Hanukkah Brisket Tamales

Hanukkah Brisket Tamales
Hanukkah Brisket Tamales

Sending my warmest wishes to you at Hanukkah
May you be blessed with joy, good health, peace, and tender brisket….

Hanukkah Brisket Tamales

Oh how we adore our brisket. And since the cooking process takes over eight hours, I usually make enough for leftovers and extra to freeze for later too. This year – the intersection of Hanukkah, brisket in the freezer, spying some mouth-watering tamales at LA’s Grand Central Market, and a tamalada (my Latino friends’ traditional Christmas season tamale-making party) – led to a unique holiday treat…Hanukkah Brisket Tamales. Made with my super-tender beef brisket, from a recipe that we have been making for many years. It is so good it’s one of the few recipes that I never adjust. The addition of carrots sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with a bit of cumin, salt and pepper plus a medley of sautéed onion and jalapeño adds fresh flavor and spiciness. The (optional) gouda cheese brings another dimension of smokiness and creamy texture. And lastly, who could resist the adorable little packages all wrapped up like a present, representing the age-old Jewish custom to give gifts of gelt to children on Hanukkah.

Note: Omit dairy or replace with non-dairy vegan substitutes for your Observant guests who follow the laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws).

Hanukkah Brisket Tamales Recipe

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My Exquisite French Martini, Macaron Garnish

My Exquisite French Martini, Macaron Garnish

My Exquisite French Martini, Macaron Garnish

St-Germain Liqueur is created in the artisanal French manner from freshly hand-picked elderflower blossoms. Its sublime taste hints at pear, peach and grapefruit, yet none of them exactly. It is a flavor as subtle and delicate as it is captivating. Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry is made of fine wines and botanicals found in the Alpine meadows above Chambéry. Together they impart a fresh and elegant nose, with a subtle and complex palate. Each batch of Grey Goose Vodka begins with soft winter wheat grown on farms of Northern France, using the same wheat used in the finest French breads and pastries. After the wheat grain is fermented and distilled into a high-proof spirit, it travels south to the Cognac arrondissement where it is blended with the remarkably pristine water found there. The result is a vodka with an elegant floral and citrusy nose, and a soft smooth palate with a hint of almond, and a fresh bright finish.

Now, I ask you – with these three fine French ingredients, is there any way to improve upon this cocktail? Yes, I can think of one…Garnish it with a fabulous French macaron! Exquisite, indeed.

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Holiday Fried Honey Cookies with Cinnamon Ginger Syrup

Fried Cookies with Ginger, Honey, Pine Nuts (Korean Yakgwa)

Holiday Fried Honey Cookies with Cinnamon Ginger Syrup
Garnished with Pine Nuts, 
Red & Green Sparkling Sugars
Korean Yakgwa 약과

Looking for a different type of sweet treat to add to your holiday cookie repertoire this year? Try Korean yakgwa. These fried cookies soaked in a cinnamon ginger syrup have a unique biscuit-like texture and are bursting with an unexpected flavor combination of toasted sesame oil, cinnamon, and ginger. This time of year I sprinkle them with red and green sparkling sugars along with the traditional chopped pine nuts. They are petite, super-sticky, and honey-sweet with an interesting savory element – and make a delightful addition to the Christmas dessert buffet.

Fried Cookies with Ginger, Honey, Pine Nuts (Korean Yakgwa)

Holiday Yakgwa Recipe

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Quinoa Omelette with Brussels Sprouts & Cheddar

Quinoa Omelette filled with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cheddar

Quinoa Omelette
filled with
Roasted Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Cheddar

Lovers will love. But will haters, hate? There is something about roasting shaved Brussels sprouts that makes them appealing to even the most picky eaters. And stuffing them into a fluffy omelette made with quinoa and melting cheddar – well perhaps we are able to win some new friends for these cute little brassicas that have the unfortunate reputation of being one of the country’s most disliked vegetables.

Brussels sprouts can have a slightly bitter quality, especially the large older ones, which can be off-putting to many. And then there is that childhood memory of mushy overcooked Brussels sprouts with their lingering cabbage-y smells. But when those mini cabbages are shaved – so there are lots of leaves exposed to get crunchy and crackly, then roasted – creating crispy caramelized bits, they do become quite irresistible.

I add cooked quinoa to eggs to increase fiber and nutrients. Cooked quinoa is fluffy like couscous, creamy like rice, slightly crunchy with a nutty taste reminiscent of sesame seeds. It adds flavor and texture to this unique seasonal omelette.

Quinoa Omelette filled with Brussels Sprouts Recipe

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Malted and Salted: Milk Chocolate Pots de Creme

Malted and Salted: Milk Chocolate Pots de Creme

Malted & Salted:  Milk Chocolate Pots de Crème

The term “Petits Pots de Crème” refers both to a soft baked custard and to the small ceramic pots, often with lids, that they are baked in. The dainty authentic petits pots pictured above were made in France. They belonged to my grandmother-in-law, Evelyn Dawn. While I only have six porcelain petit pots, and am cooking for a crowd, I supplement my collection with espresso cups.

Pots de Crème are a fabulous dessert to serve at a diner party. They look adorable, are impossibly rich and velvety, and petite enough to be elegant and sophisticated. Adding malted milk powder to a supremely French dessert gives this version an unexpected light-hearted twist. And as a bonus, they are prepared a day ahead. Just add the quick garnish of fleur de sel and/or malted milk balls, and they are ready to go.

Malted milk powder was invented by James Horlicks in 1883. It is a combination of sprouted grain that is quickly dried (barley malt) then ground up and added to powdered milk and wheat flour. It was originally meant as a nutritious non-spoiling supplement for babies’ diets, but gained popularity among explorers who found it portable as well as tasty…and became a hit at soda shops all around the country when added to ice cream to make a “malt” and as a candy marketed as “malted milk balls.”

Pots de Crème Recipe

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