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Creamy Mushroom Soup with Black Rice

Delectable, creamy winter soup created from a blend of mushrooms, herbs, and wild rice — this is our choice for an easy and healthy vegetarian or even vegan supper that highlights the variety and richness of the fungi kingdom.  

Ultimate English Toffee

It’s Christmas, so it’s time for toffee! English toffee, that is, made the proper, scientific way, and coated with either milk chocolate and almonds, or white chocolate and pistachios. Or both! A double-whammy of sweet holiday delight.

Real, Homemade Egg Nog

Rich, creamy, and unapologetically boozy, this is an egg nog whose virtues are sung by poets. Probably. Once they’ve had a few. 

Creamy Mushroom Soup with Black Rice

Delectable, creamy winter soup created from a blend of mushrooms, herbs, and wild rice — this is our choice for an easy and healthy vegetarian or even vegan supper that highlights the variety and richness of the fungi kingdom.  

Ultimate English Toffee

It’s Christmas, so it’s time for toffee! English toffee, that is, made the proper, scientific way, and coated with either milk chocolate and almonds, or white chocolate and pistachios. Or both! A double-whammy of sweet holiday delight.

Real, Homemade Egg Nog

Rich, creamy, and unapologetically boozy, this is an egg nog whose virtues are sung by poets. Probably. Once they’ve had a few. 

Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Pistachios and Parmesan

Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Pistachios and Parmesan

This farro salad with butternut squash and hardy kale lets you imagine it’s actually spring while using up the last of your winter produce. 

Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Pistachios and ParmesanYay, it’s officially Spring! Also boo, it’s officially snowing.

Here in the Hudson Valley we had one fleeting afternoon of warmth but then, like a high school bully who tells you your sneakers are cool so you’ll look down and then flicks you on the forehead, we got sucker punched.  Even the chickens were like, “Seriously? We are so over this,” when I went to the coop this morning.

Every year I forget that Spring vegetables like ramps and asparagus don’t start to show up at the Farmer’s Market until mid-April at the earliest so right now, it’s mostly the same selection you find in Fall. Which is not a terrible thing when you can get great stuff like butternut squash, apple cider and baby kale.

Farro Salad with Butternut Squash, Pistachios and Parmesan

Skillet Chicken with Wine, Shallots and Mustard

Skillet Chicken with Wine, Shallots and Mustard

Skillet Chicken with Wine, Shallots and Mustard

You know how sometimes when you watch a cooking show (don’t judge me, I find them very relaxing), the host will say something like “this ____ is so simple and quick, it’s easier than ordering a pizza!” and then they proceed to use 6 different pots and pans (on their massive 8 burner stove)? Well, bollocks to that. The only thing easier than ordering a pizza is having someone else order it for you.

And even more to the point, there is nothing easy about a dinner if I have to utilize every pot I own to make it.

That’s why I’m always looking to expand my repertoire of recipes that can be made in a single pot or pan. This one was inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe, but I’ve adapted it to cook in a skillet which makes it faster and also gives the chicken deliciously crispy skin. The sauce is absolutely amazing, so make sure to have plenty of good, crusty bread to sop it up.

Nerd alert: want to see what a dog’s face looks like when you tell her that her dry, dusty kibbles are just as good as this delicious-smelling chicken dinner?

Arya the dog

I don’t think she believed me.

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.

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