The holidays set a high bar for the cooks in the kitchen. Here, you'll find ideas for new ways to use peas, potatoes, squash and cranberries, along with an easy roll recipe, festive cocktails, and a dessert that's sure to wow.
HASSELBACK SWEET POTATOES WITH ORANGE HERB BUTTER
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
Zest of 1 orange
Pinch cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, or a nonstick silicone baking mat.
Place a sweet potato between two chopsticks or two wooden spoons. Slice the potato widthwise into thin slices, leaving 1/4-inch of the bottom unsliced; the chopsticks or wooden spoons will prevent you from slicing the potato all the way through. Repeat with the remaining potato.
Place the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until tender and crisp, about 1 hour. Halfway through the roasting time, remove the potatoes from the oven and run a fork gently across the tops of the potatoes, using light pressure, to fan the slices and separate them from one another.
Meanwhile, combine the butter, parsley, garlic, orange zest and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Once the potatoes are tender, remove them from the oven. Serve immediately, with the orange herb butter. Serves 2 to 4.
1 pound yellow squash, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup sour cream
1 (8-count) package frozen tart shells, thawed
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Paprika, for sprinkling
1/4 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
Place sliced squash and onion in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add broth, water and salt. Bring to a boil and cook until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. Add butter and sour cream, stirring to mix.
Place unbaked tart shells on a large cookie sheet. Divide squash mixture among tart shells.
In a small bowl, combine Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, and sprinkle over tarts. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until squash is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with bacon. Return to oven for about 5 more minutes. Makes 8 servings.
GREEN PEAS WITH BACON AND SHALLOT
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 large shallot, halved and sliced
1 package frozen green peas
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch sauté pan. Add the chopped bacon and shallot, and cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is browned and the shallot is tender. Add the frozen peas and pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until the peas are hot. Stir in lemon zest (if using), taste for seasonings, and serve hot.
1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 cup whole milk, warmed to 105 to 110 degrees
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 large egg
Stir the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar into the milk. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, combine the remaining sugar, flour and salt. With the mixer on low, add the yeast mixture and the egg and knead until the dry ingredients have been incorporated (you may have to help it along at first with a spatula) and the dough is smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Carefully add the melted butter (the dough will slosh around in the butter for a few minutes, but will eventually absorb it all) and continue to knead the dough until smooth, increasing the speed to medium, another 5 to 10 minutes. The dough will be shiny and elastic; if it’s at all sticky, scrape down the sides of the bowl and gather the dough into a neat ball (no need to add extra flour). Cover the bowl with plastic and set aside to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 2 hours.
Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin. Gently tip the dough out onto a work surface. You shouldn’t need flour at this point. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time and keep the other pieces covered. Divide each piece into 3 equal pieces, roll each piece into a tight ball and place the three balls into one cup. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the tray lightly with plastic wrap and set aside to double again, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The dough should look puffy and spring back slowly when pressed gently.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Remove the plastic wrap and without deflating the dough, gently brush the rolls with butter. Bake until puffed and golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with more butter, if desired, and sprinkle with salt. Makes 12.
1/2 ounce Chambord raspberry liqueur
5 ounces champagne
5 to 6 pomegranate seeds
Pour Chambord into a champagne flute. Add champagne. Finish by dropping the seeds into the cocktail. (Every time you take a sip, the pomegranate seeds will rise and fall, dancing in the champagne bubbles.) Makes 1 drink.
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
3 ounces half-and-half
1 1/2 ounces Irish cream liqueur, such as Bailey's
1/2 ounce creme de menthe
Ground cinnamon, for garnish
Fill an old-fashioned glass halfway with ice.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add half-and-half, Irish cream liqueur, and creme de menthe. Shake until cold, then strain into prepared glass. Dust with ground cinnamon. Makes 1.
FRESH CRANBERRY ORANGE RELISH
1 medium navel orange
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
Grate the orange, reserving the zest. Set aside. Peel the rest of the orange to get the pulp.
Place cranberries in a food processor or blender, along with the sugar and orange pulp. Pulse or blend for about 1 minute.
Pour relish into a bowl. Fold in reserved orange zest. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
CARROT CAKE WITH PUMPKIN SPICE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups canola or vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
PUMPKIN SPICE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons pumpkin puree, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pinches of salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans, for topping cake
For the cake, position a rack in the middle of the oven. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and then grease the top. Or grease and flour the bottom and sides of both pans.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl until very well blended.
In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each one.
Switch to a large rubber spatula. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the dry ingredients in three parts, gently stirring until they disappear and the batter is smooth. Stir in the carrots, nuts and raisins, if using.
Divide the cake batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees until the tops of the cake layers are springy when touched and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.
Cool cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then carefully turn the cake layers out onto cooling racks. Remove the parchment paper and cool completely.
For the frosting, combine butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl and beat until well combined. Add 2 cups confectioners' sugar and mix until combined and smooth. Add vanilla extract and 3 to 4 tablespoons of pumpkin puree and mix until well combined and smooth.
Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt and mix to combine. Add remaining confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth. Add additional pumpkin puree until desired consistency is reached.
To assemble, when the cake layers are completely cool, frost the top of one cake layer, and place the second cake layer on top.
Add the remaining frosting to the top of the carrot cake and use a butter knife or small spatula to swirl the frosting around. Leave the sides of the cake unfrosted. Finish with a handful of chopped nuts on top.