The Queen of Persian Stew – Khoresht Fesenjaan

It is prepared with great care for special occasions, made with syrupy sauces from juices of fruits such as pomegranates. Pomegranates are found throughout the Middle East; Persians have used the wood of the pomegranate tree for fuel, the bark for tannic acid, and the roots for medicine; the juice is used for dyes; the silhouette of the fruit is used for carpet and fabric designs; and the pomegranate is a symbol used in poetry. The following recipe combines stewed chicken with syrupy pomegranate juice. Enjoy this dish on top of the delicious rice dish of your choice. Classic chelo rice would work beautifully.

Food in Iran is a fundamental part of Iranian heritage. Their ingredients reflect the geography of Iran, while the savor and colors accent the aesthetic tastes of Iranians. The cuisines are associated with so many social events -births, weddings, funerals; and many other ceremonies and rituals- that culinary traditions are intertwined with a country’s history and religion.
Iranian food is a very important and integral part of Iranians’ life and culture, so important that its ingredients are very frequently used as metaphors for describing beauty. For example: “Moon-faced beauties have almond-shaped eyes, peachy complexions, pistachio-like mouths, pomegranate colored lips, hazelnut-like noses, red apple cheeks, and lemon-like breasts.”

Khoresht Fesenjaan: Persian Pomegranate Walnut Stew

Note: Since pomegranate juice is so popular now and pretty easy to find in supermarkets, you can use that instead of pomegranate syrup. However, pomegranate syrup/molasses is available in some grocery stores, and also in Middle Eastern/Mediterranean stores. A lot of oil will come to the top of the dish. This is normal and nothing to worry about; it is the oil from the walnuts.

Tip: “Chicken, onions, finely processed walnuts, and pomegranate juice are simmered to perfection. The sauce should be as thick as a good chili. Serve with saffron steamed basmati rice.”

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil, ghee, butter, or neutral cooking oil of choice
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 pound boneless-in chicken thighs, legs, and/or breasts, skin removed
1/2 pound walnuts, finely ground (shells removed)
4 cups pomegranate juice or 1/2 cup pomegranate syrup/molasses diluted in 2 cups of water
1/4 teaspoon saffron, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water
Salt, to taste
Honey, Agave or sugar
Cardamom pod (optional) OR 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder and/or a pinch of ground allspice (optional)

Directions:

1. Heat the fat in a large pan Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove onions.

2. Salt chicken. Add chicken and brown on both sides, about three minutes per side. Remove from pan, and set aside.

3. Place the ground walnuts in the remaining oil in the frying pan. Cook and stir over low heat 5 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

4. Return the onion and chicken to the frying pan with the walnuts. Stir in the pomegranate juice or diluted pomegranate syrup. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. (You can simmer longer to deepen the flavor, adding water as necessary so the pan doesn’t dry out).

5. Adjust seasoning to taste. If stew tastes too sour, add a little honey or sugar and simmer a bit longer. Serve over basmati rice. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


On the thirteenth day of the new year, which also marks the end of the Norooz holiday break for the students, families leave their houses and head for the outdoors where they eat, play games, and celebrate a happy and healthy holiday season.

This tradition is called Seezdah Bedar (seezdah means thirteen) which in English translates to “getting rid of thirteen”. This fun and exciting outing involves all family members and is intended to end the holiday season on a relaxing and positive note. The concept of avoiding the number thirteen is mainly to symbolize the will and power to deal with all evil in the new year.

An interesting ritual performed at the end of the picnic day is to throw away the Sabzee from the Norooz Haft Seen table. The sabzee is supposed to have collected all the sickness, pain and ill fate hiding on the path of the family throughout the coming year! Touching someone else’s sabzee on this thirteenth day or bringing it home is, therefore, not a good idea and may result in inviting their pain and hardship to oneself.

Another meaningful ritual performed with the dumping of the sabzee is that young single women tie the sabzee leaves prior to discarding it, symbolizing the wish to be tied in a marriage by the Seezdah Bedar of the following year!

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Gnocchi alla Romana

Gnocchi alla Romana are gnocchi, Roman-style. This recipe of Gnocchi Alla Romana was picked up by me from a gourmet magazine, I twisted it a little bit to meet my taste here I am, sharing my version with you. This is the most comforting Appetizer recipe I have come across. This mesmerizing Gnocchi Alla Romana is one of the best contribution from the Italian people to my kitchen. I am sure you and I will approve that this Gnocchi Alla Romana is really delicious. Unlike the more familiar potato gnocchi, these are made out of semolina and are baked with a cheese topping.

4 to 6 servings

  • Milk — 3 1/2 cups
  • Semolina (see notes) — 1 cup
  • Grated Parmesan cheese — 3/4 cup
  • Egg yolks — 3
  • Butter — 2 tablespoons
  • Salt — 1 teaspoon
  • Grated Parmesan cheese — 1/4 cup
  • Butter — 1 tablespoon

Method
  1. Add the milk to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium flame. Stirring constantly, slowly sprinkle the semolina into the simmering milk. When all the semolina is added, reduce heat to low and continue stirring for 15 to 20 more minutes, taking care not to let it scorch on the bottom of the pot.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. When the cheese is completely melted in, beat in the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of the butter and salt. Taste a small amount and add adjust seasoning if necessary.
  3. Pour the cheesy semolina onto a large cutting board that has been lightly oiled or moistened with water. Spread with moistened hands to about 1/2-inch thick and set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F. Using a biscuit cutter or medium-sized glass, cut the cooled semoline into 2 or 3-inch rounds. Place the rounds in an overlapping, shingle-like pattern in a large, well buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan over the top of the semolina rounds and dot with remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
  5. Set the baking dish in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through and top is browned. Place briefly under the broiler if necessary to brown the dish nicely.

Variations
  • Semolina is coarsely ground durum wheat. You can substitute Cream of Wheat cereal or farina.
  • Half of the initial Parmesan cheese can be replaced with shredded mozzarella.
  • Sprinkle in a few gratings of nutmeg if you like.
  • Semolina Croquettes: Save the semolina scraps leftover after cutting the rounds. They can be shaped into croquettes, rolled in breadcrumbs and sautéed in butter or oil until light brown and crispy. Serve as you would potatoes.
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Aashe Reshteh

There are a few different techniques one can use to make Aash Reshteh, but I have chosen a combination of one or two methods to prepare this Persian recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can nokhod (chickapeas) or 1 cup dry nokhod (chickapeas/garbanzo)
  • 1 cup adas (lentils)
  • 1 cup lobiya ghermez (red beans or red kidney beans)
  • 1/4 cup navy beans (optional)
  • 1 package Reshteh (noodle)
  • 1 medium Onion – chopped
  • Kashk
  • chopped garlic
  • dry mint
  • salt/pepper (desired amount)
  • turmeric (optional)
  • 2 table spoons flour (optional)

Continue reading

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Green Chile Stew

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chopped roasted New Mexico (big Jims) or Hatch chiles – skins and seeds removed
  • 3 lbs cubed pork shoulder (ask butcher to cube it (1 inch/small cubes) and to give you the bone from the shoulder
  • 3 Tbsp – Masa Flour
  • 2 Tbsp – Oil
  • 1 large yellow onion – chopped
  • 2 Tbsp – butter
  • 32 oz – Chicken stock
  • 4 Yukon Gold potatoes – 1/4 inch cubes
  • 3 Carrots, cut cross-wise into small chunks (optional)
  • 2 Ears of Corn (Kernels), roasted on the grill (optional)
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 2-3 cans of pinto beans (optional)
  • 8+ cloves of garlic – chopped
  • 2 Tbsp – Fresh chopped Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp – Fresh chopped Thyme
  • 1 tsp – Cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 2 Additional Tbsp – Masa (if needed to thinken)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (or more!)

Method:
• Dredge pork cubes in Masa Flour in plastic bag until all pieces are coated.
• Brown in oil in large Dutch oven or pot – set aside

  • Add butter to same pan, lightly cook onion until slightly colored (not browned) – then add garlic cook 1-2 minutes until aromatic.

  • Add 1 tsp of masa and a small amount of chicken stock to browned bottom of pot/dutch oven – as stock heats up, scrape browned bits off of the pan to create a roux. After all bits are scraped, add remaining stock to pan
    Add remaining ingredients to same pan (except green chiles and added Masa). Bring to slow boil, then cover, reduce to simmer for about 30 minutes… then add green chiles and cook until pork is tender – a little over an hour is usually good – too long and the meat will toughen. Make sure it NEVER BOILS as it will cook too fast. Sometimes I turn the stove off after about 40 minutes to make sure it cooks slowly.

  • Add salt/pepper to taste • After 45 minutes, check consistency – if it needs to be thicker slowly add a small amount of Masa at a time and stir until thick – shouldn’t be more than 2 Tbsp. The chiles will breakdown into the roux while cooking. Taste for heat – if you like it spicy, add a couple of diced serrano chiles. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro. Serve with corn bread or homemade tortillas… and several Tecate’s or margaritas!!

 

Important tips – Do not add beer like other recipes suggest – it will dilute the flavor. NEVER use canned chiles.. they have no flavor. New Mexican chiles are the best – you can buy them online already roasted and peeled. Otherwise use fresh Anaheims and roast on the grill lightly until the skins blacken, they place in brown paper bag to steam the skins off. Organic chicken stock is fine – I wouldn’t use low sodium… the best is homemade stock.  Roasted corn right off the cob is also an excellent addition to this chile.  You could also use chicken with this recipe.  Brined chicken in a salt/sugar bath would be good. http://www.newmexicanconnection.com – great online source for frozen roasted chilis if you can’t get them locally

CROCK-POT/SLOW COOKER METHOD:
Prepare same as above… but either transfer the roux from a skillet to your slow cooker or do the same method in your slow cooker insert if it is safe to use on the stove top.

Sear pork bone in skillet PRIOR to browning pork cubes.  Place bone in the slow cooker.  Add all ingredients except corn and beans.  Set to cook on low for 5 hours.  Add corn and beans and cook another hour or two (check tenderness of pork – should be very tender).  Add cilantro to cooker 20 minutes before serving.  This isn’t an exact recipe and every batch will turn out differently.  Add to get the right balance of ingredients and make it up as you go along.  Using the slow cooker is my favorite way to make this as the pork gets very, very tender.

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Braised Beef Short Ribs

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Potato Purée, Swiss Chard and Horseradish Cream

The first time I made short ribs, I freaked out. Lifting their lid after a multi-hour braise just as our guests arrived for dinner, I discovered a mess. “The bones fell out! Help! Did I ruin them?” I cried just as my mother walked into the kitchen, and because she’d never made short ribs before said “I don’t know, maybe?” But then Alex’s mother swooped in and said “That’s a good thing!”

And so it was, so much so that going forward, short ribs instantly became my favorite dinner party meal. They require very little effort, they’re fairly inexpensive and it is really hard to mess them up. You can doctor up the braise with one or a dozen herbs or spices, you can simmer them in almost anything, from wine or beer to stock to hoisin or tomato sauce or any combination thereof but the real magic is this: you can make them in advance. Short ribs are astoundingly flexible in their cooking time and taste even better the next day.

And although I have made many-a short rib recipes in my time, this one from Sunday Suppers at Lucques became my immediate favorite when I made them for a dinner party this past April. [And forgot to take a single photo. Of anything. I’m still getting over it.] The braise itself is wonderful (wine, beef or veal stock, port and a few glugs of balsamic) but what makes it stand head and shoulders above the others is the last step in which you remove the meat from the liquid and roast them until their edges are crisp again, a welcome textural accent in an otherwise soft dish.

My second favorite thing about this recipes are the fixings: they’re served with rich pureed potatoes, sauteed swiss chard, studded with pearl onions, and a glorious combination of crème fraîche and horseradish cream* or *thud* I really stopped listening after that part. I mean, I could tell you that like all good short ribs, you won’t need a knife to eat them — they simple fall into a softly shredded pile of ribs at the mere inkling of the approach of your fork — but I suspect you’re already on your way to the store.



P.S. These pictures may not do much to sing the dish’s glory, but honestly, if anyone has figured out how to cook and serve a meal to eight people in a small apartment while eloquently photographing it, I am insanely jealous.

One year ago: Iceberg Salad with
Two years ago:

Braised Short Ribs with Potato Purée, Swiss Chard and Horseradish Cream
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques

The braise on this smells so good, it moves me to cliche: It makes my knees weak and I briefly considered dabbing it behind my ears so I could keep it with me all day. In the end, I did not. Or so I tell you.

I have adapted this recipe in just a couple ways, because honestly, it’s perfect, but being not in a restaurant kitchen with dish washing help I have tried to reduce the number of pots it requires and swap the potato puree (which, if you can even get your head around this, has twice the amount of cream and butter than my recipe below and then is passed through a fine-mesh tamis twice, when I draw the line at once…) with Cook’s Illustrated’s classic mashed potatoes, which never do me wrong and have never been the cause for any complaint.

Finally, we doubled the recipe so of course your portions will look a tad tinier.

Serves 4 (generously) to 6

6 beef short ribs, about 14 to 16 ounces each (ask for 3 bone center-cut)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 4 whole sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 dozen small pearl onions
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced celery
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups port
2 1/2 cups hearty red wine
6 cups beef or veal stock
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 bunches Swiss chard, cleaned, center ribs removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Horseradish Cream (recipe follows)
Potato Purée/Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)

Season the short ribs with 1 tablespoon thyme and the cracked black pepper. use your hands to coat the meat well. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Take the short ribs out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking, to come to room temperature. After 30 minutes, season them generously on all sides with salt.

When you take the ribs out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the pearl onions with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoons salt, and a pinch of pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast them about 15 minutes, until tender. When they have cooled, slip off the skins with your fingers and set aside. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.

When it’s time to cook the short ribs, heat a large Dutch oven [or a large saute pan, if you would like to use a separate braising dish; I aimed to use fewer dishes] over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil, and wait a minute or two, until the pan is very hot and almost smoking. Place the short ribs in the pan, and sear until they are nicely browned on all three meaty sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to sear the meat in batches. Do not crowd the meat or get lazy or rushed at this step; it will take at least 15 minutes. [I find this takes closer to 45 minutes if you’re really thorough. Be thorough!] When the ribs are nicely browned, transfer them to a plate to rest.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme springs, and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits in the pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine. Turn the heat up to high, and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Arrange ribs in the pot, lieing flat, bones standing up, in one layer. [If you used a saute pan for previous steps, transfer the ribs to a braising pan at this point.] Scrape any vegetables that have fallen on the ribs back into the liquid. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the meat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid if you have one. Braise in the oven for about 3 hours.

To check the meat for doneness, remove the lid and foil, being careful of the escaping steam, and piece a short rib with a paring knife. When the meat is done, it will yield easily to a knife. Taste a piece if you are not sure. [If you would like to cook these a day ahead, this is where you can pause. The next day, you can remove the fat easily from the pot — it will have solidified at the top — bring these back to a simmer on the stove or in an oven, and continue.]

Let the ribs rest 10 minutes in their juices, and then transfer them to a baking sheet.

Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F.

Place the short ribs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to brown.

Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with a ladle to extract all the juices. Skim the fat from the sauce (if you made these the day before, you will have already skimmed them) and, if the broth seems thin, reduce it over medium-high heat to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Tear the Swiss chard into large pieces. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, and stir in the cooked pearl onions. Add half the Swiss chard, and cook a minute or two, stirring the greens in the oil to help them wilt. Add a splash of water and the second half of the greens. Season with a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of ground black pepper. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, until the greens are tender.

Place the swiss chard on a large warm platter, and arrange the short ribs on top. Spoon lots of braising juices over the ribs. Serve the potato puree and horseradish cream (recipes below) on the side.

Horseradish Cream

3/4 cup créme fraîche
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the créme fraîche and horseradish in a small bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Taste for balance and seasoning.

Mashed Potatoes
Cook’s Illustrated’s Master Recipe

2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed (I used Yukon Golds)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick, 4 ounces), melted
1 cup half-and-half , warmed
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
Ground black pepper
Chives for garnish (optional)

1. Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with 1 inch water. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of center of potatoes with very little resistance), 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.

2. Set food mill or ricer over now empty but still warm saucepan. Spear potato with dinner fork, then peel back skin with paring knife. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Working in batches, cut peeled potatoes into rough chunks and drop into hopper of food mill or ricer. Process or rice potatoes into saucepan.

3. Stir in butter with wooden spoon until incorporated; gently whisk in half-and-half, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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blue cheese iceberg wedget

If there is one thing that Alex has shown me the light of over the course of our relationship–but fortunately, there are many, including ribs, pickles, bourbon and skiing–it’s the consummate beauty of a vacation that entails absolutely nothing. No water skiing, no scuba diving, no afternoon of shopping, no conga lines: just hours upon hours on the beach, tearing through one book at a time. Can you imagine how awful this must be after months of doing things and being ‘on’ and producing things of value for other people in exchange for earning a living? I’ll tell you, it’s a big adjustment.

Day one is always a little bewildering; we find ourselves saying “Wow, a whole week?” “Seven DAYS of this?” and “What will we do with ourselves?” a lot. Day two we start settling into the beach life–barefoot, sunscreened, our winter coats looking ridiculous hanging in the room’s closet–and make some dents in our books. By day three, however, we’re pretty used to it all: the bluest–aqua, really–ocean we have ever seen, silky white sand, absurd 3 p.m. cocktails called the Tropicolada and the uncanny ability to take a long post-cocktail nap despite having slept 10 hours the night before, and this is where everything descents into a haze. Without a singular event or laughable attempt at productivity that will serve as a demarcation between the days, we tend to blink twice and its day seven. We wonder how our families are doing. We ponder what plans we have made for the weekend we return.


That is, under the best of circumstances. However, this vacation, this last step–the one when we begin to miss little parts of our regular lives–went terribly awry, and I blame a lot of this on those evil Heavenly Beds they have branded at Westin Hotels. It’s just not fair. I used to love our pillow-top bed, our thick feather duvets and our down pillows but since I’ve been home, they’ve been a constant source of disappointment: my sleep experience has been ruined. But that’s not all; this weather has been unseemly and in the greatest of indignities I have had to suffer through, its noon now and not a single waiter has offered to deliver a Tropicolada to my part of the sofa. I cannot believe I am expected to subsist under these conditions.


Alas, this is the part where I am supposed to tell you about the Aruban cookbook I dutifully picked up at a gift store with mouth-watering recipes for fried plantains, coconut cake and pigeon pea stew and alarming ones for iguana soup, or at the very least, provide you with an approximation of a recipe for that tropical cocktail, but I’ve got none of that for you today because when I came home from vacation, all I craved was a classic iceberg wedge salad. Yes, like the steakhouse kind–by land and not sea. What can I say? My cravings defy logic. Bring me a Heavenly Bed and a coconut rum cocktail and I might be willing to discuss my inconsistencies.


Until then, this recipe is flawless in its own right. With or without crumbled crispy bacon, I have always had a soft spot for these types of salad, likely harkening back to the days when they, along with a side order of broiled mushrooms and steamed asparagus, were all I consumed at steakhouses. I know iceberg is the lowliest member of the lettuce family and that blue cheese dressing was supposed to have gone out of style with flannels but I think we all know how well that’s going, so I say dig in. Nothing screams Seven Days Until Salad Season like a bacon salad!


Blue Cheese Dressing
Adapted from several sources

Use this dressing on wedges of iceberg or another crisp lettuce or omit the buttermilk and serve it as a dip with crudites.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups of dressing

1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces crumbled firm blue cheese (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Blend buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth. Add blue cheese and pulse until cheese is incorporated but dressing is still slightly chunky. Transfer to a bowl and stir in chives.

Do ahead: Keeps, covered and chilled, for one week, though we’ve yet to test that theory.

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Hazelnut truffles

 

I confess that I roll my eyes a bit at the overhearing of some new truffle recipe. I don’t mean to over-simplify them — yes, fabulous chocolatiers from time to time find new ways to flavor, construct or adorn these decadent orbs of Awesome — but it all simmers down to the same thing: they’re just firm ganache, and ganache is just melted chocolate mixed with cream.

If you, like us, feel that tiny truffles are nothing short of the most transcendent and uplifting vehicle for chocolate consumption, you should make them because they’re ridiculously easy. Plus, unless you’re buying yours at $2.50 apiece, they’re pretty much always better homemade.

Pour some boiling heavy cream over chopped bits of chocolate in a bowl in an approximately 1:1 ratio, as in once ounce of cream to an ounce of chocolate. Whisk them together. Add your flavorings of choice — a flavored liquor, splash of extract, spoonful of coffee, pinch of spice or some combination of the above — let it firm up in the fridge, either scoop out pieces or pipe it into mounds, then rolling it into your topping of choice, pop one in your mouth and say aaah.

Why the big demystification today? Because I finally made some, and really, rolled my eyes at myself for not doing it sooner. All this means is that I no longer have an excuse not try out The Great Robert Linxe’s delights. Still, latex gloves? Inherently scary.

Four more things: I used Ina Garten’s hazelnut truffle recipe, because I just love those flavors together but obviously you could replace that liquor with any other. I rolled them in unsweetened cocoa instead of chopped nuts out of personal preference, but anything from coarse sugar, chocolate shavings, ground candy canes to small sprinkles could make these more festive and less, er, discomforting in their appearance. Finally, although we have all noted before how tiresome it is when a recipe implores us to use “good” this or “quality” that, since truffles are nothing but a magnifying glass for chocolate, the expensive stuff really comes through when you make these, in a way that Nestle’s toll house chips will not. Prices making you ill? Replace just half with the gourmet treats. Finally, I did the scoop and roll in your hands thing but I’m totally piping them next time. Seems less messy and I love that little mounded shape.

Alas, I am not even close to done cooking or posting for the weekend, but I suspect most of you are done reading. Have a fantastic, relaxing and delicious holiday; I’ll be right here when you get back.

Hazelnut Truffles
Adapted from Ina Garten

1 cup hazelnuts
3 1/2 ounces good bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur (recommended: Frangelico)
1 tablespoon prepared coffee
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Chop the hazelnuts and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them in the oven for 10 minutes. (If the hazelnuts have skin on them, roast them for 25 minutes.) Set aside to cool.

Chop the chocolates finely and place in a bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it boils. Immediately pour the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with the chocolates. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. (If the chocolate doesn’t melt completely, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for a few minutes just until it melts.) Whisk in the hazelnut liqueur, coffee, and vanilla. Cover and chill for 45 minutes to 1 hour until pliable but firm enough to scoop.

With 2 teaspoons or a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into rough spheres. Roll the chocolate in the chopped hazelnuts and chill again.

Do ahead: Truffles are best when they’re allowed to set overnight in the refrigerator.

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