Comfort Foods and Indulgences

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.

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potato.tatertot.tower_.jpgWhen I heard that my friend, Brigid was making “50″s junk food” I immediately went to a recipe I have been coveting for some time now; Homemade Tater Tots. I have read and re-read Saveur’s 100 issue and there are so many recipes that I want to try, modify, and taste.  But it is these little golden nuggets of fried “potatoes” that I keep coming back to.  Yes, these Tater Tots are indeed fried.  And fried food is one of my guilty pleasures.

This is not a dish that I would regularly put on my dinner table, but it is a great treat and perfect for a crowd.  This is also a dish that could be done in advance.  All of us busy people, juggling everything from kids, work, volunteer committments, plus the perils of everyday life – having something pre-prepared and in the freezer is truly a wonderful thing.

There is simply nothing better than a homemade Tater Tot.  I made mine with organic potatoes and whole wheat flour.  With that said, could this be considered a healthy treat???

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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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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 

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enchiladas.jpgIt’s Fall. The start of a new school year, being on a schedule, homework (grrrr), packing lunches, and the change of the season. I live in a house filled with boy energy. It’s loud, it’s rough, and my husband has dubbed it perfectly; a mini frat house.

My frat boys look forward to the fall season and all the sports that comes along with it.  Monday night football is no exception. One rule that I prefer to not break is that we sit down to dinner each night, as a family, and discuss our day.  It’s a great way to bring the family back together and can be quite calming and soothing.  As my kids get older and their activities grow and expand, gathering around the dinner table becomes a bit more challenging.

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