Bacon Jam Crumble Bars

Bacon Jam Crumble Bars - 10th Kitchen

I think last weekend was the baking whirlwind weekend for the organized souls among us who send out cookie platters and all sorts of lovely care packages ahead of time. Bless their hearts. The rest of us? The rest of us kindly accept their homemade, always-delicious kindness with a sincere smile and thanks, and an inner monologue that goes something like “ohcrapohcrap what am I going to make for your lovely face in return?”

Bacon Jam Crumble Bars - 10th Kitchen

Fellow procrastinators: We got this. And we’ll make it worth the wait. Exhibit A: savory, sweet but not overly so, and chock-full of porky goodness, with a crumbly, nutty crust of pine nut dreams and rosemary wishes. We shoot, we score.

You’ve probably already had some version of sweet jam crumble bars — same idea here, but with a savory direction. And if you’re tuning out because you or your loved ones are vegetarian or otherwise don’t eat pork, wait! Come back! This is just as easily done with, say, caramelized onion jam. Maybe even some sort of olive tapenade? It’s probably safe to assume that whatever you’re putting on your cracker these days (sounds like a euphemism, but it’s not) will work.

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Coconut and Rum Layer Cake

Coconut and Rum Layer Cake with Kiwi and Pomegranates. Red and green for Christmas!

In the wrong light, this cake says: Hello, I drink like a pirate, I don’t have that many friends, and to top it all off, my cake frosting skills are horrifying, so I need to cover everything with pretty fruit and flaky coconut.

I just realized that when I was trying to sell you on this cake, and it made me laugh. But we all know better. Rum-spiked? That’s a good thing. Small enough for a gathering of, say, eight of your loveliest and most cherished people (including yourself)? Or perhaps as just one option in an array of desserts? That’s a good thing. That’s also a cute thing. Easy to decorate, allowing you to enjoy the festivities instead of sweating over uneven frosting? That’s neat, too.

Coconut and Rum Layer Cake with Kiwi and Pomegranates. Red and green for Christmas!

Also a good thing: It tastes fantastic. Fragrant and light, with a pure coconut flavor and a little rum. As for the texture, this cake feels downright luxurious — dense, rich, velvety (way more so than “velvet” cake of any kind, I will say). I guess that’s what happens when you swap buttermilk for full-fat coconut milk. I don’t regret anything; this is a small, yet mighty (read: rich) cake, and it’s hard to mess up, from baking to decorating. 

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Finnish Semolina Pancakes with Cardamom Pears and Whipped Cream

Finnish Semolina Pancakes with Cardamom Pears and Whipped Cream

If there’s one definitive food of my childhood, it’s semolina porridge. I have these really distinct memories of eating it topped with strawberry jam — sometimes I’d mix in the jam thoroughly to make a uniformly pink breakfast, sometimes I’d create intricate swirl patterns with it, and sometimes I’d eat from the center inward toward the jewel-red dollop, like I was saving it for dessert.

The definitive accessories of my childhood: rather large head bows and a stern expression. But this is not a blog about that… So let’s move on.

Finnish Semolina Pancakes with Cardamom Pears and Whipped Cream

These pancakes hail from Aland, which is a piece of Finnish autonomous region hotness in the Baltic Sea. Naturally, the cuisine of this little bunch of islands rings close to home. Semolina is very similar to farina, which is basically Cream of Wheat. Farina is just a little softer, but the slightly nutty flavor and bit of crunch is the same. The method of making “pancakes” in the oven, meanwhile, resembles the internet-famous (and rightly so) Dutch Baby. Both puff up nicely, then deflate, leaving a pleasant, dense chewiness to the crust that forms on the bottom and sides.

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Sage and White Wine Pan-Roasted Ribs with Celery Root Puree

Sage and White Wine Pan-Roasted Ribs with Celery Root Puree

At some point I picked up Marcella Hazan’s book Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and decided I was going to show it who’s boss. Cover to cover, more or less; I was gonna be a priestess of pasta, goddess of gelato, archduchess of anchovies. Like Julie and Julia — except I’m not Amy Adams and the Danguole and Marcella story is moving at a glacial pace. I’m probably three recipes in.

Sage and White Wine Pan-Roasted Ribs with Celery Root Puree

It’s not that I don’t love the idea of doing exactly that, but my style and goals have changed. Plus, it is far more enjoyable for me these days to flip open that big fat tome before bed and browse for a recipe that inspires me. It’s exciting to have to choose just one, for the time being. Last week, I found myself in the glorious “Pork” section. There was a red-wine braised “Drunken Pork” recipe, but a quick Google search turned me away from it because evidently, not too many people have found it workable. I am not delusional, friends: if the whole Internet is having trouble with something, I will be unsuccessful and probably hurt myself somehow. 

So, I settled on a promising pan-roasted ribs recipe. Wine is a common theme, yes. But besides that, simple, hearty, porky was exactly what I was after, and they did not disappoint. Not even the one that dropped out of high school to pursue an acting career.

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Sherry Cobbler Ice Cream

Sherry Cobbler Ice Cream

We made it through Thanksgiving! I never doubted us for a second. Give me a holiday where all that is expected of me is to eat like I’m about to hibernate in the tundra with nothing but my wits and a wild caribou named Bertha at my side (partially true), and perhaps make a pie, and I will dominate that holiday. I have a feeling you’re the same way.

Sherry Cobbler Ice Cream

Maybe you didn’t come home and immediately make ice cream, though. I had no reason to, other than that this idea has been sitting in my brain forever and it just needs to get out. Fly like a little baby bird into the Internet, sherry cobbler ice cream! You’re free!

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Veggie Balls with Carrot Ribbon Pappardelle and Carrot Top Pesto

 Veggie Balls with Carrot Ribbon Pappardelle and Carrot Top Pesto -- 10th Kitchen

If my blog self-destructs tomorrow, you’ll know why: I broke it by putting “balls,” “carrot,” and “top” too close together. I tried to avoid it, but there’s no outsmarting search engine algorithms. Whatever happens: It was worth it.

Veggie Balls with Carrot Ribbon Pappardelle and Carrot Top Pesto -- 10th Kitchen

Let me tell you about my b…  Let me tell you about these darling vegetarian “meatballs.” I’m not a vegetarian, but I used to be one, which means that both sides either trust me or completely distrust me. In this case, both should trust me — these are fantastic. The lentil-walnut-mushroom combo is an array of earthy, nutty flavors and varied textures. 

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