While I was at cooking school in London, my flatmate Will taught me how to make these rich, meaty mushrooms topped with a savory mixture of cream cheese, herbs, caramelized shallots and bacon. -Merrill
- Amanda FOLLOW-UP: After a week or so of letting the fruit soak in the gin and brandy, here's what I found: I prefer the gin, which has a crispness that brandy lacks. However, I liked the flavor of ginger and star anise better than cloves and cinnamon, so next year I plan to combine the two -- gin with ginger and star anise. As my mother pointed out, the fruit really is best between weeks 1 and 3, so if you're making the fruit to serve on a particular day, plan accordingly. And as for what to serve it with, I'd suggest passing it alongside a cheese course, spooning it over ice cream or cake (with some of the macerating liquid!), or adding it toward the end of cooking roast pork. Most years, in early December, my mother starts making a jar of gin fruit for the holidays. Her recipe is mindlessly simple -- layer your favorite dried fruits with some spices, cover with booze -- so I thought I'd play around with two variations. I hope you'll join me in this experiment.
- Merrill This past Saturday as I was walking home from Pilates class, I brainstormed about what to bring to a Hanukkah potluck the next day. Foods cooked in oil are traditional at Hanukkah, so at first I contemplated doughnuts, fritters and some other fried goodies. But I quickly got sidetracked. I was ravenous because I'd skipped breakfast, and I was really in the mood for eggs. Without warning, my foods-cooked-in-oil musings began to blend with my what-to-have-for-lunch ruminations, and I suddenly found myself craving two of my favorite dishes from the New York Times: Melissa Clark's olive oil fried eggs with polenta (I'm temporarily obsessed with polenta after last week's contest theme), and Denise Landis' escarole with pan-roasted garlic and lemon. What if I were to combine the two? Pondering this, I hurried home to make lunch, all thoughts of the potluck swept from my hungry brain.
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