'holiday entertaining' on Serious Eats

Jacques Torres on the Bûche de Noël

"It’s something special. I go out of my way to make that." In his new book A Year in Chocolate, Jacques Torres claims that the "bûche de Noël, a classic dessert of the French Christmas season, is quickly becoming an American tradition." Torres has a history nearly as illustrious as the chocolate that is his medium. When asked to describe chocolate, he waxes didactic: it was traded as currency, used as an aphrodisiac, exalted as a food of the gods, and served as a royal exclusive. In his more than a decade as pastry chef at Le Cirque, Jacques created aphrodisiac desserts for royalty, that certainly traded for a lot of currency. In 2000, Jacques opened his own chocolate factory... More

Blogwatch: Goat Cheese Spread

When I saw Jane Spice's blog post about a goat cheese spread with mint and cumin seeds my brain did a double take. "Wait," I thought, "This is not the processed, wine-saturated cheese dip that graces my parent's Christmas table." No, this dip is made with fresh mint and cumin, which helps counter the bite of the tangy goat cheese. As much as I kind of love cheese log and beef stick, this dish has me salivating. And the best part, all you have to do is throw some crackers and maybe a handful of cut vegetables and you've got a quick and easy appetizer.... More

Exploring Eggnog

A veritable icon of the holiday season, eggnog is nonetheless a divisive concoction. To some, it is a welcome tradition, to others, an out-and-out anathema. (The latter being a stance that I attribute to the existence of some rather vile... More

Blogwatch: Mulled Wine

The winter holidays are about a lot of things. Not unimportant among these many meaningful sentiments are two predominant aspects of the holiday season: staying warm and getting drunk. Ursula of Jane Spice, Mulled Wine combines the garnet Christmas red of Burgundy wine with the tart spike of Thanksgiving's cranberry juice, dressed up with the spices of the season. It looks, and must smell, like December in a glass. Plus, it delivers the warm and drunk part with a single punch. Just be sure not to serve Santa—he may be old enough, but a reindeer DUI would seriously interfere with presents.... More

Serious Cheese: Stoke the Holiday Fire with Président's Brie Log

"This would be a great cheese to pick up for last-minute, run-to-the-supermarket-before-it-closes style of entertaining." Photograph by Jamie Forrest Président Cheese, makers of the ubiquitous wheels of "deli" brie, have released a new cheese they're calling the "Brie Log." They claim it has the same taste as their normal brie but comes in a convenient log shape with a 1-inch diameter, which means that its slices fit perfectly on crackers or bread rounds. A cool and interesting twist on an old classic, but how does it stack up? The folks from Président sent me a log last week, just before Thanksgiving. It arrived at my office frozen in a cooler pack and enclosed in a sealed wrapper. The whole thing... More

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