Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years good luck

Pork and beans have come to signify good luck for the New Years holiday, thus the appearance of hoppin' John, pernil, pork and sauerkraut, and so on.

I put my faith in pork chili, which I've written about before.  I"m making a big pot to bring to a potluck New Years Day supper.

I'd slow-roasted a pork shoulder the other day, a portion of which we ate for pulled pork sammiches.  The rest I've cut up and used in the chili (and the remaining bone was saved for stock).  I also had some sweet Italian sausage in the freezer, so I cooked that up, too.  All the oniony cooking juices from the pulled pork, which I'd saved, were added to the chili as well.  (When the cooled in the fridge, there was a layer of pork fat on top.  I removed that and discarded it, and the remaining juices were nicely gelatinous, meaning that the juices would add not only flavor to the chili, but also body.)

One thing to try -- once you have the whole pot together, put it in a 350-degree oven to cook, rather than on the stovetop, for slow, even cooking. 

And for those of you pondering the beans/no-beans conundrum, read here:   Chili con carne

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Festa della Vigilia

Or Christmas Eve dinner, if you wish.

I'm up early today, and starting in my prep for tonight's Christmas Eve dinner.  It revolves around fish, though there won't be quite as many as seven.

•  Shrimp cocktail and a platter of antipasti -- cheese, salami, olives
•  Spaghettini al tonno -- pasta with tuna sauce -- tomatoes, anchovies, olives, capers, oil-packed tuna
•  Fried flounder
•  Broccoli rabe
•  Roasted filet of beef (for the fish-phobic in the crowd)
•  Green salad
•  Homemade bread

Dessert will be a chocolate whipped cream cake, fruitcake, and one of our favorite Christmas treats, calzoniti (or "cauciun" in Abruzzese dialect) -- chocolate, fruit, and nuts in a fried ravioli treat.

We'll wash it all down with cocktails, wine, iced tea. 

This year, in an effort to streamline the menu, we've foregone the stuffed calamari and the baked clams.  Just not enough folks attending will eat them.  :-(

Monday, December 19, 2011


Anticipating the Hanukkah holiday, I made potato latkes last night, accompanied by a roasted chicken, broccoli sauteed in olive oil and garlic, and a green salad.

I am embarrassed to admit that I was so absorbed in the making of the latkes that I didn't get the opportunity to photograph any part of the process or the crisp, brown, crunchy product.  I have signed affidavits from my dinner guests as to how wonderful they were.

6 medium potatoes
1 small yellow onion or 1/2 cup chopped scallion (or throw caution to the wind and add both)
salt and pepper
4 - 6 T flour
2 eggs

Peel the potatoes and shred in a food processor.  Gather up the shredded potatoes in a linen tea towel (about 2 cups at a time) and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.  Shred the onion and add to the squeezed, shredded potatoes.  Add salt and pepper liberally.  Add flour.  Mix to coat.  Beat the eggs and add to mixture.  Mix well.  Drop by large spoonfuls (you'll want about 3 T of potato for each pancake) into hot olive oil.  Fry until brown on one side.  Turn, and brown on the other side.  Drain on paper towels.  Keep warm in a 200°F oven until ready to serve. 

Serve with apple sauce or sour cream.