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Merry and Happy

Christmas and New Year, that is. I hope your holidays are filled with love and joy…and cookies.

Like many of you, I’m taking the week off so I’ll see you then and leave you in the hands of that French chick with a ‘tude.


Editorial cartoonists in several countries borrowed Santa Claus this week, creating remarkably similar drawings to say something about global warming. Sweden’s Riber Hansson produced one Thursday that’s beyond a sketch: it’s a memorable full-blown illustration.

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About Cool Whip

I don’t even want to imagine how many millions of tubs of this chemical cocktail are sold each year, especially during the holidays. At some tipping point in our history of dubious foods, people began using it beyond its intended purpose as a topping and started adding it to cakes (from mixes), frostings (made with instant pudding mix), fillings (from cans) and who knows what else.

Have you ever wondered what’s in it? Wired magazine did and we have the answers in print, with all the gory details, and in this short, fun video from PBS. All I’ll say is: Sorbitan Monostearate.

Chris Hardwick is the presenter.

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Peppermint bark


The finest peppermint bark I’ve ever had is a hand-tempered, top-quality-chocolate and peppermint confection at $24 per pound. I don’t know about you, but that kind of money for candy doesn’t sashay into my life every day, so we can mimic the festive treat for a fraction of the cost and time involved with only a few limitations.

First, the chocolate is not tempered, just melted and cooled, so it’s not as stable at room temperature or when in contact with the body heat of our hands. Tempering’s not difficult but it is a precise, time-consuming process requiring a thermometer and your full attention. Second, I do not use expensive couverture for this, although it certainly can be used, but opt instead for baking bars or chips from the supermarket in commonly-found amounts. Tempering and the use of couverture both produce a glossy finished product, but so does melting technique, and we can use that.

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For many, Christmas dinner means a rib roast. The last several years foodies generally have been in two camps about preparing it: blast it with a high temperature or give it a slow roast at a low temperature. I’ve remained stuck in the tried-and-true 325 degree camp; I don’t make expensive rib roasts often and prefer to rely on a method I know works. Imagine my surprise to discover Chef John Besh is a 325 degree roaster too.

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Cashewed chicken curry

If you are viewing this at a url other than that in the photo you are viewing a stolen duplicate of my copyrighted material.In the comments following my post on gravy thickeners I mentioned using ground nuts to thicken some soups and stews. This is another dish that uses nuts to thicken its sauce and it’s one I could eat every week. I love curry. It’s a wonderful cold weather meal and simple enough that it’s perfect for this busy time of year.

It’s from a 2005 issue of Gourmet and I’ve lightened it a bit. Instead of using a cut up chicken with skin and bones I use skinless, boneless breasts. I also opt for fat-free yogurt instead of full-fat; having tried it both ways I find little, if any, difference as long as the yogurt is drained first.

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