An interesting salad adds to a meal with taste, texture, and color. Food should appeal to all the senses not just taste. Lately, I have been obsessed with Slaws which create for different seasons and occasions. And Slaws are healthy especially dressed with simple ingredients. for a colorful holiday slaw, I added pomegranate arils and pecans for crunch.
This recipe works well with other veggies like Brussel sprouts, kale or broccoli. Experiment and see what works for you.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup baby kale
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 Anjou pear, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
Whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place cabbages, carrots, and kale in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing, and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperated 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Add pecans, pear slices, and pomegranate arils, and toss to combine. Drizzle with remaining dressing just before serving.
Who doesn’t love cheesecake? That rich, creamy taste savored with each bite, a sweet treat that is the perfect finish for any meal! The variety and texture of cheesecakes are endless. Cheesecake can be very dense and heavy or light and fluffy. You can use graham crackers, chocolate cookies, or pastry for the crust and fill it with your favorite recipe. I guess you can tell I love making all types of cheesecakes. Also, flavorings and toppings are endless to create wonderfully tasty cakes for special occasions.
At Christmas, I like to make an Eggnog cheesecake topped with cranberries and cherry preserves for a festive dessert table.
I like this recipe because it is light with a baking method that ensures the cheesecake doesn’t crack. I made either a fruit topping, or if you prefer, you can make a whipped cream topping sprinkled with sparkly candied crystals.
2 ¼ cups (302g) graham cracker crumbs
½ cup (112g) salted butter, melted
3 tbsp (39g) sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
24 ounces (678g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (207g) sugar
3 tbsp (24g) all purpose flour
1 cup (230g) eggnog
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 12-ounce jar cherry preserves
1 cup cranberries
1 tablespoon brandy or rum
Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a 9-inch (23cm) springform pan with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides. Combine the crust ingredients in a small bowl. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool. Cover the outsides of the pan with aluminum foil so that water from the water bath cannot get in. Set prepared pan aside.
Reduce oven to 300°F (148°C). In a large mixer bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar,
and flour until well combined (Use low speed to keep less air from getting into the batter, which can cause cracks). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the eggnog and nutmeg and mix on low speed until well combined.Add the eggs one at a time, beating slowly and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Pour the cheesecake filling into crust and spread evenly.
Place springform pan (covered with aluminum foil) inside another larger pan. Fill the larger pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top edge of the aluminum foil on the springform pan. Bake for 1 hour and 30-40 minutes.
Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.
Crack the oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven and chill until firm, 5-6 hours or overnight
Cook and stir cherry preserves and cranberries in a small saucepan over medium heat until preserves are melted and cranberries start to pop. Stir in 1 tablespoon of brandy or rum. Cool for 30 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the pan. Spoon topping over prepared cheesecake.Refrigerate the cheesecake until ready to serve. Cheesecake is best for 3-4 days.
When I was little, I didn’t like Thanksgiving, my young mind thought if we skipped Thanksgiving, Christmas would come sooner. Now that I am older, I love the meaning of Thanksgiving and enjoy the day with family and friends. If you follow my blog, you know that I love to cook and entertain. And the holidays are special to me. But I have never entertained for Thanksgiving until this year. Due to the pandemic, our plans changed, and I am hosting a small Thanksgiving at my home. Yes, you heard me right. My mother hosted Thanksgiving dinner, and even living in Boston, my family would travel to Pennsylvania to be with my family. After my first grandchild was born, we remained in the Boston area to have dinner with our son’s family and in-laws. Food is the centerpiece in my family that connects us as we share our gratitude with each other. Even those we are not all together on Thanksgiving, our love of family radiates across the miles that separate us. Next year we will celebrate together and toast to health and happiness.
A first-generation American, my mother, embraced Thanksgiving and cooking a turkey with a passion. Now that my mother is no longer with me, I wish I would have asked her how she learned to cook the perfect turkey. My grandparents, both exceptional cooks, immigrated from Italy and cooked the best Italian dishes. I recall them making chicken, never turkey.
My mother was particular about her turkey preparation. Local, farm-fresh turkey, the biggest they had was what she purchased. We anxiously waited for her return from the farm. I can still see her walking up the driveway, weighted down by a twenty-nine or thirty-pound turkey, and we rushed to the door to help her. Then she began cleaning the turkey before cooking. She soaked her turkey overnight in a salt bath in the kitchen sink. Now we are cautioned about leaving the turkey out for an extended time; this was not an issue during my mother’s day. I believe that the salt protected from bacterial growth, and she thoroughly rinsed dried the bird before she stuffed the turkey.
She buttered and seasoned the bird, and then she cut a paper bag to fit over the turkey and the top of the roaster. Twine tied around the edge of the roasting pan secured the covering. When I was young, I was amazed that the bag didn’t catch on fire in the oven. My mother’s turkey was always browned to perfection and never dry.
When I cook a turkey, I soak mine in a tub in the refrigerator or if you don’t have room, place the tub in a cooler packed with ice. I’ve tried various turkey brines, home-made or store-bought; my favorite is still my mother’s simple kosher salt turkey bath. The basic ratio I use is two cups of kosher salt to two gallons of water
And as I prepare for Thanksgiving, getting the turkey ready, I pay tribute to my mother, my guide and inspiration throughout my life!
1 (18 pounds) whole turkey 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 1 lemon, zested and juiced 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves 2 tablespoon kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 1 large bunch of fresh thyme 1 whole lemon, halved 1 shallot, quartered 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves to the butter mixture. Set aside.
Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Place 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Let the turkey sit for 30 minutes, and then rinse again. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan.
Fill the cavity with thyme, halved lemon, halved shallot, and garlic, and brush the turkey outside with the butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.
Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh’s meaty parts registers 165 degrees F (75 degrees C), about 4 hours. If Turkey browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.
Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter, and let it stand for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Make gravy.
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Defatted turkey drippings plus chicken stock to make 2 cups*
1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy
Heat the turkey drippings and chicken stock in a pan. Simmer on low. In a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan, melt butter. Sprinkle the flour into the pan, whisk in, then add the salt and pepper—Cook mixture for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock mixture and Cognac, and cook uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes until thickened.
If you know me or follow my blog, I love to cook, decorate, and entertain! So this might seem a surprise that I am hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner at my home. Yes, you heard, right.
Thanksgiving is the one holiday that you will not find a large group gathered around my dining room table. Traditionally I spent Thanksgiving at my parent's home in Pennsylvania, the one holiday that we were all together again. After my grandson was born, we celebrated at the home of my daughter-in-law's parents, beginning a new phase in our life.
This year due to the pandemic and staying safe, Thanksgiving dinner will be a small group of seven. Individuals that are in our pandemic circle. And I am going to make sure that this is a memorable as every other Thanksgiving!
I've decided to plan my meal backward, beginning with dessert! Growing up, my mother baked a traditional pumpkin pie, which is still my favorite. This year I decided that we are going to have a spectacular Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl pie. And I drizzled chocolate over the pie!
Pumpkin pie is easy to make. To make the pie special, I've added an extra step with the chocolate batter and the drizzle. I've included a basic butter crust recipe, or you can purchase refrigerated pie crust too.
An easy, show-stopping dessert to sweeten up our Thanksgiving dinner even if we are missing sharing with our large family!
Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Pie
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3-ounce Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
All Butter Pie Crust* or 1 (9-inch) Pillsbury Pie crust
2-ounce Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted Cabot butter
Pre-heat over to 425 F. Wish together pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices, and cornstarch in a medium bowl until smooth.
Transfer 1 cup of the filling into a bowl and whisk in the melted chocolate. Pour pumpkin filling in the crust. Dollop the chocolate filling on top and swirl with a butter knife.
Bake Pie for 15 minutes. Reduce3 over temperature to 350 F and continue baking for 35 for 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool.
Make chocolate drizzle. Melt chocolate and butter in a safe microwave bowl at 50 percent for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, depending on your microwave.
Drizzle over pie.
The pie can be refrigerated overnight. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
*All Butter Pie Crust
1 1/4 cup King Arthur's all purposed flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons Cabot unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Add butter and pause until mixture from lima bean-size pieces. Slowly add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just comes together. It should be moist but not wet.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk with the heel of your hand. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round a scant 1/4 inch thick. Fit the dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim the edge to 3/4 inch; fold the dough under itself and crimp decoratively.
Once again, I am honored and grateful to have an essay featured in Victoria Magazine. And did I mention, in the November/December Holiday issue, I am beside myself! If you read my blog, you understand that I am a Christmas fanatic, decorating every room in the house, baking copious quantities of cookies – rumored to be over one thousand delectable morsels – and hosting Christmas festivities for family and friends. One year our home was on the Christmas House tour to benefit Dedham Civic Pride.
My essay in Victoria, “The Christmas Tea Party,” is the story of the first Christmas tea hosted by my daughter Mandi and I for her friends and their mothers. So began our love affair celebrating memorable moments with tea parties. A tradition that we continue to this day.
Victoria’s tag line “Victoria nourishes the feminine soul and promises a return to loveliness.” doesn’t disappoint. And November/December issue is a magical look at Christmas celebrations, decorating, and food from all over the world.
These easy to make chocolate covered Easter Eggs will delight all your family members young and old alike. I sometimes omit the coconut and just make cream eggs and peanut butter. You can serve them plain or decorated with purchased sugar appliqués. However, you choose to embellish these candy eggs will be a big success.
Cream butter gradually with confectioners sugar. Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Mix until combined. Divide sugar mixture in half adding coconut to one half and peanut butter to the other. Shape cream mixtures into small eggs. Place on wax paper
Place chocolate and butter in a large glass bowl. Then, microwave one minute on high. The chocolate will look shiny; stir to combine butter. Microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring after each, until totally smooth. Chocolate continues to melt once you take it out of the microwave. If you microwave the chocolate until it looks completely melted, you risk burning the chocolate.
Add cream to chocolate mixture until combined.
Roll eggs in chocolate and place on wax paper. Don’t coat the underside of eggs. Use a small spatula to smooth out the chocolate and cover the eggs of the filing. Decorate. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. The eggs can be made ahead and frozen. Makes 36 eggs.
Red Velvet all over lately, even Dunkin Donuts has Red Velvet lattes and Red Velvet Drizzle Donuts during the holidays. I’m still not tired of this delicious flavor. What could be more appropriate for Valentine’s Day than Red Velvet Heart cookies? These little gems are fun and easy to make just screaming Be Mine!
Red Velvet Heart Cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon red food coloring
3 ounces white baking chocolate with cocoa butter, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon shortening
1. Preheat oven to 325F. In a medium bowl sift flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside
2. Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Add red food coloring gently hand mixing until the dough is red without any chocolate streaks.
3. Form mixture into a ball and knead until smooth. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until 1/2 inch thick. Using a 1inch scalloped heart cookie cutter, cut out dough. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
5. In a small heavy saucepan cook and stir white chocolate and shortening over low heat until melted and smooth. Drizzle cookies with melted white chocolate. Let stand until white chocolate is set. Makes about 24 cookies.
When the last burnished Autumn leaves float effortlessly to the frosted ground sounding like cinnamon hot cocoa Christmas memories join anticipation heralding the arrival of my favorite time of the year – Christmas. A glorious season I observe with food, decorating, celebrations, and most important family and friends. Time for our family members to return home, coming together once again, making new holiday memories while remembering our past Christmases including our cherished holiday traditions.
Oh, how I love Christmas traditions even as a very young child. The Christmases of my childhood were filled with excitement waking up Christmas morning to find our living room magically transformed into a beautiful Christmas scene while we children were soundly sleeping in our beds. My parents would wait until after we went to bed to decorate the biggest tree my dad could find, then lovingly, they wrapped all our gifts during the early morning hours getting no sleep before we excitedly woke to see if Santa had visited our home. We were never disappointed when we all flew into the living room to see that yes Santa had been hard at work throughout the night. I can still feel my excitement stepping into the living room my breath held tightly as I viewed with wonder fill child eyes the beautiful Christmas tree decorated by my mother. Mother crafted her tree so each light, ornament, and how can I forget that tacky silver tinsel – placed strand by strand – was in perfect harmony. I adored seeing the tree for the first time each year!
I learned from my parents that Christmas was a special time to share with family and friends as a steady stream of guests visited our home. One of my favorite Christmas memories happened on cold snowy Christmas morning when I was nine years old. We had just finished opening our presents when there was a knock at our door. My Dad opened the door to find a group of family friends who braved the snow-covered roads, barely making it up the steep hill leading to our home, for a Christmas morning visit. My parents graciously welcomed their guests even at six o’clock in the morning with food and hot coffee. After our guests were fed, warmed, enjoying my parent’s famous hospitality, I played Christmas songs on the piano with everyone robustly singing along! That Christmas morning so long ago lives forever in my heart.
As I became older I actively participated in our family traditions going with my Dad to purchase our tree, I decorated not only our tree but throughout our home, helping my mother bake copious amounts of cookies for our guests to enjoy during Christmas visits. My mother, an accomplished cook, and baker gave me the important responsibility of making Pizzelles with my grandmother’s cast iron pizzelle mold. First, she made the dough from my grandmother’s special recipe passed down through generations. Next, my important two-fold role was putting just the right amount of dough on the hot pizzelle mold then standing over the stove burner making sure that I turned the mold over at just the right second to insure that each pizzelle were perfectly thin and crisp to Mother’s exact specifications.
All my cherished Christmas memories return to me each December as I await the return home of my grown family to share in our holiday festivities. I to deck the halls just as I learned from my Mother. Christmas starts for me the day after Thanksgiving, not with shopping on Black Friday, but with decorating. When our children were young their Christmas gifts to me were festive Lenox Christmas china for holiday entertaining. Every year my decorating starts with displaying my Christmas china in the dining room china cabinet. Like crisp New England mornings with a dusting of snow seeing Christmas china in the cabinet signals to our family, the Christmas holiday season has begun. Now I decorate throughout our home with abandonment while memories of Christmases past live again flowing back to me as I lovingly unwrap so many special decorations including the beautiful nativity figurines that my mother made for me and my husband for our first Christmas. Once each room is thoroughly dressed in Christmas finery I can turn my full attention to baking Christmas cookies. Yes, I still make Pizzelles with my grandmother’s monogrammed mold, part of her trousseaux, using my family’s special recipe, perfectly thin and crisp as my mother taught me so long ago. My baking takes, according to my family, mythical proportions with the rumor circulating through our family that I actually bake thousands of cookies! Never having counted my cookies I only know that tin after tin magically appears lining the shelves of my pantry where pounds of flour, sugar, chocolate, nuts, and preserves formerly resided. Each year my cookie assortment contains old favorites as well as new recipes that I can’t resist adding to my cookie collection. Trays of cookies greet guests as they visit with the remaindering cookies packed in holiday tins for family and friends near and far.
Preserving my maternal family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner celebration I serve the Italian Feast of seven fishes, Festa dei sette pesci, in honor of my grandmother Theresa. Christmas day finds our home, just like my childhood home, decked in holiday finery, doors open wide, welcoming family and friends for festive merrymaking. Gathering around our large table, enjoying Christmas dinner, we toast with gratitude our good fortunes, especially that we are all together to celebrate another special Christmas. After our guests leave I sit by the fire savoring the day as memories of Christmas’s past play in my mind like a cherished old movie.
Like Scrooge, I can only hope that my epitaph will be “She knew how to keep Christmas well”