I am firmly of the belief that a good pie crust improves just about any dish, be it savory or sweet. Flaky, crisp, and butter-rich, such a crust can transform many a ho-hum pile of fruit or bowl of stew into exciting new fare. Take the Vol-au-Vent from Yvette van Boven's Home Made Winter, for example. A simple stew of root vegetables, mushrooms, and crème fraîche is good enough on its own; but place it inside a buttery pastry shell, and it turns into an elegant vegetarian main dish. Brightened up with a smidgen of red onion compote, and you'll have a real winter winner on your hands.
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Blinis make for an excellent nibble before dinner; the yeasty mini pancakes can cradle just about anything from cheeses to jams to luxe caviar. A sliver of smoked salmon and a dollop of mascarpone cheese may be at the very top of that list. Add roasted beets, star anise, and pomegranate seeds as Yvette van Boven does in Home Made Winter, and you'll have a gem of a dish on your table.
Homemade cheese can sound like a daunting proposition--after all, most of the cheese we buy at the store has been aged, molded, or dried for months before it enters our mouths. Making a cheese like gouda or gorgonzola takes proper equipment, patience, and practice. Fresh cheeses like chevre and ricotta, however, are little more than drained curdled milk. Making these from scratch is easy, rewarding, and many times better than most of their store-bought kind. In Home Made Winter, Yvette van Boven offers a recipe for her own particular fresh cheese, called Brousse.
Salads are a staple of many a resolution-conscious eater come January. And while eating more vegetables is always a healthy choice, meal after meal of barely-dressed plates of carrots and mixed greens will get old quickly. Yvette van Boven's Speckled Salad with Quinoa, Leek, Bacon, and Chervil in her new Home Made Winter hits many health points (Vegetables! Whole grains! Spinach!) while still including enough pleasurable bits (Bacon! Wine! Bacon!) to prevent boredom.
Not much beats a warm scone slathered with butter and marmalade—flaky, rich, and sticky—for a breakfast treat. In Home Made Winter, Yvette van Boven takes this breakfast staple and adds her own funky twists. Instead of simply adding the orange marmalade to the hot scones at the table, she incorporates the preserve into the dough as well as a bright glaze and creamy mascarpone-orange cream. The marmalade's bittersweet flavor is complemented by the richness of the butter and cream, and its floral character is amplified by a generous dose of ground cardamom throughout.