A Last-Minute Dessert for Holiday Hosting and Giving

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If the word “ganache” intimidates you, you are not alone. Maybe if the stuff were called “basic, simple and entirely superior chocolate sauce,” more people would make it. Ganache is not just chocolate sauce, though; it is also the basis for the easiest chocolate truffles. (This word is easier to understand because chocolate truffles do, in fact, closely resemble black truffles.)

To make truffles, you just chill the ganache, then roll it in cocoa, powdered sugar or cinnamon, or some combination, which might even include exotic spices. The finished truffles, which are softer and more delicate than the types that are enrobed in hard chocolate, make perfect little gifts, as long as you keep them refrigerated. Cool room temperature is acceptable; storing them next to the radiator is not.

Time: 30 minutes, plus at least one hour’s chilling
7/8 cup heavy cream
8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Unsweetened cocoa powder as needed

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Celebrate the Holidays with HTCE (plus a giveaway)!

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Just in time for holiday cooking and gifting, I’ve got some fun news about the suite of How to Cook Everything apps. First: all three—HTCE, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and How to Cook Everything The Basics—are on sale in the iTunes App Store from now until January 1. This weekend only, you can load up on them for $4.99 each.

And for those of you with Windows, HTCE is now available for all Windows 8.1 devices, from phones to tablets to computers. Find that here.

To celebrate HTCE’s newest format, I’ve got an unlocked Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows phone (the one that takes terrific food shots) to give away. Consider it my gift to you, or feel free to re-gift it to someone on your list. For a chance to win, tweet this post along with #HTCEWin81 and/or email me with “HTCE for Windows 8.1” in the subject line. (Hint: doing both enters you twice.) A winner will be picked on December 24th by random drawing and notified either by Twitter DM or email. (Note that you must be following me on Twitter for me to be able to DM you if you win.)

Merry cooking!

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HTCE Fast: Broken Wonton Soup

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Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

Even with the convenience of packaged wonton skins, no one is going to fill and seal wontons while hurrying to get dinner on the table. But if you deconstruct the whole thing, you can pull together homemade wonton soup in minutes.

8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms
2 garlic cloves
1/2 inch fresh ginger
4 scallions
1 pound ground pork
1 egg
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons sesame oil, plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder (optional)
Salt
24 wonton skins

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You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

What’s more depressing, gutting progressive moves in school nutrition or gutting progressive moves in restaurant meal labeling?

Neither. What’s truly depressing is the “cromnibus,” the continuing resolution just passed to fund the government — which contains a wide variety of sometimes obscure and often corrupt riders, and signals the start of plundering just about every good piece of legislation you can think of, including school nutrition.

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Is It Bad Enough Yet?

The police killing unarmed civilians. Horrifying income inequality. Rotting infrastructure and an unsafe “safety net.” An inability to respond to climate, public health and environmental threats. A food system that causes disease. An occasionally dysfunctional and even cruel government. A sizable segment of the population excluded from work and subject to near-random incarceration.

You get it: This is the United States, which, with the incoming Congress, might actually get worse.

This in part explains why we’re seeing spontaneous protests nationwide, protests that, in their scale, racial diversity, anger and largely nonviolent nature, are unusual if not unique. I was in four cities recently — New York, Washington, Berkeley and Oakland — and there were actions every night in each of them. Meanwhile, workers walked off the job in 190 cities on Dec. 4.

The root of the anger is inequality, about which statistics are mind-boggling: From 2009 to 2012 (that’s the most recent data), some 95 percent of new income has gone to the top 1 percent; the Walton family (owners of Walmart) have as much wealth as the bottom 42 percent of the country’s people combined; and “income mobility” now describes how the rich get richer while the poor … actually get poorer.

Read the rest of this article here.

 

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Time to Make the Doughnuts

NYT Doughnuts

Here’s something I’ve never quite understood. Places that serve fried food — French fries, fried chicken, tempura, you name it — either serve it straight from the fryer, at its peak, or they find some way, often a heat lamp, to keep it as crisp as possible. So why don’t doughnuts get the same love? Most are so far removed from that bubbling bath of oil by the time you eat them that they’ve almost entirely lost their fresh-fried luster.

That’s why, I’m sorry to say, if you want a truly great, hot, crisp doughnut, chances are you’re going to have to make it yourself. Like anything involving deep-frying, D.I.Y. doughnuts are a bit of a project, but they’re less work than you might think. And once you’ve mastered the basic recipe — this one is for fluffy yeasted doughnuts, as opposed to the denser cake variety — you can geek out to your heart’s content on the glazes, toppings and fillings.

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HTCE Fast: Chicken with Creamy Spinach-Cashew Sauce

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Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

This is a classic Indian preparation, achieving a delicious creaminess in almost no time.

Two 10-ounce packages frozen spinach
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1 cup cream
1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews
2 garlic cloves
1 inch fresh ginger
1 teaspoon garam masala
Several sprigs fresh cilantro for garnish

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HTCE Fast: Bánh Mì

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Every Wednesday, I’m featuring one of my favorite recipes from How to Cook Everything FastIf you cook it, too, I want to see it—tag it on social media with #HTCEFast. And enjoy!

Bánh mì—a Vietnamese-style hoagie—is often a complicated affair with a number of different components. Here it’s pared down to the absolute essentials: pork and pickled vegetables. Pretty cool for 30 minutes.

1 small daikon radish or 4 small regular red radishes
1 large carrot
1 small cucumber
Salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 inch fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Sriracha, or more to taste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 hard sub rolls
Several sprigs fresh cilantro

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Christie’s Pig-Crate Politics

I don’t know how Chris Christie plans to become president, but then again no one could have predicted George W. Bush, or for that matter Barack Obama, so we know that stranger things have happened. In any case, I’d love to see the guy’s political prospects fall apart over pork, and not the kind you’re thinking of. Rather, I’m hoping he’ll become a primary example of how reactionary food policy will no longer play.

Last week, Christie vetoed a bill that would have banned the use of gestation crates in New Jersey. Gestation crates, as you might know, are essentially solitary confinement jail cells for pregnant pigs. The mothers spend time during their “productive” years in these, unable to turn around and barely able to move back and forth. I would call that torture, and it would seem that forbidding that practice in your state would be the right thing to do.

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A Turkey Tale

apple pie

Or more accurately, the story of an apple pie: One of my colleagues has a niece, Kylie Jo Cagle, who baked her first pie to bring to her boyfriend’s family’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Gorgeous, no? Apparently it was also the first dessert to be devoured. So here’s to Kylie and her newfound knack for baking. (Pizza is next on her agenda.)

I love hearing when people get turned on to cooking. And I’m glad How to Cook Everything: The Basics can help make that happen. Thank you all for your readership. Hope everyone enjoyed a lovely weekend of good food and good cheer as we kick off the holiday eating season.

Photo by Kylie Jo Cagle

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