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I recently came across food writer Julia Turshen’s simple lasagna — what she calls “a nice lasagna”, and was instantly drawn to its simplicity—there’s no meat, no layers of roasted veg or ricotta, just a rosé tomato sauce and fresh basil, and plenty of cheese. Best of all, it utilizes fresh pasta sheets, which you can mix up and roll with a rolling pin—no pasta machine required! (Though they are a lot of fun.) And then you just go ahead and layer the rolled-out pasta dough directly in the pan with the sauce and cheese, no need to boil it first, which is ridiculously satisfying. You could, of course, add all manner of meat and veg sauce, or ricotta, or anything else you like, but I love that this is not at all over the top- a big spoonful of crème fraîche or sour cream turns the sauce into a rosé that takes care of my craving for tomato and cheese that ricotta usually satisfies.
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Who has leftover roasted turkey in their freezer from the holidays? I do. For the past few years, I’ve turned some of those leftovers into cheesy baked buffalo turkey dip, and it generally coincides with a TV event that calls for extra snacks. Of course, baked dips don’t require any particular occasion – Netflix is a totally legit excuse to make a gooey, cheesy dip too. It’s so fantastic—the very best kind of curl-up-on-the-couch food.

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Sourdough Biscuits

I found myself experimenting with sourdough starter yesterday – more specifically, the discard you typically toss when you feed your starter, to prevent it from turning into sourzilla and taking over your kitchen. Sourdough loaves are generally baked at a specific point in the feeding cycle, when the starter is at its most robust, but often when you’re discarding half, you’re not necessarily ready to bake bread, or it may be too weak and not have the leavening power to leaven a whole loaf. It still seems like a waste to throw it away though – and it has all the sour tang of sourdough, so I thought I’d stir some into a batch of biscuits. Not to rely on for their lift, but to add flavour and make use of the discard, which has the same consistency as buttermilk or cream. Verdict: I’m calling it a win.

Sourdough Starter
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Dill Pickle Soup

Dill pickle soup seems to me a dish that came about out of necessity—perhaps in the bleak prairie midwinter, when someone out on a farm in a snow-driven landscape looked in their pantry and decided to turn the pint jars of dill pickles into soup—but it’s no longer made merely out of necessity because it’s completely delicious. And yes, it’s just as it sounds-made with dill pickles, chopped and/or grated, along with a healthy pour of the pickle brine. At its base, there are basic veggies (onion, celery, carrot, potato), but a sausage sliced or crumbled in at the start is also common, and it would also be delicious with wintry beets or cabbage. Sometimes it’s finished with cream, or a dollop of sour cream on top-that’s the beauty of soup… rarely do you need to follow a specific recipe.
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Drunken Noodles

There are plenty of theories about the name of this Thai dish, which is slick with spicy oil, studded with crispy bits of pork, and spiked with garlic and chilies: a) you need a cold beer to tame the spice, b) it’s a very social/late-night meal, c) it’s the ultimate hangover food. I’ve heard from so many people over on Instagram that they’ve been making the drunken noodles from Dirty Food, I thought I’d share the recipe here too. It’s exactly the kind of thing I like to eat – a big plate of noodles you can totally tweak to suit you: use rice or wheat noodles, fresh or dried, and top them with crispy ground pork, or tofu, or shrimp, or plant-based crumbles, or just more veg. It’s all tied together with a sweet-salty-spicy-tangy-garlicky sauce that you could quickly shake up and have waiting in the fridge, and topped with crunchy peanuts (or cashews!), green onions and fresh basil, if you’re so inclined.
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Turkey Croquettes

Though I haven’t seen her much over the years, my Belgian aunt is known for her croquettes. She shapes them into short, stubby cigars – a mixture of mashed potatoes and other leftover ingredients that can often be found in the fridge, rolls them in breadcrumbs and fries them in hot oil, which she tests for the right temperature with the handle of her wooden spoon. They’re completely delicious, and the perfect thing to make when you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes and roasted turkey at the same time. (The only time she has made them for me, they were made with mashed potato and roughly or finely chopped turkey.)
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Kaiserschmarrn (Torn/Shredded Pancake)

It’s the season for long, lazy breakfasts – one of my favourite things about December, and a big reason I hope for plenty of snow. Pancakes and waffles of all kinds, perhaps some cinnamon buns or æbleskiver – I skew toward things I don’t make on an average weekend, but still don’t always have the gumption to make cinnamon buns from scratch, even if I do plan ahead and have them ready to bake from the fridge or freezer. Enter Kaiserschmarrn – a torn or shredded pancake, also known as an Emperor’s Mess (see how it fits here?) – a puffy, eggy pancake you cook in a skillet on the stovetop or in the oven, chop or tear apart and then kind of scramble in the hot skillet with some butter, so they wind up crispy-edged and custardy in the middle. Because it’s one big pancake, it’s perfect to stick on a platter with a dish of preserves (or a drizzle of maple syrup), give everyone a fork and have them share while you snuggle on the couch and watch Christmas movies, or play a game, or whatever you love to do together at this time of year. With plenty of coffee.
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Everything Bagel focaccia

Pizza dough is one of those things I make on autopilot… it’s so quick to do, especially with the dough hook of the stand mixer, and it gets better with time – I always try to anticipate our pizza needs at least 24 hours in advance. This is the secret of pizzeria pizza dough – it always gets at least a day to hang out, sometimes more. I see fresh pizza dough at so many grocery stores and Italian markets, too – so it’s easy enough to pick up for a few dollars. Either way, it’s a great way to get fresh bread on the table, in the form of a nubbly focaccia! Which can be topped with all kinds of things – fresh rosemary and olive oil, garlic and olive oil, crushed olives and olive oil…. or everything bagel seasoning. Yes!!
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