by Emily Lee in Holidays, Recipes, December 5th, 2015
by Maria Russo in Holidays, Shows, December 3rd, 2015
Good friends, fresh baked goods and a few generous mugs of (possibly spiked) hot chocolate: That’s what a holiday cookie swap is all about. If you’re hosting this year, it’s time to choose your recipes, check your pantry (ditching old spices and other baking staples that have been collecting dust at the back of your shelves), and head to the store for missing ingredients. Remember to stock up on treat bags or roomy covered containers; that way, everyone can go home with a few edible mementos.
Guests are generally expected to bring one batch of cookies. (Or you might ask guests to bring two or three batches, depending on the size of the swap.) When hosting, it’s wise to bake two or three different varieties, and remember to take food allergies into account. Choose two familiar, tried-and-true recipes, like classic sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies. (That way you won’t stress over making errors and can focus on beverages and decor too.) The third cookie should be super-seasonal and more of a challenge. You can make one recipe the day of, but make the other recipes a day in advance — whatever works best with your schedule. Here are a few of our most sought-after holiday cookies to get you started.
Cookie #1: Classic Sugar
Food Network Kitchen’s Soft Sugar Cookies (pictured at top) are the classic sugar cookies you could roll out in your sleep — except they might be more tender than you’re used to, thanks to an extra egg in the dough. Before baking, roll the dough in red and green sanding sugar. The cookies will bake up in just 20 minutes. Check out more of our festive takes on sugar cookies here.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, Holidays, December 1st, 2015
Check out this step-by-step guide to learn how to make the best chocolate chip cookies.
by Samantha Seneviratne in Recipes, December 1st, 2015
Any new cookbook from Yvette van Boven feels like an early holiday present to home cooks everywhere, and her newest book, Home Baked, is absolutely no exception. Home Baked is exactly what you’ve come to love and expect from van Boven: vibrant and lovely, with mouthwatering recipes that read like a daydream spilling across the pages of someone’s beloved kitchen journal. The recipes are diverse, ranging from kitchen staples (like Lemon Curd and Sourdough Starter) to fully assembled baked goods (like the Chocolate Fudge with Melted Marshmallows, recipe below for you to try at home). There are showstopping birthday cakes and cookies and baked bars and even treats for your favorite furry friends. Taking it beyond recipes, van Boven has filled Home Baked with wonderful stories, beautiful images of Ireland, and tips and tricks for making sure even your leftover bread and cake scraps don’t go to waste.
When it comes to avoiding the stress of crunch time in her holiday baking routine, van Boven’s trick is simple: “I’m quite a planner,” she told FN Dish. “I make lists. Good thing is that I work from home. I can make bread and leave it to proof while I work on something else on the computer at the same time. But I do plan ahead. I hate surprises at the last minute, and I like to sit down with my family and friends once they’re here, without stress.”
by Samantha Seneviratne in Recipes, November 24th, 2015
In New York, where I live, peaches mean summer. While rock-hard peaches can often be found in the produce section of my supermarket, a perfect summer specimen usually comes from the farmers market. Those sweltering summer Saturdays at the market are the best. I always try to eat one ripe piece of fruit while I amble home, bags of groceries swinging from my arms, and inevitably soak myself in peach juice. I wait for that experience all year round. And when it finally comes, it’s over before I know it.
A peach that has been picked too early may never fully ripen. But a juicy tree-ripened fruit is too delicate for shipping. That means that those greenish peaches that you see in the supermarket, plucked far before they were ready in some place far away, won’t ever become that delicious. What’s a peach lover to do?
by Samantha Seneviratne in Recipes, November 17th, 2015
I can’t close my cupboards. Baking pans and rolling pins stick their sharp edges against the doors and make it impossible for me to tidy up. Metal mixing bowls roll out and topple onto the floor every day. I have stacks of rimmed baking sheets resting precariously against the wall just waiting to topple and crush my toes. I know I have too much baking equipment, and I fantasize about making a change. I plan for one glorious day when I’ll sort through the piles and take stock of what I truly need. I’ll create a clean and clutter-free work environment. Does any baker really need 12 offset spatulas?
When that day finally comes, I know the one pan I will surely keep. It’s not the most functional of the bunch. One might say it should be the first to go. But I will never get rid of it. It’s the one pan that just makes me smile to look at it. It’s my 9-inch fluted tart pan with the removable bottom. Amidst all of my overflowing baking clutter, it’s my favorite.
I love it because it’s the perfect size. Nine inches of tart is plenty to feed a small crowd, but not too big to be portable. I love it because everything made in a fluted tart pan looks pretty. And I love the action of slipping off the sides to reveal a perfect fluted edge. It’s a dainty pan. It’s decorative and frilly. And it is beloved. If I could, I’d make every dessert in a 9-inch fluted tart pan.
by Samantha Seneviratne in Recipes, November 10th, 2015
I used to be afraid of yeasted recipes. When I was kid, I was desperate to bake with yeast. I wanted to enjoy the pillow-soft texture that you can get only from warm-from-the-oven, freshly baked, homemade treats. But I could never make my breads rise. There were a few likely explanations. First of all, since yeasted baking projects were an infrequent occurrence in our house, chances were that the yeast was anywhere from 1 to 21 years old. Secondly, our drafty house could be quite chilly during those long New England winters. I could barely rise out of my own warm bed every morning. How could I expect my doughs to budge? And I probably overcompensated for the temperature with boiling-hot milk, no doubt killing my yeast before things even got rolling.
Thankfully, as an adult, I’ve learned how to keep my yeast happy. I always store it in the freezer. (That keeps it fresh longer.) And if there is any doubt, I proof it before adding it to the dough. This recipe doesn’t call for proofing the yeast, but it’s easy to do. Simply dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let it stand for 5 minutes. If the yeast gets nice and foamy, add it to the flour mixture and proceed with the recipe as written. If it doesn’t, start over with new yeast.
by FN Dish Editor in Shows, November 3rd, 2015
by Samantha Seneviratne in Recipes, November 3rd, 2015
Up until some years ago, I was a cultivated-blueberry kind of gal. I’m from Connecticut, and those fat, sweet blueberries were ubiquitous. The cultivated blueberries were the ones we picked in the patches on sticky summer days. And they were always the ones we used to dot our pancakes and load our muffins. Until recently I never gave my blueberry choice any thought. Those babies were refreshing and tasty, and I loved them.
Then I met a man from Maine. And I met his mother. I can remember one evening some years ago when said mother, Deborah, served us a rustic blueberry galette for dessert. She told us how she had gone for a hike and come across a patch of ripe wild Maine blueberries. She picked what she could, took them back home and baked them into a simple pastry crust. I was amazed. First of all, the color of those syrupy cooked blueberries was unlike anything I had seen — so deep and purple. The thick, glorious juice had bubbled up and over the edge of the crust and had caramelized seductively underneath. Second, the flavor of those wild blueberries was unique. They tasted of blueberry times 10. They were floral and savory, with the perfect jammy balance of tart and sweet. That galette was simple perfection and changed the way I looked at blueberries forever.
by Amanda Rettke in Recipes, October 28th, 2015
I think a perfect scone straddles the line between biscuit and cake. It should be neither overly sweet nor too dense. And I like it to have a bit of crumble. To me, the perfect scone is the kind of snack that would be better with a cup of tea, but not impossible to eat without it.
I’m going to make you a promise: This pumpkin cake will impress everyone who tries it. It will fill your kitchen with the sweet smell of homemade caramel sauce, the gentle and comforting spices of fall, and a warmth that cuts right through a bitterly cold wind. People often ask me for the recipe, and like a good Midwestern girl, I am happy to share!