whatzup Dining In- A Holiday treat & a side dish

It’s holiday time, and chances are you’ll be invited to a handful of parties and asked to bring a side dish or dessert. On our never-ending quest to push our family and friends out of their comfort zones, my husband and I discovered two mouthwatering recipes that make perfect pot luck guests.

First: Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies. The complex flavors of this cookie, combined with the crunchy texture of the natural cane sugar, make for a very grown-up snack. Though the recipe is a bit labor intensive, the result is worth it.

Second: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Walnuts and Anchovies. Before you say, “I don’t like Brussels sprouts,” hear me out. I didn’t think I liked them either, but one bite of this dish and I was hooked. The richness of the mustard dressing and the crunch of the walnuts take Brussels sprouts to a whole new level. Add in the tangy capers and salty anchovies, and you’ve got a dish that is sure to impress even your snobbiest of foodie friends.

Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios (2 ¼ oz; not dyed red)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (1 ¼ oz)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ natural cane sugar (preferably coarse)

Make dough: Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries. Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces. Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as
an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours.
Slice and bake cookies: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends).

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Walnuts and Anchovies
(adapted from Food & Wine)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • One 2 oz tin of anchovies, drained and minced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with ¼ cup of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the Brussels sprouts on 2 large baking sheets and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender and charred in spots. Shift the pans halfway through roasting.

Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool and then coarsely chop.
In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard and honey. Whisk the remaining ½ cup of oil until emulsified. Add the capers, garlic, shallots and anchovies. Season with salt and pepper. Add the Brussels sprouts and walnuts and toss well.

(appeared in the 12/15/11 issue of whatzup)

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