When in doubt about what to cook for large family gatherings, I’ve found that anything combining cheese and potatoes is sure to be a hit. My favorite crowd-pleasing side dishes include twice-baked potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes and creamy potatoes au gratin, all made with copious amounts of cheesy goodness.
Keeping that in mind, I decided to make this gorgeous-looking upside down potato onion tart to go with last Sunday’s Easter ham. That decision was a difficult one as I had never made the recipe before and cooking something for a group of people without a trial run is a little unusual for me. I’m a firm believer in trying recipes out before subjecting people to them!
But this recipe looked fairly simple to make and just reading the ingredient list gave me confidence: potatoes, onions, cheese, butter, herbs. With such humble and tasty ingredients, how could it not turn out delicious?
Happily, it was everything I wanted it to be — the potato layers were sandwiched between caramelized onions and sharp pecorino, making this a truly decadent dish. The edges (my favorite part) were crisp and cheesy and the center was creamy and luxurious. Surprisingly though, for all that flavor, the recipe used only a bit of butter and didn’t even call for cream!
It’s hard to believe that Easter is looming in the very near future. But considering my work days have been filled with inquiries for lamb, ham and rabbits, it must be true. By the way, if the Easter Bunny doesn’t make an appearance on Sunday, he’s most likely being dished up at a restaurant in Portland or Seattle — and he’s probably delicious!
Anyways, in true procrastinator fashion, I made these adorable candy-filled nests last year…but by the time I got around to downloading and editing the photos, Easter had long since gone. The nests turned out so cute that I still wanted to share them, even if they had to wait almost 12 months for their time to shine.
Chocolate Easter Nests: Melted dark chocolate, crunchy chow mein noodles and, of course, mini Cadbury eggs!
In a recent post, I mentioned that I had been on a biscotti kick. I baked several different types over the holidays, all sweet, made with sugar and various types of nuts. But in the comment section, thanks to a fellow blogger, I got wind of a different type of biscotti made with cheese and pepper that sounded too intriguing to forget. I love it when things that you expect to be simply sweet are turned into something savoy instead — like the sage macaron I had for lunch today.
I googled the recipe reviews for the link that she gave me (Parmesan and black pepper biscotti) and it sounded like a winner. However, I didn’t happen to have any Parmesan cheese at my house and I had just polished off the last of the pecorino, which is my go-to substitute. But I did, thanks to my stepdad who is also a cheese fanatic, have a huge hunk of two-year aged white cheddar from Wisconsin that was begging to be used in something fun.
I’m sure I could have switched out the cheddar in the original recipe just fine but I thought I’d do some additional internet digging to see what else was out there. And I stumbled upon what seemed like the perfect fit — a recipe from the famed Mark Bittman for Cheddar and Cayenne Biscotti.
I ran to the kitchen so fast, I practically hurt myself!
A traditional Smörgåsbord favorite — homemade headcheese served with red wine vinegar and pickles
My mother’s side of the family has many of traditions that seem to crop up around the holidays. There are the usual ones that almost every family has in common — baking cookies, picking up the freshly cut tree and sticking an orange at the toe of each stocking.
We also have a few slightly more unique ones, such as presents that aren’t as they appear. At our house, if you get a package that feels strangely light, the chances are high that you’ll be sent on a treasure hunt of some kind before you can claim your gift. We take pride in coming up with new ways to out-clever each other, but my grandmother is the reining champ.
She has made me decipher full letters written in Swedish, with only a dictionary to help guide me through the clues. She has folded up money into tiny pieces and stuffed it into dried pasta noodles. I once had to pop a dozen balloons to get a gift certificate out. She’s a devious mastermind when it comes to giving gifts.
She is also the main provider of our more…well, unconventional traditions, which are of the edible variety and stem from my grandparents being full-blooded Swedes. There’s the (recently posted about) homemade pickled herring, the hand-stuffed potato sausage and the headcheese that I avoided like the plague until I was in my twenties and discovered how it good it actually is.