Posts tagged with holiday:

Roasted Carrots with Fennel and Onions

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Is it a side dish to go with the brisket or is it a work of art?

The answer is it could be both.  These roasted carrots began as beautiful bunches of orange, purple, and pale yellow organic carrots with their stems intact that I bought at the local farmer’s market.

Along with a couple of fennel bulbs and a white and purple onion they became the lovely side dish served alongside my brisket at our recent Seder.

After peeling them, and leaving the stems on as many as possible, I tossed them with some extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. 

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The sliced fennel and onion wedges were also tossed with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before I spread them all out on a couple rimmed baking sheets and placed them in a 425 degree oven.

After about 15 to 20 minutes toss them around a bit on the sheets to prevent sticking, switch trays from top to bottom and bottom to top, and continue roasting for another 10 to 15 minutes until they begin to caramelize.

Serve on a platter hot, warm or even room temperature.  Delicious!

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Happy Passover

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This Passover was a very special one for us.  We celebrated the Seder ( the ceremonial dinner marking  the beginning of the week of Passover at which we retell the story of the Exodus) in our new home with our sons and their girlfriends at our table.

With 3000 miles separating us we have been unable to share  this holiday with them for many years.  And now a 3 to 4 hour drive for each has allowed us to all be together.  So you see it was a very Happy Passover for us all.

Here are a few photos to share with you…

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Thanksgiving for Christmas (Roasted Turkey in Parchment)

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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Although Martha roasts her turkey stuffed I prefer to roast my Mom’s Stuffing in a separate casserole dish. 

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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…

http://www.marthastewart.com/1040385/roasted-turkey-parchment-gravy

Here’s Martha herself showing how it’s done on The Today Show…

http://www.today.com/video/today/53677584

Food, Flora, and Father’s Day

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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.

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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…

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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…image

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There was corn on the cob…with all the toppings…

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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.

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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. 

Smoked Whitefish Salad

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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.

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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.

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Passover Chocolate Sponge Cake Roll with Raspberries and Cream

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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.

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 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. image

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)

Chocolate frosting

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.

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Passover Lemon Cheesecake

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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)

Crust

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

Filling

3 (8 -ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Equipment

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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)

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Note:  Cheesecake can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, loosely covered.

Charoseth for Passover

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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.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage with a Twist

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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.

Roasted Cabbage

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. 

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Valentine’s Day Dinner for my Sweetheart

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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!