While this New Year may look different than years past, and we may not be getting together with extended family, many of us will still prepare and enjoy a holiday meal. This year, we turned to our community members to help us plan the perfect menu.
Here are some traditional recipes and a few unique adaptations on some classics that will leave your holidays appetizing and your stomachs full. For more recipes and other holiday ideas, go to associated.org/highholidays.
Right in time for Mother’s Day, University of Baltimore MFA candidate Tara Orchard writes about working with her mom in the kitchen. In the beginning, her mom taught her how to crack an egg and cook an elaborate meal, then the tables turned.
My mother’s kitchen is small. And in a small kitchen, there is one thing that you need to know: you need to dance—in a manner of speaking. Since my mother and I developed our own dance long ago, there is never a problem when we cook and there hasn’t been for many years. A hand to the hip—step to the side. A reach across—take a step back. Just saying a name: Get out of my way, woman, this pot is hot! Like many things though, this dance took time, and it had to start somewhere.
During the month of January, Johns Hopkins hosts Intersession. Students can choose from a number of 3-week classes, some of them very serious; others, less so. But by far the most useful offering this Intersession was Dorm Cooking 101.
What it is: E.N. Olivier (voted Baltimore’s best spot for food gifts, didn’t you know) calls this sampler pack “the gateway to the store.” If you didn’t know how much variety (and flavor) you can get from olive oils and balsamic vinegars, this is a great way to get educated (and wowed) real quick. It includes bottles each of the shop’s most popular extra-virgin olive oils, infused olive oils, and balsamic vinegars. $35.
Who it’s perfect for:
Mom and/or Dad: Sometimes, buying a gift for your parents can seem a little ridiculous. They’re adults. Don’t they already know what they like and manage to find it for themselves? Plus, many empty-nesters move into smaller homes when they retire, and have less space for stuff they don’t really need. So a consumable gift is the perfect thing. And while they may already know plenty about the anti-aging properties of good olive oil, they may have never experienced such awesome varieties of the stuff.
Co-Worker on a Health Kick: So you’ve got to give a gift to someone you don’t know that well. But one thing you do know is that they’re working hard to get or stay in shape, or to generally improve their health. It’s pretty obvious, since they turn their nose up at the donuts your boss brought in, and have started packing their lunch from home. This gift says that you’ve noticed, you’re supportive, and that you also have excellent taste.
The Six Bottle Sampler is available from E.N. Olivier (1407 Clarkview Rd. Suite 300 in Baltimore). For more information, visit www.enolivier.com.
It’s finally fall here at Halcyon and we’ve already had our first frost. In fact, it was more than two weeks ago! As the season changes, we look at what needs to be done to get ready for when the days draw in and winter comes on with a vengeance. If it’s anything like last winter, we need to be well prepared.
In the gardens. We are lucky enough to have a greenhouse, so we bring all of our huge citrus trees, gardenias and other fragile plants inside where they can over-winter. And we always pull up all of the dead plants – you really don’t want your garden looking like a plant graveyard all winter, do you?
If you have tubers, like the dahlias we have by the hundreds, you can pull them up and over-winter them in your basement or another cool area. Here are some great tips on how to do this.
Confession time. We are avid watchers of all those competitive cooking shows. Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, Cupcake Wars, you name it. And it’s not just because of the mouth watering offerings that contestants come up with. It’s also because whether they’re seasoned professional chefs or just obsessive amateurs, every contestant knows more about food and technique than we thought there was to know. And thanks to chef Nancy Longo at Pierpoint Restaurant, some of these sought after skills can be yours when you sign up for one of Pierpoint’s awesome cooking classes.
Foodie-ism is all the rage these days. Everyone is going local for produce, meats and dairy, and getting on board the slow, whole food bandwagon. Everyone seems to be fermenting their own pickles and yogurts and infusing all manner of things with who-knows-whats. But if cooking was never quite your thing, you might feel a little out of the loop. For the Love of Food offers a great way to play catch up—in a fun, educational setting that will leave your future dinner guests giving their compliments to the chef (and the chef, in this scenario, would be you).
A dear friend celebrated her birthday this weekend, so her son decided to have a birthday dinner for her. To take some of the burden off of him, we all pitched in to make something. I volunteered to make the cake for the dinner party and I will give you a little taste of it before I tell you about the rest of the dinner.
It’s only fitting to end the year with a commemorative list. I don’t remember which part of my Myers-Briggs personality combination makes me prone to list making, but it is my habit and I’d be living a lie to hold back now. It’s the beginning of a new year and the end of a BIG year! Why wouldn’t I want to list my top five Food and Wine experiences of 2013?
5. Breakfast in Antigua (July)
We accidentally ended up in the Caribbean this summer…long story…but as it was the first time my husband and I had been there, we were both taken with the tropical-ness of it all. Supremely casual, slow-paced, and relaxed, we rose whenever we felt like it, strolled down to the beach, and sat at tiny café tables in the sand while dining on the most beautiful tropical fruit I’ve ever seen. With papayas bigger than my head, the freshest pineapple, and passion fruit right off the tree, I looked forward to waking up.
What to drink: vats of iced tea with lime and passion fruit scooped right in. It was breakfast, after all.
4. Lunch at Il Convento in Puglia (March)
We took our honeymoon was a month after our wedding and I’d just found out I was pregnant. So with a bag packed full of stretchy pants and three boxes of saltines, we got on a plane for Italy and landed in the wettest, coldest spring the area had seen in decades. A pale shade of sea foam gracing my cheeks, we drove all over Southern Italy, stopping at various food and wine destinations we’d set up before I was in my first trimester and hoped for the best at each stop.
The top of my list is still Il Convento di Santa Maria di Constantinopoli in Puglia, right at the tip of the Italian boot. The convent-turned bed and breakfast has walls and rooms lined with ancient artifacts from all over Africa, the South Pacific, India, masks and figures and fabric and wooden statues, and the in-house chef Pierre-Luigi daily prepares beautiful meals. Every afternoon, they’d tuck just the two of us into one of the many tiny rooms and serve elaborate, leisurely lunches. The best was a typical Puglese lunch, a smattering of salumi, fresh fava beans, pickled artichokes, bread, local cheeses, pasta made by Pierre-Luigi’s mother, and fresh peas. It was amazing, vibrant, fresh, real.
What to drink: A local rosé made from Negroamaro. Spring, quintessentially.
3. Family pasta dinner at the beach (August)
A few of my family members have homes in Spring Lake, New Jersey where we all gather over a rolling few vacation weeks every summer. My aunt, who loves to garden but won’t plant anything without a flower or fruit, has developed a pretty stellar garden including squash, herbs, figs, grapes, raspberries, and mountains of tomatoes. This year, we brought down even more tomatoes and with our powers combined, we made a fresh tomato sauce for pasta night for our big family. A bucket of chopped tomatoes, lots of basil, a tiny bit of garlic, a little chili, salt, and a touch of honey macerated together as we cooked mountains of pasta (glutinous and gluten- free to be accommodating, naturally), then tossed it all with the sauce we’d made, which was heated just enough to take the chill off and then tossed with the warm pasta so the noodles would absorb the fresh juice. It was the most satisfying, seasonally appropriate dish of the summer.
What to drink: Rosso di Montalcino started the evening, followed by whatever else was in large quantity (for about 20 of us, after all).