AN IRANIAN FEAST
Shohreh Aghdashloo's Halva:This sweet is different than what most of us know as halvah. Browned flour, not ground sesame seeds forms the basis of this confection, which is exotically scented with saffron and rosewater. Don’t rush the browning of the flour; if you scorch it, you’ll have to begin again.
1/8 tsp. saffron threads
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 1 cup water
3 tbsp. rosewater
2 tbsp. chopped shelled pistachios
1. Put saffron in 1-cup glass measure and pour 1/4 cup boiling water over. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to steep.
2. Put flour in large, heavy, deep skillet (not cast-iron) or in a heavy Dutch oven. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, then constantly as it begins to color. Cook flour until it turns medium-beige and smells nutty, about 45 minutes.
3. Carefully mix in sugar and then butter, stirring to form a clumpy mixture. Pour in water, rosewater and saffron mixture, stirring until smooth.
It will form a cohesive, smooth, dough Keep cooking, turning it over with a spoon, for 5 minutes more. Turn out onto a dinner plate.
4. Press out halvah with hands, making a thick round about 1” thick. Cut out rounds with a small (2”) glass, and press pistachios into each. Let the halva stand about 1 hour so that it firms a bit, but it will not get hard.
Makes about 10 to 12 pieces
CHRISMUKKAH IN MANHATTAN
Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca's Chrismukkah Recipes
4 quarts chicken stock*
8 each italian bread slices, cut 1/2 inch thick
1 stick butter
1 tbsp. white vinegar
8 eggs, as fresh as possible (this results in a much better poached egg – otherwise the whites fall apart.)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1. Bring stock to a boil, the simmer until reduced by half, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Keep warm. (*Note: To save time, use 2 quarts of homemade or rich store bought chicken broth and don't reduce)
2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute bread slices until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
3.Fill a saucepan two-thirds full with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the water to a slow simmer and add the vinegar. Break each egg into a separate small cup or dish. Cook two eggs at a time by sliding one egg, then the other, into the water. Poach the eggs until the whites are set but the yolks are still soft, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining eggs.
4. Place toasted bread slices in warm soup plate. Place 1 poached egg on top of each bread slice. Pour hot soup over egg and garnish with grated cheese and chopped chives. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 cups
Sesame Seed Chicken
6 chicken breast halves skinless and boneless (about 6 ounces each)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
2 tsp.chopped fresh sage
1 cup vegetable oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 lemon wedges
Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Place flour on a plate or shallow baking dish, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Prepare egg wash by whisking eggs in a bowl and adding milk.
4. Combine bread crumbs, toasted sesame seeds and crushed sage on a plate.
5. Working in two batches, heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking.
6, Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess, then place in egg wash. Coat the cutlets on both sides with the bread crumbs mixture.
7. Fry chicken cutlets until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes.
Remove chicken from skillet and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in the oven until fully cooked and juices run clear, about 20 minutes.
8. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
A NOVEL NEW YEAR'S DAY
Nora Roberts's Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
5 lbs. ground beef round
3 slices white sandwich bread, finely crumbled with your hands
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. each dried basil and thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. each onion salt and garlic powder
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp.salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (if you like them spicy)
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. each dried basil and thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cans (29 oz each) tomato sauce
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 tomato sauce can of water
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil 3 or 4 large rimmed baking sheets, or coat with cooking spray. You can also use a shallow roasting pan or the bottom of your broiler pan.
2. For meatballs: In a very large bowl, place beef. In medium bowl, combine crumbled bread, eggs, milk, herbs, onion salt, garlic powder, black pepper, salt and if desired, crushed red pepper flakes. Mix with a fork until bread is evenly moistened. Add to beef and mix with your hands until well blended. Form into 1” meatballs using a heaping tablespoon for each.
3. Arrange meatballs on prepared baking sheets. Bake, without turning until browned, about 20 minutes. Drain off any fat. (You may need to bake meatballs in batches. Keep unbaked meatballs refrigerated.)
4. Meanwhile, make Red Sauce: In large, heavy Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and just golden, about 2 minutes. Add herbs, onion salt, salt, and black pepper and stir well. Stir in tomato sauce, wine and water; bring to a boil.
5. Add meatballs; return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, and adding more water or wine if sauce gets too thick, until very flavorful, 3 hours.
Serve on small plates or from a chafing dish with toothpicks.
Makes about 110 meatballs – about 35 servings of 3 meatballs each
Jane Seymour's Cranberry Relish SauceI make a large quantity of this sauce as it is so popular and because we have so many guests over the festive season. This sauce can be served with hot or cold Christmas turkey, baked glazed ham or chicken. I usually make it 3 days before X-mas so the flavor develops. (This also reduces the last minute rush!)
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 -3/4 cups water
1 cup sugar
juice of one orange (pith removed)
1/2 peel of lemon (pith removed)
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of ground nutmeg
1. If using fresh cranberries, wash them well and pick out any bruised ones. If using frozen cranberries, rinse with cold water and drain. Do not thaw before using.
2. Add all the ingredients, except the cranberries, to a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add the cranberries and bring back to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 7 minutes or until the berries burst. Remove pan from heat and let the sauce cool in the saucepan. It will thicken slightly. Remove cinnamon stick, cloves and peels before serving.
Yield: 2 1/2 cups