Retro Date-Nut Bread

Retro Date-Nut Bread

The last season of MadMen starts in just a little over a week. I’ve watched every single episode, which I guess qualifies me as a true fan. My son started me down this road, so I can either thank or chastise him for my addiction to the rollercoaster that is Mad Men. 

In the beginning, I watched simply for the storylines and the characters. As the seasons progressed, I began to notice the styles of clothing, the attention to period detail and the political references. Now, with the series drawing to a close, I find myself in the kitchens, bars and restaurants, with The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

The book is filled with recipes that tie into the series, with commentary on when each dish or drink appears and its context, both in the show and the period. I'm giving away a copy of the cook so you can join in Mad Men-era fun  - details and the entry form follow the recipe. 

For a bloggers' Mad Men finale party, I decided to make Date Nut Bread. Technically, the recipe (as described in the book) is linked to the Drapers; Betty makes it for Sally’s sixth birthday party in Season 1 and Don’s paramour, Sally’s teacher Suzanne Farrell, makes it for Don in Season 3.

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Nutella Espresso Cookies

Nutella Espresso Cookies

I loved gianduia (gianduja) long before I knew that name. The Italian combination of chocolate and hazelnut is simply incredible – purely chocolate enough for any chocolate addict, but also delicately flavored with the subtle and distinctive taste of hazelnuts. Excellent in ice cream and as a melted filling in crepes, gianduia or Nutella is also superb in cakes and cookies.

Most Americans know it as Nutella, but that is really a brand name for a version of gianduia that was invented in the 1940’s and only renamed Nutella in 1964. Here’s a great history of the Nutella brand and how that spread came to its iconic status among gianduia fans.

Like my vegetarian lasagna, these nutella cookies were "beshert" – meant to be. I recently made nutella hamantaschen for Purim. As wonderful as those were, the nutella filling wasn’t as good separately as it was nestled inside the three corners of the hamantaschen dough. Then last week, as I made chocolate walnut espresso cookies for an organization I belong to, from this recipe that I like very much, I began staring at the hazelnuts in my refrigerator. And before long, a second batch was in the oven – rather different from the first, but definitely inspired by the concept of chocolate + espresso+ nuts and a few basic techniques in that recipe. 

Nutella Espresso Cookies

 

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Three-Cheese Vegetarian Lasagna and a Giveaway

Three-Cheese Vegetarian Lasagna and a Giveaway

The Yiddish expression, “bashert” or “beshert” (transliteration) means destiny or pre-ordained. While its modern usage is typically in the context of romance or matchmaking and finding one’s soulmate, it's the perfect description of how this lasagna came to be.

First, Whole Foods invited me to be part of a celebration of a special and fabulous cheese Parmigiano Reggiano. They asked me to use Reggiano however I wanted, and to blog about it. As part of this celebration, Whole Foods is also providing a $50 Gift Card to one lucky reader, so check at the bottom of this post for details on how to enter this giveaway.

I love Reggiano and regularly buy it, so this was a great opportunity. But how to choose my dish? Too many choices left me momentarily at a loss.

Then, I saw Kirsten Madaus’s butternut squash and spinach lasagna, which inspired me to head in that direction. As luck (or fate) would have it, I had a butternut squash on my kitchen counter, spinach in the refrigerator, grated mozzarella from a homemade pizza extravaganza, and leftover fresh lasagna noodles from a previous lasagna. Why I have so much food around is a whole other story, but needless to say, I don’t like to waste anything. So three-cheese vegetarian lasagna with butternut squash and spinach it would be!

Three-Cheese Vegetarian Lasagna

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