Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows (Angel Kisses)

Homemade Marshmallows on Serving Plate

Okay, I know there are a zillion recipes for homemade marshmallows on the web, each claiming to be the lightest, fluffiest, springiest, tastiest, BEST marshmallows in the entire universe. But I’m giving you a marshmallow post this holiday season anyway for the following reasons.

Spicy, Creamy Mulligatawny Soup

Heavenly Mulligatawny Soup

Do you remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine and Kramer were kibitzing about Mulligatawny Soup? I bet that episode sent thousands of people to the web in search of the recipe. The name alone is an inducement.

Kamut, Kale & Cabbage Soup with Winter Pistou

Kamut, Kale & Cabbage Soup with Winter Pistou

Wet, bone-chilling Northwest winters demand a repertoire of inspired, nourishing, soul-lifting soups. So this January, LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen is all about soup. I’m challenging myself to create four new meal-in-a-bowl soups by the end of the month.

Spicy Sausage & Fresh Herb-Stuffed Crimini Mushrooms

Spicy Sausage & Fresh Herb-Stuffed Crimini Mushrooms

With New Year’s parties coming up, it’s time to corral all your favorite appetizer recipes and decide which ones will make the cut this year. If you’re planning a standing-room-only cocktail party, tasty tidbits that can be finished off in one or two bites are de riqueur. Since there are only 1-2 bites to each tidbit, those bites must SING. Which means big, bold, memorable flavors that keep all of your senses awake and wanting more.

Breast of Chicken with Fiery, Fruity Guajillo Sauce

Breast of Chicken with Fiery, Fruity Guajillo Sauce

There’s something about January that sends me running to Mexican, Latin American, and Southwest cookbooks. Perhaps it’s because the sun has disappeared from the Northwest, and I suspect it headed to Cabos San Lucas without me. Laughing all the way.

Just knowing that there are lots of folks basking in the sun as I huddle in front of the fireplace, firing up their charcoal grills as mine sits forlorn on the freezing deck, and swishing their lucky feet in a cool swimming pool as mine are buried in 3 layers of wonder fiber makes me want to smother everything I eat with a fiery chile sauce and pretend I’m wintering in Mexico.

Polenta (AKA Cornmeal Grits)

Wild Mushroom Polenta at Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale

Polenta is basically a thick cornmeal mush (although culinary goddess, Marcella Hazan, calls this description an indelicate use of the English language), which is either served hot and creamy from the pot with a sauce of some type or shaped and left to cool, then later sliced and fried, baked, or grilled.

Deep, Dark, Spicy Gingerbread with Coffee Glaze

Spicy Gingerbread Cake with Coffee Glaze

It never fails. When the temperature drops like a rock and snow is in the air, I start craving gingerbread cake. It’s one of those ultra-comforting sweets that has so sparked bakers’ creativity over the years that it now boasts hundreds of variations. Maybe thousands. Look at the lineup of gingerbread cakes on TasteSpotting.

However, for gingerbread inspiration this year, I had only to open the new Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café cookbook by Harvard educated mathematician turned professional baker, Joanne Chang. I scored the cookbook earlier this fall while at the South End location of Joanne’s Flour Bakery in Boston.

Mary’s Christmas Quilt Cookies (Cinnamon Hot & Orange Shortbread)

Mary's Christmas Quilt Cookies (Cinnamon Hot & Orange Shortbread)

Long ago, in a far away world called the University of Washington School of Art, there was a lone fiber artist who unapologetically extolled the power and deep meaning of color to her comrades who believed with all their hearts that any color other than gray was an indication of naiveté and gross pandering to the unenlightened masses, for whom beauty was—GASP—a virtue.

Ginger Spice Stars

Ginger Spice Stars

Just because a cookie contains what I call Gingerbread Spice, a blend of ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves, with perhaps a little cardamom thrown in for good measure, that doesn’t mean it has to taste like every other gingerbread cookie you’ve ever eaten. There’s a long history behind this the gingerbread cookie, but there is also a lot of latitude and surely many new approaches that have yet to be tried.

Pumpkin Spice & White Chocolate Cheesecake

Pumpkin Spice & White Chocolate Cheesecake

You’ve heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Well, it was definitely the impetus for this Thanksgiving dessert, as I was torn between pleasing my stepdad, Mike, who loves White Chocolate Cheesecake and my daughter’s boyfriend, Chris, who expressed a desire for Peanut Butter Cheesecake (which I quickly swapped for pumpkin in honor of the holiday.)

The combination of the two flavors was even better than I expected, with the white chocolate lending the pumpkin a measure of sophistication.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies

The Twelve Days of Christmas Cookie Extravaganza

LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen presents a holiday cookie extravaganza, one time-tested, delectable cookie a day for each of the twelve days of Christmas. The twelfth day debuts Ellen’s Swedish Pepparkakor, the best cookie in the known universe.