Winter

pompotatoesWith cookies and cocktails flying everywhere the last month, I almost forgot to share this recipe for Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate Glaze. That would have been a shame because this dish, which I created a couple of months ago, has skyrocketed to the top of my go-to recipe list.

Creamy, sweet, red-fleshed Garnet sweet potatoes are roasted until caramelized then drizzled with a tangy honey and pomegranate glaze. Then they're dotted with ruby red pomegranate arils, toasted walnuts, and savory thyme for a highly textured, flavorful, and aromatic side dish.

Pomegranates are easy to find now due to their popularity at Christmas time. But don't delay, since their season usually runs from late October through the end of January.

I'm telling you, this is one side dish that can steal the show from an entree any night of the week.

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meyerlemonpastaMy love for Meyer lemons continues this week with another dish using these amazingly flavorful citrus fruits. This time it's a pasta dish that's done in less than 15 minutes. It's meatless, so it's great for vegetarians. But the savory flavors of garlic and crushed red pepper will also appeal to the meat-and-potatoes guys. But what really lifts this dish is the Meyer lemons, which add a tantalizing zing that refreshes the palate.

As fast as you can boil pasta is as fast as you can make this recipe. The sauce is made with just the lemons and some pasta water. Then it's a matter of finishing it off with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Make this meal in minutes—it's perfect for the weeknight when you're lacking the time or creativity to make anything complex. And if you can't find Meyer lemons, use regular ones and get results that are just as great.

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pomegranates.jpgMy appreciation of certain foods is only enhanced by the symbolism associated with them. As an example, in Italy it's a tradition to eat lentils on new years day. The individual lentils are supposed to represent the coins that will come to you in the new year. Ever since I heard that, the thought of a big sausage and lentil stew on new years day seems like just the right thing. Jewish new years or Rosh Hashanah has its own traditional foods. I grew up eating apples dipped in honey to represent the sweetness of the new year, but I just learned that another traditional food for the Jewish new year is the pomegranate. Moroccan Jews say that the seeds of the pomegranate represent the good deeds or mitzvah that will occur in the new year and I have to say I think that the two-fold symbolism is as sweet as an apple dipped in honey.

Pomegranates like figs, feature prominently in Greek mythology, as well as the bible. They have long been a symbol of fertility in many cultures. Have you ever noticed how often they show up in religious paintings? Christians have so many different interpretations of the pomegranate it's tough to keep track.

 

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bloodorancealmondcakeIt's March, and the weather is still pretty miserable. There are cold fronts, snow storms, dense fog, and freezing rain blanketing various parts of the country.

While I can't make the daffodils grow any more quickly, I can share a recipe for a refreshing Italian Almond and Orange with Blood Orange Compote that is sure to make you feel warm and happy. I created the recipe a few weeks ago and have since made it two more times. It's that good.

While this Italian torte bakes, your home will be filled with the bright scent of citrus. Since it's subtly sweet yet rich with almond flavor, it's ideal for pairing with a glass of Italian Vin Santo on a relaxing afternoon. It also makes a lovely formal dessert when dressed with a spicy compote of tart blood oranges soaked in honey, vanilla, cloves, and star anise.

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carrot soup with cilantro drizzleIt always amazes me how a handful of ingredients can come together in such stunning ways. Take carrots and raw cashews. Who knew? Combining them with some chicken broth resulted in an extraordinarily different kind of soup. It is creamy and light as a cloud at the same time. Neither liquid nor broth, but more of a puree with texture. 

First I cooked the carrots in chicken broth until they were tender, then I dropped them into a blender with cups of raw cashews, salt, and a dash of ground cloves.

I loved the taste, but wanted to layer on another flavor. At first I thought about topping the soup with a swirl of port glaze. I've always loved carrots and port together. Yet, when I spied a bunch of cilantro sitting on the kitchen counter, I opted for the green. With a quick pulse or two in the food processor with some deep green oil, salt and bit of garlic, I had my drizzle.

This soup is sublime. Healthy. Simple. And totally satisfying.

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