Holiday Gift Guide 2016

The Roaming Kitchen | Holiday Gift Guide 2016

1. Carafe with Walnut Stop | 1 liter. Perfect for serving water at dinner, or for guests to take to bed.

2. Herringbone Salt Cellar | Also makes a handsome plant pot.

3. Mortar & Pestle | Lovely to look at, but also deep, and thus practical.

4. Glacier Porcelain Tea Cup | Hand painted navy blue, peach, 14k gold.

5. Countryman Pitcher | Sturdy and beautiful, at home as a vase or water pitcher.

6. Boxwood & Myrtle Half Wreath | Festive, but also easy to hang on a single nail or door handle.

The Roaming Kitchen | Holiday Gift Guide 2016

1. Frog Hollow Fruit Subscription | The zenith of California fruit, once per month.

2. Sudden Coffee | Carefully sourced, fancy-pants instant coffee.

3. Cinnamon Hill | The freshest cinnamon out there.

4. Christine Ferber Jam | They don’t call her the “jam fairy” for nothing.

5. Other Brother Shorty | Extra virgin olive oil from California, one of my favorite finishing oils.

6. Love Nuts Gift Tower | Compartés makes the tastiest candied nuts, period.

The Roaming Kitchen | Holiday Gift Guide 2016

1. Meat Grinder\Sausage Stuffer | Power of a professional, but sleek enough for the counter.

2. The Flavor Thesaurus | Endless flavor pairing suggestions for the curious cook.

3. Ravioli Press | Make 2-inch ravioli at home.

4. DIY Greek Yogurt Kit | Thick homemade yogurt, sweet or savory.

5. Short Stack | Stellar single ingredient cookbooks, volume 24 and counting.

6. Slow Food USA | For those who support food that is “good, clean and fair.”

The Roaming Kitchen | Holiday Gift Guide 2016

1. Food52 Marble Board | Food and photography friendly at a reasonable price.

2. Pink Sherbet Ceramic Espresso Cup | Handmade from earthenware clay.

3. Simple Storage Containers | Hawkins NY makes even the lowliest grain counter-worthy.

4. Wood-Handled Dish Rack | A minimalist, design-forward dish rack that’s also easy to clean.

5. Brass Easel + Calendar | Simple, pretty, stylish.

6. Ball 1.5 Pint Wide Mouth Canning Jars | Ideal smoothie/overnight oat/lunch/float container.

The Roaming Kitchen | Holiday Gift Guide 2016

1. GIR Ultimate Spatula | I have this in three sizes; it’s the best spatula there is.

2. Opinel Le Petit Chef Set | For the mini chef in your life.

3. Oak 10-in-1 Bar Tool | A bar cart’s worth of tools in one.

4. Strawberry Ombre Cotton Napkin | Classy, comes in a million colors, disposable.

5. Plat Wide Tote | Where have these bags been all my catering, pot lucking life?

6. 8-Cup Coffee Brewer | Looks great out, makes fantastic coffee that stays hot.

The Roaming Kitchen | Holiday Gift Guide 2016

1. Artichoke Print | Real gold or silver foil.

2. French Fry Art | Among other food illustrations.

3. Coffee Pot Cookie Cutters | A source for alternative cookie cutters.

4. 12″ x 18″ Black Letter Board Set, 290 Pieces | Like magnetic poetry, but better.

5. The Cognac Advent Calendar | Or, choose from various other whiskies and boozes.

6. Enamel Pin | Ice cream makes me happy, in all forms. Read more »

Nigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee + A 30th Birthday/Housewarming Menu

Nigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and CoffeeNigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee

Nigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and CoffeeNigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee

Nigel Slater’s Cake of Roasted Hazelnuts, Muscovado, and Coffee

I turned thirty at the end of January. I meant to throw a birthday party/housewarming at our new place on the 23rd, but alas, Jonas! So, we rescheduled for the 30th.

I salvaged what I could from that first Saturday’s cooking–although we still have two-pounds of prosciutto in the fridge, God help us–and decided to cater bits and pieces to fill in the rest of the menu for the following weekend.

Below, a compilation of what I served, but also what I originally planned to serve, to aid in planning your next winter party, plus some tips and notes:

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Modern Beef Burgundy + A Giveaway

Beef Burgundy

Beef Burgundy Beef Burgundy

Roast onions and mushrooms Roast onions and mushrooms

Along with Camembert and white beans, boeuf bourguignon ranks high among the Frenchman’s all time favorite foods. I remember making it in culinary school–a two day process–and I’ve made it once a winter since, always from Julia Child’s recipe. It’s a lovely cold weather dish, but the truth is, it’s a pain–fussy and time consuming.

This year, the crux of fall coincided with a book in the mail: the inimitable America’s Test Kitchen’s latest, 100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Way to Make the True Essentials. It’s such a useful book, both for the novice cook (the best way to scramble eggs and poach chicken) and the more experienced (adding gelatin to meatballs for improved texture). The recipes are beyond well tested.

My copy is now a ticker tape parade of must makes–pho, focaccia, smoked salmon–but the recipe I was drawn to first was their modernized (read: less finicky) version of boeuf bourguignon. The process has been trimmed, but the results are just as rich and wonderful. And the recipe feeds a crowd, or a family of two for many meals. (It yields 3 quarts or 6 pints, which I portion and freeze, equating roughly to 10 meals for the Frenchman and me.) This is good news in our (new!) apartment.

This recipe was published with permission from America’s Test Kitchen. They’ve generously offered a copy of the book to give away to one lucky reader. Simply leave a comment describing your favorite classic recipe by January 5th.

Beef Burgundy Beef Burgundy

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Vanilla Rooibos Apple-Rum Punch

Vanilla Roobios Apple-Rum Punch

The Frenchman’s been away since the hem of Monday morning. Almost a week alone has meant the submission of all leisure time to the alter of A Little Life, which I listen to on my commute in the morning, and again in snatches throughout the day when I should be working, and then all evening and night until I finally fall asleep way past my bedtime. It’s one of those books that takes over.

Presently we’re in a strange limbo: half our current–soon to be “old”–apartment is packed up. We’re selling off our furniture piecemeal. The new place has brand new shelves and wallpaper, but no bed. We leave for our honeymoon (in New Zealand!) on December 18th, so–somehow–we’ll find a way to wrap up our work projects, and haul our lives across the river before then. Right? Is there an alternative? I have a premonition I won’t take a deep breath until I’m on that plane.

And now something happy to listen to in the background while you brew this punch: I’ve long been a fan of the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour. In a recent episode, Linda Holmes interviews Trevor Noah. I enjoyed the interview a lot; it’s thoughtful, funny, and smart.

vanilla roobios tea vanilla roobios tea

Vanilla Roobios Apple-Rum Punch Vanilla Roobios Apple-Rum Punch

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Grown-Up Hot Chocolate

When the weather dips below freezing and the sun sets in the afternoon, I make hot chocolate. It seems only fair. A warm mugful of rich, dark dessert fortifies against such conditions. My version is a compromise between the chocolate I used to dip churros into at three in the morning when I lived in Madrid–that is to say, a melted chocolate bar–and the insipid powder I knew growing up. (True fact: there is such a thing as diet powdered hot chocolate. I do not recommend it.)

It was the Frenchman who first introduced me to proper hot chocolate, made with milk and bar chocolate. Before I met him, I had no notion that hot chocolate could be anything more than the disappointing combination of sugary chocolate powder + water. But one icy weekend afternoon, when were were still living in Paris and the sun failed by four o’clock, he walked into the kitchen and clanked a pot onto the range. “I am going to make some hot chocolate,” he said. “Would you like a cup?” Read more »

Tipsy Apple-Parsnip Cake with Sultanas and Cider Glaze + A Food Rant

I oscillated hour to hour on whether or not to post this essay here–it is not the kind of writing I normally share in this space. Regular readers will know how much I care about whole foods, and that the farmers market is an essential facet of my cooking life, but I do not usually bring policy into the conversation.

Ultimately, I am posting this because I think the issues at hand are more important than my fears you won’t like what I have to say.

I recently spent a few days with a group of people who could not think more differently than me when it comes to food. After that experience, I needed a way to vent my frustrations, collect my thoughts, and clarify my views. If you already agree with what I write below, excellent. If you agree and are looking for a way to broach the subject with the people in your life who disagree or simply don’t know, I hope this essay aids that conversation. If you think I am totally full of cow manure, well, we are just going to have to agree to disagree. Either way, if you would rather simply read about a happy-go-lucky, apple-parsnip cake laced with rummy raisins and warming spices, click here to jump ahead. Read more »

Thanksgiving Series, Part 3: Leftovers

It is Thanksgiving Day. Your menu planning is done, the turkey is in the oven. But before you even sit down for the main event meal, let me direct your attention toward leftovers. Just remember–this post will be waiting for you–tonight, when you find yourself scrounging in the refrigerator for that 10pm snack, tomorrow morning, or the day after that, or the day after that. I have your back, no matter what level of effort you can summon. Let me help you purpose those leftovers into dishes just as glorious as their first selves.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, the sun is shining. The Frenchman and I are at the beach this year, and my goal today is to do not much of anything at all. After I publish this post, my Thanksgiving duties are officially ended. I hope that you have enjoyed this series of three Thanksgiving-themed posts, that you found them rich in detail, and useful.

Until next week, happy cooking and eating today. Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours. Read more »

Thanksgiving Series, Part 2: Curated and Delicious

I have been preparing the Thanksgiving meal for the past few years–long enough to have a handle on the holiday, but not nearly long enough to have established a full slate of “classic” recipes, honed to perfection through time and experience. There are just so many options available, sometimes it’s hard to know where even to begin.

Well, since I am a full on crazy food person, I’ve spent pockets of the past year carefully researching, bookmarking, and squirreling away recipes. After some meticulous curating, I’ve landed on the following extended menu.

I think you will agree that there are recipes galore here, enough for quite a few years of cooking. (And not just Thanksgiving cooking, consider this a solid wealth of Fall dinners, too.) My collection is not random: I selected recipes I thought were interesting, promising, and that came from trusted sources. I hope they lead you to Thanksgiving nirvana. Read more »