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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Holidays & Occasions

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Leaf-Shaped Veggies For Thanksgiving

You can be very artistic with vegetables. It just takes a bit of planning. While it takes some dexterity to make this “rose tart”, here is a simple alternative.

It comes from one of our favorite creative cooks, Vicky of She cuts up vegetables with a leaf cookie cutter before roasting them. She then tosses the cooked veggies in a mustard and maple syrup vinaigrette.

Cookie cutters make vegetables fun any time of the year. You can make stars for Christmas, hearts for Valentine’s Day, bunnies for Easter and so on. Check the size of you cutter to be sure it isn’t larger than the beets and potatoes. You may need to use two sizes: medium and small. Here’s a good set of leaf cookie cutters from Wilton: three different leaves, each in small, medium and large.

After you’ve cut out the shapes, keep the vegetable scraps to make stock; or chop them and steam them lightly to use in scrambled eggs, omelets, grain salads, etc. Stick them in the freezer if you’re too busy to think about it now.

Ingredients For 4 Servings

For The Vegetables

  • 9 ounces/250g uncooked red beets, skinned and trimmed
  • 18 ounces/500g butternut squash, peeled


    Volunteer to make the vegetables; then cut them with a leaf-shaped cookie cutter. Photo ©

  • 14 ounces/400g Yukon Gold, Purple Peruvian or other all-purpose* potatoes, washed and peeled
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper
    *Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn and/or Purple Peruvian potatoes will give you the color you want. You can substitute other all-purpose potatoes such as Katahdin or Kennebec (a leading chipping potato). Check out the different types of potatoes in our Potato Glossary.
    For The Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or substitute†
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or to taste)
  • Garnish: 1 heaping tablespoon capers
  • Garnish: a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
    †Substitutes in order of preference: rice wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar. See the different types of vinegar.



    Headed for the oven. Photo ©



    1. LINE two baking pans with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

    2. SLICE the potatoes and butternut squash into 1/8-inch thin slices, using a very sharp knife or a mandolin on its thickest setting. If cutting with a knife, ensure the slices as even as possible.

    3. SLICE the beets the same way. Use a separate chopping board or cut the beets last, or they will bleed into the other vegetables.

    4. USE a leaf cookie cutter to cut out the leaves. For more visual interest, use different shape leaves (maple and oak, for example). Once again, keep the beets on a separate chopping board so they don’t bleed on the potatoes and squash. TIP FROM VICKY: Raw root vegetables are a lot tougher to cut than cookie dough, so protect your palms by placing a small towel underneath your hand when you press down on the cutter.

    OPTIONAL: You can make the leaves even more decorative by scoring some veins with a knife. This is labor intensive and a task ideally delegated to a helper.

    5. PLACE the potato and squash in a bowl and toss in most of the oil, paprika salt, pepper and some herbs. Move the oiled squash and potatoes to one of the lined baking sheets. Place the beets in the same bowl, toss them in the remaining oil, paprika, salt, pepper and herbs, and add them to the other baking sheet.

    6. PLACE both baking sheets in the oven. Cook the smaller leaves for 20 minutes and the larger leaves for 30-40 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking…

    7. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and mustard in a bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Next, whisk in the maple syrup.

    8. PLACE the cooked vegetables on a warm serving dish. Pour on most of the dressing, reserving some in a jug for those who’d like more. Scatter the capers on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs before serving.



    RECIPE: No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

    Well, it’s almost no bake: The crust gets baked for 10 minutes. But after that, all you do is mix, fill and refrigerate thanks to this easy recipe from Kenwood.

    If the kids want to make a contribution, this is something they can do without worrying about baking times (or having to stick around, waiting for the baking to finish).

    Prep time is 20 minutes, chill time is 4 hours or overnight.



    For The Crust

  • 10 to 12 graham crackers to make approx 1.5 cups
  • ½ cup of unsalted butter, softened
    For The Cheesecake Filling

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin pie filling*
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • Optional: whipped cream for garnish


    The crust bakes for 10 minutes. Then, chill and serve. Photo courtesy Kenwood.


    *Note that pumpkin pie filling is already seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Do not confuse it with unseasoned can pumpkin.


    1. HEAT the oven to 375°F. Using a food processor with the chopping blade, combine the softened butter with the graham crackers to create a graham crust. Stir until the crumbs are evenly coated and look wet. The crumbs should hold together in a clump if you press them in your fist; if not, add water a tablespoon at a time until this happens.

    2. POUR the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan and press them evenly along the bottoms and sides. Pre-bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes until dry and fragrant. Cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.

    3. MIX the cream cheese in the mixing bowl of the food processor on medium speed until it is a bit fluffy. Slowly add in the pumpkin pie filling and mix on low until blended. Mix in the cinnamon and sugar until mixture is completely smooth.

    4. REMOVE the filling and place in another bowl. Add the whipping cream to the mixing bowl and beat until stiff. Slowly fold in cream cheese mixture until just blended (it won’t be pretty so don’t think you’re doing something wrong).

    5. POUR into the pie crust. Let the cheesecake chill in for 4 hours or overnight. To serve, garnish with a optional dollop of whipped cream.



    FOOD FUN: Fall Leaf Cookies

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/leaf cookies craftsmanandwolves 230

    Make shortbread leaves in the colors of fall. Photo courtesy Craftsman and Wolves | San Francisco.


    If you want to bring something homemade to your Thanksgiving hosts—but they don’t need another pie—bake leaf-shaped shortbread cookies in fall colors.

    These were made by the wonderful San Francisco Bakery, Craftsman and Wolves. Click on the links for recipes from The Nibble, Epicurious and Martha Stewart.

  • Autumn Spice Shortbread (add some food color for an orange-colored dough)
  • Chocolate Shortbread
  • Golden Shortbread
  • Matcha Shortbread

    You could also make almond shortbread, ginger shortbread with crystallized ginger, lemon or orange shortbread.

    All you need are your favorite shortbread recipe or one of ours, a leaf cookie cutter and some optional sanding sugar.

    With a set of assorted leaf cookie cutters, you can use a different shape for each flavor.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Cranberry Vodka

    Should you change your vodka for the holidays?

    Some vodka producers make seasonal flavors. Pinnacle Vodka, for example, has a portfolio of holiday flavors that include Caramel Apple, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie and Peppermint Bark.

    Finlandia, Skyy and Smirnoff make cranberry vodka. Maybe you’ll be luckier than we’ve been in finding it. So here’s another option:

    Infuse your own cranberry vodka with real cranberries, instead of the extracts used to make commercial flavored vodka. Serve it—or bring it as a house gift—on Thanksgiving, Christmas and in-between.

    Generally when making infused vodka, the flavors should blend for four weeks or longer; but this recipe lets you do it in just 3 days.

  • Pass by the cheap stuff and use quality vodka. For $10 to $15, you can buy Denaka, Luksusowa, New Amsterdam, Pinnacle, Sobieski, Smirnoff or Svedka.
  • Why not spring for pricier vodka? If you’re making the vodka as a gift and want to impress, use the recipient’s favorite brand or other prestigious label. It won’t necessarily make better-tasting cranberry vodka, but will please the status-oriented.

    Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

    An easy holiday cocktail: cranberry vodka and ginger ale on the rocks. Photo courtesy

  • Create a hang tag for the neck of the bottle, with the name of the product (straight or fanciful), year made, and any other information.
  • If you’d rather showcase your vodka in a clear wine bottle, you can hand-paint a label and add decorations. The bottles run about $3 apiece.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
  • 1 fifth good quality vodka

    Bowl Of Fresh Cranberries

    Just add vodka. In three days you’ll have
    cranberry vodka. Photo courtesy Good Eggs |
    San Francisco.



    1. COMBINE the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, tilting and swirling the pan occasionally. Lower the heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Stir in the cranberries and set the pan aside for 2 hours.

    3. TRANSFER the cranberry mixture to a large covered bowl, jar or canister and add the vodka. Retain the bottle to refill with the finished product. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 days, stirring occasionally. If you don’t have room in the fridge, keep it in a cool, dark place.

    4. STRAIN the vodka into a large pitcher, reserving the cranberries. You can use them to garnish drinks.

    5. USING a funnel, pour the vodka back into the original bottle. Place the bottle in the freezer until ready to serve. Keep the reserved cranberries in the freezer, but defrost them prior to serving (they defrost quickly).
    To Serve

    Serve cranberry vodka:

  • Shots
  • Straight up or on the rocks
  • As Cranberry Martinis, with just a splash of vermouth
  • In other cocktails or punch
    Top with a few cranberries to garnish.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Bread Pudding

    Dessert lovers know the comfort of a rich bread pudding, a way to top yesterday’s bread with custard and cook it in a casserole dish into something sublime. (“Casserole” has a broad definition: simply, a side dish or stew cooked slowly in an oven.)

    Leave out the sugar and you have a savory custard, to be served as a side with dinner.

    Bread pudding originated in the 11th or 12th century as a way to use stale bread. Pieces of bread were cut or torn, combined with other ingredients (cheese, onions, mushrooms and other vegetables, bits of meat), topped with custard and then baked until the top was set but the inside was soft and creamy.

  • Bread pudding is closely related to the Italian dish, strata. The difference is that stratas are typically made with more eggs than cream, making them eggier and more breakfasty. They are savory dishes.
  • Bread puddings are made with a more equal ratio of eggs and milk—a custard. They can be either sweet or savory.
  • You can also make individual bread puddings in ramekins or custard cups.
  • Stuffing and dressing are savory bread puddings.
    Also see our related article on savory custard.


    Bread Pudding

    Spinach and garlic bread pudding. While most recipes blend the bread with the other ingredients, in this version it sits on top. It makes for a prettier presentation. Here’s the recipe, from Food & Wine.

    We’ve provided one recipe below that uses applewood smoked bacon, but here’s an assortment of delicious options from Food & Wine.

  • Artichoke Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Butternut Squash Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Cranberry, Pecan & Bacon Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Mushroom, Leek & Parmesan Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Savory Sausage and Cheddar Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Spinach Bread Pudding With Lemon & Feta Recipe
  • Spinach & Garlic Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Spinach-Shiitake Bread Pudding Recipe
    The following recipe is from La Brea Bakery, which suggests it to accompany the Thanksgiving turkey or any roasted meats. They make it with their Organic Rustic French Loaf.

    But the great thing about bread pudding is that you can use any bread, or a mixture of breads. In other words, if you have leftover baguette, challah and cornbread, toss them together.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/savory bread pudding labrea ps 230

    Applewood smoked bacon and Italian parsley
    flavor this savory bread pudding recipe from
    La Brea Bakery. Photo courtesy La Brea



    Prep time is 60 minutes, cook time is 120 minutes.

    Ingredients For Nine 3″x3″ Pieces

  • 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces applewood smoked bacon
  • 4 ounces whole cooked chestnuts
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 French loaf of other bread

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. CUT the bread into 1” cubes, removing the crust; place in a large bowl. Pour the chicken stock over the bread and stir to wet all cubes. Allow to sit for a half hour, stirring occasionally to be sure all the liquid is absorbed.

    3. CHOP the chestnuts coarsely. While waiting for the bread to soak, place a medium pan over medium heat and add the bacon and chestnuts. Stir occasionally and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is golden but not yet crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.

    4. PICK the leaves of the parsley from the stems, chop coarsely and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly with a whisk and add the cream, celery salt, pepper and chopped parsley, continuing to whisk until well combined. Add this mixture and the chestnuts-bacon mixture (use a rubber spatula to get everything from the pan) to the bread cubes and stir to mix well.

    5. SPRAY the inside of a 9” baking pan with cooking spray and fill with the bread mixture, making sure to spread evenly to fill the pan and create a level top surface. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

    6. SERVE immediately or allow to cool completely for serving later. If serving later, reheat by covering with foil and place in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes, or until warmed through.



    THANKSGIVING: Healthier Ingredients That Are Easy Switches

    Chef Gerard Viverito is a culinary instructor and operator of Saveur Fine Catering, a company whose beliefs and center on local, sustainable and organic foods. He has a passion to teach others how to cook more healthfully.

    Here’s what he shared with us regarding preparation of a healthier Thanksgiving meal.

    1. Buy a turkey that is 100% bird.

    Order an organic pasture-raised bird from a butcher or a local farmer. Most store-bought frozen turkeys have been injected with a solution made from added sugar, salt and artificial flavorings, that increases their weight by up to 12%. Look closely: These birds must be labeled as “basted,” “marinated” or “injected.” Additives are not allowed in fresh turkeys.

    2. Ditch the boxed stuffing.

    That familiar stuffing in the red box contains partially hydrogenated oil, the primary source of trans fats. Nix all the prepackaged stuffings—many contain trans fats or other unhealthy ingredients—and pick up some day-old bread. Have the kids help by tearing the bread into pieces the night before. Create a family tradition with homemade stuffing.


    Thanksgiving Dinner

    A great meal without trans fats and additives. Photo courtesy

    Pass up the canned crescent rolls.

    Refrigerated dough products including crescent rolls often contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), as well as emulsifiers such as monoglycerides and diglycerides which may also contain trans fats. Easy drop biscuits take just 15 minutes to make and require just a handful of ingredients.

    Another thought: With all the food on the Thanksgiving table and rich desserts to follow, do you really need bread?



    Make your own pie crusts. Store-bought
    crusts often contain trans fats. Photo
    courtesy Williams-Sonoma.


    Rethink the mashed potatoes.

    Don’t take the easy way out and use instant potato flakes. They may also contain trans fats.

    Chef Gerard suggests a move beyond mashed potatoes to mashed root vegetables. If your crowd is sophisticated or health conscious, they may actually prefer it.

    Cook a medley of potatoes, parsnips and celery root, flavored with garlic and nutmeg, and mash away.

    Avoid the gravy packets

    Many powdered gravy mixes contain partially hydrogenated oils as well as monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate and artificial colors. Prepare your own gravy by whisking a few tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into the turkey drippings.


    Don’t Buy Prepared Crusts

    Frozen pie crusts are one of the worst trans fat offenders. If cake is a family favorite, beware of trans fat-rich canned frosting.

    Thanks, Chef Gerard!



    RECIPE: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

    Bread pudding is a Southern classic that can be tweaked to become a fall special with the addition of pumpkin purée.

    This recipe, from Heidi of FoodieCrush, not only adds the pumpkin, but tops the bread pudding with a bourbon pecan sauce.

    Says Heidi: “With bourbon pecan and caramelized pecans topping a bread pudding made from cinnamon-raisin bread, this dessert is destined to become a classic.”

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 60 minutes.

    See the history of bread pudding below.


    Ingredients For 8-10 servings

    For The Bread Pudding

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-pound loaf cinnamon-raisin bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
    For The Bourbon Pecan Sauce

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup bourbon or other whiskey

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon butter.

    2. WHISK together the eggs, heavy cream, pumpkin purée, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl, stirring until smooth.




    TOP PHOTO: Will Pumpkin Bread Pudding become a new Thanksgiving classic? Photo courtesy Foodie Crush | Go Bold With Butter. BOTTOM PHOTO: Pastry chefs at top restaurants make pumpkin bread pudding, too. This upscale treatment, with crème fraiche ice cream and rum-spiced cherries, is from Chef Toni Roberts. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Star Chefs.

    3. ADD the bread cubes and let stand 5 minutes. Pour into the baking pan; bake 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the center is set. (The bread pudding will puff as it bakes and will deflate once it’s cooled from the oven.)

    4. MAKE the bourbon pecan sauce: Add the cream, egg yolks and sugar to 2-quart saucepan and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture thinly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and let the mixture stand, stirring often as it cools. Meanwhile…

    5. MELT the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the pecans. Cook 4-5 minutes or until the butter browns and exudes a nutty aroma. Stir the browned butter and the pecans into the cream mixture. Stir in the whiskey.

    6. SERVE the bread pudding warm, drizzled with the bourbon pecan sauce. The sauce may be made a day in advance and refrigerated.


    Panettone Bread Pudding

    Bread pudding made with panforte, the
    classic Christmas bread. Photo courtesy
    Bauli. Here’s the recipe.



    Bread pudding, a dish created to use stale bread (as were French toast and fondue among others), has humble roots. But it has evolved into an American comfort food that you can find at diners and upscale eateries alike, made simply or elaborately.

    Food historians trace the history of bread pudding to the early 11th and 12th centuries, as frugal cooks looked for ways to use stale, leftover bread instead of letting it go to waste. In 13th century England, bread pudding was known as “poor man’s pudding,” as it was a popular dish with the lower classes.

    The dish consists of cubes of bread and any added ingredients (raisins, chocolate chips citrus zest and so on), covered with custard sauce and cooked. It can be made in the oven, stove top, a crock pot, microwave or grill.

    There’s lots of opportunity for creativity, from the type of bread to the inclusions. Beyond bread, you can use anything that’s left over: brioche, buns and rolls, coffee cake, croissants, donuts, Danish and muffins.

    We often buy a challah, just to have day-old bread for bread pudding. We also love a cinnamon-raisin loaf, as used in this recipe.

    And don’t forget the booze: Grand Marnier or other liqueur, rum or whiskey.



    RECIPE: Gingersnap Biscotti

    A gift of homemade biscotti for your Thanksgiving host is especially thoughtful. Biscotti last for several weeks in an airtight tin, so the host family has a treat to look forward to after all the leftovers have been consumed.

    Annalise of Completely Delicious created these White Chocolate Gingersnap Biscotti after her grandmother’s gingersnap recipe.

    “These gingersnap biscotti have all the spice and molasses flavor of my grandmother’s gingersnaps,” says Annalise, but with the extra snap and crunch of biscotti. And a drizzle of white chocolate is the final finishing touch.”

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 40 minutes. Thanks to, a treasure trove of delicious holiday recipes, for giving us the heads up on this one.


    Ingredients For 2 Dozen Biscotti

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  • 5 ounces high quality* white chocolate, chopped


    Gingersnap biscotti for the holidays. Photo courtesy Completely Delicious | Go Bold With Butter.

    *Look for Lindt or Green & Black’s white chocolate bars, Guittard white chocolate or chocolate chips. We found Valhrona white chocolate pistoles in clear containers at Whole Foods Market.


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

    2. USE a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a hand-held mixer with a large bowl. Beat the butter and brown sugar on high speed until light in color and creamy. Mix in the egg, followed by the molasses.

    3. STIR together in large bowl the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture all at once and mix on low until incorporated.

    4. DIVIDE the dough in half and shape each piece into a log about 4 inches wide. Space the logs evenly on the sheet pan and flatten each log to about 2 inches high. Sprinkle generously with granulated sugar.

    5. BAKE until the edges are golden and the surface is cracked, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes.

    6. SLICE the logs with a serrated knife into 1-inch thick slices. Place the slices cut side-up on pan lined with parchment paper and bake an additional 12-14 minutes until edges are brown. Let cool completely.

    7. MELT the chocolate in small heat-proof bowl in the microwave at 60 percent power for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. If not completely melted, continue to microwave the chocolate in 10 second intervals, stirring in-between intervals. Be careful not to scorch the chocolate.

    8. DRIZZLE the melted chocolate over the cooled cookies. Let them sit for 15 minutes before serving or storing. Store biscotti in airtight container at room temperature.


    White Chocolate Chips

    Callebaut White Chocolate Chunks

    TOP PHOTO: Look for Guittard white
    chocolate chips in your supermarket. Photo
    courtesy Lake Champlain Chocolate. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: You can buy chunks of Callebaut
    white chocolate at



    Created as a convenient non-perishable food for travelers and a staple of the diet of the Roman Legions, today’s biscotti are a classic dessert in Tuscany, accompanied by an amber-hued glass of vin santo*, a dessert wine. Americans enjoy them with a cappuccino or other coffee drink.

    Originally flavored with almonds (amaretti), then with anisette, biscotti are now made in dozens of flavors. Here’s Mario Batali’s favorite recipe for the classic amaretto and anisette biscotti.

    The word biscotto derives from “bis,” Latin for twice, and “coctum” or baked (which became “cotto,” or cooked, in Italian).

    In Roman times, unleavened, finger-shaped wafers were baked first to cook them, then a second time to completely dry them out, making them durable for travel and nourishment on long journeys. Pliny boasted that they would be edible for centuries.

    The record does not indicate that biscotti survived the sack of the Roman Empire. But they re-emerged in Tuscany during the Renaissance, credited to a Tuscan baker who served them with vin santo. Their dry, crunchy texture was deemed to be the perfect medium to soak up the wine.

    Centuries later, many still agree that dipping biscotti into vin santo is a perfect way to end a meal, or to while away an hour at a café. Biscotti and coffee are also a match made in Heaven.

    Italians call biscotti cantucci, and use the term biscotti to refer to any type of crunchy cookie—round, square and otherwise (as the British use the word “biscuit”). In North America, we use “biscotti” as the ancient Romans did, to describe a long, dry, hard, twice-baked cookie (in other words, cantucci).

    Here’s a longer history of biscotti.

    †Vin santo means “holy wine” in Italian, and was traditionally made in Tuscany. Most scholars agree that these wines were originally used for Holy Communion.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Harvest Topping, A Fall Garnish

    What’s Harvest Topping, you ask?

    As created by Country Crock, it’s a universal topping that can garnish anything from a baked Brie to a sundae to a crumble.

    Not to mention oatmeal, French toast, pancakes, waffles and yogurt. It’s also a salad topping. And we even mixed it into rice!

    Country Crock recommends it with mascarpone cheese on sliced multigrain baguette (toast the slices), garnished with Harvest Topping over top for a delicious snack. It works with cream cheese and ricotta, too.

    Sweet and spicy, it can be your go-to garnish for the rest of the season. The allspice is a nice change of pace from the ubiquitous seasonal cinnamon.

    Harvest Topping is easy to make, and it will keep in an airtight container for a month or more. You can turn it into a house gift with a mason jar and a ribbon.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.


    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons Country Crock Spread, unsalted butter or oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

    crop Country Crock_Harvest Topping_dailymeal-230

    One garnish has many uses, from a Brie appetizer to dessert. Photo courtesy Country Crock.



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing well. Arrange in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are golden brown.

    3. USE immediately, or let cool before storing in an airtight container.
    Find more holiday recipes at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Thanksgiving Table Decorations

    Thanksgiving Table Decorations

    Use grocery store items to decorate your Thanksgiving table. Photo courtesy Foragers Market | Brooklyn.


    Some people like a flower centerpiece for their table. Others take out the silver candelabra.

    We’ve done both, but realized that they can interfere with sight lines across the table. They’re also very 20th (and 19th) century.

    So in recent years we’ve tried:

  • A glass vase or clear salad bowl filled with pomegranates, lady apples, clementines, fresh green leaves and metallic-sprayed pine cones.
  • A short glass vase layered with different whole nuts, with florists’ moss between the layers.
  • A stack of three flat winter squash—like flatter pumpkins— in different colors (look in farmers markets for the Bonbon Buttercup, Flat Boer Pumpkin, some Hubbard and Kabocha, and other heirloom varieties).

  • Flat winter squash covered with silver and gold metallic paints.
  • A three-pound chocolate turkey, which was hammered into pieces at the end, and the pieces sent home with guests as party favors.
  • Indian corn and autumn leaves, which lasts a long time as household decor.
    While the first idea is our favorite, our guests deserve variety from year to year.

    So this year, we’re adapting an idea from Foragers Market, to scatter the table with miniature pumpkins, decorative gourds and rosemary sprigs.

    After dinner, the gourds go into a glass bowl or basket to decorate the foyer; the rosemary sprigs go into the freezer to use again on the Christmas table or to garnish cocktails, mineral water or soft drinks; or in recipes.

    You can use the same concept for Halloween.

    Need more ideas?

    Here are 45 Thanksgiving centerpieces from HGTV.


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