Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Celery Root (Celeriac) and Potato Gratin

Celery Root and Potato Gratin on plate, with baking dish in background

Scalloped potatoes with ‘tude

Easter arrives in a few days, so menu planning is ramping up. Having a big roast? Or maybe baked ham or a leg of lamb? If you’re serving any of the above, you’ll probably want a rich, starchy side dish to go with it.

Scalloped potatoes are a popular choice, of course—and this dish takes them as a starting point. But then we add celery root (celeriac) to dial the flavor up a notch. We also add some sharp Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and just a touch of zippy Dijon mustard.

The result is irresistibly good. But fair warning: If you’re feeding a holiday crowd, you may want to double this recipe. Otherwise, the serving dish might not make it all the way around the table.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lentil, Rice, and Pea Salad

Lentil, Rice, and Pea Salad with lemon slice garnish in ramekin, overhead view on black

This healthy change-of-season dish makes a great main or side

As the weather makes its leisurely turn from chilly to warm across much of the US, our appetites are beginning to change too. We may still crave some hearty dishes, but we’re looking to lighten things up a bit.

This Lentil, Rice, and Pea Salad is perfect for the seasonal transition. Lentils and rice give comfort during the cool days that still linger on, while peas add color and a touch of spring.

This dish delivers as a meatless main course, but it also makes a tasty side. It’s vegan and gluten-free, too, so you can serve it wherever. Best of all, it’s equally good warm or chilled.

So what are you waiting for? No matter what the weather is like in your part of the world, you can make a dish that promises sunny days ahead.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Twentieth Century Cocktail

Twentieth Century Cocktail with lemon twist garnish

Named after the “world’s greatest train”

Back in the day, rail was the only way to go if you were traveling any distance at all. Trains were fast, reliable, and comfortable. From 1902 to 1967, one of the fanciest was the 20th Century Limited, which offered service between New York City’s Grand Central Terminal and Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station.

The 20th Century Limited aimed to attract high-income travelers. Women received flowers and perfume when boarding the train, while men got carnations. Passengers boarded and detrained on a crimson carpet that was rolled out for their exclusive use (that’s how the phrase “red carpet treatment” entered our vernacular).

At its height, the train offered an onboard library, a barbershop, secretarial services, and a superbly equipped dining car (roast prime rib, anyone?). It oozed sophistication and luxury. So it’s not surprising that in 1937, when British bartender C. A. Tuck invented a particularly complex and richly flavored cocktail, he named it after this celebrated symbol of excellence.

The 20th Century Limited made its last run long ago. But the Twentieth Century Cocktail is still picking up steam. So hop aboard for a sip of the high life.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Soft and Buttery Dinner Rolls

Soft and Buttery Dinner Rolls on black acrylic

Easy and flavorful, these fluffy buns could be a meal in themselves

When was the last time you had a really good dinner roll? One with a golden crust and a pillowy, yeasty interior? With enough butter-kissed flavor that piling more butter on at table is an indulgence, not a necessity?

If you buy dinner rolls at the supermarket, it’s probably been a long time since you’ve had one that’s really worth eating. Fortunately, however, making your own is quite easy. And although it takes a while for the dough to rise, your hands-on time is only a few minutes.

So for your next dinner party or holiday meal (these are a natural at Easter), why not surprise your guests with a basket of fresh, homemade dinner rolls? They’ll disappear in a hurry, guaranteed. Just remind everyone to save some room for the rest of the meal.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp

New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp in oval ramekin with French Bread

Spicy, garlicky sauce cries out for dunkable bread

If there were a “truth in advertising” law for recipes, this one would get busted. Because New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp isn’t really barbecue at all. And shrimp don’t even play the leading role. Instead, it’s the sauce you’re after—a butter-heavy dunking mix that’s liberally spiced (and delightfully seasoned with garlic). You’ll want to mop up every last drop with crusty French bread.

Given the amount of butter in the sauce, this dish clearly is no diet food. But did you really expect it to be, with “New Orleans” in the name? That part, at least, is for real.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Irish Potato Candy

Irish Potato Candy on Happy St. Patrick's Day Napkin

This cinnamon-coated coconut cream candy is a Philadelphia St. Pat’s tradition

Certain cities have iconic foods associated with them. Boston? Clam chowder and baked beans. New York? Thin-crust pizza and bagels.

How about Philadelphia? You may think Philly cheese steaks, hoagies, and soft pretzels. But Irish Potato Candy? Maybe you haven’t heard of this treat.

Irish Potato Candy is a traditional Philly confection that (despite its name) did not originate in Ireland. Nor does it contain potato. But the shape of these candies and their reddish-brown coating make them look like little round spuds—hence the name.

These candies may sound a bit odd, but wait until you bite into one of these diminutive darlings. Their flavor is no small potatoes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Vieux Carré Cocktail

The Vieux Carré Cocktail in glass with lemon twist garnish

A New Orleans original

Vieux Carré means “old square” in French. It also happens to be what they called New Orleans’ French Quarter back in the day. So when Walter Bergeron invented this cocktail in the 1930s (while tending bar at a hotel in the French Quarter), it was a no-brainer to name it after the Big Easy’s oldest and most famous neighborhood.

The watering hole where Bergeron worked is now called the Carousel Bar. And yes, it resembles (and revolves like) a carnival carousel.

If you’d like to ride the painted ponies, but can’t make it to Nawlins right now, no worries. Just mix up a Vieux Carré Cocktail—and take your palate for a spin.