Our Editors’ Favorite Dishes of 2015

With over 250 events held annually around the country, each year of JBF programming takes the pulse of our national culinary scene. Our favorite dishes of 2015 represent the nibbles ne plus ultra that spiked our collective heart rate. From trendy hors d’oeuvre (an avocado toast par excellence) to hearty mains (a pepper-packed Lone Star State brisket) to genre-bending desserts (sweet English peas and chocolate), the past year proved to be one of unexpected delights, comforting classics, and most of all, ample evidence that American cooking is very much alive and well. Read on for our full list of this year’s standouts.

 

 

Avocado with Toasted Pumpernickel, Smoked Whitefish, and Pink Peppercorns

 

Alon Shaya, Shaya, New Orleans (served at the Beard House)

 

If 2014 wa... Read more >

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Party Tips from Beard House Pros

 

If you’ve ever been to dinner at the James Beard House, or any other JBF event like the Beard Awards, Chefs’ Night Out, Chefs & Champagne, or our annual Gala, you know that our staffers can throw a good party. Here are some of their tried-and-true rules for hosting a Beard–caliber event at home. 

 

THE DRINKS

“If you’re serving cocktails, make a batch just before the first guests come. You don’t want to start the night with a bunch of people waiting for a drink.” —Yvon Ros, Director of Sponsorship and Special Events

 

“Don’t skimp on the beverages. Buy artisanal sodas for people who aren’t drinking, and choose some local wines, unique beers, and sparkling wines—put on a big drink spread.” —Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming

 

“When thinking about quantity, plan on three drinks per person over the course of an evening to make sure you have enough.” —Siobhan Flaherty Haber, Manager of Greens... Read more >

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Recipe Roundup: Seafood Stews

 

Every year on Christmas Eve, Italians around the world gather at the table for an elaborate seafood dinner called the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Though the meal often includes a parade of classic dishes like salt cod (baccalà), seafood salad (insalata di mare), fried smelts, and spaghetti with clam sauce, a simpler menu could feature cold, briny oysters on the half-shell followed by a boldly seasoned seafood stew of any provenance. The beauty of the dish is its versatility: just add green olives and cumin for a Moroccan-style dish, potatoes and chorizo for Portuguese flavors, coconut milk and cilantro for a taste of the Caribbean, or, of course, tomatoes and red wine for a more traditional Italian dish.

 

Cioppino

... Read more >

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On This Day in JBF History: JBF Award Winner Maricel Presilla's Caribbean Christmas

 

Over its nearly three decades of existence, the James Beard Foundation has charted the ever-evolving progress of American cooking through the chefs it has welcomed to the Beard House kitchen and our national events. Menus and themes reveal the trends of yesteryear, the hot-button items (lava cake, endless truffles, fusion cuisine) that provide culinary carbon-dating. In our ongoing series, “On this Day in JBF History,” we fire up the DeLorean and spin the clock back to platings past, to note the tired tropes and the dishes we still find ourselves hungry for.

 

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On December 15, 1994, JBF Award winner Maricel Presilla presented a special Caribbean Christmas dinner to Beard House diners. The multiple nominee wouldn't claim her first medallion until 18 years later, but even in 1994 Presilla was an accomplished author, academic, television host, and chef. Now overseeing restaurants Cucharamama, Ultramarinos, and... Read more >

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Eat This Word: Mostarda

 

WHAT? Pungent preserves. No, mostarda is not the Italian word for mustard. Though the words sound similar, this sweet-and-spicy condiment is only distantly related to the hot dog's favorite sidekick. To make mostarda, fruit is preserved in sugary syrup and given a slight kick with the addition of mustard seeds or powder. According to food writer Elizabeth David, this jam-like spread is a descendant of "the honey, mustard, oil, and vinegar condiments of the Romans, who also preserved roots such as turnips in this mixture." Cherries, figs, pears, and apricots are the most common ingredients in mostarda, but different variations include candied melon, pumpkin, or oranges. The piquant fruit accompaniment is enjoyed with boiled white meats or cheeses throughout Northern Italy. The most famous and popular variation is from Cremona, a small town in Lombardy, and includes pears, quince, peaches, cherries, and mandarins.

 ... Read more >

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Recipe Roundup: Pasta

 

Reinvent pasta night with a bowl of one of these impressive but easy-to-make carb-laden entrées.

 

Crab Carbonara with Meyer Lemon, Black Pepper, and Parsley

Dungeness crabmeat and a squeeze of Meyer lemon juice give the classic carbonara company-worthy panache.

 

Pappardelle with Duck and Juniper Ragù

Red wine, brandy, and citrus zest intensify this rich, hearty winter dish.

 

... Read more >

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James Beard on Keeping Christmas Simple

 

‘Tis the season! The season of James Beard’s favorite foods, that is—the country hams cut into salty slivers, the piping hot oyster stews with plenty of hot buttered toast, the Champagne sipped with a connoisseur’s glee, the caviar he couldn’t get enough of, the homemade pates, the plum puddings, the mincemeat, and, yes, even the fruitcakes. Bits and pieces of Beard’s childhood always emerged at their warmest and most expansive in his writings about the Christmas holidays, but another theme also ran through and true—simplicity. For as much as Beard loved life in the larger-than-life lane that corresponded with his physical scale and theatrical impulses, deep down he never lost sight of the fact that less is genuinely more. Simple flavors. Simple recipes. Simple cooking. In these excerpts from Beard on Food and the December 1994 issue of Beard House magazine, the recurring theme is simplicity. Read on for our namesake's tips for holiday gatherings that require less effort and yield greater reward.... Read more >

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What We're Reading This Week

 

Twelve of the best bark and brittle recipes for twelve sweet days of Christmas crunch. [Bon Appétit]

 

From Per Se to Sadelle’s, Melissa Weller details her rise to bagel stardom. [Lucky Peach]

 

The latest design craze for millennials? The micro-kitchen. [NYT]

 

A potential holiday nightmare for Canadian chefs has been averted, thanks to a 4,000 ton shipment of emergency butter to ease the shortage. [MUNCHIES

 

A new app is bringing farmers’ stories to life on Nevada grocery store shelves. [... Read more >

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Happy Hour: Cardamom Old Fashioned

 

A subtle riff on the classic Old Fashioned, this version—a staple of senior editor Elena North-Kelly’s cocktail repertoire—uses maple syrup in lieu of standard sugar, while handmade cardamom bitters step in for the more traditional Angostura variety, creating a warm, fragrant antidote to cold-weather doldrums. Get the recipe here. 

 

Elena North-Kelly is senior editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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On the Menu: Week of December 14

 

Here’s what’s coming up at the James Beard House and around the country:

 

Monday, December 14, 7:00 P.M.

Holiday Decadence, Food, and Wine

The 404 Kitchen proves you can’t judge a book by its cover: the Music City restaurant resides in a shipping container, yet has garnered accolades including a JBF Award semifinalist nod. Join us as chef Matt Bolus, an alum of Charleston’s FIG, brings his celebrated European-inflected fare to the Beard House for an evening of holiday indulgence.

 

Tuesday, December 15, 7:00 P.M.

Italian Seafood Celebration

Join us when chef Ryan DePersio returns to the Beard House with vibrant Italian cuisine from the newest ad... Read more >

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