Christmas in Paris; Crisp Latkes; Cheesy Holiday Guide; Eggnog
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Jayne Cohen cooks delicious latkes for Hanukkah, while Lessley Anderson makes creamy eggnog. Marion Nestle discusses President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for Secretary of Agriculture, Noah Galuten is on a mission to eat from every nation in the world without leaving Los Angeles and John Baxter celebrates Christmas in Paris. Plus, Andrew Steiner offers a guide to holiday cheese, Mark Bittman has tasty ideas for New Year’s Eve and Laura Avery has a fresh Market Report.
The Market Report ()
Laura Avery chats with Amelia Saltsman, author of The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm, about making applesauce to garnish tasty potato latkes (see recipe in the next segment) and appetizers for the holidays.
Makes about 3 cups
3 lbs (8-9) tart apples such as Spitzenberg or Winesap
Few sprigs thyme (optional)
Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
2 to 3 Tablespoons water, fresh lemon juice, Calvados, hard cider or dessert wine
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut apples in half vertically and core them. Place the halves, cut side down, in one or more large shallow baking pans, spacing them 1 to 2 inches apart. Scatter thyme among apples. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake apples until tender, about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, slip fruits from their skins back into pan, scraping any pulp from peels. Discard skins and thyme. Mash apples with a fork, stirring in a bit of water, lemon juice, or Calvados to help scrape up any brown bits in the pan and to lighten the texture of the applesauce. Season to taste with cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.
Adapted from The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook: Seasonal Foods, Simple Recipes, and Stories from the Market and Farm by Amelia Saltsman (Blenheim Press, 2007).
Fast and Fabulous Holiday Appetizer Ideas from the Farmers’ Market
• Stuff dates with walnut halves and a piece of salty hard cheese such as Winchester Aged Gouda or Redwood Hill Gravenstein Gold. Or, shave large, thin slices of cheese, lay on serving plate, top with walnut-stuffed dates, and drizzle with La Vigne walnut oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Would be nice with mandarin sections.
• Place slabs of Bubalis Bubalis buffala ricotta or a mound of Redwood chevre on serving platter. Scatter slivers of dried red plums from Betty Kennedy and shelled, salted Santa Barbara pistachios, and if desired, top with a drizzle of emerald pistachio oil and a sprinkling of fleur de sel or other crunchy sea salt.
• Camillia, Crottin, or Bucheret with dried fruits, and the nut of your choice
• Platter of prosciutto (okay, that’s not from the market) with slices of Fuyu persimmons and cracked black pepper
• Sauté green, black, or a mix of Adams Ranch olives in a little olive oil along with some herbs—a couple fresh bay leaves, a few thyme and/or rosemary sprigs—and lemon zest. Toss in some almonds too, if you like.
Music break: Acapulco by Les Baxter
Jayne Cohen cooks up crisp, delicious latkes, or potato pancakes, for Hannukah in her book, Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lovers Treasury of Classics and Improvisations. For more information about Jayne, visit her website Jewish Holiday Cooking.
Classic Potato Latkes
1 ½ lbs Russet (baking) or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ lb onions, peeled and quartered
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon matzoh meal or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp baking powder
Olive or canola oil, for frying
Coarsely shred the potatoes and the onions, using the shredding disk in a food processor. (Don't wash out the food processor as you'll be using it again right away.) Transfer the mixture to a colander or strainer and use your hands or a wooden spoon to press out as much moisture as possible.
Remove the shredding disk from the processor and replace with the steel blade. Return about one third of the shredded potatoes and onions to work bowl and process, using the pulse motion, until roughly pureed. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining potatoes and onions from the colander, and the egg, matzoh meal, salt, pepper, and baking powder. Mix until thoroughly combined.
In a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet (cast-iron is ideal), heat about ¼ inch of oil over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Drop ¼ cup of the batter into the pan, and flatten with a spatula. Repeat with more batter, cooking no more than 4 or 5 latkes at a time; crowding the pan will give you soggy latkes.
Regulate the heat carefully, reducing it to medium as the latkes fry until golden and crisp on the bottom, about 4 minutes. To prevent oil from splattering, use two spatulas (or a spatula and a large spoon) to turn the latkes carefully. Fry until crisp and golden on the other side.
It's best to flip the latkes only once, so that they don't absorb too much oil. So, before turning, lift the latkes slightly with the spatula to make sure the underside is crisp and brown.
As the latkes are done, transfer them to paper towels or untreated brown paper bags to drain.
Continue making latkes in the same manner until all the batter is used. If necessary, add more oil to the pan, but always allow the oil to get hot before frying a new batch.
Serve straightaway, accompanied by applesauce or sour cream. If it is necessary to keep the latkes warm, place them in a single layer on a rack set on a baking sheet in a slow oven (200 F) until they are all ready to be brought to the table.
Cook’s note: For galettes a l’oignon et pomme de terre — the addictive onion and potato pancakes sold at the Sunday organic market in Paris — follow the above recipe, but increase onion to ¾ lb, replace matzoh meal with about 2 Tablespoons grated cheese (such as Parmesan), and decrease salt if necessary, according to saltiness of cheese. Before serving, sprinkle with coarse salt.
Cheese Latkes With Fresh Persimmon Sauce
For the fresh persimmon sauce
3 medium, dead-ripe persimmons, preferably the jelly-soft, acorn-shaped Hachiya type (see Cook’s Note)
1 or 2 pinches of salt
2 or 3 tsps fresh lime or lemon juice
1 to 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
For the latkes
½ lb farmer cheese (a 7.5-oz package is fine)
2 Tablespoons cream cheese
4 large eggs, separated
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup matzoh meal
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Unsalted butter and mild vegetable oil such as canola or avocado, for frying
Prepare the sauce: cut off and discard the leaf end of the persimmons and slice the fruits in half. To puree the fruit, scoop out the flesh and press it through a food mill or fine-mesh sieve. For less mess — with just a bit more elbow grease — puree the washed fruit unpeeled; the peels will remain trapped by the mill or sieve. Add the salt, lime or lemon juice, and maple syrup to taste. Refrigerate the sauce to marry the flavors.
Make the latkes: in a food processor, combine the farmer and cream cheeses, egg yolks, and vanilla and process until well blended and smooth. Add the matzoh meal, salt, and cinnamon, and process until thoroughly incorporated. Transfer the batter to a bowl. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form firm peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Heat 2 tablespoons each of butter and oil in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls and fry until the bottoms are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using two spatulas, turn and cook until lightly browned on the other side, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove and keep warm on a heated platter of baking sheet in a 200 F oven. Continue making latkes with the remaining batter. Add more butter and oil only if necessary, always allowing the fat to get hot before frying more latkes. Keep an eye on the heat to make sure that the butter does not burn.
Serve the latkes hot and pass the persimmon sauce.
Cook’s note: With Hachiya persimmons, ripeness is all: the difference between mouth-puckeringly astringent and voluptuously sweet. The rounded, squat Fuyu persimmon contains no harsh tannins and is never astringent; though excellent sliced, it will not make as luscious a puree. Choose meltingly soft Hachiyas with deeply colored, unbroken skin.
Crispy Shallot Latkes with Sugar Dusting
1 ½ cups thinly slices shallots (about 1 lb)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or fine-quality olive oil
About 1 ½ lbs russet (baking) or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
1 large egg, beaten
About ¾ tsp salt
About ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp baking powder
In a heavy medium saucepan, cook the shallots in the butter or olive oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until they become golden and crispy, about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels and let cool.
Shred the potatoes, using the shredding disk in a food processor. Transfer the potatoes to a colander or strainer and use your hands or a wooden spoon to press out as much moisture as possible. (Don’t bother washing out food processor.)
Remove the shredding disk from the processor and replace with the steel blade. Return about one third of the shredded potatoes to the food processor and roughly puree, using the pulse motion. Transfer the puree to a large bowl, add the remaining potatoes and the egg, salt and pepper to taste, the baking powder, and matzoh meal. Stir in the shallots. Mix until thoroughly combined.
In a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet (cast-iron is ideal), heat about ¼ inch of oil over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Using a ¼ cup measure, drop the latke batter into the pan and flatten the latkes with a spatula. Cook no more than 4 or 5 latkes at a time; crowding the pan will make the latkes soggy.
Regulate the heat carefully as the latkes fry until golden and crisp on the bottom, about 4 minutes. To prevent the oil from splattering, use two spatulas (or a spatula and a large spoon) to turn the latkes carefully. Fry until crisp and golden on the other side. (Avoid turning the latkes more than once or they will absorb too much oil. Before turning, lift the latkes slightly with the spatula to make sure the underside is crisp and brown.)
Transfer the cooked latkes to paper towels or untreated brown paper bags to drain and sprinkle them lightly with sugar (I use a scant ½ teaspoon for each.) Continue trying latkes in the same way until all the batter is used. If necessary, add more oil to the pan, but always allow the oil to get hot before frying a new batch.
If you must, keep the latkes warm, arranged in a single layer on a rack set over a baking sheet in a slow oven (200°F) until they are all ready to be brought to the table. But they are at their best served as soon as possible.
Pass additional sugar when serving (little salt shakers filled with sugar are attractive and make it less likely that a guest will dump an inedible amount of sugar on a latke), and, if desired, accompany the latkes with sour or yogurt cream and a fresh fruit sauce.
Evan Kleiman's Latke Recipe and Homemade Applesauce
This recipe is the one Evan's mother and now Evan have been making for years -- years and years. It came from one of her mom's best friends, Roz Katz. Mom and Roz met as co-op nursery school mothers. The Katzs still grate the potatoes by hand using the old fashioned grater that is like a grid. Evan's usually in a hurry so she uses the food processor.
Latkes - Potato Pancakes
4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 small onion, peeled
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Grape seed, peanut or corn oil for frying
Latkes can be made using a potato grater or in the food processor. If using a potato grater first grate the potatoes and the onion into a bowl. Add the beaten egg and the remaining ingredients and mix well.
To make in a food processor with steel blade add potatoes and onion to the bowl with egg. Process until coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until the texture is as you wish.
To cook I recommend using a large non-stick skillet and peanut or oil. Put enough oil in the pan to a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat oil until hot but not smoking. Stir the potato batter and make pancakes about four inches in diameter turning once when the first side is deep golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with homemade applesauce, sour cream and powdered sugar.
Hanukkah means latkes, or potato pancakes to many of us and often the best thing about them is the accompanying homemade applesauce.
Applesauce couldn't be easier to make…simply chop up you favorite apples….or maybe a mix of several varieties…if you feel really lazy you don't even need to peel them…just core and seed. Then place in a pot with an inch of water…place over medium high heat until the water starts boiling then stir and cover the pot…turn down the heat and let the apples begin to soften…when they are softish…remove the lid and start to stir occasionally so that the apples begin to break down and to prevent burning. You want a thick, rough pureed mass…begin to taste….want a little more sweetness? Add some sugar. Some spice? Add a bit of cinnamon or ginger either dried, fresh or ground….but all the while watching and stirring. The applesauce will begin to brown as the sugars in the apples begin to caramelize….important to watch..
When the apples have reached a stage you like from a light buff color to rich copper….take them off the heat.
Eat warm or chilled.
Music break: Adios by Billy Strange with the Mexican Brass
Lessley Anderson, senior editor of Chow.com, serves up creamy, thick eggnog and other egg-based cocktails.
By Jonathan Hunt of Chow.com
Total: 10 minutes, plus 3 weeks for aging
Makes: About 1 gallon
CHOW note: Unlike most eggnog recipes, this one calls for aging the eggnog for at least 3 weeks prior to consumption (or up to a year, says Hunt), to allows the flavors to meld. Chow aged the eggnog in the refrigerator in a clean 1-gallon jug, and it worked just fine.
For the eggnog:
12 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 qt (4 cups) whole milk
1 liter (about 4 cups) bourbon, such as Jim Beam
1/2 cup Myers’s dark rum
1/2 to 1 cup good Cognac or other brandy
Pinch kosher salt
1 whole nutmeg
To serve (optional):
10 egg whites
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
For the eggnog:
Separate egg yolks and whites. (Reserve egg whites for another use, such as egg-white frittata). Combine yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk until well blended and creamy. Add cream, milk, bourbon, rum, Cognac (use the good stuff), and salt, then stir.
Bottle it right away and refrigerate it until it's ready. (An old liquor bottle works great, as do 22-ounce bail-top bottles, available in brewing supply stores. Jonathan's grandfather keeps the eggnog in the garage for 3 weeks, stirring occasionally, then bottles it. But aging in the garage is not recommended because the temperature can fluctuate.)
It's traditional to wrap the bottle in aluminum foil, shiny side out, together with a fresh nut of nutmeg tucked into the foil for grating later. Keep refrigerated for at least 3 weeks, or up to a year if you can.
To serve (optional):
Jonathan serves aged eggnog on the rocks with some freshly grated nutmeg on top. If you want to serve the eggnog in the traditional way, pour it into a punch bowl. In separate bowls, whip 10 egg whites and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream to soft peaks and fold them into the eggnog. Serve in punch cups, garnished with freshly grated nutmeg.
Note: If you decide to bottle the eggnog, follow the step-by-step guide we created for our feature Make Your Own Soda Pop. Be sure, however, to refrigerate the bottles right away. Unlike the soda recipes, eggnog does not ferment (so there’s no danger of explosion); it just ages under refrigeration. The actual bottling process is the same, though.
Ramos Gin Fizz
Makes: 1 drink
This egg white and cream cocktail is a classic brunch accompaniment, but it’s delicious enough to drink on its own.
Recipe courtesy of Rob Chirico's Field Guide to Cocktails.
2 ozs gin
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 egg white
1 oz heavy cream
2 tsps superfine sugar
1/2 tsp orange flower water
Cold club soda
Vigorously shake the gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, cream, sugar, and orange flower water with ice; then strain into a 10-ounce highball glass without ice. Pour in club soda to fill.
Music break: Air And Kilometers by Kaki King
Obama's Secretary of Agriculture ()
Food policy expert Marion Nestle discusses the ramifications of President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Secretary of Agriculture. Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor, has been picked to head the US Department of Agriculture. A professor at New York University, Nestle's latest book is Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine. To read more about food issues and policy, visit her blog.
Music break: Bernie's Tune by Eddie Cano
(Photo of Vilsack with President-elect Obama by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
Man Bites World ()
Food adventurer Noah Galuten is on a mission to eat meals from every country without ever leaving Los Angeles. He writes about his quest on his website, Man Bites World. You can read more about Noah's top 5 meals:
5. South Korea
Music break: The Big Lift (Instrumental) by Henry Mancini
Christmas in Paris ()
John Baxter celebrates Christmas as the French do in his book, Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas. If you're curious about the book, you can read an excerpt. You can also see a re-creation of John's Parisian Christmas feast and a video interview with Baxter.
Music break: Boggalusa Strut by New Orleans Heritage Hall Jazz Band
Holiday Cheese Guide ()
Fromager Andrew Steiner shares ideas for eating and giving cheese for the holidays. He is the owner of Andrew's Cheese Shop in Santa Monica.
Andrew's Cheese Shop
728 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Steiner mentioned the following cheese:
- Petit Sapin
- Rogue River Blue
- Pleasant Ridge Reserve
- Vermont Shepherd
- Boschetto al Tartufo
- Abbaye de Bel'Loc
Music break: Bone Chaos in the Castle by Kaki King
New Year's Eve ()
New York Times writer Mark Bittman suggests tasty finger foods for New Year's Eve. Writer of "The Minimalist" column and contributor to the Bitten blog for the New York Times, Bittman's recent book is How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition): 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food.
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