Category Archives: holiday

Grilled Ham

ham 1This morning my parents texted me to ask what our Easter plans were and my first and only thought was Easter? That's next month. I have no idea. And then I realized that no, Easter is not next month. It is next week. And I had a panic attack. Where has the spring gone? Where have I been? What am I doing? It was an existential crisis type morning. ham 2 I've been on the road, constantly, every weekend, bouncing from town to town and event to event. All for the best and all for people I love, but never the less I am road weary. And with no signs of stopping. This weekend we're headed to San Francisco for a week, and then it will be May, a month full of weddings and trips and, before we know it, June. And Easter will come and go and since we're taking a red eye home from California on Easter Eve I'll probably sleep through most of it and I definitely won't be eating ham or deviled eggs (I have a strong suspicion that this will be a takeout Indian type of Easter). But YOU will be home and YOU will be well rested and ready to celebrate, so therefore YOU should make a ham. This ham. Smoke it. It'll be like no ham you've ever tasted, I promise. And I'll just lay in bed and snuggle my dogs and pretend I'm at your house for Easter dinner. Unless, of course, you're delivering. ham 3 Grilled Ham ed note: This recipe calls for a fresh, uncured ham. Adding wood chips to the grill gives the pork a smokey flavor, but because it is uncured the flavor is more in the style of a pork chop than traditional honey baked ham.  10-15lb ham, uncured brine: 1 cup kosher salt 1/4 cup red pepper flakes 1/4 cup chipotle powder 5 cloves garlic glaze: 2 tbsp red pepper flakes 2 tbsp chipotle powder 1 tbsp garlic powder 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 stick butter Hickory chips for the grill The day before you'd like to cook and serve your ham, prepare your brine by combining all the ingredients in a large pot of water and submerging the ham completely. Cover and let sit, in a cool place, for 24 (or up to 48) hours. The next day pat your ham down and place on a lined baking sheet. Mix together seasonings and rub evenly over ham. Cube butter and lay across ham. Heat your grill and place the ham over indirect, medium-low heat. Soak hickory chips in water and wrap in tin foil. Place on the grill next to ham. Cover and let cook, checking to baste occasionally. Cook for 15-20 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature meets 150F. Once finished remove from heat and let rest 45-60 minutes before slicing and serving.

Vinegar Pie

vinegar pie 2 This season has made me realize how truly, incredibly, overwhelmingly blessed I am. It's been a hard few months, full of happiness and good fortune and time with family but also loss and heartache. It's always a balance, but every once in a while something amazing happens that reminds you that you are loved. vinegar pie 5 As silly as it sounds, that something this month has been the results of this crazy whirlwind contest- the Colombo Marsala Recipe Contest. Going into it I was hopeful but didn't have any expectations of winning. I did my best to create a recipe that I was proud of, I encouraged my friends, family, and readers to vote (and tried to walk the line between enthusiastic and obnoxious), and I crossed my fingers. And while I was sitting there hoping, something magical happened. I watched  people I love sharing the link, over and over, encouraging their friends and family to vote. My aunt texting the extended family once a day to remind them. People I hadn't seen or spoken to in months or even years rallying for me. My sister in Dublin asking people who came into her boutique to vote. My dad asking people at the bar with us for their vote. It was inspiring. It was humbling. I am so grateful. vinegar pie 3Voting ends tonight and I'm up by a fair margin. For that, I owe you all a debt of gratitude. The winner will be announced on the 20th and it will be determined by the number of votes, the quality of the recipe, and the merits of the blog post. Whether or not we go to Italy, I am so grateful for what this contest has taught me. These past two weeks have shown me the type of love and small acts of kindness that this holiday season is supposed to be all about; it's a small and silly thing to vote for someone in a recipe contest but it has meant the world to me. Please know that I am so thankful, that you all have made my world a better place. vinegar pie 4 Consider this pie, a traditional vinegar chess pie, my thanks. It's a sweet and simple pie that is warm and filling. The perfect balance to hot chocolate and peppermint and the decadence of the Christmas dessert table. And, with the help of a heart shaped cookie cutter, the perfect way to add a little love to your plate. vinegar pie 1 Vinegar Pie pie dough 2 1/4 cups flour 2 tbsp sugar 1 tsp salt 1/4 cup vegetable shortening 1 1/2 sticks butter Ice cold water chess 5 eggs 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 1 tsp vanilla 2 tbsp flour 1 tsp ginger 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp nutmeg 1 tsp cardamom 1/2 cup butter, melted Begin by making your pie dough.  Mix together dry ingredients.  Using your hands, work in the shortening.  Cube the butter and cut that in, until the dough has the consistency of cornmeal. Add ice water, as needed, until the dough clings. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. To make the chess combine your dry ingredients.  Using an electric mixer, beat them together.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Add the butter, melted.  Add in vanilla and vinegar. Heat your oven to 325. Roll out your pie dough and press into pie dish.  Pour filling into the dish.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the pie is brown and mostly set. Let cool. Serve at room temperature.

Satsuma Cobbler

satsuma cobbler 1 Generally speaking, Dan and I are beer and wine people. We know very little about what makes a good wine, we know a fair amount about good beer, and (most importantly) we drink what we like. With the exception of the year that Dan was really into Scotch, it's not often that you'll see our bar stocked with more than South American whites, spicy Malbecs, and craft beer. satsuma cobbler 4 One of my favorite activities on Avery Island was our mixology workshop with Kirk Espinotal. Kirk demonstrated three different fun and delicious recipes, including a type of mixed drink that was completely new to me- the cobbler. A cobbler (the cocktail variety) is a liqueur that is shaken with fresh fruit and ice. Simple and delicious. The cobbler we tried at the Marsh House was Chartreuse, citrus, jalapeños, and Tabasco's jalapeño pepper sauce. It was fantastic, something I've been dreaming about since we left the island. satsuma cobbler 3 When we started planning our annual holiday party I knew that I wanted to try to recreate Kirk's masterpiece. I couldn't find yellow Chartreuse in Wilmington so I decided to combine lime, fresh satsuma, and St Germain, which is an elderflower liqueur. The finished drink was lovely- fresh and fruity with touches of citrus and elderflower. The benefit of the cobbler is that it's not too heavy or too boozy, making it a good option for brunch or holiday parties where you want to celebrate without getting too crazy. We'll be absolutely reprising this during the holidays. It may even be the new Christmas Morning Special. satsuma cobbler 2 Satsuma Cobbler makes 2 6 jiggers of St Germain or elderflower liqueur Satsuma or clementine, peeled and sectioned Lime, sliced Champagne or prosecco (optional) Ice Combine liqueur, fruit, and ice in a mixer. Mix vigorously for 30-45 seconds. Strain and split between two glasses with additional lime and satsuma. For a lighter option top each glass with a jigger of champagne.

Pumpkin & Pomegranate Risotto

pumpkin risotto 2 Yesterday we hosted our annual B&S holiday party. The day each year where we cook a full holiday meal for our friends, photograph all the recipes, and tie a nice bow around all the recipes I'll be posting throughout the holiday season. It's my favorite day of the year for many reasons, particularly because it combines everything I love about the holidays-- cooking and sharing food with people I adore-- without all the usual pressure of the holidays. It's a magical day. pumpkin risotto 3 pumpkin risotto 4 The first course was a risotto with caramelized onions, bone broth, fresh pumpkin, dry white wine, and pomegranate seeds. Thanks to the bone broth the risotto was rich and creamy, and the pumpkin added a heartiness perfect for this time of year. The pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top were a delightful surprise, bringing a freshness and tartness that lightened the overall flavor of the dish. It was a fantastic way to start the meal. pumpkin risotto 1Pumpkin & Pomegranate Risotto 1 fresh pumpkin 1 yellow onion 3 cloves garlic 1 pat butter 2 cups arborio rice 5 cups bone broth or stock 1 cup dry white wine Salt to taste 1 pomegranate Halve and gut pumpkin and roast at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until pumpkin is soft, but not mushy. Dice onion. Melt butter in a large skillet and begin to cook rice over medium- low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned. Mince garlic and stir in, along with dry rice. Toast rice for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add in 2 cups of bone broth, room temperature, along with salt. Stir the risotto until all the liquid is absorbed, then taste. Add the remaining broth and, if desired, more salt. Continue to stir until all the liquid is absorbed, then add in the wine. Stir until fully absorbed and then drop the temperature to low. Scoop the pumpkin out of the skin and add it to the risotto, breaking it into bite sized pieces as you go. Stir to combine, then transfer to a serving dish. Halve pomegranate and break apart with your hands. Sprinkle seeds over top of the dish and serve hot.  

Grilled Turkey, Herbed & Buttered

grilled turkey 4 Last Thanksgiving we spent a week in the Poconos with Dan's cousins Nate and Jess. While initially it was weird to not attend a big family dinner, it ended up being one of our favorite Thanksgivings yet. We ate, drank, hiked, relaxed, and cooked a really fantastic dinner. It also pushed me out of my comfort zone (brining and frying a turkey) and forced me to experiment with a method I'd been wanting to try- grilled turkey. grilled turkey 2 Nate and Jess had a nice large bird waiting for us when we arrived and I decided to fall back on a few favorite ingredients- butter, garlic, and rosemary. I inserted two heads of garlic directly into the turkey, rubbed it down with a generous amount of salted butter, and topped it off with fresh rosemary. After a few hours on the grill it was perfectly cooked, and completely delicious. Grilling the turkey over indirect heat allows the skin to crisp up and for the bird to cook through without drying out. It also freed the oven up for all the delicious pies and casseroles we had going in and out, which helped keep the meal fun and casual instead of stressful. Which is my ideal kind of Thanksgiving. grilled turkey 3 Grilled Turkey 1 turkey (12 pounds) 1 stick salted butter, room temperature 2 heads of garlic Fresh rosemary Salt Pepper String for trussing Heat grill to 350F. Rinse your turkey and remove gizzards and neck. Peel garlic and set one head aside. Cut a series of slits in the bird's breast, thighs, and wings; stuffing the garlic cloves into the slits as you work. Rub butter generously over the bird, getting under the skin when possible. Divide the rosemary in half, rubbing half into the skin of the bird and placing the other half in the cavity. Add remaining garlic to the cavity along with the rosemary. Sprinkle bird with salt and pepper and tie the back legs together. Grill for 12 minutes per pound or for 2 1/2 hours (with a 12lb bird) or until breast meat temperature has reached 175F. Let rest 1 hour before slicing.

Southern Brisket

brisket 4 Easily the best thing about living at the beach is that people are excited to come and visit you. And the best thing about having formerly worked at a Jewish cultural institution is that some of your friends have off holidays (hey Shemini Atzeret what) that the general population does not have off. Which all leads to my point, which is that this past week, for the beginning of Passover, our dear friends Rachael and Alex (and their golden doodle Wednesday) made the trip down to Wilmington. brisket It's no secret that I adore Rachael, and I think she's found a wonderful partner in Alex. We had such an amazing time in the five days that they were here, taste testing pizzas, touring the Battleship North Carolina, taking the dogs to romp around Poplar Grove and Topsail Island, making chorizo, and, of course, cooking a special dinner for Passover. Now, there is not a Jewish bone in my body, but since I'm always up for a challenge I was excited when Rachael asked if we could make a traditional meal for the first night of Passover. The matzoh ball soup turned out perfectly (we got floaters!), and the matzoh bark we made was addictive (the whole tray was gone by lunch the next day), but the brisket was the star of the show. Instead of a classic Jewish brisket we decided to try a traditional Southern brisket. Rubbed with a sweet and spicy mix and smoked on the grill, the brisket was tender, richly flavored, and perfectly moist. And while we didn't do a full seder it was lovely to have the opportunity to learn some of Rachael and Alex's Passover traditions and share stories. After all, nothing is more beloved in our house than sharing food and spinning tales. brisket 2 This was also the perfect opportunity for me to test my new Thermapen, a wireless thermometer made by ThermoWorks (thanks guys!), which was exactly what we needed for this recipe because it's fast, accurate, and compact. Brisket, like most tough cuts of meat, should be cooked low and slow with a final internal temperature of 195F. We cooked it over indirect heat on the grill for about 4 hours, checking the temperature every 45 minutes or so, until the temperature read approximately 195 in a few different places. Then we finished it off in a warm oven with caramelized onions, which allowed the juices to redistribute as the meat rested. brisket 3 IMG_4981 All in all, it was an incredible visit. A well balanced blend of relaxation and playing tourist in our own city, we adored every bit of having them here. Kaylee, especially. I've never seen that puppy so exhausted. IMG_51882 Southern Brisket 1 3-5 pound cut of brisket 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 tbsp sea salt 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes 1/2 tbsp garlic powder 1/2 tbsp chipotle 1/2 tbsp paprika 1/2 tbsp cumin 1 tbsp cracked black pepper 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp cayenne Hickory chips 1 onion 1 pat butter The night before you'd like to serve the brisket mix together all of your spices and rub them into the brisket, all sides. Place tightly in a plastic bag and let sit in the fridge overnight. Soak your hickory chips in water overnight. Your brisket will need 4-5 hours to cook and then an additional hour of rest before you can serve it, so be sure to factor that in to your day. Heat the grill to 250-300. If possible, you want the brisket to be over indirect heat, so a top rack is ideal. Place the drained hickory chips in a metal container on the bottom rack for added smokey flavor. Wrap the brisket loosely in tin foil and place on the grill. Cook on 250-300 for 4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 190-195. Check every 45 minutes or so. In a large pan caramelize the onions in the butter. Add the brisket (and the juices!) to the pan and place in a warm oven to rest for an hour. Slice and serve!

White Yam & Candied Bacon Casserole

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year in Mountainhome, Pennsylvania, with Dan's cousin Nathan, his fiance Jess, and the two dogs (Chase and Kaylee). It was relaxed, fun, and full of delicious food.  It's the first Thanksgiving that I haven't been with a lot of family (or at least some of our parents) and it had a definite kids-table vibe to it. We cooked all day long, ate a HUGE meal, took a nap, went for a walk, and then drank wine and relaxed on the couch. An ideal Thanskgiving, for sure. One of my favorite dishes this year was a White Yam and Candied Bacon Casserole, something we created completely by accident. We intended to make a traditional sweet potato casserole with candied bacon and marshmallows tossed into the topping (Dan's request), but I accidentally bought white yams instead of orange ones. And can I tell you what a happy accident it was? The yams were sweet and soft and creamy and the topping was this amazing combination of salt and cinnamon and sugar. I could have eaten the whole casserole! And while I'm going to save most of this year's recipes for next year's Thanksgiving menu I thought this would be just as wonderful on a Christmas table, so I beg you- try it! You won't regret it. We're finally home now after a week long Thanksgiving tour (Wilmington -> Arlington, VA -> Mountainhome, PA -> Oreland, PA -> Harleysville, PA -> Baltimore -> Wilmington) and man are we exhausted. We're playing catch up on unpacking, taking care of the dog, Christmas decorating, work, and life. But despite the craziness of the past few months we have so much to be thankful for. I made a list over on missELENAeous, but it can really be summed up in three words -health, happiness, love. We're very lucky, us three. photo by our friend Bill White Yam & Candied Bacon Casserole For the casserole: 4 eggs 2 cups sugar 1 1/2 cup butter 1 cup milk 2 tsp vanilla 6 cups mashed white yam For the topping: 1 cup brown sugar 4 tbsp butter 1 cup chopped pecans 1 lb bacon 1/4 cup white sugar 1 tbsp cinnamon 1/2 cup mini marshmallows Peel, chop, and boil your yams.  Mash, and set aside.  Beat eggs, sugar, and butter.  Add milk and vanilla, and combine with potatoes.  Spoon into a greased casserole dish. Cook your bacon. As you're cooking sprinkle both sides with cinnamon and sugar. Combine brown sugar, butter, crumbled bacon, marshmallows, and pecans.  Mix until crumbly and sprinkle over potato mixture. Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.

Pumpkin Julep

Happy Thanksgiving Week! This past Friday we loaded up in our trusty blue hatchback and headed north for a week-long Thanksgiving journey. Our first stop is Alexandria, Virginia, where we're spending two days with our close friends, Brit & Aaron. It's been wonderful to see them, they're definitely one of those couples that we love being around because Brit and I are as close friends as Aaron and Dan, which is rare. Aaron and Brit are also great because they love to cook (and eat) as much as we do. Dan and I had been thinking up this perfect fall cocktail for a few weeks and Brit and Aaron were more than just willing to test it with us- they had input on what we should include. This cocktail takes everything that is delicious about a mint julep (a favorite summer cocktail) and makes it perfect for fall. The bourbon soaks in roasted pumpkin, combines with a ginger brown sugar simple syrup, Grand Marnier, and is finished off with a cinnamon stick. Rich, spicy, and tasty. Pumpkin Julep 2 cups fresh pumpkin (or acorn squash) Brown sugar Salt Olive oil Bourbon Fresh ginger root Cinnamon sticks (we bought ours from a local Mexican Market, they're more affordable than the cinnamon sticks at the grocery) Grand Marnier Club soda Cube pumpkin and sprinkle with brown sugar, salt, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 350 for 30-45 minutes. In a pitcher combine pumpkin and bourbon. Cover and soak over night in the fridge. Combine 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup water, and peeled and sliced ginger in a pot. Bring to a boil and then let cool to room temperature. In a tumbler combine 1 part simple syrup, 2 parts bourbon, a splash of Grand Marnier, a few ice cubes, and a cinnamon stick. Top with a bit of club soda (dilute to taste).

Skillet au Gratin

We did it! We moved! Monday morning we watched as our POD got taken away and then we hit the road, passing through the outer rings of Sandy as she moved over Virginia. We made it safely to Durham in record time; hurricanes aren't good for much but they do keep traffic down. Conditions on the road and in Durham stayed manageable, wind and a lot of rain, and we were relieved to hear our loved ones in the NorthEast made it through the storm safely. On Tuesday afternoon we finally got to meet that puppy that we've been mooning over since we found out she was ours a few weeks ago. Kaywinnet Lee Frye (Kaylee) was rescued from a shelter in Persons County along with her five siblings. Three of them were transferred to Triangle Pets Alive, and all three sweet little nuggets have been adopted into forever homes. We are beyond thrilled. She's sweet and snuggly but also super spunky-- she has quite the voice! We always had labs growing up and I've wanted a dog for a while, but I didn't anticipate how quickly I would fall head over heels for her. She's a bundle of love and I can't wait to watch her grow. Wednesday morning we headed to Morehead City, and we've been camped out at both the Swamp House and my dad's house since. It's chilly and the Swamp's heater got knocked out during the hurricane, so we've been spending our days at dad's taking advantage of the heat and internet. Dan has been working fulltime, but since I'm transitioning to freelance I've been splitting my time between work and puppy duty. It's been wonderful, lots of long walks around town. This weekend we'll hang out with my parents and then on Monday, it's off to Wilmington we go! Last night, before my stepmom got in, Dad, Dan, and I enjoyed what can only be described as comfort food to the extreme. Pork tenderloin and apples cooked in a dutch oven, gratin potatoes, and sautéed kale. It was exactly what I needed, a hearty meal to help welcome the beginning of winter. I might not be thrilled about the cold, but since Kaylee also seems to hate it at least I'm guaranteed to get a lot of puppy snuggles this winter. Update: Our move-to-Wilmington date was pushed back to this Wednesday due to unexpected repairs that needed to be taken care of at the house. Skillet au Gratin 2 cups small baby potatoes 5 red potatoes, quartered 1 cup heavy cream 2 garlic cloves 1 cup vegetable stock 1 block sharp white cheddar, cubed 2 pats butter 1/4 cup flour 2 tsp salt 1 tsp paprika 1 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp black pepper 1/2 tsp onion powder 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp dried oregano 1 tsp dried thyme 1 tsp dried rosemary Combine all spices in a small bowl. In a small pot combine butter, flour, smashed cloves, and most of the spices over low heat. Stir together as butter melts. Add cream, stirring in. Add stock and 1/3 of the cheese. Let simmer until cheese is completely melted. In a small/medium cast iron pan combine potatoes and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle remaining spices on top of the potatoes. When the cream mixture is ready, pour into the skillet. Pour from the sides so as not to disturb the spice layer on top. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.  

Christmas Morning Special

20111227-113620.jpg Merry a few days after Christmas! We're still in the throes of a whirlwind holiday extravaganza but I wanted to pop in and share a time-honored Waldron family tradition, the Christmas Morning Special. 20111227-113653.jpg Each year my Poppie makes this concoction, something he describes as a Southern Comfort Old Fashioned. It's SoCo, orange juice, cherries, and oranges. Sweet, smooth, delicious, and festive. Perfect for a holiday morning! 20111227-113720.jpg Christmas Morning Special 1 jigger Southern Comfort As many cherries as your heart desires An orange slice Orange juice Muddle together orange, cherry, ice, and SoCo. Pour in orange juice, as little or as much as you like. Enjoy!