Although we didn’t get a white Christmas while visiting Portland, we had an unexpected white New Years in Los Angeles. On the first day of January, we traveled above the city where everything is peaceful and quiet and the air is clean and smells like fresh pine. We are so lucky to be just thirty minutes from The Angeles National Forest with gorgeous mountains and countless places to explore, stretching over 1000 square miles of uninhabited land. We found ourselves strolling through icy trails lined with beautiful manzanitas and majestic oaks still dusted with snow from last week’s brief rains. The hike began at 4500 feet, and while we were expecting chilly temperatures, we had no idea that we would be walking in snow! But the sun was out, it was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed peanut butter and honey sandwiches sitting on a boulder on the side of the trail while soaking in the sun’s rays. After a brief drive back into civilization, we came home to put the final touches on an original new recipe, a warm and comforting skillet of tender cauliflower, sautéed leeks, diced tomatoes, bright red chard, and poached eggs nestled between the vegetables, which is topped with deeply toasted pine nuts and a dollop of lime-infused Greek yogurt: say hello to winter shakshuka.
How is it already the end of December? It feels like just last week we were enjoying pumpkin pie and stuffing at Thanksgiving, and yet somehow 2016 is only a day away. It has been a festive month for us, with holiday sing-alongs, Hanukkah latke parties, and a brief but lovely trip up to Portland to visit family for Christmas. But before the year is over, we have one last recipe to share with you. New Years Eve is tomorrow night, and we have the perfect cocktail for your celebration—a deliciously refreshing drink, wintry, ice-cold, and an aromatic twist on a familiar classic: thyme gimlets.
What has four ingredients, takes five minutes to make, is rich, warm, chocolatey, and even better than a cup of hot cocoa? Allow us to introduce you to this glorious and comforting drink: hot Nutella with toasted marshmallows. Our original plan was to post a fancy layered holiday cake today, but as we learned this weekend, it still needs work before we can share it. We spent all of Sunday baking, then ended up throwing the entire failcake in the trash after taking just a few bites, so it will have to wait till next year! When deciding what to make instead, the thought of something quick and easy sounded most appealing after this long and disappointing cake fiasco. We were in the kitchen discussing ideas, and in a moment of inspiration, Adam suggested, “What if instead of hot chocolate… it was hot Nutella?” We knew immediately that this was the ideal treat to share with you this week: simple to make, sweet, indulgent, and perfect for the holidays. With quick and easy toasted marshmallows—it takes literally 30 seconds in the broiler—and an option to spike these hot drinks with a splash of liquor, they satisfy adults and kids alike!
The holidays are here and it truly is a wonderful time of year. There is a cheerful spirit in the air that brings people together. Neighborhoods sparkle with colored lights, friends gather for festive parties filled with spiced drinks and sweet treats, and the cooler temperatures revitalize us, bringing an uplifting and refreshing energy to the new year. And on Christmas day, while many families will be roasting turkeys, baking gingerbread cookies, and sipping eggnog, it is an annual tradition in Ryan’s family to cook an authentic Cuban dinner. The centerpiece is a massive roast pork leg, marinated for a week in garlic and spices, that is usually so big it barely fits in the oven. There is always congri on the table (a savory dish with black beans and rice), two kinds of plantains (both the salty tostones and sweet plátanos maduros), and of course our favorite: yuca con mojo, in which tender cubes of yuca are tossed with an intensely-flavored sauce filled with crushed raw garlic, olive oil, and zesty vinegar. And while yuca is not typically thought of as a Christmas dish, it is perfect for the holidays and other family feasts. Anywhere that mashed potatoes are welcome, yuca is a deliciously bright and tangy alternative.
There are two types of people in the world: those who like nuts in their chocolate chip cookies, and those who do not. For our entire lives we have always preferred them without, until one momentous night a few months ago when our good friend Gabe brought us this exceptional batch that changed our minds forever. And we are not the only ones! Last night we took a platter of these cookies to a holiday singalong party, and witnessed the miraculous conversion of several friends who had never liked nuts in their cookies before. So what is it about them that is changing people’s hearts and minds, especially on such a serious and potentially divisive issue? It could be that they are loaded with big chunks of dark chocolate. Maybe it’s the extra splash of vanilla, or the higher amount of dark brown sugar. Or perhaps the perfect texture: chewy and moist with golden crispy edges and a rugged crunchy top. Whatever the reason, these rich and chocolatey jumbo-sized cookies have made converts out of us, and we have embraced the delicious power of walnuts in baked goods. One bite, and you just might become a believer too…