HOLIDAY SPECIALTIES (all faiths/traditions/nationalities) - Cuisine of the Quarter, Fall 2018 (Oct-Dec)

(Dan) #81

Beyond gifts, did you celebrate/light candles/prepare foods that week? Because I couldn’t really recall any special wrapped gifts today but I will never forget the rest of the holiday ritual. Same with Christmas. My holiday memories fall into 3 cat’s. Who was there, what did we eat, what music did we listen to.


Yes growing up we always did 8 nights. My father was quite religious and prayed in the Halabi/ Mizrahi (Syrian) tradition.

Yes those 3 cover a lot of bases. Music was always In the Syrian tradition even if it was Hebrew songs. My dad played the Oud well and could sing. I can play the oud (I have 3 of them) but prefer the guitar just because my fingers just know where to go when playing lead


Gifts for Hanukkah were not a big deal. Never did one for each night


I haven’t given much thought to Christmas yet - I feel like the timing of Thanksgiving this year gave me an extra week of fall, lol. Most years we visit my parents/siblings/nieces and nephews over Christmas, but this year that trip was delayed until the 29th so it will just be the two of us.

My mother keeps up the baking and candy making traditions that were part of my childhood so I don’t often make any of that stuff myself (knowing that it will all be there when I get to mom’s house). This year, however, I may make a few choice items. Her soft and chewy butter caramels are a lifelong favorite, and my DH is obsessed with her almond brittle. She also makes what she calls nut patties, which are basically a Canadian buttertart with nuts. They are amazing with a cup of coffee and it wouldn’t be Christmas without them!


With Christmas coming, a holiday, which I am an observer…please tell me at what point do you start the planning, shopping, pre-paring for the feasts.

Another question, what is your feast time and what are you serving?..Christmas Eve?, Morning?, Lunch, Diner, or Half time?

(Dan) #86

The timing of my current IF is pre planning for Christmas. Food shopping and meal planning, cookie baking, rsvps for 4 parties and yard cleanup have begun as of this past wknd. We celebrate at four diff homes and stagger the celebrations. My family is also attending a wedding btwn Christmas and New Years.

The feasts include 7 fishes with my relatives, lodge wknd with my bro and his tribe which includes tree chopping, roasted pig and endless side dishes, traditions at my place include neighbor potluck and garage band christmas music until the police shut us down, christmas eve with my wifes tribe in manhattan with a caterer and homemade cookies/nog. Then we head to Boston btwn Christmas & New Years to celebrate with our son and niece hitting up a festive meals and live show including a wedding in Maine.

So, a combo of cooking and letting family do their thing. My Santa suit is dry cleaned and ready to roll.



What does your 7 fish dinner look like? I have been doing this meal with my in-laws for 10ish years and now help my MIL prepare it. It is one of the best dinners of the year but I don’t know if it is traditional. Our lineup looks like this:

  1. Baklava (cod) cold salad and antipasto
  2. Clams Casino
  3. Raw clams and oysters
  4. Shrimp 2 ways (breaded and fried and scampi)
  5. Broiled eels
  6. Fried Smelts (sometimes this is calamari instead)
  7. Whole lobsters and pasta with lobster sauce

(Dan) #88

The menu this year according to my Grandmother and Aunt who prepare the family dinner is:

Caesar salad with anchovy dressing
Clams casino
My grandfathers zuppa di pesce (fish soup) recipe
Buttered lobster tails
Fried shrimp cocktail
Smoked mussels with garlic toast
Cod fish balls in tomato sauce

Roasted eggplant rollatini
Homemade cookies
Jug o wine from bro


I just ate but suddenly I am starving! I love the salad and mussels ideas. I would try to incorporate them but this is NOT a meal that anyone wants any changes to. It took us 5 years to get them onboard to reshuffle the order! Previously, whole lobsters were at the end. I am the only person who actually eats the entire thing. The rest of the crowd just eats the tail and sometimes the claws!


Wow!..I hope you have vacation planned after the holidays!!!

(Dan) #91

Right?!! My wife booked a trip for us in March. But she is keeping the details a surprise.

(Dan) #92

I am asked if I have any requests but as long as the soup is included I’m happy. I take Grandma shopping and she and my Aunt run the show. I’m on cleanup detail.


Obviously you posted this a while back now, but do you have a link or more info how to make the green olive cheddar balls…? My (lactose tolerant) family would love those for xmas.
Looks like we’re going to do a big brunch again this year (not many of us, mom spearheads with baking her famous from scratch cinnamon rolls) and then smaller dinner situation (which i do) that they like when i do a few small dishes and soup or stew


My immediate family is rather small, cousins and aunts and uncles used to visit at xmas when my grandparents were around but it’s been many years now since grandma rock passed (her pies are the stuff of legends… and she also always brought this shrimp dip appetizer i have never seen elsewhere- we have the recipe somewhere and make it every xmas in her memory. There’s cream cheese, tiny salad shrimp, mayo, various seasonings and the essential crust cut off white sandwich bread toasted well cut into triangles to dip)
My sister has shared custody so the past 8 or so years we have done a bigger meal for brunch and my aunt- aka only other local relative- comes over. Mid afternoon there’s napping/resting and i make xmas dinner.
Many years ago my ex (a professional cook) and i took over xmas dinner which my mom much appreciated because it caused her a lot of stress. I took over once my ex wasn’t in the picture any more and dinner became less elaborate because of young nephew and bigger brunching.
Mom always bakes a special dessert, it used to be grandma rock’s pies which were always the highlight… now i always ask for the claudia fleming gingerbread cake but it changes year to year depending on what mom wants to make. The breakfast/brunch homemade cinnamon rolls she has made since I can remember.

Xmas eve for us easy, dad always picks up crabcakes (already made) from local dungeness crab and i make salads to go with them-a more elaborate salad for my CA produce deprived self that is my dinner. Usually some local bakery rolls too

(Dan) #95

sounds wonderful and very comforting foods.


Sure, they are easy and always a hit!

Green olive cheddar balls
8 oz sharp yellow cheddar
4 oz butter
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne
Approximately 48 large green pitted olives (I get the garlic marinated kind, but use whatever you like)

Cut the cheese into manageable pieces for a food processor. Place in food processor and process (or use the grating blade) until fully grated. Add the butter, flour, salt and cayenne and process until a dough forms and the cheese is fully incorporated, pulsing as necessary. Chill the dough for a few minutes to make it easier to handle. One the dough is lightly chilled, pinch off pieces and wrap around the olives (I make little pancakes of the dough pieces for easier wrapping). You should have enough for approx 48 olives. Freeze until firm, then bake at 450 for 10-12 mins until golden brown. They keep amazingly well in the freezer and bake up best from frozen - if they aren’t frozen the dough tends to slide off the olive in the oven.


Fantastic! Thank you :))


So, mom sent me a care package - Buckeyes, caramels and an enormous chunk of fruitcake, which imo is one of the most unfairly disrespected and maligned foods of the season. My mom used to mail order a good one when we were kids, but in recent years she has started making her own and it is incredible. It is almost solid fruit, with just enough cake to hold it together, and she makes it a month in advance and bathes it in rum every couple of days until every bite is boozy. I LOVE it, but my husband and siblings won’t touch it. Weirdos! Anyway, what’s your take on the Christmas dessert everyone loves to hate?

(Dan) #99

In our family that would be tiramisu. Versions too boozy, too coffe laced, too dry, etc. we know longer bother homemade or store bought. If you enjoy it, you have a specific preference is what we discovered.


Interesting! I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t like at least some iteration of tiramisu, but oddly enough (for an opera singer), I don’t have a huge circle of Italian American acquaintance.