The Bender

With nicknames like, Dutch Courage, Strip me Naked, White Satin, Mother's Ruin, and Cuckold's Comfort, it is no wonder the mention of gin conjures up images of less savory experiences. The history of gin includes greedy monarchs, a pairing of hot gin and gingerbread, the British Royal Navy, anti-malarial agents, bootlegging, and old-fashioned romanticizing of the spirit in television shows such as Mad Men & Downton Abbey.

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Pastéis de Nata

What do early 19th century Portuguese Monks do when they need to earn a steady income? They learn to bake and sell pastries. And none is so famous as the Pastéis de Nata egg pastry that may be found at nearly every bakery and coffee shop in Lisbon. Crispy on the outside, sweet and creamy on the inside,  the pastel de nata is a local treasure. Hot out of the oven they are at their best.

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Icelandic Chocolate Cake

The recipe is simple and like all good food, the quality of the ingredients determines the outcome of the finished cake. Do splurge on the chocolate and the Irish butter. Shhh--only the baker needs to know that this is a melt-in-the-mouth, six ingredient, ten minute to mix cake. 

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Roasted Carrots & Carrot Top Pesto

 It is gratifying to to cook root-to-leaf and it showcases unimagined flavor possibilities. Roasting root vegetables such as carrots at high heat and serving them topped with their own gorgeous greens, these roasted carrots, inspired by Diva Bakes, a café in Kinsale, Ireland, are good for the earth, beautiful to look at, and good for you.

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Blueberry Cassis Galette

A specialty of Burgundy, France, crème de cassis is a blackcurrant liqueur made from crushed woodland blackcurrants that are mixed with sugar and left to infuse in a neutral tasting spirit such as vodka. Natural companions, think of blueberries and cassis as the melody and harmony in this not too tart, just sweet enough galette.

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Autumn Muffins

A tribute to leaf peeping season, these fall pumpkin spice muffins are a gorgeous burnt orange color and fill the house with the spicy warm scent of autumn baking. Perfect for the Thanksgiving table, perfect as a snack, and perfect even when craved in February, this is an easy quick (under 5 minutes to mix up) bread recipe to be shared for generations among friends and family.

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Bavarian Pretzels

The perfect Oktoberfest pairing:, pretzels and beer. While the Germans are busy pouring steins of Hefeweizen and Kölsch, Americans prefer their pale ales and luckily, they all taste even better when accompanied by a perfectly textured salted home made pretzel. Tying the pretzels into the traditional form of a child crossing his or her arms in prayer (pretzels were, after all, invented by a Monk in 610 A.D.), is one of the many ways to enjoy this savory snack. A simple braided pretzel stick is also worthy of a gathering treat heralded as a sign of good luck, spiritual wholeness, and a sign of marriage prosperity.

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Honeycrisp Apple & Manchego Salad

Apples and cheese have been best friends for a very long time. This salad takes advantage of the pairing by combining the two amigos in a way in which it is difficult to tell the difference between the color and texture until both are delightfully in your mouth. Honeycrisp apples are juicy and sweet and perfect for biting into raw. If you can wait, this salad might just win you power and influence among your food loving friends. It is particularly gorgeous nestled like a birds nest on a small Boston lettuce leaf. 

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Girl Pizza

Any creative way to disguise salad as pizza deserves applause. Pizzas are a great way to use up bits of this and that in the refrigerator. Arugula is a tough sale at many family tables--that is until it becomes pizza. Dubbed "girl" pizza because teenage boys think teenage girls eat a lot more "rabbit food" than they do. Nonetheless, these Girl Pizzas are served two at a time and eaten with the same gusto by all as a meat lover's pizza. 

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Concord Grape & Fig Brie

Concord grapes, also known as fox grapes, have dark-bluish, purple skin, perfectly round globes, and a heady aroma that makes these jewel-toned grapes gorgeous culinary companions. Simmered and sweetened, Concord grapes burst into an autumn garnet shade. Served alongside their fall harvest companions, roasted figs, these grapes transform into a season worthy celebration beginning plate to serve alongside some grower's champagne.

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Portuguese Cockles

Cockles are literally the sweet hearts of the shellfish world. Heart-shaped ribbed mollusks, they are prized for their petit, sweet, tender meat. A simple broth backdrop of parsley, garlic, and white wine proved just the right base for sopping up cockle flavored juices. While any dry, white wine may be substituted, a young slightly effervescent Portuguese  crisp, full-bodied, wood-aged white wine from the Vinho Verde region makes this bivalve dish authentic.

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Veronica's Thyme Peanut Chocolate Bark

Taking inspiration from her organic kitchen garden in the verdant Portuguese countryside, Veronica sprinkles organic bittersweet chocolate bark with lemon thyme and hand harvested sea salt. An after dinner treat featuring a delicate texture and gentle saltiness, this is a decadent, grown-up and nostalgic sweet thing.

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Summer Corn Soup

Americans have a love hate relationship with corn. Since Michael Pollan began educating consumers on the complex relationship between corn and most items on supermarket shelves, its reputation has suffered. This simple, delicious recipe rescues corn from complete bad boy status and puts it back in good graces—at least when consumed in moderation and only during its short summer season when local corn is in abundance.

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