Posted: Dec 03 2014

The holidays are officially here and when company arrives we turn to our secret kitchen weapons to bring a little something special to the table. From unexpected dinner guests, to breakfast for the in-laws, here are five essentials from our winter pantry to keep things running smoothly. 

  1. M. Greenwood Jams/ Lemon Sage Mustard: We love this mustard for its crunchy pop, its vinegar sweetness, and its spreadable consistency. It whisks into vinaigrette like a dream, needing only a couple glugs of olive oil, a minced shallot and a splash of fresh lemon juice. The earthy, warm sage notes work equally well as a marinade for lamb shoulder roast or grilled chicken as they do for raw broccoli and kale salads. 
  2. Rock Rose Provisions/ Maple & Spice Almond Butter: It's hard to escape the almond butter trend right now, but we like this seasonal take on the spread from Santa Barbara's Lucas Ryden. His distinct spice blend of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, fennel and star anise is equally addictive stirred into oatmeal, spread on toast or tossed with warm, roasted winter squash. 
  3. Little Belgians/ Speculoos Cookies: Made in Berkeley with local, organic, and fair trade ingredients these cookies are satisfyingly crunchy with a signature spice blend that lingers after the last bite. Serve with after-dinner coffee or tea, crumble a few over vanilla ice cream or stash in your bag for post-holiday shopping sugar lows.
  4. Sweet Lady Cook/ Bourbon Apple Butter: The smooth texture, slight boozy kick and warm spiced background of this apple butter is all we ever want from a fruit spread. Pull this one out to impress -- a spoonful in a Manhattan, an open jar on the brunch buffet, or layered in a fancy grilled cheese.
  5. McVicker Pickles/ Spicy Dilly Beans: A little goes a long way with these briny beans. The medium-spice, herbaceous dill flavor and firm crunch take these pickles from everyday to something truly unique. Add a couple to a Bloody Mary, serve alongside mostarda on a charcuterie plate, or roughly chop and add to salmon or crab cakes; the savory possibilities encourage experimentation.


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