My Favorite Holiday Recipes

My favorite holiday recipes.

I wish for you jolly times around the table with  your favorite recipes, good friends and those you love this holiday season.

I share with you some of my favorite holiday recipes.

Wassail

I have created my own version of apple cider and eggnog. I had something like this in a restaurant in Chicago a few years ago and it stayed with me. I just had to recreate it!

A holiday tradition meant to warm people’s spirits during the dark cold Christmas season was the wassail.  No early English Christmas or Yultide would have been complete without wassail, a hot cider like warm drink. Wassailing itself – the habit of visiting neighbors, singing carols and sharing drink! This is such a warm habit to behold this time of year!

The word wassail was itself a toast meaning “your health”

I have created my own version of it and if I have available butter from grass-fed cow, I will add a tab of butter at the end allowing it to melt and pool just like a hot buttered rum.

Ingredients

1 medium orange

13 whole cloves

2 quarts hard apple cider

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (or powdered ginger)

1 tsp grated nutmeg

6 allspice berries

4 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

6 large eggs, (separated)

½ cup  bourbon or brandy

 

  1. Pour apple cider into a heavy-bottomed stock pot and warm over moderately low heat. Add a sliced orange. Whisk in ginger, cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves and grated nutmeg. Do not bring the wassail to a boil.
  2. Beat egg yolks until light in color and set aside. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg yolks into whites and temper the eggs by slowly pouring one-half cup cider into the eggs. Then pour in the tempered eggs into the remaining cider. Add bourbon just before serving or pour on shot of bourbon into each mug and ladle the wassail over the bourbon.

 

December would not be complete without Latkes. We celebrate the 8 nights of Hanukah, but we loves our shellfish too! How Rich we are!

Sweet Potato Latkes

Makes about 16 latkes.

1 medium yellow onion

2 pounds sweet potato

4 tablespoons rice flour or quinoa flour

3 teaspoons kosher salt

Pinch cayenne

2 large egg, beaten

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Grate the onion into a large bowl. Grate sweet potatoes into the same bowl. Wring out excess liquid by placing in a towel and squeezing the liquid. Mix the latke mixture with the flour, salt, and cayenne. Stir in the egg.

Heat oil in a large cast iron (my preference) skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, spoon about 1/4 cup of the latke mixture into the skillet, pressing lightly to form 2-3-inch pancakes Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook, turning once, until just golden, about 2 minutes per side. Place in warm oven to hold.

Serve the latkes topped with a small dollop of applesauce or sour cream or horseradish.

Serve immediately.

The beginning of Lobster Bisque is a solid Lobster Stock

The beginning of Lobster Bisque is a solid Lobster Stock

Lobster Bisque

My Son Oliver requests this for every holiday including July 4th!

Hint:

Whenever I serve lobster, I save the shells to make stock. With 4 lobster body shells, pour 1 cup of cognac over 4 lobster shells and roast them in a hot oven for one hour. Place the roasted shells in a pot with 3 shallots with the skins cut into quarters, 2 onions with the skins cut into 8 slices, 6 celery sticks. 4 carrots cut in 1/4,  3 fresh thyme springs and 3 bay leaf, cover with water  and simmer for twelve hours.  Do not let the stock boil as it will become cloudy. Strain and use as your lobster bisque base or freeze for lobster base in the future.

Makes 6-7 cups; can easily be doubled

To make the stock using whole lobsters:

4 lobsters split in half
4 cups water
1 Tablespoon sea or kosher salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock

To make the bisque:

1/4 cup unsalted butter plus 1 Tablespoon
1 cup fennel, chopped
1/2 cup shallot, chopped
1 cup fresh tomato, peeled, seeded, diced
(if not in season, use organic canned tomatoes)
2 Tablespoons brandy
2 Tablespoons raw white rice
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 organic orange

1 lemon
1 jalapeño (optional)

4 cups heavy cream

If you have not premade a lobster stock, make the stock by:

To kill the lobsters, run a knife through the center on the head. Continue splitting the lobster in half. Alternatively, you could steam the lobsters until a few minutes ( the meat should not be cooked through). Remove the meat from the shells the , Reserve the meat for the final finish to the bisque. Add the lobster shells to a stock pot  and add 6 cups of the lobster water (from the steamed lobsters) to a stock pot, and add  3 cups dry white wine (Chardonnay works well), 3 cups chicken stock. Add a bit of flavoring like: 3 carrots,  1 chopped leeks, 1 c hopped onion or 3 celery stalks chopped , 3 bay leaves and 3 thyme stalks.

Bring to a boil and  simmer until reduced to 8 cups; about 12 hours  Then strain the shells and vegetables from the stock.

While the stock is simmering prepare the rest of the ingredients for the bisque, You will need a cup of diced tomatoes, peeled and seeded. The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to place them in boiling water for about 45 seconds. The skin will instantly pull away. Cut the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds and dice.

Sauté fennel and shallot in 1/4 cup unsalted butter, about 5 minutes.

Stir in strained lobster stock, diced tomato, brandy, raw white rice ( I put this in my spice grinder to make a rice powder- but it is not necessary , tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, bay leaf and thyme sprig; simmer 45 minutes.

If you like a bit of heat, add one jalapeño chopped very fine the last five minutes of cooking. Remove from heat.

Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig.

Working in batches, use a blender to puree the stock.

Stir in heavy cream and fresh lemon juice and zest an orange over the pot just before serving to finish off the bisque.

When you are ready to serve the bisque, put pieces of cooked lobster into a bowl and pour the bisque over the lobster. Garnish with fresh thyme and an orange zest sauté the lobster meat in

Pan Seared Scallops with Lobster Stock

For one pound of scallops –  which is about 40 bay scallops-  I pass around as an hors’doeuvres with  tooth picks)

This time of year when the scallops are at their sweetest, I salt and pepper the scallops and heat a skillet until hot.  Add oil and scallops and allow them to sear.  The trick is to not over cook the scallops so, I do not turn them as they only take on minute to cook. After 1 minute, remove  and serve with a reduced stock. I make the sauce ahead as this is a very quick horsd’Oeuvre to serve.

Stock reduced: Two cups white wine and reduce it to half a cup. Add two cups of lobster stock and reduce to ¼ cup. Toss in a few saffron threads and reserve for scallops To cook the scallops heat a large pan ( I love my big cast iron) Add a few tablespoons of sunflower oil add the scallops for when they are hot enough to sizzle on the pan.

This is quick, not more than one minute. Do not crowd the pan, they should be enough room around each scallop for them to sear well. As soon as they are brown on one side, I remove them from the skillet as they will continue to cook and this are so small and delicious raw, you do not need to cook them any more.

Oysters Rockefeller serves 4

2 pound spinach chopped fine, sautéed and wilted
1  small onion diced fine

1 1/2 fennel bulb diced fine
2 Tablespoons pernod (or substitute 1 teaspoon anise ground in a spice mill)
½ gruyere cheese shredded
16 oysters opened (keep the juice in the shell)
1 pound rock salt

Sauté the onions and fennel until golden. Add pernod or anise. Add spinach and blend well. Allow to cool. Place spinach mixture on oysters and place a few threads of cheese on top of the spinach. Spread the rock salt evenly over on a half sheet pan or large cookie sheet. Place the oysters on the rock salt and broil under flame just until the cheese melts as the oysters will continue to cook in their juices.

Joy of Almond!

My husband loves coconut, chocolate and almonds, preferably all together!

I took one look and the Almond Joys in the supermarket the other day and knew I could create my own.

Let’s start with real chocolate.

Taza (http://www.tazachocolate.com/) is my personal favorite. If you are ever in Cambridge, MA–call them–as they will give you a remarkable tour.

Joy of Almond Chocolate Bar
31/2 cups dark chocolate 80% cacao
1 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (toasted at 350° for 5 minutes)

Melt chocolate over very low heat and pour onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Scatter almonds and 3 tablespoons of coconut over chocolate. Spread the mixture evenly back and forth to ½ inch thickness. Sprinkle remaining coconut on top of mixture. Refrigerate for 2 hours to set. Break into square any size. Hint: if you like uniform sizes, score the chocolate as it is hardening and then break on the score lines.

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