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The Unexpected Holiday Flavor You're About to See Everywhere

The Unexpected Holiday Flavor You're About to See Everywhere

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Move over, gingerbread and peppermint. This year, pine is on the menu.

I rolled my eyes when I read about Christmas-tree flavored potato chips. But then king-of-all-influencers Starbucks announced its latest seasonal offering, the juniper latte, and I thought, hold the phone. While Twitter buzzed over its similarity to car air fresheners and certain household cleansers, I started to feel there was something more to this flavor than meets the eye—er, tongue.

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Kara Nielsen, vice president of trends & marketing for CCD Helmsman, a food innovation company based in San Francisco, agrees with me. “This trend has some deeper roots than it might seem to the casual observer,” she says. Juniper is central to Nordic cuisine, which has been growing in popularity since Denmark’s award-winning restaurant Noma started collecting accolades, around 2010. One of the hallmarks of New Nordic is hyper-local ingredients, Nielsen explains, including juniper berries, which are often used in spice blends for cured salmon. There are also a lot of flavors from things that aren’t traditionally seen as food, such as pine, fir, and hay, which is used for smoking foods or serving them.

Local is relative, which is why the alpine trend is coming from alpine areas. In Alaska, it’s not uncommon to forage for spruce tips, the small, citrusy buds of pines, and use them foreverything from tea to beer. Juniper is no stranger to the cocktail world, being the defining flavor in most gins, and the rise of artisanal and craft botanical spirits may have helped fuel our taste for herbal things. An Oregon company, Townshend’s Distillery, found that a specialty liqueur it started making in 2016, Bluebird Alpine Liqueur (inspired by the herbaceous Czech spirit Becherovka), has been catching on outside Portland. And of course, Starbucks HQ is in fir-covered Seattle.

“Herbs are plants, and using plants that grow nearby is a traditional way cultures use flavor,” Nielsen says. Plus, she points out, “So much of flavor is aromatics. This is another experiential sensory avenue.”

But will pine-flavored foods and drinks last beyond one festive season? It might be tough to overcome the Christmas tree associations, but the taste of juniper is actually refreshingly citrus-y, not overwhelmingly pungent. Certainly, it’s versatile enough to use, and enjoy, year-round. Just not in chips.

Bake Cookies With These Unexpected Ingredients

When looking to indulge your sweet tooth, there are few things better than a batch of delicious cookies. Some of the most popular cookies include chocolate chip cookies, holiday cookies and the iconic boxes of cookies sold by Girl Scouts, but there is so much that even the amateur baker can do with their next batch, including adding these unorthodox and unexpected ingredients that actually taste great.

Plant-Based Foods

Plant-based items continue to be a trend into 2021, as 28 percent of people said that they have been eating more protein from plant sources during the pandemic, according to IFIC. More people will be flirting with veganism, but others will just be eating things that taste good and happen to be vegan. Expect the usual suspects to be rolling out even more innovations, especially at fast-food restaurants, but some forecasters predict newer things like plant-based "fish" are also going to be big on the horizon.

3 Easy and Delicious Recipes for the Perfect Spring Picnic

It&aposs springtime, y&aposall! Let&aposs ditch the dining room table and head outdoors. What better way to celebrate sunny skies and blooming hydrangeas than a spring picnic? Rest assured it doesn&apost have to be an all-day preparation in fact, we&aposre giving you a hassle-free guarantee with three easy, make-ahead recipes that are sure to become your new favorite picnic food. We suggest three courses for a picture-perfect outing, so grab your go-to wicker basket, a soft blanket, and whip up these delicious ideas.

There&aposs one essential question to ask when planning an open-air feast: Is this recipe easy-to-transport? Save your dreams of duck confit and creme brulພ for another day transportability is key where Southern picnic recipes are concerned. Grilled chicken pitas are a refreshing twist on the typical picnic sandwich. Marinated in fresh garlic, oregano, and lemon zest, juicy grilled chicken is tucked into warm pita pockets that are easy to wrap in parchment paper and pop in a picnic basket.

Enjoy the fresh flavors of the season with this refreshingly light recipe. It wouldn&apost be a true Southern picnic without field peas and corn on the menu. This tasty salad comes together in less than 15 minutes with a handful of easy-to-find ingredients (we suggest stopping by your local farmers&apos market to get the goodies). Enriched with bacon and tossed in an herb sauce, it&aposll take your outdoor meal to the next level. 

We always save room for dessert. Imagine the best makings of granola bars and peanut butter cookies joining forces, and you&aposd have a Peanut Butter Finger. This dish combines dark chocolate and rolled oats into one velvety, bite-sized snack. This sweet treat is the ideal recipe to make days in advance of your picnic party. Peanut Butter Fingers freeze beautifully whip them up a few days before your outing and grab and go when you&aposre ready.

Give these spring recipes a try to minimize pre-picnic prep without sacrificing any flavor. You&aposre just a few easy steps away from enjoying a memorable meal on a beautiful day.

The 12 Food Trends You're Going To See Everywhere In 2020

Though no one could have predicted 2019's chicken sandwich showdown, every year we like to gather 'round the proverbial office water cooler (read: an internal slack channel called Delish Pizza Lounge) and guess what food trends the coming year holds. Here's what was see in our crystal ball at the start of this new decade.

Pea Protein

As the worlds of meal-worthy smoothies and plant-based lifestyles collide, you're going to see pea protein offered up in place of powders like whey and collagen, both of which are derived from animal sources. But the concept of peas as protein source doesn't stop there. More and more brands will take a cue from trendsetters like Beyond Meat and add the protein powerhouse to faux meat alternatives and vegan cheeses.

Low-Alcohol Beverages

According to Nielsen data, 66% of millennials are making efforts to reduce their alcohol consumption. Some say the "youth" is drinking less because they're smoking more (the phenomenon's been dubbed Cali sober). Others chalk up the decline in boozy nights to a rise in Goop-y lifestyles. Regardless, beverage brands are leaning in. New companies offer alcohol-free tipples that look pretty enough to pour in a glass and still feel fancy. Interested? Try a bottle from Seedlip, Kin Euphorics, or Curious Elixirs.


Can we let you in on a little industry secret? All it really takes to make (or break a trend) is for a storied media outlet to weigh in. (You do remember last summer's Aperol spritz drama, don't you?) We're not yet sure why, exactly, the Wall Street Journal thinks lasagna will blow up in 2020. But because they said so, well, we wouldn't be surprised to see it happen. It all seems a little like bringing sexy back (has it been long enough that even JT can admit sexy hadn't actually gone anywhere?), considering we've already got 88 lasagna recipes on this very site&mdashbut consider our interest peaked. Food brands are clearly already caching on, too: Banza (makers of our favorite chickpea pasta) recently released their first-ever lasagna noodles.

Green Goddess Quinoa Summer Salad

courtesy of pinch of yum

Meal preppers, this one’s for you. Pinch of Yum ’s quinoa salad takes just 20 minutes start to finish and makes good use of that farmers’ market haul.

7 Holi Recipes to Celebrate the Coming of Spring

For a lot of food people, spring means the emergence of green garlic, ramps, or curlicued fiddlehead ferns at the farmers’ market. For me it doesn’t feel like spring until it’s Holi.

Known as the celebration of colors, spring, and love, Holi has long been a favorite holiday, a time to welcome in a new season and spread some joy. Traditions vary across the Hindu diaspora, but a centerpiece of Holi, which falls on March 28 and 29 this year, is the game of colors. When there isn’t a global pandemic, people gather in the streets, parks, and other outdoor spaces to play, smearing colored powder or water on each other. It’s a symbolic act of repairing broken relationships (and creating new ones) or marking the victory of good over evil. And it’s pure, messy fun.

Chef Preeti Mistry is known to throw a banging Holi party.

As a kid I was terrified of Holi games (I was shy!), but as an adult I’ve considered it an occasion to get to know my wider community. I’ve helped organize Holi dance shows, food drives, and children’s events, ordering boatloads of chaat, making blenders full of lassi, and filling hundreds of balloons with colored water. I love playing a role in something that brings people together, which is why, for years, I dreamed of going to one Holi event in particular: chef Preeti Mistry’s blowout bash in Oakland, California. Their Holi celebration commemorated the anniversary of their acclaimed restaurant Juhu Beach Club with stuffed puris, fun drinks, and an all-out game of colors. Mistry’s Holi party was beloved by the community. “As a queer-owned business, we basically co-opted the word love,” jokes Mistry. “Love wins. Love is love. It’s ours. So we get the festival of love.”

When Mistry closed the restaurant in 2018, I thought I lost my chance to try the menu specials they rolled out each year for the holiday. Then the idea for this story came about. With so many people stuck at home this year, we asked Mistry to create a vibrant, springy, veg-forward Holi menu that feels festive and can be flexible to feed however many people you’re able to celebrate with. “Holi is not conducive to a sit-down, coursed meal or a buffet—it’s more like finger food. And when you’re doing finger foods, you want intense flavors that are spicy, salty, and rich,” Mistry says. “Those are indicative of a really fun party.”

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

This smooth, creamy espresso crème brûlée is made with that wonderful caramelized sugar crust. A culinary torch is a great tool to have in your kitchen, but it can be broiled as well. Just take care to turn it and watch carefully. Add the sugar to the crème brûlée just before serving time.

Share All sharing options for: The Best Holiday Cookie Recipes, According to Eater Editors

It’s cookie season, and it couldn’t have come soon enough. After the contortions of modified and shrunk-down Thanksgivings, it’s exciting to bake something meant for sharing. This year is an especially good one to double that batch and send cookies to family and friends.

Eater conducted a cookie exchange experiment in which 12 editors sent all different types of holiday-ish cookies through the mail to see what survived best. The TLDR is that no one type of cookie performed better than another — the key is to keep the cookies packed tight and well padded. Below, the Eater editors and writers who participated share why they chose the cookie recipes they did. Even if you’re not normally a baker, many of these recipes are simple enough to pull off. As executive editor Matt Buchanan says, What I’ve learned from this serendipitous experience is that baking cookies is incredibly easy, even without an electrical mixing apparatus of any kind, so anyone can do it, and that I never will again.”

Chocolate crinkle cookies: My husband is dairy-free, which tends to limit the cookies we’re able to make: Often, all-vegan recipes will require ingredients I don’t have on hand (I’m lookin’ at you, applesauce) and adapted-to-dairy-free recipes usually fail to work out for me (enter a tragic, time-consuming batch of snickerdoodles that came out hard as rocks). But these crinkles have become a go-to because they’re naturally dairy-free, don’t require a mixer for the dough, and the beautiful crinkling on top looks impressive despite being easy to create. Admittedly, I knew going in that the powdered sugar topping would likely take a beating in the mail — and it definitely did, losing a lot of the crinkle effect — but this is the one cookie recipe I will commit to time and time again. —Erin DeJesus

Tartine All Day brownies and Edd Kimber’s tahini chocolate chip bars: I chose these because of the relative indestructibility of brownies and blondies they’re sturdy enough to stand up to the slings and arrows of the U.S. postal system, and also tend to stay fresh for quite some time. I chose Liz Prueitt’s brownie recipe from Tartine All Day because a) they’re always a hit and b) they’re gluten-free (they use sorghum flour), which means most people will eat them. The tahini blondies are adapted from Edd Kimber’s tahini chocolate chip cookie bar recipe in The Boy Who Bakes I added an extra egg and more butter to them, as well as malt powder and white chocolate chips. Maybe it’s the malt and the extra fat, but the result is very tender and enjoyably squidgy. —Rebecca Flint Marx

Peanut butter swirled brownies: One of the funniest things to me is when people A. write subjective opinions as objective truths (e.g., “[X Food] Is Bad and if You Like It, You’re Wrong”) and B. when people get mad about subjective opinions as if one person’s dislike of a favorite food someone how negates the other person’s right to like it. So color me surprised when I found myself taking this Mel blog about how chocolate and peanut butter are a bad combination, like, way too personally (I chalk my overreaction up to election stress, okay. ). Anyway, the Mel hot take made me really double down on the marriage between chocolate and peanut butter, what with it being a SACRED institution and all. I also just really love these perfect moist-yet-sturdy Smitten Kitchen brownies (as I love all Deb Perelman’s baked goods) and had all the ingredients already in my home. Chocolate and peanut butter — the only food combination that is actually objectively good. —Madeleine Davies

Chewy molasses cookies: I love a slightly spicy cookie that’s not too sweet, and molasses cookies are the epitome of that balance for me. I like that they have a tendency to crack on the outside and stay soft on the inside, and they’re great for dunking in coffee with breakfast. They’re also, incidentally, very easy to make and hard to mess up. I used a straightforward chewy molasses cookie recipe from Bon Appétit circa 2013. The coarse sugar on the outside gives the cookies a nice finished appearance and acts as a bit of a protective barrier during shipping. —Brenna Houck

Rose pistachio shortbread cookies from Sister Pie: For my crispy cookie, I wanted to try out a recipe from Detroit’s Sister Pie. I’ve always liked the appearance of the shop’s rose pistachio shortbread cookies, but as I flipped through Lisa Ludwinski’s cookbook I came across the buttered rum shortbread it felt a little more festive for the holidays, with the same pretty rose frosting on top. Unlike the molasses cookies, these are a little bit more involved, but still simple for a novice baker. To start, you prep the dough, which includes a splash of rum (I used Two James Distillery’s Doctor Bird Jamaica rum). After the dough comes together, you wrap it up and let it sit in the fridge and then slice and bake the cookies as you would a premade dough from the grocery store. The frosting, which also includes booze, came together well and set up nicely. I let the cookies sit overnight for the frosting to completely cure before shipping them out. —Brenna Houck

Miso peanut butter cookies: I’m a big fan of miso-spiked sweets, especially when combined with something nutty, as with these miso peanut butter cookies from Krysten Chambrot at the New York Times. They’re sweet and salty, chewy at the center and crisp at the edges. That is to say, they’re perfect. The recipe calls for sweeter white miso, but I opted for red miso because I like the more assertive flavor. I even tried scaling down the sugar in the first batch to highlight that savory edge, but it affected the composition too much, turning the cookies into tall, crumbly biscuits (not bad, but not decadent holiday cookie material). After I returned the sugar to the proper proportion, they came out great. On round two, I did underbake them by three minutes (two minutes before removing the pan the first time, and one minute on the second pass in the oven) to account for my oven, ensure they would arrive chewy after a cross-country journey, and optimize structural integrity — yielding something like a Mrs. Fields cookie, but fancy. —Nick Mancall-Bitel

Smitten Kitchen blondies: When I was in high school, my mom started making blondies for every sleepover, every late-night play rehearsal, and every study session. They probably stuck around because there’s nothing wrong with a thick square of chocolate chip cookie, and because as much as I love cookies, measuring out dough or (gasp) cutting out shapes is too tedious. A few years ago my mom switched from the recipe on the back of a Hershey’s chip bag to this one from Smitten Kitchen, which has far fewer ingredients and really ups the gooey, fudgy factor. I thought the density would make them ship well, but I may have underbaked them a little, and I ruined a few trying to extract them from the pan. Still, once they cooled, they cut cleanly into bite-sized blocks perfect for nibbling. —Jaya Saxena

Walnut alfajores from Flavor Flours: I went with a familiar cookie recipe for our inaugural cookie swap, because the thought of shipping cookies was nerve-wracking enough and I didn’t need to add more variables to the mix. I followed a recipe for walnut alfajores, from queen of baking Alice Medrich’s gluten-free cookbook Flavor Flours. The book has introduced me to so many excellent desserts made with nonwheat flours and grains, but this recipe is a particular favorite. The cookies are crisp with just a tiny bit of chew (which I hoped would make them sturdy enough to ship), and I filled each sandwich with store-bought cajeta, though it’s easy enough to make from scratch. The cookies didn’t come out perfectly round, which made for a few wonky sandwiches, with caramel spilling out from the sides. That could’ve made for messy transit, but I individually wrapped each cookie before packing them all up. Luckily, the box I packed the cookies in was a couple inches too small, and I had no choice but to eat an extra alfajor. or two. —Elazar Sontag

Sugar cookies: I went with a very straightforward sugar cookie for two main reasons: 1. You get to decorate them and 2. They are uniform and thus easier to pack and ship. The Susan Spungen recipe is dead simple and easy to roll and cut out (I used jam jar covers for a consistent shape) and can be the base for infinite decorating strategies. At first I was tempted to make a whole batch of tie-dye cookies, following this Bon Appétit technique, but I quickly realized it’s incredibly tedious and I’m especially lazy. Instead, I went with two solid colors and played with some swirls at the end. —Amanda Kludt

Peanut butter miso cookies, Round Two: I’ve never baked cookies, even out of a can or a tube or whatever ready-to-bake cookie dough is packed into these days — has anyone disrupted cookies yet? — and anything that comes out of my kitchen is nearly exclusively by way of the NYT Cooking app (though shoutout to Just One Cookbook) because, despite its half-broken search, it is still the least annoying way for a lazy (or is it burned out?) person to acquire and successfully transubstantiate a list of ingredients and instructions into something edible without having to put down their phone. So there was only one possible outcome if I successfully forced myself to bake cookies: the New York Times peanut butter-miso cookies.

But I find cookies that don’t have chunks in them crushingly boring, even ones loaded with miso, so I threw in a heap of white chocolate — admittedly risky for a virgin cookie expedition — and hoped it would work out. What I’ve learned from this serendipitous experience is that baking cookies is incredibly easy, even without an electrical mixing apparatus of any kind, so anyone can do it, and that I never will again. —Matt Buchanan

Maple shortbread sandwich cookies: Sandwich cookies are the sneakiest move. Really, you’re eating two entire cookies masquerading as one, with a bonus layer of sugary cream in the middle. I ultimately landed on this recipe because A. I love maple (everything tastes like pancakes!) and B. King Arthur Flour recipes are known to be well tested and always feature gram measurements as well as cups. Using a scale means you can just dump stuff in a bowl straight from the container, which is great for lazy cooks and reluctant dishwashers like me. The clincher with these cookies, though, is the Nordic cookie stamps that I’d been eyeing for a while and finally purchased, which are a good way to make cookies feel fancy without frosting them. (I. Loathe. Frosting. Cookies. I’m terrible at piping, and the icing is always too thick or too runny, and way too fragile for shipping.) These cookie stamps took a little getting used to, but once I figured out the sturdy and rather satisfying thwack needed to pop the cookies out, it was a cinch.

Note: I doubled the recipe as suggested for stamping, but in the end it still only made 13 cookies. I’d quadruple the recipe if you want to make more than just a batch, or skip the sandwiching altogether, which made for some pretty burly cookies. That is in no way a problem for me, but daintier tastes could get away with one at a time. —Lesley Suter

Mexican wedding cookies: Along with sugar cookies shaped like reindeer and snowmen, I grew up making Russian tea cakes, aka Mexican wedding cookies, around the holidays (although back then I just called them snowballs). So for this project, because I was not in an ambitious mood and do not own any cookie cutters, Christmas-themed or otherwise, I opted for a Bon Appétit recipe for Mexican wedding cookies that I’ve made before. The brown butter in this recipe makes the classic cookie feel a little bit more special than the ones I baked as a kid, but they’re thankfully still incredibly easy to make — and, I was happy to learn, they ship okay too, even if they ended up looking less like snowballs when they reached their final destination. —Monica Burton

Photo credits: Cookies from Tomalu, LindasPhotography, Anjelika Gretskaia, Alinakho, James Andrews, and AnjelaGr/Getty Images

Flaky finishing salt

Pyramid-shaped salt crystals add flavor and texture to your food, and you can use the Instant Pot to DIY them. Make a saturated saline solution (aka really salty water) with kosher salt, pour it in your Instant Pot, and hit the “Slow Cooker” button. Leave the lid off and walk away. After about an hour, you will see crystals forming. Leave them alone, and let the water continue to slowly evaporate until you have a pile of flake salt. Let dry on paper towels. (You can also use a regular slow cooker, though you will have to make the saline solution in a separate pot.)

Make Flaky Finishing Salt in Your Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

As of two minutes ago, I have 17 different types of salt in my kitchen, including a Jacobsen…

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