Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chocolate-Pumpkin Trifle with Spiced Cream

Easy yet elegant, this combination of two of my favorite cakes - chocolate and pumpkin - is a perfect pairing of two classic flavors which combine to develop a sophisticated and nuanced holiday dessert. Those who have never had chocolate and pumpkin together are often delightfully surprised at how delicious the two are combined. Accented with a sprinkling of Grand Marnier and layered with ginger and cinnamon spiced cream this is not only a beautiful dessert, but a very popular one perfect for the crowd at your next holiday party.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Muffins - Two Incredible Versions

These sweet potato muffins are a serious game changer. Dense, rich, fragrant, and oh so incredibly flavorful! They are absolutely perfect when you have guests in for the holidays and are sure to become a family favorite as they are quickly becoming at our house!

I first had these muffins during our Spanish Tapas Night a few weeks ago. My friend Jon, who is an incredibly talented Boston based DJ by night and a creative printer and designer by day (he gifted us with the most beautiful wedding invitations last year - really, my photos don't do his work justice), is also a great cook who is especially gifted when it comes to Southern food. I would love to show you the adorable mini muffins Jon made for dessert - but unfortunately they were gobbled down before any photos were taken. I may, ahem, have had a hand in the aforementioned gobbling.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Cake with Cranberry Gelee

This dense pumpkin cake combines the best of regular cake and pumpkin pie to create a moist, creamy consistency with a texture reminiscent of cheesecake or fudge. The cranberry gelée adds both a tart edge and a glossy, vibrant color to the cake. The optional toasted chopped pecans send this cake over the top with a rich, buttery flavor and a crunchy texture. This showstopper is deceptively simple to prepare and guaranteed to disappear quickly around your holiday table.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Roasted Parsnips with Cranberries and Orange

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of my favorite time of year for holidays. Not only is it the lead-up to my favorite holiday of all - Christmas (be sure to enter my holiday giveaway) - but it boasts some of the best seasonal cooking of the year. Thanksgiving is one time of year in particular when tried and true family recipes come out in full force. Americans plumb the depths of our collective holiday consciousness to recall favorite side dishes, desserts, and traditions.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Enjoy a Mixed Metaphor - It's a Fab SBD Giveaway!

CLOSED - The food blogging community is full of smart, sassy, and irreverent writers as well as inspiring, creative and skilled cooks. I am so grateful for the warm welcome you've given me into your ranks! We all know how tough it is to balance multiple projects, deadlines, and responsibilities but your comments and friendship make it all worth it and then some.

As a special thank-you to all of you out there in Cake Land I've teamed up with Survival by Design creator Jenn Adler, the sassiest lady of them all, to offer you this fab giveaway.  Jenn is a huge inspiration to me and apparently I returned the favor by inspiring Jenn to cook!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sampling Spanish Cheese & Scott's Emergency Sangria

What's a person to do when they are asked to attend a potluck and they don't know how to cook or simply don't have time? Most of us when we fall short on time or inclination tend to go to the nearest liquor store and bring a bottle of wine. In my world there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! But you know what would go great with that wine? Some cheese. Awww... yeah... cheese, baby! You know you love it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chorizo Paella

Now that I'm back from a whirlwind trip to Miami for a dear friend's wedding I am able to devote a little more time to the amazing Spanish night my friends and I shared earlier this month. The catalyst for this entire event was my friend Nahir's confession that one of the two dishes she can make with confidence is paella.

Paella is a regional Spanish dish from Valencia along the Mediterranean coast. The name comes from the Catalan word for pan (derived from Latin) and may be made with meat (paella Valenciana), seafood (paella de marisco), or both (paella mixta). Originally a rustic country dish paella was commonly made with ingredients on hand - generally chicken, rabbit, snails, and vegetables. Along the coast, of course, shellfish and fish dominated in the dish.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Orange and Red Onion Salad with Olives

This colorful and refreshing orange salad was one of the biggest hits at our Spanish themed dinner. Made by my sweet friend Ann she was initially hesitant about the combination of onion and oranges. She needn't have worried - nearly all the dinner guests asked for the recipe!

Oranges have been cultivated since time immemorial. Native to China and southeast Asia, oranges were brought to Europe through ancient trade routes via Persia and have been grown there since at least the time of the ancient Romans. Seville oranges have been cultivated in Spain (in the city which gave that variety its name) since the 12th century and were brought to Florida by the Spanish in the 15th century. Another common Spanish orange variety is the Valencia orange which was brought to the US in the 19th century. Today oranges are a common fruit the world over. In the US citrus fruits are often considered to be a sweet treat over the winter at which time we tend to eat a lot of Navel oranges, which are in peak production from January-March, making this salad an excellent addition to your winter menus.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bleu Cheese Crusted Stuffed Roast Loin of Pork - with Photo Instructions

Spanish tapas are small plates or snacks traditionally served in wine bars. The most commonly repeated bit of history is that they originated in the form of a small slice of bread placed over a glass of sherry to keep fruit flies from going in for a drink. Since the word tapas comes from the verb tapar meaning "to cover" this rather makes sense. Over time either diners or bar owners started putting slices of salty Spanish ham on top of the bread. The ham appeased the diners hunger, but also made them thirsty for more sherry! As with most gastronomic efforts the results only got more elaborate as time went on eventually resulting in the creative and delectable dishes we see today. Some classic tapas include olives, Manchego cheese, Serrano ham, chorizo, anchovies, and Spanish style tortillas (omelets usually containing sliced potatoes and other ingredients).

Going to tapas restaurants with friends is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening. The sangria and conversation flow easily as we sample one delicious small plate after another. My good friend Jon and I have spent many a happy evening together at Solea or CuchiCuchi, two local tapas restaurants. When my friend Nahir informed me that she could make a good paella we came up with the idea for a Spanish themed cooking night.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Squashlove Blog Hop: Delicata Squash and Apple Sausage Pie

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing
Oh wasn't that a tasty dish to set before the king? 

Back in October I made a squash dish that didn't work out quite the way I hoped. Fortunately it sparked the idea for another dish featuring delicata squash and other seasonal flavors. Once I found out November's #lovebloghop would feature squash I knew I had to include this recipe in the hop. It's a great mix of savory flavors with a touch of sweetness from the apple and sausage.

A tasty dish for the king (or queen!) of the kitchen

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cauliflower Leek Soup - A Winter Chill Chaser

As the days grow shorter and the colder weather begins to seep through the windows and into my bones I make pot after pot of soup. This luscious cauliflower and leek soup is one of my favorites. Possessing a milder onion flavor than either white or yellow onions leeks are one of my favorite aromatics as they don't overpower the other flavors in this soup.

As a child I only ate Mom's chicken soup, tomato soup (with a grilled cheese... mmmm), and New England clam chowder. I don't recall the first time I had potato-leek soup but I do remember how magical I thought it was. After tasting that creamy, smooth, luscious soup pureed vegetable soups became some of my favorites. I distinctly recall one afternoon living in Bologna when the Mercato delle Erbe, the city's central produce market, was simply overflowing with leeks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spiced Lentil and Roasted Squash Detox

Lentils make for a delicious, versatile dish that is super easy to prepare, is a good source of plant-based protein, low in calories, and perfect for detoxing from too much Halloween candy. The acorn squash also has plenty of fiber and is a good source of vitamin C and potassium (great for balancing out too many peanut butter cups). So when you're stuffing millions of tiny candy wrappers in the trash, or just want a healthy meatless dinner, reach for this recipe - it's one of my favorites.