Goat Cheese-stuffed Phyllo Triangles with Hot Honey Drizzle

These crisp and buttery phyllo triangles are stuffed with tart, creamy goat cheese, smokey mozzarella and a little bit of fresh peach. Serve them warm and drizzled with our addictive sweet and spicy honey. These are perfect for as finger food for a party or as a plated appetizer.

Dumpling-Flavored Sausage Rolls

Dumpling-style Sausage Rolls
Dumpling-style Sausage Rolls

Here’s the story behind these dumpling-flavored sausage rolls. We had friends over at Christmas, and while serving up a plate of pigs-in-a-blanket, my friend pointed to them and said “Hey, what do you British call those? Isn’t there a crazy, funny name you have for those?” I was momentarily nonplussed as, a) we usually DO have a crazy, funny name for things, but b) I had no idea what else we might call them, having been out of the country, and therefore the loop, for about twenty years. (“Her Majesty’s Tiniest Corgis”? “Cheeky Blinders”? Answers on a postcard, please.)

A brief research session reminded me that Brits traditionally reserve the term “pigs in blankets” for small, un-cased sausages (which we call chipolatas) wrapped in bacon, not puff pastry, and that they’re a Christmas staple. (I then asked both my siblings to confirm this and they went straight for the sausage-in-pastry option instead, which, honestly, helps NOBODY.)

But while this post is about sausages in puff pastry, we’re not making pigs in blankets. We’re making sausage rolls. And we’re making them dumpling-flavored – seasoned with ginger, garlic, scallions and chili. Buckle up! 

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Roasted Beets and Whipped Feta Tart

Roasted Beet and Whipped Feta Tart

Roasted Beet and Whipped Feta Tart

This simple, elegant tart has a layer of creamy whipped feta cheese topped with lightly marinated roasted beets. A puff pastry shell makes it a breeze to prepare, while a scattering of fresh mint and crunchy pistachios adds crunch and freshness. 

We’ve been finishing up a few projects here at Nerds with Knives, which is why you might not have seen a new post from us for (checks watch) six to eight weeks. One of those projects is, we’re thrilled to announce, our new cookbook, Cork and Knife, which will be published in six days! You can follow the link to read all about it and pre-order. Please check it out!

In the meantime, our summer garden has been producing some delicious harvests, and this week we’d like to talk about our beets (that’s beetroots to you in the U.K.). There’s a reason why beet and goat cheese salads have been ubiquitous on menus for as long as we’ve had menus to peruse: it’s a fantastic combination. But like any classic pairing, the devil is in the details. I adore beets, but they often need a little coaxing to bring out their best flavor. They are referred to as having an “earthy” flavor by those who love them, and “like dirt” by those who don’t. That earthiness, which is found in many root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, is produced by a compound called geosmin.

(Nerd note: geosmin is also found in one of my favorite scents, and favorite words, petrichor – the smell of the earth when it just starts to rain.) Acids break down geosmin, which is why beets are often paired with a tart vinaigrette. Tart cheeses, like chèvre, feta and some blues are a tasty foil to that sweet earthiness. 

Beets_Chioggia
Chioggia beets minutes after being pulled from the garden.

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Ultra-Smooth Hummus with Miso and Charred Scallions

 Miso Hummus with Charred Scallions

We’ve been dreaming about Michael Solomonov’s hummus recipe (from his incredible cookbook  Zahav), since we first made it in 2015. You might remember hearing about it because it was one of those recipes that was everywhere, at least in the food blog world. It seemed like everyone and their cousin Sally was making it, raving about it and blogging it. Well, ever on the cutting edge, we’ve finally come up with our take on it and not a moment too soon. 

We give our version a twist with the addition of white (shiro) miso, which is one of our all-time favorite ingredients and something we have permanently in stock. Miso has a deeply nutty, slightly fermented saltiness and a hint of sweetness that is just delicious, especially when paired with something tart, like lemon. Along with the (also nutty) tahini, it adds a layer of flavor that hits just the right note.

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Everything-Seasoned Gougères with Scallion-Cream Cheese Filling

Everything-seasoned Gougeres

Just like in Seinfeld’s “The Muffin Tops” where Elaine sets out to prove that nobody really wants to eat a whole muffin, we’re largely in the camp that believes that nobody really wants to eat a whole bagel. And judging by the range of “bagel-light” hybrids (flagel, crogel, and the like), we’re not alone. Bagels are big. They’re doughy. And even though they’re inevitably filled with something delicious, you still have to bite through an inch of starch to get to the stuff inside. In our opinion, the crust flavor and the filling are the selling points of a bagel. If we can get those flavors in something more delicate, let’s do it. So we turned to the airy cheese puffs known as gougères to see if they could replace our morning favorite.

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Ultimate English Toffee

We couldn’t let Christmas come and go without reposting this. It’s one of our earliest posts, but one of our very favorite recipes and something we make every single year for family parties. It just may be the toffee of your (my) dreams and while I may be indulging in a tiny bit of hyperbole, once you try it, you’ll know that I might be dramatic, but I am not a liar. In the past, I proclaimed this Salted Caramel Sauce the best thing ever and I stand by that. It’s just that there’s room on the pedestal for that sauce’s cousin from across the pond, real English toffee.  

FACT: This toffee is so good, it caused this face from Loki, this one from Arya, and best of all, this one from Matt. Okay, nerd business done.

While other toffee types are available, this toffee is hard and brittle, and thin enough that you won’t need a tiny hammer to break it up.

Why This Toffee Works

I’ve made a lot of toffee recipes over the years and this one is by far the tastiest and the easiest. It not only has a really nice balance of sweet and salty but a clever secret. The addition of a very small amount of corn syrup pretty much eliminates the danger of the sugar crystallizing (this has happened to us a few times, and can be a real bummer). This problem is caused when the sugar crystals start a chain reaction of crystallization (the process of sugar particles clinging together) which makes the mixture grainy. Once it happens there’s not much you can do about it, but there are a few things that will help prevent it from starting.

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