Learn To Whip Up These Seasonal Delights
Ajiaco soup brings South American Christmas traditions north.
By Ellen Thompson
There’s not one burner left unoccupied atop the stove and the oven is filled to capacity with heavy metal trays. The heat radiating from the overstressed stovetop is no match for the laughing faces crowding around it, but if the cook has anything to say about it, the kitchen will be clear in seconds, as soon as a stack of bowls is pulled from the cabinet.
Diverting the aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, cousins and children from the warm and stuffy kitchen, the cook turns his attention back to the stove where a diverse holiday feast that is boiling over and browning within the oven. A feast that would make any guest in Queens happy to attend.
Potato cheese latkes are a staple in Jewish holiday meals.
Soup And Appetizers
When the wintry holidays come around spanakopita, a spinach pie with cheese, often makes its way onto the menu. To create the flaky delicacy you’ll need one pack of very thin phyllo dough, spinach, feta cheese, butter or margarine and enough garlic to satisfy the taste buds.
The cook of this holiday dish needs to mix the feta cheese with the spinach adding garlic to taste. Now spread some butter on an oven tray, then turn your attention to the package of phyllo and place each thin pastry (it is as thin as paper) on the tray, buttering each one using a brush. With at least eight pieces of phyllo buttered up, place the spinach/feta mixture and spread over the entire oven tray, covering the eight pastry slices. On top of the garlicky green cheesy mix, place the remaining pastry slices, buttering each one of them as well. Put it in the oven and cook until brown. For specific measurements and tips in preparing, visit Greekrecipes.com.
Another great holiday starter that happens to be bubbling on the family cook’s stove is Ajiaco, a traditional Colombian chicken soup that is often accompanied by homemade breads and fritters.
Since kitchen space is limited for this here Queens holiday feast, the variety in soups, salads and appetizers can’t be played with as much as some guests would like, but you could always mix and spice up your entire menu by browsing recipes on the Internet.
With a sip of Krupnik the holiday season warms up.
Sides And Entrees
With the first leg of the feast under control it’s time to move onto the meat and potatoes; okay, well it’s not all meat and potatoes, even though some is, but all in all they are filing traditions.
A side of potato cheese latkes, which some say is a cross between the cheese latkes, commemorating the style of Judith Maccabee, and traditional Ashkenasi potato latkes, are a perfect addition to a diverse holiday meal.
By mixing together four cups peeled, grated potatoes, one medium onion, finely chopped, four finely chopped cloves garlic, one tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro leaves, one cup ricotta cheese, half a cup grated carrot, one teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper or more, to taste, two lightly beaten eggs and half a cup matzo meal or breadcrumbs, you’ve got enough batter to make a batch of 16 warm cheesy latkes. For detailed directions log onto cyber-kitchen.com.
The hearty centerpiece of this feast is a traditional Irish holiday dish, Mulligan stew. The savory stew is a mix of cubed beef or lamb, peeled and cubed potatoes, onions, carrots and celery in a butter, water, flour and browning sauce. For those who have abstained from meat around the holiday season, this diverse Queens holiday feast includes an Italian tradition, Seven Fishes.
The seven fish concept is more of a southern Italy tradition, celebrated from Rome south on Christmas Eve, which is a vigilia di magro, in other words, a day of abstinence. This meal includes almost every little swimmer in the great blue, like, calamari, scungilli, baccalà, shrimp and clams served with pasta, mussels and some type of big fish, usually a snapper, sea trout, tuna, or salmon.
Mulligan Stew is found at Christmas dinners from Ireland to Woodside.
Desserts, Drinks and Apertifs
While the guests sip on traditional eggnog and yuletide soynog, the diverse meal is closed with an Argentinean pastry that reflects a German/Austrian influence in baking. Before the secret of the cook’s Alfajores Danubio, a sweet, layered pastry, is revealed it’s best to discuss this said yuletide soy nog.
Chances are at least one of your guests will be either lactose intolerant or vegetarian or both. This way, by making an alternative nog for them, yes sans the liquor too, they can join in on post-dinner conversation with no reservations of sitting around empty handed.
The soy nog calls for rich vanilla flavored soy milk, soft or firm silken tofu, maple syrup, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, vanilla extract and imitation rum extract. For a detailed recipe log onto veganparadise.com
Egg free nog for the lactose intolerant is “soy much better.”
Now to the buttery Alfajores Danubio. The recipe for this treat includes, butter, sifted powdered sugar, the rind of one lemon, vanilla and almond extracts, along with three eggs, finely ground toasted almonds and flour. With a mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla and almond extracts. After adding each egg one at a time, sprinkle in the flour and ground almonds slowly, kneading lightly into a ball of dough. The dough will take a short rest in the fridge and then it will be ready to be cut into rounds, floured and placed in a 325-degree oven. When these delicacies cool they can be made into sandwich cookies, with either orange marmalade, melted semi-sweet chocolate or dulce de leche between the layers. For a detailed recipe browse the Internet.
Before you get your coat and head out the door, this is a sweet drink that will give you that extra surge of warmth before you walk out into the cold, a Krupnik, hot vodka with honey. It’s a traditional polish concoction of boiling water, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla bean, peppercorns, allspice berries, honey, orange rind and of course, vodka. To mix up your own, log onto polstore.com.
Vacaciones felices. Glückliche Feiertage. Vacanze Felici. Gelukkige Vakanties. Happy Holidays!