Spicy Pickled Beets: Holiday Crunch


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I've had the great fortune of not having to worry about making my own lunch recently.

Up in the woods of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., I wake up every day to breakfast and a prepared lunchbox, courtesy of a precious place that graciously gives artists (and misfits like me) space, time and food to create. (You can donate to the cause here. No, really. DO IT.)

I haven't forgotten my Let's Lunch friends, though — so, just for a day, I'm coming out of seclusion to share a recipe for a holiday side that's a true knockout: Spicy pickled beets …

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Leftover Turkey Hash Brown Quiche: Dieters Beware


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As much as I love Thanksgiving, I may adore the days after the holiday even more.

One word: Leftovers.

Sure turkey dinners with stuffing and corn pudding that have been doused in so much gravy that you have a thick, glistening brown moat on your plate are unbeatable. But this is also a great time to rev up your creativity in the kitchen.

What to do with your mounds of leftover turkey? Our Let’s Lunch bunch — a group of far-flung home cooks who have a monthly lunch date on Twitter — decided to tackle this question for December.

My answer? A garlicky turkey hash brown quiche.

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Apple-Cornmeal Cake: A Reason To Celebrate


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A dear friend recently asked me what my ideal birthday cake would be.

My immediate answer was a pure pipe dream (in the U.S. anyhow) — a durian cream cake in which the sliver of cream wedged between two layers of pound cake is flecked with hefty chunks of creamy durian, a pungent, Southeast Asian fruit that’s hard to find in New York.

Now, if I can’t have durian cake, my second choice would be a vanilla cake coated with a creamy guava or passionfruit icing.

I know, I know.

I have been told I can be hard to please.

Having no durians, passionfruit or guava at hand, however, I set about making myself one of my absolute favorite fall cakes — an apple-cornmeal upside down cake that is so simple and can be assembled so quickly that I’ve set it out for more Thanksgiving and autumn meals than I can count. 

In fact, it’s what first came to mind when my Let’s Lunch group, a bunch of intrepid cooks around the world who have a standing monthly lunch date, decided to do a fall dessert for November.

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Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread: A Matter of Balance


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Earlier this week, I found myself obsessing over balance.

Specifically, how on earth was I supposed to piggyback one braid of cranberry-walnut dough atop another and expect it to be balanced enough to stay on?

I’d heard of difficulties in this area; I’d even seen one picture of a mutant cranberry-walnut celebration bread in which the top layer of this double-decker braided bread had slipped off, forming an “Alien”-like doughy growth.

Given my recent mishaps while baking my way through Peter Reinhart’s bread bible, the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, I was certain that Alien bread was in my very near future.

But if this weekly baking challenge has taught me anything, it’s that the trying is what’s important.

So I pulled out the bread flour and let the baking begin …

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Cornbread (And One Comatose Baker)


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Baking a bread every week can teach you many things.

Don’t overbook yourself. Take things slow.

This week, making cornbread for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge reminded me of yet another thing that’s applicable to life in general: Get enough sleep.

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