Dumplings, as a concept, transcend cuisine: scraps of dough that are cooked alone, like gnocchi, or wrapped around a filling, like pierogi or ravioli. They can be made with flour or potatoes, boiled, steamed, fried, or baked. But they are always meant to be eaten in a mouthful or maybe two, whether in broth, dipped in sauce, or simply on their own. Dumplings can pack a lot of flavor and components into a single bite, making them a little bit more fun and exciting than a single-bowl meal.
And dumplings aren’t difficult to make, especially with shortcuts like wonton wrappers available. Experiment with a wide range of fillings, herbs, spices, and global influences. In the depths of winter, dumplings are just the kind of comfort food that brighten up a weeknight.
by Michael Ruhlman
“Chicken with dumplings is one of the most delicious and comforting meals I know, especially on a cold night. It’s also economical and easy, especially if you have excellent stock on hand. Good stock is key, so if you plan ahead and make some easy chicken stock from the carcass of a roast chicken, this is a meal that can be put together in 30 minutes.”
- Michael Ruhlman
I loved making macaroni and cheese from the box as a kid. The careful boiling of the water, the measuring of the butter, the addition of the mysterious packet (even in the organic, less-processed versions of the original that predominantly stocked our pantry, the contents were always some version of bright orange). Even now, there’s a comfort in melding together the contents of that box, although when I do, on a day when the refrigerator is empty or there’s a snowstorm or someone’s home sick, I’m likely to add frozen peas, or fresh basil and spinach, and grate the ends of whatever ‘fancy’ cheeses are languishing in the back of the fridge into the mix.
One of the great joys of mac and cheese is its endless aptitude for customization: even purists must answer the questions of whether to add dry mustard, what cheese blend is best for melting and coating the pasta, and what pasta shape is most apt to snuggle the sauce into all its nooks and crannies. For those of us who are not purists, however, the possibilities for experimentation – with proteins, vegetables, herbs, and spices – are nearly infinite. Here are some ideas, below, but let us know your favorites. Even if the answer is the one from the box.
by David Burke and Judith Choate
“This is my classic macaroni and cheese with just a bit of a bite from the horseradish to offset the richness. It is, as it has always been, easy to put together. My mom used to do it early in the morning and then throw the casserole in the oven just as we began asking “When’s dinner?” I can still remember the browning cheesy smell that would fill the house.”
- David Burke & Judith Choate
For some of the country, this was the week that the cold really hit: the combination of blustery wind chill and wintry precipitation that even layers upon layers of clothing can’t quite protect against. In this weather, I turn to a more internal source of warmth. Bowls of steaming curries and piping hot soups are a welcome respite from the cold.
In Korean cuisine, the dish of rice, meat, and vegetables served in a stone bowl too hot to touch is known as dolsot bibimbap. On freezing days, it serves as a luxurious personal space heater seasoned with spicy chili paste and sesame oil. While you might serve the soups and stews below in a more traditional vessel, their warming qualities suit the season. A scarf might not hurt either.
by Aliza Green
“A delicious celebration soup made in different versions throughout the Caribbean islands, Callalou gets its name from the greens used in it, such as taro, amaranth, or other island-specific greens. However, a mild tasting cooking green such as spinach, Swiss chard, or Chinese spinach make a good substitute. The soup also contains coconut milk and crabmeat, which are typical of Caribbean cooking. Another ingredient, okra (of African origin), can often be found at farmers’ markets. Fresh, young okra is pleasingly chewy and quite delicious. Frozen sliced okra can be substituted but tends to be slippery and should be added during the last minutes of cooking. For those who don’t want to eat pork, substitute diced smoked turkey leg or thigh for the bacon and cook the vegetables in vegetable oil.” - Aliza Green
Beyond serving as an excellent way to start a meal, a salad can be the ideal beginning to a new year, especially after the excesses of the holiday season. A good meal salad explores flavors, textures, and even temperatures, with toasted bread and roasted vegetables, sharp cheeses, fruit, and nuts. Leftover roasted chicken, turkey, or beef can happily find its way into these dishes.
I even like salads for a late breakfast, with plenty of blue cheese and balsamic vinegar. With some crusty bread and maybe a bowl of vegetable soup, any of the dishes below would be a welcome way to kick off 2015.
by Jamie Oliver
What I like best about this salad is the way that it draws inspiration from several different dishes, so that it seems familiar even if it’s your first time making it. Anchovies, lemon, garlic, and creme fraiche combine to create a dressing that’s a creamy, slightly tart take on the traditional Caesar. The toasted bread soaks up the dressing, as in panzanella. And the rich fried halloumi cheese is just decadent enough beside the crunchy, fresh fennel. Pomegranate seeds add a tangy sweetness and a gorgeous pop of color.
New Year’s Eve always feels like a mixture of anticipation and nostalgia, with a sizable dash of bubbly poured alongside. If you’re having friends and family over to celebrate the onset of 2015, you’ll want to keep the eats light and festive. There’s no need for fois gras or caviar, but everyone will appreciate a spread that’s fun to nosh on while you celebrate the optimism that comes with the turn of the calendar’s page.
by Amy Traverso
“Every year, we host a big Hanukkah party for a couple dozen friends, serving up four or five different kinds of latkes (potato pancakes) at a time. These sweeter latkes, accented with the oniony bite of shallots, are always the first to go. And here’s a time-saving bonus: Because sweet potatoes contain less water than regular baking potatoes, you can grate them in the food processor without worrying about their releasing too much liquid.“