The Recipe Box: Holiday entertaining

Tami Ganeles-Weiser of

3¼ cups flour, sifted and divided, plus 2 tablespoons (419 grams) cake flour for dusting
½ cup (66 grams) currants
3 tablespoon cognac or brandy
2 teaspoons (11 grams) vanilla extract
2 teaspoons (18 grams) grated fresh ginger
1½ cups (310 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 cup margarine or Earth Balance buttery spread, room temperature
6 large eggs
½ cup vanilla soy or coconut creamer
1½ teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1½ tablespoons ground roasted cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground anise
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper

2 cups (254 grams) confectioner’s sugar
4 tablespoons, or more as needed, soy or coconut creamer
¼ teaspoon ground dried ginger

Edible silver pearl dragees

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a large kugelhopf or bundt pan with nonstick spray and dust with two tablespoons flour. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix the currants, cognac, vanilla extract, and freshly grated ginger.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter until light, about 1½ minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Combine the soy creamer and cider vinegar in a small bowl and let stand until curdled.  Slowly mix into the egg mixture until combined, then add the molasses.

Toss ¼ cup cake flour with the soaking currants until combined. Sift the remaining flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, anise, salt, and pepper onto a piece of parchment paper.

Slowly add the sifted dry ingredients to the egg and butter mixture and stir until completely incorporated. Once combined, fold in the currant mixture.

Pour into the prepared pan and cook until the top is toasty brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. The cake will continue to cook a bit as it cools in the pan, so make sure it is slightly less cooked than an average cake.

Once the cake is cool to the touch, flip onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, cream, and ground ginger and drizzle liberally over the inverted cake, letting it drip into each ridge. While the glaze is still wet, decorate with dragees and finishing sugar.


(Serves 6)
Martha Campbell, Ridgefield, CT,  via Lura Towle Nute, New England great-grandmother

1/4 cup corn meal
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups milk, divided
1 beaten large egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix corn meal, water, salt and 2 cups milk in a 2 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Boil gently for 10 minutes.

Blend in egg, sugar, molasses, butter, cinnamon and ginger.

Pour the combined mixture into a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish. Place in preheated 325 degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

Pour over the top 1 cup of milk but DO NOT STIR.  Bake an additional 1 1/2 hours for a total baking time of 2 hours.

Serves with light cream, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top when hot.



(Yields 12 crostini)
Tami Ganeles-Weiser,

Full of fresh flavors that sing of spring in Northern California, thisappetizer is a lovely way to start a barbecue, sit-down dinner or brunch. The smoked olive oil gives it a whole new dimension. Roasted garlic is also key to this delicious spread and it’s easy to make; you basically just throw it in the oven. Allow an hour for the garlic to roast before you begin to assemble these easy hors d’oeuvres.

1 baguette

Fava bean hummus:
1 large head garlic, roasted (hyperlink)
2 cups fresh cooked fully peeled fava beans (or lima beans), preferably 2 (8.8-ounce) packets of Melissa’s
1 teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
3 tablespoons smoked olive oil

The drizzle:
2 tablespoons date syrup
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Banyuls* or white balsamic vinegar

The garnish:
1½ cups fresh baby arugula or any bitter green, trimmed if needed, washed and patted dry

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet. Cut the baguette, diagonally into a 12 pieces.
Place the pieces on the parchment paper in a single layer and set aside.

Prepare the fava bean hummus: Squeeze the roasted garlic out of papery skin surrounding each clove, getting as much out as you can. Combine the lava beans, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until smooth. With the processor running, drizzle in the oil until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated into a smooth paste. Scoop the mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Prepare the drizzle: Place the date syrup, honey, and balsamic into a
medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk together until fully combined. Set aside.

Place the bread in the oven and toast for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until crispy. Remove.

Spread 2 tablespoons of the bean mixture on each piece of toasted
baguette.Top each with an equal amount of the arugula. Drizzle about 1 to 2 teaspoons of the date syrup mixture over the arugula  and
serve immediately.

*Banyuls vinegar, or le vinaigre de Banyuls, is a wine vinegar made from the sweet wine grapes in the Banyuls-sur-Mer area in southwest France. It is aged for five years, four of them in casks stored outdoors. Aficionados detect notes of walnut and spice in the vinegar.

Cantor Deborah Katchko Gray, Ridgefield, Conn.,

Half a chicken or package of chicken bones
Package of matza ball mix, either with a package of chicken soup mix or some consomme cubes

3-4 carrots sliced
2-3 celery stalks sliced
2 onions chopped

Any of these –
1 – 2 parsnips peeled, sliced
½ rutabaga waxy turnip peeled chopped – gives it a great flavor
A few small turnips peeled chopped
A few garlic cloves chopped
If you have parsley, cilantro or dill – some salt and pepper to taste


Fill a large pot with water. Put half a chicken or package of chicken bones, vegetables, garlic and herbs in the water. After boiling an hour or two, cool and skim off fat. Remove chicken and remove bones. Put meat back in pot.

Make matza balls – use box mix. I always add a bit more matza meal. I heard about a nice tradition – putting a small piece of cooked carrot in the center – I make them in a separate pot, seasoned with soup mix/consomme.


CHICKEN, CORN, AND OLIVE EMPANADASWebsite-recipes-holiday-emp
Tami Ganeles-Weiser,

⅛ teaspoon saffron or achiote powder
1½ cups water
8 cups (1040 grams) all-purpose unbleached flour, plus more for dusting
¼ cup (51 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (18 grams) salt
3 cups (315 grams) cold non-hydrogenated margarine, Earth balance preferred, cut into ½-inch dice (see Kitchen Tip)
4 egg yolks (see Kitchen Tip)
⅓ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and minced, or 8 scallions, ends trimmed and minced
2 stalks celery, leaves included, cut into ⅛-inch dice
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ⅛-inch dice
½ red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch dice, stem, seeds and pith discarded
1 small jalapeño pepper, finely minced, stems, seeds and pith discarded, optional (see Kitchen Tip)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kernels of 4 ears corn (about 2 cups; see Kitchen Tip)
½ cup pitted green olives, pimientos and capers, Alcaparrado mix, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
2 pounds ground chicken, dark meat preferred
½ cup dried currants
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water, lightly beaten

Make the dough: Combine the water and saffron in a small bowl, stir gently, and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing  bowl and stir to blend. Add the margarine and, with your cold hands or a pastry cutter, work the ingredients together until the mixture looks like small peas in flour. Add the oil, egg yolks, and saffron water and mix until it is a raggedy dough. Dust a work surface with a little flour, and transfer the dough onto it. Form into 4 flat discs and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 4 hours, until chilled but still soft.

Make the filling: In a saucepan set over high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are translucent and the edges have browned. Add the celery, carrots, red pepper, jalapeño (if using), and garlic, and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the salt and pepper, ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Add the corn, olives, and oregano and stir well.

Set aside to cool. Add the chicken and currants and mix to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Dust a work surface with flour. Remove one of the dough discs from the refrigerator, cut it into quarters, and roll one piece out to a thickness of ¼ to ⅙ inch. Cut it into 3 or 4 (5- to 6-inch) circles. With a pastry brush, brush the edges with the egg wash.

Spoon a generous tablespoon of the filling into the center of one dough circle. Grasping one edge with your fingertips, fold half of the dough over the filling, creating a half moon shape. Crimp or press the edges together with a fork. Carefully lift the empanada onto the pan, cover with plastic wrap and continue to cut, roll, fill and crimp the remaining dough and filling. You will have about about 60 appetizer-sized empanadas.

Bake the empanadas for 25 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. Serve immediately. It’s great with chimichurri sauce (find our excellent version here) and/or tomatoes. Or guacamole (try our Easy Guacamole). Before baking, the empanadas can be frozen while on the trays and kept for up to a week.

1. If you don’t care for margarine, this recipe will work with coconut oil.
2. To cut the kernels off a fresh ear of corn, shuck it well and place it on a work surface. Cut it in half crosswise. Stand it on the work surface, cut-side-down, and with a sharp knife, cut downward to remove the kernels.
3. When separating multiple eggs, crack each one into a small bowl before adding it to the big bowl, that way if the yolk separates and falls into the white, you only ruined one egg, not the entire batch.  Also, separating is easier when the eggs are cold, so do this before bringing the eggs up to room temperature.
4. The chemicals in chili peppers that cause that wonderful feeling of heat on the tongue can cause a not-so-wonderful feeling if it gets into your eyes (or nose)—and it can share its love with other foods on your menu. To avoid cross-contamination, avoid touching your face or eyes after cutting and trimming hot chilies. Change work surfaces and knives. Some cooks wear plastic gloves when handling hot peppers.

(Serves 8)
Tami Ganeles-Weiser of
Here’s a sweet-spicy side dish that is guaranteed to start the year on a sweetnote—and they are just as good any time at all. The key to making light, creamy, smooth sweet potatoes with a mixer is heat. Make sure to scoop the potatoes when they are just out of  the oven and whip while they are hot, hot, hot and you’ll have a great texture. Just make sure to use an oven mitt or kitchen towel when you handle the hot potatoes.

6 large sweet potatoes (about 3½ pounds, See Kitchen Tip)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste [link to glossary]
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
⅔ cup quince jelly (See Kitchen Tip)
¼ cup coconut cream [link to glossary]

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with 2 layers of
aluminum foil and a spritz of nonstick vegetable oil spray. Wash the
potatoes, and while wet, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Place on
the baking sheet and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until cooked through and
very soft.

Carefully scoop the hot potato filling into the bowl of a stand mixer.
(See Kitchen Tip.) Add the remaining salt, the pepper, vanilla bean
paste, ground cardamom, and jelly and mix at low speed, working up to
medium-high, for  a total of 10 minutes, until the potatoes are whipped
and smooth. stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the coconut
cream, a little at a time, and continue to blend for about 5 more
minutes, until fully incorporated.

Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately,
or store in a covered container and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Reheat
to serve.

Kitchen Tips:
Use whichever variety of sweet potato (also called yam) that you like
for this dish. I’ve found that garnets produce the sweetest results.

If you have a potato ricer or a food mill, use it now! It works every
time, flawlessly. These are two of my essential kitchen tools. They key
to all of this is twofold: make sure the potatoes are fully cooked and
mash, whip or mill them while they’re hot. Please do not use a food processor or blender for any potatoes; you will end up with mucky, slushy potatoes.

Quince jelly can be found at specialty stores, online, and at health
food stores. You can also use preserves or jam, and you’ll end up with
yummy chunks of sweet quince.

If you are watching your sugar intake, you can cut the jelly down to ½ cup and maintain the flavor.