sweets

Christmas Spritz Cookies

WOOOOOOO got that holiday spirit this weekend who is WITH ME?? Last week was such a wonderfully Christmas themed week at the Lewis house- we took our annual trip to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in the city (it never gets old), saw the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and wandered the Bryant Park Christmas village like a bunch of tourists and it was a blast. THEN, on Saturday we bought our Christmas tree and decorated it while eating these very cookies, and it was all very cozy and warm and happy. Funny story, on last year’s Christmas tree, my siblings and I stuck a picture of Harry Styles’ face over the angel on top of our tree (because he is the true angel), and waited to see when our parents would notice. The days went by, Christmas went by, and NO ONE noticed until the day we took our tree down. Now, we’re already plotting who to make the angel of our tree this year…any suggestions?

Isn’t she lovely!!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been buying Christmas presents like crazy and wondering if you’ll ever have enough, but I doubt there’s a person alive who wouldn’t be overjoyed to receive these babies in a lil box. The recipe I adapted comes from this recipe from the New York Times by Alison Roman, whom I admire very much. I didn’t change a whole lot, aside from using salted butter instead of unsalted because I had run out, and was pleased to discover that the combo of regular salted butter and the recommended teaspoon of salt made for a beautifully sweet and salty combo that I will be making from now on. 10/ 10 would recommend adding this to your Christmas cookie repertoire, and pull it out for your next cookie exchange or office party.

Enough chit chat however, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. Jelly doughnuts.

TWO. Seeing a second trailer for Captain Marvel (I will lose my mind seeing this movie).

THREE. The smell of a fresh Christmas tree.

FOUR. Giving presents feeling better than getting presents.

FIVE. Having a favorite tree ornament.

 

Makes: Roughly 130- 140 cookies (I KNOW!)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Required Tools: Spritz cookie press (I used one from OXO)

Ingredients

3½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Colored sugar, sprinkles for decorating

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 325ºF. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat until the mixture is creamed together and becomes light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Beat until everything is well combined, about 2 minutes.

THREE. Carefully add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, about a minute. Load the dough into the cookie press in batches, and press cookies out onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Top with colored sugar or sprinkles immediately so that they will stick. (I used an egg wash, which you are welcome to do, but I didn’t like the way it made the colors of the sprinkles run so I won’t be doing that again.)

FOUR. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until just golden. Be careful not to overbake, these cookies are small and will go from golden to burnt pretty quickly.

Best enjoyed with a large mug of hot chocolate (regular or peppermint!) xoxoxoxoxoD

 

 

savories

Chicken Tortilla Soup with The Works

Welcome to my first savory recipe in some time huh? I knew we’d meet again. Now, anyone who has ever stayed at my house knows that this is my “company meal” (back me up here guys). Like, you know when you want to show off to your guests so you really pull out all the stops and make something extra impressive? That’s what this soup is all about. I literally love soup so much and this one is the most perfect combination of spicy, warming, filling, and just about the most satisfying lunch/ dinner/ maybe breakfast (idk I don’t judge) in the whole wide world. This masterpiece comes adapted from The Pioneer Woman, and because I am always doing more work than I need to, the thing that makes this soup really special is the addition of homemade tortilla chips and all the toppings you could ever imagine. It’s so important to my family in fact, that when I mentioned to my mom that this was what I was writing about for today, she couldn’t BELIEVE I hadn’t posted this yet. I figure now with the chill of winter in the air it’s the perfect time.

This dish is a labor of love and although there’s a lot of prep work and moving parts, it will be well worth it. Plus, you can feel no guilt in putting your guests to work as sous chefs because the soup is its own reward!

I’m going to keep things here short because we all know what the star of this post is, but quick! Here are 5 things to be happy about today:

ONE. Freshly fried restaurant tortilla chips and pico de gallo (can you tell I’m in a mood?).

TWO. Nights where you have no plans so you take a long shower, do a face mask, and really treat yourself.

THREE. Peppermint hot chocolate.

FOUR. Embroidered flowers.

FIVE. Blue Planet (I & II) and their accompanying soundtracks.

Let’s get souping! Yes, I did make soup a verb, someone call the dictionary ASAP.
Serves: 8-12 people
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

3 tsp ground cumin
2½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion (about 3-4 onions)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 10-ounce cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
8 cups chicken broth
6 Tbsp tomato paste
8 cups hot water
4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoons cornmeal
Corn Tortillas
Diced avocado
Chopped cilantro
Diced red onion
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, mix together cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and kosher salt. Lay chicken breasts on a baking sheet and drizzle each one with olive oil. Sprinkle a teaspoon of the spice mixture over each piece of chicken, then reserve the rest. Bake the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes, then allow to cool completely before shredding.

TWO. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and cook the onions, peppers, and garlic. Add remaining spice mixture and cook until the vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.

THREE. Add the shredded chicken, the cans of Rotel with their juice, the chicken broth, the tomato paste, and hot water. Stir to combine, then cover and bring to a boil.

FOUR. Reduce heat to low and add the beans. In a small bowl, mix the cornmeal with 1 cup of water, and add to the soup. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

FIVE. While the soup is simmering, brush a stack of corn tortillas with olive oil, slice into uniform strips (or wedges), lay out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp. You could also fry them in a skillet of oil on the stovetop, but this just makes more chips in one go. Take 5 extra corn tortillas (unbaked) and slice them into uniform strips and add to the soup.

SIX. To serve, ladle a generous portion of soup into each bowl, then promptly lose your mind adding as much of the toppings as you can fit.

Welcome to the rest of your life where the only thing you’ll want to eat is this soup. XoxoxoxoxD

sweets

Old-Fashioned Gingerbread with TWO Glazes

Hello hello hello! Welcome to life after Thanksgiving, I hope you have all finally gotten your appetites back because I am now in FULL ON Christmas mode!! Up first? Gingerbread. But not the hard, dry gingerbread cookies with rock solid royal icing that make me sad, this is the real deal, from one of my mom’s old cookbooks that has been a holiday staple in our house for as long as I can remember. The recipe produces nine plush squares of richly spiced cake, and it’s a perfect complement to any topping you could possible want. Whipped cream? Check. Caramel? Check. Chocolate Sauce? Check!

EVEN lemon sauce, which is how this cake was designed to be served. However, because I love ~options~, I created a second sauce as well. I look forward to the Starbucks Holiday coffees all year round, and when I thought about the gingerbread latte, it hit me! Coffee glaze, too! It also reminded me of a classic bundt cake that my grandma used to make, which featured one half citrus glaze and one half coffee. The best slice was always the one that had some of each glaze!

Finally got all my siblings together for the first time in MONTHS! A Thanksgiving miracle.

Before you get started, here are some Holiday themed happys for you!!
ONE. The debate on what goes best with a piping mug of Hot Chocolate- marshmallows or whipped cream.
TWO. Getting all your present shopping done early.
THREE. Driving past a car with a Christmas tree strapped to the roof.
FOUR. Houses that really commit to their outdoor light display.
FIVE. Recovering from post-Thanksgiving meal depression when you realize you get to do it all over again in a MONTH!!

Okay now that’s that, let’s GO!

Makes: 9 squares, with approx. 2 cups of glaze
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
adapted from McCall’s Superb Dessert Book

1½ cups all purpose flour
1½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 egg
1 cup molasses
½ cup melted butter
½ cup hot water
2 cups powdered sugar, separated
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp brewed (cooled) coffee
½ tsp vanilla

 

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease an 8×8″ square baking pan.

TWO. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour with baking soda, salt, and all the spices. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg with molasses, melted butter, and hot water until well combined.

THREE. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until smooth.

FOUR. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and gently tap for bubbles. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into nine squares.

FIVE. Divide the powdered sugar into two small bowls. Add the lemon juice to one bowl and coffee + vanilla to the other, starting a tablespoon at a time until you have reached the desirable pouring consistency. Serve each slice warm with a generous drizzle of one glaze or BOTH get crazy!!

xoxoxoxoD

sweets

Raspberry Opera Cake

HELLO! This may be one of the most ambitious projects I have ever attempted, but the results were well worth it I promise you! I mean, just LOOK at it. I have never felt more like a contestant on the Great British Bakeoff and it was so fun. The other day I was scrolling through Instagram as one does, and came across this masterpiece by Zoë François of the blog Zoë Bakes and I immediately began plotting. The recipe below was adapted from that very recipe, with a few minor flavor changes including raspberry jam instead of blackberry, and dark chocolate for the ganache. Be warned, this is not a quick recipe, and there are a lot of different pieces and parts, so prepare to have a whole day set aside for this. Put on your comfiest clothes, put on a movie (I watched Solo while I baked this and simply had a blast) or your favorite cooking music, and have lots of iced coffee at the ready, you GOT this.

This weekend was completely free of obligations and plans, which are my favorite kinds of weekends. I get to tackle so many baking and cooking projects in two days it feels like I might as well move into the kitchen. Saturday’s projects were this cake and some shrimp scampi for dinner, and Sunday brought this fall’s first of many apple pies (recipe for that coming soon, it’s my pride and joy)! Now if only the weather outside matched my fall mood. All in good time I guess!

Before we start, here are your 5 things to be happy about today!

ONE. Hot apple cider with mulling spices.
TWO. Marathoning a movie series on a rainy day.
THREE. Switching out your summer wardrobe for your thickest sweaters.
FOUR. Running through a corn maze as an adult and having just as much (if not more) fun.
FIVE. Homemade breakfast sandwiches with the crispiest bacon.

Serves: 6 to 8 people
Prep/Assembly Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Inactive Time: ~2 to 3 hours

Almond Joconde

3 eggs, room temperature
90 grams sugar
3 egg whites
30 grams sugar
115 grams almond meal
28 grams flour

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

½ cup egg whites (from 3 to 4 eggs)
1 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Kosher salt (a pinch!)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
¾ cup raspberry jam

Dark Chocolate Ganache

12oz. dark bakers chocolate
12oz. heavy cream

Meringue Topping

½ cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

*Fresh Raspberries for topping

 

Almond Joconde Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line an 11″ x 16″ baking sheet with parchment paper, then brush with butter to prevent the cake from sticking. In a large bowl, sift together the almond meal and flour, then set aside.

TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the whole room temperature eggs and the 90 grams of sugar until the mixture has tripled in size and, when drizzled, forms ribbons that hold their shape momentarily before disappearing back into the rest of the egg. It should take about 7 to 8 minutes. Gently fold this mixture into the almond meal mixture.

THREE. In the clean bowl of your stand mixer, whip the three egg whites and the 30 grams of sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold this mixture into the rest of the cake batter. Pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the top is lightly golden. Allow to cool completely.


Raspberry Buttercream Steps

ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the ½ cup egg whites and the 1 cup of sugar until thick and combined. It will be very grainy. Set this bowl over a pot of boiling water (a double boiler situation!), and heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

TWO. Transfer the bowl back to the mixer and beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form and the egg whites are back down to room temperature.

THREE. Once the egg whites are the right texture and temperature, add the butter in, two tablespoons at a time, until completely incorporated. Some notes about this: if the egg is still too hot and the butter starts to melt, put the whole thing in the fridge for a while to cool it down. If, while you’re adding the butter, the mixture begins to look like it’s curdling, don’t panic!! This happens, but if you keep mixing, it will fix itself.

FOUR. Once all the butter is added, continue to mix for another minute, until the frosting is thick and glossy again. Add in the vanilla, salt, and raspberry jam and mix with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated.

FIVE. Dollop the frosting over the completely cooled cake and spread with an offset spatula. It’s important that the frosting is as even and flat on top of the cake as possible, as it will make stacking much easier later. Chill the cake until the frosting is set.


Chocolate Ganache Steps

ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream until simmering, then remove from heat. Add in the chopped chocolate and swirl to ensure that all the chocolate is covered by the hot cream. Allow to sit for 3 minutes.

TWO. After 3 minutes, whisk the mixture together, as the heat from the cream will have melted the chocolate by now. Let the ganache cool before spreading on the cake so as not to melt the frosting.

THREE. When the ganache is cool and the cake is set, spread the ganache evenly over the buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula. Chill until the chocolate is solid.


Cake Assembly Steps

ONE. Once the cake is chilled and completely set, run a hot knife around the edges to loosen the cake and the chocolate from the tray. Wrap the top of the cake with plastic cling wrap, and place another (same size) baking sheet on top of this, with the bottom of the baking sheet touching the plastic wrapped top of the cake. Flip the whole thing upside down so that the ganache side of the cake is now on the bottom. Remove the original baking sheet and peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake.

TWO. Flip the cake back to right side up by placing the bottom of the original baking sheet on top of the cake and turn upside down again, then peel the plastic wrap off the ganache side of the cake. At this point, you should have your cake sitting on an inverted baking sheet (to make it easier to slice) with the ganache on top and the cake on the bottom.

THREE. Using a heated knife (keep a large glass of boiled water nearby to dip your knife in as you slice), trim off any uneven edges of your sheet cake so that all the sides are perfectly straight.

Shot from my snapstory, gotta get those angles you know??

FOUR. Using a ruler to keep measurements exact, turn your tray so that the long side is vertical. Cut the cake into thirds on the long side (the 16″ side), so that you have three long strips of cake. Then, turn the tray so that the long side is horizontal, and slice in half so that you have 6 even rectangles of cake. *If at any point the ganache starts to get soft, place  the cake back in the fridge until everything is set again.

FIVE. To assemble, take a long spatula and place one cut rectangle onto your desired serving tray. Repeat with each rectangle, making sure that the sides all match up and the cake doesn’t end up lopsided. Top the finished cake with even rows of raspberries.


Meringue Topping Steps

ONE. This step is optional, but it looks so pretty so 10/10 would recommend. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy. Mix in the vanilla extract/ vanilla bean paste. Dollop or pipe the stiffened meringue over the raspberries, making spikes and swirls with the back of a spoon. Using a kitchen torch, toast the meringue until golden.

You DID IT!!! I’m so proud of you, it’s been quite a journey!! xoxoxoxoxoxD

sweets

Almond Paste-Cinnamon Rolls with Vanilla Custard (Butterkaka!)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bread mystifies me. Something always goes wrong, whether it’s the rising or the rolling or the texture, it has taken me years to perfect. Today however, my friends, I have done it. It all started when I came across this recipe from the blog Call Me Cupcake, where cinnamon rolls got the ultimate upgrade with almond paste and ALSO vanilla pastry cream. As if cinnamon rolls weren’t incredible enough, they have now become the most decadent treat that goes beyond your morning pastry and coffee.

This is the perfect baking project for a Saturday morning, because keep in mind that it takes a super long time from start to finish. But I always love taking on big projects on an otherwise slow day; I get to make a cup of tea, set up some Netflix, and get into the baking zone! I realize that at this point it’s Tuesday which may feel like a bit of a bummer, but now you have something to look forward to for the weekend to come! This recipe works in steps, with rising time in between them, so it gives you some free time for making the filling and the pastry cream, plus some time to put your feet up and enjoy a cup of coffee and an episode of The Office. I don’t know about you but this sounds like my dream Saturday morning.

So, wherever you are on this Tuesday, hang in there a little longer and dream of these fancy rolls to come. Love, D.

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Makes: 10-12 rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 2.5 hrs
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: ~3.5 hours

Dough Ingredients

1 package (¼ oz.) dry yeast
1 cup whole milk
5 tbs salted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Scant ½ tsp ground cardamom
2¾ to 3 cups all purpose flour

Dough Steps

1. Add the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer (or large glass bowl). Heat the milk in a small saucepan to approximately 98ºF (be careful not to overheat because it will kill the yeast!), and add to the stand mixer and mix to combine.

2. Add butter, sugar, cardamom, and the first 2¾ cups of flour, and mix with the dough hook attachment or with your hands. At this point you can add the rest of the flour if your dough is too sticky, I myself used the full three cups but it may vary! Knead this dough with your mixer for about 15 minutes (20 by hand), until it has become soft and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place, like under kitchen lights or in an off oven, for between 60 and 90 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size. Meanwhile, you can make the custard and almond fillings.

Custard Ingredients

1/3 cup + 1½ tbs heavy cream
3 tbs milk
½ vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 large egg yolk
1½ tbs granulated sugar
1 tbs cornstarch

Custard Steps

1. Add the milk and the cream to a heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Scrape the seeds out of the half of the vanilla bean and add the seeds plus the scraped bean into the milk mixture. Whisk constantly until the mixture is steaming and hot, but not boiling.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, and cornstarch until the mixture is light yellow. Add a little of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture first, whisking constantly to temper without cooking the eggs. You can then add the rest of the milk mixture, whisking until fully combined. Remove and discard the vanilla bean at this point.

3. Return this mixture to the saucepan and turn the stove on to low heat. Stir this mixture constantly until it becomes thick, but do not let it boil!

4. Pour this mixture into a small bowl and press plastic wrap to the surface as it cools, to prevent a skin forming. Set aside. I know this looks like a small amount of custard, but I promise it will be enough, only a little goes into each bun anyway!

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Almond- Cinnamon Filling

1/3 cup almond paste
4 tbs softened butter
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs water (if needed)
1 tbs brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

Filling Steps

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the almond paste, softened butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt. Mix to combine. If the mixture looks dry or difficult to spread, add water here until it can be spread over rolled out dough. Set aside.

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Additional Assembly Ingredients

1 egg, beaten
Demerara or Pearl sugar, for sprinkling

Assembly Steps

1. Roll your dough out into a 10 in. x 20 in. rectangle. Spread an even, thin layer of your almond filling over the whole thing. Roll the dough tightly from one long side to the other, so that you end up with a roughly 20 inch long roll.

2. Cut this roll into 10-12 slices, and place in your desired baking dish, lined with parchment paper or generously greased with butter. Today, I used a large cast iron skillet lined with parchment paper. At this point, cover the baking dish with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for another 45 minutes or so, until the buns have grown in size.

3. Preheat the oven to 390ºF (I realize this is a random temperature, but the recipe was adapted from celsius so this was the best match!).

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4. Poke a hole in the center of each bun using your finger or the end of a wooden spoon, and pipe a blob of custard into each one.

5. Brush the top of each roll with the beaten egg, being careful to avoid the custard, and sprinkle each with some sugar.

6. Bake the rolls on the bottom rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Be sure to check often because they brown quickly, and if they look like they’re browning too much before the cooking is done, cover the tops with aluminum foil to keep from burning.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool fully before reheating to eat. Best with a fresh cup of coffee!

xoxoxoxoxD

 

savories

Penne alla Vodka

Whose idea was it to add vodka to tomato sauce? I guess if you’re thinking rationally, they were already adding wine to tomato sauces, so vodka probably isn’t a far throw? But wow I’m so glad someone did though, because there’s something about it that’s just so good. And while up until now I let my favorite restaurants do the work for me, this week’s snow day seemed like the perfect day to test some out myself. I basically followed this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and added little touches here and there, who needs restaurants when you can do things yourself, am I right??

Once again these weeks seem to be years long, while simultaneously flying by, is that a thing? I feel like I could fit three weeks into one Monday through Friday, but at the same time we’re almost to April already? Time is so odd. Although I will say I am overjoyed at the idea of no more snow for now. Bring on the spring air (and the spring produce, hello rhubarb!!!), I think we all could use a break from the cold. Until then however, serve yourself up a bowl of this classic pasta, with a bit of a spicy kick to clear away the last winter stuffy nose and to give some pep to your step. 

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The view from my Florence apartment; I can’t believe I ever came home!!

I’ve been in a very Italian mood lately, having studied abroad in Florence two years ago, I never really felt like I fully came back, and as silly as it is to say, there’s some part of me that’s definitely still there, and I’ll get hit with a random wave of homesickness for a place that I only lived for four months, but had such an impact on my life. I’m now slowly but surely practicing my Italian and somehow find myself in possession of both a Bialetti Moka Express espresso pot (which I now love more than anything), and a brand new pasta maker that I’m sure you’ll all be seeing a lot of in the near future. Basically what I’m saying is I’m preparing for the day that I can pick up and move back to Italy and never look back, okay? Now that we’re all on the same page here, let’s get to some cooking!

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Makes: 6-8 dinner portions
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45-60 minutes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
½ tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you’re feeling brave)
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (32oz.) crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano tomatoes)
2 16oz. boxes Penne Rigate pasta
½ cup heavy cream
Fresh basil (to garnish), *I didn’t have any on hand so I threw in ½ tsp of dried basil, but found that it didn’t really add much to the dish so I’m not including it here*
Kosher salt + black pepper

Steps

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pan or skillet over medium heat until the butter is melted and the oil has a slight shimmer to it. Add the garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes and sautè until the shallots are soft and the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes.

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2. Add the vodka (keep your head away because I foolishly leaned over and got hit in the face with some vodka steam and I will NEVER make that mistake again!), and allow it to reduce by half before proceeding, another 5 minutes or so.

3. Pour in the chicken stock and tomatoes and give the whole thing a good stir. Now, the recipe I was following doesn’t cook this mixture for much longer, but I like a thicker sauce so I let mine bubble at this stage for about 20 minutes, to allow for some liquid to evaporate and leave a heartier tomato sauce. If you prefer a thinner sauce or you’re in a rush, bring your mixture to a boil at this point and then reduce to bubbling while your pasta cooks instead.

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4. At this point, bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it generously, and cook your pasta according to the package directions. Be sure to save some pasta water at the end before draining, as it can help your sauce some together and stick to the pasta if you need it.

5. Stir in the heavy cream and cook just until the sauce is entirely heated through. Season with salt and pepper to your liking here, and toss in the pasta, mixing to ensure everything is incorporated.

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6. Serve a generous portion of pasta with a sprinkling of chiffonade basil and a dusting of parmesan cheese. As with most of my dinner recipes, this is best served with a glass of wine and some good Italian bread. Buon Appetito!

xoxoxoxoD

savories

Beef Bourguignon

This past week, all but 1 of my siblings were home from college for break (we miss you Clare!), so what better way to welcome everyone home than with a pot of this cozy, warming, perfectly filling french stew? For so long I watched my mom make this stew for special occasions or snow days, and was always intimidated by it, until I realized that the work is very front heavy, and then, since it simmers for about 3 hours, you’re free to do other things. I myself am typing this as I watch it bubble happily on the stove with a glass of the leftover red wine- waste not!! It’s become one of my favorite decadent meals, with tender pieces of beef, buttery sautéed mushrooms, and and a heaping pile of egg noodles to carry it all. As a side note, don’t overlook the sprinkling of chopped parsley at the end, this stew has lots of (delicious) heaviness that really benefits from its bright and fresh flavor.

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We’ve had a lot of strange weather on the East Coast recently, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when I get snow days from work just like at school. Apparently it’s still not even over, and I’m definitely not complaining if it gives me a snow day, I just hope there’s some of this stew still left for me to eat in my PJs all day.

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This is the last time I cook with this many cookbooks and notes!!

This recipe comes from a combination of cookbooks, common sense, and wise words from my mom, that I finally wrote down in one place so that I wouldn’t have to keep checking between 2 cookbooks at all times, which gets risky because I am notoriously forgetful when reading recipes. The cookbooks used are Woman’s Day Famous French Cookery, and The New Basics Cookbook, both well loved books in my mom’s arsenal. They each make some excellent points, but I’ve taken the best parts (personal opinion only) of both and created this recipe that I will continue to make for years and years to come. Pro-tip: make this for future in-laws or important guests because it tastes and looks SO fancy, and they’ll think you were standing over the stove all day. Without further ado, go forth and get cooking!!

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Makes: 8-10 generous servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: ~3 hours
Total Time: approximately 3½ to 4 hours

Ingredients

12 oz. (8 strips) thick cut bacon, diced
5 lbs. beef chuck (also called stew beef), cubed
1½ cups onion, diced
1 tbs kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
3 cloves garlic, miced
3 cups dry red wine (I used burgundy, I also know barely anything about wine so)
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
2 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs salted butter
1 lb. mushrooms, washed and sliced
4 tbs all-purpose flour
24 oz. (2 bags) egg noodles

Steps

1. Sauté the bacon on medium-high heat in a deep, heavy pot (this is the same pot you’ll be using to make the whole stew), until crisp. Remove from the pot and place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease. At this point, dry your beef so that it gets a nice sear. Drain out all but 2 tbs of the bacon grease (but save it in a cup for later) and brown the beef in batches, searing on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side.

2. Once the last of the meat is browned and removed, add 2-3 tbs more of the bacon grease and add the diced onion. Cook on medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the bacon and the beef back into the pot, along with salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, red wine, beef stock, thyme, and tomato paste. Cover and turn the heat down to low, simmering for about 3 hours, or until the beef is tender.

4. Towards the end of the stew simmering process, melt 3 tablespoons of salted butter in a skillet on medium heat, and sauté sliced mushrooms until golden and soft, around 10-15 minutes. Add to the stew and mix until evenly distributed.

5. In a small bowl, mix together the flour with just enough water to form a thick paste, and stir this into the stew. Allow to cook for another 15 minutes or so until the stew has thickened. Make sure to remove the bay leaves now!!

6. While the stew is in it’s last 15 minute stage, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and cook egg noodles according to package instructions.

7. For each serving, start with a generous helping of egg noodles, ladle the stew on top, and finish with some of the parsley. Best enjoyed with bread and a glass of wine. YUM!

xoxoxoxoD