Spiced Pumpkin Flan and Alternatives to the Thanksgiving Classics

Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina with this famous line: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Similarly, of Thanksgiving dinners, I might say, “Average Thanksgiving dinners are all alike; every interesting Thanksgiving dinner is unique in its own way.” Thanksgiving meals I grew up with were always the most basic Midwestern fare (probably because grandma didn’t really enjoy cooking). The menu: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans and pie.

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Terrifyingly Tasty Treats for Halloween
Terrifyingly Tasty Treats for Halloween

The “halloweenies” you see here are adorable, but they really don’t even deserve a recipe. They’re just cocktail-size sausages artistically wrapped in thin slices of puff pastry with little black currant or peppercorn eyes… (some people use mustard dabs for eyes after they’re cooked). Bake in a moderately hot oven (375 F/190 C) about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Halloween really snuck up on me this year, and that never happens.

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Recipes A Dozen Ideas for Boiled Eggs

Ahh, Easter. Egg dying. Egg hiding. Egg finding. And then… a lot of hard-boiled eggs to use up in a hurry. I’m sure you know how to make a simple egg salad (dice boiled eggs, add chopped celery if you like and slather with enough mayo to moisten), but just in case you’re long on eggs and short on ideas, here’s a dozen other things to do with a hard-boiled egg.

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The Chocolate Ice Cream Bombe: On Bombe-Building for Beginners
Recipes The Chocolate Ice Cream Bombe: On Bombe-Building for Beginners

At culinary school, we spent one whole class period making bombes, and though it was a wonderful experience, I’ve noticed it’s not polite to talk about that sort of thing in public. People can’t hear the silent “e” at the end of bombe, so one risks being labeled a terrorist. Thus, it becomes necessary to modify the word on each utterance… “pastry bombe” or “ice cream bombe” or “bombe cake” or something of the sort.

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The Year of the Ox

Happy New Year! As of yesterday, we’ve embarked on the year of the ox according to the Chinese lunar calendar, and the Chinatowns here in NYC (and across the globe) will be awash in red and gold for the next three weeks. The ox (or water buffalo… take your pick) is supposed to represent prosperity through fortitude, hard work, self-sacrifice and thrift. An appropriate set of values for the coming year, don’t you think?

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Video Treat: Saxelby’s Snazzy Cheese Sandwich
Recipes Video Treat: Saxelby’s Snazzy Cheese Sandwich

This savory little treat is overdue, but tasty nevertheless… and since it’s an ideal choice for New Year’s Eve appetizers, I think now’s the right time to unveil it. Behold! Snazzy grilled cheese as done by Anne Saxelby, charming monger of the Essex Street Market. This video was captured at this year’s NYC International Pickle Festival, back when short sleeved shirts and light summer dresses were appropriate attire. (Oh, how I pine for the sun!

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Yay! Happy Holidays!

You guys rule. Thanks for stopping by, for leaving comments, for correcting my typos, for guessing as to Cupcake’s whereabouts and for being friendly fellow travelers out there in internetland. Cupcake and I are both wishing you the happiest of holidays and the tastiest of new years. We raise our cocoa cups to you! Cupcake & Miss G.

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Candy Cane Crunch Ice Cream with Shortbread Stars
Recipes Candy Cane Crunch Ice Cream with Shortbread Stars

*This post marks Day 24 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. Merry Christmas Eve! If the weather outside is frightful, the first thing you’re thinking of might not be ice cream. But die-hards (like me) think about ice cream year-round — the holidays are no exception. I haven’t done an ice cream recipe in a few months, but I wanted to make this one a little more snazzy and festive for Christmas Eve — thus, the addition of those stripey little canes.

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Recipes Day 23: Christmas Gumbo

*This post marks Day 23 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. In my neighborhood, ‘tis the season of the big carp slaughter. Apparently it’s traditional for Polish folks to eat fresh carp for Christmas (part of the traditional “fish on holy days” tradition, no doubt) so the fishes are currently swimming about in cold-water pools waiting to be chopped up for dinners across the ‘hood. Likewise, in Italy, southern folks celebrate the feast of the seven fishes over the holidays.

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Day 22: Eggnog Flan

*This post marks Day 22 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. After falling in love with the divine flan at a local taco place, I thought it’d be a good idea to combine a lifelong passion for eggnog with the decadent flan genre. In case you’ve never made flan, it’s kind of a two-step process. The first step involves making a caramel sauce that coats the bottom of the pan. Thereafter, a custard mixture is poured over the caramel and it’s baked, then flipped over to put the caramel at the top, making the process very like a tarte tatin or a pineapple upside-down cake.

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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