Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hot dog, Austin style.

Austin is, as you likely know, hardly lacking in the Mexican food department. Taquerias abound, breakfast tacos appear on most menus, and you can get chips with queso and jalapenos at the Alamo Draft House movie theatres. In short, this is a town rolling in quality Mexican (which makes this good Mexican food-deprived New Yorker very, very happy).

One one of my first afternoons in Austin, we decided to pay a visit to La Condesa, an upscale, not-so-traditional Mexican place that sits in a super-cool space right downtown. (I've already asked Louisa to take me there for a cocktail one night before I leave, because the bar looks capital-A awesome.) We stopped in one afternoon for a late lunch, and proceeded to order very, very well.

First up were some superlative tortilla chips with excellent guacamole and a series of different salsas. One of them was a sort of grainy grey color and was positively redolent of black pepper. It was my favorite, for sure. I also had a cocktail: watermelon with St.-Germain and agave nectar. I broke my no-vodka rule to try out the melon and elderflower combination, and it was pretty tasty, if a bit too sweet for my usual cocktail routine.

My lunch, though, was pretty ridiculously good, and kind of over-the-top. After all, this is Texas. I ordered the Perro Perron, a Wagyu beef hot dog wrapped in bacon and served on a toasted brioche bun. Also on the bun? Chipotle mayo, queso fresco, jalapenos, crema and avocado. I was in spicy-beefy-porky heaven. This is the Mexican equivalent of a good lobster roll: open-faced, but anchored nonetheless by a perfect piece of toasty bread.

Happy times. Happy, happy times.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Um, so, I'm still alive.

Merry Belated Christmas, everyone! I'm down in Austin, enjoying lots of friends and family time. Right now, I've got some butternut squash soup simmering on the stove and some pink champagne in my glass. Life is good.

As is Austin, not so incidentally. Many, many pictures of the city's goodness to come in future blog posts, I promised. In the meantime, be good, be merry, and don't miss me too much!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

Ladies and gents, if you plan to be in New York on New Year's Eve, I humbly submit to you a spectacularly awesome idea for how to spend your night: Ars Nova's Get Lucky party.

Yes, there will be gambling. There will be entertainment. There will be booze! Tickets start at $50, so it's a totally reasonable thing. Sadly, I will not be there to join you in the fun (I'll be in Austin), but my baby brother will be (he's Ars Nova's Managing Director), so make sure you bug him about how much you love me, eh?

And, just in case you needed more convincing, here's a look at just one of the acts that will be performing!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Brooklyn of Texas.

Kids, I'm psyched. I'm headed down to Austin, Texas tomorrow to visit my dear friends Nick and Louisa.

They moved down there earlier this year, and this is the first time I'm going to be seeing their new home! I'm excited to see them, of course - especially for Christmas and New Year's - but I'm also seriously pumped to explore Austin for the first time.

So, come on, readers! Tell me all about your favorite Austin haunts. Coffee? Barbecue? Live music? Other stuff?

'Fess up in the comments!

Photo by Texas to Mexico on Flickr.

Monday, December 20, 2010

During the holidays, it's always cocktail hour. Everywhere.

Darlings. Dearests. Doodlebugs.

I have been a bit remiss in posting of late, mainly because I've been unbelievably busy getting ready for my Christmas trip to Austin (more on that soon) while work has simultaneously and unexpectedly blown up in massive ways. I do apologize.

In the spirit of forgiveness and of spirits themselves, I'd like to offer you a list of holiday season cocktail recipes sure to tickle your palate and relax your shoulders from their shopping-amongst-throngs-of-slow-moving-tourists hunch. (Or is that just me?)

Some of these are Queenie creations, some are not; all are delicious, and not one is booze-free.

Sorry, kiddos. I need the hard stuff right now.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Queenie's Treasury

Happy Saturday, kiddos! It's the last weekend before Christmas, so I'm betting quite a few of you are out and about and busy as heck. I'm about to join you, but, before I do, I thought I'd give you a few Treasury bits and bobs to enjoy in your downtime.

I don't know about you, but I'm fascinated by anything created on a miniature scale. From dollhouses to tilt-and-shift photography, I love it all. So I was bound to be fascinated by these snowglobes, created by artists Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz. At first glance, they seem sweet, but a longer look shows some distinctly Grimm-like (I'm also seriously into fairy tales.) happenings captured in the tiny, snowy landscapes. I could pore over these for ages. (Discovered via Design Shimmer.)

David Lebovitz lives a pretty awesome life. An American ex-pat in Paris, he writes cookbooks and blogs about all of the fabulous food-related things he encounters. A few weeks ago, he posted a drool-worthy tour of one of Paris' marchés des producteurs, where shoppers can buy directly from the artisans who product their enviable food. I mean, look at that butter. Just look. Wowza.

For a long time, The Great Gatsby was my absolute favorite book. It's still up near the top of the list. And so, I found this poster - which imagines the business cards of Gatsby's guests from the summer of 1922 - to be pretty freaking cool. It's also really pretty. Well done, The Heads of State!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gingerbread madness!

Over on You + ME* Holiday today, Elisabeth posted the cutest gingerbread house made by her two year old daughter, Claire. She also suggested an awesome gift idea: a homemade, DIY gingerbread kit, candy and all.

As someone who made a gingerbread house (with my dear friend Caroline) every Christmas of her youth, I heartily endorse this idea. In fact, Caroline and I were planning to gingerbread it up this year, too, but time - as it often does when you're old and have obligations and stuff - got away from us. (We did make them back in 2005, as evidenced by this oh-so-flattering photo of us both.)

Next year, Lina, I promise!

Photo of the gingerbread kit by Angela Gaspar, styled by You + ME*.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gift Guide Number Three: (Mostly) cookbooks.

Darlings. My apologies for the lateness of this post. I fully accept that by posting the final chapter of my gift guide on December 15th, I am catering to procrastinators like myself (Amazon's Super Saver Shipping will still arrive by December 24th, people!), along with those shopping for January birthdays. So sue me.

For those of you who still seek inspiration - or are perhaps in the market for a gift to your fabulous selves - here goes. Queenie's suggestions for books - mostly cook-, some not - to give this holiday season.

1. Tartine Bread
Any of you who've been lucky enough to visit Tartine in San Francisco know that their wares are as gorgeous as they are tasty. This hefty new book (a companion to their earlier, pastry-focused tome) is no exception. Perfect for the carb-loving aesthete in your life.

2. The Gourmet Cookie Book
Gourmet was famous for their December issues, which always featured a series of delectable cookie recipes. The best of those are collected in this book, which is also a beautiful example of photography married with food styling joined with graphic design.

3. The Zuni Café Cookbook
This isn't a new book, but it's one I just received as a (very thoughtful) hostess gift this fall, and I am in love. It reads like a primer on good, soulful cooking, and has some insanely beautiful photographs to boot.

4. The Essential New York Times Cookbook
Edited by the indefatigable Amanda Hesser (co-founder, with Merrill Stubbs, of Food52), this collection of classic recipes is a must-have for anyone addicted to Craig Claiborne's original.

5. The Inn at Lake Devine
Okay, so this isn't a cookbook. Not even close. But it's one of my all-time favorite novels, and the main character is a chef. It's set mostly in the 1970s, and is pretty much the best translation of the Austenian spirit into contemporary fiction that I can think of. Food plays a central role in the novel's WASP/American Jewish culture clash plot (think Yankee pot roast vs. roast capon and blintzes), and I think you'll love it. A perfect stocking stuffer (or, um, late Hanukkah gift).

6. The Blackberry Farm Cookbook
It's gorgeous, it's full of good recipes, and it looks great on a coffee table. What more do you need?

7. The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion and Cooking Manual
You know of my obesession with Frankies. Therefore, you cannot be surprised that their cookbook, published earlier this year, has made the list. Go forth and make lots of tomato and avocado salad, plus some cavatelli with browned butter and hot sausage. You're welcome.

8. As Always, Julia
A collection of Julia Child's correspondence with her close friend Avis Devoto, this is one of my must-reads for the year. It may not be a cookbook, but if Julia's perseverance and dedication (which always shine through when she's doing the talking/writing) don't make you get up and do something, then nothing will.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ouest. Upper West Side, 10:15 PM, Friday December 10th.


"Martini." In quotes because it was made with vodka and barely any vermouth, and you know how I feel about that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Queenie's Treasury

Happy weekend, my lovelies! It's a bright and balmy Saturday here in New York, and I'm gearing up for some fun times in the city with my family (Mom's in town) and friends (Miya's having some folks over tomorrow). In the meantime, let's take a look at some fun tidbits I found on the interwebz today!

First off, I'm slightly obsessed with the Etsy seller Soraam, who makes some of the most beautiful textiles I've seen, well, ever. I love the intricacy of the patterns - and yet, they still somehow seem very Zen to me. I especially love the Labyrinth pillow and anything with the Big Bow motif. Swoon.

This incredible home sits inside a renovated water tower in a nature preserve in Germany. It has the best views imaginable, and is filled with amazing light. I would love to cook in that kitchen, gazing out over the snowy forest while stirring a pot of coq au vin.

Siw Haveland, the force behind the blog Design Shimmer, has a truly beautiful home. It's Scandinavian to the core, and I am totally in love the mix of whites, textures and blond woods. I especially love the way her exposed closet adds a pop of color to the bedroom - it serves as artwork and storage, all at the same time. (Via Decor8.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Solid freaking gold. Plus potatoes. And garlic.

Alongside a multitude of pages devoted to the wonders of Thanksgiving, Saveur's November issue included a guide and tribute to the traditional Parisian bistro. It was, in a word, amazeballs. It made me want to book a trip to Paris immédiament. It made me want to cook some seriously delicious potatoes.

Anyone who's eaten in a bistro knows that they elevate the cooking of potatoes to an art form. Be they puréed, sautéed, roasted, smashed, gratinéed, fried...you name it, the bistro kicks ass at it. And so when I read about L'Ami Louis' recipe for a potato galette topped with fresh parsley and chopped garlic, I knew I had to have it.

Responsible woman that I am, I decided it was probably best to forgo dropping all obligations to fly off to Paris. Lucky for me, the potato galette with which I'd become enamored was one of the bistro-style recipes Saveur included in the issue. Score!

Now, one of the reasons that bistros ace Potato 101 is that they follow a couple of basic, core rules: first, cook the potatoes in more than one stage. Fry them twice, simmer them before roasting, whatever. But cook them in stages. Second, cook them in animal fat. Butter is fine; duck fat is best. Bacon fat or schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) are pretty damn good, too.

Which brings us to my big bowl of golden deliciousness. This, my friends, is my bowl of schmaltz. Each time I roast a chicken, I carefully pour off the fat from the pan juices and store it, tightly covered, in the fridge. After a few chickens, I have a good 1/2 cup of rendered chicken fat, and I start using it all over the place. It goes into the oil I use to fry my latkes. It goes into soups, where I use it to brown the vegetables. It goes into vegetable sides, where I use it to saute the sprouts or cauliflower. Hell, in Europe, they spread it on bread, so who am I to skimp?

So, while you can certainly go out and buy a big old tub of duck fat to have on hand, I highly recommend being patient and frugal with your chicken. It'll be more rewarding than the skip-to-the-end solution, and you'll always have a supply on hand, assuming you roast a chicken once or twice a month. Boom.

Oh, and the galette? So ridiculously delicious that I ate the whole thing (well, a half-recipe version) for lunch, garlic and all.

Potato Galette
Adapted from Saveur

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄2" x 1⁄4" pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tbsp. rendered chicken fat
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. minced garlic

Place potatoes into a 4-qt. pot and cover by 1" with well-salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low,and simmer until potatoes are tender, 20–30 minutes. Drain potatoes and spread on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill for at least 20 miunutes. (If you're roasting a chicken to eat with the galette, let the potatoes chill until the bird is almost ready to come out of the oven.)

When you're ready to make the galette, heat oven to 400°. Melt fat and butter in a 6" skillet over medium heat.

Put chilled potatoes into a bowl. Pour fat and butter over potatoes (reserving skillet) and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Tranfser potatoes to reserved skillet and cover with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside rim of skillet.

Cook, smashing potatoes into skillet with a metal spatula, until edges begin to crisp and brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until potato cake is golden brown, 10–15 minutes (to check, use a fork to lift up one edge of the potato cake).

Invert a small serving plate over skillet. Using 2 tea towels, hold plate and skillet together firmly and invert skillet. Remove skillet and garnish potato cake with parsley and garlic. Serve hot.

Serves 3-4.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hot chocolate...with booze. (Mais oui!)

Hello, doves! I'm over at You + ME* Equals today, where I've shared my recipe for delightfully boozy, sinfully indulgent hot chocolate. Check it out, wouldja? I'll be back here tomorrow with a similarly celebratory potato galette recipe for you lovely people.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Gift Guide Number Two: Palm Beach-y.

There's a good-sized part of me that can't turn down anything from Kate Spade or Jonathan Adler. That's the part of me that made this gift guide. Enjoy the preppy brightness and gilded goodness!

One: Crystal Confection Necklace by Kate Spade. Two: Midas Collection at Design Within Reach. Three: Louis The Third print by Jessica Snow. Four: Herringbone Rug by Jonathan Adler. Five: Polka Dot Coasters by Kate Spade. Six: Ideal Bookshelf 101 by Jane Mount.

Seven: Color Theory T-Shirt. Eight: Forget-Me-Not Ring by Kiel Mead. Nine: Borgelo Needlepoint Pillow at Shop Ten25. Ten: Sugarcoat print by Michelle Hinebrook. Eleven: Ticker Tape Mugs by Kate Spade. Twelve: All Over Now necklace by Elva Fields.

See what I mean? How can this stuff not make you happy? So get to it and make someone very happy with something bright, shiny and preppy today!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gift Guide Number One: Woodsy.

Loads of girlie goodness to satisfy your need for woodland creatures. Especially recommended for those who don't get out of the city often enough.

Six: Owl Watercolor by United Thread. Seven: Kirie03 Clock by decoylab. Eight: Champagne and Roses Ring by Barbara Michelle Jacobs. Nine: Gold Dipped Bar Bracelet by Ayofemi Jewelry. Ten: Snow Forest Basket by PrintParty. Eleven: Vintage Brass Doe from AMradio.

Coming soon: my Palm Beach/preppy modern/kinda glam gift guide!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Santa, baby...

I'm a woman torn between two aesthetics. Part of me longs for the feminine woodsiness of Anthropologie and its ilk, while my other half is drawn to a Jonathan Adler-esque version of Palm Beach chic, all bright colors and white lacquer. It's a constant battle for my taste allegiance, but this gift-giving season I've decided to embrace the duality.

I'll be sharing three gift guides with you in the next few days. First, one that caters to the part of me enchanted by woodland creatures mythic and real, as well as all things faux bois. Next will be my slightly pop-ier, polished picks. And, finally, a cookbook gift guide - because, let's remember: this is a foodblog, right?

Back soon with guide number one!

Gorgeous shot of glamorously wrapped packages styled by You + ME* and taken by Trent Bailey.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Metropolitan Opera House. 10 PM, November 30 2010.

I love those chandeliers. Sigh.

Also, Carmen was fantastic. Get thee to see it (with Elīna Garanča), if at all possible. Trust me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It cures what ails you.

A couple of Fridays ago, Jason gathered a few friends together to see an opening night showing of the latest Harry Potter movie. Being ever a joiner (and a desperate Harry Potter fan), I decided to go along, even though I'd had a terrible chest cold for days on end. Luckily, we also managed to schedule a stop at the 2nd Avenue Deli, home to the best matzoh ball soup on earth.

Nowhere else has consomme been this chicken-y, this delicious, or this good at curing a cold. And nowhere else do the bring you a shot glass-sized chocolate soda to finish off the meal. Even though the waitress laughed at me for ordering soup with a side of coleslaw, I didn't care. Nothing beats chicken soup and cabbage for getting through a cold.


Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm full.

We had a pretty awesome Thanksgiving dinner last night at my brother and sister-in-law's place. A classic group effort, the meal was prepared in four different kitchens and served in a score of different bowls.

Turkey, cranberry-walnut relish, brussels sprouts with chestnuts and bacon, two kinds of stuffing, polenta with mushrooms, mashed potatoes, two kinds of gravy, kale simmered in coconut milk, two kinds of pie...

Pretty insane. And, speaking of insane, I cannot recommend this Zak Pelaccio brussels sprouts recipe enough. You must, must make it, and soon. If you're a vegetarian, just substitute a quarter cup or so of canola oil for the bacon. You will not be sorry; it is one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted, and it took about fifteen minutes to make, start to finish.

Trust me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's frying time!

Happy Thanksgiving, folks!

While my hands are occupied with pie and brussels sprouts, my mind is already thinking about the next holiday on the horizon - Hanukkah, which starts next week! And since it's my day for posting over at You + ME* Equals, you'll have to clickety on over there to see my recipes for potato and zucchini latkes with apple chutney and gremolata, respectively.

Enjoy the recipes, enjoy the holiday, and we'll talk soon!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It has begun.

Thanksgiving preparations, that is. Already today I've roasted chestnuts for tomorrow's brussels sprouts side, and I have a deep dish apple pie in the oven as I type. Next up? A replay of the bourbon pumpkin pie I made a couple of weeks ago, and a cocktail of some kind. And possibly a manicure.

But first I need to go buy a second pie plate!

Happy pre-Thanksgiving, kiddos!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jupiter, Florida. November 6, 2010.

Some photos from my trip to Florida back at the beginning of the month. Coffee, pool...only thing missing? The giant Manhattans served at my grandmother's country club. Kudos, Nonie. Kudos.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ooh la la.

Last weekend, my friends Miya and Shiv came over for a leisurely Sunday lunch. We drank some wine, chatted quite a bit, and enjoyed one seriously delicious galette.

See, a couple of weeks ago, Food52 selected butternut squash as its weekly contest theme, and lorinarlock (hereafter known as "Genius") posted a recipe for a butternut squash galette with roasted garlic. I was intrigued, but obviously didn't want to keep the experiment to myself, so I invited Miya and Shiv over to taste the results with me.

So, let's talk galette. First of all, there's nothing in the world easier than a galette. As we've discussed in the past, a galette is basically a free-form tart baked right on a cookie sheet (or, in this case, on a piece of parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet). Like pies and tarts, galettes highlight their filling beautifully, which is one of the reasons I love them oh-so-much. They provide the perfect canvas for expressing the best of what's in season.

This galette is made even better by including a healthy amount of roast garlic and one of my favorite things - fresh ricotta. You roast the garlic alongside the squash, pop it out of its skin, and mash it into the ricotta. Then, you spread the ricotta over the bottom of the tart before you pile on the pre-roasted squash. Really.

So, now you know how easy it is, and how smart it is. The question left in your mind, probably, is, "how did it taste?" The answer is: amazeballs. This tart was so freaking good, I'm surprised the three of us didn't come to blows over the leftovers. Alongside a piquant green salad and a glass of Chardonnay, it made one of the best lunches of all time. Seriously.

Make this tart, and do it soon.

Butternut Squash Galette
Adapted from lorinarlock on Food52

For the crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal (or polenta)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
6 tbs. chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch bits
2 to 3 tbs. ice water

For the filling:
1 butternut squash
2 tbs. olive oil
11 cloves garlic, one chopped, the others whole and unpeeled
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
2 tbs. grated parmesan

Place the flour, cornmeal and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse once or twice to combine, then add the butter. Pulse several times, until the mixture just begins to form pea-sized lumps. With the motor running, add the water little by little, until the dough just begins to come together.

Take the dough out of the food processor and dump it onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Form it into a ball and place the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, and up to 24 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel the squash and cut in half at the neck (in other words, separate the neck of the squash from the rounded, bottom part). Slice each half in half again, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut each fourth crosswise into 1/4-inch slices and place in a large bowl. Pour the olive oil evenly over the squash, followed by the chopped garlic, salt, pepper and thyme. Toss gently with your hands to make sure the squash is evenly coated in oil and seasonings.

Arrange the squash on the baking sheet. (It's okay to have overlap; the pieces don't need to be in one layer.) Scatter the remaining, intact garlic cloves around the sheet. Place the sheet in the oven and roast until the squash and garlic are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Once the squash is relatively cool, retrieve the pastry dough from the oven. Roll out the dough between two lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap until you have a 12-inch round. Transfer the dough to a second baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside.

Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves from the squash pan. In a medium bowl, mash it until you have a rough puree, then add the ricotta. Stir everything evenly together, then spread it evenly over the bottom the rolled-out pastry, leaving about a one-inch border on all sides. Mound the squash evenly over the cheese mixture, making sure to include the thyme and chopped garlic from the pan.

Sprinkle the parmesan evenly over the top of the squash. Starting from wherever you like, pull the edges of the galette up, forming the sides. Place the galette in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden-brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

The galette can be served warm or at room temperature, but make sure to cool it for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Queenie's Treasury

Happy weekend, folks! I know, I know - the weekend's almost over. I'm so sorry this post is late; I've been sick with a bad chest cold this week, and hadn't been keeping up with the internet's loveliness. However, I spent some time this morning cruising around, and I think I've found a few cool things to share, so let's get to it!

First up, a cozy camp wedding from the folks at Poppies & Posies (via OnceWed). I absolutely love the mix of tartan, faux bois and jewel tones. And the hot chocolate at each place setting? Genius! And, yes, it's a photo shoot styled as a wedding, but there are some seriously easy and seriously gorgeous Thanksgiving table setting ideas on display, too.

Next up, the incredibly wonderful, cozy and slightly chaotic apartment belonging to Kate & Andy Spade, which is currently featured on The Selby. The design magnate duo have built empires, but haven't neglected to create an equally impressive home. The colors, the textures...the fireplace. I practically ooze jealousy looking at it.

Online magazines are seriously taking off, and though I think the medium still has some maturing to do, I'm seriously excited by how they're helping to fill the gap created in my life by the shuttering of Gourmet and Domino. The latest is Matchbook, co-founded by the bloggers Katie Armour and Jane Lilly Warren. I love both of their blogs, so I'm anxiously awaiting the magazine's first issue, due out January 2011. (Sign up to receive updates over here.) Good luck, ladies!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aw, shucks.

So, I don't know if you guys know Jessi Langsen, but you should. She's pretty awesome. Luckily, you can find her in several places out here on the interwebs - she has a Tumblr, a blog, and a Twitter feed. She is, in a word, joyful. Joyful about life, about food, about Chicago (her adopted hometown) - you name it.

So, why, you might be asking, do I have a picture of salami if I'm talking about Jessi? Well, friends, she very, very kindly sent me a little present the other day: two gorgeous links of Creminelli salami (The Americano and the Musica, both of which I am passionately in love with.).

The Americano is made with Berkshire pork and flavored with ginger and cinnamon - the perfect thing for fall. The Musica has a stronger flavor, likely thanks to what I've discovered is the secret ingredient: pork liver! Both are utterly luscious, with just the right balance of fat, meat, spice and salt. Seriously. I had to stop myself from eating both links whole.

I served myself a little breakfast feast of Jessi's gift, along with a dollop of maple butter and a dish of Dijon mustard (I favor Maille for its clean, wine-y flavor.). I spread a teeny bit of the butter and a smudge of the mustard on little slices of sourdough, then topped with individual slices of salami.

Pure, porky heaven. Thanks, Jessi!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Going pumpkin.

In my family, apple pie traditionally wins out over pumpkin. If we have to choose one kind of pie to eat at Thanksgiving, we're going to choose apple. That's just how we roll.

That said, I actually rather like pumpkin pie, especially when it's a bit light and custardy, and served with some whipped cream. (To be honest, I like everything better when it's served with whipped cream.) And, as you know, I have a special sweet spot for anything boozy, particularly if said booze is bourbon.

And since we have a big group at Thanksgiving this year, which means multiple pies, I decided it was time to finally try the recipe for bourbon pumpkin pie from the late Gourmet's very last issue. (Fitting, I think, that it went out on one of its stellar Thanksgiving showings.) I'm lucky enough to have a proving ground for my Thanksgiving pies: my office does an annual potluck lunch a couple weeks before the holiday, which means I get to try out my recipes on a wide and willing audience.

This year, the response was definitely positive: bourbon pumpkin pie FTW! Which, I have to tell you, made me pretty happy. Not only is the pie tasty, it's also supremely easy to make. Rolling out the crust is pretty much the most intensive task; other than that, all you really have to do is parbake it, mix up the filling, and bake everything together for one last round. Super, super simple.

My kind of pie, and yours too, unless you're some kind of crazy person who doesn't like easy, delicious pie. In which case, that's cool.

Bourbon Pumpkin Pie
Adapted from Gourmet

1/2 recipe Queenie's pie crust
15 ounces pure pumpkin
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 1 tbs. turbinado sugar, divided
3 1/2 tbs. bourbon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt

Roll out dough between two lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap into a 12-inch round and fit gently into pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and lightly press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. (If you don't have pie weights, just use rice. Pour the rice back into a jar when you're done, and use again the next time you need pie weights. See? Now you have pie weights!)

Bake until the sides of the crust are set and edge is golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove weights and foil and bake shell until very lightly golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes more. Cool completely.

Whisk together remaining ingredients (leaving aside one cup of cream and one tablespoon of sugar) and pour into cooled shell.

Bake until edge of filling is set but center trembles slightly, about 45 minutes (filling will continue to set as it cools). Check on the pie occasionally, and if you notice the shell getting too dark for your liking (a strong possibility with a parbaked crust), cover the visible parts of the crust with a ring of aluminum foil, or with one of these. Cool the pie completely before serving.

The pie will keep overnight in the fridge; just make sure to cool it completely, then cover it with plastic wrap. Store on a level surface in the fridge. Make sure to bring the pie out early enough to return it to room temperature before serving; I'd give it at least 90 minutes.

Just before serving, whip the remaining cup of cream with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, just until it forms soft peaks. Serve the pie with generous dollops of the whipped cream.

Serves eight.

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