The Feast of Many Nations

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by Edythe Preet

blizzard.jpgOn December 24th, 1963, Philadelphia was hit with a rip-roaring blizzard.  I’ll never forget it.  By evening, the drifts were well past knee-high.  Snowflakes swirled in the halos of streetlights.  Driving anywhere was out of the question.  Wrapped up in coats, boots, gloves, hats and scarves, and loaded down with bags of presents, my girlfriend Bonnie, my mother and I set out on foot for Aunt Tilda’s house.  What would have been a 7-minute drive turned into an hour trek.   I remember laughing so hard we could hardly walk.  We knew we were crazy to be slogging through such a storm, but we were determined to reach our destination.  It was Christmas Eve, and Aunt Tilda had prepared the traditional Italian Feast of Seven Fishes.

Tilda’s house was decorated to the rafters.  Twinkling lights outlined every window.  Tiny red and green Christmas balls hung from each curtain ruffle.  Swags of tinsel garland draped the mirrors.  The huge tree was covered with hundreds of ornaments she had been collecting for decades.  At its top perched a gossamer angel.  And beneath its bedecked branches, nestled the white and gold 30-piece Nativity set that Tilda had stayed up into the wee hours painting on many a sweltering summer night.

Duck, Duck, Goose

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by The Editors

Some people think Roast Prime Rib is tradional for Christmas and lots of people just go with Roast Turkey – stuffed, brined, fast-cooked or whatever – but we thought it would be fun this year to serve duck or goose. Here's to hope, change and peace in the New Year. Happy Holidays from all of us at One for the Table.

Bacon-Wrapped Roasted Duck

Beijing Duck Redux

Braised Duck with Turnips

Duck Breasts with Quince Sauce

Duck with Port-Cherry Sauce

Easy Duck

Honeyed Duck

Ina Garten's Roast Duck

Christmas Goose

Roast Goost with Fruit Stuffing

Steam-Roasted Goose

Duck for Christmas

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by Joseph Erdos

duckbreast.jpgGrowing up eating roast duck often, especially during holidays, stoked my love for all things duck. Foie gras, pâté, or duck confit, I love it all. It's a rich food in more ways than one. But for the holidays it's worth a little splurge. Most of my family's Thanksgivings were always about the juicy roast duck and not the dry turkey. As the years passed we've held to American tradition and dined on turkey for Thanksgiving, but we always have duck on Christmas day. Roasting is a great technique, but sometimes the breast tends to get dry since it cooks faster. I find the best way to cook it is by searing, which renders all the fat and crisps the skin, leaving behind a very flavorful, medium-rare cut of meat. Any steak lover would be pleased with the result. Plus searing is a fast and simple technique that does not have to be limited to holidays.

Duck always pairs well with something sweet, tart, tannic, and astringent. All of those lip-smacking aspects work to cut the richness of the duck. A good tart, tannic wine is also a must. But I knew I had the perfect pairing in pomegranate juice, pressed from the jewels or arils of pomegranates. The red, hexagonal pod fruit is readily available in the markets in the winter season. I had already been planning on developing a recipe to feature this duck-pomegranate pairing when POM Wonderful contacted me to see if I was interested in taking up a challenge of cooking with their juice. I agreed and was sent a box of juice bottles to experiment with. From that juice I was able to create the feature sauce and a complementary vinaigrette for the salad.

In Season - Mistletoe

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by The Editors



Along with holly, laurel, rosemary, yews and the Christmas tree, mistletoe is an evergreen displayed during the holiday season and symbolic of the eventual rebirth of vegetation that will occur in spring. But perhaps more than any other of the Christmas evergreens, it is a plant of which we are conscious only during the holidays. One day we're kissing under the mistletoe, and next day we've forgotten all about it.

The Druids considered the mistletoe to be a sacred plant and believed it had miraculous properties which could cure illnesses, serve as an antidote against poisons, ensure fertility and protect against the ill effects of witchcraft. Moreover, whenever enemies met under the mistletoe in the forest, they had to lay down their arms and observe a truce until the next day. From this has seemingly come the ancient custom of hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and exchanging kisses under it as a sign of friendship and goodwill.

Another version, however, says that this custom, which was widespread among the Anglo-Saxons, was connected to the legend of Freya, goddess of love, beauty and fertility. According to legend, a man had to kiss any young girl who, without realizing it, found herself accidentally under a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling. Even if the pagan significance has been long forgotten, the custom of exchanging a kiss under the mistletoe can still be found in many European countries as well as North America. It was once believed that if a couple in love exchanged a kiss under the mistletoe, it was a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life. So, be careful who you choose to smooch this holiday season!

Xmas Dessert with Jamie Oliver

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by Amy Ephron

jamieathome.jpg My son Ethan and I once tried to cook our way through Jamie Oliver’s Italy—he was going off to school and had some delusional fantasy that there would be a kitchen in his dorm (not!) and that he would be able to cook for his friends and his girlfriends and somehow simulate some of the cuisine he was accustomed to...  It was great.  Everything we made was perfect.  I don’t even like swordfish and Jamie Oliver’s swordfish is one of the best things I’ve ever had.  He thinks “fruit is lovely”, he uses words like “drizzle” and you sort of feel like he’s in the kitchen with you. 

So, I was really excited when Jamie Oliver’s new book “Jamie at Home” arrived in the mail.  And it’s xmas and it’s chaotic and I haven’t had time to even begin to cook my way through it.  But I’m really pleased that they’re allowing us to excerpt some of Jamie Oliver’s new recipes.

We’re going to try his recipe for Orchard Eve Pudding at our Xmas dinner.

Holiday Traditions

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by Andrea Pyenson

hanukkah.jpgIt’s not easy being Jewish during the Christmas season, especially if you’re a kid. Chanukah is great, don’t get me wrong. Presents for eight nights in a row. Lighting the candles and watching them flicker in the menorah until they gradually fade away. And I’m a big fan of the latke. But compared to Christmas? Really?

Imagine, then, what my son Luke had to contend with, growing up Jewish and having an older brother who got to celebrate Chanukah and Christmas while he celebrated only the Festival of Lights. And it was all my fault. I married a non-Jew, had a son with him and got divorced. Then I met my true love (Luke’s father) and created our modern nuclear family. Three Jews and a mixed-breed (sorry, Craig), who marched in a Christmas pageant at his father’s church wearing the robe of a king – the same year he was deep in preparation for his bar mitzvah. Holiday time in our household was always a bit fraught.

Frankenstein and Myrrh?

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by Pamela Felcher

red_present_box_wrapped.jpgWhen I was a kid, say about 7 or 8, my dad brought home a holiday gift that was emblematic of his personality: Frankenstein’s monster, a foot high, standing on a metal pedestal, dressed all in black with a large flat chalk green plastic head, decorated with bumpy zigzag cherry red scars. His black gash of a mouth spread across his face in a faint smile. The best part about this Frankenstein was the little switch on his back. At my father’s insistence, I pushed that switch and the monster, arms outstretched, started to shimmy back and forth and side to side. Then just as suddenly, my sister and I could hear a little grinding sound and click, off slid his pants. There he was, Frankenstein’s monster, no longer shimmying, just standing on his pedestal in red and white striped boxers. That faint smile of his now revealed a slight insouciance. Our gleeful giggles were overpowered by my father’s healthy, if sinister, chortle. To this day I am still not sure whether he loved the toy or our reaction to it. Knowing him, though, my money’s on the toy.

Horns for the Holidays

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by Sue Doeden

horns006.jpgMore than twenty years ago, when my Auntie Elinor was living in Riverside, Illinois, she began sending me the special holiday cookbook that her local newspaper published. It was packed with all kinds of recipes that readers had shared. I always loved reading through its pages.

One year, as I read through the recipes, I came upon an interesting cookie called Horns. Tender pastry dough, rich with butter and sour cream, is rolled out thin and sprinkled with a cinnamon-sugar-nut mixture.

Wedges of dough are rolled up and baked. The dough is very nice to work with and rolls out very easily. If you haven't had a lot of experience with pastry dough, this is one you'll want to try. It's very user-friendly.

Make Your Holiday Gifts Homemade

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by Amy Scattergood

From the L.A. Times

marshmellows.jpgConsidering everybody on your holiday gift list – friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, your kids' teachers – you might be needing a stimulus package before you even get to the big-ticket items this year. So why not take a page from your grandmother's playbook and make the smaller gifts yourself?

Not only are homemade gifts less expensive, they also capture the spirit of holiday giving in a way that purchased gifts simply can't. And if you consider the ubiquitous traffic and holiday crowds, a leisurely morning spent baking breadsticks or whipping up a batch of homemade marshmallows seems positively Zen-like by comparison.

Read article...

Give the Gift of Peanut Butter Fudge

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by Susan Russo

fudge.jpgStill looking for the perfect Christmas gift that is easy, inexpensive, and loved by all?

Your problem is solved: give the gift of fudge! That's right. Mix up a few batches, pop them in some festive foil baking cups, and nestle them in decorative tissue paper and tins. Then kick back with a hot chocolate and enjoy your favorite Christmas movies while everybody else kills themselves looking for a parking space at the mall.

No baking is required. None. Zip. It can be made ahead and refrigerated, so it saves you time. Plus, each batch costs only a few dollars and can be made in less than 10 minutes.

Bûche de Noel

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by Mary Bly

french_cooking_sm.jpgI grew up singing Bach hymns before dinner.  We were all terrible singers, but it didn’t matter:  my mother trained us to sing in parts.  Children, adults and even teenage boys would toil our way through “Now Thank We All Our God.”  My mother wasn’t interested in musical quality, but in the virtues of complexity and genius.     

My mother, Carol Bly, is a writer, and it was always enormously clear to us that the focus of her passionate life was her study – no June Cleaver, she merely tolerated the kitchen.  She had started her married life with no knowledge of cooking whatsoever, doggedly making her way through The Joy of Cooking, which combined the dubious pleasures of simplicity with – well – simplicity.  She made the Joy’s recipes a bit more complex by eschewing white sugar and white flour and sprinkling wheat germ where possible.  The goal was not an aesthetic one, any more than our Bach choral performances were.

But during Christmas she would put aside her battered Joy of Cooking and take out that homage to fine cuisine, Julia Child’s 1967 Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  She had the same two-volume set as did Julie Powell’s mother, with a cover, in Powell’s description, “spangled with tomato-colored fleurs-de-lys.”  In Julie & Julia, Powell calls the recipes “incantatory.”  They were that, and fiendishly difficult too.  Perfect, from my mother’s point-of-view, for important days.  For a normal dinner, we might eat spaghetti, but Christmas had to be marked by true effort and a gesture toward culinary genius.  

Mom's Thumbprint Cookies

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by Sue Doeden

holiday_cookies_005.jpgIt just wouldn't be Christmas at my house without Thumbprint Cookies. This old recipe that my Czechoslovakian/ Bohemian grandmother used to make created cookies that were my dad's favorite at holiday time. My grandma passed the recipe to my mom. They'd always have centerstage on the plates of cookies my mom would assemble and give to friends during the holidays.

I remember getting home from schoool and helping my mom roll all the dough into little balls. Under her watchful eye I would try to get the balls all the same size, resulting in dainty little cookies. Now I use a #100 portion scooper to insure uniform size.

The Thumbprint Cookies continue to live on. My daughter-in-law and I quadruple this recipe on our cookie-baking day so that we each have enough to include on our own cookie plates that are delivered to friends. This year my two young granddaughters helped make the cookies, each with a portion scooper in hand. They worked intently, rolling each ball of dough in an egg-white wash and then in finely shredded coconut. I always like to roll a few of the cookies in coarsely-ground nuts rather than the coconut.


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