Holiday party appetizers don't have to be complicated. These oven-baked sweet potato wedges with a Buffalo-style blue cheese dip are sure to be a crowd-pleaser - and they're pretty healthy, too. Through extensive empirical research in my adult life (aka: talking with friends), I've arrived at the conclusion that while most people would love to host holiday parties at home, many are intimidated by the idea of cooking for others. But what people don't realize is that a get-together doesn't have to be a vision of Pier 1 perfection, and it definitely doesn't have to . . .
My first encounter with pao de queijo was a pretty unglamorous one. I was shopping in my neighborhood Key Food, starving, and needed something to nom on while walking home. Passing by the bread section, I noticed a new offering - pao de queijo. It sounded so exotic. And plus, it was bread, so I couldn't say no. I grabbed a few of the golden brown bread rolls and headed to checkout. Walking home, I ravenously bit into one of them, which literally stopped me in my tracks - I'd struck gold. The roll was airy yet chewy, and scented with cheese throughout. See, this is . . .
Whoever's idea it was to serve boiled broccoli to humans with functioning taste buds deserves to be put in a corner to think about what he did. To ruin such a versatile, nutritious, and yes, delicious food for the masses is nothing short of a crime. Same goes for the guy who served steamed broccoli. Yuck. Just like kale needs to be massaged to be palatable, broccoli needs to be charred. Charring broccoli (cooking it on high heat until blackened around the edges) brings out a bold nuttiness, as well as a smokey umami flavor usually reserved for juicy seared . . .
Browsing through gorgeous mounds of summer produce at the greenmarket, hauling home tote bags full of veggies, and thinking up new recipes as I go has been one of my favorite pastimes this summer. Cooking these little purple potatoes, flavored with bright cilantro and garlic and gently perfumed by lemon, I envisioned myself serving them at an oceanfront summer home on the French riviera instead of my fifth floor walk-up in Queens. This dish is beautiful but simple enough to make after work, and can elevate the most mundane of weeknights. Because of their modest . . .
There are few higher honors for food than comparing it to drugs - namely, "crack." I confess, I've never tried crack or anything remotely like it, but using the word really drives the point home, doesn't it? The inspiration for this dish comes from Barn Joo, a gastropub near my work that has a great happy hour. I always order the bacon Brussels spouts when I'm there. They are technically a side dish but are also perfect for nibbling on with that much-needed après-work cocktail. The dish consists of charred Brussels sprouts, chewy barley and bits of salty bacon, . . .
Yuca (also known as cassava) is one of those vegetables that if you didn't grow up eating, you probably won't cook for yourself. And who could blame you? Yuca is large, unyielding, and its skin resembles tree bark. Even if you've ever expressed a curiosity in it, the thought of having to tame it to an edible state is probably a big turn-off. Yuca is kind of like a white potato, but waxier, creamier and a bit stringy. I first made its discovery at Cuba, one of my favorite restaurants in the city and one I frequent often. Cuba serves yuca in two iterations: boiled, . . .
To me, corn screams summer. Literally. When I was little, my mom used to take my sister and I - often accompanied by other neighborhood kids - to the beach. Every day, of every summer, of the first nine years of my life, while we still lived in Odessa. And every day, there were ladies walking up and down the beach, screaming, "Hot corn! Hot corn!" i(n Russian, of course). When you called for one of these ladies, they would come over and present you with a steaming hot cob of corn, along with a salt shaker for you to season to your liking. So no, we did not eat fruit . . .