The Shared Cheese Puffs by Cynthia Raub

I am a low-key Francophile. I chose French to learn in high school because I loved croissants. Don't get me wrong, I also looooove burritos, but I was feeling angsty and emotional and croissants just seemed more complex and romantic than burritos. (Side note: I've grown since then and now I can get very romantic and emotional about burritos.) But high school French class was the genesis of my love for everything French - from the language, history of art, food, culture and even SPORTS?!?! (Tour de France). I met my husband when we both worked in a French bistro, and it was love at first cornichon!

Gougeres, (also known as cheese puffs,) are SO French: sophisticated, technical but simple, and delicious with champagne. These have been in heavy rotation in my kitchen for the past two months since I first made gougere's sister, the profiterole, (which is a sweet version filled with pastry cream or split open with a scoop of ice cream). They are a breeze to make. They are impressive and are perfect for any occasion. I originally made the profiteroles for a bake sale. Since then, I have made savory and addictive gougeres with a friend for a pot luck, to accompany dinner in our bread basket, and even for a casual afternoon wine tasting with friends. See? Versatile, delicious, and addictive. I'm convinced that once anyone has this in their cooking repertoire, it will become an instant classic that will never fail you.

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Gougeres (Cheese Puffs)

The Shared BBQ Sides by Cynthia Raub

It's not summer until I've had my first bites of potato salad and cold pasta salad. Just like it's not Halloween, until I've had my yearly ration of a single Candy Corn (to remind myself that it's still not yummy). And just like it's not actually Thanksgiving, until I've had a slice of pumpkin pie and apple pie. The other week, I co-hosted a barbecue baby shower, and I made a tangy potato salad as a side. Amy helped me a ton by making a bright and fresh pasta for the mama-to-be and her 80 guests. I also served a classic cole slaw and featured a dessert table with an assortment of cookies! I used to be stumped with what to contribute to barbecues and summertime get togethers, but now I think I've got the formula down for a great party: something creamy (classic cole slaw), something with an abundance of fresh herbs (Amy's Pesto Pasta Salad) and something tangy and/or acidic (Mustardy Potato Salad). With fresh seasonal fruit, grilled meats, and a leafy salad, you've got the perfect menu for a delicious and thoughtful spread!

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Mustardy Potato Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

The Shared Slow-Roasted Pork by Amy Cantu

I paid the local butcher a visit with my 20 month-old, close to nap time. Bad move. My darling cherub was screaming and throwing snacks at passers-by, while I waited anxiously in line. When it was my turn, I quickly rattled off that I wanted a "big" pork shoulder and handed the butcher my credit card with an apologetic smile. I returned home with a 12 pound whole bone-in, skin-on, pork shoulder (a.k.a. The Beast). It was larger than a newborn baby. I cradled The Beast in my arms in awe. "Holy moly! What was I thinking?!" My husband opened the fridge that night and stood stunned in the face of The Beast. "Is this ours? Where did it come from?!" We stared at The Beast together. It was a thing to behold. "That there is Father's Day."

Cynthia and I were up to the challenge. Here's what we did with The Beast, and we hope you salivate and lust after it the same we did!

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Slow-roasted Pork with Crunchy Skin and Chimichurri Sauce

Pork and Broccolini Sandwich

The Shared Scones by Amy Cantu

I am not a morning person. I thought that perhaps having two small children that wake with the sun would cure me of this, but no. I am still not a morning person. There are few things in this world that will rouse me from the warm, cozy cocoon of my bed covers in a cheerful mood - these scones are on that short list. These are scones that I've been making since . . . well, since forever. I used to bake scones instead of studying for finals in college, and Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook was my textbook of choice. Ina, in her hostess-with-the-mostest way, opened my eyes to a world of butter and flour that held my interest in a way that Economics never could. Fast forward more years than I care to admit, and I'm faced with a preschool bake sale. I'm tired. I'm always tired now (because I love to sleep and will never properly sleep in again). I reach really far back through the fuzzy cobwebs in my brain to the recipes I can reliably make even in a semi-conscious state, and I find these scones archived somewhere between "Econ 101" and "Accounting 101". I may not remember much about Econ anymore, but my hands still remember precisely how to shape and form these tender, buttery scones. Within the hour, the scent of butter and flour filled my nostrils with their heady scent - a smell worth waking up for. I can't ever decide if I want a sweet or savory scone, so of course there is one of each. These are tried and true and flew off the bake sale table in the blink of an eye.

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Rosemary-Cheddar Scones

Salted Maple-Oat Scones

The Shared Pizza and Salad by Amy Cantu

My kid was begging me to have pizza for lunch. Normally I would probably try to distract him and get him to forget about his request, but this day I saw a fun opportunity for us to bond over mixing together the stretchy pizza dough and scattering toppings over the crust. Also, I am obsessed with this recipe for Broccoli Cooked Forever and all the different ways that I can eat it. Why not on pizza??? The soft, umami-rich broccoli gets smeared all over the pizza crust and topped with stretchy, milky fresh mozzarella and shards of sharp and nutty parmesan. Yes. I want to eat that. Even the kid wants to eat that! This easy-peasy recipe for pizza dough makes enough for two crusts, so for pie #2, we dug around the fridge and found a good nub of fontina, a small chunk of red onion, a package of Canadian bacon, and some grape tomatoes. Last (but not least), this shared pizza meal needed a crunchy salad and some good friends to make it complete. Luckily, we had the makings for both!

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Pizza Two Ways

Broccoli Cooked Forever

Pancetta Caesar Salad


The Shared Birthday Dinner by Amy Cantu

Three Cheese Fondue

My husband is one of those impossible-to-buy-for people. He’s a minimalist and prefers to get rid of stuff, rather than acquire more stuff. There is, however, one thing that he can never get enough of: cheese! (Okay, that’s not entirely true - he also never tires of carne asada burritos.) He is a serious cheese lover - all day, everyday . . . cheese. On our honeymoon to Europe, we had cheese with every single meal. I thought I loved cheese, but by the end of the trip, I had hit a wall. My husband? He wanted to know if we could have cheese fondue for our last meal before heading home. So it came as no big surprise when he requested fondue for his birthday dinner. And what about the cake? (I bet you’re thinking cheesecake . . . ) Nope, he requested his favorite - ice cream cake!

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Three Cheese Fondue

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake

The Shared Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Cynthia Raub

bacon jam and roasted jalapeno grilled cheese

I was still going strong with my health kick that started in the New Year, so naturally, I was craving bacon jam. Making bacon jam can be a process, but it keeps incredibly well - so it's perfect to make in larger, sharable quantities. I didn't have a reason to make a batch of bacon jam, besides my daydreams that featured the sweet and salty condiment, until February. Every month, parents and staff from my children's preschool have a dinnertime meeting to discuss operations, events and issues that pertain to the school. Volunteers offer to bring a savory dish, sweets, or beverages (ahem, wine!) to the meeting. The parents and staff at our cooperative preschool are highly dedicated to maintaining a loving, safe and enriching community for our children. To show my appreciation for the work that these parents put into the school, the least I could do was to make myself, I mean them . . . some bacon jam! Now I had an excuse to spread it between slices of bread and call it a meal. I decided to bring two kinds of absurd grilled cheese sandwiches and a refreshingly simple salad (for balance!) to the meeting to share. What pairs better with wine and discussions about communicable diseases than decadent grilled cheese sandwiches?

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Bacon Jam and Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Roasted Jalapeno Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Beet and Cucumber Salad

The Shared Lunch by Amy Cantu

white bean soup and kale salad

Winter was already well underway, when Cynthia, our friend Christine, and I huddled together in my unusually quiet kitchen. We were lucky enough to have grandparents watching the kids, so we had a whole afternoon at our disposal - it felt positively luxurious. So what to cook? We wanted to somehow redeem ourselves from all of our gluttonous holiday eating, but also eat food that would combat the cold, drizzly weather outside. So, we settled on a little bit of each: a bountiful kale salad and also a hearty, white bean soup. I am convinced that the kale with all it’s well-touted vitamins and antioxidants reversed the damage of eating more than my fair share of deep-fried turkey, honey ham, tamales, and cheesecake at not one, but TWO Christmas dinners. Well, that’s what I’m telling myself anyway. Add that to this soul-warming white bean soup that manages to pack its own healthy dose of good-for-you veggies, while still tasting unctuous and rich. Beyond any purported health benefits of said soup and salad, what really struck me on this otherwise gray, frigid day, was how filled with joy I felt spending a leisurely afternoon cooking, sharing, and enjoying lunch with Cynthia and Christine. I love how cooking with and for others has taught us to be generous with our recipes and each other - sharing a nourishing meal that ushered in a little extra warmth during these cold winter months.

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White Bean Soup with Wilted Greens

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Cheddar