Every Christmas our son and his girlfriend return to Western Massachusetts from Denver to visit family and to celebrate the holiday.
Susan and I always prepare a special dinner for the two. One year we made their favorite; Chicken Piccata. Another year Pasta Putanesca. And once, Piccadillo.
Days later Susan and I had the leftovers for lunch.
Here is recipe upon which I based my Gumbo. Note: I baked two chicken breasts and once cooled cut them into bit-size pieces. I cooked bacon first, set it aside, and used the fat instead of oil to make the roux. I also used local Polish Kielbasa. And I added a can of chopped tomatoes to the dish. I didn’t have a green pepper so I used two seeded and chopped jalapeno peppers.
I believe in using the good china. The good crystal. Drinking the champagne.
This appetizer is so delicious, and easy to prepare, it cries out to be served on a holiday: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day. But for me, every day is a holiday. So get out your good china. Your good crystal. Abd uncork that bottle of champagne!
Here’s the recipe with my changes noted:
Reading from The New York Times:
“This was the first recipe that the chef and writer Gabrielle Hamilton brought to The Times as an Eat columnist for the Sunday magazine in 2016, a snack-tray-sandwich version of a celery-and-fennel salad served at her restaurant, Prune, in the East Village. It calls for thick, white toasted Pullman bread spread wall to wall with unsalted butter, with slices of blue cheese neatly laid on top, below a mound of shaved celery and thinly sliced scallions dressed in garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt, and the whole shebang dusted in ground black pepper before being cut in halves or quarters. ‘The ingredients come from the grocery store,” she wrote in her column. “These toasts are not expensive or intimidating, but they are outstanding.'”
2 slices country white Pullman bread, 1/2-inch thick (I used Italian bread.)
1 cup shaved celery, from the inner head, toughest outer stalks removed, thinly sliced on the bias (I also used many leaves.)
2 scallions, thinly sliced on bias all the way up from the white through the green
1 large clove garlic (I did not use any garlic.)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Several grinds black pepper
Toast the bread to golden. Butter generously, “wall to wall.” Lay cheese slices on top of buttered toast, neatly, evenly. (I toasted the bread in the oven.)
In a small bowl, stir together the celery and the scallions. Microplane the garlic into the celery mixture.
Dress with olive oil, lemon juice and salt, and stir very well, until completely dressed, almost wet with dressing.
Mound the shaved celery salad evenly on top of the blue-cheese toasts, and grind black pepper over them very generously. Cut each in half or quarters. (I put the toasts back in the warm oven to slightly melt the cheese.)
I served this with lentil ham soup.
A few days later I made celery toasts again. This time I added a few chopped blue cheese stuffed green olives.
A blessing it was to host our traditional Family Christmas Eve Party a few short weeks ago. Last year we were unable to have our traditional Family Christmas Eve Party because of Covid.
Here is our menu:
Here are photos from the party (Click on photo to enlarge.):
Left to right: apple cranberry crisp by Susan; jalapeno corn muffins by Susan; Daryl looking at 2022 calendar of Rocky Mountain National Park photos by me; Julia and Daryl; Kate, Lauren and Owen opening presents; kielbasa; Lauren; Lauren and Owen looking at book of NYC photos by me; Owen and Lauren; Picadillo; sweet and spicy nut and pretzel mix; shrimp cocktail; Susan holding present from Julia and Daryl; new vinyl from Daryl.
On December 6 Susan and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. We have been together for fourteen years. She found this Melissa Clark recipe online and asked me to make it for our dinner. Melissa didn’t call for making a salad but I thought it would be perfect combination–it was delicious.
Here is the recipe. I made a few changes which I note.
2 pounds broccoli, cut into bite-size florets (I used 1 pound.) 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground) 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground) 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/8 teaspoon hot chili powder 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined (I used cocktail shrimp. 12 pieces.) 1 1/4 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 large lemon) Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss broccoli with 2 tablespoons oil, coriander, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and chili powder. In a separate bowl, combine shrimp, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
2. Spread broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. (I roasted the broccoli for 15 minutes.) Add shrimp to baking sheet and toss with broccoli. Roast, tossing once halfway through, until shrimp warm (about 5-10 minutes). Squeeze lemon juice all over shrimp and broccoli just before serving.
A family Thanksgiving tradition: Before Susan and I head over to a relative’s home for a wonderful Thanksgiving family get-together and delicious dinner, we host our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren for breakfast, gift-giving, watching the Macy’s Parade and the dog show.
“Is that present for me?” one of the grandchildren asked.
In years past I have made quiche, frittata and sushi. Susan found the recipe for the casserole online and suggested it would be extra special and delicious. And it was.
Reading from The New York Times:
“This French classic needs little introduction, but if you haven’t had it in baked form, you’re in for a treat. Think upscale ham sandwiches drenched in egg custard and cheese, melted to a deep golden-brown. There are no tricks here, save for the addition of two extra yolks for maximum French-toast tenderness. Serve it warm, or at room temperature — a fitting breakfast feast that’s welcome any time of the day.”
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1 (10- to 12-ounce) day-old or stale baguette, sliced 1/2 inches thick
Parsley, leaves torn, mustard, and cornichons, for serving (optional)
Heat oven to 325 degrees and generously butter a 9-by-13-inch (or 1 1/2- to 2-quart) baking pan. Butter the slices of bread on one side and spread a thin layer of mustard on the other side. Arrange, shingled, over the bottom of the pan, buttered side up; you may not need all the bread. Drape evenly with ham.
Whisk together milk, half-and-half, egg, egg yolks and pepper. Pour evenly over the bread and ham. Sprinkle with Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses, allowing the ham to peek out in places. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (for the bread to sop up the milk) or up to overnight. Bake until the custard is set, and the bread and cheese are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to set 20 minutes before scattering evenly with parsley. Scoop and serve warm or at room temperature, with mustard and cornichons.
Here is our Thanksgiving Breakfast table:
Here is a closer look at the Morning Glory Muffins.
She loves all the meals I make. I am the chef. She is my Sous Chef. Or, if you prefer, my “Sue Chef.” In fact a few days ago she came home from food shopping with a some dry salami, olives and sweet peppers to add to the pizza I was making that evening.
She’s always finding recipes for me. Clipping them from newspapers and magazines and finding them online. She found the Short Rib recipe in Bon Appetit magazine when she was at The Lift having her hair cut and colored.
Quoting from the magazine:
“Two ingredients make these braised short ribs stand out: fresh coconut and curry leaves. Unlike dried coconut, the fresh stuff doesn’t need to be toasted to bring out its natural nutty and sweet flavors (though dried will work just fine here in a pinch). Fresh curry leaves impart a subtle citrusy, nutty, lemongrass-like taste unlike anything else and are an excellent contrast to the richness of the ribs. They are readily available online if you can’t find them at a local market. This is our answer to the classic big, meaty braise.”
3lb. bone-in beef short ribs
2 Tbsp. ghee or clarified butter
3 large onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 2″-piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
¼cup tomato paste
3 Tbsp. garam masala
3 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. ground turmeric
3 sprigs fresh curry (about 30 leaves)
½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut or dried unsweetened coconut
2 lb. medium Yukon Gold potatoes, halved lengthwise
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro leaves with tender stems and lime wedges (for serving)
Pat short ribs dry; season with salt. Heat a dry Dutch oven over medium. Cook ribs until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer ribs to a plate with tongs.
Preheat oven to 350°. Add ghee to fat in pot and heat until melted. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and mix to coat. Cook, stirring, until onions are softened and starting to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt, cover pot, and cook until onions are golden, 8–10 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden brown, 15–20 minutes. Most of the water will have cooked off at this point and there might be some bare spots where the onions could start to burn. If this happens, stir in a splash of water. The liquid will dissolve the cooked-on bits, which onions will reabsorb. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are deeply browned and almost blackened around the edges and very soft, 8–10 minutes.
Add tomato paste, garam masala, coriander, paprika, cumin seeds, and turmeric to onion mixture, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes (you should have a thick dark brown paste). Add curry leaves, coconut, and 3½ cups water and mix to make a thick braising liquid. Return short ribs to pot, nestling in so they are covered in some liquid. Bring to a simmer, cover pot, and braise in oven until liquid is thickened and meat is tender and falling off the bones, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, arrange potatoes, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour in 1½–2 cups water so it covers baking sheet in a thin layer. Cover with a double layer of foil, crimping sides very tightly to seal.
When ribs have cooked 1 hour, slide potatoes on a rack just below pot and bake until a fork slides easily through them, about 45 minutes. Let potatoes cool 5 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 500° (or as high as your oven goes). Using tongs, lift up foil at 1 corner; pour off water into the sink (foil will hold back the potatoes). Remove foil and drizzle oil over potatoes; season generously with salt and pepper. Let sit until cool enough to handle, then toss to coat. Turn potatoes cut side down again.
Roast potatoes until skins are golden and cut sides are deeply browned and crisp, 20–25 minutes. Transfer to a large shallow bowl or platter.
Serve reserved short ribs with cilantro and lime wedges and roasted potatoes.
Do ahead: Ribs can be braised 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.
Note: I skipped steps 4, 5, 6 and 7. Instead, I cooked the potatoes, and some carrots in the same pot with the short ribs.
Heat cast iron pan in oven while oven preheats. Take pan out of oven when done preheating. Lightly oil pan. Spread dough in pan. Be careful! Lightly oil dough. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Take pan out of oven. Spread caramelized onions over dough (Yes. I made caramelized onions, too!), along with figs (I used 5, halved and cut into thirds.) and crumbled goat cheese (I used about 4 ounces.) Put back in oven and bake for about 5-7 minutes.
I have been making my pizzas recently in my cast iron pan. I love it.
Preheat oven to 475 with the pan in the oven. Once preheated, carefully take pan out of oven. Oil pan gently. Spread your pizza dough VERY carefully in pan. I use Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe. Put pan back in oven for about 5-7 minutes. Take pan out of oven. Put your toppings on pizza. Brush a little bit of olive oil on crust. Put back in oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy! Below we have a mushroom, ground bison, tomato, red onion, mozzarella pizza.
Maybe you would like a slice. There is a plate here with your name on it!