Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pfeffernüsse Cookies

Pfeffernusse cookies on black acrylic

This Spicy German Favorite May Be the World’s Best Christmas Cookie

When I was young, my mother would bake a vast assortment of cookies for Christmas — a dozen varieties at least.  Pfeffernüsse (often spelled Pfeffernuesse) were always the first one she made, usually right after Thanksgiving.

Why so early?  Well, the flavor of Pfeffernüsse deepens and sharpens with age.  Although delicious when first baked, they are incomparably better after a couple of weeks.  And still better a few weeks after that.

So if you plan to enjoy these cookies for Christmas, you’ll want to make them soon.  And the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll discover how easy Pfeffernüsse are to make.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cranberry Relish with Jalapeño

Cranberry Jalapeno Relish in white ramekin on black background with mint garnish

Spice Up a Traditional Thanksgiving Favorite

Thanksgiving dinner may be the most traditional, never-changing meal of the year.

Turkey. Dressing. Gravy. Mashed Potatoes. A Sweet Potato Something. A Cranberry Something. A Green Veggie Something. Add Biscuits, Pumpkin Pie, a nice wine (Beaujolais Nouveau for me), and whatever else is in your family’s repertoire.

We may tinker with the menu occasionally, but we usually revert back to our traditional dishes.

Still, if you’re looking for a new riff on an old favorite, why not consider adding a jalapeño pepper (or two) to your cranberry relish?  The dish won’t be much hotter (unless you want it to be) and it takes little extra preparation time.

Best of all, you’ll have everyone at the table trying to guess why this year’s cranberry relish tastes so much more interesting than last year’s!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beaujolais Nouveau

Pouring red wine into glass, wine curling above glass rim


Perfect for Thanksgiving:  The Hows and Whys of this Exuberant Wine

“Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!”  Every year on the third Thursday of November – Beaujolais Day – those words signal that “The New Beaujolais has arrived!” 

And by new, we mean new — this wine is released 5 to 8 weeks after harvest.  In the wine world, it doesn’t get any newer than that.

So, what exactly is Beaujolais Nouveau?  And why is it so great for Thanksgiving?

You’ve got questions.  I’ve got answers.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Roast Sweet Potatoes

Roast sweet potatoes in yellow enamel skillet overhead view, black background

When You’re Not in the Mood for Marshmallows

Everyone roasts meat and poultry.  And next week roast turkey will have the starring role on millions of festive Thanksgiving tables.  But roast vegetables?  Not so much. 

Too bad, because they’re delectable.  Roasting deepens and concentrates the flavor of vegetables, often revealing hidden layers of taste.  Roasting offers a flavor dimension you just won’t experience with the traditional T-day “candied yams.”

Sweet potatoes are ideal for roasting.  They’re naturally sweet — that’s why we call them sweet potatoes, no?  Roasting only emphasizes that sweetness, with no additional sugar (or marshmallows) needed.

Best of all?  Roast Sweet Potatoes take minimal preparation time.  And when cooking a big multi-dish meal like Thanksgiving dinner, who doesn’t want to reduce prep time?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kitchen Riffs is on Gojee!

Income Tax Cocktail in Cocktail Glass amidst tax forms

Gojee Is Expanding to Include Gojee Drinks

I’m delighted to announce that Gojee is expanding their content and list of contributors, and has asked Kitchen Riffs to contribute to their site.

What is Gojee and why should you care? Glad you asked that.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baking Powder Biscuits

Baking Powder Biscuits on plate with butter, jam, and grapes

Great Weekend Fare, Wonderful for Thanksgiving

Biscuits are quick to make and supremely satisfying to eat, particularly when gobbled hot from the oven. 

They are also part of American history.  In the early colonial days, homes often lacked ovens suitable for bread making, so “quick breads” like biscuits were popular, and would sometimes be baked fresh for each meal.  In many households today, they’re a Thanksgiving tradition.

This recipe calls for just a few pantry staples:  flour, baking powder, butter or shortening, and sweet milk.  No buttermilk needed (it makes great biscuits, but most of us don’t have it in the refrigerator).

And the best thing about this recipe?  You can be eating biscuits in under 30 minutes from now!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Manhattan Cocktail

Splashing a cherry into a Manhattan Cocktail


Is This All-American Classic the World’s Best Cocktail? 

Cocktails are an American invention, and one of the best-known is the Manhattan.

No one can say with certainty where or when the Manhattan was first concocted, although cocktail historian David Wondrich says ”its roots stretch back to the old Manhattan Club, in 1874.”

But there’s no controversy regarding the popularity of the drink. Cocktail aficionados consider it one of the finest ever conceived, and it’s on almost everyone’s list of best cocktails.

We’ll get into this whole “best” thing later. Right now, we have a drink to build!