Saturday, March 23, 2013

Passover 2013

This year my mother is doing most of the passover cooking. My grandma is saying the soup pot is too heavy for her, so I'm on matzo ball soup duty, and while I usually jockey for as much space as possible on the dessert portion of the menu, last week's Pie Party pushed me over the edge on sweets, so I'm leaving that up to everyone else this year. If you are looking for some passover menu inspiration, you can check some of my favorites, including some good vegetarian dishes, the basics on chicken soup and a great chocolate sweet potato cake and almond cardamom cake HERE (my essay on passover and slavery from a few years back starts off the post). 

Here are some other good recipe hunting spots:

Epicurious - tons of recipes - it helps to read a few reviews to see which recipes seem like ones you'll like.

NY Times - A long list of passover recipes including sephardic dishes

Smitten Kitchen - Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Torte, and I fully agree with her distaste for matzo meal in anything but matzoball soup....

For those of you gathering for a Seder, I hope you have a peaceful, contemplative and delicious time.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Get Ready, Get Set....Pie Party 2013

Time to get ready for another Pie Party. That's right, all pie, all night. Savory, sweet, traditional or inventive, a bunch of friends will be arriving later today each with a pie in hand and we will dig in and enjoy.

My inspiration for a Pie Party came from my fabulous sister who lives up in Northampton, MA. She held her annual Pie Party last weekend, with over 100 people...tons of pies, awards (like the one on the left) for things like the best pie name, best chocolate pie, best pizza pie, etc... Our party is much smaller and a little lower key...but we love the chance to get creative with pie. So far I've made a blueberry cardamom pie, and some lemon curd for my son's pie invention. I'll post pictures and final recipes post party. 

If you want to get a glimpse, here are some pics from our last Pie Party in 2011....

...and if you are wondering about my infatuation with pie...check out my How to be a Pie Ninja class. 

The stakes are a little higher this year, as my friend James is coming and I have just discovered that in his 45 years, despite having a sweet tooth, the man has never, ever eaten pie! He's a pie virgin, a pie hater....can he be converted to the world of pie?

Challenge accepted!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Orange Pepper Almonds

Candied nuts have got to be one of the most addictive foods around. Crunchy, a little sweet, a little salty and a peppery kick for fun. These are unbelievably simple to make and take 15 minutes start to finish (including the cooking time). They knock a salad up from standard fare to fabulous meal or make for a great snack when friends are stopping by (which is what inspired them this weekend). You can use any kind of nut you like. Starting with raw nuts (not roasted) is best so they aren't being cooked twice. I love the combination of orange zest, honey, salt and pepper, but really you can use any syrupy sweetener you like and any spices: curry, corriander and cumin, cocoa and chipotle or ancho chili, cinnamon and nutmeg etc... have fun with this...the cooking part, and the munching part. 
Orange Pepper Almonds
2 cups raw almonds (you can substitute any nut you like, walnuts are great too!)
1 tablespoon honey (basically a thin drizzle, just enough to very lightly coat each nut)
zest of one small orange
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of raw sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment, foil or a silpat. 
  2. Toss almonds in honey until well coated all over. There should be a thin layer of honey on each nut, but they should not be dripping with honey or it will ooze and burn in the oven. Toss in the orange zest and season to taste with salt and pepper or any other spices you like. 
  3. Spread onto prepared baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 9-12 minutes until honey is bubbling on the edges of each nut and they are lightly browned, but not dark. If you want to use the raw sugar, pull the nuts from the oven at 7 minutes and sprinkle on a little raw sugar and continue baking until done. Cool completely, enjoy. Store in an air tight container (if you can keep them around). 
Here is a savory twist I sometimes make: just sauté almonds in a touch of butter with salt and pepper or any savory spices you like, and add to curry stir fried rice. A little more protein and crunch for a delicious meal.

What does this inspire you to make?