Posts tagged with holiday:
It’s hard to believe that it is officially 2014, and I am still trying to catch up with blogs I wanted to post in 2013.
It has been a little over a month since we moved into our house. While many things have not found their permanent home as yet, at least they are unpacked and the boxes are thrown out. There is still much to do to make it home.
We took a break from it all for a couple of weeks to welcome my sister who came to spend the holidays with us, her first visit here to San Luis Obispo.
Leaving the cold and snow in Pennsylvania behind her, she enjoyed, as did we, our first Christmas and New Year’s in this beautiful Mediterranean climate we are lucky enough to now call home.
Since we had just moved in two days before Thanksgiving, and I wasn’t able to cook what is my most favorite meal, Thanksgiving Dinner, I decided that I would make a Thanksgiving Dinner for Christmas.
For years now,during the weeks before Thanksgiving I love to listen to the Martha Stewart Show on XM Sirius radio. The format always involves guest chefs and callers sharing their holiday menus, both traditional as well as familiar dishes done with a new twist.
This year Martha Stewart Living test kitchen introduced a new way to roast a turkey that I found very intriguing and had wanted to try.
It involved roasting your turkey slathered in butter, but wrapped completely in parchment for several hours, then raising the oven temperature, unwrapping the turkey and putting it back in the oven to brown.
Wrapped in the parchment for the majority of the roasting time really seals in the juices resulting in a deliciously moist bird.
Removing the parchment and continuing to cook the turkey at a higher temperature for 45 minutes to an hour ensures an especially golden brown crispy skin.
Although Martha roasts her turkey stuffed I prefer to roast my Mom’s Stuffing in a separate casserole dish.
If roasting the turkey unstuffed you will want to lessen your cooking time accordingly.
Be sure to check the temperature with an instant read thermometer.
My sister, husband and I all agreed this was a wonderful way to roast a turkey, and I’m certain I will be doing it again.
Here’s the link to the recipe…
Here’s Martha herself showing how it’s done on The Today Show…
Yesterday was the final Father’s Day celebrated in our home of 25 years.
We have had countless celebrations over these years in our backyard (for years we grilled on the grass until we had our patio built).
From everyday barbeques to Bar-Mitzvah celebrations we have so many memories of good times in what to us has become a little bit of paradise that we developed over our time in this home.
From a new home without so much as a a stick in the backyard we created this with a lot of hard work and perseverance…a work in progress that was truly a labor of love.
Each Spring I would look forward to planting pots on the patio, but always something different than the year before…here are just a few from previous years…
This year I had to rely on my perennials since there was no time to plant with us moving by the end of June. In fact, I’ve been gradually giving my perennial pots away to family and friends…parting gifts that are hard to part with, but knowing they will be in good hands makes it easier.
So with my husband still recovering from his surgery, and in the midst of my packing I really wanted to have one last cookout for Father’s Day.
The weather turned out to be perfect for eating outside (a rarity in our area in the summer), family and friends turned out for the day, and we enjoyed a really great summer meal.
My husband rose to the occasion and even managed to man the grill, cooking the brick chicken and hot dogs and Italian sausage to perfection…
There was corn on the cob…with all the toppings…
and I made Ina Garten’s Greek Panzanella Salad , a terrific salad to serve that can be prepared ahead , dressed 30 minutes before serving, and served at room temperature.
For dessert I made the Strawberries and Cream Spectacular Cake and my best friend brought fabulous homemade brownies.
And by the end of the day we had one more memory to tuck away and take with us to California.
For our brunch last Sunday I made Smoked Whitefish Salad.
I use very little mayo relative to the amount of fish so the rich flavor of the smoked fish really shines through. You could even omit the mayonnaise altogether and simply add a little olive oil to the lemon juice.
The only thing challenging about this dish is deboning the smoked fish.
In the past I usually did it in a trial and error fashion, and usually found myself picking out a lot of bones that I had missed making this a pretty time consuming process.
This time I went online and found this video which made things a lot easier. I may need to practice a bit more, but I think I did a pretty good job.
I’m not telling how many times I had to replay the video, though! Your reward for all your hard work is getting to nibble all the bits and pieces that you are not using.
I see he agrees with me…check it out!
Smoked Whitefish Salad (makes about 8 cups)
2 smoked whole whitefish ( 2-3 # each), skin and bones removed
3-4 stalks celery, finely diced
1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
juice of 3 lemons
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s canola oil mayo)
Debone the whitefish and place in a large bowl.
Add the diced celery, fresh chopped dill, mayonnaise, lemon juice and black pepper to the whitefish. Mix gently with very clean hands to maintain good size pieces of fish and toss til thoroughly combined.
Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve with bagels,rye bread or pumpernickel. Garnish with chopped fresh chives or fresh dill.
In addition to the Passover Lemon Cheesecake which I made this year I also took this Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll with Raspberries and Cream to the seder at our aunt’s home.
I am not a chocoholic by any means ( I usually prefer desserts without chocolate with a few exceptions), but i know that for many people it is not dessert if it’s not chocolate. So I always like to include something with chocolate when there are several desserts at a holiday meal.
This recipe is an adaptation of a lemon sponge cake roll I have made numerous times at Passover. (See the post from April 2011) .
Instead of the lemon juice and zest I added cocoa powder and vanilla extract, filled it with some fresh raspberries and whipped cream, and covered it in with a chocolate frosting.
Passover Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll with Raspberries and Cream
(serves 8 to 10)
For the cake roll
1/2 cup sifted Passover cake meal
1/2 cup potato starch
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Line a 10”x 15” rimmed baking sheet with buttered parchment paper.
Sift together cake meal, potato starch, and cocoa powder and set aside.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and lemon colored.
Gradually add the dry ingredients, stirring to make a thick batter.
Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff but not dry. Fold very gently into the batter.
Turn into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Test with cake tester, or press gently with finger to see if cake bounces back.
Remove from then oven and turn onto a lightly sugared towel. Gently remove parchment paper.
Roll up with the towel while warm and let cool completely on a rack.
When cool, carefully unroll and spread the whipped cream, dot with the raspberries. Reroll and place onto serving plate.
Cover with the chocolate frosting. Garnish with extra raspberries.
Whipped cream filling
1/2 cup heavy cream for whipping
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
Whip cream and sugar with whisk attachment in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
3/4 cup fresh raspberries, (sweetened with 1 tablespoon sugar, optional)
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 to 4 Tablespoons hot water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
Blend sugar with melted butter, vanilla, and chocolate. Stir in hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until proper consistency.
This luscious lemon cheesecake is one of the desserts I took to the Seder at our aunt’s home last night.
The crust is made from ground almonds and matzo cake meal making it perfect for Passover when flour is prohibited. Its sweet crunchiness complements the smooth lemony light filling.
Passover Lemon Cheesecake (Epicurious, Gourmet/ April 2008)
(8 to 10 servings)
3/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup matzo cake meal
14 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 (8 -ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
a 9-inch springform pan
To Make Crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle.
Pulse almonds, sugar, matzo cake meal, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in butter until combined well.
Press onto bottom and 1 inch up the side of springform pan. Bake until crust is firm and a shade darker, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool crust completely in pan on a rack.
To Make Filling and Bake Cheesecake
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Beat together cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs 1 at a time, mixing until incorporated. Mix in zest and vanilla.
Put springform pan in a shallow baking pan and pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until filling is set 1 and 1/2 inches from the edge but center is wobbly, 45 to 50 minutes (filling will set as it cools).
Transfer cake in pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around edge, then remove side of pan. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.
Garnish with blackberries and lemon slices (optional)
Note: Cheesecake can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, loosely covered.
Passover began last night with the ceremonial seder meal.
We were invited to the home of my husband’s aunt whom he has been especially close to since he was old enough to walk, and whom I became close with since I first began dating my husband in high school.
At that time his aunt and uncle and cousins lived in the same town in which we grew up.
In the late 70’s, years after we had married and moved to Chicago they moved to Virginia where our aunt still lives today.
The amazing thing is we never know what lies ahead.
In 1988 we found ourselves moving east after living in Chicago for 15 years.
We never could have predicted that one day we we would be living in Maryland, and even more amazing that we would be living just 35 minutes (barring traffic /accidents/ construction on the beltway) from our wonderful aunt.
And now as our life takes another turn we find ourselves celebrating the last of many Passovers and other holidays and events we have shared with her and her family over these past 25 years.
Through all these years we have had a special relationship with our aunt who is now the matriarch of my husband’s family.
She is a special lady who wrote the book on how to age well.
She is young at heart with an optimistic outlook, seemingly able to roll with any punches that life doles out.
Her schedule of activities and social life would be challenging for many half her age. Her sense of humor and lust for life are evident whenever you speak with her.
And did I mention that she is quite a looker, to boot?
She refers to herself and her significant other as the “oldest teenagers in their town”!
We have shared so much of our lives with her over these past years, and it will be difficult to say good bye.
Once we are settled in our new home we know she will be one of our first visitors from the east coast and we will insist that she add a regular trip to San Luis Obispo to her yearly travel schedule.
We look forward to sharing many more good times with her in San Luis Obispo, and of course, we will be back east to see her regularly as well.
Preparing a seder is no small fete. Although I love hosting the holidays, even I realized that with our upcoming move it was not to be. We have begun packing, selling some furniture, and my house is slowly but surely deconstructing, a necessary, but very sad evil for me.
Anyway, I am far from being done cooking here so I enticed my aunt to allow me to bring several contributions to the meal, one of which was the traditional dish of apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine known as Charoset, Charoseth, or Haroset.
The Charoseth is symbolic of the bricks and mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build cities for the Pharaoh.
It is one of the ceremonial foods on the Seder Plate. During the service we partake of it on a piece of matzoh along with a little horseradish, representing the sweetness of freedom and the bitterness of slavery.
Although we usually eat Charoseth once a year at Passover it is so delicious there’s no reason why we don’t eat it year round. Here’s the simple recipe:
Charoseth (serves 8)
1 cup chopped or diced apples
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, or almonds)
2 tablespoons honey or sugar
1/4 cup sweet red wine or grape juice
1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) cinnamon
Mix chopped apples and chopped nuts. Add remaining ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Serve with traditional Passover dinner.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Although we are not Irish this day will always be one we celebrate because our oldest son was born on St. Patrick’s Day 1975 at 8:36 pm in Chicago.
With our upcoming move on the horizon we are really looking forward to celebrating birthdays with our sons once again since incredibly we will be living within a few hours of each after being on the opposite coast for so many years.
So in the spirit of celebration of my first born son and St. Patrick’s Day I almost always prepare a dinner of corned beef and cabbage.
This year I decided to put a twist on this standard dish and roast the cabbage which is unimaginably delicious. I also roasted the carrots, and made parsley potatoes to accompany the corned beef.
When the corned beef was tender after having simmered on the stove for several hours I placed it on a rack in a roasting pan, slathered it with a glaze of honey, whole grain mustard, Dijon mustard, and brown sugar. and roasted it at 350 degrees for about 20 more minutes .
It was one of the best St. Patrick’s Day dinners I’ve made, and we are looking forward to corned beef sandwiches tomorrow.
1 head cabbage, cored, and cut into 8 wedges.
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher Salt to taste
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
Place the cabbage wedges carefully on a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the slices over carefully and season again with salt and pepper.
Roast in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes until the edges begin to caramelize.
Carefully turn the slices over and roast another 10 to 15 minutes until they are crispy and browned at the edge, but still have a bite to them.
This is the dessert that ended our Valentine’s dinner this evening.
Nothing too fancy, just a few of my husband’s favorites…homemade rich chocolatey brownies cut into heart shapes, sharing the plate with pure vanilla ice cream blanketed with fresh ripe macerated strawberries.
Dinner was a mixed green salad, steamed lobster tails with drawn butter, pan seared T-Bone Steak, and baked potatoes all washed down with a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
This Roasted Applesauce recipe I discovered last week when I was about to make applesauce to go with my latkes for a party I was hosting.
I had been cooking all day, and although I love my go to applesauce recipe, I was looking to avoid using the food mill, and started checking out some recipes online.
That is when I found this gem which comes from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers. It is a no frills applesauce, absent the usual cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice, with just a bit of sugar added along with some salt.
The apples are dotted with butter and roasted in a hot oven creating a sauce that is pure apple with just a hint of that caramelized flavor.
A splash of apple cider vinegar (genius!) after smashing the apples a bit gives it just the kick it needs to perk up the flavor.
Here’s my new go to applesauce recipe…
Roasted Applesauce (The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Judy Rodgers)
3 1/2 to 4 pounds apples (Rodgers uses crisp eating apples, like Sierra Beauties, Braeburns, Pippins, Golden Delicious or Galas)
(I used a combination of Braeburn and Jonagold)
Pinch of salt
Up to 2 teaspoons sugar, as needed
About 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
A splash of apple cider vinegar, as needed
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Toss with a little salt, and unless they are very sweet, a bit of sugar to taste. If they are tart enough to make you squint, add the full measure of sugar. Spread in a shallow baking dish that crowds the apples in a single layer. Drape with slivers of butter, cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil, and bake until the apples start to soften, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your apples.
3. Uncover, raise the heat to 500 F, and return the pan to the oven. Leave the apples to dry out and color slightly, about 10 minutes.
4. When the tips of the apples have become golden and the fruit is tender, scrape them into a bowl and stir int a chunky “mash.” Season with salt and sugar to taste, then consider a splash of apple cider vinegar to brighten the flavor. (Try a drop on a spoonful to see if you like it.)
Between Christmas and New Year’s most of us find ourselves snacking on the abundance of cookies, cakes, and candies, which throughout the rest of the year are not as easily within our reach.
But during the holidays it seems even the diehard dieters give themselves a bit of a reprieve. After all it’s the season of joy, and can anyone really say that sinking our teeth into some delectable treat has not brought us at the least a tiny bit of joy?
So as my way of spreading some of this delicious joy I present to you this easy recipe for the California Toffee Butter Crunch pictured above.
Now this is not a gourmet candy. In fact, you can tweak it however you like but the actual recipe which I have been making for many years calls for good old Hershey milk chocolate bars, (yes, I said milk chocolate), and roasted and salted store bought almonds (yes, I said salted).
Add to that a buttery toffee (yes, I said butter), and you have a candy so satisfying that, as the saying goes, “you can’t eat just one!”
I made a batch this past week to give as some gifts. If wrapped well it can be frozen so you can make it in advance if you have the time. I, of course made it at the last minute.
As soon as it is well chilled, you can break it up, wrap it in cellophane, put a ribbon on it and go spread a little joy.
California Toffee Butter Crunch
(adapted from The Best Specialties of the House …And More, North Suburban Guild of Children’s Memorial Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois)
2 cans (6 oz. each) roasted, salted almonds
12 (1.65 oz.) Hershey milk chocolate bars ( this time I used 10 of the larger King Size bars, broken up)
1/2 lb. sweet butter (unsalted)
1 and 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
Coarsely chop 1 can of nuts and set aside. Finely chop the other.
Butter a 7 and 1/2 by 11 and 3/4-inch rimmed pan. (If using the larger bars of chocolate use a larger (11 and 1/2 by 17-inch) rimmed baking sheet). Alternatively, you can line it with parchment paper.
Sprinkle with half of the finely chopped nuts. Cover with half of the chocolate bars.
Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan. Add sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Using a candy thermometer, cook to 300 degrees.
Quickly stir in the coarsely chopped nuts and pour over the chocolate bars. Immediately cover with the remaining chocolate bars and sprinkle top with the rest of the finely-chopped nuts.
Take a large sheet of waxed paper and press gently so nuts will adhere.
Chill and break or cut into pieces. Can be frozen.