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The Dish
December 23  |  By Rick Nelson Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Baking tips from a cooking school pro
Amy Carter, a chef instructor at the Art Institutes International Minnesota, isn’t just a cookie-baking authority, she’s an avid enthusiast. “Cookies are one of my all-time favorite things,” she said.A former bakery owner, now a teacher, Carter estimates that she’s educated 3,000 to 4,000 students during her 17-year tenure at the downtown Minneapolis school.

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December 21  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Lime Cornmeal Cookies 1 cup flour 1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/2 cup granulated sugar Finely grated zest of 1/2 large lime, plus 11/2 teaspoons juice 2 large eggs Coarse or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling 11/2 tablespoons waterThese have a surprisingly complex flavor: bright lime with the sweetness of cornmeal.

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December 20  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Vanilla Basil Shorties For the cookies Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil, stacked, rolled and cut into thin ribbons 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 11/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting 31/4 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extractFor the filling 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 13/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

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December 19  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Sicilian Almond Cookies 13/4 cups flour 1 teaspoon plus 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon 11/2 cups plus 2/3 cup skin-on whole almonds, toasted (see Note) 11/2 cups superfine sugar 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from 1 large orange) 2 large eggs 2 teaspoons baking powder Juice of 1/2 lemonThese are delicate, crunchy and full of almond flavor.Make ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

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December 18  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Salted Butterscotch Cheesecake Bars For the crust 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan 1 cup flour 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped hazelnuts (see Note) 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup packed light brown sugarFor the salted butterscotch 1 cup packed light brown sugar 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 or 5 pieces 1/4 cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 11/2 teaspoons kosher saltFor the filling

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December 17  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Pine Nut, Orange and Chocolate Drop Cookies 1 cup plus 1 scant cup (9 ounces total) confectioners’ sugar 1/4 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder Scant 1 cup (4 ounces) pine nuts Finely grated zest of 1 large orange, preferably organic or unwaxed 2 large egg whites (scant 1/3 cup total)These easy cookies are crunchy and subtly flavored.Make ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

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December 16  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Key Lime Bars For the crust 21/3 cups crushed gingersnaps (from about 28 cookies, or 101/4 ounces total) 1 cup slivered (skinless) almonds 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 1 cup sweetened shredded coconutFor the topping 2 cups granulated sugar 1/4 cup flour 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 5 large eggs, lightly beaten Finely grated zest of 2 limes (11/2 teaspoons total)

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December 16  |  By Reshma Seetharam Special to The Herald
A beautiful rum and fruit cake for the holidays This is my mom's recipe for a dense fruit cake made with dried fruits and nuts soaked in rum. Depending on how much you enjoy rum-soaked cake, you can soak it in rum and ripen the baked cake anywhere from three days to eight weeks. Apple juice can be substituted for those who prefer non-alcoholic.

Rum and fruit cake

3 cups dried chopped nuts. You can use any or all of these: almonds, cashews, walnuts

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December 15  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Italian Hazelnut Kisses (Baci di Dama) For the cookies 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (31/4 ounces) finely ground almonds (skinless; may substitute almond meal) 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) ground skinned hazelnuts (see Notes) 3/4 cup sugar 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flourFor the filling 31/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 7 ounces homemade or store-bought hazelnut paste (see NOTES)

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December 14  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Calissons d’Aix 31/3 cups slivered or sliced skinless almonds 1 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons apricot jam 2/3 cup chopped candied orange peel 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar 1 large egg whiteThese petite, diamond-shaped confections are the ultimate elegant no-bake cookie, with a thin base of firm, almond-apricot jam paste and royal icing on top.If you’re concerned about health risks involved in consuming raw egg whites, use the pasteurized kind.

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December 13  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Boozy Chocolate Bites 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 2 large eggs 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/3 cup (scant 11/2 ounces) flour 1/4 cup bourbon 1 to 2 ounces rainbow sprinkles, for garnish 1/2 cup slivered (skinless) almonds, toasted, then finely ground, for garnish (see Note)Consider these as a rich-tasting, rugged cousin to the rum ball. They’re small, but they pack quite a punch.

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December 12  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Vegan Gingerbread Snowflakes For the cookies 2 cups unbleached flour, plus more for the work surface 11/2 teaspoons ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil 3/4 cup vegan granulated sugar (see headnote) 1/4 cup molasses 1/3 cup unsweetened or original soy milkFor the icing

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December 11  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Hippie Crispy Treats For the bars 1/2 cup maple syrup 1/2 cup brown rice syrup (see headnote) 1/2 cup almond butter 31/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 percent cacao), chopped 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 4 cups crisped-rice cerealFor the topping 31/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 percent cacao), chopped 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1/4 cup sliced, skin-on almonds, toasted (see Note) 1/4 teaspoon flaked sea salt

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December 10  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Crunchy Almond Cookies (Croquants de Cordes-sur-Ciel) 11/2 cups whole, skin-on almonds 2 cups sugar 11/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface 2 large egg whites (1/3 cup)These dairy-free cookies are named for the medieval French village near the Pyrenees where they were created. They turn out crackly, puffed and, indeed, craggy and crunchy.Make ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to several weeks.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

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December 9  |  By Jan Roberts-Dominguez Special to The Herald
Long before there was Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving was a time when mothers were more likely to take their daughters to lunch than bargain hunting.

My cousin Bonnie and I were lucky to have grown up with two such mothers. And so for all the young years that I can remember, Margaret Roberts and her daughter Janet joined Nida Alexander and her daughter Bonnie for an afternoon at Allied Arts Guild Auxillary in Menlo Park, California. In the years when our younger...

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December 2  |  By Noelle Carter Los Angeles Times
Every tamale maker needs a good tamalera, and a big family
When it comes to tamales, you want a proper steamer (tamalera) as much as you need a large family to help you assemble a batch in the kitchen. The steamer is a simple tool consisting of three main parts: a pot, a tight-fitting lid and a perforated steamer insert. To use the steamer, simply fill the pot with water up to the water line, add the steamer insert and stack the tamales upright in the pot. Once you add the tamales, cover with the lid and steam until the tamales are set (you can tell...

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November 11  |  By Jim Shahin Special to The Washington Post
In this California city, you’ll find barbecue like no other The city of Santa Maria on California’s Central Coast is commonly known as the state’s barbecue capital. Its barbecue always features a beef cut called tri-tip, a triangular-shaped piece of bottom sirloin, cooked over red oak.Or so I thought.

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November 4  |  By Jenn Harris Los Angeles Times
Homemade that’s as good (or better) than fast food A group of tired, hungry friends voices a serious craving — not for some seasonal restaurant cuisine or even tacos, but for fast food. Crunchy, melty, salty, addictive fast food.

No one is willing to make a junk food run, but the grocery store is just down the street. Fast forward 30 minutes. The coffee table is covered in dirty paper plates and crumpled paper napkins. A group of tired friends is now on the couch, happily satiated.

This was the scene...

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October 28  |  By Cathy Barrow Special to The Washington Post
Fill and freeze: Your holiday baking starts right here
Admittedly, I start thinking about Thanksgiving desserts sometime around June. Even when there will be no more than six of us for the holiday dinner, I’ll make four pies. There can never be too much pie.

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October 28  |  By Judyrae Kruse The Forum
Eds. note: This column originally appeared in The Herald on May 12, 2008.A pair of Forum cooks jumped right on the request for lemon snickerdoodles and provide the following two-recipe windfall.Mary Taht of Marysville starts us off, supplying a unique whipper-upper made with cake mix and whipped topping.“This is from a Pillsbury ad from years ago,” she says, “and I’ve shared it often. It couldn’t be easier or tastier, and any cake mix brand works.”

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October 14  |  By Bill Daley Chicago Tribune
Jacques Pepin’s new book offers peek into what he cooks, eats at home
Jacques Pepin may be turning 80 in December, but he’s not sounding like a man about to pack up his chef’s knives and walk away from the stove or, perhaps, the camera.“There’s always something new. Life continues,” says the celebrity chef, cookbook author and television cooking show star when asked how he’s doing. Life is continuing — and how.

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October 7  |  By Maureen Abood Special to The Washington Post
The best hummus has no skin in the game
Growing up downstate in Michigan, where so many people have Middle Eastern roots, a girl can eat a lot of good hummus. The best of those for me has always been in suburban Detroit’s authentic Lebanese restaurants, where I first came to know a style of classic “hummus bi tahini” that is thick and rich, ultra-smooth and luscious while still remarkably light.

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September 30  |  By Judy Hevrdejs and Lauren Hill Chicago Tribune
In defense of the humble casserole
Step away from the sous-vide machine and microwave. It’s time to embrace the casserole, that oven-baked creation, and give it the respect it deserves.Its legacy is rich, having sustained humans for centuries — no, not the green bean casserole your granny made in the ’60s, but some of the culinary world’s greatest hits: the pork, sausage and bean cassoulet from France, eggplant and lamb moussaka from Greece and that curly pasta, cheese and sauce lasagna from Italy.

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September 23  |  Herald staff
Make this now: Lark’s John Sundstrom enters dish in national breakfast battle Chef John Sundstrom of Capitol Hill’s Lark restaurant is representing Seattle in the Hometown Breakfast Battle, a competition pitting 135 chefs from 135 cities in a battle to create the best breakfast.Sundstrom’s English muffin with Dungeness crab, green goddess dressing and green apple salad, which uses iconic Pacific Northwest flavors, will go head to head with other chefs’ dishes from around the country.

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September 16  |  By Daniel Neman St. Louis Post-Dispatch
This cookbook, scientifically speaking, is a great for the home cook
I’m in love.I can’t stop talking about it; I want to tell the world. It’s pure, this love of mine. It’s true. It’s forever.It’s a cookbook.Some passions are fleeting. I’ve flirted with a Mediterranean cuisine cookbook. Batted my eyes at a cute little book about Indian food. Once I even sexted an ice cream book.But this time, it’s lasting.

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September 15  |  By Jim Shahin Special to The Washington Post
It’s fun to mix fruit and fire
If anyone ran analytics on this sort of thing, my guess is they’d find that grilling and fruit are both at their peak about now. Unfortunately, they’d probably also find that the two rarely intersect.That’s a shame, because grilled fruit is one of the absolute joys of summer. Grilling fruit is also one of the easiest ways to expand your grilling repertoire.And it’s a nearly effortless crowd-pleaser at a dinner party.

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September 9  |  By Arthi Subramaniam Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Summer’s last hurrah: Take this opportunity to feast on late seasonal produce
Signs that summer is wrapping up have arrived. Kids have started going back to school; NFL preseason games are underway; night temperatures are dropping; and prices of strawberries and blueberries have hit $4 and change.

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September 2  |  By Leah Eskin Chicago Tribune
Teach her to make dan dan noodles, feed craving for a lifetime Order the dan dan noodles, my husband urged. So I did. He's got good taste, and noodles almost always taste good. Besides, I didn't want to admit I'd never heard of dan dan.

The noodles, scattered with pork bits and sesame seeds, lolled in a mysterious red-brown sauce. I stabbed in my chopsticks, swirled and slurped up a silky, spicy extravagance. Way beyond good.

The next time I faced a Sichuan menu, I lunged straight for the dan dan. This version came under a...

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August 26  |  By Russ Parsons Los Angeles Times
Rice bowls: An idea that still bowls her over
When Jessica Koslow put together her first rice bowl a couple of years ago, she wasn’t looking to start a trend. She just wanted to be able to offer something a little different to her customers at her East Hollywood restaurant, Sqirl.Now, of course, rice bowls, their near-cousins grain bowls and even the distantly related porridge bowls are just about the most happening menu items in Southern California.

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August 12  |  By Bill Daley Chicago Tribune
Congee gets flavorful kick-start into lunch, dinner menus
Congee — it’s not just for breakfast anymore. Chefs are spooning up the comforting rice porridge all kinds of ways at brunch, lunch and dinner too.Take Minh Phan of Porridge and Puffs in Los Angeles.“Although porridge is one of the oldest of any and every culture, I think it is only (now) coming into its own modern iteration,” Phan writes in an email. “As for the LA scene, I hope porridge becomes the new ramen” — meaning the reimagined dish of the moment.What is congee?

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