Short rib ragu may not be the first thing you think of when planning your holiday cooking; humble braises often take a backseat to large elegant roasts. But not much can beat the decadent richness of a properly braised pot of short ribs. Add a thick, mushroomy sauce as Minimally Invasive's winning recipe in the new Food52 Cookbook suggests, and you'll be on your way to making holiday meal history.
'Amanda Hesser' on Serious Eats
For a twist on the standard potato gratin, consider cnevertz's Sweet Potato and Pancetta Gratin from the new Food52 Cookbook. The dish is a simple one with only six ingredients (including salt and pepper), but each element packs a punch. The Gruyère's funky flavor cuts the sweetness of the potatoes and richness of the cream, and the diced pancetta contributes its own salty, sweet, and spicy notes. The most unique part about this gratin, however, isn't in the ingredient list. Instead of shingling the potatoes in a large baking dish, cnevertz layers individual servings in a muffin tin, making for a button-cute finish to this easy side.
Leave it to Food52 to revitalize roasted broccoli. arielleclementine's winning wildcard recipe in The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2 tosses roasted florets with a punchy smoked paprika and garlic vinaigrette. Each branch in the broccoli "tree" soaks up the dressing like a sponge, transforming the humble brassica into a vibrant celebration of the vegetable. The final touch, a handful of salty, rich Marcona almonds, takes this dish into holiday entertaining territory.
If you make anything from the new Food52 Cookbook, make the Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette that dresses this Not-Too-Virtuous Salad. Yes, the salad itself is wonderful (With crisp bacon, crunchy apples, and earthy strips of celery root tucked inside, how could it not be?), but this vinaigrette is more than a little bit magic.
In my family, we have a Christmas morning tradition of feasting on French toast casserole, bacon, and generous pours of maple syrup. Sometimes there are a few grapefruits tucked into plates, but it is mostly a sweet, decadent affair. After making LocalSavour's Warm Custard Spoon Bread from the new Food52 Cookbook, I may make a case for changing up the main course. This spoon bread won the "Best Holiday Breakfast" contest, and with very good reason--this bread is magic. Somehow, the process of whisking together a loose cornbread batter, pouring it into a hot pan, and topping it off with a generous pour of heavy cream yields a three layer masterpiece made of custard, cake, and cornbread. Surely there must be some baking science behind it, but I'm content to leave that to the experts. Magic spoon bread is just fine by me.
For those who are unaccustomed to cheek meat, braising it for tacos does wonders to accessibility because, after all, there's really nothing all that scary about a taco (right?). But odd cuts aside, these beef cheek tacos are pretty incredible. They're marinated in a mole-esque blend of spices, chiles, coffee, and peanut butter with a deep yet mellow spiciness that permeates the cheeks beautifully.
For those with a passion for runny yolks, it doesn't get much better than Shakshuka, that Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce. Of course, there is one way to improve on the dish and that would be by adding chunks of Moroccan merguez à la this: Moroccan Merguez Ragout with Poached Eggs from Amanda Hesser's and Merrill Stubbs' The Food52 Cookbook.
Rice can sit on the sidelines sometimes, acting as a starchy support. Not so in the case of biryani. Baked with all sorts of sweet, heady aromatics as well as deeply caramelized onions, this Shrimp Biryani from The Food52 Cookbook by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs makes a main event out of delicate basmati rice.
Here's a question for you: What do you to with all of those lovely and leafy green and magenta beet tops after you've roasted your beets? If your answer was "chucking them," well then, we've got just the recipe for you. The beauty of the beet is that it's really two vegetables in one: the sweet roots and the hearty green tops.
This is the sort of recipe made for those who entertain frequently—an elegant little pre-dinner snack that wows without requiring all that much effort. These briefly fried canned chickpeas crisp in olive oil scented with lemon and thyme, getting all nice and crunchy on the outside while retaining a bit of creaminess within.
This recipe from Amanda Hesser's The Essential New York Times Cookbook, is straightforward. The chicken pieces are sauteed in butter then cooked with a bit of chicken stock. Only at the very end is the sour cream added. With so few ingredients, the quality of the paprika is paramount. You can use a standard paprika, but I took the Hesser's advice and went with a smoked sweet paprika.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
Our first Cook the Book column of 2011 is going to feature Amanda Hesser's newly released The Essential New York Times Cookbook, a compilation favorite recipes spanning the paper's 160 years. As an intro to the feature we thought we'd bring you a sneak peak: a Bourbon Slush perfect for New Year's Eve.
A recipe that accompanies New York Times food writer Amanda Hesser's essay starts the week off for us here. In it, Hesser writes that eggs are her comfort food and then goes on to detail how this adaptation of a...