When I was growing up, my mother often made a beet soup that she called Borscht, and it was a traditional Christmas Eve offering. She always made her borscht the same way every time, but now I know there are a number of varieties of borscht, including some that don’t include beets at all. My variation on the traditional Borscht is that I roasted the beets rather than boiling them. The beets are sweeter, and the flavor is more concentrated.
Donna Currie was born in Chicago and now lives in Colorado where she blogs at Cookistry (www.cookistry.com). She enjoys all sorts of cooking and baking, and loves testing new cooking products, gadgets, and ingredients. Her first cookbook, Make Ahead Bread, will be published in November, 2014.
Articles & Recipes by Donna Currie
These mushrooms are ideal as passed one-bite appetizers at a party, speared on a frilly toothpick. For a sit-down dinner, they would be lovely as an amuse bouche. Because of the added cracker crumbs, the sausage meatballs are tender and fluffy, unlike a sausage cooked as-is.
I like to think of risotto as a contemplative dish. You don’t have to think too hard about what you’re doing, none of the steps are difficult or technical, but you have to stay close by, stirring gently. It gives you time to think. And when it’s done, you have a dish that has an air of sophistication. Perfect for a dinner party, but easy enough for a family dinner.
Stuffed artichokes can be quite challenging to make if you keep them whole. But if you cut them in half, they’re much easier to prepare, and they’re not quite the same huge portion, making them more appropriate for a first course. You can use any Italian spice mix you like, or use oregano, basil, or a mix of the two. For the cheese, use what you like. Provolone, Parmesan, Asiago, or an aged mozzarella would be fine. Or a mix.
This bread pudding has the flavors of turkey stuffing, making it perfect for the holiday table or any time you’re serving poultry or craving stuffing. If you like, you can make this a vegetarian dish by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock. If your family has traditional add-ins to their stuffing, you can add them here. Or, throw tradition out the wind and add things that might never be in stuffing, like cooked carrots, frozen peas, or roasted red peppers. Or, top with shredded cheese that will melt on top.
For this pie, you can use your own favorite crust recipe, or buy a ready-made flat sheet of crust. For the apples, look for baking apples, like Granny Smith, but it’s fine to use several varieties so you have a few different apple textures in one pie.
Pork shoulder is one of my all-time favorite cuts of meat – it's so versatile. You can cook it for a shorter period of time for sliced pork, cook it longer for shredded or pulled pork. You can roast, braise or smoke it. You can cut it in small chunks and make stew. This time, we’re looking for very tender pork for barbecue pork sandwiches.
The sauce takes quite a bit of time to cook and reduce, but this is something you want to do slowly. Don't rush it ... good things take time. The resulting sauce is rich, deep and luxurious, with sweet, tart, and savory all wrapped up into one bite.
This pasta dish uses Meyer lemon and olive oil along with fresh basil for flavor, but it's infinitely adaptable, to your taste. Use other herbs, fresh or dried, that you like. Use lime and cilantro and add some hot pepper for a completely different version. Of course you can removed vegetables you don't have, and you can add others. For a heartier dish, add cooked shrimp or chicken. And ... the best thing is that you can serve this warm, room temperature, or chilled. Serve it for dinner one night as a hot pasta dish, then chill and serve it as a chilled salad the next day.
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