Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

Individual Baked Eggs for New Years Day

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Once kids enter the picture, New Year’s Eve bashes tend to shift earlier, or vanish altogether, often replaced by cozy evenings at home. Truthfully, I don’t mind too much. When I was growing up, we would get together with close family friends, play games, eat junk food (potato chips and dip) and wait for the Times Square ball to drop. At 5-years and 18-months, the foodie tots haven’t reached the staying-up-till-midnight phase yet, so we’re planning to celebrate with them on London time before sending them off to bed so mama and daddy can enjoy some quiet (and maybe a little bubbly) while waiting for the ball to drop.

the breakfast trinity

New Year’s Day has become the bigger holiday for now, with a family-friendly brunch with friends. Here’s a shirred egg dish that elevates your every-day eggs into a celebration-worthy dish, perfect for starting off the year right. (I always thought that “shirred” referred to baking under cream, but apparently it’s just the baking technique. Nevertheless, the cream helps keep the eggs from drying on top, which is especially useful if your kids prefer their yolks well done.)

Serve these with coffee cake or leftover Christmas panettone (why yes, I did pick up another on sale…). Swap out the bacon for lox and you’ve got a classy, kid-friendly holiday brunch. Don’t forget the blood orange mimosas.

shirred eggs with lox

Recipe: Individual Baked (Shirred) Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 4 cage-free eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter and divide among 4 small ramekins.
  2. Crack one egg into each ramekin. Pour one tablespoon cream over each, and season each with a pinch of salt and pepper (I omit the pepper for the kids).
  3. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes, until white looks opaque and mostly cooked through. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over tops and return to oven for another 1-2 minutes. Yolks will still be soft at this point — cook 2 more minutes or so for firm yolks if desired.

Serves 4.

Happy New Year to you & your family!

How Not to Bake Gingerbread Men

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Don’t be surprised if you reach for the molasses and your child starts talking about the Battle of Manassas
(especially if one of his best friends is a budding Civil War buff).

Don’t expect your child to heed your warnings about eating raw cookie dough after he catches you nibbling on it.
(But do buy your eggs from a trusted local farmer.)

Don’t expect to have your child spread flour on the cutting board without it also winding up on the wall, floor and his hair.

Don’t hope for traditional Christmas cookie shapes when you have Star Wars cookie cutters and a four-year-old boy in the house.

Don’t set out bowls of frosting and expect little fingers not to be promptly plunged in them.

Don’t arrange sprinkles in easy-to-access little cups and not expect two pinches to be consumed for every one sprinkled on cookies.

Don’t decorate cookies at 9 pm and expect your child to fall asleep before midnight,
or before he runs 10 laps through the living room and around the tree.

Gingerbread (Clone War) Cookies
Source: The Gourmet Cookie Book

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves*
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice*

Instructions: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. In the bowl of a mixer, or other large mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add brown sugar, molasses, butter and allspice and beat on medium low speed until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low until flour is incorporated. Shape dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into smaller portions and roll out on a lightly floured cutting board to 1/3-inch thick. Dip cookie cutters in flour before cutting out desired shapes. Gently transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, watching closely to ensure they only slightly begin to brown. Let cool on baking sheet for a couple minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before decorating.

To decorate, we just mixed up a simple powdered sugar glaze and tinted it various colors. For more elaborate designs, use royal icing.

Notes: The recipe calls for 6-inch gingerbread men and 12 minute cooking time. With more standard 3-inch cookies, you’ll need much less time. I did not have cloves or allspice, so I omitted the cloves and used nutmeg in place of allspice.

Spiced Pecan, Pear and Pomegranate Salad

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

This is my favorite holiday salad — fresh pomegranate arils sparkle like little jewels to make any meal festive. It was my contribution to Thanksgiving dinner (at my brother and sister-in-law’s new home), and will likely make a repeat appearance on Christmas Eve as well. If you have time, roasting the pears makes it even better.

Recipe: Spiced Pecan, Pear and Pomegranate Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 hearts of Romaine lettuce
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 pears
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (about 1/4 to 1/3 of the arils from a fresh pomegranate)
  • spiced pecans (see below)
  • French dressingFor the Spiced Pecans:
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions: Thinly slice the onion and cook in a skillet or saute pan over medium low heat, with a drizzle of olive oil, until golden brown. Meanwhile, in another saute pan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the sugar, salt and seasonings and stir to combine. Stir in the pecans. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pecans have darkened. Remove to a wax paper or parchment lined plate to cool.

To assemble salad, tear the Romaine lettuce into small pieces and place in your salad bowl. Top with onions, sliced pears, pecans and pomegranate arils. Serve with French dressing. Makes 6-8 servings.

Note: I use the under-water technique to seed a pomegranate, as seen at Steamy Kitchen.

P.S. FoodieTots is joining other bloggers to host a holiday progressive feast for Share our Strength – sharing a virtual meal to raise awareness and funds to fight childhood hunger. Check back Friday for our official contribution, or go straight to the menu at SOS to find today’s salad dishes.

Holiday Family Favorites in Washington, DC

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

One of the great things about growing up in Washington, DC, is the wealth of activities to enjoy — and the holiday season is no exception. Here are just a couple of our upcoming favorite activities, and corresponding dining suggestions too.

Trains at the Botanic Garden

Little boys seem genetically predisposed to love trains, but my son literally has it in his blood: his great-grandfather started a short line railroad in Maryland. There are many, many different train displays (and rides with Santa) around town this time of year, but our favorite is the one at the U.S. Botanic Garden. The holiday greenery on display is impressive itself, and there are replicas of DC landmarks made entirely of plant-based materials. You can also walk out front and catch a view of the Capitol Christmas tree. (And if you head further down the mall, there’s a model train that runs beneath the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse.)

Where to Eat: The Botanic Garden is just across the street from the Museum of the American Indian, where the cafe offers native foods from across the Western Hemisphere. Or, head up Pennsylvania Ave. for burgers and shakes from Good Stuff Eatery (yes, Chef Spike’s place for you Top Chef fans).

Water-Skiing Santa at National Harbor

Yes, really. Santa, his reindeer, elves, Frosty the Snowman, the Grinch and even some pandas perform on the Potomac each year on Christmas Eve (1 pm). The show moved over to National Harbor a couple years ago, which lacks the cool backdrop of the monuments but has significantly more parking than the prior location. You could even take the Water Taxi over from Old Town Alexandria.

Where to Eat: We haven’t explored many of the dining options at National Harbor, which mainly caters to convention/tourist crowds. But you can’t go wrong warming up with chowder at McCormick & Schmick’s. There’s also an Elevation Burger there, which we love for their grassfed beef and real cheese.

merriment

Merriment in Georgetown

Picturesque Georgetown is especially charming this time of year. And this Sunday, Dec. 5, 2-5pm, is “Merriment in Georgetown” — There will be a performance by Milkshake, American Girl book signing, hot cocoa tastings, photo opps with Santa and more. Kids can even decorate cupcakes with Georgetown Cupcake.

Where to Eat: Georgetown is known for its college bars, but there are a few family-friendly options too. Clyde’s is always a safe bet; a small local chain that was sourcing local foods even before doing so was trendy. They have a solid kids menu, and free toy vehicles. Not too far away at Dupont Circle is Firefly, where Chef (and dad) Danny Bortnick takes pride in his kids menu options, which are divided into big kid and “lil’ kid” offerings. (And, they’re serving a latke tasting trio now through December 9.)

And lastly, don’t miss Zoo Lights at the National Zoo — now through January 1. It’s free!

Hamantaschen with Jam

Monday, March 1st, 2010

As I mentioned Friday, I planned to make Jewish cookies known as hamantaschen over the weekend. Hamantaschen are triangle-shaped cookies traditionally filled with thick poppyseed or prune spread, or other fruit preserves. They are traditionally made during Purim — a Jewish holiday festival similar to Mardi Gras — but can be found year-round in Jewish bakeries if you’re fortunate enough to have one nearby. We are not, so the past couple years I’ve simply picked up hamantaschen from Whole Foods, which were fine but nothing to get excited about.

Fortunately, Ruth of Once Upon A Feast came to my rescue with not one but two hamantaschen recipes; I went with Marcy Goldman’s recipe. With all due respect to Marcy’s Bubbie, I swapped butter for the oil (I prefer not to bake with oil), and omitted the orange zest in deference to the husband’s zest-dislike. Next time I’ll try it with the zest for a little more flavor.

The dough was simple and resulted in a soft, sweet cookie. The husband doesn’t like the traditional fillings, so I took advantage of our extensive jam collection and we made an assortment of flavors: strawberry-rhubarb (courtesy of my sister-in-law), apricot, raspberry (both from local farms), and some Ficoco — a fantastic fig and chocolate spread, think a fruity twist on Nutella.

I’m pretty certain we’ll stick with homemade from now on, these were fun and delicious!

Since only one cookie unfolded into a pancake while baking, I consider myself fully qualified to offer the following expert suggestions:

  • Don’t go overboard with the filling, but don’t be too stingy either — the ones my son plopped a larger spoonful of jelly on turned out best. I think the weight of the jam helped keep the center from puffing up as much when they baked. And, they have the perfect jam-to-cookie ratio.
  • Don’t be afraid to fold the edges up over most of the jam — and pinch tightly. The ones folded up more tightly also held their shape better while baking.
  • I brushed the outside of the cookies with egg wash — in reading other posts, it seems this may help them stay together while baking.