Equating food and love is a well-worn trope, but when you’re rushing to get a meal out it’s sometimes hard to make a quick pasta dinner into an expression of feeling. In Let’s Eat, 100 Recipes to Fill your Heart and Home, Dan Pelosi has done the work for you. “A warm-hug of home cooking”; its pages are stuffed full of love.
Like many, Dan sought solace in the kitchen during the lockdowns but unlike us failing to master a basic sourdough in our Oxfordshire kitchens (just me?), Dan brought his Brooklyn cucina to Instagram, sharing his recipes with a (rapidly) growing fanbase from his account, @GrossyPelosi.
Published this autumn, the subsequent book is filled with a real sense of Dan’s warmth, his huge personality, and his genuine passion for home cooking, which comes across in every page. Readers are offered a glimpse into Pelosi’s life: his 101-year-old grandfather, Bimpy, and his legendary Big Italian Sandwich; a friend’s mother in Jersey Shore and her Chicken Parm; and the recipe which won Dan’s boyfriend’s heart – an indulgent zabaglione. Chapters are divided into the staples (Meat & Fish, Vegetables, Eggs, Sweets), deep dives (Dough and Marinara), and hero recipes like Dan’s famous ‘Vodka Sawce’. It’s replete in life, love, and the joys of scratch cooking.
We’re delighted to share a couple here, reproduced with kind permission of the publishers. Dan’s Italian Holiday Cookies seemed like the most obvious choice for a December issue and his Baked Brie Bread Bowl is exactly the sort of thing we want to dive into with family or friends. It would also make a fabulous vegetarian option for a festive meal.
Baked Brie Bread Bowl
My sister Diana’s official title is Queen of Baked Brie. For years—even decades—she has been smothering Brie with jam and wrapping it in phyllo for every family gathering. The dish is Peak Pinterest Mom, and if I had to describe Queen Diana, the phrase I’d use would be, well, “Peak Pinterest Mom.” Influenced by her, I have been known to dabble in baked Brie (and my own Pinterest Mom aesthetic) as well, and this version might just be my most exciting creation. Crusty bread, ready to pull and dip (it’s like the bend and snap, but for snacks) into a well of warm, gooey Brie and sweet mostarda di frutta—though you can use any jam you like—sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves and a bit of grated cheese. Your guests won’t be able to “pin” this recipe fast enough!
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 (8-ounce) Brie wheel
- 1 large sourdough boule
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted
- butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated
- Parmesan or pecorino cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons of store-bought fig jam
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed quarter sheet pan with foil.
- Slice off the top rind of the Brie wheel just enough to expose the cheese. Slice off the top inch of the sourdough boule to create a flat surface. Center the Brie wheel on top of the loaf and cut around it, careful to cut all the way down to, but not through, the bottom crust of the boule. Remove the Brie from the loaf and remove the center section of the boule. Slice the remaining outer crust of the bread bowl straight down in 1-inch segments, cutting all the way down, but not through, the bottom crust. Cut the reserved bread scraps into 1-inch croutons.
- Place the croutons on the prepared sheet pan and toss with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan. Nestle the bread bowl in the center of the sheet pan and arrange the croutons around it. Brush the inside and rim of the bowl with the remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter. Return the Brie wheel to the center of the bowl. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan and the thyme leaves around the rim of the bowl. Spoon the Mostarda di Frutta over the top of the Brie wheel.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the Brie is gooey and the bread is toasted. Transfer the bowl and croutons to a platter and serve.
Reprinted with permission from Let’s Eat: 101 Recipes to Fill Your Heart & Home by Dan Pelosi © 2023. Published by Union Square & Co. Photography © Andrew Bui.
Italian Holiday Cookies
You know this girl. She shows up to every party, invited or not. She’s always wearing a different festive outfit and has an elusive and unique flavor profile that’s sometimes hard to nail down. Truth be told, no holiday party would be complete without her there. She is the classic Italian cookie. Your family may call her anginetti cookies or drop cookies, and you might even flavor her with a combo of extracts like anise, lemon, almond, or vanilla. This Italian holiday cookie recipe answers to any name and can wear any of those outfits or combination of them. Once you invite her to your holiday party, you won’t be able to have another without her!
Makes 6 dozen
Ingredients for cookie:
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 rounded tablespoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- or 3/4 cup shortening, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Food coloring (optional)
- Sprinkles (optional)
- MAKE THE COOKIES: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl if using a handheld mixer), combine the granulated sugar and butter. Beat on medium speed until a fluffy, pale-yellow mixture forms, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs, almond extract, and vanilla. Beat on low until combined, about 2 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup of the milk and beat on low until just combined, about 30 seconds. Add a third of the dry ingredients and mix again until just combined, about 30 seconds. Continue alternating between the milk and dry ingredients until everything is combined. The batter will be very sticky.
- Using a floured tablespoon or cookie scoop, scoop out 12 balls of dough, rolling each into a perfect-ish ball, and placing them on one of the prepared sheet pans, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the cookies are lightly golden on the bottom and slightly cracked on top. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batter. While each batch of cookies is in the oven, scoop the next batch onto the other prepared sheet pan, making sure the sheet pans have cooled down a bit before adding more dough.
- MEANWHILE, MAKE THE ICING: In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, almond extract, and vanilla. Slowly add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and whisk to combine into a slightly runny frosting. If you want to add color, separate the icing into small bowls and whisk one drop of food coloring into each bowl.
- Place the wire rack with cookies on a sheet pan or piece of parchment paper. Dunk each cookie into the icing and set back on the wire rack. Sprinkle immediately with sprinkles (if using). Let the icing dry completely before eating, sharing, shipping, or storing. Transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and add a slice of sandwich bread to the container to keep the cookies soft. Store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, swapping out the bread as it goes stale.
Reprinted with permission from Let’s Eat: 101 Recipes to Fill Your Heart & Home by Dan Pelosi © 2023
Published by Union Square & Co
Photography © Andrew Bui