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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Don’t Forget the Side Dishes for the Turkey!

Of all the holidays we celebrate, Thanksgiving is the one most defined by food. And, for most of us that food is based on tradition. My own family looks forward to a big bird with crisp golden skin served with rich pan gravy. They know there will be homemade cranberry chutney, and since our family DNA harbors deep Southern roots, cornbread dressing is a must at our table. However, when it comes to the sides—those special recipes that play supporting roles in this holiday menu—my clan is open to new creations. 

I often include new accompaniments like the delectable one featured here. A glorious mélange of the season’s robust vegetables, including butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, brown mushrooms, and leeks, this dish pairs fabulously with the traditional bird and dressing. The vegetables are sautéed, scented with rosemary, then sprinkled with toasted pecans, and Parmesan.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Favorite Cookie—Finally the Right Recipe!

For more than half a dozen years I’ve bought decadent chocolate and almond-studded shortbread cookies from one of the bakers at my local farmers’ market. Although I’ve used all sorts of ploys to get the recipe, the merchants have shared only small tidbits about the bars. “Yes, they do have extra dark chunks of chocolate in them,” they confirmed, and “Yes, there is a hint of sea salt,” they have told me. Beyond that, they have politely avoided revealing any other tips.

I’ve made these bars countless times, always with good results, but never quite like the original. I even printed a recipe for them in my syndicated column, and have included them in several cooking classes. Finally, after several recent tries, victory was mine. I simply switched from bittersweet to 70% dark chocolate and lowered the amount of sugar!

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Comforting Soup to Share with Others

This past weekend as ominous warnings about Hurricane Sandy were reaching the air waves, I found myself at a book-signing at the farmers’ market in our small New England town. An engaging local bookstore owner had set up a table for me where copies of my recent cookbooks were displayed. Although the storm was still two days away, dark clouds and intermittent rain were discouraging signs that sales would not be brisk. But the bookseller and I were both wrong!

The town was teeming with visitors (many from the East Coast and the Midwest) since it was Amherst College family weekend, and the local folks too were out in full force. Everyone wanted to stock up on food supplies for the days ahead. As people stopped by, concerned about what to cook to have on hand in an emergency, they eyed my book, Sunday Soup, and asked if I could suggest an easy recipe they might prepare from it. Quickly I suggested Fabulous Fall Roots Soup—a humble creation made with carrots, leeks, and rutabagas.This scene was repeated so frequently that I began to refer to this dish as the “storm” soup.

At home I prepared a batch myself as Sandy approached, knowing that this potage could be heated up