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Put Jam in Your Cookies & They’ll Look like Pretty Little Jewels

Selecting a package of Pepperidge Farm cookies was one of the greatest thrills when I was little. Rarely was this privilege bestowed upon me; when it was my choice, I’d carefully weigh my options. There were nubby, cobbled Brussels cookies with their thin layer of bittersweet chocolate. Milanos were a classic choice, and I loved the buttery Chessmen, shiny with an egg wash finish. But, usually ,I’d pick the crumbly, sweet Verona circles, which sported jammy centers of strawberry preserves.

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Kolaczki
by Posie Harwood

The combination of a crunchy, buttery cookie and sweet jam is still irresistible to me. So I was happy to discover this excellent recipe, from the Nielsen-Massey archives, for traditional Polish holiday cookies (called kolackzi). The addition of cream cheese makes the dough tender and less crumbly than most cookies.

I filled mine with apricot and raspberry jam, but you could use any flavor you like. Or, try frangipane or chocolate hazelnut spread.

This being said, using jam makes the cookies look like pretty little jewels. They’re the perfect addition to a dessert platter or holiday cookie swap. Just dust them lightly with confectioners’ sugar, if you like, before serving.

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Raspberry jam finds a cozy cookie home.
Photo by Posie Harwood

Be sure to roll your dough out very thinly. It will be sticky when you mix it up, but don’t worry: Rolling the dough in a blend of flour and confectioners’ sugar to prevents it from clinging to the work surface.

For successful cookies, don’t add too much filling (it’s tempting, I know!), or they won’t hold their shape during baking. It’s also important to press the edges of the dough together firmly when you roll it up around the jam, to make sure the little “envelopes” stay closed.

In the world of Christmas cookies, these are, as the saying goes, most certainly my jam.

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Kolaczki

By Posie Harwood

  • 8
    ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 1
    cup butter, at room temperature

  • 1/2
    cup sugar

  • 1
    tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2
    teaspoon almond extract (optional)

  • 3/4
    teaspoon salt

  • 1
    egg

  • 3 1/4
    cups all-purpose flour, divided into 2 3/4 cups and 1/2 cup

  • 1/4
    cup confectioners’ sugar

  • 1/2
    cup jam

View Full Recipe

Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.

What would you fill these little envelopes with? Let us know in the comments below!

What to Cook in Our Itty, Bitty, Pretty Staub Stovetop Rice Cooker

For the first four months of living in New York, I did not have a stove. I know this doesn’t make me special. Many post-college transplants have to reckon with some recalcitrant landlord who refuses to turn on stoves, part of the crumbling infrastructural bargain that is living in a tiny apartment.

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Staub Petite French Oven Stovetop Rice Cooker

So, every night, I would make dinner in a plug-in rice cooker I bought from Bed Bath & Beyond. In that period, I tried to become remarkably crafty about what I was able to cook with this petite hybrid tub-and-heating-mechanism—perhaps I could cook a pie. Poach an egg. Nonsense. I learned the hard way that my rice cooker had its limits. After some false starts, I stuck to the nightly rubric of brown rice, vegetables, and a pre-cooked sausage or three, dunking in some chicken broth and curry sauce from a jar.

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Food52 x Staub Petite French Oven Stovetop Rice Cooker, 1.5QT

Even after gaining a functioning stove, though, I was bullish about parting from my rice cooker. I’d grown so used to its ability to deliver on its promise of convenience, and its charming compactness.

Good news. I’ve got the Food52 x Staub Petite French Oven Stovetop Rice Cooker now. It’s the size of my old number from Black & Decker, but—get this—it’s meant for my stove. She be small but mighty, a cast-iron cauldron with a graphite finish, with a size that masks remarkable depth of its base. It’s perfect for anything you’d need a small pot for, and doubly perfect for a lonely single dude like me, who has the stomach of two people but is unencumbered by the need to feed anyone else. It can basically do anything.

It’s the perfect median between this vestige of compromised living I once used daily and the way I cook now. And it’s an alarmingly versatile product; I’ve compiled some stuff you can cook in your Staub Stovetop Rice Cooker below. Now, I can’t stop cooking in my Staub rice cooker. I don’t want to cook in anything else.

Oatmeal. "A meal of oats."

Wake up, sleepyhead. It’s time for oatmeal! Pour some oats in your stovetop rice cooker. They’ll cook in no time.

You can even bake your oatmeal in this little buddy, since it’s oven safe—just halve a recipe meant for a baking pan to fit inside.

Poach an egg. Live a little.

Let’s stay on the topic of “breakfast” here. Who says you can’t poach an egg in a stovetop rice cooker? Huh. Ridiculous. Its deep shape will be like a luxurious Jacuzzi for your poaching egg. Throw it in a dish of your choosing—or even someone’s face! (Don’t do that.)

You can also make a few baked eggs in a rice cooker. Add a few cups of that saucy base. Crack two eggs into it before finishing off, uncovered, in the oven.

And of course, hard boiling eggs is also tons of fun in the rice cooker. The water will heat up faster than it would in a much larger pot. Sizzle!

Quinoa. Yeah, you heard me.

Couldn’t think of a good header for this one. But you know what quinoa is. It cooks quite nicely in our Staub rice cooker—snug as a rug in there, grains blooming to the point of edible consumption even when you’re not even looking. (The divots in the rice cooker’s lid cause the steam to drip back into the pot, and this keeps the grains hydrated.)

Let's 👏🏾 Make 👏🏾 Some 👏🏾 Risotto

Risotto—not easy, not sorry. Just kidding. It took me a lifetime to realize risotto’s a lot easier to cook than it seems at first glance.

Feeling…uh…windy? Shake some barley

Barley—out of your beer and into the streets! And the proverbial “streets” here are, collectively, your Staub rice cooker. Because really, you can cook any grains in it. Wild. Okay. Onto the recipes.

Hm. I'm just going to call this category "Other"

Now these are what we call leftovers. Sort of. Wake up a tub of leftover pasta and bake it, right inside the rice cooker (which is sized pretty ideally for this sort of task). A sauce? Saucy! Fried shallots? Be my guest. Add cheese. Go crazy. This sampling of foods that would re-heat well in the rice cooker that I’ve compiled here is by no means exhaustive.

Uhhhh, or maybe just make some rice?

Yeah, I know—you didn’t see this one coming. Feeling wary of engaging in some mischief with your Staub Stovetop rice cooker? Stick to the basics. (Just make sure that’s the only thing that sticks. Haha!)

…And that’s how you do it. That’s how you use the Staub Petite French Oven Stovetop Rice Cooker.

What other recipes would you cook in our stovetop rice cooker? Let us know in the comments.

17 Italian Dishes, Messed Up a Little

Pumpkin in lasagna, a pesto sans basil (but plus mint!), and a panzanella with nary a tomato in sight: These are not your classic Italian dishes. Rather, they take inspiration from classics—and then run crazy with substitutions, spices, and add-ins.

Here are 17 not-so-classic twists on classics. We’re not saying they’re new classics, no, but are they great additions to your recipe repertoire when only something like beer pizza will do? Yes.

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Kale and Italian Sausage Lasagna with Pumpkin Béchamel
by Mary Catherine Tee
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Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campion’s Skillet Lasagna
by Genius Recipes
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Beer Pizza
by gourmetpompey
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Herb, Feta, and Quinoa-Filled Frittata
by AntoniaJames
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Roasted Cauliflower Brown Rice Risotto with Lemon, Walnut, and Mascarpone
by gingerroot
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Celery Risotto with Asian Pear and Shiso
by gingerroot
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Glazed Shallot, Walnut, Sage, and Goat Cheese Pizza
by creamtea
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Black Pepper and Parmesan Panna Cotta
by PistachioDoughnut
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Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Focaccia with Apricot Jam, Caramelized Onion, and Fennel
by MrsWheelbarrow
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Beet Ravioli with Goat Cheese, Ricotta and Mint Filling
by bethmichelle
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Kalamata Olive Gnocchi
by Food52
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Thanksgiving Osso Buco
by QueenSashy
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Winter Panzanella with Orange, Roasted Beets, and Pomegranate Seeds
by Ann S
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Pea and Bacon Panzanella with Warm Vinaigrette
by Phyllis Grant

Tell us: What’s your favorite not-so-classic spin on a classic Italian dish?

7 Ways to Hang Twinkly Lights—on Fire Escapes, Ceilings, Fences & More

One of my favorite things to do when I’m home during the holiday season is to herd any and all able-bodied family members into a car to drive around and look at Christmas lights. (Most recently, this involved buckling my niece into her car seat and pointing out all the twinkliest houses while she promptly hit “snooze.”) I subscribe to the branch of science that says restaurants will get 100% more customers by stringing twinkly lights on the entryway: There’s something irresistible about them.

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Dew Drop Wired LED Lights (Set of 2)

To help with holiday decorating this year, I rounded up a handful of different ways to hang twinkly lights—whether in your front yard, nook of a bedroom, the fire escape, or the back lawn. Merry, merry!

Woven throughout

Whether it’s putting lights on the ivy on a wall or your Christmas tree, sometimes weaving in and out is the best way to get a uniform, “natural” look.

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Photo by Rocky Luten

The same would go for lighting up boxwoods in the lawn: Too perfectly lined with lights and they may look like cinnamon buns. Get a little haphazard and the whole shape will glow.

As a canopy

Splayed across a ceiling, or across a patio, is how twinkly lights do their best starry sky impression (and they will cast an even, golden light on the whole space).

Scrunched up in a glass

Break out a set of mason jars, hurricane vases, or, heck, a fishbowl: A ball of twinkly lights turns into a firefly lantern when captured behind glass.

You can also add them to lanterns and sconces, instead of candles:

Or under a bell jar:

Vertically

Hanging down in long vertical strands, twinkly lights give off a neatly-organized waterfall effect—perfect for dividing up a space visually, or making a wall more pronounced.

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If the regularity of a whole wall of drop-down lights is too Type-A for you, consider hanging them willy-nilly from the ceiling at various heights, which will look like light snow flurries:

Swags

The same way you might secure a long garland into drooping swags, lights can be hung to create a dramatic scalloped line—across a wall of windows, balcony, or the fence along the edges of the yard.

Maximalist version: Hang a whole bunch of them this way, to cover a wall.

Tightly around branches

This is the most tedious thing you could ever do with string lights, but the result is a tree that will look like it’s lit up from inside every branch.

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Photo by Mark Weinberg

Better for actual small branches, or trunks of topiaries, rather than huge trees (unless you’ve got all weekend and a good ladder to do it). Would also be great on a fire escape, or a fence.

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Photo by Bobbi Lin

What other ways do you hang twinkly lights? Tell us in the comments.

Cheesy, Spicy Cocktail Party Crackers That’ll Make Easy Baking Look Impressive

Let’s say you’re in a weekend state of mind a little early this week—so what are you doing to celebrate Thursday? We partnered with Simply Organic to share spiced and herbed recipes for cozy gatherings.

Scents are powerful triggers, evoking some of the nicest memories from growing up. My mother, an excellent baker, has a few recipes that she reserves for special occasions and even a hint of their aromas has the power to transport me, still.

Walking through the airport, catching a whiff of freshly baked cinnamon buns, I’m taken right to Christmastime when we’d bake dozens of pans of tightly coiled sweet rolls to bring to neighbors. The bright, cheerful smell of lemon zest reminds me of batches of summer lemonade. And my favorite: The savory, addictive smell of melted cheese, which means a batch of spicy cheese coins will soon emerge from the oven.

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Snacky coins.
Photo by James Ransom

We make these tiny, round cheese crackers for any kind of gathering where you’ll need an easy finger food for picking up and snacking. (They also happen to be a very nice size for packaging up in a glass jar and gifting around the holidays or as a hostess present.) More interesting than the usual platter of crackers and cheese, these buttery coins taste intensely of cheddar cheese. A little bit of cornmeal gives them a pleasantly crunchy texture, and a generous heap of flavorful herbs adds layers of flavor: earthy dried sage, smoky paprika, and spicy cayenne.

Salty enough to amplify the pleasure of a chilled glass of wine, these crackers are the ideal pairing for happy hour. I like serving them alongside a cold bottle of white wine, but if you eat them with a delicate flute of Champagne, I wouldn’t argue.

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Spicy Cheese + Smoked Paprika Coins
by Posie Harwood

This is the sort of recipe that’s ridiculously simple to pull together, but makes you look like a very impressive baker (and host!). It’s a back-pocket recipe to keep on hand any time you’ll be entertaining: easier than most appetizers, but made from scratch and warm unlike a plate of charcuterie or cheese.

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Spicy Cheese + Smoked Paprika Coins

By Posie Harwood

  • 1
    cup all-purpose flour

  • 2
    tablespoons cornmeal

  • 1
    teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4
    teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2
    teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/4
    teaspoon ground sage leaf

  • 2
    tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, diced

  • 1
    cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1/4
    cup plus 1 tablespoon milk

View Full Recipe

Thursdays are like warm-ups for the weekend—so why not raise a glass a little early? We partnered with Simply Organic to share spiced recipes for impromptu get-togethers, like a DIY wine bar party. Head here to see all their spices, and get ideas for your #ThursdayMoments.