Cook's Country Magazine

Our Favorite Recipes from the December/January 2024 Issue of Cook’s Country

For lovers of tradition and fans of more off-beat celebrations, this issue has it all.
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Published Dec. 8, 2023.

The holiday season is all about comfort—seeking warmth, pleasure, and community in the food that we share with loved ones. The December/January issue of Cook’s Country is no different and celebrates the joys that we associate with holiday feasts. From more traditional fare such as No-Bake Fudgy Chocolate Squares to something a little outside the box, like our Portobello Mushroom Fries, there’s something for everyone in this collection of celebratory recipes.

Here are our teams’ favorites.

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

Grapefruit Tart

As an Australian now living in the U.S., I'm still getting used to making hot, heavy meals in the holiday season. The summertime Christmases of my past have meant spending December outside grilling, snacking on fruits, and sipping crisp chilled wines. Kelly Song’s ambrosian Grapefruit Tart is a taste of home, while remaining the perfect choice for a midwinter holiday dessert. Bright, sweet-tart, and light (without feeling insubstantial), I know that this colorful tart will be the centerpiece of my holiday table—not only for its good looks, but for what’s on the inside too. —Eden Faithfull, Associate Editor

Recipe

Grapefruit Tart

Fragrant, floral grapefruit shines in this ultrasimple tart.
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Sufganiyot

As a kid growing up in New England, going to get doughnuts was always a special treat. I fondly remember trips to Dunkin' Donuts on Sunday mornings right before church to get a sweet pastry to tide me over during those long Sunday services. Back then, you could still peer into the kitchen area and see them making the doughnuts! Maybe it’s me and my affinity for nostalgia, but Jessica Rudolph’s recipe for Sufganiyot brought back many of those “this is special” feelings that I used to get from Dunks. More important, these doughnuts are absolutely delicious and must be made! —Lawman Johnson, Senior Photo Test Cook

Recipe

Sufganiyot (Hanukkah Jelly Doughnuts)

This sweet treat will be the star of your holiday spread.
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Stewed Cranberry Beans

I cannot overstate the amount of cozy comfort I derive from a big, burbling pot of beans. These Stewed Cranberry Beans with Tomatoes and Sage from Amanda Luchtel are as good as they get: Dried beans are cooked until creamy and tender with olive oil, onion, garlic, tomato, and whole sage leaves; the resulting cooking liquid becoming satisfyingly thick and glossy by the end. The finished dish is wholesome yet luxurious, and I look forward to making batch after batch this winter. I eat them by the bowlful or ladled over thick slices of olive oil–fried bread, but I’ll also use leftovers in meals throughout the week. One night I’ll stir in a handful of baby spinach and nestle in some seared shrimp or scallops. The next, I’ll top the beans with a runny fried egg and some butter-toasted panko bread crumbs. Yum! —Jessica Rudolph, Senior Editor

Recipe

Stewed Cranberry Beans with Tomatoes and Sage

The timing of one ingredient is the key to creamy, tender beans.
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Buttermilk Dressings

My most favorite and most craved salad has to be a wedge salad. There’s something sublime about a thick wedge of crisp, refreshing iceberg lettuce, garnished with cheese, smoky bacon, and perhaps a soft-boiled egg or some halved cherry tomatoes. The real secret to the success of the wedge salad, or any salad for that matter, is the dressing. It is the unsung hero that ties all the elements together. I’ve often struggled with finding the right dressings for a wedge or chef’s salad at home. Thank goodness for Morgan Bolling or, more specifically, her buttermilk dressings. These are creamy delights with the perfect consistency to ensconce anything you drizzle them on. With each variation having its own personality, the recipe is customizable for those days when you want a little something extra. —Mark Huxsoll, Test Cook 

Recipe

Basic Buttermilk Dressing

Thick and tangy buttermilk makes a great base for salad dressing.
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Crispy-Skinned Salmon with Cucumber-Herb Salad

Growing up in the Midwest, I didn't have much exposure to seafood, let alone fresh fish cooked so well that the skin was meant to be eaten. It wasn't until I started working at Charlie Palmer at the Joule Hotel that I developed a liking for crispy-skinned salmon. If you're someone who enjoys well-cooked fish or avoids eating salmon skin because it's either too flabby or burnt, you should definitely give Mark Huxsoll’s Crispy-Skinned Salmon with Cucumber-Herb Salad a try.

The method used in this recipe allows you to cook the salmon skin side down, slowly and carefully, until the skin crisps up beautifully—with no smoky kitchen or lingering fishy smell. The result is a perfectly cooked salmon fillet with crispy skin and tender meat that melts in your mouth. When paired with refreshing herbs, cool cucumbers, and spicy chiles, the unctuous salmon is a balanced dish that feels like a luxurious restaurant meal in the comfort of your own home. —Amanda Luchtel, Test Cook

Recipe

Crispy-Skinned Salmon with Cucumber-Herb Salad

Have you been throwing away the best part of the fish?
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No-Bake Fudgy Chocolate Squares

For this holiday-timed issue, my colleague Kelly Song developed three no-bake cookies: peanut butter–oat cookies, cherry-amaretto cookies, and fudgy chocolate squares. While they’re all delicious and fun, the decadent No-Bake Fudgy Chocolate Squares are my favorite of the three. To make them, you simply process Oreo cookies in a food processor and then stir melted chocolate and butter, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla into the crumbs. You press the mixture into a pan, refrigerate it to firm it up, and spread a layer of melted bittersweet chocolate and butter over top. A little more time in the refrigerator sets the chocolate. The finished squares are super-rich and fudgy, a cross between a truffle and an underbaked brownie—something any chocolate lover (and any cookie lover) can get behind. —Megan Ginsberg, Deputy Editor

Recipe

No-Bake Fudgy Chocolate Squares

Like a decadent brownie, but there's no baking involved.
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Mushroom Fries

As a mushroom lover, I can’t count the number of times I’ve eagerly bitten into a fried mushroom and been disappointed—soggy, bland, and likely to burn the roof of my mouth. Not the case with Amanda Luchtel’s Portobello Mushroom Fries. Meaty slices of portobello mushrooms cling onto a crispy, salty panko coating, which gets its flavor from a mixture of Parmesan, oregano, and red pepper flakes. I love these fries with their accompanying hot cherry pepper–sour cream dip, which is spicy and cooling all at once, or paired with a classic marinara dip. Left to my own devices, these fries disappear in no time, with no roof-of-the-mouth casualties to boot. —Kelly Song, Test Cook

Recipe

Portobello Mushroom Fries with Cherry Pepper Sauce

Not a fan of mushrooms? These crunchy morsels might convert you.
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