7 Twists for Your Haft-seen Table

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Norooz is the Iranian New Year celebrated by Iranian peoples and other related ethno-linguistic groups to commemorate the first day of Farvardin in the Iranian calendar, the beginning of the New Year and a reminder that winter is coming to an end.

Also known as the Persian New Year, Norooz is deeply rooted in the rituals and traditions of the Zoroastrians (the religion of ancient Persia before the advent of Islam), and has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in Asia and the Pacific and has become a worldwide cultural festivity. As it approaches on March 21st, there’s a flourish of activities you need to do to prepare your home for it.

Here are 7 fun ideas to make your Haft-seen table stand out as you count down the New Year with your family and cheer Eide Shoma Mobarak, or Happy New Year!

 

1.    A Twist on the Sabzehwheat-grass-eggs-4-erin-boyle-gardenista

For the symbol of rebirth and renewal, lentil, barley or wheat sprouts are commonly grown in a dish. To make your Sabzeh stand out, try growing it inside an egg shell! It’s a cute and fun way to display the sprouts… What if you painted the shells before planting the seeds?

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Rinse and empty out your eggshells. You don’t have to be too careful with their tops!
  2. Fill the eggshells with potting soil.
  3. Sprinkle a dense single layer of wheat seed (or whatever grain seeds you have!).
  4. Put on a sunny windowsill, wait and water. They’ll sprout in no time.

 

2.    Use Chocolate Coins

Coins are often added to the Haft-seen to represent prosperity. But what if you got chocolate coins instead of real coins? The kids are sure to be surprised when you bite into one of them!

 

3.    Try a New Fishyc7b064143e926ba8c71934e271ca5dae

Many people often display a goldfish to symbolize new beginnings and life. This Norooz, think about getting a more hardy fish! Sunburst Platy, which you can find at a local pet shop for around $2, have the same gold sheen as a goldfish!

 

4.    Make Your Own Candles

Candles often are used at the Haft-seen table to represent each member of the family. Try making your own to add some individuality to the ornamentation. (We made chocolate candles here).

 

5.    New Bloomscalla-assorted-teleflora_4

While hyacinths are the most commonly used flowers to decorate your table, think about adding some variety! Freesia, Calla and Iris are all flowers that are in season during the month of March and certainly are symbolic of spring.

 

 

garlic6.    Style Your Garlic

Who says you can’t get creative with your garlic? Go all out decorating this symbol for medicine and bedazzle that bulbous plant. Even better—garlic holds up very well so let the kids go wild with jewels, paint and other ornamentation.

 

 

 

7.    Use Real Eggs!original_Camille-Smith-marbleized-eggs-beauty3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.966.725

This will add a fun twist to your egg-decorating plans. Definitely a family activity, painting real eggs will bring a lot of entertainment to your household. This can get messy, though, so make sure to do it over a sink and be sure not to hold them too hard!

 

Image Sources

Haft-seen table

Wheat Grass Eggs

Sunburst Platy

Calla Flowers

Garlic

Egg Decorations

3 Recipes to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patty’s Day is here! A cultural and religious celebration held on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day commemorates the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

While it began as a religious occasion, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved to more generally celebrate the heritage and culture of the Irish. Festivities involve public parades and festivals, cèilidh, a social gathering with Gaelic folk music and dance, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks.

While the holiday has propagated a culture of alcohol consumption (green beer, anyone?), it began as a feast day and we couldn’t resist finding some Irish recipes to try.

 

1.  Irish Soda Bread

You don’t need potatoes for this one! Irish Soda Bread is a variety of “quick bread” that can be prepared quickly and reliably and doesn’t require yeast or eggs.

 

Ingredients:bx0216h_irish-soda-bread_s4x3-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-966-725

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour,
    plus extra for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried currants

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

2.  Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

vegan_shepherds_pieThe history of shepherd’s pie dates back to the late 1700s to early 1800s, when frugal Irish, Scottish and Northern English housewives were looking for ways to serve leftover meat to their families. The term comes from these areas because of the large numbers of sheep—when it eventually was prepared with minced beef, it was referred to as a Cottage Pie.
Of course, there’s so much more to this meaty dish than, well, meat. Filled to the brim with vegetables and herbs, it doesn’t need to be prepared with anything else!

Try this vegetarian-friendly option for a fun spin on a delicious dish.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds baking potatoes (about 4), peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups sliced mixed winter vegetables, such as celery, turnips, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, fennel, cabbage, or celery root
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cups canned low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

 

Direction:

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and put them back into the saucepan along with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Mash the potatoes over very low heat, gradually incorporating the cream and 4 tablespoons of the butter. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over moderately low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the sliced mixed vegetables, carrots, thyme, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Mix well.

Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderate heat, covered, until the vegetables start to soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to moderately high, and cook until the vegetables are tender and almost no liquid remains in the pan, about 10 minutes longer.

Heat the broiler. Transfer the vegetables to a 9-inch pie plate, spread the potatoes over the top, and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

 

3.  Spinach Pancakes and Corned Beef Hash

Depending on the amount of dyedfn_st-patricks-day-spinach-pancakes-and-corned-beef-hash_s4x3-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-966-725
food you plan on eating, rest assured that your teeth won’t turn green from this special surprise: these green treats are made from spinach!

Spinach pancakes and corned beef hash is a traditional Irish meal that will get everyone in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit.

Plus, it’s kind of healthy!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry (about 3 to 4 ounces after squeezing)
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed chopped chives
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper
  • 1 cup grated sharp or medium Cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter

Toppings:

  • 4 fried eggs
  • 2 cups prepared corned beef hash, your own recipe or canned
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives

 

Directions

Blend the milk, egg, spinach, chives, flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a blender on medium-high, scraping down sides occasionally, until completely mixed and bright green. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add about 1 teaspoon of butter to the pan, heat through until foaming subsides. Ladle about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet; use the back of your ladle or a spoon to spread it slightly. Pour 1 or 2 more pancakes, taking care to keep them evenly spaced apart.

Cook until the top is set and starting to bubble, and the undersides are browned and crisp at the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip with a spatula and cook another 2 minutes on the second side adjusting the heat if the cakes are browning before the cakes fully set. Serve immediately or transfer to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the skillet as needed, you should have 8 to 10 pancakes.

To serve pancakes, transfer 2 pancakes to each plate, top with 1/2 cup corned beef hash, a fried egg and a sprinkling of chives.

 

 

Irish Soda Bread

Recipe

Image

Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

Recipe

Image

Spinach Pancakes and Corned Beef Hash

Recipe

Image

5 New Food Trends for 2017

2017 is here and with it, a bevy of new food trends and culinary practices. To get you ready for a New Year’s foodie focus, we’ve compiled a list of five of the hottest food fashions.

1.   Purple Everything

Get ready for purple-colored food.purpleasparagus-1

Using a list compiled by experts tracking consumer behavior, grocery goers have already begun buying bushels of purple-colored foods: purple asparagus, plum preserves, purple cauliflower, eggplants. People are going crazy for purple.

Why? In addition to the pretty coloring, plum-hued foods contain a huge range of health benefits. Antioxidants, which neutralize aging and disease, are abundant in purple food (as long as the coloring is natural). To determine how much antioxidants are in a fruit or vegetable, the darkest colors have the most antioxidants.

2.   Alternative Pasta

Pasta goes through ups and downs in the market economy. Some years it’s all the rage and other years it’s the bane of foodies everywhere.

This year, it’s back to being popular… but with a kick.

With the advent of 2017, alternative pasta will be the next big thing: noodles made from quinoa, lentils and chickpeas are on the rise. These funky pastas are chock full of fiber and protein, which are great sources of healthy nutrients. Most of them are also gluten-free and easy to digest.

3.   Dessert for Breakfast

“There was a study that recently came out from chocolate-pancakes-with-chocolate-sauce3srgbSyracuse University re-touting the benefits of dark chocolate, specifically on cognitive function,” says Liz Moskow, culinary
director at Sterling-Rice Group. “The thought was eating chocolate prepares you more for your workday.”

While we’re not sure if cakes and cookies are going to become a common 2017 breakfast theme, we do think that some sweet treats like chocolate pieces or Nutella will appear in pancakes, oatmeal and other common breakfast items.

4.   Dosha Dining

Dosha dining, or Ayurvedic dining, is a holistic-based approach to food. By focusing on meals that reduce inflammation, improve energy and stamina, and just make you feel better, dosha foods are supposed to help balance the body’s physical and emotional constitutions.

With the immense popularity of Ayuryedic activities like yoga and meditation, it’s easy to see how people would turn to foods that are good for their dosha. Even if you don’t buy into the dosha theory, you’ll still see a rise in meals that use turmeric (a main dosha ingredient) and other Indian spices.

5.   Plants = Meat

It’s a carnivore’s nightmare, vegetables are beginning to stand in for steaks, burgers and other butchered items. It’s called “plant butchery” and the end 1-wkl2mlzhregbc4f0agtvlgproduct looks, feels and tastes like actual meat… except that no meat is used.

Made to resemble barbecue ribs, pepperoni or teriyaki jerky, among other items, chefs chop up legumes, mushrooms and vegetables, infuse the product with beet juice, and serve it to vegetarians or meat-eaters who are looking to dial back on their meat consumption.

Now that you’re hip to the new foodie trends, it’s time to get cooking! Most of these items use ingredients that you can find in our store or online!

 

Image Sources

Purple Asparagus via fortheloveoffoodblog.com

Chocolate Pancakes via cookingclassy.com

Plant Butchery via medium.com

Year’s End Holiday Recipes Sure to Impress

As 2016 comes to an end, one of the wonderful things we all look forward to is holiday meals. No matter your traditions, there are plenty of comfort foods we wait for all year.

If you’re in charge of bringing a dish to share, don’t worry, we have you covered. We’ve put together a list of delicious holiday recipes from around the globe that is sure to impress.

Leaf Bread

Leaf bread is a traditional holiday recipe from Iceland. Families make this bread together a few days before Christmas. This beautifully decorated, cake-like bread is deep fried and usually served with smoke lamb. This recipe is perfect for family bonding.leaf-bread

Servings: 25

Ingredients

  • 12cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 unsalted butter
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. whole milk, heated to 115°
  • Canola oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Using two forks or your fingers, cut butter into flour mixture, forming pea-size crumbles. Stir in milk until dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth.
  2. Divide dough into twenty-five 1-oz. balls; working with 1 ball at a time, roll dough into a 7″ disk, about116” thick. (Cover remaining dough with a damp towel to prevent dough from drying out).
  3. Using a paring knife and working outwards from the center of disk, cut rows of nested V’s14” apart. Use knife to lift the tip of every other V; fold each tip back to cross over the V behind it, pressing the dough to adhere.
  4. Store cut dough disks between parchment paper and cover with a damp towel until ready to fry.
  5. Heat 2″ oil in a 6-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 400°. Fry 1 dough disk at a time, flipping once, until crisp, about 30 seconds. Transfer to paper towels to drain.


Soupe Crasse (Cheese and Bread Soup)

Cold winter nights wouldn’t be complete without hot and hearty soup. So, all the way from Italy, we bring you soupe crasse. It’s a cheese soup that is typically made with day-old bread.soupe-crasse

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients

  • 12cups beef or chicken stock
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 10 oz. Italian breadsticks
  • 1 lb. Taleggio cheese, sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12small onion, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Bring stock to a boil in a saucepan; remove from heat.
  2. Grease bottom of a 3-qt. high-sided skillet with 1 tbsp. butter. Break breadsticks into 212” pieces. Put 1 layer breadsticks in skillet. Cover breadsticks with layer of cheese. Continue layering breadsticks and cheese; ladle stock over breadsticks one ladleful at a time and heat skillet over low heat. Bring to a simmer; cook, without stirring, for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a 12″ skillet over medium heat. Add onions; cook, until onions are soft, 8-10 minutes.
  4. Set a fine sieve over a small bowl. Strain butter, pressing onions with back of a spoon; discard onions.
  5. Drizzle butter over soup; continue cooking for 10 more minutes. To serve, spoon onto serving plates.

 

French Baked Ham with Spiced Apples & Pears

In keeping with holiday tradition, we bring to you a ham recipe. The difference? This one is from France. The result is a delicious, aromatic and unforgettable holiday centerpiece.french-baked-ham-with-spiced-apples-pears

Servings: 10-12

Ingredients

  • 1 8-lb smoked, fully-cooked, spiral-cut ham
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 4 sweet-tart baking apples, cored and halved
  • 4 pears, cored and halved

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Using kitchen twine, wrap the ham first vertically, and then once on each diagonal, making sure to loop around the bottom of the ham, to hold it together. Place the ham in a large, deep roasting pan, cut side down.
  3. Dissolve the dry mustard in the 1/4 cup water. Stir the mustard mixture into the brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
  4. Brush the maple glaze over the surface of the ham. Arrange the apples and pears around the ham and bake it, uncovered, for 1 hour and 40 minutes, basting the ham and fruit every 20 minutes. Loosely tent foil over the ham if it appears to be browning too quickly.
  5. Allow the ham and fruit to cool down slightly before removing the twine and serving warm or at room temperature

 

Vasilopita Cake (Greek New Year’s Cake)

No holiday meal is complete without dessert. This next recipe is a traditional Greek cake or bread that is usually served on New Year’s Eve in celebration of the life of Saint Basil. After baking the vasilopita cake, a coin is inserted through the base and when cut, the person who finds the coin is said to have good luck for the rest of the year.vasilopita-cake

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients

For The Cake

  • 13 oz. butter
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 6 eggs (divided into yolks and whites)
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 7 oz. yogurt, strained
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 oz. self-rising flour

For the Glaze

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp. hot water or milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. To prepare this vasilopita, start by dividing the eggs into yolks and whites. Place the egg whites in the bowl of the electric mixer, along with a pinch of salt. Make sure your egg whites, bowl and whisk attachments are clean and free of any water. Whisk the egg whites until the mixture is very thick and glossy and a long trailing peak forms when the whisk is lifted (meringues). Place the mixture in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Use the electric mixer to mix the butter and sugar, for about 20 minutes, until the butter is creamy and fluffy, like whipped cream. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, whilst mixing, allowing time for each one to be absorbed, before adding another. Pour in the orange juice, the vanilla extract, the orange zest, the yogurt and mix to combine. Add 1/3 of the sifted flour and blend, using a spatula. Add 1/3 of the meringues and blend with light circular movements from the bottom up. Repeat with the rest of the flour and meringue (adding 1/3 of the flour and 1/3 meringue and then the remaining flour and meringue).
  3. To bake the vasilopita, preheat the oven to 390. Butter the bottom and sides of a round non-sticking cake tin (approx. 32cm diameter) and pour in the mixture. Place the cake tin in the preheated oven, on the lower rack, turn the heat down to 345 degrees and bake for 50-60 minutes, until nicely colored and cooked through. Check if the vasilopita is ready, by sticking in the middle of the cake a wooden skewer or toothpick. If it comes out clean, then the cake is ready.
  4. Let the vasilopita cool down (otherwise it will break) and invert the pan on a plate. Wrap a coin with aluminum foil and stick it in the cake. Invert the vasilopita on a serving platter.
  5. Prepare the glaze for the vasilopita. In a large bowl add all the ingredients and blend with a spatula to combine, until the glaze is smooth and glossy. Add a little bit more hot water, if needed (the glaze should be like a thin cream). Top the vasilopita with the glaze and even out with a spatula. Don’t forget to carve the number of the year on top of the glaze!

No matter your menu, we hope these recipes or others bring your family together this holiday season. Pick up many hard-to-find ingredients in store or online.

 

Recipe Sources
Leaf Bread via saveur.com
Soupe Crasse via saveur.com
French Baked Ham via frenchfood.about.com
Vasilopita Cake via mygreekdish.com

Image Sources
Leaf Bread via Flickr.com
Soupe Crasse via Flickr.com
French Baked Ham via search.creativecommons.org
Vasilopita Cake via photopin.cc

3 Delicious International Traditions to Celebrate the Holidays

It seems to happen every year – right after one holiday ends, the next one’s right on its tail. Once the calendar hits Halloween there’s no holding back the snowball effect of all the holiday celebrations leading up to  the midnight new year countdown on December 31st! No matter which holidays you celebrate, foods from around the world can add a welcomed bit of variety to your tasty dining traditions.

Citrus Pumpkin Flan

As the nights grow cooler, finish your meal with a sweet and tangy Citrus Pumpkin Flan. Flan is a traditional dessert of Spain and is popular is many countries with Spanish heritage such as Mexico. This recipe is appropriate for both fall and winter celebrations because it combines the fall ingredient of pumpkin with oranges, which peak in ripeness in winter.

Ginger Pumpkin Flan (Creme Caramel)

SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 5 oz can or 2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice*

1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pomegranate seeds

 *Ingredients for Pumpkin Spice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

 

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. First, caramelize the sugar. In a heavy medium skillet melt 2/3 cup sugar over medium-high heat. Do not stir sugar, instead shake the skillet. When the sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low and stir frequently with a wooden spoon until sugar is golden brown.
  2. Remove the skillet from heat and immediately pour the caramelized sugar into four (4) ungreased 6-ounce custard cups. While holding the cups with potholders, evenly coat the bottoms of the cups by tilting the cups and then placing the cups in a 2-quart square baking dish.
  3. In a mixing bowl stir eggs, pumpkin, pumpkin spice mix, evaporated milk, orange peel, vanilla, and 1/4 cup sugar. Pour this mixture over the caramelized sugar.
  4. Place the baking dish with the cups in it on the oven rack and pour 1 inch of boiling water into the baking dish around the cups.
  5. Bake in an oven at 325°F for 40-45 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean. Remove cups from water with potholders and cool on a wire rack.
  6. Cover and chill for 4-24 hours.

Tip each cup upside down and slide flan out onto serving plate. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and enjoy this delicious Spanish sweet.

 

Healthy Hanukkah Latkes

 Jewish homes around the world will be preparing to celebrate Hanukkah this December 16-24. According to the Talmud, in ancient times Jewish leaders required olive oil to light candles, but only a single day’s worth was to be found. It is believed this oil lasted for eight days. Because of this miracle, foods for Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, often feature olive oil as an ingredient.

Homemade Traditional Potato Pancake Latke

One olive oil-based recipe that is commonly made in Jewish culture is potato latkes. Crispy around the edges with a warm potato center, latkes are similar to hash browns commonly found in the Deep South region of the US. This recipe has a slightly sharp taste from the chives and is a wonderful way to add extra flavor to your family’s meals.

 

SERVES 12 LATKES/4-5 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS

Canola oil

Nonstick cooking spray

2 large egg whites

3 tablespoons fresh chives, cut

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Salt

Pepper

2 1/2 pounds (about 4 medium sized) baking (russet) potatoes, peeled

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450° Spray 20 x 14 inch cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix egg whites with chives, flour, lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
  3. Shred potatoes with a box grater or in a food processor with shredding disk attachment. Place shredded potatoes in a colander in sink and squeeze out excess liquid. Stir potatoes into the egg white mixture.
  4. On cookie sheet, place 12 mounds (about 1/3 cup) of potato mixture leaving about 2 inches between each. Flatten each to be about 3 inches round.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake for 15 more minutes or until browned and crisp on both sides.

Serve latkes as a breakfast item, side dish, or with applesauce to enjoy throughout the days of Hanukkah and even year round.

Christmas Cod with Tomato-Olive Salsa

Fried SkateIn Italy, the predominately Catholic country is rich in traditions and celebrations for the Christmas season. Fish is a significant part of the country’s dining culture, partially because of the population of its various islands and coastal cities, such as Positano, Cinque Terre, and Sicily. It is also because Catholics traditionally abstain from meat at particular seasons of the year (especially Fridays during Lent or Advent) and they often eat fish or seafood instead.

One way many Italians celebrate Christmas Eve is with the Feast of Seven Fishes before midnight mass. This feast is a large family-style meal featuring a variety of seafood and fish dishes. Introduce a fresh entrée, Cod with Tomato-Olive Salsa, to your family’s holiday this year.

 

SERVES 4

 

INGREDIENTS

4 fillets of cod, flounder, or sole (6 ounces each, 1/2 inch thick)
1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound (2-5) plum tomato(s), diced
12 pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

8 tablespoons shredded fresh basil

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Lime wedges

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

6 ounces orzo or other tiny pasta

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat oven to 400° Place fish in an oven safe baking dish. Brush filets with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

2. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, 2 tablespoons of the basil, lime zest and juice, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

3. Bake fish 8 minutes, spoon salsa over fish and bake 2 more minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta.

4. Drain pasta and toss it with unsalted butter and 4 tablespoon of basil.

Serve fish with basil and lime wedges to taste either plated with or on top of pasta. This is a light, flaky and tasty dish as an entrée for dinner any night of the year.

 

Don’t keep these dishes tucked in your recipe box just for holiday celebrations; they can be enjoyed throughout the year to brighten your menu with the traditions of other cultures from around the world.

International Food Club wishes you and your family a happy, safe, and delicious holiday season; let the celebrations begin!

Recipes via:

Christmas cod with warm tomato-olive salsa

Citrus pumpkin flan

Hanukkah latkes

 

 

Sweeten Autumn Appetites with International Flavors

Autumn days are upon us and what better way to enjoy them than with a delicious meal? This time of year menus invite warmer and heartier foods with rich flavors. One way to add a bit of sweetness into this season’s dishes—without venturing as far as Halloween candy—is with dried fruits.

fruit and nuts

Ancient Amuse-Bouche

The history of dried fruits dates (pun intended) back several thousand years in areas like the Fertile Crescent surrounding the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers of the Middle East and China. Traditionally grapes, apples, figs, apricots, and dates were dried in the sun and consumed as a sort of ancient amuse-bouche, or appetizer.

Today dried fruit is still popular in the regions of its origin, but has grown to flourish worldwide especially in places like California in the US and throughout Italy. The variety of dried fruit has also expanded. Along with traditional dried fruit like grapes (raisins) and figs, some popular fruits are mangos, peaches, plums (prunes), berries, and pears. Incorporating these sweet ingredients into your menu not only adds international flavor, but may improve bone health and digestion.

Check out three of our favorite dried fruit dishes below.

Chicken Tagine with Apricot, Figs, and Olives

One entrée that integrates dried apricots and Turkish figs in a delicious stew is Morocco’s Tagine Djaj Bzitoun, otherwise known as Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Figs, and Olive. It has protein, fruit, vegetables, and plenty of spice to infuse your meal with a truly international taste. This stew is perfect to eat for any lunch or dinner during the cooler, autumn months. It is also a great option to make ahead of time and heat up on busy school nights during the week. It is best served over couscous just like India’s curry is served over rice.

SERVES 6–8

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp olive oil

1 (3-4 lb) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 tbsp unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 large yellow onions, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp crushed saffron threads

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup pitted large green olives

1/3 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped

4 dried Turkish figs, roughly chopped

2 preserved lemons, quartered lengthwise

1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Cooked couscous, for serving

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and add to pot; cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and set aside.
  1. Heat butter in pot, and then add garlic and onions; cook, stirring, until soft, about 15 minutes. Add bay leaves, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, and saffron, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Return chicken to pot along with stock, olives, apricots, figs, and preserved lemons, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through and tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in cilantro, and juice, and remove from heat; serve over couscous.

Apricot and Walnut Stuffing

For those looking for a hearty side dish, try a twist on a Thanksgiving staple with Apricot Walnut Stuffing. Rather than hosting a full-out international meal, incorporating hints of international styles to your cooking is a good way to expand diners’ palettes in familiar dishes. This side item features a sweet medley of dried fruits including apricots, currants, and a favorite fall fruit, apples. They are offset by the savory flavors and crunch of garlic, onion, and celery. The recipe calls for white wine in the stuffing, but pouring a glass of vino to pair with it is definitely encouraged!

SERVES 8–10

INGREDIENTSstuffing

1 (1-lb) loaf white bread, crusts removed, cut into 1inch cubes

1 cup white wine

2 cups dried apricots, apples, and currants, chopped

16 tbsp butter, softened

3 ribs celery, chopped

2 large onions, chopped

4 oz chicken livers, minced

2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

2 tsp orange zest

2 eggs, beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Bake bread cubes on a baking sheet until browned, 20–25 minutes. Transfer bread cubes to a large bowl; set aside. Boil wine in a 1-quart saucepan and add dried fruit; remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain fruit; discard wine. Combine fruit with bread.
  1. Heat 4 tbsp butter in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add celery and onions; cook, stirring, until browned, 12–15 minutes. Stir in 8 tbsp butter and livers; cook until butter melts. Mix celery mixture with bread; stir in walnuts, cream, parsley, zest, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper.
  1. Transfer stuffing to a 2-quart oval baking dish; dot with remaining butter. Cover with foil; bake for 50 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to 475°, bake until browned, 8–10 minutes, and then it is ready to serve as a side dish.

Friulian Fruitcake

Satisfy your sweet tooth this autumn by baking a Friulian Fruitcake. This treat comes from the distinct region of Friuli in Italy where the boot-shaped country meets its Alpine and Adriatic neighbors. Prunes, raisins, and figs aren’t the only sugary bits in this dessert—it also features chocolate, candied fruits, and crushed amaretti cookies. Your guests will be asking for seconds, because this bread is scrumptious.

(This is a version of the traditional Friulian cake is by Ennio Furlan at Agriturismo de Carvalho in Friuli.)

SERVES 12

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE DOUGH:

1 and 1/4 oz active dry yeast

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 cup milk, warmed

4 egg yolks

4 tbsp butter, softened

3 1/2 cups flour

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp dark rum

Italian cake

FOR THE FILLING:

3/4 cup raisins

6 pitted prunes, chopped

6 dried figs, chopped

2 oz dark rum

3/4 cup pine nuts, finely chopped

3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1/2 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped

3 tbsp grated semisweet chocolate

1 tbsp candied fruits

4 tbsp crushed amaretti cookies

4 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. For the dough: Dissolve yeast with 1 tbsp sugar in 1/4 cup of the warm milk. Combine egg yolks, butter, and remaining sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat on medium until well mixed. Continuing to beat, add 3 cups of the flour, and then add lemon zest, salt, rum, and yeast. Gradually mix in remaining 1/2 cup milk until dough is smooth.
  1. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes. Transfer dough to a large bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and set in a warm place until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
  1. For the filling: Combine raisins, prunes, figs, and rum in a large bowl and set aside to macerate for 1 hour. Then mix in pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chocolate, candied fruits, amaretti, 3 tbsp of the sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt.
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Roll out risen dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 in x 16 in rectangle. Brush around edges with beaten egg, then spread filling evenly over dough, avoiding edges. Working from long side, roll up dough jelly-roll style, then curl into a spiral. Place on a baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel, and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.
  1. Brush with egg, sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp sugar, bake until browned, about 50 minutes, and then it’s ready to serve.

 

Enjoy these dried fruit dishes with family and friends throughout the fall. Watch this space for more recipes for the coming holiday season. Until then bon appétit.

 

Recipes and images via:

Chicken Tagine with Apricot, Figs, and Olives

Apricot and Walnut Stuffing

Friulian Fruitcake 

Dried Fruits image