Holiday Goodies

bananamargaritaAs most people imbibe one, okay two margaritas in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, I hope they take a moment to give thanks to Bing Crosby.

The crooner with the liquid voice loved Mexico, and he more than anyone else, was responsible for bringing the margarita north of the border and making it wildly popular in Hollywood during his heyday. Bing also had a soft spot for San Diego, which because of its proximity to Mexico, may be the most margarita-friendly city in the country. Our chicest mall, Fashion Valley, has a Bing Crosby's Restaurant and Piano Lounge, a modern-day supper club with live music, deep, cozy booths, and delicious cocktails.

So in honor of Bing, who also happens to have made my favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas, I'm making sweet and spicy banana margaritas for Cinco de Mayo.

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holidaycakeThis new year I'm going along with my resolution to get good luck, which involves eating a number of different good luck foods. Lentils, beans, greens and round cakes are all on the menu. Ring cakes are a classic dessert for celebrating the new year, especially in Europe. The ring shape is believe to bring luck, wealth, and prosperity. There are many cakes that fit that mold, like Bundts and Kugelhopfs.

Kugelhopf is a cake made famous in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Hungary. The cake is most often made with a yeast dough that's rolled up with a filling of cinnamon and raisins. But the cake can also be made with baking powder or soda, which turns out a cake much like any standard quick bread or American-style Bundt cake. But this cake recipe is special because it's made entirely without leavening.

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cake.wholewheathoneyFall always symbolizes new beginnings; fresh school supplies, cozy scarves, and the celebration of the Jewish New Year.

Traditionally, we eat apples and honey which represent a sweet new year. For the next 10 days I try to incorporate honey into most of what I cook. And lately, I have been turned onto raw honey and I am loving the results.

Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, a honey cake is a wonderful way to end any meal. Drizzle some chocolate glaze over the top and you will have your kids (as well as the spouse), begging for more.

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festiveguacI first tried this exotic guacamole a couple of years ago at my good friend Robert’s Christmas party. His mother was in town that year and helped prepare some most of the incredible food on the buffet table.

His mother Anita is the kindest woman and has had an extraordinary life -- a true treasure and absolute delight. We bonded at that party by sharing recipe secrets and continue to correspond to this day about favorite foods and cooking techniques. When I asked if she would tell me how to prepare her famous pomegranate guacamole, she graciously emailed me the instructions, explaining that it was a recipe from her mom´s hometown, Guanajuato.

I’ve taken the liberty to list some precise measurements, but in full disclosure, Anita sent the list of ingredients and just put “to taste” after each item (she wrote, “No real amounts, but you are an excellent cook and I am sure you can eyeball it perfectly”.)

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