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How to Build a Killer Cheese Plate, a guide

So you want to put together a cheese plate? Great! It’s the kind of cooking that’s really more about shopping than anything else, which means that you don’t need to have particular skill in the kitchen to serve at your next gathering. But shopping for cheese can be intimidating. Especially if you, like most people, …

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Mexican Wedding Cookies (Russian Tea Cakes, etc.)

These cookies go by about half a dozen names, the most common among them being Mexican wedding cookies and Russian tea cakes. But they’re also sometimes called polvorones, butterballs, snowballs, and meltaways. So many cultures have some version of them, which makes sense because it’s a formula that works. The basic formula is some kind …

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How to Toast Nuts, in the oven (or toaster oven)

Here’s a quick public service announcement: you should be toasting your nuts. (That is, tree nuts, ahem.) Most recipes that call for nuts start with raw nuts that need to be toasted before going into baked goods or scattering over a salad. Why? Because raw nuts taste bland and vaguely bitter and have a kinda …

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Almond Shortbread Brownies, a textural wonder

These brownies, oh, these brownies. These almond shortbread brownies are something special. They might be the dessert I’ve made the most frequently in the last ten years. They are rich fudgy brownies baked on a buttery shortbread crust. Before the first time I made them, it never occurred to me that brownies would benefit from …

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Orgeat (Almond Syrup with Orange Flower)

Orgeat is a funny word. I remember seeing it for the first time in a row of bottles of flavored syrups available to add to lattes and cappuccinos and Italian sodas at an independent coffee shop in the 90s, the kind of place that had lumpy couches and open-mic nights and a patina of patchouli-scented dinge. …

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Cranberry Clementine Smoothie

January is always the toughest month for me for cooking. There’s a post-holiday malaise that hangs over the kitchen. I try to balance the excesses of December with austerity, but it’s hard to get excited about much of the seasonal produce when the pickings are slim. Oh, I like root vegetables and cabbage and squash but sometimes …

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