Food & Drink

Weekly Recipes


Lemon Lush Parfaits

Pecan-Oat Crunch (see recipe)

Cream Cheese Filling (see recipe)

Lemon Filling (see recipe)

Whipped cream, for garnish

Fresh fruit, for garnish

Makes eight parfaits.

Note: Make the lemon filling first, so it can cool while preparing the other layers.

To assemble parfaits: Place a generous tablespoon of Pecan-Oat Crunch in each glass. Follow with a layer of the Cream Cheese Filling. This is easier if you place the cream cheese in a pastry bag with a wide tip. Or use a heavy-duty plastic bag, snipping off one corner through which you can squeeze the mixture without streaking the sides of the glass.

Follow with a layer of Lemon Filling, carefully dropped onto the cream-cheese layer with a spoon. Or use another plastic bag with a corner snipped off.

Repeat with each layer, using a bit more of the Pecan-Oat Mixture this time. The depth of each layer will depend on the size of the container. Generally speaking, each layer equals about 3 tablespoons of filling. But you can eyeball this. A little variation among the layers and glasses is charming.

Top with a final dollop of Cream Cheese Filling or, if desired, some whipped cream. Or simply top with fresh fruit. Chill until serving.

For do-ahead entertaining: Each layer may be prepared the previous day, refrigerated, then assembled before serving. Parfaits also may be refrigerated overnight, but after 12 hours, the pecan-oat layer begins to lose some of its crunch.

Lemon Filling

2 to 3 teaspoons lemon zest, from 2 to 3 lemons

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained of pulp, from about 2 to 3 lemons

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

Pinch of salt

11/4 cups water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in 4 pieces

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Grate zest from lemons and set aside.

Roll lemons on counter, pressing firmly, which breaks the inner cells and gives more juice. Juice the lemons, straining the juice into the measuring cup.

Separate egg yolks from whites. (Freeze egg whites for future use in meringues.) Whisk yolks in small bowl, then whisk in lemon juice. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and water. Heat over medium heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, whisking constantly to keep lumps from forming. Remove from heat.

Wrap a towel around the base of the egg yolks bowl to stabilize it. Briskly whisk the yolks, at the same time slowly adding1/4 to 1/2 cup of the hot mixture. This warms the yolks enough so that you can then pour them back into the hot mixture without the yolks “cooking” and forming lumps.

When the yolks are whisked back into the hot mixture, return pan to medium heat and cook until thickened. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter pieces.

Pour lemon filling into a shallow bowl, stir in zest and refrigerate while preparing other layers.

Pecan-Oat Crunch

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Toast pecans in a heavy saucepan over medium heat for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Watch carefully so they do not scorch.

In a bowl, combine toasted pecans, butter, brown sugar, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, mixing well. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes. Stir mixture, then return to oven for another 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Cream Cheese Filling

2 (8-ounce) packages light or reduced-fat cream cheese, cut in pieces, room temperature

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained of pulp, from 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

Makes about 3 cups.

Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl. With a handheld or stand mixer, beat cream cheese until no large lumps remain, then begin adding sweetened condensed milk. Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat until smooth. Set aside.


Dream Bars

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (64 percent to 66 percent cacao), melted

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 extra-large eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

Makes 30 bars.

Invert a baking sheet; spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Line the top with parchment paper. With an offset spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly across the parchment. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking pan (a quarter sheet pan) or glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; line with parchment paper, leaving 1 inch of overhang on the long sides.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed, 5-10 seconds. Add the granulated sugar; beat until mixture is aerated, 3-4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.

Add the water and vanilla to the egg yolks. On medium speed, add the yolks, one at a time, mixing briefly until the batter resembles cottage cheese, about 5 seconds per yolk. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed to make nearly homogeneous, 20-30 seconds.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the flour mixture all at once; mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, about 30 seconds. Do not overmix. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Using a rubber spatula and then your fingertips, press the dough into the corners of the pan and smooth the surface.

Remove the chocolate from the freezer; break it up into shards. Scatter the chocolate shards across the surface of the dough; press into the dough. Cover the top with plastic wrap, pressing down through the plastic to smooth the top. Refrigerate until the dough is set, at least 20 minutes or overnight. (If refrigerating the dough overnight, refrigerate the egg whites as well, letting them come to room temperature before proceeding with the meringue.)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and a pinch of kosher salt on medium speed until frothy, about 45 seconds. Add the brown sugar; whip on medium-high speed until shiny peaks form and the meringue holds its shape, 2-3 minutes. Spread the meringue evenly over the chilled dough.

Bake, rotating the pan halfway through the baking process, until the meringue resembles a lightly toasted marshmallow, 23-25 minutes. It will start to crack on the sides but should still be slightly soft in the center, and the bottom layer should be cooked through but still pale, not golden brown. (Do not overbake or the shortbread will be too crumbly to cut.) Cool completely in the pan. Once cool, refrigerate until chilled.

Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment handles; transfer to a cutting board. Cut the bars lengthwise into 3 strips. Cut the bars crosswise into 10 strips to make small, rectangular bars. Serve the bars at room temperature.

The bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Peanut Butter Peanut Brittle Cookies

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup cane sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light muscovado sugar or light brown sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 extra-large egg, at room temperature

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda


1 cup cane sugar

Peanut Brittle (recipe follows)

Makes 34 cookies.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter briefly on medium speed, 5-10 seconds. Add the sugars; beat until the butter mixture is aerated and pale, 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Add the peanut butter; mix on medium to combine thoroughly, about 1 minute.

Crack the egg into a small cup or bowl; add the milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salts, baking powder and baking soda.

On medium speed, gradually add the egg, milk and vanilla to the butter mixture. Mix, 5 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to bring the batter together. Mix on medium until nearly homogeneous, 20-30 seconds.

Add the dry ingredients all at once; mix on low until the dough comes together but still looks shaggy, about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to bring the batter together. Mix on medium, 10 seconds. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap; wrap tightly. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a couple of rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

For the coating, put the sugar in a shallow bowl. Using a 3/4-ounce (1 1/2 tablespoon) ice cream scoop, portion the dough into 12 mounds; roll them into balls. (Alternatively, use a large spoon to portion dough. You will make about 12 cookies per batch.) Gently coat each ball completely with the sugar. Space the balls well apart on a baking sheet. Press a couple of peanut brittle shards into the top of the rounds.

Bake 8 minutes. Rotate the pan; bake until the tops are barely set and the edges are lightly golden, 4-5 minutes. The cookies will firm up as they cool, but they still will be chewy. For crispy cookies, bake 7-9 minutes more after rotating the pan. Let the cookies cool completely on the pan. Repeat with the remaining dough.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Peanut Brittle

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup hot water

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup raw or dry-roasted, skinless peanuts

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Makes about 2 cups of large shards.

Line a rimmed baking pan (half sheet pan, 13-by-18 inches) with a silicone baking mat or foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar, water and corn syrup. Stir in the peanuts with a wooden spoon; cook, gently swirling the pan, over medium heat until a light caramel forms, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the butter, salt, baking soda and vanilla in a bowl. When the syrup reaches the light caramel stage, pour the contents of the bowl into the pot. Remove from the heat and stir. The baking soda will darken the caramel. (If it looks too light still, put it back over the heat for a few seconds.) Spread the brittle onto the baking mat. Let it harden and cool. Once set, break into shards with your hands.


Butternut Squash and Bean Chili

3 cups chopped (large dice) butternut squash

1 large or 2 medium poblano peppers, halved, stemmed and seeded

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Salt and black pepper to taste

1 medium onion, chopped

2 banana peppers, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping cup of dried beans (such as kidney or black beans)

1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups sour cream, optional

5 to 6 chopped green onions, optional

Serves about 10.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the diced squash and halved poblano peppers on a baking sheet. Coat with 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast about 20 minutes. Place the squash in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Peel and chop the poblanos and set aside.

Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, banana peppers and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the dry beans to the pan and stir until they are coated with the olive oil and onion mixture. Pour in enough water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches (about 6 cups). Add the roasted poblano pieces and the jalapeno slices.

Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Add the butternut squash with the allspice, cumin and cayenne. Warm through and taste to adjust the seasoning.

Serve garnished with sour cream and green onions.

Corn Pudding

2 cups fresh or frozen corn, thawed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups whole milk

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Serves six to eight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the corn, flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir well.

Whisk together the milk, eggs and melted butter in a separate bowl. Stir into the corn mixture. Pour into a lightly greased 1-quart casserole dish.

Bake for 15 minutes, then stir. Bake 15 minutes and stir again. Continue to bake for 30 minutes longer, until set and a little brown around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Big Skillet Chocolate Chip Blondie

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Serves about eight.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over low heat. Stir the butter until it melts, then stir in the brown sugar until well combined. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and stir to mix. Spoon the flour mixture into the skillet with the butter and brown sugar and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and vanilla to the well and stir the flour mixture up and into the eggs, mixing in the butter mixture, until the mixture is mostly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Fold in the chocolate chops and sprinkle the pecans over the top, if using.

Move to the oven and bake until the edges are lightly brown and the center is still a little soft to the touch, 22 to 26 minutes. Remove from the oven. Scoop out and serve warm with ice cream, or cool 1 hour and slice into wedges.