Monday, November 18, 2013

A Few Recipes That'll Work for Thanksgiving and Chanukah

Supermarket centerpiece: roses, and mint from the produce department

Here's a link to last week's newspaper column:

I was lucky to spend a half  hour last Thursday talking to Ellen Thurston and Tom DePietro during their afternoon program on WGXC.  I took  an intermission from my usual monthly appearance, when I feature a single item of food , "How to Build a Pantry, One Ingredient at a Time" - and instead talked about the delicious confluence of two joyous holidays; Thanksgiving, and the first day of Chanukah.  This happy collision in time will not occur again for thousands of years.  Thanksgiving is always on the 4th Thursday of November, and because the Hebrew calendar is two weeks shorter than the one we use, the Gregorian calendar, you can only imagine the numerical combinations that need to click into place in order for us to celebrate a feast to give thanks for our country, and one to give thanks for  oil that lit the temple lamp, on the same day, again.

During my radio chat I spoke about many recipes that are holiday-interchangeable and mentioned that I would post some of them on this blog.


Pancakes are latkes - Latkes are pancakes.  Latkes are the emblematic Chanukah food.  Chanukah, the festival of Lights is the celebration of  oil (!!!) that seemed only to be enough to light the temple for one day after it was destroyed by invading Syrians more than 2,000 years ago - but, instead, it lasted for 8 days. As a reminder of the miracle, part of Chanukah celebrations include food that have been cooked in oil.  No food is more popular than potato latkes.
Crisp and savory - they accompany other dishes perfectly.   Latkes are classically made with starchy white potatoes.  Their starch helps to hold the pancakes together.  I experimented for a bit to come up with a recipe that would hold non-starchy sweet potatoes together.  It's important that the pancakes are flattened so that they can cook all the way through.  Make them a bit larger if you like.  A platter piled high with these crunchy, sweet, salty and herbaceous latkes will be just the right addition to your holiday table.

makes about 50 2-inch pancakes
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
1 onion, grated
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups corn oil
1.    In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, onion, sage, eggs, flour, salt, and cayenne.  Stir with a wooden spoon to thoroughly blend.
2.   In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the corn oil.  When the butter starts to brown, begin to cook the pancakes:  Put a scant 1/4 cup of the mixture into the palm of your hand and flatten, forming a small 2-inch disk.  Fry up to 5 pancakes at a time in the skillet.  (The butter adds a nice flavor to the pancakes, but will also create foam. Five pancakes will all you'll be able to see at a time.)  Use a butter spreader (which acts as mini spatula) to flip the little pancakes and fry for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, or until brown and crisp.  Remove to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.  Keep warm on a serving platter in a 200 degrees F. oven until all the mixture is cooked.  Serve hot with  sour cream and cranberry sauce, or applesauce.


I developed this recipe for Bon Appetit magazine over 10 years ago.   The popularity of pomegranate products has considerably increased since this recipe was published.  It seems downright timely.

Serves 6 - 8

6 cups water
1 celery stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 carrot, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
 1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 fresh parsley sprigs
1 11- to 12- pound turkey; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 lemon, quartered
1 onion, quartered
10 fresh mint sprigs
3 tablespoon chilled, unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1.   Combine the water, celery, carrot, onion, parsley, and reserved neck, heart and gizzard in a saucepan.   Simmer over medium heat.  Simmer until giblet broth is reduced to 3 3/4 cups, about 1 hour.  Strain; discard solids.
2.   Position rack in bottom third of oven and heat to 400 degrees F.   Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry.   Whisk orange juice, pomegranate molasses, salt and red pepper flakes in a small bowl to blend for glaze.   Place turkey on rack in a heavy large roasting pan.  Starting at neck end, carefully slide hand between skin and breasts, thighs, and legs to loosen skin.  Using a pastry brush or hand, apply a thin coat of pomegranate glaze over meat under skin.  Stuff main cavity with lemon, quartered onion, and mint.  Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely.  Brush turkey with some of remaining glaze.
3.  Roast turkey 20 minutes.  Pour 1 cup giblet broth into the pan; brush turkey with glaze.   Roast 20 minutes; brush with glaze.  Roast 20 minutes.  Add 1 cup broth to pan, brush with glaze, and cover turkey loosely with foil.   Roast 20 minutes.  Brush with glaze and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.   Continue to roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 175 degrees F., brushing with glaze every 20 minutes, about 1 hour 10 minutes longer, about 2 1/2 hours total.
4.   Transfer turkey to a platter.  Tent loosely with foil.  Let stand 30 minutes (internal temperature will increase 5 to 10 degrees).
Meanwhile, tilt roasting pan and spoon fat from surface of juices.  Add 1 cup giblet broth to pan.   Place pan over 2 burners.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, scraping up browned bits.   Add chilled butter and simmer until gravy is smooth, whisking.  Season with salt and pepper.  serve turkey with gravy.


This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, "Classic Italian Jewish Cooking"  (Ecco, 2005).   Author, Edda Servi Machlin says, "Riso coll'uvetta is an ancient Venetian dish prepared mainly during Chanukah.  It has an interesting taste, but is not for every palate."
I like it very ,and I like how it contrasts with savory dishes.

Serves 6

 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 cups short-grain rice
1/2 cup dark, seedless raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups hot broth or water
black pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the garlic, parsley, and rice.   Cook over high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the garlic begins to discolor.  Add the raisins and salt.  Add the hot broth or water, 1/4 cup at a time, and continue to cook, uncovered , over high heat until the rice is done, about 15 minutes in all.  Taste for salt and pepper and add if necessary.  Serve hot or at room temperature.


Just waiting to be made into tasty treats.  The tomatoes were picked green about a month ago.  I think I'll try them out soon.  Maybe on toast with sliced avocadoes?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Additional Recipes for Newspaper Column

Cooking with kale in Provincetown - Caldo Verde - Portuguese kale soup
Making Fried Green tomatoes - soak in buttermilk, coat in cornmeal and flour.  Fry

Picking Apples in the Hudson Valley - making caramel applesauce; wine baked apples; and just eating them


Hello, Thank you to the readers who've asked where I've been.   I've circling around the Northeast since we last met.  And thinking about you and a new post - BUT.  There's always a "but" - isn't there?   I need to deliver a weekly food column for the Hudson-Catskill Media group and sometimes it takes all the food news out of me. I also have a few other projects that I'm working on - etc. etc. etc.

I promised the readers of the newspapers where my column is featured that I would add some recipes that are part of  the Timballo di Maccheroni  recipe in November first's column.  There just wasn't enough room to include everything .

So, here are the recipes for those of you who have read the column - and the column for you who haven't yet read it. 

RAGU NAPOLETANO  (Arthur Schwartz - "Naples at Table", HarperCollins, 1998)

Schwartz says, "This is a contemporary recipe for ragu.  If you read the old ones you would probably never cook ragu...some old recipes have three kinds of fat...and olive oil for browning the meat.   There are recipes, though rare, that also throw butter into the mix."

Makes 4 cups sauce, enough for 1 1/2pounds pasta, serving 8

1/2 pound well-trimmed pork cut in large chunks, or sweet Italian sausage
1/2 pound lean stewing veal, cut in large chunks
1/2 pound well-trimmed chuck or shoulder, cut in large chunks
1  medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup hearty red wine
2   28-ounce cans peeled plum tomatoes (not drained)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
big pinch hot red pepper flakes

1.   In a 4- to 5-quaert pot or stovetop casserole, combine the meats (except sausage , if using, which gets added later), the onion, and the olive oil.   Place over medium heat and sear the meat.  It will immediately exude juices.  Keep cooking, stirring frequently, until the meat juices have evaporated and the meats and the onions are light brown, at least 10 minutes.
2.   Add wine and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the wine evaporates.  The meat will be a much darker brown now.
3.   Pass the tomatoes through a food mill- directly into the pot if you like - and stir them into the meat.   Add the sausage, if using.  Add salt and hot pepper and stir again.   Simmer gently for 2 1/2 - 3 hours.  Stir every 15 minutes or so, but after about an hour, before stirring, skim any fat off the surface that you consider excess.  (If the meats are lean, there is usually no more than a couple of tablespoons of fat, and you'll want to leave it in the sauce.)   Also, every time you stir, remember to stir down any sauce that will have condensed on the side of the pot just above its surface.   When done, the ragu will have a dark color and a thick consistency.
4.   Let the sauce cool slightly, but strain out or pick out the meat while it is still warm.  Check for salt and pepper.
5.   Serve the sauce very hot on pasta or use it in other recipes as indicated.  The meat can be served as a separate course, or on another day.  Both the sauce and the meat can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week, much longer in the freezer.    After a week of refrigerator storage, if it is necessary to keep the sauce longer, bring it to a simmer, then refrigerate it again.   It will need to be reseasoned when reheated for use.


3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter
1 large egg
5 to 6 tablespoons milk

Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, then add the butter cut into 1-inch pieces.  Pulse the flour mixture and butter together until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the lesser amount of milk, then pour it into the work bowl.    Pulse a dozen or so times to mix thoroughly, then let the motor run a few seconds, until the dough gathers into a ball.  If the dough seems dry and doesn't quite hold together, add a little more milk.  Remove the dough from the food processor bowl and place it on a board.  Knead it a few times.  Let it rest under a kitchen towel.  Divide the dough into two portions, one about 3/4 of the dough for the bottom of the timballo/drum, the remaining 1/4 for the top crust.  Form two 1-inch thick disks, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate (to rest) for at least 30 minutes.  (If refrigerated longer, return to room temperature before rolling).

SUSANSIMONSAYS:    I'll try to be more timely with future blogs.  We're approaching shorter, darker and colder days.  The kind of days that make being in front of a hot stove one of the more comfortable - and pleasurable -  places to be.