We spent the year simmering. In a good way. We’ve been in the kitchen, adding to our repertoire of quick and easy, no-fail dishes, perfect to bring the next time you’re invited to a holiday party. (Potluck Thanksgiving, anyone?)
And we do mean direct from the garden. (Step 1: Wash off dirt.) This year, we went to Berkeley to watch cookbook writer Mollie Katzen snip kale from the Land of the Giants stalks she’s harboring in her backyard. We picked alpine strawberries and baby spinach on a Harlem roof terrace with 66 Square Feet cookbook writer Marie Viljoen. And we tromped to upstate New York to wander around Glutton for Life blogger Laura Silverman’s sprawling kitchen garden, which magically grows crispy kale chips and cheesy chard pizza.
To kick off the holiday season, here’s a roundup of our favorites, dishes that would be perfect to take to a holiday potluck party:
Cheesy? Check. Decadent? Check. Fire up the oven. After consuming countless casseroles involving potatoes and cream, the crowd will clamor for the novelty of your thinly sliced celeriac (OK, the root vegetables get a little help from Gruyere). For ingredients and step-by-step instructions, see Erin’s recipe for Celeriac Gratin and Thyme.
Above: Best cook you know? The place where you’d like to be invited to eat your last meal? For me, that’s my friend Susan Brenna’s kitchen. Try a slice of her Pumpkin Chiffon Cake (an adaptation of a recipe her mother clipped from a women’s magazine years ago) and then, after you wolf down the rest of it guiltily, make a second cake to take to the party. You’ll be so popular.
Above: Mollie Katzen’s Smoky Brussels Sprouts and Onion. Photograph by John Merkl for Gardenista.
Mollie Katzen was the cook who taught me that vegetables taste good (you too?) After her classic Moosewood Cookbook introduced strange words like “hummus” into American vocabularies in the 1970s, she continued experimenting in ways to simplify recipes while intensifying flavor. Her Smoky Brussels Sprouts and Onion, from her new cookbook Heart of the Plate, is an excellent make-ahead dish for a party. Brussels sprouts have integrity. They won’t wilt or whine or compromise on texture or flavor when you reheat them.
Made with buttermilk and a mix of whatever greens are on hand–kale, chard, and collard will do fine–Creamed Winter Greens arrive at a party in a covered casserole dish. You may bake them ahead of time or just before serving, depending on how proprietary the host is feeling about oven space. Do. Not. Forget. The. Crispy. Puffed. Rice.
For the full recipe, see Garden-to-Table Recipe: Eat Your Greens.
For ingredients and instructions, see Bake-Ahead Apple-Coconut Crisp.
Above: Here’s a dessert that screams holiday in the nicest possible tone of voice: beautiful Pears Roasted in Red Wine from Marie Viljoen’s cookbook, 66 Square Feet: A Delicious Life. Serve hot or at room temperature. Photograph by Marie Viljoen.