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Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops (Thit Heo Nuong Xa) with Cold Rice Noodles

These Vietnamese pork chops are marinated in a perfectly balance of lemongrass, ginger and sugar, grilled to perfection, and served with cold rice noodles and pickled sides.

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How to put together a perfect charcuterie board

We put the must in mustard, the cute in charcuterie, and the jam in …er … jam, with this spectacular picnic spread. Ham! Cheese! Pâté! Salami! Pickles! Our festive charcuterie board is topped off with fresh, tangy home-made Maple Mustard and sweet Red Onion Jam.

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Homemade Maple Mustard

If you like mustard, you seriously have to try making your own. It’s so much better than the jarred kind and it couldn’t be easier. Our Homemade Maple Mustard is a little sweet, a little spicy and tastes incredibly fresh.

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Roasted Cipollini Onions with Thyme

Roasted Cipollini Onions with Thyme

Roasted Cipollini Onions with Thyme

Roasted cipollini onions are a great accompaniment to any meal – they have a sweet and savory caramel flavor that we combine with thyme for added depth.

If you’re not familiar with them, Cipollini onions (pronounced chip-oh-lee-knee) are a thin-skinned, mild onion about the side of a golf ball. They’re pretty easy to recognize because they have a flattened, almost UFO-ish shape that’s very distinctive. The name literally means “little onion” in Italian. Go figure.

Duck-Fat Roasted Cipollini Onions with ThymeThese little guys are my all-time favorite onion to roast because they caramelize beautifully and become incredibly soft and sweet.

Like all little onions, they are kind of annoying to peel but if you boil them for 30 seconds and then run ice-cold water over them, it’s really not too bad. My advice is to make more than you think you’ll need because they will disappear quickly.

Duck-Fat Roasted Cipollini Onions with Thyme

Trim off the little root end and peel back the brown skin.

Crispy Duck Breasts with Sherry and Figs

Crispy Duck Breasts with Sherry and Figs

Crispy Duck Breasts with Sherry and Figs

In today’s episode of Nerds with Knives (aka Goons with Spoons, aka Dorks with Forks), we explore the many ways you can trick people into thinking you are a much fancier person than you actually are. Sure, you can buy a classic open-top Bentley, like a real-life Mr Toad, and have your chauffeur drive you around town making parping noises … but wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper just to pretend? Tell people the Bentley is in the shop getting its … grommets waxed … or something, and then you can sit at home making parping noises. If you wish. Just one example.

Here’s another: The Great Gatsby. Remember when Gatsby makes that delicious ten-course meal, and only when his dinner guests have eaten their fill and complimented him on his fine culinary ability does he reveal it was in fact entirely fashioned out of old hats and a dead squirrel? [Note: I have not read The Great Gatsby.] Here are some things you can do in the comfort of your own home to add a little Gatsby to your dishes.

Trick #1: Good lighting.

We all know that everything looks better lit by candlelight (hello, it’s basically nature’s soft-focus camera which, as a lady-of-a-certain-age, I very much appreciate). But candles also produce deep, dark shadows where things can be hidden, like the wrinkly napkins you never had time to iron, or that fancy bottle of wine that mysteriously became emptier while you were alone in the kitchen.

Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Guys.

Guuuuuuuuuuys.

I just can’t with this cake.

LOOK AT IT!

Is this not the most delightfully bonkers looking cake you’ve ever seen? Hello? Are you listening to me? You’re hypnotized, aren’t you? It’s okay, I get it.

*SNAP*

Welcome back. You can put your shoes back on now and I’ll just hand you back your wallet. Ahem.

Three Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Last week, when my oldest and dearest friend Heather decided to come up and hang out with us for her birthday, Matt and I knew we wanted to make something really special for her. Her birthday also happens to fall on Valentines Day so instead of going out to an overpriced restaurant, we decided to Nerd it up at home and go ALL OUT.

Caramelized Green Beans with Soy and Lemon

Caramelized Green Beans with Soy and Lemon

Caramelized green beans is a quick, healthy dish that would be an ideal vegan (and optionally gluten free) side for an Asian-style dinner.

Caramelized Green Beans with Soy and Lemon

…with a little extra chili sauce on top for spice.

We all have our little quirks and one of mine is that I am… let’s just say ambivalent about green beans unless they are cooked one, very specific way. (But when they are cooked this way, I’m adore them and want them all the time). In fact, prepared this way, I find them colossally addictive. I’m odd, I know. I’ve accepted it (and more importantly, so has Matt, who I’m sure would enjoy green beans prepared any number of ways but somehow never complains when they show up tasting exactly the same, time after time).

Caramelized Green Beans with Soy and Lemon

It’s not like green beans are evil and must be destroyed. I mean, they’re not celery. It’s just that they’re often rather…meh. A bit bland and, even worse, rubbery. And they make a little squeaky sound against your teeth when you chew them (I already admitted to being weird so stop making that face).

Yes, I know those little haricots vert you can sometimes find are tender and perfect (especially steamed and coated with a sharp, mustardy dressing) but, at least around these parts, they are often diabolically expensive. And I like to save my dollars for important things like hats for boiled eggs and gifs of Benedict Cumberbatch being licked by kittens.  Like I said, important.

Benedict Cumberbatch being licked by a kitten is what the internet was made for,

Benedict Cumberbatch being licked by a kitten is what the internet was made for,

Pasta with Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and White Beans

Pasta with Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and White Beans

Pasta with sausage, broccoli rabe and white beans is a classic combination that needs its own name. While you’re thinking of one, check out our recipe.

PASTA WITH SAUSAGE, BROCCOLI RABE AND WHITE BEANS

Neither one of us grew up in an Italian family. We didn’t have childhoods where there was always a lasagne baking away in the kitchen, twenty people crammed into a dining room, cheerfully shouting at one another to pass the meatballs, Dad sitting at the head of the table with his slicked-back hair, pencil moustache, eating slices of orange, two bodyguards at the door … you know what, I’m thinking of “The Godfather” there, that’s what that is.

Of course, it’s easy to get inspiration from Italian cuisine – there are are a handful of classic pasta dishes that we fall back on for dinner parties or quick weeknight meals, and I think this might be one of our favorites – it’s cheap, easy and phenomenally delicious. We make it all the time.

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