, cava, or any other dry sparkler), Cognac, Cointreau, and orange and lemon juices—the kind of drink that goes down a little too easy. More

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