AN IRANIAN FEAST
Shohreh Aghdashloo’s Halva:
This sweet is different than what most of us know as halvah. Browned flour, not ground sesame seeds forms the basis of this confection, which is exotically scented with saffron and rosewater. Don t rush the browning of the flour; if you scorch it, you ll have to begin again.
1/8 tsp. saffron threads
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 1 cup water
3 tbsp. rosewater
2 tbsp. chopped shelled pistachios
1. Put saffron in 1-cup glass measure and pour 1/4 cup boiling water over. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to steep.
2. Put flour in large, heavy, deep skillet (not cast-iron) or in a heavy Dutch oven. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, then constantly as it begins to color. Cook flour until it turns medium-beige and smells nutty, about 45 minutes.
3. Carefully mix in sugar and then butter, stirring to form a clumpy mixture. Pour in water, rosewater and saffron mixture, stirring until smooth.
It will form a cohesive, smooth, dough Keep cooking, turning it over with a spoon, for 5 minutes more. Turn out onto a dinner plate.
4. Press out halvah with hands, making a thick round about 1 thick. Cut out rounds with a small (2 ) glass, and press pistachios into each. Let the halva stand about 1 hour so that it firms a bit, but it will not get hard.
Makes about 10 to 12 pieces
CHRISMUKKAH IN MANHATTAN
Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca’s Chrismukkah Recipes
4 quarts chicken stock*
8 each italian bread slices, cut 1/2 inch thick
1 stick butter
1 tbsp. white vinegar
8 eggs, as fresh as possible (this results in a much better poached egg – otherwise the whites fall apart.)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1. Bring stock to a boil, the simmer until reduced by half, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Keep warm. (*Note: To save time, use 2 quarts of homemade or rich store bought chicken broth and don’t reduce)
2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute bread slices until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
3.Fill a saucepan two-thirds full with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the water to a slow simmer and add the vinegar. Break each egg into a separate small cup or dish. Cook two eggs at a time by sliding one egg, then the other, into the water. Poach the eggs until the whites are set but the yolks are still soft, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining eggs.
4. Place toasted bread slices in warm soup plate. Place 1 poached egg on top of each bread slice. Pour hot soup over egg and garnish with grated cheese and chopped chives. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 cups
Sesame Seed Chicken
6 chicken breast halves skinless and boneless (about 6 ounces each)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
2 tsp.chopped fresh sage
1 cup vegetable oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 lemon wedges
Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Place flour on a plate or shallow baking dish, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Prepare egg wash by whisking eggs in a bowl and adding milk.
4. Combine bread crumbs, toasted sesame seeds and crushed sage on a plate.
5. Working in two batches, heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking.
6, Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess, then place in egg wash. Coat the cutlets on both sides with the bread crumbs mixture.
7. Fry chicken cutlets until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes.
Remove chicken from skillet and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in the oven until fully cooked and juices run clear, about 20 minutes.
8. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
A NOVEL NEW YEAR’S DAY
Nora Roberts’s Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
5 lbs. ground beef round
3 slices white sandwich bread, finely crumbled with your hands
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. each dried basil and thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. each onion salt and garlic powder
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp.salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (if you like them spicy)
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. each dried basil and thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cans (29 oz each) tomato sauce
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 tomato sauce can of water
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly oil 3 or 4 large rimmed baking sheets, or coat with cooking spray. You can also use a shallow roasting pan or the bottom of your broiler pan.
2. For meatballs: In a very large bowl, place beef. In medium bowl, combine crumbled bread, eggs, milk, herbs, onion salt, garlic powder, black pepper, salt and if desired, crushed red pepper flakes. Mix with a fork until bread is evenly moistened. Add to beef and mix with your hands until well blended. Form into 1 meatballs using a heaping tablespoon for each.
3. Arrange meatballs on prepared baking sheets. Bake, without turning until browned, about 20 minutes. Drain off any fat. (You may need to bake meatballs in batches. Keep unbaked meatballs refrigerated.)
4. Meanwhile, make Red Sauce: In large, heavy Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and just golden, about 2 minutes. Add herbs, onion salt, salt, and black pepper and stir well. Stir in tomato sauce, wine and water; bring to a boil.
5. Add meatballs; return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, and adding more water or wine if sauce gets too thick, until very flavorful, 3 hours.
Serve on small plates or from a chafing dish with toothpicks.
Makes about 110 meatballs – about 35 servings of 3 meatballs each
Jane Seymour’s Cranberry Relish Sauce
I make a large quantity of this sauce as it is so popular and because we have so many guests over the festive season. This sauce can be served with hot or cold Christmas turkey, baked glazed ham or chicken. I usually make it 3 days before X-mas so the flavor develops. (This also reduces the last minute rush!)
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 -3/4 cups water
1 cup sugar
juice of one orange (pith removed)
1/2 peel of lemon (pith removed)
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of ground nutmeg
1. If using fresh cranberries, wash them well and pick out any bruised ones. If using frozen cranberries, rinse with cold water and drain. Do not thaw before using.
2. Add all the ingredients, except the cranberries, to a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add the cranberries and bring back to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 7 minutes or until the berries burst. Remove pan from heat and let the sauce cool in the saucepan. It will thicken slightly. Remove cinnamon stick, cloves and peels before serving.
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
COCKTAILS IN THE CITY
Colin Cowie’s Recipes
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. macademia nuts
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp.freshly ground black pepper
10 to 12 whole dried small red chili peppers
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper and olive oil in a medium bowl. Add nuts and toss to coat well. Spread nuts in a single layer on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven for 10 minutes.
3. Transfer nuts to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cool completely and toss with dried chilis just before serving.
Nuts may be made 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
yield: 4 cups
Beef Stew with Chili Cream
1 cup olive oil
6 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1″ cubes
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
about 1 cup flour
2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup dry red wine
6 cups pureed fresh or crushed canned tomatoes
2 tsp. Juniper berries
1/2 tsp. herbs d’ Provence
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. sugar
Zest from 1 large lemon
1/2 cup finely chopped (Italian) parsley
1. Heat about one quarter cup oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then dust with flour. Working in small batches, brown meat on all sides. Remove each batch and set aside, repeating until all meat is browned and adding more oil as needed
2. Add onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in red wine, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add browned meat, tomatoes, juniper berries, herbs d ‘ Provence, bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 60 minutes.
3. Remove lid and continue simmering until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 30-45 minutes. If sauce is not thick enough, dissolve one teaspoon of arrowroot in 1/4 cup water and stir into stew.
4. 15 minutes prior to serving, stir in grated lemon zest, and reheat the stew in the oven at 350F or on the stovetop over medium to low heat.
Serve over orzo pasta and garnish with the chili cream and chopped parsley.
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups Total Greek Yoghurt (non-fat optional)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1. In a bowl, combine olive oil, yoghurt and red pepper.
2. Serve a dollop on top of each serving of stew.
yield: 2 cups
1-lb orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
2 cups chicken stock, warmed
1 packed tsp. finely grated fresh orange zest
1/4 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook orzo in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse cold water to stop cooking.
2. Transfer orzo to a 2-quart heavy saucepan and add stock, zest and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in cheese, butter, salt and pepper.
Serve immediately with the beef stew
Cooks’ note: Orzo can be parboiled 2 days ahead, then tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature (or run under hot water in a colander) before proceeding.
yield: 6 1 /2 cups
Warm Apple Crumble
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 lbs. large Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, cored, each half cut into 6 slices
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, combine oats, 1 cup brown sugar, and flour. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until topping comes together in moist clumps. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)
3. In a separate bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, cloves and remaining1/2 cup brown sugar. Transfer to baking dish and top with oat mixture.
4. Bake crumble until apples are tender and topping is brown and crisp, about 55 minutes. Cool slightly. Spoon warm crumble into bowls. Serve with ice cream.
Makes 10-12 servings
NEIGHBORHOOD OPEN HOUSE
Donata Maggipinto’s Seasonal Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
2 tbsp.red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. minced fresh parsley
2 tsp. minced fresh chives
3 bunches arugula, trimmed, leaves torn into bite size pieces if large
1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed
1 medium radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
4 Belgian endives, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 small head fennel, trimmed and slices
1. In a small bowl, stir together vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Slowly add oil in a steady stream, whisking as you do so. Stir in parsley and chives. Reserve.
2. In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, watercress, radicchio, endives, and fennel.
Serve the salad with the vinaigrette alongside.
Serves 10 to 12
THANKSGIVING WITH A TWIST
Jeff Corwin’s Recipes
New World Lobster and Crab Cakes with Citrus Dressing
Lobster and Crab Cakes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 medium sweet white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 steamed medium lobsters or two 8-oz. frozen lobster tails, cooked (*see Note) (about 2 cups chopped lobster meat)
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
25 reduced-fat round, buttery crackers (Ritz), ground to crumbs (1 cup)
4 large egg whites
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray or additional olive oil for cooking
1 to 2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 to 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
1. In medium nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper and onion and cook, stirring often, until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and let cool slightly.
2. Crack lobster shells, remove the meat and chop medium fine. Add to vegetables. If using whole lobsters, Jeff likes to add the coral and tomalley, which he presses through a fine sieve first.
3. Add crabmeat, ground crackers, egg whites, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix gently to blend, without breaking up crabmeat. Form into ten 1 1/2 thick cakes and arrange on a platter. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 400 F. Coat large (fits over 2 burners) ovenproof nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet with cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil. (If using skillet, also coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.)
5. Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat. Add crab cakes (in batches, if necessary) and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until browned on the underside. Turn carefully and place griddle in oven (or transfer cakes to prepared baking sheet). Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.
6. Arrange some mango and avocado on each of 10 plates and place a crab cake on each. Drizzle with Citrus Dressing (recipe below) and serve right away.
*Note: To cook frozen lobster tails: Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Simmer, covered, in boiling salted water for 10 minutes; remove from water and let cool.
Makes 10 servings
Make the dressing while the crab cakes cool.
4 scallions, cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce (found in International sections of most supermarkets)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup packed cilantro sprigs
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 to 1 tsp. Chinese chili and garlic sauce
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Serve with New World Lobster and Crab Cakes. Makes about one and a half cups
Blinis with Caviar and Sour Cream
You can make these up to 2 days in advance. Stack them on a plate, cover and refrigerate until just before party time. To reheat, arrange slightly overlapping on a baking sheet and cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350 F about 10 minutes until hot. Or, arrange on a couple of microwave-safe plates, cover with waxed paper and microwave on High about 30 seconds.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2cups skim milk
4 large egg whites
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus extra for cooking blini
Low-fat sour cream
Caviar of your choice
1. In large bowl, with wire whisk, mix flour and salt. Gradually whisk in milk, egg whites, and 2 tbsp. melted butter until smooth. Strain into 2-cup glass measure. Cover and set aside at least 30 minutes. (Makes 2 and a half cups batter.)
2. Brush nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet with butter or coat with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. For each blini, drop 1 tbsp. batter onto griddle. Batter will spread and may not remain in a round shape. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, until lightly browned on underside. Turn and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer to brown the second side.
3. Transfer to a warm platter (if serving right away) and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat, making about 42 blini.
Serve warm with sour cream and caviar.
Makes about 42 blinis
Smoked Salmon with Lemon Cream
Jeff likes to smoke his own salmon but you can take the easier route and purchase a side of presliced, smoked salmon. Freshen the flavor by grating some lemon zest over the top. For a bigger crowd, buy two sides of smoked salmon and double the lemon cream. Serve with crusty sliced French bread or Melba toast rounds.
1 side presliced good-quality smoked salmon
3/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1 heaping tbsp. drained capers, patted dry and coarsely chopped, plus extra for garnish
1 heaping tbsp. snipped fresh chives, plus extra for garnish
1 tsp. grated fresh lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1. Arrange salmon on a long, narrow platter.
2. For Lemon Cream: In a small serving bowl, stir together sour cream, capers, chives, lemon zest and juice, pepper and salt.
3. If desired, garnish with additional capers and chives. Place on platter with the salmon; arrange bread or Melba toast in a basket. Guests will place a piece of salmon on the bread and spoon a little Lemon Cream over.
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1/2 cup dark unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, well beaten
2 tbsp. butter, softened and cut up
2/3 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Generously butter a 2-quart souffl dish or Pyrex baking dish.
2. Bring 1 water to a boil in bottom of large double boiler or Dutch oven. Place double-boiler top over water, or securely fit a large bowl over Dutch oven. Pour milk into double-boiler top. Reduce heat to low and heat milk until very hot and small bubbles form at edge.
3. In slow steady stream whisk in corn meal. Cook slowly, stirring constantly (a heatproof spatula is best so it gets the bottom and sides), reducing heat if necessary, for 15 minutes, until lightly thickened. Whisk in molasses. Place dishtowel on work surface and transfer double-boiler top (or bowl) to towel.
3. Whisk in brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Whisk in eggs and butter until butter is melted.
4. Transfer to buttered dish. Swirl in cream. Bake, uncovered, 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes until puffed and just set at edges but still soft in center. (A shallow pan will cook more quickly; start checking after 1 hour.) Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Serve warm. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes 8 servings