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DIY Gift Wrap PaperBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

At this time of year, Special Fork goes on a holiday hiatus and we leave you with a food-related craft idea.

This year, we’re making gift wrap paper from throwaway items and potatoes.

I don’t know about you, but I buy a lot from Amazon these days, and while I love the convenience of armchair shopping, I hate the waste that comes with the cartons and brown paper that accompany each shipment.

I have tried to be creative to use some of the cartons as toys—I made a house for my granddaughter with a large one, and a train engine that she could “drive.” Next, I plan to make a puppet theater. I haven’t been able to upcycle more than that. Continue Reading »

Brandied Dried Plums with Orange Zest

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

When I was 24 and living in New York City, my friend Ruth gave me a jar of rumtopf at Christmas. I had never tasted anything so delightfully ambrosial and I asked for the recipe.

Rumtopf is a German way of preserving fresh fruit with sugar and rum that macerates over months. When I tried it, my fruit spoiled and I was so disappointed, I never made it again. It wasn’t the recipe—I was an inexperienced cook and I surely did something wrong.

Still, fruit and alcohol go well together for the holidays, and this Christmas, looking for an easy hostess gift, I thought about another boozy combination: dried plums and brandy. When I worked for the PR agency that represented the California Dried Plum Board years ago, we developed several recipes that combined dried plums with Armagnac, a classic French pairing. Continue Reading »

Faux Pho with Thanksgiving Turkey

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

What did you do with the Thanksgiving turkey carcass? If you still have yours, try what I did: make delicious faux pho. But you have to make this noodle soup today.

According to USDA, avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, to be exact).

I call this “faux” pho because it takes all sorts of liberties atypical of the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup, using turkey instead of beef or chicken, skipping the charring of onions and ginger, and ending up without the characteristic, clear broth. Continue Reading »

Getting Ready for T-Day

Thanksgiving ideasBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I love hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Steve is finished with most of the food shopping and I’ve completed some of my early prep—making pie dough, baking cornbread, and cubing white bread for the stuffing, according to my Thanksgiving game plan. We’re in good shape. Continue Reading »

Roasted Cranberry Chutney

Roasted Cranberry Chutney

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

As a child, cranberry sauce was my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Slithered from the can and sliced, glistening jewellike and with a sweet-tartness, it added just the right deliciousness to the big feast.

I didn’t realize people actually made fresh cranberry sauce from scratch until I moved to New York City after college and began a new Thanksgiving tradition, enjoying potlucks with other “orphans.” It was a revelation.

Through the years, I’ve made many a bowl of fresh cranberry sauce, often just following the quick and easy package recipe and adding some orange zest. Then about ten years ago, I found a recipe for roasted cranberry sauce in Saveur magazine and I have been making it faithfully. Roasting seems to intensify the cranberry flavors beautifully. Continue Reading »

Sandwich for dinner

Fig and Arugula PaniniBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

After Halloween, the excitement begins, as I anticipate the upcoming holidays and all the cooking and baking ahead, from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

I start planning my menus, making grocery lists and thinking about table centerpieces. I also plan on quick meals for those days when holiday preparations make everyday cooking a distraction.

I asked Dave recently what he makes for his family for dinner when he’s busy juggling work life and activities surrounding two young children. His go-to supper turns out to be flatbread panini sandwiches. Continue Reading »

Thanksgiving PrepBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving yet? I’m starting to look through recipes to decide what to make. I’m also thinking about how to decorate my Thanksgiving table.

I’ve started gathering Indian corn, gourds and small pumpkins from the farmers’ market for a centerpiece. As much as possible, I like to use fall produce that can be eaten later, rather than just serve as table decorations, so as time gets closer, I will add pomegranates and persimmons to my shopping list, and just before Thanksgiving, I’ll pick up some grapes.

I like to determine in advance, who will sit where for the big feast, trying to mix up the guests and keeping in mind which people will be most compatible sitting through a long dinner together. I work out the seating by drawing a rectangle to represent the table and begin marking on my “table,” who will sit where. It usually takes several tries before I come up with the seating arrangement that I think will work best, to keep everyone happy and engaged. Continue Reading »

A Quick Halloween Supper

Mummies on the Loose

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

If you expect your ghosts, princesses and superheroes to be champing at the bit to go trick-or-treating on Halloween, plan on a simple supper by making hot dog mummies. Accompany with some vegetable sticks or a handful of cherry tomatoes and call it a meal.

These mummies are easy to make using frozen puff pastry and hot dogs. While the recipe is for six mummies, make fewer or more, as you like.

Leftover, defrosted puff pastry can be refrozen if you don’t need all of it to wrap the mummies. Keep the second sheet in its wrapper, in the refrigerator, on hold. If you don’t’ use it, freeze immediately for another time. Here are some ways to use frozen puff pastry. Continue Reading »

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