These Japanese-style chicken meatball skewers, called Tsukune, are grilled to a deep golden brown and brushed with a sweet soy glaze. Great for game day snacks or just when you feel like eating something on a stick (which is every day for us).
Well, it’s finally that time of year. You know, when we can all go outside, hang out on the deck with friends, throw stuff on the grill, enjoy the warm summer’s evening because OF COURSE NOT, IT’S JANUARY, WE JUST GOT DONE WITH -10F TEMPS, ARE YOU CRAZY. And yet this weekend my inbox included an email from our favorite national home-improvement chain inviting me to shop all their grill options. Thank you, Home Depot, I’ll wait until I can defrost the patio furniture before I start thinking about firing up the grill.
But who are we to tell you when you can and can’t eat something? If you want to make a strawberry Pavlova in November, or roast a butternut squash in March, you do that, friend, and go with our blessing. If you feel like grilling meatballs on a stick in January, whether you brave the cold to man the grill, or use a grill pan on your stovetop, or forgo the grill entirely and opt for the broiler, is there any good reason you shouldn’t? There isn’t. There’s no good reason at all.
The classic combination of spicy sausage, creamy white cannellini beans and bright escarole has never been so satisfying. We go heavy on the garlic and herbs, add more vegetables, and give it a hearty, creamy texture by mashing some of the beans and adding a little cream cheese.
Every year on the blog about this time we complain about the weather. It’s so cold right now, we’re watching the Hardhome episode of Game of Thrones, where Jon Snow and his pals are as far North as they’ve ever been, and they’re fighting through a vicious blizzard and the cold is literally making people’s hands drop off, and we’re thinking “mmm, that looks like a toasty vacation spot”.
This year, the weather gods have outdone themselves (it’s -16ºF / -27ºC with the wind chill. That’s an incomprehensible amount of cold.). So instead of shaking our fists at the sky and risking instant frostbite, we fight back by making the coziest, heartiest, most fortifying soup we can imagine.
These salted caramel peanut butter bars – in miniature bite-size form – are about the best way to win over someone’s heart. They may also offer you their kidneys, liver and spleen. They’re that good.
We’re taking a week off to transition the house from post-Thanksgiving chaos to pre-Christmas jollity (move all the furniture back where it came from, vacuum the last bits of piecrust off the dog, etc, etc) so this is a repost of a favorite recipe from a couple of years ago.
This, my friends, is one of those recipes that goes there. And by “there” I mean to that place of ultimate deliciousness that defies logic and reason. It takes all the elements that make treats actually a treat and truly (madly, deeply) delivers what it promises. Sweet, salty, peanut buttery, caramel-y, chocolatey, cookie-ey. All in one teeny little salted caramel peanut butter bar bite.
I say “teeny little bite” because these are so decadent that I think they’re best as little bite-sized squares but honestly how big you cut them is up to you. I mean, if you want to serve them as two 4″x 8″ planks, that is entirely your business. Nerds do not judge. Well, unless you get your Game of Thrones noble houses mixed up. Then we are merciless and will never let you live it down no matter how many times you explain that the banners of house Tyrell and house Martell look kind of similar especially from a distance oh my god just drop it already.)
When I was growing up, an “annual” was a comic-strip-based holiday gift that kept you chuckling for about a day and a half before being stuffed into a cupboard and forgotten about. I like to think our annual Thanksgiving roundup follows that tradition.
This accurately describes our run-up to Thanksgiving this year:
September: – *glances at calendar* – “OK, plenty of time to plan our T-day, we’ll take it nice and slow this year, no need to stress” – * yawns, takes sip of tea, looks back down at calendar* – “HOLY CRAP IT’S NOVEMBER 14th AND WE’VE DONE NOTHING WE’RE SCREWED, BURN IT DOWN, BURN IT ALL DOWN”
Seriously. Our work schedules (our real work, you know, not this culinary frippery) became uncommonly strange and busy, and what with one thing and another and yet a third thing, and then the first two things again because they didn’t get done properly the first time, we didn’t stick with our disciplined scheme from previous years where we make stock exactly two weeks in advance and proceed from there armed with post-its and string and pins for the crazy wall and it all somehow comes together on the day. This year our minds were elsewhere and now November 23rd is coming up and we have to scramble.
These are what you want for a holiday party: buttery puff pastry tartlets topped with oven-roasted pears, balsamic-caramelized red onions and goat cheese crumbles. A drizzle of spicy chili-honey puts it over the top.
While we love throwing parties around the holidays, we inevitably get so busy that what we envisioned as a relaxed morning of prepping nibbles ends up being a scramble to get food on the table before our famished guests start experimentally sprinkling salt and pepper on the cats. That’s when a time-saver like puff pastry sheets becomes our best friend in the kitchen. In fact, the day before a party, we often defrost a box just on the off chance that we’ll need to make more vittles. It’s a matter of minutes to throw a few ingredients onto a pastry square and bake it.
We recently found a combination that requires a little more prep time, but is so worth it: roasted pears, caramelized red onions, goat cheese and chili-infused honey. It’s so satisfying that these tarts, maybe with a simple cheese board, are all you need to wow and satisfy your guests. The toppings can be made in advance and even assembled the day before, so all you need to do the day of the party is pop them in the oven. Easy peasy.
Also, don’t forget to check out our tips for buying and cooking pears below. The variety you buy matters!