Yes, it is that time of year again. Time for the Holidays. As a Chef, it is one of my busiest times, but I still love this season. There are so many wonderful memories I have of the Holidays. Of course, most (if not all!) involve food. Think about it, this is the one time of year when even the biggest foodie will tell you that Christmas dinner just isn’t the same without Aunt Betty’s green jello mold. I love that! Because so many of our traditions are built around the Holiday table. I would like to share a couple of my memories with you and hope you can share some of yours with me. I will also throw in a couple of recipes.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I lived in small apartments with my mother, my father (who was also a Chef) and my grandmother Millie. Food was always a big deal in our house, but even more so around the Holidays. My grandmother was ahead of her time as far as the “eat local” movement goes… When I was a little boy she would take me around the neighborhood to various stores where she would purchase the freshest eggs, bread and meats. She also fed me more stewed prunes and pickled pigs feet than I would like to remember! But that is ANOTHER story. So, around the Holidays she would take me with her as she shopped for our dinner. Every year we made a special trip to a little Italian bakery to get treats for our Holiday table. While she picked out all these great pastries, she would sit me down at one of the little formica tables and place in front of me a chocolate eclair and a black and white cookie. I must interject here that these kind of treats were not a common occurrence (see stewed prunes and pickled pigs feet), but every year she would treat me to them as a special Holiday treat. I can still taste the rich chocolate topping of those eclairs and that wonderfully decadent creamy vanilla filling. I always ate the eclair first and then the black and white cookie. I would finish the eclair in the bakery and then eat the cookie as we finished our errands.
My family did not make the “traditional” Holiday foods. But they were traditional to us and really, that is all that matters. This is the one time of year when it is more than okay to demand those foods that on any other day you would never consider eating. Because those foods are our memories and need to be cherished, embraced and continued. So, on that note I am going to share two “traditional Holiday recipes. One from my family and one from my wife’s family.
This first is for my mother Thelma’s Apricot Glaze Chicken. She made it every Christmas. It is succulent, sweet, salty and yes, a little sticky. Cut up an entire chicken and roast on a sheet pan at 350 degrees. Fifteen minutes before it is finished cooking, you top with the following glaze.
1 Jar Apricot Preserves
Juice of 1 Lemon
Salt & Pepper
Warm the preserves in the microwave for about 45 seconds then add the lemon, salt and pepper. Mix together and pour over the chicken and put back in the oven and finish cooking.
This next recipe is one my wife’s family has every year. It will sound strange, but trust me, it is delicious.
1 Cocktail Rye
1 Bunch Scallions Chopped (green & white ends)
Place the cocktail rye on foil sprayed with Pam. You may need to separate the loaf into two halves and place on two pieces of foil. Between each slice of bread place a piece of Velveeta. Then sprinkle with the chopped scallion.
Wrap in foil and place in 300 degree oven until hot and cheese is melted.
Serve warm. Really, this is very good!
I hope you all have the happiest of Holidays filled with all your favorite foods. If you have any recipes to share, please do, I would love to see them!
I am including a photo of my “family” from Arnold Palmer. Because the Holidays are really about family, food and memories…