Comfort Foods and Indulgences

tomatilloguacAs football fans gear up for Super Bowl Sunday, they'll buy more than 50 million pounds of avocados, almost all of which will be transformed into guacamole. How will all this guacamole get eaten? With chips, of course. 15, 000 tons of chips.

That's enough guacamole to cover a football field, end zone to end zone, waist deep.

Guacamole couldn't be easier to make, so skip the pre-made containers at the super market and make your own this year.

Though I love traditional guacamole, I'll be making my Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole Sunday, a palette-tingling concoction of silky avocado, tangy tomatillos, and hot serrano chili. Tomatillos (toh-MAH-tee-YOS), also known as green tomatoes, are a staple in Mexican cuisine, beloved for their tart, citric flavor, not unlike a Granny Smith apple. When selecting, look for smooth, crisp, papery skin and firm, brightly colored green fruit.

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spanishtoastTorrijas, a cross between French Toast and bread pudding, can be found throughout the year in Spain, but they are particularly popular for dessert around the Easter holiday. The tradition of reviving stale bread with eggs and milk dates back to Roman times, and most countries have their own particular version.

I first tried this dish at the Palace Hotel in Madrid and was impressed with the subtle flavors of cinnamon, lemon and honey. There are many variations of this treat – some soften the stale bread by soaking it in a sweet wine, while other variations use milk, and honey. The chef at the Palace was kind enough to share his recipe, which I think is just about perfect.

In Spain, it’s served cool or at room temperature (frankly almost everything in Spain is served at room temperature) and drizzled with honey syrup.

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madelinefrenchtoast2Biscuiterie familliale depuis 1905. St. Michel is a family owned bakery in Commercy France. In 1755 a young French girl named “Madeleine” created a recipe for a sumptuous little cake. These legendary cakes so inspired Marcel Proust that he dedicated pages to describe his experience of first biting into them in his novel, Remembrance Of Things Past. The little cakes became so popular that the recipe has been a closely guarded family secret to this day.

They are irresistible and addictive, redolent of citrus and sweet butter. Dunked in tea or coffee or vin santo. Dunked into honey. Or simply on their own.

Or as French Toast! I just thought it would be delicious, and it was! I used a serrated knife and carefully sliced each one lengthwise into three equal pieces, then soaked them for a couple of minutes in an egg bath, then gently sauteed them in sweet butter until they were golden brown. Then I plated them, drizzled all with Maple Syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar. The resulting warm miniature French Toasts had intensified their citrus taste during cooking, which was a surprise, and which tasted absolutely etherial with the toppings.

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chocpeanutblondies.jpgNext to chocolate chip cookies, brownies and blondies are some of the most popular sweet treats. Unfortunately most people bake them from boxed mixes when in fact they are too easy to make from scratch. You can find all the ingredients you need in your pantry. One of my most popular recipes on this site is my best brownies. I love the rich dark chocolate brownies, but I also love blondies just as much. I make them quite often. They might not be as well known as their chocolaty counterpart, but there just as good—if not better.

This recipe is my go-to, all-in-one blondie recipe. I adapt this recipe over and over again. Here it's made with chopped semisweet chocolate and chopped peanuts. Chopping the chocolate results in fudge-like blondies. Use chocolate chips and the blondies will turn out a bit more cake-like since the chocolate won't melt as much. Any chopped nut can stand in place of the peanuts. Instead of milk or dark chocolate, try white chocolate, carob, peanut buttter chips, butterscotch chips, or toffee chips. Variation is encouraged.


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fancy-artichoke-dipWho doesn't love a good dip?! And since it's what I officially call "dip season", why not enjoy the heck out of it. Dip is what we all get together for anyway. Isn't it? Maybe I'm misinformed.

This particular Fancy Artichoke Dip is an elevated version of the classic. It almost looks like there is sausage on top, but it's really wheat bread crumbs. There are many layers of flavor in here, I just kept adding things until it was right.

I know you are going to enjoy this one, it will disappear before your eyes.

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