Christmas

Vegan EggnogIt is a mystery to us why Egg Nog is so popular (even though we are big fans of dairy over here), but this recipe by Pure Bar Founder, Veronica Bosgraaf’s has us intrigued. It can be found in her cookbook, Pure Food, and seems to capture all the flavors of the season without all of the calories. It's more like an almond milkshake without the rum (that's why it's called nog), but to each their own. Cheers!

Vegan Eggnog (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 cups almond milk, homemade or store-bought
1/4 cup spiced rum (optional)
1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 to 1 cup ice

In a blender, combine the almond milk, rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt, and ice. Blend on low speed until smooth and serve immediately.

 

Elegant Entertaining

by Holly Palance

jolly3.jpgAll I want for Christmas is my caviar pie. Which is a jolly good thing, since it's the only dish I take joy in creating.

Born without the cooking gene, my talent was always for producing and managing parties, until Brent Power, my best friend from grade school served up a delectable dip Christmas Eve 1982 at my wedding shower and I was hooked. I actually broke down, copied the recipe (my first ASK ever) and have been serving it and bringing it as my pot luck contribution ever since to ooh's and ahh's.

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Holly's Foolproof Caviar Pie

Clam Jam Dip

eggplant-dip-or-spread.jpg Ina Garten’s Roasted Eggplant Spread

Lila's Guacamole

Hummus

Leek & Saffron Broiled Oysters

Rebecca’s Simple Ricotta Spread with Garlic Bruschetta

Felicite's Shrimp Tapas

christmas-candles.jpgWe have a traditional Christmas dinner.   We've been doing it for twenty-two years. There are fourteen people involved – eight parents and six children – and we all get together at Jim and Phoebe's during Christmas week to exchange presents and make predictions about events in the coming year.

Each of us brings part of the dinner. Maggie brings the hors d'oeuvres. Like all people assigned to bring hors d'oeuvres, Maggie is not really into cooking, but she happens to be an exceptional purchaser of hors d'oeuvres. Joe and Phoebe do the main course because the dinner is at their house.  This year they're cooking a turkey.  Jane and I were always in charge of desserts.   Jane's specialty was a wonderful bread pudding. I can never settle on just one dessert, so I often make three – something chocolate (like a chocolate cream pie), a fruit pie (like a tarte tatin) and a traditional plum pudding which no one ever eats but me. I love making desserts for Christmas dinner, and I have always believed that I make excellent desserts. But now that everything has gone to hell and I've been forced to replay the last twenty-two years of Christmas dinners, I realize that the only dessert anyone ate with real enthusiasm was Jane's bread pudding; no one ever said anything complimentary about any of mine. How I could have sat through Christmas dinner all this time and not realized this simple truth is one of the most puzzling aspects of this story.

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mccrestaurantChristmas traditions abound all over the world. For instance, in recent years KFC has become somewhat of a Christmas meal tradition in Japan, mind boggling tidbit that it is. However did you ever wonder how noted chefs and restaurateurs celebrate Christmas? As it is usually their busiest season, with all of the parties and holiday dining, some shine it on and let someone else do the cooking, preferring to lay low and veg out on the couch in front of the tube. Others go the busman’s holiday route, keeping their home fires burning while stirring their pots and aiming those meat thermometers straight into the middle of the roast.

Michael McCarty, the iconic restaurateur, creator/owner of Michael’s in Santa Monica and Michael’s in New York City is definitely your DIY Christmas Traditionalist. He’s the whiz kid/enfant terrible who brashly and boldly opened the Santa Monica restaurant at the ripe young age of 25, and did he ever cause a ruckus! In what has proven over the years to be both his nature and his signature style, even at 25 he had the knowledge, taste, and chutzpah to wake LA and shake it up. He created a glorious outdoor dining patio and interior rooms where diners could look at museum quality art by LA’s top artists including David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, Ed Moses and Robert Graham to name a few. The excellent cuisine, made from the finest, freshest ingredients, was perfectly and elegantly served in this beautiful art filled environment. It may sound like a big reach for one so young, but not for Michael who set himself on this course 35 years ago and hasn’t strayed since.

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lattdad.jpgI associate mail order food with my father.  When I was growing up, he and I had very few connections.  He took me to only one professional football game.  He never came to Back-to-School Night and had no interest in any of my hobbies.  I remember him as dour, not very talkative and disapproving.  I was part of his second family and he was, I’m certain, just a bit too old to have a young kid running around. 

Added to that, my father was burdened by tragedy.  He was the eldest son of a prosperous Jewish family in Odessa on the Black Sea.  Unfortunately when the Russian Revolution swept across the country, Bolsheviks rampaged through his neighborhood, lining up and shooting many people, including my father’s family.  Being Jewish and well-to-do were two strikes too many at a time when “line them up against the wall” was taken literally.

Luckily for my father, when all this happened, he was studying at the University of Kiev.  He learned later that his mother had survived because she had very thick hair.  When she was shot at point blank range, the gunpowder was apparently so weak that the bullet merely lodged in her hair, knocking her unconscious and otherwise leaving her unharmed. My father never returned home to Odessa, having been told that he needed to flee the country, which he promptly did.

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