Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Times Holiday Issue

For the last three weeks  the New York Times Wednesday section has been offering helpful hints and recipes regarding Thanksgiving.Now they're helping home chefs and bakers tackle the onslaught of holiday baking and cooking. There's also a guide to gift giving but that'll be for tomorrow. Today it's all about the bake.

The big guns of the Food section, Julia Moskin, David Tanis, Martha Rose Shulman and Joan Nathan give us the skinny on both sweet and savory . Even the front page has a lovely picture of chocolate reindeer cookies (and of course the lead one does have a red nose.)The recipe is on the next page, dark chocolate espresso snap that only needs royal icing because the flavor is so intense. A California reader, Mari Pfeiffer sent it in and it's from Great Cookies Cookbook by author and teacher Carole Walter. You could even make them and then hang them on the tree as ornaments.Martha Rose Shulman who often contributes healthy recipes to the Tuesday science Times gives us gluten free cookies. Hers are meringues and haystacks, traditionally flour free treats. The meringues are heavily laced with chocolate which cuts the cookie's sweetness.They're a nice departure from the traditional flour ones, providing the right amount of crunch and chewiness. Haystacks are a fun treat,This variation has sugar, butter, evaporated milk and salt cooked in a saucepan and then rolled oats , shredded coconut and vanilla is added.It's then mixed and spoonfuls are dropped onto parchment paper or cookie sheets to cool.

Julia Moskin, David Tanis,and Joan Nathan give us the savory side of holiday baking. Ms.. Moskin has ideas and recipes for different types of challah for the Hanukkah meal.Everyone knows it as a golden braided loaf with a sweet taste  however this is the Ashkenazi, Eastern European Jews, namely the ones from Hungary , version. Sephardic Jews, from Spain make a crunchy rounded loaf, redolent with sesame, caraway and cumin seeds. It's perfect with just honey or dipped into a spicy tagine. The North African and Middle Eastern Jews bake    plain ones with just a touch of sugar and a bit more spices. Another Hanukkah favorite is latke, those crispy fried potato pancakes celebrating  the miracle of the temple.Joan Nathan gives us her aunt's recipe which involves mashed potatoes instead of the usual grated ones. She also adds dill, parsley and shallots for more flavor. They're fried in the oil of the moment  - coconut oil.. This potato puff kind retains more of the vegetable's flavor  as opposed to the grated latke which has an oilier taste. David Tanis  contributes yummy onion tartlet recipes that work at any holiday party. It's a simple butter crust ,faintly lemony thanks to a dash of lemon juice. The topping is caramelized onions and a covering of Gorgonzola or blue cheese.You can sub in a milder cheese like Fontina if the other is too sharp. He also recommends using the dough recipe for galettes and other savory tarts.

Home bakers will love this issue. There are some great recipes, from the chocolate snaps to the onion tartlets to try. Everything is the perfect treat for the holidays ahead!

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