Category Archives: Holidays

Butternut Squash Tart with Rosemary Crust

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Picking a recipe is never easy.  There are thousands of recipes on any given website and among any collection of cookbooks.  And then, when cooking for a crowd, things get only more complicated, as more and more tastes, allergies, and preferences must be accounted for.

Among the vast collections of recipes, this one stood out almost immediately.  I love a good homemade crust.  Caitlin loves a good gourd.  The addition of fresh rosemary (from our own herb garden out back) was an additional selling point.  Beyond those considerations, Continue reading

Birds’ Nests

Two years ago, Caitlin and I designed the Grim Peeper, our submission for the Washington Post’s annual Peep Contest.  Unfortunately, we haven’t had the time to collaborate on any recent peep project.

And yet, I still had a bag or two of those yellow marshmallows sitting around the kitchen, chirping to be used.  Around Easter, I noticed a few food blogs featuring bird’s nests, combining chow mein noodles with some of the ubiquitous bagged candy.

Though I liked the concept, the idea of chow mein noodles and chocolate did not sound appealing. Continue reading

White-Chocolate Chai Truffles

A few months ago, in one of my nightly phone dates with Charles, the topic of Valentine’s Day came up. Since we live in Memphis and Cincinnati this year, we were planning to spend the holiday apart, a reality that left me somewhat bummed.

Now, I’m not wedded (pun intended) to the February 14 greeting card extravaganza, but the prospect of spending the night alone was still unappealing. So, after agreeing to acknowledge the occasion on our next visit, Mr. Romance reminded me Continue reading

Homemade King Cake

Of all the foods characteristic of New Orleans – from pralines to muffalettas – my all-time favorite remains the King Cake (la galette des Rois).

I can remember gathering around the large loaf in grade school, eagerly holding out my plate, and wondering if my piece would be the lucky piece.  If the teacher was feeling generous that day, she might indulge our personal choices, and allow us to select that prized piece ourselves.  There were those that favored the edge pieces.  Others favored a particular color of icing – be it green, yellow, or purple – certain that good luck lay beneath it.  And others still allowed simple chance to play its part.

I don’t remember what my particular stratagem may have been, but given the importance of the situation, I certainly had one.  You see, hidden in the dough was a small plastic baby.  And whoever pulled the baby from his or piece was king or queen for the day.

In grade school, this was no mere sinecure.  Continue reading

Sufganiyot (Jelly Doughnuts)

In a country divided between twelve political parties, finding common ground can be no easy task.

Indeed, Israelis are as likely to disagree about politics as they are about food.  Ashkenazim (Jews of European ancestry) have their culinary traditions, and Sephardim (Jews of Spanish and Middle-Eastern ancestry) have theirs.  Even the origins of falafel and hummus have been bitterly debated, with Arabs and Jews alike claiming the food as their own.

Fortunately, all Israelis can rally around sufganiyot.  Sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts, are Continue reading

Apple-Cinnamon Cake

Apple Cinnamon Cake

Jewish holidays are nothing if not symbolic.  And part of the symbolism naturally encompasses the food.  On Purim, it’s hamantashen, triangular confections meant to evoke the villain of the day.  On Passover, it’s matzah, unleavened bread meant to evoke the speed with which the ancient Jews fled Pharaoh’s Egypt.  On Hanukkah, it’s latkes, fried potato pancakes meant to evoke the miracle of the burning oil.

Rosh Hashanah, which begins this Friday at sunset, is no different.  Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and to ensure that the new year is a sweet and good one, it’s customary to eat apples and honey.  But unfortunately, where there’s honey, there’s honey cakes – too often a dry, and Continue reading

Hamantashen

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According to an old Jewish joke, if you put three Jews on a committee, you’ll get four different opinions. . .which is exactly the number of different explanations I found detailing the origins of Hamantashen.

Hamantashen are triangular cookies that are served during the Jewish holiday, Purim.  Purim tells the story of how the Jewish people in Persia avoided persecution at the hands of the King’s vizier, Haman.  The three-cornered confections, commonly filled with jam or a poppy-seed concoction, owe their shape to Haman’s ear, clipped with shame.  Or maybe to his triangular hat, which was the style at the time.  Or maybe to his pockets weighted with bribe money.  Or maybe to the three Jewish patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  In other words, no one really knows.

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Even the origins of the word are disputed.  One explanation says Hamantashen derives from the Hebrew word “tash” for weakened, so that the word refers to Haman’s defeat.   A second source Continue reading