Winter Squash Is In Season/ kosher recipes, information and suggestions


We’ve all heard the terms “summer squash” and “winter squash” It’s kinda weird because you can get summer squashes all winter; and “winter squashes pretty much a summer long. Confusing yes, but easily explainable.

The terms “summer squash” and “winter squash” date back to a time when the seasonal vegetables were only available when they “were in season”  a “get em while you can” kind of mentality existed.  Right now the newest crop of winter squashes are just rolling into the marketplace so now is the time to get them, cook them and eat them

Winter squash are more typically round in shape and have a harder, non eatable skin that needs to be peeled. Winter (or fall harvested squash for those of a more literal mind) take longer to mature than summer squash and can be stored for months longer than the summer squashes as long as they are in a cool dry area. You can bake, mash, steamed or simmer you winter squashes and , for the  most part they can replace sweet potatoes in almost any recipe. Cooked winter squash is great as an ingredient in cakes, pies, soups and casseroles.

You should look for squash that feels heavy than you think it should for its size. The skin should have a deep color and it shouldn’t have any obvious bruises or blemishes. While there are bunches and bunches of squash the one that are the most popular (and available) are the acorn, turban, butternut, Buttercup, Carnival, Hubbard and Spaghetti.

These squashes are usually covered with wax and or dirt so you need to make sure you wash and really scrub the outside of the squash. Then cut off stem, cut in half, remove the seeds and stringy fibers and cook. It’s usually easier to peel squash after its been cooked.



1 pound peeled squash = 1 cup cooked, mashed
2-1/2 pounds whole squash = 2-3/4 to 3 cups pureed
1 pound trimmed squash = 2 cups cooked pieces
1 pound squash = 2 to 3 servings
12 ounces frozen squash = 1-1/2 cups

1 medium-size (15 to 20 pounds) pumpkin = 5 to 7 quarts of cooked pumpkin.


Bake: Cut the squash in half, poke the skin with a fork then place the squash cut side down on a cookie sheet with sides and bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes until soft.


Boil or Steam: Cut the squash into halves, quarters or rings and cook it, with water or broth for 20 to 25 minutes or until the squash is tender. You can mash cooked squash just like potatoes.


You can also microwave your squash. Place cut pieces of squash in a shallow glass dish with a little water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave 5 or 6 minutes and test it for softness. Continue checking for doneness at 2 or 3 minute intervals until the squash is soft. You can microwave a whole squash. Just poke the skin all over with a fork (so steam can escape). Microwave the squash 7 to 10 minutes and check to see how soft the squash is.




1 large or 2 small turban squash

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound ground beef

1 small onion chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 green pepper, diced small

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon fennel

1 egg; slightly beaten

1 cup sour cream

1 cup parmesan cheese; shredded

1 cup fresh parsley; chopped


Preheat oven to 375. Cutting at a downward angle remove the crown of turban. Scrape out seeds and membrane. Sprinkle the inside cavity with salt. Place the squash in a 9X13 baking pan with the cut opening facing down. Add about 1 inch of water. Bake 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the squash. It should be softening but not mushy. Remove the squash from the oven turn the cut side up and leave it in the pan.


In a bowl, combine egg, sour cream and parmesan and mix to combine and set aside. In skillet, combine the beef, onion, garlic, green pepper, thyme and fennel. Cook, stirring frequently for 7 or 8 until the meat is fully cooked. Drain any excess grease and add the parsley. Add the egg mixture to meat mixture and mix to combine. Spoon the beef mixture into the squash. Place the stuffed squash back in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until filling is set. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving. To serve, cut into slices. Serves 4.


Modified from




1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

4 large acorn squash, halved and seeded

1/4 cup olive oil

1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

5 to 6 stalks celery, chopped

4 carrots, shredded

2 cups garbanzo beans, drained

1 cup raisins

3 tablespoons cumin

salt and pepper to taste

2 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth

2 cups uncooked couscous


Preheat oven to 350. Arrange squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender. Combine the sugar and butter in a sauce pan and heat until they are combined. Baste the inside of the squash with the mixture and set it aside. In a skillet heat the oil and add the garlic, celery, and carrots, and saute 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garbanzo beans, raisins, cumin, salt, and pepper, and continue to cooking (stirring often) until vegetables are crisp tender. Add the chicken broth and couscous. Cover and turn off heat. Allow the mixture to sit, covered for 6 or 7 minutes. Remove the cover, mix to combine and then fill the squash and serve. Serves 8.


My files, source unknown




1 tablespoon olive oil

3 to 4 lbs skinless bone-in chicken breast

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup chopped celery

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth

2/3 cup white wine

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sage

1 teaspoon thyme

4 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash

1 cup frozen peas

1 lb sliced mushrooms


Heat oil in a large (4 1/2 quart Dutch oven. Add chicken and brown about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove chicken and add onion, garlic and celery to pan; sauté on medium heat about 5 minutes. Return chicken to the pan with vegetables. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, wine, salt, pepper, sage, thyme and bring to a boil; simmer about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add the squash, bring to boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook an additional or until squash is tender. Stir in the peas and cook for 2 more minutes. Serves 6 to 8


Submitted by Ronnie Marchoni Chicago IL




1 (2 pound) butternut squash

Cooking spray

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon pepper

½ cup fresh orange juice, divided

2 tablespoons butter

3 green onions, thinly sliced


1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons orange zest

¼ cup whipping cream

1 1b. mock/fake crab

Garnish: orange slices and additional thinly sliced green onions


Preheat oven to 375.Cut the butternut squash lengthwise into 4 wedges. Remove the seeds and place the squash in a 9 X 12 baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the squash with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Pour 1/4 cup orange juice over the squash. Cover and bake for 40 minutes and until fork tender.

During the last 15 minutes of baking, prepare the Orange mock crab.

Arrange the butternut squash wedges on a serving platter, cut side up.In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the green onions and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup orange juice, orange zest, and remaining salt and pepper. Simmer for 6-7 minutes. Add the heavy cream and mock crab and simmer an additional 3 minutes.Divide and spoon the mock crab mix on top of the roasted butternut squash. Garnish the platter with orange slices and sprinkle all with additional thinly sliced green onions. Serves 4

Modified from




Roasting squash and apples intensifies their flavors. Use a mixture of winter squash varieties for a more complex taste.

3 pounds winter squash such as butternut, kabocha, acorn or delicata, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 8 cups)

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

3 cups vegetable broth

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Preheat oven to 400. Line two rimmed baking sheets or shallow roasting pans with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss squash, apples, onion, garlic and ginger until mixed well. Spread mixture on baking sheets in a single layer. Roast squash mixture until tender and beginning to brown, about 45 to 50 minutes, rotating pans between oven racks halfway through baking. Remove from oven and purée squash mixture with broth and 1 cup water in a blender or food processor in 2 batches until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add more water if needed to thin soup to desired consistency. Serve garnished with parsley.


Modified from


Barley There (Ok, a bad pun but a great grain)

So there I was, cleaning out my pantry in a crazed moment of organization (believe me, they are few and far between) and lo and behold, I discover an open box of barley I had conveniently misplaced behind the other opened boxes of pasta, wild rice and ramen noodles I really need to finish. As I contemplated the box I realized that I have tons and tons of recipes that utilize this great grain and what better time to share them than when I’m all trying to use up this “stuff”

Barley is kind of a super fiber filled food and who can’t use more fiber in their diet these days. There are two types of barley typically available to consumers.  The first is pearl barley. This process barley has had its outer fibrous hull removed and is almost like white rice, great for soups and salads. Scotch barley is less processed barley. It holds up better in stews and cooked casseroles.

Barley has a slightly nutty and chewy flavor. I like to toast it (for 8 to 10 minutes in a skillet over a low heat) before cooking it to bring out its more robust flavor. You should know that barley expands A LOT when it cooks so make sure you have enough liquid to keep it from scorching. 1 cup dry barley expands to makes approx. 3 cups cooked barley. In the event, unlike me, you need to purchase some barley to make the following recipes please try and steer clear of the quick cooking kind. In my opinion, it’s just a poor imitation of the real stuff. Yes you can use the quick cooking barley if you’re in a hurry but for my money and taste the slower cooking kind is better in terms of flavor and texture.


How cook pearl barley:
In a saucepan combine 3/4 cup pearl barley, 2 1/4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Makes approx 3 cups.



1/2 cup barley
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 small peeled and diced eggplant
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
8 to 10 drops hot sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup shredded red cabbage

1/2 cup chopped cucumber


Place the barley and water in medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Set the barley aside. In large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chicken and garlic and stir fry 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cooked barley to the pan and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Remove the mixture to a bowl and set it aside. Do not clean the pan. Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add eggplant, bell pepper and onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add basil, hot sauce, sugar, peanut butter and soy sauce; cook 2 more minutes. Add the barley mixture to the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the serving bowl and garnish with peanuts, cucumber and red cabbage. Serves 4.




1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup barley
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
3 tablespoons apricot jam or apple butter


Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9X13 casserole dish. In a large skillet heat the oil and sauté the onion, peppers and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the apple and curry powder and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the barley and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook an additional 15 minutes. Spoon the liquidly barley mixture into the greased casserole. Arrange the chicken pieces over the barley mixture. Season with garlic salt. Cover and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and brush the chicken with the apricot jam. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let stand for a few minutes before serving. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.




1 cup barley
3 cups water
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil

2 teaspoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup diced fresh tomato
2/3 cup diced red bell pepper
4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced

In medium saucepan bring the water and approx. 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add the barley and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Add the corn and simmer 10 to 15 minutes longer. While the barley is cooking in a bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, basil, approx. 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the warm barley mixture and mix to combine. Cool the mixture to room temperature. Add the tomatoes, peppers, parsley and onions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for the flavors to combine. Serves 6 to 8



2 cups hot cooked barley
4 to 5 tablespoons sesame oil

1 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar
3-1/2 to 4 cups shredded romaine or red leaf lettuce

1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges drained but save 2 tablespoons liquid
1-1/2 to 2 cups cubed cooked turkey or chicken
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Rice noodles, for garnish

2/3 cup toasted almonds


Place the hot cooked barley into a large bowl. Drizzle the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and sugar over the hot barley, mix gently to coat Cover the barley and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour. Add the mandarin oranges, orange liquid, turkey, celery and green onions to the cold barley. Toss gently to combine. Arrange the salad greens on 4 dinner plates. Mound the barley mixture over the greens. Sprinkle the top of each salad with the rice noodles and almonds for garnish. Makes 4 main course servings or 8 salad servings.




1 1/2 lb beef stew meat cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 onions chopped

6 carrots diced

1 to 1 1/2 lb mushroom sliced

8 cups beef broth

1 cup barley

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Salt and Pepper to taste


In the bottom of a soup pot brown the meat in the oil. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring often for 10 minutes. Add the broth, carrots, mushrooms and barley. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for at least 2 hours. In the last 15 minutes add the parsley and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper before serving. If the soup is too thick add water to thin it. Serves 8




1 onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 parsnip, diced

2 potatoes, diced

2 tablespoon oil

8 cups water or broth

1 cup uncooked pearled barley

1 can pinto beans, drained

1 small can crushed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 large bay leaves

Salt and pepper


In a large soup pot, sauté the onions, celery, parsnip, potatoes and carrots for 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth or water and the remaining ingredients. Mix to combine and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the barley is soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and serve. Serves 8 to 10.


Submitted by Victoria Cambria Northbrook IL




1 lb skinless chicken thighs

2 teaspoon olive oil

4 cups water

4 cups chicken broth

1 onion, chopped

2 cups seeded diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups corn

2 cups sliced okra (sliced)

2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon sage

2/3 cup barley


In a large sauce pan sauté the onions in the olive oil for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the chicken, cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the water and broth the mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Skim off the foam and add the garlic, red pepper, bay leaf, and sage. Cover and let simmer 15 to 30 minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, corn, and barley, cover and simmer for an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8 to 10.


Modified from

Old Fashion Christmas Food Explained


            At this time of year I often get a few requests for “traditional” holiday recipes. Not moms, grandmothers or even great grandma Rosie’s “can’t have a holiday meal with out being excommunicated from the family with out serving them recipes” but rather, the recipes that have made up holiday menus in times past. These are the recipes we all know about but have never made because either they sound too weird, take too much time or frankly, require more ingredients and expertise than the average cook has. I’m talking about Mincemeat, Roasted Chestnuts, Wassail, Syallbub, Gingerbread and Roast Goose.

            These five foods have been discussed, lauded and praised in the Christmas songs and literature for eons. While the Wassail and Syallbub are not as well known or popular as they once were, they are nonetheless, by virtue of their longevity in our collective culinary memories, worthy of inclusion in this column. None of these items are actually difficult to make so I suppose the reason most of them don’t get served is that family favorites have edged out the traditional favorites.     

I’ve made both Wassail and Syllabubs and found both to be delicious. Gingerbread and Roast Goose have both graced my table on many occasions. However, I will admit I’ve never had the desire to try mincemeat but several of my friends love it and assure me that, made right, it’s delicious. My mincemeat lapse aside, tradition has its place. So, without further ado, my holiday gift to you is a nostalgic retrospective of the recipes of Christmas past.


Mincemeat was originally a medieval (England) sweet, spicy mixture of chopped (minced) lean meat (usually beef, or beef tongue), suet and fruit. It was generally served as an entree. Gradually the meat content was reduced, and today the mixture contains nuts, dried fruit (raisins, apples, pears, citrus peel, etc.), beef suet, spices and brandy or rum, but no beef. Mincemeat is used primarily in pies and tarts.


1/2 lb beef suet, chopped fine

4 cups seedless raisins

2 cups dried currants

1 cup coarsely chopped almonds

1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied citron

1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried figs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied orange peel

1/4 cup coarsely chopped candied lemon peel

4 cups coarsely chopped, peeled and cored cooking apples

1 & 1/4 cups sugar

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

2 & 1/2 cups brandy

1 cup dry sherry

2 recipes for 2 crust pie shell recipe

Combine the suet, raisins, currants, almonds, citron, figs, orange peel, lemon peel, apples, sugar, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves in a large mixing bowl and stir them together thoroughly. Pour in the brandy and the sherry and stir with a large spoon until all the ingredients are moist. Cover the bowl and set the ingredients aside in a cool place (do not refrigerate) for at least 3 weeks. Check the mixture each week and replenish the absorbed liquor with more brandy and sherry, using about 1/4 cup each time. To cook: Preheat the oven to 375. Roll out dough and cut into 4 to 5 inch circles. Place about 1 tablespoons of mincemeat into each pastry circle and cover and fold in half, crimping the edges with a fork. Place the stuffed pies on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let pies cool then remove from tin and serve with whipped cream. Makes 2 dozen With leftover filling.



Simply put chestnuts that are roasted and then served warm. Since the middle of the twentieth century, North America has imported most of its chestnuts from Italy. In France, marron glace, a candied chestnut with a typically French cooking style that involves 16 different processes, is always served at Christmas and New Years time. To the early Christians chestnuts symbolized chastity.
To roast your chestnuts use the point of a paring knife to slash an X on the flat side of each nut, being sure to cut through the skin. Bake in a single layer at 425  for 10 to 15 minutes for peeling only. If you want them completely roasted, bake 15 to 25 minutes until tender. Stir nuts occasionally during the roasting time.

Always peel chestnuts while they’re still warm. If they cool so much that the shell won’t easily come off, reheat them briefly.


Syllabub was a popular dessert in seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth century England. It was popular for celebrations, special occasions and Christmas due to its festive appearance. Syllabub was made with a mixture of whipped cream, whipped egg whites, white wine, sugar, lemon juice and zest of lemon. The quantity of white wine added would determine the consistency determining whether the mixture was a creamy dessert or a punch.


2 cups white wine

3 cups milk

5 tablespoons grated Lemon peel (rind)

2 cups Light cream

1/3 cup Lemon juice

4 Egg whites

1-1/2 cup Sugar


Combine wine, lemon rind, and juice. Stir in 1 cup of the sugar and let stand until sugar dissolves. Combine milk and cream, add wine mixture, and beat with a rotary beater until frothy. Beat egg whites until stiff, add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, a little at a time, beating constantly until whites stand in peaks. Pour wine mixture into punch bowl, top with puffs of egg white, and sprinkle whites with nutmeg.



This French pastry origin can be traced back to the ancient Celtic tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. On the shortest day of the year, the Celts would search for a large trunk of a tree and burn it. The burning log was a symbol of the rebirth of the sun as well as an offering of thanks to the sun for returning to the earth. This pagan tradition was transformed by the Catholic Church and during the Middle Ages the logs and the ceremony of the burning log became more elaborate. The logs themselves would be decorated with ribbons and greenery and it would burn through the night.  The big log was replaced by a smaller branch that was set in the middle of the table and surrounded by little sweets that were given as treats to guests. It is this branch that was eventually transformed into the cake we know as the Buche de Noel.


6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups half and half
8 ounces imported white chocolate (such as Lindt), chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 1/2 cups toasted sliced almonds
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour

6 large eggs, separated
10 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

Pine twigs

Candied Cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup cranberries

For Buttercream:
Whisk egg yolks, sugar and flour in medium bowl to blend well. Bring half and half to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Slowly whisk hot half and half into egg mixture. Return egg mixture to same saucepan and cook until mixture boils and thickens, whisking constantly. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add chocolate and orange peel and stir until mixture is smooth. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pastry cream to prevent skin from forming. Cool completely. (Pastry cream can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

For cake:
Preheat oven to 300. Butter 11×17-inch jelly roll pan. Line with parchment. Butter and flour parchment. Coarsely grind toasted almonds with flour in processor. Using electric mixer, beat yolks with 5 tablespoons brown sugar in medium bowl until slowly dissolving ribbons form when beaters are lifted. Stir in orange peel and vanilla extract. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites with cream of tartar and salt in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 5 tablespoons brown sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into yolk mixture. Gently fold in almond mixture.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides if necessary to loosen cake. Slide cake on parchment onto rack. Cool.

Slide cake on parchment onto work surface. Loosen cake from parchment using knife as aid. Sift powdered sugar over cake. Invert onto cookie sheet. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and invert onto another parchment sheet. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in Grand Marnier. Add pastry cream 1/4 cup at a time, beating after each addition until just blended.

Spread half of Buttercream over cake, leaving 1/2-inch border. Starting at 1 long side, roll up cake jelly roll fashion. Arrange seam side down on parchment. Set aside 1/2 cup Buttercream; spread remaining Buttercream over cake. Cut 2 inches off each end of cake, cutting on diagonal. Transfer cake to platter. Attach ends to top of cake, forming branches. Spread reserved 1/2 cup Buttercream over cake ends and seams. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to firm Buttercream. (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.)

Arrange pine twigs on cake and on platter. Garnish with cranberries.

For Cranberries:
Cook 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Transfer to top of double boiler. Add cranberries. Cover berry mixture and place over simmering water. Cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from over water. Let cranberry mixture stand at room temperature overnight. Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar on plate. Drain cranberries well. Add to sugar and turn to coat. Let dry at least 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)  Serves 8.

From Bon Appétit December 1991


Wassail is a hot, spiced punch often associated with winter celebrations of northern Europe, usually those connected with the Christmas,  New Year’s and Twelfth Night. While the modern day beverage typically served as wassail most closely resembles mulled cider. Historical wassail was different, more of a mulled beer. Sugar, ale, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon would be placed in a bowl, heated and then the alcohol ignited. Recipes vary, but usually call for a base of either wine or fruit juices (for those who abstain from spirits) simmered with mulling spices, usually fortified with brandy. Orange and or lemon slices were added to the mixture.


1 gallon apple juice

2 oranges
2 lemons
1 lime
1 tbsp cloves
1 tbsp allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 qt water
1 cup sugar

Heat the water to boiling. Cut the lemons and oranges (and lime if using) in half and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl to save, throw the skins and pulp into the boiling water. Add spices and simmer for one hour.  Remove the cinnamon sticks, a few cloves, allspice and save to one side. Using a slotted spoon or strainer remove the citrus peels and pulp and the remaining spices. Return the cinnamon sticks and saved spices to the water. Add the apple juice or cider and return to heat. . When boiling remove from heat and add the citrus juice and sugar. Simmer very lightly for another 10 minutes and serve. Serves 10 to 12.



Gingerbread has been baked in Europe since the eleventh century. In some places, it was a soft spiced cake; in others, a crisp cookie, and in still  others it resembled bread. Sometimes light, sometimes dark, sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy, it was almost always cut into shapes such as men, women, stars or animals and then decorated.


1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Candied cherries, red gum drops
String licorice
Decorator’s icing

If you are using self rising flour omit salt and baking soda. If you are using quick mixing flour add 3 tablespoons milk. Cream shortening and sugar. Blend in molasses, water, flour, salt, soda, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Chill for 2-3 hours. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured cloth covered board. Cut with cookie cutters or into shapes with a knife. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes. Immediately remove from baking sheet and cool. For crispier cookie roll dough 1/8 inch thick and bake for 8 minutes. Trim cookies as desired. For gingerbread men, press raisins into dough for eyes, nose, and buttons. Use bits of candied fruits and licorice for other trim. Makes 2 dozen regular cookies.



Turkey, Ham, and especially goose have been the main stay of most Christmas dinners. While turkey and ham are a more modern American tradition most Europeans still roast a goose for the holidays.

1 fresh whole goose (13 to 15 pounds)
Butchers’ twine
Kosher salt
3 ounces goose rub (1 ounce each of ground fennel seed, ground coriander seed and ground white pepper mixed together)
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 dinner fork (to poke holes in skin of goose)
1 onion (peeled, cut into large dice)
1 carrot (peeled, cut into thick slices)
1 rib celery (washed, cut into large slices)
1 leek (white part only, washed and cut into thick slices)
1 bay leaf
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350. Tie the legs of the goose together and cut the tips of the wings off. You can save the wing tips with the neck bone and make a quick goose stock, if needed. Next, using the fork, gently poke holes in the skin of the goose without going through the skin into the meat. Do this all over the bird (this will allow the fat to render off during the roasting process). Stuff the cavity of the bird with the fresh thyme and rosemary, and season it generously with salt. Finally sprinkle the entire goose with the goose rub, then transfer the goose to a roasting pan with water, onion, leek, celery, carrot, and bay leaf. It’s important to make sure your roasting pan is deep and strong enough to accommodate the goose. Do not use aluminum foil roasting pans because 3 cups of goose fat will render from the bird and, if spilled onto a hot surface, could ignite.
Place the goose into the oven for one hour. Then, without opening the oven, turn it off and let goose sit for one hour. Remove from oven and cut breast meat off the bird, then slice the breast meat very thin. Next, remove the thighs and legs, and serve with huckleberry sauce (see recipe below).

Tip: Save the rendered fat from the roasting pan and use it to roast potatoes or vegetables in place of cooking oil, a very flavorful option. Serve 4 to 6.

From Chef John Greeley of New York’s historic ’21’ Club NBC Today show web site

How do you spell Chanukah?


Check out my article on Chanukah in the Journal Gazette

Even More Nuts I’m Nuts About

When it comes to entertaining the first question usually asked about the main course is “is it dairy or meat?” Which ever way I answer, the subsequent discussions and preparations for side dishes and desserts pale beside the thoughts of what “nibbles” I’m going to put out to take the edge off everyone’s hunger while I’m putting the finishing touches on my masterpieces. Typically, I bring out the nuts (no, I am not referring to my family here).

            Yes, I always have the other kinds of snack-etts like fresh veggies, crackers and pretzel  on hand to preceded what ever appetizers I’ve prepared but mostly, I love to put out a variety of sweet and savory nuts to wet the appetite, take the edge of the hunger and prepare the palette for the meal to follow.

Before anyone starts bitching about the bad press that nuts get in regards to calories and fat you should know that there is “healthy” stuff in nuts too. Nuts like almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts are cholesterol free, chock full of nutrients, protein and fiber. They’re a terrific source of vitamins like folic acid, niacin,  and vitamins E and B-6, and minerals like magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorous and potassium. A literal gold mine of good stuff.

          While I will concede that most nuts are relatively high in fat, most of the fat is unsaturated and eating nuts may actually help reduce the risk for heart disease.

While raw and roasted nuts are all that I described and more the following recipes do tend to add sugar and spice and everything nice (with a few more calories) j. All the recipes can all be made ahead of time and store for several weeks.


1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup

1/2 cup orange juice (I like it with pulp)

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups unbroken halves of nuts

You will need a candy thermometer

Spray a cookie sheet with non stick spray and set it aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, syrup and orange juice and boil to softball stage; 240 degrees. Remove the mixture from the heat and add nuts. Stir them mixture gently until it becomes creamy. Spread the mixture on a greased cookie sheet; separate with fork and let them cool. Makes 2 1/2 cups.


People love these nuts, and often ask me for the recipe.

1 egg white

1 Tablespoon cold water

1 pound pecan halves or walnuts (about 4 cups)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated is best

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 250. Grease rimmed baking sheet with butter or margarine (optional). Place nuts in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon nutmeg and salt thoroughly. In a small bowl, beat egg white with water until thick and foamy. Pour egg white mixture over nuts and toss them with your hands until they are thoroughly coated. Add sugar mixture and mix well. Spread nuts on baking sheet and bake for one hour. Turn nuts once after about thirty minutes. Notes: feel free to add another spice, such as cardamom or allspice to kick the flavor up a notch, but keep it simple and remember, you can always add more spice but add too much and you have to throw it out.


1 large egg white
1 teaspoon water
4 cups mixed salted roasted nuts (about 1 1/4 pound)
2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon dried orange peel

Preheat oven to 250. Whisk together egg white and water in a large bowl until frothy and stir in nuts. In another bowl combine the sugars, orange peel and pumpkin pie spice. Stir the sugar mixture into the nuts, coating well. Spread nuts in a lightly buttered large rimmed cookie sheet and bake in middle of oven until dry, about 50 minutes. Cool and break into bite-size chunks.


Adapted from Rozanne GoldA great cocktail snack to have on hand, these will keep for a week before serving.

Yield: Makes about 6 cups

2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder*
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chili powder (preferably chipotle)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large egg whites
2 cups pecan halves
2 cups walnut halves and pieces
2 cups raw cashews
1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup matchstick-size strips crystallized ginger

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in center of oven; preheat to 225°F. Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir first 7 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Whisk egg whites in large bowl until foamy. Whisk in spice mixture. Add pecan halves, walnut halves and pieces, and raw cashews; toss to coat completely. Sprinkle sugar over and toss to coat.

Divide nut mixture between prepared baking sheets; spread nut mixture in single layer. Bake until nuts are toasted and coating is dry, stirring every 20 minutes, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Sprinkle nuts with salt to taste, if desired. Transfer nuts to large bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

*A blend of ground anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger available in the spice section of most supermarkets.



3 tablespoons butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups pecan halves


Preheat oven to 250°. Melt butter in a small skillet; add hot sauce, garlic and salt. Sauté for 1 minute. Toss pecans with butter mixture; spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake pecans for about 1 hour or until pecans are crisp, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes.
Makes 3 cups.


2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon ketchup

2 dashes hot sauce

4 cups pecan halves


Melt butter in large saucepan or skillet. Add Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and hot sauce. Add pecan halves, stirring to coat well. Spoon into a lightly greased glass or nonstick baking dish; spread out in an even layer. Toast at 400° about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn out on paper towels and sprinkle with salt


1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup Dr. Pepper (yes the soft drink)
1 cup pecan halves

Melt butter in small saucepan and add Dr. Pepper. Bring to the simmering point, and then add pecans and simmer for 15 minutes or until Dr. Pepper evaporates, stirring frequently. Pour pecans over cookie sheet and bake at 275 degrees F for 40 minutes or until crisp, turning at least every 10 minutes while baking.


1 cup sugar
3/4 cup rum
2 cups cashews, whole and unsalted
4 tablespoons butter

Generously oil a baking sheet and set aside. Bring the sugar and rum to boil in a saucepan. Cook for 3 minutes, until candy thermometer reads 234. Remove from heat and add the cashews, stirring constantly to coat with syrup. The sugar will become white and grainy after about 30 seconds. Return saucepan to heat and re-melt sugar, adding a few drops of water if needed. Watch carefully – do not burn. When the syrup has turned a rich caramel color, about 2 minutes, and the nuts sound hollow at the tap of a spoon, remove from heat and stir in butter. Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet, spreading out in one layer, separating any pieces that are stuck together. Cool completely. Store airtight for 2 weeks.

Makes 2 cups


2 dried chipotle chilies
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
3 cups assorted nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, pine, macadamia, pecans, pistachios, walnuts)

Spread shelled nuts (except macadamias) in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake in a 350 oven, stirring often, until golden. Allow 5 to 7 minutes for pine nuts; 8 to 10 minutes for pecans, pistachios, and walnuts; about 15 minutes for almonds and hazelnuts. Macadamias need lower heat because they scorch very easily; roast them at 300 for about 20 minutes. Watch nuts carefully since they brown quickly. For more toasted flavor, bake nuts to a darker color.

Remove and discard chili stems. Whirl chilies, with seeds, in a blender or food processor until finely ground.

In a bowl, mix ground chilies, honey, sugar, oil, salt and cayenne. Add nuts and stir until coated with seasonings. Pour nuts onto oiled 15 x 10-inch pan; shake into 1 layer. Bake in a 300 degree F oven, stirring often, until golden brown (under skins, if not blanched) and honey mixture hardens, 25 to 30 minutes. If necessary, push nuts apart; cool in pan. Serve, or store up to 3 days. Makes 3 cups.


4 cups nuts (any kind)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 envelope Good Seasons mild Italian salad dressing mix

In a skillet saute the nuts in the butter for 2 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce. Remove pan from heat and then stir in the powdered salad dressing mix. Mix to coat. Place a piece of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and then spread the nuts in single layer to cool. Makes 4 cups


2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup raw almonds

Heat oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly butter the foil. In a bowl combine the pepper and garlic salt and stir to mix.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and, when melted, add the sugar and stir in 2 teaspoons water. Simmer the mixture until the sugar melts. Add the nuts and continue to cook until the sugar bubbles, becomes thick and syrupy and coats the nuts, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the pepper mixture over the top of the nuts and quickly toss to coat. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Put the pan in the oven and roast until the nuts are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Remove the foil with the nuts and place on a wire rack to cool. When the nuts are cool enough to handle, break them apart and serve. Store in an airtight container. Makes 1 cup.


These peppery toasted almonds can be prepared up to two weeks ahead and stored in an airtight container.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3 cups whole blanched almonds
Coarse sea salt

In a large skillet over moderate heat, heat olive oil and butter. When butter foams, add the garlic and stir until fragrant, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and stir an additional 15 seconds. Add almonds and stir continuously until nuts are well coated and lightly toasted. Add salt to taste. Drain nuts on paper towels and let cool. Serve at room temperature. Makes 3 cups or 12 servings.