What to CookAppetizer

How to Make the Most Out of Specialty Ingredients

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My mom's appetizer de résistance is caviar pie. It shows up at Thanksgiving or Passover, if you're lucky, but never more than a couple times each year. She got the recipe from her mom. Caviar pie was all the rage in the '70s, thanks to a Craig Claiborne column in The New York Times. But it's timeless to me.

To build it, you use a springform pan—like for a cheesecake—and layer chopped boiled eggs, raw onion, sour cream and neon caviar into a parfait. Chill the thing for a couple hours. Hold your breath to unhook the perimeter. Then—look! It's always, somehow perfect.

Our family demolishes it with poppy seed pita crisps, salted matzo, and potato chips. We never finish the whole thing, which is the point—the leftovers become the next day's breakfast on rye toast.

Crispy Rye and Seed Crackers

Crispy Rye and Seed Crackers by Nicholas Day

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Rosemary Potato Chips

Rosemary Potato Chips by Jody Williams

All that to say, caviar pie is special to me. Which is what specialty ingredients are all about, right? Treating yourself. No guilt, no regret, hakuna matata. (Sorry, it's stuck in my head now , too.) There's a saying in my family about spending: you don't go on vacation to save money. Just like you don't buy rare or expensive ingredients in preparation for a simply okay meal.

That feels like a lot of pressure, right? Trying to live up to an ingredient's worth. This is where we come in—to lead you (and your caviar, your pine nuts, your saffron, and your fresh truffles) in the right direction. Follow these tried-and-true recipes to show off your spiffiest ingredients. Maybe they'll turn a special night into something more special—or even help to create a new tradition.

Caviar

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Caviar and Crème Fraîche

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Caviar and Crème Fraîche by Alexandra Stafford

Blini with Herbed Sour Cream and Caviar

Blini with Herbed Sour Cream and Caviar by Erin McDowell

Saffron

Heidi Swanson's Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt, and Garlic

Heidi Swanson's Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt, and G... by Genius Recipes

Olive Oil-Saffron Ice Cream with Burnt Orange-Caramel Swirl

Olive Oil-Saffron Ice Cream with Burnt Orange-Caramel Swirl by Stefani McGuiness

Saffron & Cardamom Lemonade Concentrate

Saffron & Cardamom Lemonade Concentrate by Saee Khandekar

Saffron-Infused Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard), in the Persian Manner

Saffron-Infused Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard), in the Persia... by shayma

Pine Nuts

Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary

Pine Nut Brittle with Rosemary by Ms. T

Spice-Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Tahini Drizzle

Spice-Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Tahini Drizzle by kedivine

The Splendid Table's Pasta with Two Broccolis and Raisin-Pine Nut Sauce

The Splendid Table's Pasta with Two Broccolis and Raisin-... by Genius Recipes

Dario’s Olive Oil Cake with Rosemary and Pine Nuts

Dario’s Olive Oil Cake with Rosemary and Pine Nuts by Food52

TRUFFLES

Chicken with Black Truffles

Chicken with Black Truffles by Josh Cohen

Fonduta con Tartufi (Truffle Fondue)

Fonduta con Tartufi (Truffle Fondue) by Emiko

Do you have any special ingredient, special occasion traditions? Share in the comments below!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Entertaining, Holiday Entertaining