Baking TM_BK_HAZEL_FI_001_1

What does the word “hazelnut” bring to mind? Do you automatically recall the famed stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth chocolate and hazelnut spread?

You’re not alone. Most people think of Nutella — the popular chocolate and hazelnut spread — when hazelnuts are mentioned. That, or in my case, the Ferrero Rocher chocolate candies my mother always received in her Christmas stocking from my grandmother, despite not caring for the confection. This treat consists of a whole roasted hazelnut with a hazelnut cream, dipped in milk chocolate and chopped hazelnuts and wrapped individually in gold paper. Decadent much? MORE

Cooking TM_CO_PEABUT_AP_001

Every first day of school, I expected two things in my brown-bagged lunch. The first was a note from my mom (yes, even in high school), and the second was a peanut butter sandwich. Luckily, the notes stopped after the first day – sparing me the embarrassment – but I still got a peanut butter sandwich in my lunch for the rest of the year. Like most children in America my school lunch from kindergarten through senior year of high school consisted of a peanut butter sandwich. Aside from the occasional bagel or the even more rare school-bought lunch, I am not exaggerating when I say that I ate a plain peanut butter sandwich every weekday for 13 years. Yes, plain – sans jelly. But I’m not complaining.

On the contrary, I love peanut butter, and I’m not alone. Peanut butter is consumed in more than 90 percent of U.S. households, smeared on slices of toast, paired with apples or celery sticks, and used in classic desserts. Each year Americans eat enough peanut butter to make more than 10 billion sandwiches. But peanut butter has so much more potential. Many other cultures have been using peanuts as a star component of many staple dishes. From Asian noodles coated in peanut sauces to African peanut stews, peanuts have proven themselves to be a worthy ingredient. So why does it get stuck as a humdrum sandwich spread or dip in the country that invented peanut butter? With this notion in mind, and a more mature palate, as well as, a kitchen of my own, I was ready to put the bread away and get cooking.
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Baking TM_BK_MUFFIN_FI_001

Everyone has a pet peeve. Some people are sticklers for grammar, while others can’t bear their food touching. These minor aggravations seem silly, but we all know how infuriating a pet peeve can be. I, too, have a pet peeve, but mine is serious. I’m confronted by it so often — almost on a daily basis — that I’m close to my breaking point. From my neighborhood coffee shop to the supermarket, I can’t escape it: the muffcake. Like when someone uses the wrong “there” or slurps their soup, my blood boils when I see a cupcake being advertised as a muffin.

Allow me to fill you in on a little secret: the muffin at your coffee spot is probably a cupcake. The dozen you can buy at the grocery store? Yeah, those are cupcakes, too. In my opinion, there are probably few muffins in this world that aren’t actually cupcakes.
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Holiday TM_HL_CHBALL_FI_001

’Tis the season for neighborhood treat exchanges, family get-togethers, and New Year’s celebrations. And so comes the yearly appetizer conundrum. Appetizer spreads have become a competition as we all try to out-hor-d’oeuvre one another. Each year, we try to bring something a little more sophisticated and spectacular to the party. But whatever happened to the classics? Why re-invent the wheel? That’s why, this holiday season, I’m going old-school. I am making cheese balls. (Please, hold your gasps of horror!)

It would not be a Lamoureux Christmas without a cheese ball. Even though some may see the cheese ball as the quintessential cheesy (if you will), retro (but not in a good way) appetizer, I look forward to the annual cheese ball gracing our table at Christmas. So it perplexes me why everyone snickers at cheese balls when they hold such a fond place in my heart.
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Bookshelf

Higher Vegucation

Stuck in a veggie slump? Vegetable Literacy can help

by

I have been in something of a cooking slump since mid-February. When the Brussels sprouts first arrived in late fall, I bought them by the stalk and brandished them joyfully. Now, I recoil slightly at the bin of sprouts at Iovine’s. I’ve been similarly unmoved by potatoes, kale, and dense winter squashes for weeks.

I thought it was simply a general weariness with winter that was causing my resentment towards the available produce. However, now I realize that I was simply suffering from the effects of a rut – because since a copy of Deborah Madison’s new book, Vegetable Literacy, arrived last week, I have found myself picking up beets, carrots, and onions with fresh inspiration and no small amount of giddiness.
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Chocolate TM_CH_PEANT_FI_001

Peanuts get a bad rap these days, from outright bans at schools to bags of Halloween candy proudly declaring their peanut deficiency. But when I was a kid, the more peanuts, the better. I present for your deliberation: Mars versus Snickers. Mars bar? Cloyingly sweet with an oddly slick texture. Snickers bar? Caramelly, chewy, and delicious—and stuffed with peanuts. I rest my case.

If peanuts are good, then peanuts and chocolate is better. There’s a reason that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have endured since 1928, and it isn’t because my college roommate used to—and probably still does—eat them compulsively. MORE

The Larder TM_TL_FGIFTS_FI_001

During my childhood, my parents always gave homemade gifts to their friends, co-workers, and employees during the holiday season. My dad would stir up industrial-sized batches of his super-secret pancake mix, package it in zip top bags, and pair it with jars of my mom’s blueberry jam.

In exchange, we’d receive plates of chewy homemade toffees, tins of dense, sugar-dusted pfeffernusse and giant bags of long-roasted Chex Mix. (I loved the nearly burnt bits most of all.)

Since becoming an adult, I’ve spent years searching out my signature holiday treat, so that I could have a thing that my friends and neighbors would look forward to each December. I’ve tried tiny frosted sugar cookies (too much work), dark chocolate toffees (delicious, but I could not abide the endless wrapping), and pumpkin seed brittle (good, but not everyone likes grassy flavor of pumpkin seeds). MORE