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Recipes and Stories

30 December2022: The Sixth Day of Christmas

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon-Toasted Pecans

In our household, we observe the old twelve days of Christmas: Not with a collection of strange symbolic gifts (no geese a-laying here), but our halls are still decked and ringing with Christmas carols, and our feasting continues through Epiphany (January 6).


An unsung and underappreciated element of that feasting is Brussels sprouts. These seasonal greens are common on English tables at Christmas, although what's often said of them by English writers in their defense suggests that their appearance is all too often more from a sense of obligation than affection.


My own affection for them is life-long and deep.  Read More 

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23 December 2022: Rescuing Mistakes and Christmas Fudge

Dark Chocolate Fudge


Let's begin with a full disclosure that what you are about to read outlines a not-terribly-stellar moment in my life in the kitchen.


Last week, I decided to make a batch of homemade fudge for Christmas, basing it on one of my own recipes for a dark chocolate fudge frosting. Most chocolate fudge gets its flavor from cocoa powder, but that rich, dark frosting contained both cocoa and bittersweet chocolate. It seemed like just the thing for a little Christmas indulgence.


Despite the facts that it was a humid day (not the best conditions for making candy) and I had not made fudge in years, it began well. The sugar, cocoa, and milk mixture came to its rolling boil Read More 

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20 December 2022: Continuing Education in the Kitchen and Potted Ham

Deviled or Potted Ham


One of the most challenging and irksome things about writing recipes is that they, like their authors, are imperfect. But unlike their authors, once they hit print, they're static. We humans aren't: We're constantly learning and evolving—and that includes what we do in the kitchen.


The truth is, not one of us is ever completely educated. The only ways we stop learning are by either willfully refusing new information or dying. If we're breathing and paying attention, we're always coming into contact with something we've never seen, thought about, or imagined.


A good cook never stops learning—that's why they are good.  Read More 

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14 December 2022: Meatballs Bourguignon

Cocktail Meatballs in Bourguignonne Sauce


As we move into our first almost-normal holiday season in three years, I've been thinking about something the late Marcella Hazan once said of her American cooking students. Whenever she taught a dish that was new, at least one of them was sure to say that he or she was going to make it for a dinner party the following weekend.


She admired that adventurous spirit because such a notion would never even occur to most Italians. A meal offered to guests outside the family would be one they'd made hundreds of times—even if that was how often it had been served to those same guests in the past.


Well, admirable it may be, but there's a fine line between being adventurous and foolhardy.  Read More 

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12 December 2022: Christmas Shortbread

My Christmas Shortbread Cookies with Pecans


It's Christmas cookie baking time at our house, and one of our old holiday cookie tins has already been filled with shortbread cookies that I am vainly trying to forget about. The rest of the year, I have the most underdeveloped sweet-tooth of any Southerner you will ever meet, and don't find cookies even remotely tempting.


Christmas, however, is different.


Possibly it's the inner child that the season stirs up in so many of us, but this is the only time I have any real interest in cookies Read More 

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