Winter Entertaining with Hygge-Inspired Recipes
This shoot was styled in a manner to evoke the coziest and most comforting feelings brought about by gathering around warm delicacies on chilly winter days. In the short days of winter when the light is at low but strong angles, a naturally dramatic lighting occurs. The way the sunlight reflects off of antique copper and intensifies the shadows upon the ridges of a flaky biscuit provided a depth and dimension that added to the wintery hygge sensation we hoped to capture.
Just as shadows are nothing without light to contrast against, the foods prepared meld saltiness with sweet molasses, a soft creaminess to floury flakiness and piquant spices with creamy, savory cheeses, served alongside a dark chocolate Stout.
Still Life with Cheese
Limburger on the little board, boobie shape is Tetilla (bitter, buttery, mild, tangy), big cheese in the back is Colston Basset Stilton (smooth and creamy, rich, deep and complex) and whole cheese on the plate is Pecorino alla Camomilla.
*Cheese behind the poached pear in the other photos is Casatica di Bufala (bloomy rind, rich and creamy) with Limburger on top.
Far left: Limburger - hints at sweetness, but the taste is predominantly spicy and aromatic.
On the longer board with cut cheese starting from the left:
Isle of Mull - Cheddar, very sharp, fruity tang
Pecorino alla Camomilla - creamy, smooth, aromatic, floral
Cremeux des Citeaux Truffle - fresh cream and butter with pleasant mushroomy notes
La Fleure Bleue- ash coated, goat's milk blue cheese
Editor's Note: If these beautiful cheeses are a bit intimidating, ask your local deli market (like Whole Foods) for their suggestions of what will be best for your party and what is in season in your area.
Red Wine Poached Pears
4 cups red wine (I use an inexpensive, medium-dry wine)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 cup orange juice
Peels from 1 orange
2 cinnamon sticks
3 Star Anise
6 Juniper Berries
6 firm but ripe pears, peeled, stems left intact (or just peeled)
Combine everything, save for the pears, in a large, heavy saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer. Add pears, and bring everything back up to a simmer.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer slowly until pears are tender when pierced with knife, about 25 minutes. (But start checking at 20 minutes! Depending on the ripeness of your pears, this could take slightly less or more time.)
Transfer pears to a plate or platter. Boil liquid in saucepan until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead -- just cover and chill pears in the poaching liquid) Take one cup of the poaching liquid and reduce it down into syrup to use for drizzling when you serve.
Nancy Silverton's All Butter Biscuits
(makes 12 large biscuits)
5 sticks unsalted butter, frozen
5 cups (1 lb, 7 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups buttermilk, chilled
Flaky sea salt
Either working with a box grater over a large bowl or using the large grating blade of a food processor, quickly grate the frozen sticks of butter and then freeze the butter for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, salt, sugar, and baking soda, and freeze the dry ingredients for the same amount of time as the butter.
Scrape the frozen butter into the dry ingredients and toss briefly to combine. Pour in the buttermilk and stir just until it forms solid dough. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and, using your hands, mold the dough into a 10-by-7-inch rectangle. Fold the rectangle in thirds like a letter and then rotate 90 degrees. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough again into a 10-by-7-inch rectangle. Repeat the folding, turning, and rolling process 3 more times, ending with the dough shaped into a 12-by-10-inch rectangle about 1⁄2 inch thick. Trim the edges so you have a sharp, clean rectangle and then cut this rectangle into 12 equal squares. Space the biscuits at least 3 inches apart on 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets and freeze for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
Heat the oven to 425°. Brush each biscuit with some melted butter and then sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 1 sheet of biscuits for 10 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 400°, rotate the baking sheet, and bake the biscuits until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscuits to a rack and repeat to bake the second sheet of biscuits. Let the biscuits cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Molasses Caramel Sauce
(makes 2 cups)
2 Cups Sugar
¼ Cup molasses
½ Cup Cream
¼ tsp. Kosher Salt
1 Oz. Butter
1/3 Cup Sour Cream
In small pan moisten sugar and cook until deep amber in color. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until the salt is dissolved. Stir the cream mixture well to combine the salt and butter. Quickly whisk cream mixture into the caramel, being careful not to scrape the sides of the pan. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, then pour into a container without scraping the sides of the pan. Watch out it will be hot!
Maple Whipped Cream
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 T. Maple Syrup
Whip cream until billowy. Add maple syrup and whip until it holds a peak. Not too stiff. You still want a smooth and soft texture.
To Assemble Dessert:
Split a cooled biscuit and place on serving plate. Scoop an oversized scoop of the maple whipped cream in the center. Place the top half of the biscuit on and press lightly. Pour warm caramel sauce over just before serving. Top with a few flakes of Maldon Flake Sea Salt. Voila!