Recipes, Tips

new classic wedding cake + how to

In the months before my wedding, I periodically suggested I might like to make our wedding cake (because most giant wedding cakes are terrible) and was swiftly shot down by everyone who heard it. “You’re crazy.” “It’s too much work.” “Do you want to spend your Special Day covered in frosting?” And so I relented and our wedding cake tasted like processed awfulness and it bothered me so much that I volunteered to make the wedding cake for friends a few years later, in 2008. At the end of this fun but exhausting endeavor, I declared the accounting of terrible and wonderful wedding cakes in the universe to be infinitesimally more in balance and making wedding cakes to be “completely out of my system.” That lasted about nine years, when one of my oldest and favorite-est friends got married in 2018. However, I waited completely until the last minute to start it and while we loved it in the end, the absolutely-my-fault stress/chaos of the project definitely set the clock back on me making another wedding cake for at least another nine years. But a mere year and a half later, another fabulous friend got engaged to another wonderful guy and that brings us up to a couple weeks ago: wedding cake three. Three wedding cakes in, I’ve learned a lot of stuff that doesn’t fall in your usual wedding cake baking guide and since I’m definitely never making another wedding cake (“I mean it this time!” I say with such thin resolve it’s clear even I don’t buy it anymore), I think we should start here.
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Recipes

roasted squash and tofu with ginger

I didn’t mean to disappear on you. I’d intended to start the year with soup, as I always do. I made a lovely-but-not-lovely-enough winter minestrone and then a red lentil situation but neither really seemed spotlight worthy and it can be hard sometimes but I really don’t want to publish anything here I don’t want to sing from the rooftops about. All of our time is worth more than that. While I was debating my next soup move, my friend texted and said “Can u believe the wedding is two weeks away??” and I bolted straight up in bed because, well, no. I could not believe it at all. I mean, I knew I’d told her I’d make her wedding cake. We’d discussed the headcount and flavors they liked. I had a loose idea of it in my mind and looked forward to really getting started on it… in a couple weeks. Needless to say, this is where the rest of January went and I’m going to tell you all about it next week — it’s going through some rigorous retesting and is going to be worth the wait because it’s probably one of the most delicious cakes I have ever made. But still, let’s never go on a break again.

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banana toffee cakeRecipes

banana toffee cake

For absolutely no reasons other than I Wanted It and It Sounded Good and Also I Had Two Sad Bananas and Didn’t Want To Make Banana Bread, earlier this fall I got really caught up in making sticky toffee banana puddings, except by pudding I mean British for cake or sometimes a steamed cake and sometimes just the dessert course entirely (did I do this right? please help your confused American friend). Sticky toffee pudding is usually made with dates and almost every person I’ve ever told that to who has had it but doesn’t peruse recipes for fun and entertainment (crazy!) has found that baffling, but indeed, there are dried dates that have been soaked and blended until smooth and added to a lightweight brown sugar and butter cake that is ladled — I mean, truly soaked — with a warm toffee/butterscotch sauce and an enormous spoonful of unsweetened whipped or clotted cream and sometimes sprinkled with a few flakes of sea salt and it’s just unbelievably, unforgettably decadent.
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Recipes

unstuffed mushroom casserole

Here is a dish that resides in two of my favorite places to eat: in the land of side dishes and luxurious party snacks. I have nothing against stuffed mushrooms — I’ll always eat them — but anything that involves an often complex sauté of ingredients scooped tinily and mounded carefully into mushroom caps (that frequently get dry or leathery in the oven, I know you’re nodding in agreement right now) that need to be served warm is not exactly going to fall in the unfussy category. This recipe rejects the scoops, the caps, and even the fine chop of stems and homes in instead on the flavors that make stuffed mushrooms awesome, baked messily in a pan for scooping onto plates or toasts.
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Recipes

unfussy sugar cookies

Last month, after 13 years of stubbornness, I shared a roast turkey recipe and then a funny thing happened — many of you made and loved the turkey and your turkeys looked so beautiful (yes, turkeys! beautiful!) the warmth beamed off them and onto to me and left me inspired to shake loose another recipe I’ve been promising you for almost as long: Sugar cookies. Or butter cookies. Or roll-out cookies. Or holiday cookies.

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Recipes

cider-glazed bacon-wrapped dates

Let me state for the record that I am usually opposed to sharing non-recipes like this. Thus, whenever I’ve mentioned bacon-wrapped dates as part of a party or Friendsgiving menu and have received a surge of comments and DMs asking me for the recipe, I’ve responded, “Just Google it — recipes abound!” Or, more huffily, “That’s it. That’s the recipe.” But I’ve begun to question why I want to send your beautiful faces elsewhere, especially because when you do Google for a recipe, it’s going to lead you to what I consider inadvisable places. And now, like clockwork, here come Opinions:

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Recipes

challah stuffing

Thirty-six hours before the cooking-est day of the year in America is as good time as any to for us to talk about some hard-won cooking truths: There’s the idea of the perfect menu (all of my favorite recipe darlings in one place) and then there’s the actually perfect menu (the one you can pull off in a reasonable amount of time with as little stress as possible; darlings, murdered.) This is the kind of recipe we use when we come to our senses.

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Recipes

dry-brined turkey with roasted onions

For 13 years, this site has not had a turkey recipe for a few, perhaps not terribly convincing, reasons. I don’t usually host; it’s usually a family member with, I’m sure just coincidentally, more than a 2-bedroom apartment of space. Second, I mean, this is the internet, right? And there are, as of this morning, 200,000 search results for “roast turkey.” Probably there’s a gem or two in there for you and you’ve got this covered? Finally, the truth: turkey has never been my favorite bird. I mean, when it’s done well, I do enjoy my yearly two slices (dark, please), but I’ve rarely been summoned with the motivation to finetune a recipe in the off-season.

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Recipes

roasted cabbage with walnuts and parmesan

I began making variations on this dish about a year ago and since then it has become — and I’m sorry, I know how annoying unrelenting, gasping praise of every recipe that crosses your social media threshold can sound, despite feeling certain that here it’s warranted — everything. It’s a warm salad for cold weather. It’s Starter Cabbage for people who are cabbage suspect (savoy is lacier and less heavy than the white/red stuff). It’s a quick vegetable dish that’s not a salad or bland broccoli that my kids, by some rare miracle, agree to (they like the crispy crackly outer leaves). It’s even better from the tray (which keeps it hot) than it is from a plate, which is basically a reward for being as lazy as I prefer to be. With prep and even oven-warming, it takes exactly 20 minutes to make. Finally, it’s the kind of humble, economical dish that feels good at a time of year when we need to shell out for so many extra things.

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