cookie season + hanukkah
plus: latkes, buying signed cookbooks, and two events
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
The many garlics of my childhood [Taste]
Is this the very best newsletter of the Smitten Kitchen Digest year? I’m going to argue it is. We’ve got cookies! Truly there are so many cookie recipes I’m downright obsessed with on Smitten Kitchen, whittling it down to a neat 10 for this newsletter is not easy. I had to sit down and have a cookie just to get through it. I haven’t even shared this cookie yet but it’s coming very soon and is addictive as a salted brown butter crispy treat.
We also have Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights that begins tomorrow at sundown (so about 2pm in NYC, or so it jokingly seems these days). In honor of the 15th anniversary of my go-to latke recipe, I’ve given it some fresh photos and a lot of extra tips and advice, including topping and menu suggestions. Even more Hanukkah-adjacent recipes are below.
Do you subscribe to Caroline Chambers’s newsletter What To Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking? Oh, I think you should! I got to chat with her on her new podcast this week and we laughed and laughed.
Finally, if you’re going to be in NYC this month, I’m going to be a judge the annual Fruitcake Redemption Contest this Sunday at Kitchen Arts & Letters, a cookbook store where you should do all of your holiday shopping. No need to enter; just come by and taste them all with me!
And on Friday 12/15, I’ll be chatting with Bettina Makalintal at the Shopify x Eater Holiday Market.
I’ve written three cookbooks and I’m a tiny bit biased, but I think you’d love them all. Want to buy a signed copy my most recent cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Keepers for a gift? Both Strand Bookstore in Manhattan and Books Are Magic in Brooklyn have copies in stock. Wondering what you might include from the book on your holiday table? I thought you’d never ask! I vote for the endive salad with apple matchsticks, winter squash soup with red onion crisp, tangy baked eggplant and couscous, and raclette tartiflette. And please don’t forget the thick molasses spice cookies, family style crème brûlée, and white russian slush punch. Were you looking for a list of all the recipes in each of my cookbooks? I’ve added these in a separate page and hope it makes it easier for you to find everything you want to cook.
The easiest and most rewarding sparkly sugar cookies I've ever made. I tried to do away with the peskiness: We start with cold butter, chill the dough quickly, only roll it once, don't flour our counters, and if you'd like to make the ones you see here, you can do so without cookie cutters, food coloring, or piping bags! This triumphant combination of techniques might turn you, too, into the kind of baker who willingly makes decorated cookies because it's so doable and they taste fantastic, too.
Checkerboard cookies as fuss-free (cold butter, clean counters) and delicious (chocolate that actually tastes like it) as I could possibly make them. Plus, two other patterns -- spirals! marbled! -- I couldn't resist. Apologies in advance to the other cookies in your tin; these dazzlers are terrible at sharing the spotlight.
My favorite kind of bakery cookies — filled with jam, dipped in chocolate and rolled in sprinkles — are so easy to make, and so delicious at home, it’s been really hard to buy them since.
For a little extra joy right now, may I recommend a really easy sprinkle cookie recipe that tastes even better than it looks? They're plush, complex, fragrant, and also, you know, really cute decked out in holiday sprinkles. You're going to love them.
Rugelach are blissful flaky pastry-like cookies wound with jam, nuts, and chocolate if you wish (which of course we do) and a whiff of cinnamon sugar and they're my absolute favorite. But, I always found them tedious to make and so I simplified the process. Less fussiness = more rugelach in our lives = lucky us.
Our kind of linzer: a deeply toasted hazelnut butter cookie base with a chocolate-hazelnut (coughNutella) filling that’s so cute, borderline twee, that I completely understand if you skip the heart-shaped cutters. Just don’t skip these: they’re a forever favorite.
This is my go-to gingerbread cookie for cut-out shapes, gingerbread men, and even gingerbread houses -- it always bakes up perfectly, tastes impeccably like December, and makes your kitchen smell amazing.
One of my favorite December baking projects, this airtight, no-fail recipe for the old-school Italian-American bakery standard makes cookies that are, for once, as delicious as they look.
As New York as bodega bacon-egg-cheese sandwiches and as old-school as egg creams, there's no good reason to settle for stale black-and-white cookies when they're this easy to make at home.
Arguably one of the best cookies on earth, these decadent dark chocolate sables -- like shortbread, with a gentle, buttery snap -- from Pierre Hermé via Dorie Greenspan got their name when a neighbor became convinced that a daily dose of these cookies was all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness. I hope it works.
Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins tomorrow evening and there are few things the Smitten Kitchen takes more seriously than the importance of tangled knots of crispy fried potatoes. In honor of the recipe's 15th anniversary, I've added a wealth of additional tips, toppings, and menu suggestions to my go-to latke recipe, plus some cooking advice to ensure yours come out perfect every time.
The happiest commingling of goat cheese, almonds, oranges, chives, sea salt, endives, sherry vinegar and olive oil. This is at once a perfect balance to a wall of cookies, an appetizer, and also finger food for parties (we love it alongside latkes).
Fried food is the order of the holiday, yes? love perfectly seasoned, craggy bread-crumbed, deeply golden, crispy chicken cutlets but hated making them until I learned a trick from my MIL that makes them a little faster, less heavy, and, if you have old bread lying around, the absolute crunchiest. These never, ever last.
My OG potato latkes aren’t the only ones that got a glow-up this season. These zucchini latkes are the first potato pancake I ever published on Smitten Kitchen (December 2006!) and they’re as good as ever — especially, in my humble opinion, with a squeeze of lemon juice on top and a dollop of garlicky sour cream.
Everyone needs one exceptional jelly doughnut recipe in their life, and this is mine, with golden edges, a slightly stretchy crumb, all generously powdered but still not terribly sweet. Hanukkah isn't the most significant Jewish holiday, but the traditional foods -- the only rule is that they should be fried -- are unquestionably the best.
Ever wonder where I get my cutting boards, paring knives, offset spatulas and more than you see when I cook? I've created a page on Smitten Kitchen with links to some of my favorite kitchen items, the ones I'm asked about the most. I recently added several new favorites I’ve bought in the last year. For each item, I've attempted to provide a range of shopping links so we're not just focusing on one giant retailer.
See you next week!