Grazing. I love the concept of grazing, eating small bites of this and that, teasing my palate with salty, then sweet, then spicy, rather than one large dish. That's the theory behind tapas, the wonderful little dishes of Spain. As an appetizer or part of a grazing menu, or even a small lunch with a green salad, these polenta mini pizzas would be perfect. You can top the pizzas with absolutely anything -- bits of leftovers from the fridge, smoked salmon or proscuitto or sausage, vegetables from the garden, any type of cheese -- and you can make them ahead and reheat just before serving. And the best part? They look rustic and a little bit fancy, at the same time.
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First of all, I know. I know that real Irish soda bread doesn't have raisins, because my friend Lucia, who grew up in Ireland, told me so. I'm writing this while Lucia is visiting her parents, in Ireland, and believe me, the bread is so good that it will be all gone by the time she gets back. White whole wheat flour makes this loaf a bit more crumbly than white flour soda bread, and golden raisins make it sweeter. (You could substitute the more traditional caraway seeds for the raisins.) Nothing tops the flavor of real butter melting on warm bread fresh from the oven; if you're having guests for weekend brunch, treat them to a slice of this Irish soda bread with coffee or tea. It's a lovely way to start the week.
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Chelsea, Alex and I dubbed these waffle brownies when we took our first bites during Wafflepalooza, and I promise that when you taste these chocolate chocolate chip waffles, you'll understand. I'm a coffee-with-waffles girl, as a rule, but these waffles beg for a glass of cold milk, just like the very best brownies. For all the chocolate chips and cocoa powder, the waffles aren't as dense as you'd expect. In fact, they're almost fluffy. In our house, these are "special occasion" breakfast waffles, the kind my husband Ted might make on Christmas morning. They also make a fine (and fun) dessert, with a drizzle of raspberry sauce on top. You can make them ahead, freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan, then pack into ziploc bags; to serve, simply pop them in the toaster.
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Fun with sweet potatoes, all week.
If you're keeping count, these rosemary-parmesan sweet potato waffles are the fourth of the five waffle variations Chelsea, Alex and I made during Wafflepalooza. Though we paloozed way back in August, we all agreed these waffles would be perfect right now, in sweet potato season, and I can't tell you how difficult it's been to keep the recipe to myself for three months. Despite last week's freakishly-early New England snow, I still have rosemary growing in my herb garden; if you don't have access to fresh rosemary, substitute any of the Simon and Garfunkel herbs -- parsley, sage or thyme. Remember, you can freeze waffles, and reheat by popping them in the toaster.
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