Hi! I’m Jane. I work as a private chef, caterer, and recipe developer. I want to help people learn to love cooking with approachable, easy to follow recipes that taste comforting and impressive.
Cooking at home should never feel monotonous or intimidating. All it takes is a few delicious and riffable recipes in your arsenal that you can whip up for yourself, your family or your guests, and you’ll be a more confident home cook in no time. This column is a place to start.
This month, we’re cooking for the holidays. Holiday cooking can feel intimidating, especially when you’re hosting groups larger than you’re used to, or bringing a dish as you meet people for the first time. These recipes will cover your appetizer, main dish, and dessert, and they’re all scalable to feed a crowd without adding too much time in the kitchen. They’re adaptable, so you can easily sub in ingredients you already have or prefer.
More than anything, what I love about these recipes is how communal they feel, encouraging groups to huddle around a spread with a dip in the middle, pass around a big pot of pasta, and go back to the tray of cookies for seconds (and thirds). Cooking this way embodies what the holidays are all about for me—spending time with loved ones and coming together to have cozy, nourishing, and low-stress meals.
HERBY YOGURT DIP WITH LEMON AND GARLICKY OLIVE OIL
I love making some variation of this dip just about every time I have people over for dinner. It has all the bright, acidic flavors I crave this time of year when so much of the food is heavy and rich. It holds its own as the shining star of any snack spread, and works as a perfect distraction if you’re running a little behind on the rest of your cooking. Don’t fret–everyone’s too busy snacking on the dip to realize.
2 cups full fat Greek yogurt or sour cream
3 cloves of garlic
1 shallot or ½ of a red onion
1 cup of chopped herbs (any combination of parsley, dill, chives, mint, cilantro, and basil is perfect here)
⅓ cup olive oil
Sliced carrots, cucumbers, radishes, crusty bread, pita chips, kettle chips, or anything else you’d like to dip
¼ cup distilled white, white wine, or apple cider vinegar
- Wash and chop the herbs, and thinly slice the garlic and shallot.
- Combine the yogurt with the juice of one lemon, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Then, add ¾ of the chopped herbs and stir well to combine.
- In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the garlic and half of the shallots and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and starting to crisp. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, combine the remaining shallot slices in a small bowl with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve. (This is a quick pickle, so they only need to sit for a few minutes if you’re in a rush)
- Combine the garlic, shallots, and the olive oil they simmered in with the dip and gently swirl it in. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and top with remaining herbs and quick pickled shallot.
RIGATONI WITH DELICATA SQUASH AND KALE
This is my go-to winter pasta. It tasted so warming and nourishing, with all my favorite fall flavors on display. Pasta is my favorite thing to make for a crowd because it’s easily modifiable for allergies and dietary restrictions. It’s also just usually what people want to eat. Serves 4-6.
1 delicata squash (butternut works too)
1 bunch of Tuscan kale
5 cloves of garlic
1 lb rigatoni or other pasta
Parmesan for serving (optional)
Red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 425.
- Prep your ingredients! Smash the garlic cloves until they break down, thinly slice the shallot, wash and scrub the squash, and wash the kale. Cut the squash down the middle and spoon out the seeds if you’d like (I leave them in! They add a nutty crunch and a nice texture), then slice it into 1/4-inch pieces. They will look like little Cs or crescent moons or parentheses. Try to keep the thickness consistent so they cook more evenly. Cut the bottoms of your kale stems off and chop or tear your kale into smallish pieces.
- Toss the squash with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes if using, and olive oil on a baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Cook for about 20 minutes or until tender and golden, then remove from oven and set aside.
- While your squash is roasting, bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook your pasta until it’s just al dente, making sure to reserve at least a cup of pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven, large pot, or skillet over medium, and add the shallots and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, then add kale, salt, pepper, and cook until kale wilts and is tender.
- When your pasta and squash are finished cooking, add them to the kale with at least 3/4 cup of pasta water and toss vigorously until the pasta is glossy and evenly coated. Grate as much parmesan as your heart desired into the mix and combine until it’s melted and evenly distributed, adding more pasta water as needed.
- Top with some flaky salt, more red pepper flakes if desired, and more parm!
MISO PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
This is a cookie recipe I developed this fall because I needed something to do with all the miso I had in the fridge. The result is my ideal chocolate chip cookie. They’re deeply savory, nutty, and chewy while retaining a satisfying crunch. This is also a great excuse to stock up on miso paste to use for future soups and as a way to lend a deeper, more complex flavor to sauces and stir-fries. It’s a winter staple for me.
The best part about this recipe is that it makes around 50 cookies, so this is a great one to liven up a cookie swap, or share with people as holiday treats!
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (two sticks) room temperature unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
¼ cup white miso paste
¼ cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Using a stand mixer or a large bowl and a hand mixer, mix butter and both sugars together on medium speed until super light and fluffy.
- Add one egg at a time, mixing in between until incorporated, then add vanilla, miso, and peanut butter, and mix until well combined.
- Gradually add in the flour mixture until incorporated, then fold in the chocolate with a spoon or spatula, and stir until evenly combined.
- Scoop out tablespoons of dough, roll them into balls, and place about 2 inches apart on your parchment-lined baking sheets, pressing them down a bit as you go.
- Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes, and let cool on a cooling rack.
Jane Morgan is a personal chef, caterer, recipe developer and writer from Destin currently living in Brooklyn. You can see more of her recipes on Instagram @janecooksforyou. And sign up for her newsletter at janedeanmorgan.com/newsletter.