Dish of the Week: Carrot Cake

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Gonzalo Malpartida
Carrots make cake extra moist and delicious.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

With Easter right around the corner, this week we're taking a look at carrot cake.

In case you've been living under a rock, carrot cake is a cake with -- you guessed it! -- carrots mixed into the batter. Though putting carrots inside of a dessert may sound odd, those veggies actually make the cake incredibly moist, while also adding texture and a hint of sweetness.

Though the origins of the carrot cake are unclear, many historians believe the use of carrots as a sweetener dates back to medieval times, when cheap carrots were plentiful and sugar was too expensive and hard to come by. In the middle ages, the carrots were used to make sweet carrot puddings.

Today, you can find versions of the cake all over the world. In Europe, it is often topped with a lemon-sugar or kirsch-sugar (cherry brandy) icing, while in the U.S., a creamy and decadent cream cheese frosting is more common. Sometimes, cinnamon, nuts, and raisins are mixed in.

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Recipe: Overnight-Rise Oversized English Muffins

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Muffin Mise-en-Place.

Do you know the muffin man?
The muffin man, the muffin man.
Do you know the muffin man?
Who lives on Drury lane?

It's not every day that one finds culinary inspiration in a nursery rhyme, but after I read an interesting print article about innovative toppings for English muffins, this tune reverberated in my brain while my stomach growled. Figuring the only way to appease both organs was to actually eat some English muffins, I set about to procure some. And in the spirit of industry and large-and-in-charge Texas food, these muffins would be homemade and oversized. The recipe below takes some time and patience; however, the muffins that emerge blow store-bought out of the water.


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Dish of the Week: Croque-Madame

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Brooke Viggiano
Brasserie 19's croque madame is no joke.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're covering a French bistro staple: the Croque-Madame.

A croque-madame is a version of the simple bistro sandwich croque-monsieur, which is a ham and cheese sandwich that is sautéed in butter and topped with cheesy béchamel sauce. While both sandwiches are typically made using good-quality ham and Gruyère or Emmental cheese, the madame version ups the ante by adding a poached or lightly fried egg to the already decadent affair.

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Dish of the Week: Colcannon for St. Patrick's Day

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by VegaTeam
Colcannon is the perfect, easy side dish for your St. Patty's Day celebrations.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're celebrating St. Patrick's Day with an Irish classic, colcannon.

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish consisting of mashed potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage. The word colcannon is from the Gaelic word cál ceannann, meaning "white-headed cabbage." While the combination of potatoes with things like cabbage and leeks is also embraced in a variety of other cultures -- including Scottish, German, English and Russian, to name a few -- the dish is widely considered to be Irish in origin.

With abundant and cheap ingredients, the potato and cabbage dish made a hearty, filling meal for the working and poorer classes. Though there are many variations on it, colcannon is often mixed with milk or cream, butter, and leeks, onions or chives and served with boiled ham or Irish bacon.

In Ireland, the dish is typically associated with Halloween -- an evening also known as "Colcannon night," where rings are hidden inside colcannon to be found by single women. Find the ring and a marriage proposal could be waiting around the corner. When Irish immigrants brought the dish to America, it eventually became associated with St. Patrick's Day.

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Dish of the Week: Crème Brûlée

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Austin Matherne
Sometimes it's okay to play with fire.

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're moving on to a classic dessert: crème brûlée.

Also known as burnt cream or crema catalana, creme brulee is a torched egg custard. With a sweet toffee caramelized top that you crack through to reach the rich and completely creamy center, it's no wonder this dessert is popular worldwide.

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Dish of the Week: Seafood Fra Diavolo

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Cooking etc.
Add as many kinds of seafood as you like.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're covering seafood fra diavolo.

Italian for "brother devil," fra diavolo sauce is a hot-pepper-loaded, tomato-based sauce that is commonly used to coat seafood and pasta. Though the fiery seafood dish may seem to be Italian in origin, it is much heavier than the kind of fare served in Italy. Instead, it likely originated in Italian-American restaurants in New York in the mid 1900s.

Whoever created it, we're glad they did. The zesty, chile-and-garlic-studded red sauce is often served over linguine or spaghetti with lobster, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, clams or all of the above.


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Dish of the Week: French Onion Soup

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Mr.TinDC
Get this rich soup in while its still kind a cool out.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we figured we'd get one more (slightly) cold weather recipe in before it warms up for good. We're covering French onion soup.

Made simply with onions and stock and often served with toasted bread and melted cheese on top, the origins of French onion soup can be traced back to Roman times. Back then, the abundance of onions made onion soup a popular food amongst peasants. It wasn't until the 18th century France that the dish was fancified. Caramelized onions and beef broth gave the soup a richer base, while the addition of croutons and gooey cheese added a buttery bite.

Today, the soup can be made with a variety of stocks and cheeses, from veal and chicken stock to nutty Gruyere and fontina cheese. You'll also often find the addition of wine, brandy, or sherry.

Although it may seem like something to reserve for the steakhouse, French onion soup is incredibly easy to make at home.


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Dish of the Week: Buttermilk Pie

Categories: Recipes, Sweets

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Photo by Ralph Daily
Buttermilk brings a great tang to this classic sweet pie.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're sharing a sweet Southern classic: buttermilk pie.

Buttermilk pie is a custard pie made with, you guessed it buttermilk. Though it's known as a dessert popular in the Southern United States, its origins are likely from the U.K.

The dessert is often confused with chess pie; though chess pie contains cornmeal and occasionally corn syrup, where buttermilk pie does not. Instead, buttermilk pie is made simply with buttermilk, sugar, butter, eggs and flour. Variations include the addition of vanilla extract, lemon zest, fruit, or even chocolate.

The mixture is poured into a traditional pie crust; then baked until it sets and gets a crisp, caramelized top. The result is a rich, slightly tangy, and ultra creamy pie that is melts in your mouth with each bite.


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Dish of the Week: Braciole

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Rob Spinella
Braciole

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're covering a classic Italian comfort food: braciole.

Braciole are thin slices of meat -- usually beef, pork, or chicken -- that are stuffed, rolled, and browned in a frying pan before being braised and smothered in a sauce, usually tomato. The rolls are also known as involtini in Italy, "involti" literally meaning "little bundles." Those tender and delicious bundles are often loaded with things like cheese, breadcrumbs, onions, garlic, mushrooms, prosciutto, sausage, parsley, golden raisins, and pine nuts, just to name a few.

Italian-Americans commonly cook beef braciole alongside meatballs, pork and sausage, all of which get thrown into a "Sunday gravy." We suggest you make them a part of your Sunday ritual, too.


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Dish of the Week: Arroz con Pollo

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez
This simple dish can be elegant, too.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for arroz con pollo.

Literally meaning "rice with chicken," arroz con pollo is a traditional Spanish dish that is also common throughout Latin America. A variation on the Spanish paella -- which consists of seafood, chorizo, and chicken -- this simpler dish is made with only chicken.

Both paella and arroz con pollo and have their roots in 8th century Spain, when the Moorish occupation influenced Spanish imports, exports, and ultimately the way Spaniards ate. Most importantly, the Moors brought an irrigation system, which introduced rice -- a major staple in Spanish cuisine -- to the region. But traces of the Moorish culture can also be seen in the spices used in the rice dish, mainly saffron, cumin, and coriander, which were included for both color and flavor. The Moors also commonly ate communal dishes which were shared and passed around the table, as are arroz con pollo and paella.

Though some variations of arroz con pollo include chorizo as well, recipes generally call for chicken, rice, sofrito (a mix of garlic, peppers, and onions), chicken stock, and sometimes olives, capers, or spices and herbs like saffron, bay leaf, coriander and cumin.


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