Tag Archives: Holiday Recipe

recipe goodness :: grandma dilaura’s lemon madeleines

 

Grandma's Lemon Madeleines

Grandma’s Madeleines

Santa called, he wants a new kind of cookie this year. Yes, we all love sugar cutouts and peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses —  don’t get me wrong, I love the tradition of knowing those festive favorites will be stacked high on the Christmas table too. But this year everything old is new again, so I’m rethinking the cookie plate.

These lemony Madeleines weren’t necessarily a Christmas tradition in our house, but they were ceremoniously revealed after many Sunday dinners at Grandma’s. After a heaping bowl of gnocchi or a big Sunday roast, she’d shuffle over to her cookie tins {which were never empty} and arrange these delicate little shell-shaped cookies {which might as well be referred to as mini cakes for their delicate sponge} on a plate to await the blessing of decorative powdered sugar. They were divine. Pretty, perfect little pillows of lemony goodness. These will always remind me of my grandma and have become a new tradition in my own kitchen — parting gifts for dinner guests or just comforting treats to accompany a steaming cup of weekend coffee. And so for something that evokes those cherished memories, it seems only fitting that they join the joyous Christmas cookie tray. Enjoy!

Madeleine Tray

Madeleine Tray

Grandma DiLaura Lemon Madeleines

Makes 36 Large or 48 Mini | 350°

3/4 Cup Butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for brushing pans
3 Large Eggs
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1.25 Cups Cake or All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/3 Cup Shredded Coconut (optional)

  1. In a large bowl, mixer on high, beat eggs until light.
  2. Gradually add vanilla and sugar and continue beating until volume has increased about 4x and is pale and fluffy. Add melted butter.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together and fold with spatula into mixture.
  4. Fold lemon zest and/or coconut.
  5. Brush Madeleine molds with melted butter and scoop mixture into each shell filling about halfway —  careful not to overfill as they will rise like a cake.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes for Large Madeleines and 6-8 minutes for Mini Madeleine trays until cake is firm to the touch and light gold in color.
  7. Remove from trays and let cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
  8. Right before serving sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Mini Madeleines

Mini Madeleines

Other Grandma Favorites:
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake

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recipe goodness :: bursting brussels sprouts with pancetta-clementine reduction

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction

I can’t take credit for creating this recipe {my brother is the mastermind behind this one}, but I can attest to its deliciousness. There has been a brussels sprouts revolution over that past few years — this once polarizing veg, although cute, was often the recipient of turned up noses. Perhaps because they have the reputation of being boiled to death until taking on a soggy, grey characteristic that would have anyone using their napkin as a disposal system.

But these beautifully bright green mini-cabbages can carry some outstanding flavors when prepared properly — and by properly, I don’t mean to imply this is difficult. A little pancetta or bacon goodness, some brightening citrus and a few minutes in a pan to marry all the flavors in a caramelization collision and you have yourself a healthy, colorful side that is worthy of any dinner party.

Pancetta Rendering

Pancetta Rendering

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Clementine Reduction

Serves 4 | 15-20 minutes

1/3 lb pancetta, diced
2 small shallots, sliced
1.5 lbs brussels sprouts
1/2 cup fresh clementine juice + zest {can use oranges too}
Salt and pepper to taste
Pine nuts to garnish

  1.  Cut pancetta into 1/4-inch cubes and cook on low heat in a large pan to slowly render the fat, ~5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and halve brussels sprouts, removing any hard stem from the bottom. Remove skin from shallots and slice into rings.
  3. Once pancetta starts to firm and fat becomes slightly translucent, add the shallots and cook until tender. Then add the sprouts to the pan, raise the heat to medium and season with salt and pepper {start light on the salt as the pancetta is salty and you can always add more to taste}. Cook an additional 5-7 minutes until the sprouts start to brown on the edges and become slightly tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Squeeze and zest clementines and add to the pan, stirring to coat. Allow to cook 3-5 minutes to reduce juice and warm through.
  5. Taste and add additional salt, pepper or juice as desired. Add to a bowl and top with pine nuts.

Complete My Dinner:
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot
Giada’s Sweet & Sour Pork Chops
Farro Salad with Steamed Kale and Roasted Pinenuts 

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recipe goodness :: homemade ricotta and melted leeks — the easiest winning appetizer you MUST make

Homemade Ricotta

Homemade Ricotta

I don’t typically like to tell people what to do. But I’m going to tell you — and you’re going to listen to me — you must make this NOW. Sure, I get a little more experimental in the kitchen than most, but when I tell you this will have you channeling your inner Italian Grandmother with ease and will also have you wanting to make fresh ricotta everyday, I hope you believe me. The beauty of this recipe is 1) how easy it is, 2) how proud you will be that you made YOUR OWN ricotta, and 3) it will have your guests ooh-ing and aah-ing over this deceivingly perfect flavor combo — let’s face it, this is really just onions and milk we’re talking about. It happens to also be an extremely inexpensive way to create an impressive appetizer, so with the holidays around the corner let’s get curdling!

I’ve included a few other variations in case you want to serve this different ways at all your holiday line-ups {everything can be made ahead of time, so you can enjoy a cocktail instead of sweating over a hot oven}. Plus 1.5 lbs of ricotta will probably get you through 2-3 evenings, depending on the size of your crowd.

Homemade Ricotta 

Makes ~1 lb post-drained ricotta 

1 pint whole milk {I use Grazin’ Angus Acres}
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup cultured buttermilk
Maldon sea salt

Equipment:
Large 1 gallon+ pot {le creuset if you have one}
Cooking thermometer that reads to 200 degrees
Very fine cheesecloth or clean tea towel
String
Colander and large bowl

  1. Using a large 1 gallon+ stock pot {I use my le creuset} heat whole milk, cream, buttermilk and a few pinches of salt on medium heat until it comes to a light boil. Stir milk frequently to ensure bottom does not scorch.
  2. Boil milk for 2 minutes, stirring, then remove from the heat and let rest in the pot for 1 hour to let the curds form some more.
  3. Place a large colander over a large bowl in the sink. Line the colander with very fine cheese cloth or a clean white tea towel so edges hang over the edge of the colander.
  4. Slowly pour the curdled milk into the colander/cheesecloth, letting the whey pour through to the bowl below and keeping the curds in the cheesecloth. You can use the whey to soften the cheese later or simply discard.
  5. Lift the colander out of the bowl and grab the edges of the cheesecloth/towel together. Hold up and let drain for about 1 minute+ until the the ricotta reaches the consistency you desire.
  6. Note: I like to keep it a little creamy so it is easy to spread, but if it gets thicker than you desire, you can always pour a few tablespoons of milk {or the strained whey} back into the cheese to soften.
  7. When you’re ready to serve, season with maldon sea salt to taste and prepare any of the variations below or your own inspired pairing.
Appetizer Variations:

  • Serve with water crackers or garlic crostini {recipe below}
  • Top with warm melted leeks {recipe below}
  • Top with drizzled honey or your favorite chutney
  • Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt, a drizzle of good olive oil and fresh thyme, destemmed
p.s. you can also make this ricotta for Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother

Melted Leeks

1 bunch leeks
1 stick butter
Kosher salt

  1. Cut off and discard root end and half way up the firm green stems. Slice each leek in half lengthwise to expose inner layers. Add leek halves to a bowl of cold water to release dirt. Use your fingers to check and clean outer layers.
  2. Pat dry and place each leek half flat-side down on cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch thick half-circle slices.
  3. Melt butter in a large pan on low-medium heat {or the cleaned le creuset you just used for the ricotta} and add leeks.
  4. Slowly cook leeks in butter until tender, ~10-15 minutes. Turn heat down if they start to brown before they are soft. Add salt to taste.
  5. Serve immediately while warm with the ricotta on the side or place in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave for 20 seconds just before serving to soften butter.

Garlic-Rubbed Crostini

1 baguette
Olive Oil for brushing
1-2 garlic cloves

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice baguette at a 45-degree angle, creating 1/4-inch thick slices.
  3. Place slices side by side on a baking sheet. Brush each piece with olive oil and place in oven for 10-15 minutes until toasted.
  4. Remove baking sheet and while the crostini are still hot, rub a whole garlic clove with 1-2 swipes on each piece of bread.
  5. Note: can be made ahead of time on the day you plan to serve and stored in an air-tight container or bag once cooled, until ready to serve.

1. Pour whole milk, cream and buttermilk into a large pot

2. Heat to 200 degrees F, or until it starts to boil, stirring frequently

2. Turn heat off and let rest for 1 hour

3/4. Pour ricotta into cheesecloth-lined colander over a large bowl in the sink. {Bowl shown next to the colander to show whey that runs through}

5. Gather edges of cloth and tie tightly with string, hanging to let drain ~1-2 minutes

6. Voila! Homemade Ricotta

Melted Leeks

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recipe goodness: aw nuts! darn good roasted rosemary nuts for the holidays

Roasted Nuts

It’s the holidays and that means we’re all running from party to party or even planning our own. We never want to show up empty handed and we’re often looking for a way to put out a great spread, without a lot of work. This recipe is your solution to both dilemmas. The recipe comes from the long-standing popular Union Square Cafe in New York City and it takes beer nuts to a new level. Hitting on every taste-bud, I guarantee the bowl will be empty faster than the mini-hot dog platter. This salty treat will also make any gifted bottle of wine extra special when you walk through any guest’s door on your party route. Gifting Tip: buy cellophane bags from a party or paper store and tie the bag with a red ribbon that you can hang around the neck of a wine bottle — easy, inexpensive and extra impressive.

Coating Goodness

Roasted Rosemary Union Square Bar Nuts

Cook time: 10 minutes

2 1/4 cups unsalted mixed nuts
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread nuts out on cookie sheet and toast for 10 minutes or until just turning golden brown.
  3. In a bowl combine all other ingredients and combine with nuts while warm.
  4. Toss thoroughly until well mixed and let cool before adding to an air tight container or gift bags.

Aw Nuts, I Need More Party Ideas!
Cinnamon Sugar & Dark Cocoa Almonds
Inside-Out Scotch Eggs w/ Ground Lamb, Harissa Yolk & Panko Gremolata
Mini Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie w/ Scotch! {bottom of post} 
Autumn Manhattan {Herby Garnished Classic a la Tippling Bros.}
Fireside Sparks {Champagne Cocktail a la Tippling Bros.}
Smokey Margarita {a la Tippling Bros.}

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