Category Archives: Holiday

Chanukah Gifts-Day One

dove menorahI had planned a splashy start to this series of posts-a Chanukah first night feast.  Unlike slick magazine articles (the perfect country Christmas dinner for 25 in the restored barn which is actually written and photographed in June) I like to write in real-time about my real family.  Real families get colds, real families have too much homework, real families eat cheese omelets for dinner on the first night of Chanukah instead of the inventive gourmet spread I had planned.

What was special tonight was not the food or the carefully wrapped boxes, but the love in the tired faces gathered around the menorah’s glowing lights and the soft sweetness in my Mom’s voice on the phone when she talked about holidays and tried to find some good even in a crappy day.  This was a tough year for my family on many fronts, but we have all made it through to this season and are stronger for it and that is my Chanukah gift for the first night.

Give Me A Break!

turnip saladRich, warm, creamy flavors are holiday standards.  This is the time of year when even Scrooge can’t resist indulging in a cheese filled or bacon-wrapped little something.   Layer upon layer of indulgent foods can become tiring unless there is something simple with a bit of bite to break them up.  A green salad is a classic option but some beautiful scarlet salad turnips I found at the farmers market made a unique accompaniment to a traditional holiday meal.  This dish is also great for pot luck parties and buffets as it provides a nice option for raw food and vegan food fans. 

1 large scarlet salad turnipturnip apple close
1 medium tart apple
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp raw, unfiltered honey (or more to taste)
1 tsp caraway seeds

Shred turnip and apple on mandolin or food processor
Blend in cider vinegar and honey
Sprinkle in caraway seeds and toss
Chill until ready to serve

Autumn American Lamb Supper

lamb jam winUPDATE-We won! Teamed up with Chef Michael Scelfo of Russell House Tavern, my lamb roast was transformed into a roulade of lamb belly stuffed with lamb sausage and sous vide overnide until it was meltingly tender.  It was served with a dollop of Doves and Figs Winter Carnival conserve, a brush of cranberry mustard and a sprinkle of micro greens.

A number of years ago at Passover, I arrived at my parent’s new home in Floridalamb supper to find out some terrible news.  My mom had decided that since it was a much smaller holiday crowd then in the past, she would just make a nice roast chicken or
perhaps a small brisket.  “No lamb?” I asked, concern rising in my voice.  As my  mother explained how she was simplifying many things now, tears started to run down my face.  My feelings were sparked in part by longing for my favorite dish, by losing a holiday tradition, and perhaps mostly by the realization that my parents and I were growing older.   Five minutes later Mom and I  were in the car heading to the store to buy a leg of lamb and a big head of garlic and the holiday was restored for me.  The miracles of parting the sea and freeing the slaves from Egypt paled in comparison to the wonders of that lamb dinner.

When I was invited by Boston Chefs, to participate in the American Lamb ProAm, (information and a chance to vote for this recipe) I jumped at the chance.  My first thought was to make the typical spring lamb dinner that I enjoyed so much as a child.  The beautiful crimson-tipped trees and the bounty of fall fruits and vegetables at the farmers market convinced me instead to give my lamb a local autumn flavor.  I have also been following the adventures of  a group learning blog founded by Cathy Barrow called Charcutepalooza which inspired me (and provided excellent help technical advice) to make sausage as part of my dish.

With the exception of salt, sugar, and a few spices, I used all New England local and farm-grown ingredients in my dish.  The lamb that was generously supplied by the American Lamb folks came from Superior Farms I was pleased to read that they are  committed to sustainable farming and their website states that “All lamb livestock are raised outdoors with healthy diets of natural grasses, crops and grains.”

The local ingredients featured in my dish include:
Corn meal grown and ground by Mainstone Farm, Wayland MA
Roxbury and Cortland apples, Bosc Pears-Kimball Fruit Farm, Pepperell MA
Eggs-Golden Egg Farm, Hardwick MA
Cranberries-PJs Cranberries, Sandwich MA
Brussells Sprouts-Grateful Farm, Franklin, MA
White Wine-Hardwick Winery in Hardwick MA
Harpoon Hard Apple Cider from Boston, MA and Vermont
Cabot Sharp Cheddar from Vermont
Kate’s Buttermilk from Maine
King Arthur Flour from Vermont

I hope you will enjoy this delicious fall lamb supper and please vote for my dish starting on Monday at www.bostonchefs.com and show your love of lamb and local farm-grown food!

Autumn American Lamb Roast Stuffed with Lamb Apple Sausage lamb roastBoneless leg of  lamb
Lamb Apple sausage (recipe below) or store-bought lamb sausage
Cape Cod Cranberry Marinade (recipe below)

Prepare the marinade
Place the boneless lamb leg in a large plastic bag and pour in marinade
Refrigerate the lamb for two hours, turning several times to make sure the marinade covers the meat fully
After two hours remove the meat from the bag and discard the marinade
Roll open the leg of lamb gently
Cut part way through meat from the inside, if needed, to
make the roast lay as flat as possible-be careful to not cut too deeply
Spread the sausage mixture over the inside of the lamb leg
leaving a small border around the edges
Roll the roast from the short end like a jelly roll
Truss the roll with butcher’s twine
Roast at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then at 325 degrees until meat reaches desired doneness.
For a medium rare roast, cook about 25 minutes per pound to 145 degrees.
Let roast rest for about ten minutes before slicing

Lamb Apple Sausagelamb sausage meat
1 ¾ lb pounds of lamb meat (leg or shoulder)
1/3 lb lamb fat
2 cups peeled, cored, chopped firm baking apples
½ cup fine ground cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tsp black pepper
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice

Equipment needed-food processor or meat grinder and large bowl
of ice

Cut meat and fat into cubes and place in freezer for 30 minutes
Meanwhile peel, core, and chop apples finely in food
processor or with a knife and set aside
After the meat has chilled, grind in three batches in food
processor fitted with steel blade or run through meat grinder
Place the ground meat in a bowl over the ice bowl to keep it
chilled through the process
When all the meat has been ground, mix the cornmeal, spices
and apples into the meat with your clean hands, blending well
The stuffed lamb roast will need about half of the sausage, you can shape the remaining sausage into patties to freeze and cook later.

Cape Cod Cranberry Marinade
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup cranberries (chopped in food processor)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cracked brown mustard seed (whole seeds can
be cracked in a coffee grinder)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3-4 garlic cloves crushed
1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Place all  ingredients in a large bowl
Stir well to combine

Side Dishes

apple cranberry conserveApple Pear Cranberry Conserve
6 cups apples (measure after peeling, coring, and cutting into ½ inch chunks)
2 cups of pears (measure after peeling, coring, and cutting into ½ inch chunks)
3 cups cranberries
3 1/2 cups water
5 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Cook cranberries in sugar, water, and spices until cranberries begin to soften
slightly and pop (about 10 minutes)
Add apples and pears
Cook gently until apples and pears soften and mixture begins to thicken
Boil until mixture gels (will be a softer spread than a traditional jam)
Remove cinnamon sticks and refrigerate, can, or freeze

Cheddar Lamb Fat Cornbread
1 cup stone-ground corn meal
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons lamb fat saved from roasting pan and chilled
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2/3 cup cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon baking powder

Heat oven to 400 degrees
Mix together flour, corn meal, and baking powder in a bowl
Stir in cold lamb fat
Whisk buttermilk and egg together
Blend buttermilk and egg into flour mixture
Stir in cheese gently
Grease  9″ cast iron pan or muffin tin
Place in oven to heat for about 5 minutes
Scoop batter into hot pan
Bake 20 minutes for pan and 15 minutes for muffin tin

Brussels Sprouts  Braised in Hard Cider
Clean sprouts and trim stems as needed
Pan sear sprouts in a small amount of olive oil
Add a generous amount of salt and pepper and cover part way
with hard apple cider
Cook on medium heat until sprouts become just tender

Wicked Son Eggs

Wicked Son EggsPassover is a time of stories and symbols.  As the holiday draws to an end, I wanted to share one of the most fun things we served at our Seder this year.  Last year my hubby, Mark, led us in the   The Two Minute Haggadah for the second night of Passover.  Everyone thought it was a riot and we joked that there should be a dish to match that contained the essence of the Seder in a few bites.  A few days before Passover began, we remembered the conversation and tossed around various ideas of how to make a bite-size Seder.  We hit on deviled eggs as the perfect medium for our holiday madness and Mark insisted that we call them “Wicked Son Eggs”.  Off to the kitchen I went to figure out a recipe.

After a day of shopping and cooking, the lamb confit was ready and I assembled the rest of our Wicked Son Eggs as follows:Seder egg
Peel and sliced 12 hard boiled eggs
Scoop yolks out and mix with mayonnaise, little shreds of lamb confit, fresh grated horseradish, and parsley
In another bowl mix finely diced apple with chopped walnuts and sweet wine
Stuff the eggs with yolk mixture
Top eggs with apples and walnuts
Serve on romaine lettuce leaves

Old School Matzo Ballin’

chickenWhile I enjoy the creativity of dishes that are updated, deconstructed, or chemically induced into fascinating forms, I sometimes crave more classic flavors.  Dishes prepared as they have been for generations have a way of satisfying hunger of the belly and the heart. 

For Passover, I made matzo balls prepared with shmaltz (chicken fat) and  a simple chicken soup .  The plump orbs bursting with rich chicken essence floating in golden liquid produced from simmering a local stewing hen and farm vegetables would have made any Jewish grandmother proud.  I hope that next holiday time you will throw away that dusty box of soup mix and try the recipe below.

Matzo Balls
1 cup matzo meal
4 eggs (beaten)
4 tablespoons melted chicken fat (skimmed from chicken soup)*
5 tablespoons cold water
Dash of salt & white pepper

In a bowl, mix all ingredients, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 20 minutes
Meanwhile, heat a large pot of salted water until simmering.
Wet hands with cold water and scoop the matzo mixture by small handfuls about 1″ around into the simmering water.  Do not pack the mixture in tight balls.
Cover the pot and simmer gently for about 10 minutes and then turn the matzo balls, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes more.  Serve in hot chicken soup.
Makes about 18. 

*Note: you can also use frozen chicken fat, butter (if you are not concerned with keeping the dish Kosher), or Parve margarine

Drunken Passover Grilled Cheese

drunken passover grilled cheeseI love Passover and all of the symbolism and stories and the special foods the holiday carries.  Passover meant huge dinners with family and friends, somehow managing to squeeze in one or two more chairs for last-minute guests who could not bear to miss the fun.  From the days of being the giggling children at the table impatient for the meal to begin; to teens snickering about wicked sons and stealing sips of wine; to joyfully watching the next generation hunt for the afikomen-Pesach has always filled my heart with delights.    

Since I will eat matzoh anytime and consider it a treat, the main food of Passover is not a boring burden for me.  For many however, anything that can help break the monotony is welcome.  So when I saw that Cabot was making a Kosher for Passover cheddar, I knew that I needed to try to make a Passover acceptable version of my favorite sandwich, the humble grilled cheese.   Since wine is a big part of the holiday celebration, I used it in my recipe but you can use apple juice for the kiddies if you wish.

Drunken Passover Grilled Cheese
Egg Matzo
Kosher for Passover cheddar cheese
Kosher for Passover Port or other sweet wine
Butter

Heat butter in a non-stick frying pan
Slice cheese into thin slices
Pour some wine into a shallow dish or plate
Dip two pieces of matzo in wine until wet through but not soaked & soft
Immediately, layer slices of cheese between matzo pieces
Cook in butter until cheese is melted and matzo is toasty (if you’ll pardon the expression during Pesach)
Enjoy!

Sweet Passover Popovers

passover popovers and jamEvery year  at Passover I made traditional favorites but I also try to create one or two new dishes for my family and friends.  This year in addition to holding our usual big seder dinner, we are planning to have a Passover brunch toward the end of the holiday.  I love popovers for brunch so I decided to try my hand at creating a tasty version with matzo cake flour.  They came out delicious and I now have several dozen tucked into the freezer to heat and serve with homemade strawberry jam at our brunch.  Also, on our menu will be omelettes, homemade gravlox, and cranberry matzo meal pancakes.

Below is the recipe for Sweet Passover Popovers which can be made in a standard muffin tin.  They will not puff quite as much as traditional popovers but will be light, eggy, and delicious.

Sweet Passover Popoverspassover popovers
1 cup matzo cake flour (not matzo meal!)
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of cinnamon

Heat the oven to 450 degrees
Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl (preferably one with a pouring spout)
Mix together wet ingredients
Add the wet to the dry ingredients
Mix until just well combined (do not overmix)
Grease a 12 cup muffin tin
Pour batter evenly into 10 cups
Bake for 15 minutes
Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes more
Poke each popover gently with a fork to allow steam to escape
Serve hot or room temp or cool and freeze