You might be a bit confused. No, I don’t celebrate Christmas. I don’t really celebrate anything. Culturally, I connect more to Judaism and will use any excuse to make matzo balls or latkes or devour a big plate of gefilte fish. I’d consider myself more of a secular Jew, one who connects to the community and its general principles, but I don’t believe in a higher power. At least I don’t give it much thought.
But now that I’ve explained that… let’s get back to Christmas. While I don’t celebrate it, my mother in law does. Sort of. Like my own mom, she loves any reason to have her family home for a big dinner. Nothing religious about it, though there is a beautifully decorated tree and some stockings hanging in her living room. Last year, there were 20 people over for dinner and I had just come across this beautiful Brussels sprout salad from Green Kitchen Stories
. As soon as I looked at the bowl, I knew I was going to replicate it the following Christmas. I mean, look at these ingredients. All of my seasonal favorites… fresh citrus, Brussels sprouts, pomegranates, hazelnuts. So many things to love.
I’m not terribly surprised that some of my favorite recipes from this year happen to be creations from David and Louise of Green Kitchen Stories. This summer, I went a little crazy for their potato salad recipe in their cookbook, Vegetarian Everyday. I feel like a giveaway would be a great way to wrap up 2013… and I just adore their cookbook, so I’m going to give away a copy to one lucky A Thought For Food reader.
Here’s how to enter to win a copy of Vegetarian Everyday:
Leave a comment on this post… it can be anything, but I’d love to hear what your favorite dishes were from this year.
Additional entry: Tweet the following and then come back and leave a comment telling us you’ve done so -
“Check out this Brussels Sprout Salad and giveaway of the @gkstories cookbook over at @myfoodthoughts - http://tinyurl.com/n64rkqa“
Rules: This giveaway will end on Friday, December 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST. I’ll pick 1 winner via random.org and that person will be contacted via e-mail. Two entries per person (one comment, one Tweet) and entrants must have a US mailing address (sorry international friends) and provide a valid email address. Best of luck!
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I recently had to explain to a friend the crazy world of blogging. I’d gone over to her shop to shoot (and “use her” to help me eat) a sweet potato creme brûlée recipe, which I’d prepared for a blog post. More specifically, it was for a virtual baby shower for a fellow blogger. When I told her what this whole thing was for, she gave me a funny look. A virtual baby shower? For a blogger… a blogger you’ve never met? Yup. That’s right. We’re crazy. And awesome.
Most of us started blogs not just because we love food, but because we wanted to share our life experiences, both good and bad, with others. I don’t think any of us expected that complete strangers would read our posts. It was all about keeping our friends and family updated on what’s going on in our lives. But then others found our sites and commented on posts… and a community was formed.
I really have no idea how I first started chatting with Bev (the creator of the site BevCooks). It was through our blogs though that we connected; leaving comments, often humorous, on each other’s posts. I adore Bev’s sense of humor… often laced with sexual undertones. Our banter is pretty fantastic. These brief conversations soon turned into the occasional e-mail to check in to see how the other person was doing. And, earlier this year, I thought I’d reach out to her to see if she’d be up for doing a guest post for the cocktail blog, The Boys Club. She responded immediately, explaining that she wouldn’t be able to do a post at the time… not because she didn’t want to, but because she had been trying to get pregnant. So, no booze for her.
That was in the spring and, not long after, I got word that she was preggers. With twins. A boy and a girl. Yay for happy endings!
So, here we are! A group of us bloggers got together to throw this crazy woman a little online baby shower. Now, if you could keep this a secret, that’d be great… but I spiked these bad boys with bourbon. Sure, you could leave it out if you wanted… but everything’s better with a splash of bourbon in it. At least that’s what I think.
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I forgot that the arrival of winter means that I want to eat everything in sight. Oh, and that I have zero interest in going to the gym. Yeah, it’s not good. Thankfully, between walking the dog and needing to get out to go to a variety of gigs, most of which result in me lugging around a massive bag of equipment and props, I get a little bit of exercise here and there. But, oh gosh, if I could stay inside all day, I would. And it doesn’t help that I’ve done a couple of shoots for a local chocolate company, which means that I’m left home alone with these dark treats that just won’t stop calling my name.
I have been trying to keep the foods in our house on the lighter side. Healthy (though hearty) soups and stews. Roasted root veggies. Big bowls of quinoa. I’ve never been fond of really heavy and fattening dishes this time of year, but I do want to be left satisfied.
Last week, I roasted a head of cauliflower and proceeded to eat the whole thing. It’s not just cauliflower, though. Give me a bunch of beets… I’ll boil and dress them, sprinkle a little goat cheese on top and that’ll be my dinner. Strange, right?
It may not be easy to see the simple pleasure of a bowl of cauliflower, but it has a lot going for it. A bit of sweetness comes through when roasted and just a few additions really make this something special.
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Oh… is Thanksgiving over? Whoops! Well, maybe you’d like these recipes as you gear up for your next holiday feast.
A few weeks ago, I photographed a spread for our local alternative magazine, the Improper Bostonian. Featured are recipes from local chefs Jody Adams, Jeremy Sewall, Tiffani Faison, and Lydia Shire.
Click here to check out some more pics and get the recipes.
You know those foods that leave a lasting impression? The ones where you remember your first introduction… the exact place and time you had your first bite and exactly how it tasted and smelled? Well, I had this with kumquats. Yes… kumquats. It was at the office of a documentary production company I had just started interning with (and would later work for) and one of my fellow interns was always bringing in foods I’d never heard of. One day she brought in a bag of kumquats and I was amused by their shape. What are those? What do they taste like? She was quick to offer me one, explaining to slowly sink my teeth into the peel before continuing into the flesh. I did as instructed. Oh, it’s sweet. Oh, it’s tart! Oh, I want another!
This may or may not come as a surprise, but the inspiration for this sauce stemmed from a cocktail recipe I started working on a few weeks ago. My mother in law, a cranberry sauce lover (she makes it all year long… not just around the holidays), left a container of her’s at our apartment and, after tasting a spoon, I thought it’d be fun to incorporate it into a drink. I wanted to keep it refreshing, so I went with gin, a bit of Aperol, some lemon juice and a little simple syrup to sweeten it up (despite what many cranberry sauce recipes say, the less sugar you add the better. Tart is the way to go).
I made this sauce for our Friendsgiving dinner last weekend and it was a huge hit… not as a side dish, but in the drink we served with appetizers. Either way, folks will be pleased. I mean, how can you go wrong with booze?
I’m not a stuffing fan. I mean, I don’t find it offensive or anything, but it’s not what I go for first. I’m much more into cranberry sauce and green beans and sweet potato casserole (who can resist those crispy marshmallows on top?). As I make my rounds at the Thanksgiving buffet, I’ll load up my plate with every other side, leaving only a small corner for stuffing. I’ve just never been blown away. But bread pudding… that I can get behind. Something about the addition of heavy cream and eggs and cheese makes it more appealing. The idea came to me as I sat down to develop a recipe for the McCormick Go4Gourmet campaign, in which I was asked to prepare something that included ground ginger, kale, shiitake mushrooms, and vegetable stock. You’d think coming up with a dish with those ingredients would be easy… but it wasn’t. I struggled for weeks. It wasn’t until I brainstormed some ideas with Eric that this popped into my noggin. And thank goodness… because it’s changed my view of what stuffing can be.
If I don’t see y’all before then, I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. We’ll be staying in Massachusetts this year, which I’m kind of excited about. It’s exhausting traveling during the holidays… I’m looking forward to staying put for a few days. Of course, I’ll miss my parents and sister and my nieces. But I’m sure I’ll make it down there soon.
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