Italian Rainbow Cookies

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I know cookies. So, when I come across a recipe that makes my mouth water, you can be sure it is a winner. I’ve just finished baking my Christmas cookies, and I’d like to post some of my favorites. Actually, I have so many special recipes to make them all, so I have had to put them in rotation. One that always makes the list is Italian Rainbow Cookies, a recipe that I learned a long time ago.

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Lemon Meringue Cake

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This cake is NOT fast and easy, but if you are an experienced baker, it will not hold any surprises. In fact, you will be rewarded with a great all-purpose yellow cake recipe and one of the simplest and best lemon curds in my collection.

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Limoncello Pound Cake from Frankie Avalon

The Frankie Avalon Italian Family Cookbook (which I cowrote with a man who can truly be called an American show business icon) is jam-packed with wonderful Italian-American recipes to savor again and again. This recipe for a moist and citrusy limoncello pound cake is based on the one from his Mom’s recipe box.

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Moist and Cakey Cornbread with Fresh Corn

I often swap (swipe?) recipes with (from?) my dear friend Beth Hensperger, who has written almost as many recipes as I have over the years. OK, we’re neck and neck. But the main reason I bring up the Babe of Baking is cornbread. Both of us were raised on a not-very-authentic version of the Southern classic that used canned corn as the moistening agent.

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Berry Meringue Slices

It’s been over a dozen years since I first had this perfect summer dessert while researching my KAFFEEHAUS book in Vienna.. Hans Diglas’s cafe-restaurant is one of the most enjoyable spots for traditional food (including pastries), and it has the advantage of being around the corner from St. Stephen’s cathedral. It was there that I first […]

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Portuguese Pork and Garlic

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One thing about vinho d’ alhos–the recipe differs from family to family. (It is pronounced something like “vino dosh.”) The basics are vinegar, wine, pickling spices, and garlic. This version (from my book, Cooking with Tommy Bahama: Flavors of Aloha) only marinates pork for a mere day or two, but aficionados often pickle the meat for three or even more days.

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Chicken Savoy

Chicken Savoy is a popular dish at many Italian restaurants in my area.  How popular? There are people who call it “the unofficial state dish of New Jersey.”  Mamma mia! Take that Italian hot dog!  (Don’t know what an Italian hot dog is? See * below.  I hate ’em.) If you don’t live in North […]

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Easter Meat and Cheese Pie

Here’s another Italian specialty that I’ve learned to make in the last few years.  It is meat and cheese pie, an Easter specialty loaded with cold cuts to celebrate the return to eating meat after a Lent-long fast. My version is based on the one from Patsy’s Italian Family Cookbook.  I spent many hours at […]

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From-Scratch Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole

I belong to a Facebook group of cookbook lovers.  Recently, someone there started a post about making green bean casserole–the familiar one made with cream of mushroom soup. There were over a hundred comments in the thread, proving how this dish has become part of the American cook’s vernacular.  For my part,  I am a […]

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Viennese Sachertorte

Sachertorte has been famous almost since its conception almost 200 years ago. It made its inventor so famous that he was able to build a hotel, one that is still one of the premier establishments in Vienna, a city renown for its elegance.  But I will warn you…Sachertorte isn’t for everybody, and it takes a discerning […]

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Homemade Potato Rolls

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When I tell you that these are the fluffiest, lightest rolls on earth, I mean it. Cooked potatoes replace some of the flour, which reduces the gluten to increase the rolls’ tenderness. I don’t make them for every dinner party only because sometimes I don’t have the time to make the mashed potatoes. You’ll see recipes that use leftover or instant mashed potatoes, but don’t be deceived—these big rolls are best with freshly cooked spuds.

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Baked Ham with Pineapple-Mustard Seed Glaze

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Whether you are planning a buffet or a sit-down dinner, baked ham is a great choice for your main course. I have created many a baked ham recipe over the years, but this is my go-to recipe. It touches all of the bases–an easy recipe for a sweet, sticky, and fruity glaze with a little savory kick to balance the salty meat.

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Manhattan Clam Chowder

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Manhattan clam chowder differs from its New England namesake in that it has a tomato base instead of cream. A healthy soup chunky with vegetables and a tomato-y tang suitable for dieters, it’s also a very democratic soup.

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The Perfect Manhattan Cocktail

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A Manhattan only has three ingredients, so they had better be great, as each flavor is strong. The traditional garnish is a maraschino cherry, and even that can be upgraded. Here’s how I make the best Manhattan around…

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Beef Rib Roast with Blue Cheese Crust

Here’s a way to take a good thing and make it better. I don’t have any blue cheese haters in my group of frequent dinner guests, so this is a big hit whenever I serve it.  When you want a show-stopping main course to serve with a great bottle of red wine, I don’t think you […]

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Spicy Stout Gingerbread

My friend Bruce Aidells wrote a great book on cooking with beer (look for a used copy), and he asked me to come up with a contribution.  I offered this stout gingerbread, and the recipe now makes an annual appearance on my Christmas baking list.  The caramel notes in the stout work beautifully with the […]

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Spicy Stout Gingerbread

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I offered this stout gingerbread, and the recipe now makes an annual appearance on my Christmas baking list. The caramel notes in the stout work beautifully with the molasses and brown sugar. It keeps forever…but it doesn’t last more than a couple of days in our house. Make it as a single cake, and it is a perfect addition to a holiday potluck.

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Sarabeth’s Stollen

Sarabeth Levine is known as the Grande Dame of Manhattan bakers. I was lucky enough to work with her on her first cookbook, SARABETH’S BAKERY: FROM MY HANDS TO YOURS, which quickly established itself as a must-have for anyone who wants to learn how to bake her famous specialties. One of the many baked goods that no one bakery makes better is her holiday stollen, a buttery sweet bread studded with rum-soaked raisins, dried fruits, and nuts.

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Christmas Meatball Lasagna

When I was on Martha Stewart Radio with my buddy Sandy Gluck, the subject of meatball lasagna came up. What makes Christmas meatball different is that the ground meat not simply added to the sauce, but rolled into small meatballs first. I hadn’t made it since testing for I LOVE MEATBALLS, and my mouth started to water as I described the recipe.

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Pancetta-Wrapped Roast Pork with Blackberry Sage Sauce

For a guy who has created hundreds (if not thousands…it’s true!) recipes over the years, it is difficult to choose my favorite recipes. But, this roast pork is up at the top of the list. It is absolutely perfect for the holidays. The roast can be wrapped in the pancetta a day ahead and roasted just before dinner, and the pan deglazed with the pre-made sweet and savory sauce.

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Herb-Brined Turkey with Make-Ahead Gravy

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Brined turkey first made a splash a few years ago in the pages of Cook’s Illustrated, thanks to a recipe in Jean Anderson ‘s The Food of Portugal (with a few tips from kosher butchers along the way).  The brining concept fooled many cooks into thinking that their turkey was juicier, and a new favorite turkey […]

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