1. "How long would it take to watch all seasons of Project Runway, working backwards from season 16?" she mused to herself. Ever equal to a challenge, she dives in, bolstering herself with dishes of white chocolate baking chips from the freezer. (She is me, guys. I love Heidi Klum and sometimes now I whisper aufwiedersehen softly to my threadbare, overly-loved and worn teddy bear before I leave in the morning. It's perfectly fine if you all stop reading now after discovering how patently uncool I, in fact, am.)
2. Primaterra prosecco. I love sparkling wine, but for easy (read: weeknight) drinking, I prefer prosecco to Champagne. Sidebar: Isn't it such a blessing when your taste and cheaper things actually align?! Prosecco is sweeter and lighter, with less of those heavy toasty biscuit-y notes that Champagne has (can you tell I've been talking to the guys at my local wine shop?! Dig that "biscuit-y” descriptor) -- this makes it especially nice for mixing. I add a splash of St-Germaine to mine, or a bit of creme de cassis for a faux Kir Royale.
3. Christmas lights. They're everywhere in New York City, and those twinkling white lights are the cheeriest sight when the days are so short and dark. I strung some up across my fireplace, and love turning them on each evening.
4. Pistachios! This week I made this pistachio thumbprint cookie recipe from the latest issue of Bon Appetit. I highly recommend the recipe, which starts with a master recipe for a honey sable dough that's sort of an extra buttery shortbread dough. It's special in that it has lots of cardamom in it, plus you rub the sugar with vanilla paste so the dough is particularly flavorful and aromatic. (In fact, I'd suggest doubling the dough since you can roll it into logs, freeze it, and use it to make simple slice + bake cookies without the nuts.) When I was grinding the pistachios in my food processor, I kept thinking how much I love the flavor and scent of them, and why don't we see them more in baking recipes? I'm on a mission to change that.
5. Soup. I cherish soup season, and could easily eat it for lunch and dinner from now until April. I wrote about one of my very favorite recipes today on Food52 for potato leek soup. So I'm posting it here because you should all learn it.
It's three ingredients, basically, just leeks and potatoes and water (or you can use chicken stock if you like), plus some butter (or olive oil) and salt and pepper. This is one of the many brilliant things my mom makes; it's incredible how creamy this soup tastes without any cream added. As you cook the potatoes, they'll release their starch, so when you puree the hot soup after cooking, it gives the soup that thick, luscious, creamy texture and flavor.
Bonus: This recipe is also incredibly cheap if you're looking for something simple along those lines.
Feel free to dress it up with some spices or herbs, but I love it as is. If you did want more spice, some bay leaf would be nice (add that while cooking the potatoes), or stir in some cumin, or chili powder, or harissa after pureeing the soup.
Simple Potato Leek Soup
2-3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
4 leeks, washed and sliced
1 1/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed (I use Yukon gold)
6 cups liquid (water or chicken stock)
salt and pepper to taste
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the butter or olive oil over medium heat.
Add the sliced leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re soft.
Pour in the water (or stock), and add the potatoes.
Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender when poked with a sharp knife. Depending on which potatoes you used, it could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth, seasoning with more salt if necessary. (If you only have a standard blender, carefully ladle the hot soup into the blender, but don't fill it more than than halfway-full! It will...shall we say...explode.)
If the soup is too thick, add a bit more water, until you get the desired consistency.