Chai Yogurt Cheesecake

The inspiration for this recipe came from a class I took at Culinaria that featured a pumpkin cheesecake with a pepparkakor crust. While I’m not a big fan of New York-style cheesecake custard or of pumpkin-flavored things, I loved the crust made from butter and pepparkakor crumbs. The warm spices used in the cookies (cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves) are also traditionally used in chai tea, so I wanted to try building a cheesecake around chai-infused cream.

Pecan Pignoli

I have always loved pignoli and was looking for a way to get rid of some extra pecan halves that had been in my freezer for nearly a year. My parents send me a large bag from Texas every Christmas, and I never manage to use them all before the next bag arrives. The recipe I tried to adapt, though, did not seem to have enough internal strength to hoist a full pecan half, as the end result sagged and flattened rather than puffing into a chewy dome as happens when using pine nuts (which are much smaller and lighter).

Sweet Potato Galette

I was disappointed this year when my partner talked me out of baking a sweet potato or pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving. We were hosting my parents, who were bringing a southern pecan pie from Houston, and my partner had been waiting for an excuse to cook a favorite apple cake recipe and had already called dessert duty. This savory sweet potato galette recipe let me sneak an extra pie onto the Thanksgiving table without making too many desserts.

Sorghum Corn Muffins

I woke up yesterday with a strong craving for corn muffins and looked for an easy recipe that could be made with the ingredients already in my pantry. The honeys I had on hand (e.g., Tasmanian leatherwood honey) were a little too fancy to spare 75 grams of for a batch of muffins, but I did have a jar of sorghum molasses on hand from the last time I bought a Kentucky country ham.

Smoked Salmon Rillettes

I made this recipe as an hors d’œuvres dish for Thanksgiving when hosting my fish-loving family this year. The dish is only slightly altered from David Lebovitz’s original to use more lemon juice, scallions instead of chives, and kippered (or hot-smoked) salmon instead of fresh. These changes lead to more aggressive lemon, onion, and smoke notes in the final dish, and using kippered salmon (which can be kept in the fridge for days and then flaked directly into the rillettes) helped with Thanksgiving-day logistics, as I did not need to take over a burner to prepare any fresh salmon.

Honey Wheat English Muffins

English muffins aren’t something you normally make at home, and after running through Stella Park’s recipe on Serious Eats, I can understand the hesitation. Store-bought muffins are always fine but hardly seem worth planning the day ahead, which this recipe requires. While these muffins are cooked in the same manner as pancakes, they are naturally rather than chemically leavened and thus need to be left to rise overnight. The cripsy, butter-fried results have a rich and yeasty aroma reminiscent of a fresh baguette, but making them definitely tested my patience.

Pepparkakor

Few things evoke holiday nostalgia as strongly as the scent of fresh gingerbread baking in the oven. I’m not the biggest fan of soft gingerbread, but Swedish pepparkakor (“pepper cookies”) are thin, crispy, and fill your kitchen with the same warm spice aroma. This recipe uses no ginger but gets the same flavor profile from cardamom, a spice made from the seeds of several plants in the ginger family. I picked up this recipe at a holiday baking class at Culinaria, a small cooking school in Vienna, VA.