Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Christmas on the Island" by Jenny Colgan, Served with Shortbread Dipped in White Chocolate & Candy Cane Sprinkles

Happy Aloha Friday! We are on the downward slope to Christmas and it's the perfect time for a cozy holiday story and a visit to the Island of Mure in Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan. Accompanying my review of the third book in this charming series is an easy tea-time or cookie tray treat, Scottish shortbread, dipped in white chocolate and topped with a sprinkling of crushed candy canes. 

Publisher's Blurb:

On the remote Scottish island of Mure, the Christmas season is stark, windy, and icy—yet incredibly festive and beautiful…

It’s a time for getting cozy in front of whisky barrel wood fires, and enjoying a dram and a treacle pudding with the people you love—unless, of course, you’ve accidentally gotten pregnant by your ex-boss, and don’t know how to tell him. In the season for peace and good cheer, will Flora find the nerve to reveal the truth to her nearest and dearest? Will her erstwhile co-parent Joel think she’s the bearer of glad tidings—or is this Christmas going to be as bleak as the Highlands in midwinter?

Meanwhile Saif, a doctor and refugee from war-torn Syria is trying to enjoy his first western Christmas with his sons on this remote island where he’s been granted asylum. His wife, however, is still missing, and her absence hangs over what should be a joyful celebration. Can the family possibly find comfort and joy without her?

Travel to the beautiful northern edge of the world and join the welcoming community of Mure for a Highland Christmas you’ll never forget!

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 16, 2018)

My Review:

Jenny Colgan books are good for when the world overwhelms and you need a sweet and engaging escape. As this is the third book set on the Scottish island and quirky community of Mure, it is like visiting and catching up with old friends. (That's also why you really should read the first two books before this one--so you can come into Christmas on the Island knowing and appreciating all of the characters and storylines.) In this book, winter and the holidays are ramping up which is keeping Flora and her team at the Seaside Kitchen very busy. Flora finds out she's pregnant (not a spoiler, it's in the publisher's blurb) and is nervous about Joel's reaction with good reason of course as Joel is still recovering from his challenges in the last book while traveling for Colton, and his and Flora's relationship still tenuous. The supporting cast is back with continuations of their stories (I won't go into those as I don't want to give away anything) and although this one does wrap up without any real cliffhanger, it feels open enough to come back for more stories about the community (perhaps a Saif-centered plot line?) which I like.  

Jenny Colgan creates enjoyable, often quirky characters that you can't help but root for and fills her books with both humor and poignant moments. She also fills them with food and includes a few recipes at the end. If you are looking for something not too heavy and a holiday read that will tug at your heartstrings, this is a great book to snuggle up to with a cup of tea and a piece of shortbread or two.


Author Notes: Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Food Inspiration: 

Jenny Colgan books usually have plenty of food and with the baked goods and foods that flora creates in the bakery, Fintan's cheeses and food-filled town events in Mure, Christmas on the Island is no exception. Food mentions include cakes, pies, pastries and slices of fruitcake, roast chicken, fish, toast with butter, mincemeat tarts, cheese scones, sandwiches, turnips, sausage rolls, a Cumbrae pinwheel (stuffed pork loin)  and bacon roll with a cranberry jelly, tea, Shepherd pie, gin & tonic, hot soup and a toasted sandwich, mince pies, hot dogs, spice cookies, pancakes with maple syrup and bacon, dusted cinnamon rolls, millionaire shortbread, fish and chips ("haddock and chips with extra crispy bits and plenty of vinegar and a large bottle of Irn Bru"), haggis, a saveloy (type of sausage), mulled wine, orange juice, a plain biscuit, vol-au-vents (puff pastry), porridge, Heinz tomato soup, vegetarian stuffing, chipolatas (sausages), shortbread Drambuie, turkey, red cabbage, bread sauce, venison, fresh vegetable soup, French toast, and shortbread.

I'll be honest here, I was going to make fish cakes or pancakes for my book-inspired dish so I could also work it into I Heart Cooking Clubs monthly dish/ingredient challenge but I taught several leadership classes this week and was tired and behind on everything. The recipes for Lanark Blue Scones and Shortbread in the back of the book caught my eye but I just couldn't bring myself to try to bake. I decided to cheat and buy some Walkers shortbread instead and jazz it up for the holidays with white chocolate and crushed candy canes. 

There isn't much of a recipe here. I just line a small pan with parchment paper, crush 3-4 small candy canes, heat the about 1 cup of good white chocolate chips carefully in the microwave, stirring until melted. I then brush any excess crumbs off of the shortbread pieces, dunk one end in the melted white chocolate and sprinkle the tops with the crushed candy canes. When finished, set the pan in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to harden and enjoy.

Notes/Results: Yes, I am a bit guilty about not actually cooking something to go with the book, but these little cookie treats are so tasty and fun and take such minimum effort that I was over that guilt pretty quickly. The shortbread is so buttery, but the cool flavor of the candy cane sprinkles keep it from being too rich or sweet. They took just minutes to make and set up quickly--ready to enjoy with a cup of tea (it's Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride by Celestial Seasonings in the pictures). I think they would be a fun gift or look cute tucked into a cookie platter. I will happily make them again.

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Christmas on the Island is my twelfth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the December 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.    

Note: A review copy of "Christmas on the Island" was provided to me by the author and the publisher Harper Collins via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ina's Peanut Rocky Road Chocolate Bark + 7 Other Favorite Chocolate and/or Vanilla Recipes

Chocolate bark is one of those great candy recipes--it's easy with quick preparation time, it tastes fantastic, it can be customized to your preferences, and it looks pretty on a plate or in little gift bags for a holiday treat. 

I have posted a couple of variations of bark on the blog (Dark Chocolate Pretzel Bark, Dark Chocolate Bark with Almonds and Sea Salt) and Ina Garten has a few different recipes, but once I saw her Peanut Rocky Road Bark, I was pulled in by the combination of flavors and the fact that I had leftover vanilla vegan mini marshmallows and a can of cocktail peanuts in my pantry. 

Peanut Rocky Road Bark
From Ina Garten, via
(Yields Abut 16 Pieces)

12 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup salted peanuts
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips)
1/2 cup mini marshmallows (I used these)
2 oz good white chocolate, finely chopped

Using a pencil, draw an 8 x 11-inch rectangle on a piece of parchment paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the pencil mark doesn't get onto the chocolate and place it on a sheet pan.

Place three-quarters of the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl and put it in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. (Time it carefully.) Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula, return it to the microwave for another 30 seconds, then stir again. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted. Immediately stir in the remaining bittersweet chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. (If you need to heat it a little more, place it in the microwave for another 15 seconds.)

Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread it lightly to fill the drawn rectangle. Sprinkle the top evenly with the peanuts, chocolate chips and marshmallows. Press them lightly so they will set in the chocolate.

Place the white chocolate in a small, heatproof glass bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds. Stir with a rubber spatula and return to the microwave for 15 seconds, then stir again. Continue to heat and stir in 15-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted.

Using a spoon, drizzle the white chocolate onto the bark in straight lines.

Set aside for at least 3 hours until very firm. (Note: It's still pretty warm and humid here for chocolate to set properly, so I covered it well and popped it in the fridge for about 20 minutes to set up. I will have to store it there too, so I keep it well wrapped with waxed paper and a layer of paper towels on top under the lid of the airtight container to keep any condensation away from the chocolate. I take out the pieces I plan to eat or serve a few minutes before enjoying--if I can wait that long!) ;-)

Cut or break the bark in 16 pieces and serve at room temperature.

Notes/Results: If you love Rocky Road and/or its components, you will love this chocolate bark. It is rich and decadent and the contrast of the sweeter vanilla marshmallows and white chocolate drizzle, combined with the bittersweet chocolate and salty peanuts is really tasty. Because I like a salty-sweet combination, next time I would sprinkle some flaked sea salt on top too, but that is the only real change I would make--other than using a bigger pan. I used my half-pan and my bark was a bit thick. Nothing wrong with that but a thinner bark would be nice too. I would happily make this bark again.

This post is for our Monthly Featured Ingredient Challenge at I Heart Cooking Clubs. December's ingredients are chocolate and/or vanilla. Besides making a dish with the ingredients from our current or past IHCC chefs, it's always fun to go back and highlight some of my favorite recipes with those ingredients from our IHCC chefs. 

There were two recipes that featured vanilla (where it was a standout ingredient in the recipe) from past IHCC chefs that stood out to me:

Nigella Lawson's Doughnut French Toast

Ellie Krieger's Very Vanilla Rice Pudding

When it came to recipes featuring chocolate, I had just picked my third Donna Hay recipe to feature and decided to just go with her for my chocolate favorites--so here are five of her recipes that I enjoyed. (The deconstructed tiramisu and the grilled pineapple are both dipped in good chocolate--shavings or melted.) Donna's recipes are always so quick and good--she does chocolate simply and she does it well.

Donna Hay's Deconstructed Tiramisu:

Donna Hay's White Chocolate Candy Cane Truffles

Donna Hay's Cheat's Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

Donna Hay's Chocolate French Toast "Sandwiches"

 Donna Hay's Caramelized Pineapple Skewers with Dark Chocolate Dipping Sauce

I'm linking this post up with I Heart Cooking Clubs. You can see what chocolate and/or vanilla dishes everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post. 

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Donna Hay's White Chocolate Candy Cane Truffles

Just a quick Saturday post with a sweet candy treat. White chocolate is not something I crave-unless it's the holidays and it comes paired with peppermint. I have a bit of an addiction for Lindt's Lindor White Chocolate Peppermint Truffles and this White Chocolate Candy Cane Truffle recipe from Donna Hay seemed like it would be pretty close in flavor and simple to make.

White Chocolate Candy Cane Truffles
(Makes 40-45)

1/2 cup (125ml) heavy cream
1.4 oz (40g) unsalted butter, chopped
3 1/2 cups (550g) white chocolate melts or white chocolate chips 
10 small candy canes, crushed
powdered sugar

Place the cream and butter in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and top with the hot cream mixture.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and, using a metal spoon, stir until the mixture is melted and smooth. Add the candy cane and mix to combine. Allow to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Refrigerate for 2–3 hours or until just firm.

Spread the sugar on a large baking tray. Roll teaspoonfuls of the truffle mixture into balls and roll in the sugar to coat. Place on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

Donna notes: White chocolate melts will set more firmly than regular white chocolate and are easier to melt without the mixture seizing.

Notes/Results: These are just as creamy, decadent and delicious as the store-bought ones but they are definitely more fragile. I used white chocolate chips instead of melts because I had the chips on hand and they were pretty soft, even after a couple of hours in the fridge. The powdered sugar also 'melted' off them pretty quickly when they were on the serving plate. I will try them again with candy melts at some point and see if they are a bit sturdier. I will keep them in the fridge until it's time to serve them but probably wouldn't leave them out for long. Taste-wise, they are a winner though and they went really well with a cup of Tevana's White Chocolate Peppermint Tea. I would make them again.

It's our Monthly Featured Dish/Ingredient Challenge this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and the theme is Sweet Treats--cookie, bar, or candy recipes from our current or any of our past IHCC Featured Chefs. You can see what sweet treats people made by clicking on the picture links on the post.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Inheriting Edith" by Zoe Fishman, Served with Creamy Tomato-Vodka Soup Shooters with Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

It's Tuesday and one day closer to the holiday weekend! On today's TLC Book Tour stop, I am reviewing Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman and I am pairing my review with a spin on a classic sandwich and soup combination that is perfect for a holiday party; Tomato-Vodka Soup Shooters with Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, inspired by my reading. 

Publisher's Blurb:

For years, Maggie Sheets has been an invisible hand in the glittering homes of wealthy New York City clients, scrubbing, dusting, mopping, and doing all she can to keep her head above water as a single mother. Everything changes when a former employer dies leaving Maggie a staggering inheritance. A house in Sag Harbor. The catch? It comes with an inhabitant: The deceased’s eighty-two-year old mother Edith.
Edith has Alzheimer’s—or so the doctors tell her—but she remembers exactly how her daughter Liza could light up a room, or bring dark clouds in her wake. And now Liza’s gone, by her own hand, and Edith has been left—like a chaise or strand of pearls—to a poorly dressed young woman with a toddler in tow.
Maggie and Edith are both certain this arrangement will be an utter disaster. But as summer days wane, a tenuous bond forms, and Edith, who feels the urgency of her diagnosis, shares a secret that she’s held close for five decades, launching Maggie on a mission that might just lead them each to what they are looking for.

Paperback: 320 pages  
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 18, 2016) 

My Review:

The premise of Inheriting Edith is an interesting one, especially for anyone who has dealt with loss or seeing a parent in failing health. In this case, it's different because the parent in question, is "inherited" by a single mother with a toddler, along with a life-changing opportunity and a house in upscale Sag Harbor. The opportunity for Maggie to get her daughter out of the city, have time to spend with her and not have to worry about scrambling to get by is overwhelming, but not as overwhelming as being saddled with the house's occupant--Edith, an 82-year-old curmudgeon diagnosed with Alzheimers. For Edith, it seems like yet another betrayal by her daughter, a bi-polar writer with depression, who committed suicide. Does it sound depressing so far? Surprisingly, for a novel that touches on some very difficult subjects like Alzheimers, depression, and suicide, it manages to be poignant without being maudlin and to inspire humor and hope in with the heavy realities.  

Maggie is an easy character to root for, although not always easy to understand. She has her own demons--a mother who had her own battles with depression and a father that she felt abandoned her quickly after her mother's death, remarrying and starting a new family. Being a single mother to Lucy, a precocious toddler, isn't easy and since she didn't tell Lucy's father about her, she is doing it on her own. Her friendship with Liza, an author and client of her housekeeping services has gone sour over a betrayal, so the fact that Liza leaves her an inheritance catches Maggie by surprise. The biggest part of that surprise is Edith, Liza's mother, who Maggie met only once and who didn't make a great impression. Edith is angry about a lot of things and having her house given to and taken over by Maggie and Lucy is only slightly better than the assisted living facility she will have to move into if Liza's plan doesn't work out. She is tougher to like, but easy to feel sympathy for as her disease progresses.  

Adding levity to the situation is Esther, Edith's best friend who butts in to everything, dispensing advice, humor, and help and also Lucy, who is sweet but stubborn and definitely in that terrorizing toddler stage. These characters were my favorites. It was hard to get a handle on Sam, a potential love interest for Maggie and of course Liza, whose death brings these people together. And, as you can guess from the book's synopsis above, this group does come together and begins to form their own kind of family. There may be a few triggers in the book for anyone who has dealt with Alzheimers or dementia, the failing health of parents, and depression or suicide in their lives. A couple of parts made me a bit sad, but overall, Inheriting Edith is an engaging story about friendship, love, and family that touches the heart in a positive way. Although this is my first book from Zoe Fishman, it is unlikely to be my last. 


Author Notes:  Zoe Fishman is the author of Driving Lessons, Saving Ruth, and Balancing Acts. Her books have been translated into German, Italian, Dutch and Polish. She’s the recipient of many awards, including Target’s Breakout and Emerging Author Picks, a New York Post Pick, and has been featured on NBC’s “Atlanta & Co.” as well as in Publishers Weekly and The Huffington Post. She is currently at work on her next novel, as well as teaching writing at The Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. Zoe lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons.
Find out more about Zoe at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.


Food Inspiration:

There was actually a good amount of food mentioned in Inheriting Edith, although not all was particularly inspiring. There was Liza's snack of florescent orange peanut butter crackers and diet coke, leftover Danish and soggy pasta salad, Peruvian and Chinese restaurants, Challah bread, "gelatinous casseroles and lopsided cakes," whiskey, cheese, and crackers, the thought of "tiny strawberry jam hand prints" all over, and snacks for Lucy like Graham crackers, tiny goldfish crackers, bananas and red apples, coffee, dried smears of hummus, a block of cheddar and Ritz crackers, pre-made sandwiches, bialys, cookies, peanut butter and jelly, chicken cacciatore, hotdogs, burgers and French fries, a turkey and cheese sandwich, warm bread at a restaurant, an omelet, chocolate, a gyro, prosciutto and melon, crackers and hummus, cornichons and olives, fried chicken and coleslaw, potato salad and collard greens, a tiny loaf of cornbread and peach cobbler and ice cream.  There was also a pretzel, lemon cake, scrambled eggs, Oreos, deviled eggs, mention of a party with a sushi station, champagne, bruschetta, and shrimp, waffles, scotch with ice tea, brandy, vermouth, and vodka with lemonade, hamburgers and onion rings, pancakes with syrup, pineapple slices, a seafood restaurant with lobster in butter, pizza, cake and ice cream, a bagel with cream cheese and donuts.

It was three different mentions of grilled cheese sandwiches that ended up catching my eye. It seemed to be a favorite for little Lucy--having it at home and at a restaurant with fries and Edith recalled an important phone call she got while making tomato soup and flipping a grilled cheese to go along with it. Grilled cheese, especially when paired with tomato soup, is the ultimate comfort food and something I am always in the mood for. Since I make it so often and just posted a pairing earlier this month, I wanted to change things up a bit. 

Thinking of the party that Esther's daughter gives and Edith and Maggie attend, I thought it would be fun to make an appetizer version and put the cocktail in it by adding vodka to the soup. I love a good sushi station--which Esther says her daughter Barbie has, along with the band, catering, and an open bar--"the works"--but give me a glass or cup of hot, delicious tomato soup with a bit of vodka and some mini sandwich dunkers--oozing with melty cheese and that my friends is a party!   

I am not the first to come up with tomato and vodka soup or grilled cheese croutons or mini sandwiches for parties, but below is my spin on it. I took one of my favorite quick tomato soup recipes and added a little kick from crushed red pepper and the vodka. For the sandwiches, I used little brioche rolls, with American and Munster cheese for the gooey factor, spread with butter, pressed in my Foreman grill, ends trimmed (samples for the chef) and cut in half. Although the vodka burns off in the making, leave it out of the soup for children and you have a great kids' party snack. 

Tomato-Vodka Soup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 5 cups of soup total--about 10 1/2 cup servings)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped finely
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried basil
large pinch of crushed red pepper or to taste
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup vodka
1 (28 oz) can or (750 g) box of chopped tomatoes with juices
1 cup veggie or chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk or heavy cream
sea salt and black pepper to taste
fresh basil to garnish, optional

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onion and carrot and saute for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the garlic, dried basil, crushed red pepper, and tomato paste and cook another minute or two until spices are mixed in and releasing their fragrances. Add in the vodka, de-glazing the pan with it and allow it to reduce down for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the canned tomatoes and their juices and the stock. Heat until just at a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes to reduce and blend flavors. Using an immersion blender in the pan, or a regular blender (carefully in batches), puree soup until smooth. Return to pan and stir in the coconut milk or heavy cream. Gently heat through and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot in small, wide glasses or cups (for dipping room) with mini grilled cheese sandwiches for dunking. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: You just can't argue with tomato soup and grilled cheese--it is delicious comfort food whether served full-sized or in its miniature form. This one is no exception. The soup is creamy and full of flavor--with a little flavor kick from the red pepper and vodka that makes the simple and cheesy sandwiches perfect to dip in and enjoy and enjoying. I was going to use small shot glasses but I like the wider rims of these juice glasses for optimum dunking. You could also use coffee mugs or cups (you want about 1/2 cup of soup per serving), or make your sandwiches smaller. You can make the soup ahead of time and get the sandwiches built and ready to grill before a party, leaving you to just heat up the soup and toast the sandwiches right before serving. These were both delicious and fun, I will definitely make them again.

Because this dish is both soup and sandwich, I am linking it up to this week's Souper Sundays, hosted weekly here at Kahakai Kitchen. If you aren't familiar, Souper Sundays is my weekly soup tribute that includes sandwiches, and salads and is open to anyone and everyone who wants to share a soup, salad, or sandwich post that week. You can see the details for joining in on the current weekly post here--we would love to have you!

I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Inheriting Edith" was provided to me by the publisher, Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Jacques Pépin's Brie with Pistachio Crust

We finally started getting Jacques Pépin's cooking show Heart & Soul here on PBS a few weeks ago and I have been DVRing them (and of course I had to buy the companion cookbook Heart & Soul in the Kitchen on sale, with a coupon). On the first episode I got around to watching, Chef Pépin made simple and pretty Camembert with Pistachio Crust. I love an appetizer that tastes delicious and looks fancy--but is really low-effort to make and this one fits the bill with just four ingredients, plus whatever you serve it with.

My local grocery stores didn't happen to have Camembert rounds but the brie rounds were on sale and I think it makes an excellent substitute.

Jacques says, “I have always enjoyed a good Camembert, especially the raw-milk varieties from France. To make this version a bit more elegant, I moisten the cheese with honey, cover it with chopped pistachios, and serve it garnished with dried cranberries.

Camemebert with Pistachio Crust 
Adapted from Jacques Pépin
(Serves 4-6) 
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
1 Camembert cheese round (about 9oz) (I used an 8oz round of Brie)

1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup dried cranberries

crackers, for serving

Process the nuts in a food processor until pulverized but not ground into a powder—small pieces of nuts should still be visible.

Unwrap the cheese. If you object to the crust, you can scrape it lightly; I leave it on. Brush the top and sides of the cheese with the honey. Sprinkle a layer of nuts on top of the Camembert and, holding the cheese round in one hand, pat more nuts around the sides with the other hand, pressing lightly on the nuts so they stick.

Put the remaining nuts in the center of a serving platter and place the cheese on top. Sprinkle the cranberries around the cheese and serve at room temperature, with crackers.

Notes/Results: The combination of the creamy cheese, with the toasted nuts, tangy cranberries and sweet honey is delicious. This is a quick and easy dish to put together although I had a challenge getting the ground nuts to stick well to the sides of the cheese wheel--not sure if my honey was too runny to coat thickly but I did try Pépin's "hold the honey-brushed brie on one hand and turn it while patting the nuts on" method. Oh well, I think it still looked pretty. I served it with cracked pepper table water crackers--I like the little bite they give. This makes a great replacement or addition to a cheese plate and you could use any combination of dried fruit and nuts. I will make it again.

This simple appetizer is linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs. It's Potluck week, the chance to make any recipe from the current or past IHCC featured chefs. You can see what chefs and recipes everyone chose to cook from by checking out the picture links on the post.

Mele Kalikimaka,