Sufganiyot

Hanukkah gets short shrift around here, even though we always got Ru and Otis in on the act in years past (much to their chagrin). Gil really only observes the high holidays, and our nieces live in the midwest, so Christmas is more of a thing with the NJ Roths. But since it’s the holiday of fried food — something I can definitely get behind with my own roots — we’d be remiss not to devote one day during Sweets Week to something appropriate for the season.

While latkes are understandably popular snacks associated with Hanukkah, sufganiyot captured my heart some time ago, as any jelly donut will. Darcie found a terrific recipe at Bon Appetit/Epicurious that turned out delicious, not-too-sweet sweets, just perfect to share with you today.

Tapenade with Grilled Eggplant

Continuing that salty-savory theme from yesterday, Darcie and I have a flavorful, simple dish to finish up Small Bites Week here at the Advent Calendar. Mixed-olive tapenade is easy to whip up the day before a big party (in fact, it’s better if you do!) and you can throw the assembled appetizers together in a flash.

Tapenade can be mouth-puckeringly salty, which is fine in certain applications, but here you want something a bit mellower, so I take a two-pronged approach. Starting with the olives themselves, I err on the side of less salty, fruity varieties, like juicy Castelvetrano or Cerignola olives, both of which I always find at Fairway Market‘s amazing olive bar. If I’m using something a bit brinier, I’ll rinse and dry them before proceeding. And then, it’s really nice to add some nuts to the mix — just be sure they’re raw, or you’ll be defeating the purpose. I toast them lightly for flavor and find they really mellow out the tapenade and add a nice, smooth flavor, especially if you prepare this a day in advance.

You can serve this on crackers, but I encourage you to try the grilled Japanese eggplant rounds. They really complement the tapenade and turn it into a whole appetizer, rather than just a spread.  Let us know what you think if you try it!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Tapenade-Eggplant Bites | Amy Roth Photo

Tapenade with Grilled Eggplant

Ingredients

Grilled Eggplant

  • 2 Japanese eggplants (sliced 1/2)
  • olive oil (for brushing eggplant slices)

Tapenade

  • 2 cups pitted olives
  • 1/2 cup pistachios (toasted)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1 anchovy fillet (rinsed and dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons brined capers (rinsed and dried)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch fresh rosemary (chopped)
  • 1 pinch fresh thyme (chopped)

Tapenade (Optional)

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • grana padano (shaved, for garnish)

Note

If the olives you’re using are especially salty, rinse and dry them before proceeding. I like a hefty proportion of green olives in this mix, and used a combination of Castelvetrano and Liguria for this preparation.

Directions

Grilled Eggplant
Brush cut sides of eggplant with a little olive oil. Grill on outdoor grill at medium heat or in a grill pan on a burner set to medium-high heat until cooked through.
Tapenade
Place all tapenade ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse in one-second increments until blended. Process less for a chunkier texture and more for a creamier one. Add a little extra olive oil if you prefer it thinner.
To serve, spoon a tiny scoop of tapenade onto a grilled eggplant round and top with a piece of shaved grana padano, if desired.

 

Pimiento Cheese

Now this post is near and dear to my heart. I doubt you’ll find many southern families that don’t have a bowl of pimiento cheese in their fridge from time to time. It’s just one of those things we love without question or hesitation. While Darcie is a yankee-girl, we forgive her that failing because she spent some time in New Orleans, where she developed a love of pimiento cheese, among other staples. (I kid, I kid; we’ll always hold it against her.)

Darcie’s recipe is brilliant because it replaces most of the mayo that standard recipes call for (which is a completely insane amount, generally speaking) with cream cheese, so it’s a lot creamier and less greasy. The fat content still isn’t all that great, but this isn’t exactly a salad; use lowfat cream cheese if you must. I’ll look the other way, but may lift my eyebrow of judgement slightly.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Pimiento Cheese

Allergy Milk
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable
If Southerners know anything, it's how to make food that'll keep you coming back for more. Count this Pimiento Cheese as one of those foods.

Ingredients

  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 8oz cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
  • 4oz jar pimiento peppers (drained, juice reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pimiento pepper juice
  • 1 tablespoon chives (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (such as Lowry's)

Optional

  • hot sauce or cayenne pepper (to taste)

Directions

Using an electric hand mixer, blend the cream cheese, mayonnaise, dijon, pimento juice and seasoned salt until creamy. Fold in the remaining ingredients, refrigerate and allow to sit for a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to come together.
Serve in hollowed out mini peppers or with crackers. Also makes a great grilled cheese sandwich or burger topping.

Jerk Bacon Jam Bites

BACON JAM. I mean, c’mon!

I first shared the glory of bacon jam in a blog post five years ago, where I used it in all sorts of culinarily sinful ways. (Go on, check it out. I’ll wait.) I’d lightly adapted that recipe from the one at Stephanie Meyer’s brilliant Fresh Tart blog, but wanted to take it even further for this Advent Calendar. Inspired by Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Cookbook (which would make an incredible Christmas present, fwiw) and his recipe for Jerk Bacon — which I served at Thanksgiving to rave reviews  — I added some warming jerk spices and doubled the cayenne pepper for this tongue-tingling version.

While no one would blame you for just eating it straight out of the jar, that presentation doesn’t lend itself to a party setting, so Darcie and I worked up some pretty little phyllo wedges to go with it. What was the verdict? I had to give most of the jam away because it was that good and I have that little self-control around it. So, I’d say it was a success all around.

Let us know what you think when (not if) you try it, especially if you come up with a new vehicle for getting it into your belly. Find Darcie’s post here.

Jerk Bacon Jam | Amy Roth Photo

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Jerk Bacon Jam Bites

Bacon jam + jerk spices + phyllo wedges make an addictive party snack.

Ingredients

Jerk Bacon Jam

  • 1 1/2lb bacon (sliced into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 yellow onions (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cups very strong brewed black coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust amount to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (toasted and ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground cardamom

Jerk Bacon Jam (Optional)

  • 1oz bourbon

Phyllo Wedges

  • 1 box frozen phyllo dough
  • 1/2 stick butter (melted)

Note

Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to your taste. I found this amount left me with a pleasant tingle on my tongue, but your mileage may vary. Recipe is adapted from the original at Fresh Tart.

Directions

Jerk Bacon Jam
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When bacon is browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from the pan.
Place Dutch oven back on the burner and adjust heat to medium. Stir in the onions and garlic and saute until onions are mostly translucent, about 10 minutes. Deglaze with bourbon. Stir in the bacon and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until onions are meltingly soft and the liquid is thick and syrupy, 30-40 minutes. If mixture starts to become dry, add up to 1/4 cup of water.
Transfer the bacon and onions to a food processor and pulse several times or until the bacon jam is a spreadable consistency. Scrape into a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Phyllo wedges
Remove phyllo from box, keeping it wrapped in its plastic bag, and thaw at room temperature for about two hours.
Phyllo Wedges
Preheat oven to 350°F. Carefully unroll phyllo sheets onto a flat, dry surface. Cover phyllo with plastic wrap, then a slightly damp towel to prevent it from drying out.
Remove one phyllo sheet from the package, lay it flat on baking sheet, then brush with butter. Top this layer with another phyllo sheet and repeat the buttering and layering process until you have 10 sheets of phyllo stacked together. Brush the top with butter.
Cut the stack into wedges and separate them slightly. Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool wedges to room temperature, arrange on a platter and serve with Jerk Bacon Jam on the side.

Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan crisps are usually found in salads, where you’ve likely encountered them over the years without giving them much thought. But I think these crisps are a delicious snack on their own — delicate and lacy, but aggressively flavorful — and pair incredibly well with champagne or other sparkling wines, making them a perfect bite for parties at this time of the year. That they’re a snap to make doesn’t hurt, either. Just make sure to use parchment paper or a silicone pan liner for success. Find Darcie’s post on the subject here.

Parmesan Crisps | Amy Roth Photo

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Parmesan Crisps

Allergy Milk
Meal type Appetizer, Snack
Parmesan Crisps — delicate, lacy and flavorful — are a welcome addition to any party snacking table.

Ingredients

  • 1 wedge aged Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F (about 200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (Do not attempt this recipe without one or the other.)
Grate the Parmesan cheese finely, then drop tablespoonfuls on the lined baking sheet, leaving space between each. Spread the mounds into thin rounds. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and slightly browned. Remove from the oven, let cool, then carefully remove with a thin spatula.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Breadstick Twists

Welcome to Small Bites Week! For seven days, Darcie and I will be featuring nibbles and noshes that are perfect for holiday parties or just a light dinner when you’re overwhelmed by your seasonal responsibilities.

These prosciutto-wrapped breadstick twists fall into the party camp, and look really impressive, like you spent all day making them. But fear not! Although this is a from-scratch recipe, they couldn’t be simpler, especially if you have a stand mixer to help out. (If you don’t, I think that’d make a great item to add to your Christmas wish list, don’t you?) Find Darcie’s post and recipe here.

Serve these with little dipping bowls of olive oil if you’re so inclined, or just straight up with a cheese and charcuterie platter. They’re delicious any way.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Prosciutto Breadsticks | Amy Roth Photo

Prosciutto-Wrapped Breadstick Twists

Great for parties, Prosciutto-Wrapped Breadstick Twists are as lovely as they are delicious.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3oz sliced prosciutto

Directions

Stir together the flour, yeast, salt and pepper. Add the oil and warm water and mix with a spoon until combined. Knead by hand for 10 minutes or alternatively, mix with the dough hook of an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, coat with a small amount of olive oil and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft free place to rise for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (about 200°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Carefully cut the sliced prosciutto into strips about 1/2 inch (about 1 cm) wide and set aside. Remove small pieces of the dough and roll and stretch into strips, about as long as your baking sheet is wide. Wrap each dough strip about half way down with a thin strip of prosciutto and twist the dough as you go. Lay the twists on the baking sheet and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the breadsticks are browned and crisp. Remove from the oven, let cool and serve or store in an airtight container.

Sichuan Party Mix

We started yesterday with sweet, and move on to spicy today with this savory and tongue-tingling Sichuan Party Mix. Check out Darcie’s post for a little backstory involving her days in Shanghai, which provided the inspiration for this terrific recipe!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Sichuan Party Mix

Allergy Peanuts, Wheat
Meal type Snack
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
This Sichuan Party Mix couldn't be easier to make — toss everything together, then bake!

Ingredients

Sichuan Party Mix

  • 1/2 cup pretzels
  • 1/2 cup soup crackers
  • 1/2 cup sesame melba rounds
  • 1/2 cup salted, roasted edamame
  • 1 cup salted, roasted peanuts

Seasoning Mix

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried, sliced Asian chilies
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Directions

Sichuan Party Mix
Toss all of the nuts and crackers together (feel free to change up the mix according to your taste).
Seasoning Mix
Melt the butter in a microwavable bowl and stir in the spices until well combined.
Pour seasoning mix over the party mix and stir to coat. Spread the mix on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated oven at 350°F (280°C) for 10 minutes, until fragrant. Allow to cool, then arrange in gift bags or boxes.

A little dip for your chips

I enjoy blogging, but it’s a solitary activity and really can be a slog (especially in winter when faced with nothing but root vegetables in your CSA). I do my thing, hit “publish” and that’s it for the most part. Since I haven’t quite hit on a formula to make this more of a give-and-take affair, I’ve been intrigued by the Food52 community for some time. Members can post recipes to the site with an intro about its creation, then the community is off and running, commenting and making suggestions for improvement.

The site also hosts weekly recipe contests based on a theme, and the winners of each contest go into a cookbook at the end of the 52 weeks (hence the name). When they posted a contest for your best short ribs a few weeks ago, I entered my latest version of ragu for kicks and couldn’t have been more surprised when it was chosen as a finalist, then actually won! (Also, Jen got a wildcard spot in the cookbook for her Hunter’s-Style Chicken that same day, so it was doubly exciting.) The upshot is, after five+ years of this site, I’ll actually be in two cookbooks later this year (Food52, plus the book I styled and shot photos for over the holidays)!

Last week’s recipe contest got into the spirit of the playoffs by looking for your best dip. Encouraged by the positive response my previous two recipes got, I worked up a new one. No way this one will rise to the top (seriously, there are some incredible recipes entered in this contest), but I’m pretty happy with it just the same. What’s not to love about a caramelized onion & mushroom dip, especially when paired with crispy, salty kettle chips?

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom Dip also posted at Food52

3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
1/2 pound button mushrooms, minced
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 cup hot water, drained & minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
1 tablespoon demi-glace, optional
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Melt half of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions with large pinch of salt until just golden brown, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until deeply browned and caramelized. Remove onions from pan.

In the same pan, melt remaining butter and sauté mushrooms with a large pinch of salt until they stop releasing water. Add sugar and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms are deeply browned and caramelized. Add onions back to pan and stir in dry vermouth and demi-glace, if using. Cook until all liquid is absorbed. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Set aside one tablespoon of onion-mushroom mixture to use as garnish.

Add yogurt and sherry vinegar to the rest of the onions and mushrooms, mixing well. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add as much black pepper as your heart desires. This dip has a real affinity for it. Garnish with reserved onion-mushroom mixture.

Sweet potato chips

These sweet potato chips came about simply because I wanted to enter the photo contest at Leite’s Culinaria. The rules were simple: Contestants could choose any recipe on the site to cook as written, then photograph the dish in any manner of their choosing. No crazy digital shenanigans beyond tweaking white balance and exposure were allowed.

As it turned out, I had a couple of problems with this:

  1. For about a month, I literally could not decide on a recipe to cook. Everything sounded delicious, but no one recipe jumped out at me visually.
  2. When I finally decided on this recipe (mainly because I had all of the ingredients in the house and the day was drawing to a close), cooked it and took my pictures, the images didn’t seem contest-appropriate.

So… I didn’t enter. /facepalm

But these chips were absolutely delicious, and you deserve to know about them. Sea Salt and Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips. Try them now. Don’t let my neuroses stop you!