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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.

Preserved Lemon Ice Cream with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

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.
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups crème fraîche
  • 5 teaspoons preserved lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons preserved lemon pulp finely chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil for garnish
  • Flaky sea salt for garnish

Instructions
 

  • ► Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and set bowl in an ice bath.
  • ► 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.
  • ► 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.
  • ► 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.
  • ► To serve, top each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

Chicory Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette and Smoked Blue Cheese

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.
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

VINAIGRETTE

  • ½ cup 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

TO ASSEMBLE

  • 1 pound mixed chicories such as radicchio, escarole, endive, Treviso, or Castelfranco
  • ½ cup hazelnuts toasted and chopped
  • 1 Honeycrisp or Jonagold apple cored and cut into thin wedges
  • ½ cup crumbled smoked blue cheese such as Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue

Instructions
 

  • ► 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.
  • ► 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.
  • ► 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.
 

 

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 Chesnkova is a Seattle-based food writer, cooking class instructor, and the author of Hot Cheese: Over 50 Gooey, Oozy, Melty Recipes.

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