To those who celebrate Christmas, merry Christmas!  To all, my best wishes and hopes for great celebrations, being together with friends and family, and a festive and bountiful holiday. Thanks for reading this blog and to those who take the time and care to comment, thanks for the great conversation all year long!

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I’ve published this photo and this link in the past but it bears reposting, especially as today I will begin the annual Christmas morning pork pie and think about my Uncle Bill. From England with Love, published a few years ago in O magazine, is not only an ode to my Uncle Bill and his mother’s Christmas morning pork pie, it’s also about my beginnings as a writer about food and cooking, a time when I’d never heard the term forcemeat and had no idea what an emulsion was. The slice above is not the recipe Bill’s mom, Elizabeth Morgan, used, but rather a country pâté, with dried cherries and pistachios, enclosed in the pate dough recipe, both from Charcuterie.  I think I will do this year’s version in a terrine mold.  My 15-year-old is Read On »

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Congratulations on the holiday cookie recipe challenge to Bryony DuPont of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, whose spice cookies wins the drop cookie category, and to Robin Cohen of Arlington, Massachusetts, author of the dovesandfigs blog, who’s Rugalach wins the cut cookie category.  I assure you that my affection for Cleveland Heights and my affection for people who cook with goosefat (see Robin’s current post), did not weigh into the verdict (cookies above, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman, thanks Donna!). The cookies were executed and evaluated by Marlene Newell and several bakers at her site CooksKorner: Dana Noffsinger, Kim Shook (she has public virtual recipe book here), Kerry Beal, aka The Chocolate Doctor, and Anna Serginson.  Thank you all!  My able assistant Emilia Juocys, also a primary tester, tabulated all results on a spread sheet.  Cookies were Read On »

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I was speaking with my dear friend Lee Jacobs over a pint of Great Lakes Dortmunder at our local pool hall yesterday and she told me after much deliberation, she’d decided on asking for Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Greenspan, of course, is prolific cookbook author (and blogger) who has focused in the past on baking and sweets, but here she both broadens and personalizes her approach, which may account for the gangbuster start for her book.  Dorie, who’s so admired she has entire blog groups devoted to her work, is always excellent and this is a gorgeous well done book. Lee had asked me what books I would recommend.  Here are a few of the books that have caught my attention this season. For Read On »

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My number one pick for a great inexpensive gift to give a cook is a Japenese mandolin, aka a Benriner (the brandname). This is a tool virtually all cooks own, used for all manner of slicing, julienning and brunoising. Gnarly sweet potatoes become gorgeous chips. Under 20 bucks—can’t beat it. My most used small appliance is the hand blender, or immersion blender, a fabulous tool for pureeing soups and sauces, making vinaigrettes and mayos. Wouldn’t want to be without one. (The above link is to an inexpensive CuisinArt blender, here’s the KitchenAid version nearly 3 times as expensive but some feel it’s worth it.) If you’re really in to cooking, these round cutters come in handy for all kinds of baking, cooking, plating needs. I recently bought this fat separator and love it—simple ideas work Read On »

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