Holiday Recipes

    I generally always make the same meal for Christmas as I do for Thanksgiving with a few exceptions, the Mulled Wine being the most exciting addition. I cringe when I add cupfuls of sugar to sweeten things, so instead I add agave syrup to this lovely spiced drink and it works beautifully. Since you can pull up the Thanksgiving MAKE from the archive if you're doing Whole Roast Turkey, I thought I would do a delicious Hanukkah menu and a Christmas breakfast.

    For Hanukkah I love a Whole Roasted Fish with Salsa Verde and with the addition of the Latkes, you get that wonderful crisp potato thing on the side; it’s very satisfying. The Maple-Dijon Roasted Winter Vegetables complete the picture.

    The Christmas morning breakfast/brunch is easy to prepare and has great seasonal and holiday flavors. The Spiced Pumpkin & Walnut Bread has become one of my favorites, I could eat the whole loaf. Make it and serve it warm in the morning. The frittata is really wonderful and you can use any ingredients you like, just follow the basic technique. Here I use sweet potatoes, shallots and goat cheese, but feel free to dream up your own combo. The biscuits are a healthier version of the good ole' southern version but are just as tasty. You can scramble an egg, add one of the homemade sausages, stick 'em in the fresh warm biscuit and, to quote a line from the epic eighties film Sixteen Candles, "Wha-lah, breakfast is ready!"



    Mulled Wine (keep it on the stove all season!)

    Hanukkah Dinner

    • Potato and Apple Latkes with Smoked Salmon
    • Whole Roasted Fish
    • Salsa Verde
    • Maple-Dijon Roasted Winter Vegetables

    Christmas Breakfast

    • Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Frittata
    • Homemade Turkey Sausage
    • Spiced Pumpkin and Walnut Bread
    • Quick Biscuits

    Mulled Wine

    This recipe is adapted from Bon Appétit magazine. I upped the spice and substituted agave syrup for the sugar, which is lower on the glycemic index and has a clean, mild flavor.

    Serves: 6
    Time: 20 minutes (but can sit on the stove for hours)

    • 10 whole cloves
    • 6 black peppercorns
    • zest from 1 lemon, in big strips
    • zest from 1 large orange, in big strips
    • 2 cinnamon sticks (each about 2" long)
    • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
    • 2 bottles dry red wine (about 7 cups)
    • 1 cup kirsch
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 cup mild agave syrup

    1.Tie the cloves, peppercorns, zest, cinnamon and vanilla in a piece of cheesecloth (you can also use a coffee filter). Or you can just throw everything in the pot, but be careful later when you drink the wine.

    2.Combine the "spice bag" with the other ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat as low as it can go and let it quietly bubble away for at least 20 minutes, up to a few hours. Ladle it into glasses and serve.

    Potato And Apple Latkes With Smoked Salmon

    Combining apple with the standard potato lends a welcome sweetness and roundness to these latkes. They're fun and festive to serve with sour cream and smoked salmon, but just sour cream is fine too, or even a bit of applesauce on the side. Or you can simply serve them unadorned.

    Serves: 4 (makes a dozen latkes)
    Time: 20 minutes

    • 1 large baking potato, peeled and coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
    • 1 large apple, peeled and coarsely grated (about 2/3 cup)
    • 1 egg
    • 1/3 cup matzo meal
    • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus a bit more for serving
    • pinch freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • sour cream for serving or creme fraiche
    • smoked salmon for serving

    1.Put the grated potato and apple in a bowl of cold water and swish them around. This will get some of the starch out, which helps get your latkes crispy. Drain the potato and apple and squeeze out as much moisture as you can with your hands (or wrap in a clean tea towel and wring dry). Again, crisp is the goal.

    2.Mix everything but the olive oil together in a large mixing bowl. Add a bit more matzo meal if the mixture is very loose (it shouldn't be if your vegetables are nice and dry). Form the latkes into whatever size you prefer – I like to pinch off large tablespoons of the mixture and flatten them into thin pancakes using my fingertips.

    3.Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Fry the latkes in batches (don't overcrowd the pan), about a minute or two on each side or until browned and crisp. Regulate the heat while frying – you want the pan to be hot enough to brown the latkes quickly, but not smoking. Drain the latkes on paper towels, sprinkle with a bit more salt, dollop with sour cream and drape a little slice of smoked salmon over each. Serve immediately.

    Whole Roasted Fish

    This is one of the simplest things to make and happens to be unbelievably elegant. Fish cooks so nicely when it's left on the bone - it stays moist and flavorful. I love when something's as easy as it is impressive.

    Serves: 4
    Time: 35 minutes

    • 1 very fresh whole sea bass, at least 2 pounds, scaled and gutted (your fishmonger should be able to do this for you)
    • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices
    • 1 tablespoon each fresh tarragon, basil, chives and parsley
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • coarse sea salt

    1.Preheat the oven to 425° F.

    2.Cut four or five slits on each side of the fish, about ½" into the flesh. Combine the herbs and roughly chop them. Stuff each opening with a slice of lemon and a little bit of the herb mixture. Put any remaining herbs and lemon slices in the cavity of the fish. Lay the fish in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper and salt. Roast for about half an hour, or until the fish is firm but still moist. To serve, gently spoon the top filet off the bone. You can then easily peel the spine off in one piece from the bottom half. Serve the fish with plenty of Salsa Verde.

    Salsa Verde

    A hard recipe to give precisely. My amounts are always a little different and my herbs change frequently depending on what's growing in my garden and what I'm serving it with. This is my standard salsa verde – heavy on the chives, easy on the parsley, generous, as always, with the anchovies.

    Serves: 4
    Time: 5 minutes

    • 6 olive oil-packed anchovies
    • 1 generous teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
    • 1/3 cup roughly chopped basil
    • 1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro
    • 1/2 cup roughly chopped chives
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • freshly ground pepper

    Put the anchovies in a bowl and cut into small pieces with a knife and fork (saves you a board to wash!). Stir in the mustard and vinegar. Add the herbs, slowly stream in the olive oil, and season with pepper.

    Maple-Dijon Roasted Winter Vegetables

    Sure you can just roast vegetables with a little olive oil and salt, but this great combination of maple syrup and Dijon mustard elevates the dish. Kids love these.

    Serves: 4
    Time: half an hour

    • 1 large sweet potato, peeled
    • 4 parsnips, peeled, ends trimmed
    • 4 carrots, peeled, ends trimmed
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
    • 2 tablespoons each real Vermont maple syrup, Dijon mustard and olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1.Preheat the oven to 425° F.

    2.Cut the sweet potato, parsnips and carrots into roughly 3" sticks, about 1/2" thick (like French fries). Mix together the remaining ingredients and toss with the vegetables. Roast, stirring occasionally, until browned and a paring knife slips in easily, about 25 minutes.

    Sweet Potato And Goat Cheese Frittata

    This savory combination of sweet potatoes, shallots, thyme and goat cheese is perfect for wintertime. A great breakfast dish for a crowd.

    Serves: 4
    Time: half an hour

    • 1/2 sweet potato, peeled (about 1/4 pound)
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 3 shallots, thinly sliced (nearly a cup)
    • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced, plus a pinch extra
    • coarse sea salt
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 6 eggs
    • 1/2 cup soy milk or regular milk
    • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/3 cup)

    1.Preheat the oven to 375º F.

    2.Steam the sweet potato until barely tender, about 15 minutes. Cut the sweet potato into thin rounds – you should have about a dozen slices.

    3.Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a 10" cast iron skillet. Sauté the shallots and the tablespoon of thyme for about six minutes or until soft and just barely browned. Push to the side of the pan and add the sweet potato slices. Let them brown on both sides, about two minutes per side. Season with plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper.

    4.Meanwhile, beat the eggs and milk in a mixing bowl. Remove half of the sweet potato and shallot mixture to a plate. Add half the egg mixture to the pan and distribute the reserved sweet potatoes and shallots over them. Add the remaining egg mixture. Dot the top with the goat cheese, the pinch of thyme and a nice grind or two of black pepper. Let it cook for about five minutes on the stovetop or until just set on the edges (it will still be very runny in the middle). Stick it in the oven for exactly eight minutes; it should be just set throughout.

    Homemade Turkey Sausage Patties

    Sausage patties are one of the easiest things to make and are so much healthier and tastier than the scary processed options. Here I use a salt that I get at Borough Market in London that’s mixed with herbs de Provençe. If you can’t find it, simply use a pinch of herbs de Provençe, a little extra fennel seed and maybe a bit of rosemary.

    Serves: 4
    Time: 15 minutes

    • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
    • pinch of hot chili flakes
    • pinch of cayenne pepper
    • pinch of herbs de Provençe salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
    • 1/2 pound ground turkey
    • 2 teaspoons real Vermont maple syrup
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil

    1.Using a mortar and pestle, Flavor Shaker (gotta love Jamie Oliver) or mini food processor, bash the fennel seeds, chili, cayenne, salts and black pepper together. Combine this spice mixture with the sage, turkey and maple syrup in a bowl until thoroughly combined.

    2.Form the mixture into 12 small, thin patties. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Cook the sausages for about a minute and a half on each side, pressing down with your spatula to really brown them and keep them thin. Serve warm.

    Spiced Pumpkin And Walnut Bread

    This doesn't have wheat or sugar, but you would have no idea unless someone told you. It's got a lot of spice, including fresh ginger and garam masala.

    Serves: makes about 8 thick slices
    Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes (nearly all of which is in the oven)

    • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1 cup real Vermont maple syrup
    • 1/2 cup agave syrup
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus a little for the pan
    • 1 cup pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 cups white spelt flour
    • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala
    • 1 cup walnuts

    1.Preheat the oven to 350° F.

    2.Whisk together the ginger, eggs, water, maple syrup, agave, oil, pumpkin and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Sift in the flours, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir together and fold in the walnuts. Lightly grease a 9" x 5" x 3" glass loaf pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the bread until browned and a wooden skewer doesn’t have any batter stuck to it when you test it, about an hour and ten minutes.

    Quick Biscuits

    These biscuits, made with white spelt flour and a bit of organic vegetable shortening and yogurt, are just as good (perhaps even better!) than their white flour and lard cousins. They're soft, flaky, perfect. Leftovers are great toasted and drizzled with honey (if they last that long).

    Serves: 4 (makes about 12 biscuits)
    Time: 20 minutes

    • 2 1/2 cups white spelt flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 cup organic vegetable shortening (or butter)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
    • 1 tablespoon soy milk to brush the tops

    1.Preheat the oven to 475°F.

    2.Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in the shortening or butter. Mix in the yogurt and knead the dough a bit in the bowl, just until everything comes together. If there are still crumbs in the bottom of the bowl, add an extra tablespoon of yogurt. Knead the dough two or three times on a wooden board and then press it so it’s about 3/4" thick. Cut the dough with a round cutter, being sure not to twist the cutter (this will make it hard for the biscuits to rise). Alternatively, you can simply cut the dough with a knife into squares. Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet, prick each one with a fork, brush with a little soy milk and bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

    Next Week

    Next week we hear how to cope with the tensions that come with big family gatherings during the holidays.

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