Casaubon's Book

Best Recipe of the Season

Ok, I did try and do a real blog post today, but it just isn’t happening. We had wonderful guests this morning, and it is bloody cold, and I really need to clean the rabbit cages and then I just want to hang out and bake things that smell like cinnamon – writing is way down on the list.

So today I’m just inviting you to share – what’s the best thing you’ve cooked in the last few weeks? What was so great about it? Want to post the recipe?

Besides pumpkin pie, which is always a high number contender for best food ever, my most recent contender for best recipe of the season is latke-kugle. You see, I hate frying latkes. I mean I really hate it. I do it, because well, you are supposed to fry once a year at Chanukah, but I dont love it. I’ve made baked latkes, but the consensus was that these were not as awesome. Then I discovered latke-kugel, which is like latkes, only it is baked in a pan. It tastes better than latkes, and is great with the traditional sour cream and applesauce. It is also awesome with sour cream mixed with horseradish and dill by itself. You will note that this is not health food – but it is marginally better than deep frying and really yummy.

6 medium potatoes
3 medium onions
1 head of garlic
6 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
chopped fresh thyme or dried

Grate potatoes and onions – this is one of the few things I actually use a food processor for. Mix together with minced garlic and rest of the ingredients and placed in a greased baking pan and bake at 425 about 1 hour until top is golden brown and crisp.

Traditional accompaniments are applesauce and/or sour cream. We like our applesauce with a few quinces thrown in for additional fragrance.

Also, and this is barely a recipe, there are cranberry chocolate chip cookies. These are way more awesome than ordinary chocolate chip cookies. I could post the recipe I stole from Rose Levy Beranbaum, but really, everyone knows how to make chocolate chip cookies, so why bother. Take your favorite cookie recipe, and add 2 tsp grated orange zest and a cup of whole (do not chop them) cranberries. Mix in and bake. The tartness of the cranberries meets the sweetness of the chocolate chips and makes that greatest of all cooking syntheses – something far greater than the sum of its parts.

Ordinarily, I would not leave you with two recipes that are so bad for you, but if you can’t do that the week before Christmas/of solstice, when can you post the bad for you but good tasting stuff?

So what’s your fave?

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Green Assassin Brigade
    December 22, 2009

    I have to agree that Pumpkin Pie is king amoung foods but a nice brazed lamn shank with mash/gravy or herbed couscous is kick ass good.

    I don’t have a recipe handy however

  2. #2 GAB
    December 22, 2009

    Sharon, I’m going to try that balsamic and oil roasted onion recipe from your latest book for Christmas, sounds good

  3. #3 homebrewlibrarian
    December 22, 2009

    Being partially to anything yummy, it’s difficult for me to come up with something truly outstanding. Nevertheless, one dish that I enjoy at the holidays is roasted beets, cubed, dressed with fragrant olive oil, good balsamic vinegar and a little cracked black pepper, served warm. Even people who aren’t fond of beets nom this down. And it’s super easy to make!

    Kerri in AK

  4. #4 Jade
    December 22, 2009

    So you don’t have to squeeze the grated potato bits between towels to get out all the water? (I’d make latkes much more often if I didn’t have those grated, squeezed potato bits clinging to every surface in the kitchen.) This latke-kugel sounds ideal.

  5. #5 Epicanis
    December 22, 2009

    Upon request, I made a bunch of cookies for people for the holidays.

    I don’t think it was the BEST thing I made (though they are good), but I think the most interesting thing I invented along the way was a reduced-sugar “Sunflower Saturnalia” cookie (sweetened with Erythtritol, honey, and a small amount of glycerol).

    The BEST would have to be either my gingerbread cookie recipe or the cashewbutter cookies, in my opinion.

  6. #6 Karin
    December 22, 2009

    Pierogi are family tradition in my husband’s family for Breakfast. This year we will be making them from scratch with a family pierogi construction gathering tomorrow. What makes is great is that most of the ingredients come fromour food storage and garden.

  7. #7 Jade
    December 22, 2009

    We do a carrot cake, based on the Joy of Cooking one you can google. Make these changes: add nutmeg and cloves with the cinnamon, grate the carrot on your finest holes, and soak the raisins in dark rum overnight and add any remaining rum to the batter with the raisins.

    I cook it in a single layer in a large spring form pan, and put a layer of real cream cheese frosting (not too sweet) on the top. My family will eat slices of this for breakfast with great joy, and I’m off the hook for 4 days.

  8. #8 Gina
    December 22, 2009

    Thank you for the recipe. I love potatoes in all forms, but I too detest frying. I am writing a cookbook focusing on foods for each season and I just created this recipe for “Curried Butternut Squash Soup” for fall.

    Curried Butternut Squash Soup

    Source: Gina Marie Mendolo

    Description: If you already have the squash roasted and pureed (e.g., do it the day/night before or in the morning) this is a ridiculously easy and fast soup to make. Makes four servings.

    Special Diet Notes: Egg-free. Soy-free. Nut-free. Gluten-free. Can be made vegan and dairy-free by replacing the cream with additional vegetable stock or an “alternative milk” such as soy milk, etc.

    Ingredients

    • 1 butternut squash, roasted, seeds and peel removed, and pureed
    • 2 cups vegetable stock
    • 3/4 cups cream
    • 1/2 cup applesauce
    • 1 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
    • pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

    Directions

    1. Combine all ingredients in a soup pot or dutch oven.
    2. Stir until homogeneous.
    3. Simmer 10 minutes.
    4. Serve hot.

  9. #9 Jen
    December 22, 2009

    Since I foraged a LOT of hickory nuts this year, I pulled out my mom’s tried-and-true recipe for sugared nuts. Very quick and easy, other than the (enjoyable) hours I spent foraging and cracking nuts. (Of course, the recipe still works with non-foraged nuts, and/or nuts that just fall out of their shells rather than requiring lots of picking out.) It’s too bad I can’t eat sugar; I used to inhale these back when I ate sugar. But at least I can make a whole bunch for friends and family.

    Sugared Nuts

    Ingredients:
    1 1/2 cup sugar
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp vanilla
    dash of salt
    6 Tbs cold water
    3 cups nuts

    Mix all ingredients except nuts. Cook to soft ball stage (113-116 C, 235-240 F), monitoring with a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Add nuts and stir until sugared. Pour on a flat pan and let cool. Separate pieces.

  10. #10 Laurie in MN
    December 23, 2009

    OK, so first of all, I don’t know from latkes. I can critique lefse with the best of them, but I’ve never actually *met* a latke, although from what I’ve heard I’d like them. A lot. I adore potato pancakes, and they sound fairly similar. However, I understand the dis-love of deep frying and potato bits everywhere in the kitchen. (My personal kitchen peeves are different, but I get it.) So I thought of this recipe when you mentioned not loving to fry latkes — you’ll have to tell us if it’s any better, really. I’m really sorry that all I have is the link, but it’s easier than copying the recipe out by hand.

    http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/12/potato-pancakes-even-better/

    I’ll have to try the kugel recipe some time. I do like food where the instructions are basically “put these things in a pan and bake them/make them warm”. :) Thank you for sharing it.

  11. #11 Anne in ON
    December 23, 2009

    Past and continuing hit: Chocolate Gingerbread from the One Smart Cookie cookbook done in organic whole wheat flour. This year’s hit: the Sour Cream Streusel Coffeecake with whole cranberries and chopped apple under the streusal, a variant on the recipe in the Joy of Cooking. My son and his girlfriend loved it so much I baking it Christmas morning for a truly decadent breakfast (I used 14% sour cream along with the usual organic whole wheat).

  12. #12 Barbara
    December 23, 2009

    I just started making flour tortillas. And boy are they easy to make and delicious. I make the dough in the food processor, but you can easily knead it together without one. It’s just 2 cups of flour, 2/3 cup very hot water, 1/4 cup oil (I use canola),1/4 heaping teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix it all together until it forms a ball. Then let it rest for 15 minutes wrapped in a damp cloth or paper towel. Separate the dough into 6 balls and then let rest for at least 15 minutes. Roll each out into a circle so that they look like tortillas :)and then heat in a hot frying pan, turning once they start making large bubbles.

    They’re shockingly easy to make and don’t have all the junk in them that the packaged ones do. I got this recipe from http://www.everydayfoodstorage.net.

  13. #13 Claire
    December 26, 2009

    Here’s the very best fruitcake you will ever eat. The original recipe claims it makes a bar cookie, but it’s a fruitcake type of dough. The recipe came with a teddy bear made by Catherine Bordi that my ex-husband gave me for Christmas back in 1983. It was called Chocolate Bear
    Bars then, but I’ll call it:

    Chocolate Chip Fruitcake

    1/2 cup melted butter
    2 cups packed brown sugar
    2 eggs
    2 tsp. almond extract
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1 tsp. salt
    1 cup chopped nuts
    2 cups chopped dried apricots (or other soft dried fruits)
    1 1/2 cups raisins (or other small dried fruits)
    12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

    Grease an 8 1/2″ diameter (actual measurement of the pan I use) round springform pan. Line bottom and side of the pan with parchment paper or wax paper.
    Heat oven to 350F.
    Mix melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and almond extract in a large bowl.
    Stir in remaining ingredients. (This will be the stiffest batter you’ve ever made. You won’t be able to use a mixer once you start adding the nuts, fruits, and chips; mix it by hand.)
    Spread mixture evenly in pan. Bake about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake until you can safely remove the side of the springform pan, invert it, remove the bottom of the pan, and invert it again into the serving dish.

    If you want, you can poke holes into the cake and add about a half cup of rum – but you can skip this step if you don’t store the fruitcake for too long. I generally make the cake a few weeks before Christmas and soak it in rum because that’s how we like it. Starting on Christmas morning, we eat small pieces of the fruitcake as part of our breakfast. I don’t make any cookies because this cake is so good!

  14. #14 Laura M.
    December 27, 2009

    I’m away from home and all my recipes right now but I still thought of one to share. A bit decadent but not overly so. ;)
    Let’s call it…
    Caramel Corn Oatmeal
    1 bowl of oatmeal/steel cut oats cooked to your liking
    some maple syrup
    some butter and salt

    Add however much maple/butter/salt to your oats that you want. Stir. Enjoy!
    It tastes just like caramel corn to me! :) I discovered thi. When I was trying to decide one day between salty/buttery oats or sweet oat and decided not to decide.

    (I’m reading A Nation of Farmers right now and gobbling up every word, btw!)