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A Happy Holiday Feast

Whether the table is set for two or 20the food served family-style or multi-course, the holiday feast is one of the best parts of this short-lived season. Yet, without proper preparation, anticipatory stomach growls can quickly turn into knots for the home cook or bakerHere’s the good news: Pitfalls are easy to avoid with a few bits of knowledge. So, here are our best tips, tricks, and cheese-filled dishes—your recipe for festive success awaits. 

Ingredients Matter

Most recipes simply call for a stick of butter or a few large eggs, but once you get to the grocery store, you’re often faced with further decisions. Sweet cream or cultured butter? Organic or free-range eggs? Heavy cream or whipping cream? Find the answers here.

The Ultimate Guide to Leftovers 

If the party is winding down and you’ve still got heaps of food, it’s time to pack it in, er, up. Whether you divvy up your bounty among your guests or keep it all to yourself is up to you, but here’s how to do leftovers right. 

Ultimate Cheesy Dishes

From Roasted Harissa Chicken with goat cheese to Preserved Lemon Ice Cream with crème fraîche for dessert, there’s always room for more cheese in your holiday dishes.

Gougères with Ossau-Iraty and Piment d’Espelette
Fresh and fruity Piment d’Espelette pairs with sweet, nutty, and floral Ossau-Iraty to give these classic cheese puffs an irresistible whiff of the French Basque region. The gougères are best eaten while still warm, but they can be made a few hours in advance and re-crisped in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes just before serving.
  1. ½ cup whole milk
  2. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  3. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  4. 1 teaspoon Piment d’Espelette
  5. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  6. 4 large eggs
  7. 1½ cups grated Ossau-Iraty (about 6 ounces), divided
  1. ► Heat oven to 425°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. ► Combine ½ cup water, milk, butter, salt, and Piment d’Espelette in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Warm over medium heat until butter has melted.
  3. ► Add flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until mixture pulls away from sides into a smooth ball. Dough will smell nutty and glisten, and a thin film will develop on bottom of saucepan. Keep stirring for another minute or two to dry dough.
  4. ► Transfer dough to bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or a bowl large enough to allow you to apply some elbow grease). Beat on low speed (or by hand) until all steam has escaped and dough feels tepid, a minute or two.
  5. ► With mixer on medium-high or stirring quickly by hand, add eggs one by one, allowing each egg to fully incorporate and scraping sides of bowl if needed. Dough might turn lumpy at first, but it will eventually come together and smooth out. Turn mixer to low and stir in 1 cup grated cheese.
  6. ► Using two spoons dipped in warm water, form balls of batter 1 to 1½ inches in diameter and place on prepared baking sheets, allowing 1½ inches of space between each. Sprinkle generously with remaining ½ cup grated cheese.
  7. ► Transfer to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Gougères should puff up and rise. Without opening oven, decrease heat to 375°F and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until gougères are golden and firm. Serve warm.
  8. ► For extra crispy puffs, 5 minutes before they’re done (do not open oven before this or puffs will deflate), use a toothpick or skewer to poke a hole into each gougère to release steam; return to oven to finish baking.
culture: the word on cheese https://culturecheesemag.com/
Preserved Lemon Ice Cream with Olive Oil and Sea Salt
Serves 4
A drizzle of olive oil and pinch of flaky sea salt add a wonderful, rich subtleness and contrasting texture to this sweet and salty ice cream. Seek out a light-bodied, fruity olive oil that will not only play off the sweetness of the cream but also balance the savory cured lemons. Preserved lemons can be found in the international food aisles of most grocery stores or specialty food markets, or you can make your own.
  1. 1 cup whole milk
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  4. 6 large egg yolks
  5. 2 cups crème fraîche
  6. 5 teaspoons preserved lemon juice
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 4 teaspoons preserved lemon pulp, finely chopped
  9. Extra virgin olive oil, for garnish
  10. Flaky sea salt, for garnish
  1. ► Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and set bowl in an ice bath.
  2. ► Combine milk, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until sugar has completely dissolved. Remove pot from heat. Whisk together egg yolks in a small bowl. Whisk a small amount of warmed milk into yolk mixture. Whisking constantly, add a bit more warm milk to yolks. Add yolk mixture to pot with remaining milk.
  3. ► Gently cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, until mixture thickens and coats back of spoon. Strain custard into prepared bowl and stir to cool slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove bowl from ice bath and refrigerate uncovered until custard has completely chilled, at least 2 hours.
  4. ► Once chilled, stir in crème fraîche, preserved lemon juice, and vanilla. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Five minutes before ice cream is done, add preserved lemon pulp, a little at a time so it distributes evenly. Serve immediately for a soft-serve texture, or transfer to a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze for a few hours to harden.
  5. ► To serve, top each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
culture: the word on cheese https://culturecheesemag.com/
Roasted Harissa Chicken with Herbed Pistachio Goat Cheese
Serves 4
A zingy, flavor-packed goat cheese is slipped under the skin of this bird before harissa, a North African chili pepper paste, paints it a brilliant red and adds an extra kick of heat. Placed over a bed of fennel and carrots, the chicken keeps moist while the vegetables become infused with pan drippings during roasting. You’ll need to prep the chicken the day before you plan to serve this dish.
  1. 1 3½- to 4-pound chicken
  2. Kosher salt, to taste
  1. 8 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
  2. ⅓ cup roasted and salted pistachios, chopped
  3. ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  4. 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  1. 1 large fennel bulb, quartered lengthwise
  2. 1 pound small carrots, scrubbed
  3. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  4. 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  5. 2 to 3 tablespoons harissa paste
  1. ► CHICKEN: One day before you plan to cook chicken, remove giblets from chicken and pat outside and inside dry. Generously salt chicken inside and out. Place on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
  2. ► PISTACHIO GOAT CHEESE: Mix goat cheese, pistachios, cilantro, and lemon zest in a small bowl until fully combined. (If made ahead of time, cover and refrigerate.)
  3. ► TO ASSEMBLE: Remove chicken from refrigerator 1 hour before you plan to cook it. Pat chicken dry. Arrange rack in center of oven and heat oven to 425°F.
  4. ► Toss fennel and carrots with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and spread out in an even layer in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or roasting pan.
  5. ► With breast side up, slide your hand between meat and skin of chicken and carefully stuff goat cheese mixture under skin. Depending on size of your bird, all cheese mixture might not fit under skin; sprinkle any remainder over vegetables.
  6. ► Combine remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and harissa in a small bowl. Rub outside and inside of chicken with mixture. Tie legs together with butcher’s twine and set bird, breast side up, over bed of vegetables.
  7. ► Bake for 20 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 375°F. Bake for another 40 to 50 minutes, basting chicken halfway through with pan drippings. Chicken is done when skin is browned and juices run clear when a cut is made between leg and thigh. If skin begins to brown too quickly, tent with foil and continue cooking.
  8. ► Transfer chicken to a cutting board and rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with vegetables.
culture: the word on cheese https://culturecheesemag.com/
Chicory Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Smoked Blue Cheese
Serves 4
A warm and nutty yet sharp vinaigrette brings out the toasted sweetness of smoked blue cheese, while allowing its rich paste to pop. The vinaigrette can be made in advance and rewarmed just before serving.
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  2. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  3. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  4. 1 tablespoon honey
  5. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. 1 pound mixed chicories (such as radicchio, escarole, endive, Treviso, or Castelfranco)
  2. ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
  3. 1 Honeycrisp or Jonagold apple, cored and cut into thin wedges
  4. ½ cup crumbled smoked blue cheese, such as Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue
  1. ► VINAIGRETTE: Melt butter in a small saucepan with a light-colored bottom (to more easily keep track of its browning) over medium heat. Continue cooking at a low simmer, swirling pan occasionally, as color progresses from light yellow to golden brown. Butter is ready when foam subsides and bubbling quiets down, and it smells nutty. Remove from heat and strain into a heat-safe bowl to remove solids. Cool for about 30 minutes.
  2. ► Combine vinegars, honey, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Stir in brown butter and whisk until vinaigrette has emulsified. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as necessary.
  3. ► TO ASSEMBLE: Toss mixed chicories with three-quarters of vinaigrette in a large bowl. Taste and add more dressing as desired. Add hazelnuts and apple wedges, toss, and taste again, adjusting seasoning as necessary. Transfer to a large platter and top with crumbled blue cheese. Serve immediately.
culture: the word on cheese https://culturecheesemag.com/


Bettina Makalintal

Bettina Makalintal is culture's former editorial assistant. With a background in the food industry and as a bike mechanic, she can often be found biking in search of new donut shops.

Polina Chesnakova

Polina Chesnakova is a cook, baker and the writer behind Chesnok, a food blog inspired by her Russian-Georgian heritage. If she could, she would eat every meal as a picnic, followed by ice cream. She currently lives in Providence, RI.

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