Comfort Foods and Indulgences

The Best Things We Ate in 2015

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by some of the gang at One for the Table

ami louis potatoesI just can’t forget the truffle pasta we enjoyed at the American Embassy residence in Rome accompanied by homemade Limoncello served by Ambassador John Phillips himself. We walked the catacombs under the Embassy to get to the wine cellar where just the three of us including my husband Mike ate the best Limoncello and pasta in the world. It was simple with butter and truffle, just pure food magic.
Our best meal in Paris was at L’Amis Louis. Their fois gras, escargot and scallops are always crazy good…but the potatoes and garlic with butter and fries can't be beat…and this new place, also in Paris, served us the tiny best appetizer in world of mushrooms, figs, cheese and proscuitto.
  Irena Medavoy

The best thing I ate last year was on Thursday, December 24th at E. Baldi in Beverly Hills - Chef Edoardo makes an amazing antipasti of Deep fried Shiitake Mushrooms with sea salt & truffled pecorino cheese ... What a taste treat!!!
  Wendy Howard Goldberg

The best thing I ate last year was a chicken schnitzel sandwich at Falafel Hakosem on King George Street in Tel Aviv, an hour before going to dinner at my grandmother's house. Never go to my grandmother's house hungry. 
  Anna Harari

biscuitsHot fluffy biscuits right out of the oven from Good Enough to Eat on Columbus Avenue in New York City.  I had many delicious foods in 2015 but seemed to only crave, and adore, those biscuits with their luscious strawberry butter. Mmmmm. Is it morning yet?
  Diane Sokolow

Last May, when my wife and I vacationed in Anguila, I ate a nectarine that I can taste to this very day. New Year's resolution - the moment that taste disappears, we'll head back to Anguila for another nectarine.
   Alan Zweibel 

The Sublime to the Delicious

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by Pamela Felcher

chocdonutsAs I have been known to confess on these very pages, when it comes to sweets, I am an unabashed purveyor of the pedestrian. Most people who have been to a Ralph’s Supermarket have probably noticed the bakery section with its apple turnovers, banana muffins, red-velvet cupcakes, entire cakes and even half cakes—presumably to add variety for the discriminating tastes waiting at home. Whatever glutenous confection you have a hankering for you can pretty much find in this section of the store, right in front of you, the minute you walk in. Since I am stuck with the kind of willpower that needs constant reviving and have been unable to resist many of these offerings in the past, I try to enter the store at the other end, where the fruit is colorfully, bountifully ensconced. But to no avail.

Unfortunately, one item in that dreaded bakery always summons me: chocolate donuts. Clamshells with a twelve-count sit stacked on the bakery tables, neat rows of the taunting chocolate visible through the plastic. Only $4.99 for the Ralph’s Club member. How can one resist? Don’t they contain all the food groups, milk, eggs, flour, and cocoa (yes, I count cocoa as a food group)?

One of these perfectly round donuts and a glass of milk means instant transport to childhood. The chocolate coating cracks a bit as your teeth sink into it, and the edges of the fresh golden cake beneath break away first. Then you’re left with a thick knot of cake and chocolate at the center, one perfect bite.

GOLDBELY! Beyond Guilty Pleasure

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by Nancy Ellison

the purple pie placeThis site is Foodie Porn!

(You do not want your friends to know about Goldbely...honestly. And, word of warning, do not check out this site unless you have TUMS at your fingertips)

I tripped on this awesome web site today and scrolling down the imagery, it became obvious that there was nothing...N*O*T*H*I*N*G on this site that comes under the heading of “healthy.” About time!

Goldbely declares, “We are on a mission to discover all things delicious… seeking out the legendary local restaurants, amazing artisans and great gourmet food purveyors that produce amazing regional products…Our vision is an online marketplace that connects curious eaters with America's best gourmet food purveyors. We are creating an alternative to the food conglomerates.”

Their goal - “To make the world a yummier place.”

Cheesy Egg, Avocado and Bacon Breakfast Sandwich

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by Cathy Pollak

Cheesy Egg Avocado and Bacon Breakfast SandwichI have been making this sandwich again and again over the past two weeks and decided it's probably time to share them with all of you. Heck, just look at them...what's not to love?

Just this morning I shoved one into the hands of my oldest son as he was running out the door. Turns out it's perfect school bus food too. Lucky him. The ingredients are simple and you probably already have most of them at home.

My main inspiration for this recipe were my beautiful California avocados. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don't enjoy an avocado with one of my meals or as a snack. They truly are nature's butter and require nothing to make them an amazing and healthy treat. Avocados are one of the few fruits that provide good fats in our diet (3 g of mono and 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat per 1-oz. serving) and are heart healthy.

And don't be afraid to buy extra avocados and keep them in your fridge. I store mine in the crisper drawer and they keep for weeks. This means I always have a ripe avocado to use when I'm ready...which is daily. After you scramble your eggs, place them on top of your toasted bagels and sprinkle with shredded cheese. It will melt nicely on top of the hot eggs.

10 Delicious Things from the Winter 2015 Fancy Food Show

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by Amy Sherman

maplecubenewIf I had to make a shopping list based on what I tried at the Winter 2015 Fancy Food Show, here is what I would recommend buying.

I thought I knew something about maple syrup, but now after talking to Dori Ross of Tonewood Maple I know so much more. Tonewood Maple has gotten some serious attention for their solid maple cube that you can shave to create maple sugar, but it was their single estate varietals of maple syrup that blew my mind. When processed separately (something that doesn’t happen everywhere) you get amazing differences in the flavor. Each bottle is labeled with the actual sugarbush it came from. Some are sweeter, others earthier or even a little spicy. They also make a maple cream, which is something I discovered in Canada. On the East Coast it’s fairly common, but I’ve never seen it out here. It’s a creamy spread made only from maple that you would swear has butter in it. It’s great on toast, pancakes or waffles. They also have a maple tree adoption program that gives you an opportunity to support small maple producers and sustainable farming practices, and bottles of four grades of syrup.

BlackberryKetchupSome years I see a lot of fancy ketchup, this year I didn’t, but a few unusual ones stood out nonetheless. Traina Foods makes ketchup with sun dried tomatoes. They are richer, less sweet, more intense and fresher to me than conventional brands, but can definitely be used the same way you’d use any other ketchup. This year they released a sun dried tomato and sriracha ketchup. Their ketchup has higher concentrations of lycopene and less sugar and salt than other varieties, and is gluten free.  I tried it on a spoon but can’t wait to experiment cooking with it.

Blackberry Patch is now offering fruit ketchups. I tried the raspberry chipotle, blackberry and blueberry. These can also be used just like regular ketchup, but have a much more sophisticated flavor. They are tangy and you really taste the fruit. I would use them as a glaze on lamb, pork or even chicken. The company is owned and operated by two farmers and everything is made in small batches.

Chutney Goat Cheese Puffs

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by Amy Sherman

chutneycheesepuffI'm a cheater, in the kitchen anyway. While I may not be a fan of mac and cheese from a box, I positively love using gourmet specialty products. What kinds of products? Jams, mustards, chutney, tapenade, Chinese sauces, so many things! Two of my favorite secret weapons are in the freezer--phyllo dough and puff pastry.

You could easily write a book on all the things you can make out of phyllo dough and puff pastry. I suggest the title "How to Succeed in Baking Without Really Trying". Once you learn how to handle them, the possibilities are endless. They even turn something mundane into something special.

For example you could make a stew into an elegant pot pie. You could turn a fruit compote into pastries. You could make fancy little appetizers to serve hot from the oven. How fancy? I suggest little napoleons or tartlets. It's really easy.

Crispy Cinnamon-Chili Chickpeas

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by Cathy Pollak

Crispy Cinnamon Chile Chickpeas the perfect nut free snackThe first time I tasted roasted chickpeas was at a friend’s house. She was so excited about them and quite frankly so was I….until I took a bite. The chickpea was all mealy and soft in the center. It was a total let down and I can’t think of any word to describe it except for….bleh.

I tried not to make a face, but when I didn’t eat anymore of them, well I guess that sent its own message. Is that not the worst when someone is really excited about something they made and it’s just bad?

Here’s the thing, with every recipe there’s a trick. When it comes to roasting chickpeas, it’s all about making sure they are hard like a nut before removing them from the oven. Sure a couple of them won’t be perfect but most of them should. This will require turning the pan and/or moving the chickpeas around on the baking sheet. You’ll also want to taste them before you pull them out just to make sure.

The final texture will be crunchy like a peanut. You’ll know when you bite into the right one. And they are such a great alternative for people who have nut allergies.

I love putting these in trail mix for my boys (I have one with a nut allergy) and even serving them at a cocktail party as a little munchie. Everyone loves them.

Pillowy Anise Espresso Custard

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by Hillary Davis

anisecustardI bake and make desserts all winter. It might be something to do with cocooning or comfort or simply loving desserts, but this winter especially I have been baking up a storm. To change it up a bit, I made a pillowy-soft cloud of star anise scented espresso custard and piled it on top of crisp Italian lady fingers. A spoonful alone transported me to Italy…….to a little cafe where I stood at the bar and spooned anise froth into my mouth from an espresso cappuccino.

So simple. So wonderful.

It starts with steeping anise seeds and star anise in milk. You add egg yolks and sugar to begin making the custard. Whip cream till stiff, fold it in, and there you have it.

It was luscious. Light. Frothy. And less expensive than a plane ticket to Milan, a car drive to Turin, and a memory to remember where that wonderful little cafe actually was.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

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by Amy Sherman

lemonricottapancakesWaking up is hard to do. Really hard. For some, a strong cup of coffee or tea helps. Not for me. I wake up slowly and after being up for at least an hour or two I tackle breakfast. Left to my own devices, I would probably just eat brunch and save the real breakfast food for dinner, but Lee prefers something a bit more traditional.

The big problem with breakfast for me is always--what to have? Savory or sweet? Both are appealing but if I eat something sweet I may not get enough protein and as a result I'm ravenous barely an hour or two later. Nutritionists recommend a "balanced" breakfast meaning both carbohydrates and protein. Easy to do with eggs or cheese but harder to do with sweets like pancakes. Having sausage or bacon on the side is another way to go but probably not the best choice everyday. French toast or crepes are both sweet and have protein but I'm always looking for more protein-rich sweet options.

Ricotta pancakes are a perfect way to go. The ricotta gives you plenty of protein, they only have a couple of tablespoons of flour so you're not filling up on carbohydrates and best of all they are really delicious and cook up in a flash. Of course, serving them with bacon is up to you...

31 Days Of Pie, Day 31: Gaby’s S’more Pudding Pie

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by Matt Armendariz

Day 31 of 31 Days of Pie is Gaby’s S’more Pudding Pie, via Joy.

GABY SMORE PIEWell here we are at the last day of our 31 Days Of Pie. I won’t bother with a count, but I’m sure there were dozens of eggs, pounds and pounds of butter, endless calories, and tons of wonderfully sweet moments throughout the month. I don’t know about you, but I’m beyond excited to ring in 2015 and see all the wonderful things it will bring. I saved this pie for last because I think it’s one of the most beautiful pies I’ve ever seen thanks to Adam, and it comes from the world’s-best-friend-anyone-could-ever-hope-to-have Gaby by way of Joy, another fantastic friend of mine. It has a little bit of everyone in it, and it sums things up about how I feel about pie: they bring people together. And thank you for reading and commenting about this pie thang, it’s been so much fun!

Gaby’s S’more Pudding Pie

So Gaby says she took a few recipes from Joy’s latest book and crafted her own creation. This pie is the result. And it is FANTASTIC. Thank you, Gaby! Thank you, Joy!

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