weeknight gourmet

Posts Tagged ‘Holiday recipes’

Easter Egg Overload? Time for some Deviled Eggs!

IMG_1292Lots of leftover Easter eggs?  Deviled eggs are always a crowd pleaser…or so I have heard.  I wrongly assumed I wouldn’t like deviled eggs because I didn’t care for the hard-boiled yolk.  But Tim loves deviled eggs so I decided to give them a try.  YUM!  I’ve been missing out.

I followed Emeril’s recipe (below), using my new favorite hot sauce Frank’s.  There is a nice little kick from the mustard and hot sauce!

In case you are wondering how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg, here is a good recipe to follow.  But the perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg is stickier and harder to peel.  Not he ideal solution for decorating Easter eggs, but here is a tip for easier peeling so your deviled eggs look as good as they taste.  Slightly crack the egg before you put the cooked egg in an ice bath.

Now all I need is one of those cute deviled egg trays!
Deviled Eggs
Emeril Lagasse

  • 6 eggs, hard boiled, cooled, and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • Paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Variation: add 1 teaspoon chopped canned jalapeno peppers
  • 4 radicchio leaves, for garnish
  • 3 parsley sprigs, for garnish
Place the cooked egg yolks in a bowl. Using a fork, work the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, chives, and salt and pepper into the yolks to form a smooth paste. Taste. Place 1/2 of this mixture in a small pastry bag with a large star tip. To the remaining mixture, add the jalapenos and season with Hot pepper sauce. Fill 6 of the egg halves with the basic filling. Fill the pastry bag with the jalapeno filling. Fill the remaining egg white halves. Top with paprika. Place on a platter on the radicchio leaves, and parsley sprigs.

Christmas Cookies: Cocoa Thumbprints

In case you are still in the baking mood, here are some chocolate cookies that are a nice take on traditional thumbprints!  This is not my favorite chocolate Christmas cookie recipe but they are tasty.  I think I like a richer chocolate flavor.  For those of you who are not chocoholics, this might be the Christmas cookie for you!  Tim thinks they are delicious!

Cocoa Thumbprints
Food Network Magazine

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Sprinkles, mini marshmallows, mini candies or dried fruit, for filling

Whisk the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and eggs and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Place the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar in 2 separate small bowls. Roll scant tablespoonfuls of dough into balls; roll in the granulated sugar and then in the confectioners’ sugar. Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Lightly flatten each ball with your fingers and make a deep 1/2-inch-wide indentation in the centers with your thumb. Place your choice of filling in the indentation.

Bake the cookies until puffed and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes. Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

A Barefoot Contessa Holiday Meal: Herb-Roasted Lamb, Zucchini Gratin & Haricot Vert with Shallots

In case you are still on the hunt for a holiday menu, here is one that is sure to please any lamb lover!

I was happy to have 7 lamb lovers in the Berkshires this past weekend for an anniversary / holiday celebration with our dearest friends the Freilichs.  I turned to the Barefoot Contessa for recipe guidance as she always pleases a crowd and (at least on her show) looks to do it in a effortless, low stress way.

The lamb turned out perfectly!  It was a beautiful piece of meat from Guido’s in Pittsfield.  And the garlic – rosemary rub flavored the lamb amazingly well.  Definitely have a meat thermometer on hand when cooking a piece of meat of that size and varied thickness.

I served the lamb with the Barefoot Contessa’s Zucchini Gratin and Green Beans with Shallots (recipe below).  I have made the Zucchini Gratin a number of times and it is always a hit.  Given the richness of that side dish, I made a simple dish with haricot vert blanched and tossed with sauteed shallots and pancetta.  The pancetta was my add and was a nice touch!

Good friends, good wine, and a delicious meal made for a wonderful evening and weekend!

Herb-Roasted Lamb
Barefoot Contessa

  • 12 large unpeeled garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (6-pound) boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and tied
  • 4 to 5 pounds small unpeeled potatoes (16 to 20 potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven so the lamb will sit in the middle of the oven.

Peel 6 of the cloves of garlic and place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the rosemary, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and butter. Process until the garlic and rosemary are finely minced. Thoroughly coat the top and sides of the lamb with the rosemary mixture. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Toss the potatoes and remaining unpeeled garlic in a bowl with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place the lamb on top of the potatoes and roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the lamb is 135 degrees (rare) or 145 degrees (medium). Remove from the oven and put the lamb on a platter; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for about 20 minutes. Slice and serve with the potatoes.
String Beans with Shallots
Barefoot Contessa

  • 1 pound French string beans (haricots verts), ends removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 3 large shallots, large-diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes only. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water.

Heat the butter and oil in a very large saute pan (12-inch diameter) or large pot and saute the shallots on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. Drain the string beans and add to the shallots with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper, tossing well. Heat only until the beans are hot.

If you’re using regular string beans, blanch them for about 3 minutes, until they’re crisp-tender.

Christmas Candy: Dark Chocolate Almond Bark

I’ve never really made candy before.  I associated making candy with other recipes that require you to be more precise than I really enjoy being.  I assumed you always needed a candy thermometer and I already have way more kitchen equipment than either of my kitchens can handle.

But this Dark Chocolate Almond Bark changes everything!!!  It was amazing and so easy to make!  The caramel – which is the only thing you actually have to prepare — comes together quickly.  I could not find Marcona almonds so I used blanched and slivered almonds.

I think the key to the bark though is high quality chocolate and not to forget the coarse sea salt!  I used Guittard 63% Extra Dark Chocolate Chips.  Yum!

I plan to make another batch tonight using pistachios in my attempt to recreate Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee.  Unfortunately I’m out of Guittard chocolate so we’ll see how Trader Joe’s dark chocolate does.

Note: Thank you to Bon Appetit’s website for the photo.  I didn’t have my camera when I made the bark.

Chocolate-Almond Bark with Sea Salt
Bon Appetit

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted Marcona almonds (not in oil)
  • 1 pound good-quality dark chocolate (62%–70% cacao), finely chopped
  • Coarse sea salt (for sprinkling)

Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or foil. Combine sugar with 2 Tbsp. water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is dark amber, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately add butter; whisk until melted. Add almonds; stir until well coated. Transfer to baking sheet, spreading out to separate nuts. Let cool. Break up any large clumps of nuts. Set aside 1/4 of nuts.

Stir chocolate in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted. Remove from heat, add nuts from baking sheet, and stir quickly to combine. Spread chocolate-nut mixture on same baking sheet, keeping nuts in a single layer. Top with the reserved nuts; sprinkle with salt. Chill until chocolate is set, about 3 hours.

Break bark into pieces and store between layers of parchment or waxed paper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Keep chilled.

Makes about 1 3/4 lb.

Christmas Cookies: Lemon Ricotta Cookies

I made these cookies for Tim’s “snack day” at work along with the Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints.  Mine did not turn out as pretty as Giada’s but they were delicious!  So moist from the *whole* container of ricotta cheese.  And, such great lemon flavor from the zest in the cookie and the very lemony glaze.

Just a couple of notes:

The glaze recipe made just enough to cover all the cookies.  So be generous but not overly so when coating the cookies.

I have started to always line my cookie sheets with parchment paper or my Silpat mat.  The cookies bake more evenly and are easy to remove from the cookie sheet.  And, clean up is a breeze — just throw out the paper or wipe down the mat!

Lastly, if you don’t own a Microplane zester, it really is an amazing tool to zest citrus.  You can use it to grate parmesan cheese, and I’ve even seen people use it on garlic cloves and ginger.

Enjoy!

Lemon Ricotta Cookies
Giada de Laurentiis

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cookies: In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Glaze: Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container.

Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints

My friend Emily made these cookies for Thanksgiving and they were delicious!  I needed to make a holiday treat for Tim’s office so I decided to make them.  What says Christmas more than chocolate + peppermint?!

Do not overbake the cookies.  I followed the instructions exactly and the cookies were so moist and delicious.

To make the chocolate – peppermint filling, all you need is butter, chocolate chips, and some peppermint extract.  You can pipe the filling through a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off.

The cookies were a hit in Tim’s office.  I think they were all gone within two days!  I was a little sad I didn’t save any for myself but my waistline probably thanks me.

Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints
Everyday Food

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup each butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Place balls, 1 inch apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 5 minutes. Remove sheets from oven; with the small end of a melon baller or the bottom of a small round measuring spoon, make an indentation in center of each cookie.

Bake until cookies are just set but still look moist, 4 minutes (do not overbake). Let cool on sheets on wire racks. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips and ¼ cup butter in 10-second increments until melted; stir in peppermint extract. Let cool until thick enough to pipe, 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large zip-top bag; snip 1/4-inch hole in one corner. Pipe chocolate into cookie indentations. (Store in airtight containers, up to 1 week.)

Active time: 35 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes + cooling

Makes 4 dozen

Holiday Menu: Honey-Mustard Pork Roast with Bacon, Baby Arugula Salad & Cauliflower Gratin

The day after Christmas is my father-in-law’s birthday.  Tim’s immediately family came up to the Berkshires on the 26th to celebrate.  We had the delicious and festive menu below.  The pork I have made before and it was even better than I remember!  The bacon and the honey mustard coating gives amazing flavor to the meat.  This is the first time I made the Barefoot Contessa’s Cauliflower Gratin and it was a huge hit!  Who wouldn’t love cauliflower with a nice cream sauce and lots of Gruyere. I had some leftover Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash.  The dish reheated nicely.

We finished the birthday meal with a delectable Red Velvet Cake.  So moist!  And the cream cheese frosting was amazing!

Honey-Mustard Pork Roast with Baby Arugula Salad

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Cauliflower Gratin

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Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette (leftovers from Xmas)

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The Best Red Velvet Cake

Holiday Menu: Rack of Lamb, Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette, and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  We had a great first Christmas with Charlotte.  We enjoyed lots of time with family and lots of delicious food!

In case you are looking for menu ideas for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, I highly recommend our Christmas meal!  My go-to ladies — Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis — helped make our holiday meal spectacular!

The lamb was so flavorful and tender and the portobello mushrooms were amazing (and could have been a meal themselves).  The sprouts and squash were a great combination that I had never tried before.  And, I have made this cranberry cake before and it is always festive and delicious!

Grilled & Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
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Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette
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Rack of Lamb Persillade
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Cranberry Upside-down Cake

Holiday Menu: Rack of Lamb Persillade

I love rack of lamb!  And, this is a delicious and simple recipe!  The breadcrumb crust has great flavor from the lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. And, the quality of lamb we had was just unbelievable.  So tender!

The only change I would make is searing both sides of the racks before putting them in the oven.  Our lamb required about 10 minutes longer than the recipe called for and I think had I seared the lamb it would have been done faster.
Rack of Lamb Persillade
Barefoot Contessa

  • 3 small or 2 large racks of lamb, frenched
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic cloves (3 cloves)
  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the racks in a roasting pan, fat side up. Rub the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast the lamb for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the parsley and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until they’re both finely minced. Add the bread crumbs and lemon zest and process for a second until combined.

Take the lamb out of the oven and quickly press the parsley mixture on top of the meat. Drizzle with the melted butter and return immediately to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.

Take the lamb out of the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, cut in double chops, and serve.

Holiday Menu: Grilled & Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

These stuffed mushrooms were a huge hit!  I am not a huge fan of Gorgonzola and I still thought these were unbelievably good.  I grilled the mushrooms on a grill pan, since it was not a night to be grilling outside, and then finished the mushrooms under the broiler.

The stuffing is so flavorful from the hot Italian turkey sausage, mascarpone, and Gorgonzola.  These mushrooms are hearty enough that you could make even these mushrooms as a main course.

Grilled & Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Giada de Laurentiis

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
12 ounces turkey sausage, casings removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 cup (4 ounces) Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
6 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the mascarpone cheese. Add the thyme, oregano, bread crumbs, 1/2 of the Gorgonzola, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir until all ingredients are combined.

Brush the mushrooms on both sides with the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the mushrooms, stem side down, for 3 minutes. Turn the mushrooms over and grill for 2 minutes until tender. Fill each mushroom with the sausage mixture and top with the remaining Gorgonzola. Return the mushrooms to the grill and cook until the stuffing is warmed through and the cheese starts to melt, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Cook’s Note: The assembled mushrooms can also be placed on a baking sheet and cooked under a preheated broiler until warmed through.