Cranberry, plum, and ginger chutney: Tart and sweet with warm undertones and a touch of heat
I’ve been talking a lot lately, more than usual, which can be a lot on a good day. And it’s mostly about my lah-dee-dah, unhurried approach to my favorite food holiday. It’s less than 10 days away, and I really don’t know why I haven’t stepped it up. I’m hoping that all the blah-blah I keep spewing will strike a nerve and I’ll spring into action.
Just how far behind am I? Um, a bit. I still need to finish the menu, set the timeline, write the shopping lists, and get the final headcount. I can’t finish the menu until I’m done fiddling around with some recipes. And I can’t write the timeline and the shopping lists until… I finish the menu! Now, my mom thinks I’m not really in the weeds – yet. “You’ll get back on track. It’s not as bad as you think.” Ah, the power of positive thinking. Always believe your mom.
This little gem of a restaurant opened almost 2 years ago and the word-of-mouth keeps the tables filled and patrons waiting at the bar and outside. Our first visit to Urban Kitchen, highly recommended by friends, lived up to the expectation.
Brisket on the board, sliced and moist, ready for serving
I’m a big believer in tradition, especially when it comes to holidays. I also believe there’s nothing wrong with updating a classic. Brisket was the time-honored Passover meal when I grew up, and I watched my mom make it every year. A beautiful brisket nestled in a hearty sauce of crushed tomatoes dotted with the classic carrots, onions, and celery, and some red wine added in the last half hour to beef up the flavor of the sauce. I love that recipe (and it was something I could make with three toddlers at my feet), and that was our dinner on the first night of Passover.
A meal that’s worth staying home for….
Hello, again, and Happy New Year. From my lack of posts, it appears that Thanksgiving really took its toll on me. I took some time off to handle non-blog business, and as all bloggers hope, I thought I’d be able to eke out time to write a post or two. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But I’m back now, so thanks for sticking with me, and I hope you all enjoyed a lovely holiday season.
We rang in 2014 with a cozy dinner – and my husband and I cooked together. Not something we do often (he likes to stay out of the way, but is the first in line for tasting!). However, over the years he’s learned some skills, and was a very good sous chef last night. Here’s what he did to make this dinner come together: he prepped and made the mustard-shallot vinaigrette for the string beans, peeled the shrimp for the appetizer, minced the garlic and zested and juiced a lemon for the herb crust on the rack of lamb. But his biggest job of all? Stirring the mushroom risotto. Of course, ever the lawyer, he asked questions. “Do you really have to stand here just stirring?” “Can you stir too much? I’d hate to over-stir this.” And there were others I’ll leave out of this post. Despite the mild line of questioning, he stirred and added stock, and stirred some more, until the risotto was done. As you’ll see, it was cooked just right! (Thanks, honey.)
The food that fed the family
After days of chopping and peeling and cooking and freezing, Thanksgiving finally arrived, and all the preparations gave way to thawing and warming and roasting and serving. As our family was coming in during the day, the appetizers made their entrance, just the ticket to keep everyone sufficiently satiated until dinner. The onion dip with cracked pepper was heated to almost bubbly, we took the chill off the eggplant and white bean puree, and the creamy herb dip punched up raw veggies.
Scrumptious sweet potato torte; it doesn’t get any better than this
It’s been a busy – and productive – week since my Thanksgiving post last week. Since then, my nice, neat dining room with some stacked dishes and serving pieces has turned into Thanksgiving Supply Central. We’ve added wine, a large coffee maker, paper goods, and food from the first trip to the grocery store.
On the cooking side, I’ve finished making the squash soup (and froze 2 large batches) and I made one sweet potato torte (see recipe below) and froze it yesterday as a test. I’ve never frozen the torte before, but thought if I could make it early, it would free up precious oven time on Thursday. I’m going to thaw it tomorrow and if holds its consistency after it’s warmed up, my experiment will have worked, which means I’ll make the other one this weekend and freeze that one, too.
Starting to stockpile serving pieces and dishes; a friend for our youngest family member
My kids say that if you know nothing else about me, you know I’m fanatical about Thanksgiving. From the time I could pull up a chair next to the stove where my mom was cooking, I’ve been totally enchanted with the pomp and circumstance of this one day. Food, family, football. Did I say food?
Growing up, the production of putting on Thanksgiving was a fascinating home movie for me. I watched mom’s every move – planning the menu at the kitchen table; making a grocery list; pulling out the good dishes, the good silver, the tablecloth. I went food shopping with her, and helped with whatever I could handle. She prepared the food the day before and the day of. It was a traditional menu (turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows, green bean casserole, etc.), and although she doesn’t consider herself a gourmet cook, her food was absolutely delicious and the holiday table looked beautiful.
Sometimes things have a way of working out perfectly. When it happens once, it’s great, but when it happens a second time, we cheer up and down and high-five and are generally grinning ear to ear. After much talk last year about going to New York, my friend Jennifer and I finally got there last August. That first girls’ food day began with a long walk to see Eataly (http://www.eataly.com/) and ended with dinner at The National (http://www.thenationalnyc.com/). We spent a few hours walking through the maze of Eataly’s marketplace and ate lunch there. We checked out Fishs Eddy (www.fishseddy.com), a vintage-y kitchen shop with everything from old-time open stock china and flatware to dishes, glassware, barware, kitchen utensils, and more. Kitschy and cute and great deals. Had we driven to New York, the trunk of the car would’ve been filled. We toted our packages at least 25 blocks to midtown and finished our day with a terrific dinner at hip, quasi-casual The National.
So how did we top last year’s trip? For starters, after we got the confirming email for tickets for the Oct. 3rd taping of The Chew, we went into planning mode. Jennifer got us a reservation at Barbuto; she also suggested a shopping tour of Chelsea Market, an idea I loved since I’ve never been there. And, as if we really needed an big dinner (with a lot of food) after the amazing lunch we were going to have, I pitched Bar Americain, one of our favorites. (OK, the tuna tartare was calling. Can you blame me?)
Federal Donuts on Sansom Street in Center City Philadelphia
In the spirit of disclosure, I’d like to say that I really try to eat well – fruits, veggies, portion control and all that – but sometimes I fall off the wagon.
Friday was one of those days. It started as every morning does for me. A multigrain English muffin with a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter. So far, so good. My son, Dan, and I drove to Philadelphia to do a couple of things, and we finished up around lunchtime. We were getting hungry, and I remembered a perfect lunch spot for something utterly different and fun.