alexandra alger


Archive for the tag “Food and Wine”

Instead of Hay, Make Gravlax

Here we are, in the second week of January, and even as I have now cleared out the tree, put away the decorations, chunked the left-over chocolate roll and candy-canes, I’m still stuck in holiday mode. All I can think about are recipes and online shopping. I’ve now scanned resort wear on the Bergdorf Goodman site at least twice. This is a disturbing trend for someone who doesn’t ordinarily like to shop. I’ve also bought things that are easy to put off, because they’re boring and no one really cares about them.Wash clothes, for instance. I found time to buy two white wash clothes (on sale!). And a pillow, for my side of the bed, because my current one’s been deflating for a while.

I know what I’m really doing. You do, too, I’m sure. Procrastinating. Putting off getting back to finishing the first draft of my new MG book. (Only first draft, and I’m deep into second- and third-draft-quality procrastination.)

By now I’m getting so annoyed with myself that I know I will (soon, very) get back to work. After I make gravlax.

Homemade gravlax. The preparing of it is a sort of antidote to procrastination; your energy goes into looking forward, into anticipation, because gravlax needs three days to cure in the fridge. I made it for Christmas lunch; couldn’t believe how easy and utterly delicious it was.


I made this batch from a recipe in the December issue of Food and Wine: Pink Peppercorn and Fennel Gravlax (I’d type it out here if it weren’t readily available on

Whoa, Nelly—my eyes did a double take. Pink Peppercorns? Well, doesn’t that sound pretty, I thought. I know, I’m showing my less-than-foodie-level knowledge of spices. I also needed fennel pollen. In the pre-internet days, I would’ve had to search far and wide for such exotic items, but no longer. Within two days, thanks to amazon, I had them.

The basics: You buy a nice piece of salmon fillet, envelope it in spices, salt, sugar and sprigs of dill, wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap, and let it cure in the fridge, weighted down, for three days. There a few other steps, tiny ones; and that’s it. Those Scandinavians are brilliant! And you will be, too. Find the recipe, if you can get all the ingredients together by Wednesday, you can be gorging on gravlax this weekend. Let me know if you are anything but delighted by the results.

Pumpkin Tiramisu

IMG_1391It doesn’t look as tasty in my Pyrex dish as it would in an elegant trifle dish, but this Pumpkin Tiramisu from  Food and Wine magazine’s Thanksgiving issue is a winner. It’s nearly as easy as pumpkin pie–easier, for those who don’t want to bake. I served to this to my book group, and nearly every woman wanted the recipe.

Pumpkin Tiramisu

45 min.; overnight chilling.

Serves 12

One 15-oz. can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup light brown sugar

3/4 tsp. ground ginger

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Pinch of fresh nutmeg

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1.5 cups mascarpone cheese

2.5 cups heavy cream

2 cups brewed coffee, cooled

Two 7-oz. packages of dry ladyfingers

Chocolate shavings and candied ginger, for garnish

1. In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree with the brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar. Add the mascarpone and 1.5 cups of the heavy cream. Using an electric mixer, beat the pumpkin mixture at medium speed until soft peaks form; do no over-beat (getting to soft peaks too some time, more than I expected).

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the cooled coffee with 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar until it dissolves. Dip both sides of six ladyfingers in the coffee and arrange them a single layer in a 4-quart trifle dish. Spread 1 cup of the pumpkin mousse on top. Repeat the layering 5 more times, ending with a layer of the pumpkin mousse. Cover and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.

3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 cup of cream with the remaining  2 tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form. Dollop the whipped cream over the tiramisu, garnish with shaved chocolate and candied ginger and serve.

The tiramisu can be refrigerated for 2 days.

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