Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Monday January 04, 2010

Carole’s Concoctions:
A Meal for the New Year

I don't know about most of you but the holiday season seemed long, replete with parties galore and food a-plenty. This is not an overt complaint, just an observation. And for me, I am looking to eat on the lighter, healthier side as we march into the new year and decade.

So, what to eat? What not to eat? I remember this dialogue between my Mom and Nana when we were little, as they, too, were sick of cooking, eating all the impossible to resist goodies and undoubtedly feel as loagy as I do at the end of the season. I think this is where all the religious fasting rituals have evolved. I grew up a practicing Catholic so we were always giving something up for Lent, eating fish on Fridays, etc. I'll stop digressing and get to the point - I'm ready to dine on less fattening meals.

One of my goals for this blog in 2010 is to actually report the "meals" I make as frequently as I can, the inspiration and photos and recipes.

Our Monday night meal:
Broiled Salmon with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and rosemary
Steamed Asparagus
Mixed Greens and cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some goat cheese.



I didn't use a recipe.  I just concocted.

Saturday December 26, 2009

Ms Murky Mondays:
Christmas Dinner

Herb-crusted Rib Roast
Mashed yellow potatoes and celeriac (from my CSA stash)
Roasted brussel sprouts
Broccoli sauteed with garlic and olive oil
Turnip and Potato Gratin
Arugula Salad with Dijon vinaigrette

Ice cream and sherbet cake

Had a love-filled afternoon cooking with my Mom and then sharing this wonderful meal that we were all so grateful to enjoy.  Present were my Mom and Dad, Jim (my man), Jen (my sis), Johnny (her husband), August (my bro), Sandra (his wife), AJ (my nephew). We celebrated being together and the spirit of the day. Thank you all for such a wonderful day.

Click the photo to watch a clip of the beef waiting to go in the oven:

Saturday December 26, 2009

Carole’s Concoctions:
Feast of the Seven Fishes or Two in Our Case!!

Well, I made it....the cooking and eating frenzy of the past 2-3 days is over for now. I reflect on all the food my Nana used to make from the scores of baked goods to the multiple course dinners. As you already know I am half Italian and those are the traditions that I carry forward. As a young girl, I remembered my grandfather bringing home the salt cod and soaking it for what seemed like days, resulting in bacala (baacaaala as they pronounced it). And let me tell you, it was gross. As an adult, I still can't seem to stomach it. So sadly, those memories will only reside with me...although, I think there is a salt cod story to be told. My Nana also made stuffed calamari in "gravy" (code for "tomato sauce" in Italian-American households) and served over spaghetti. Add fried scallops, flounder, shrimp cocktail and I am sure some other fishes. This was the Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Now that I am the lucky hostess for my family and friends, I can only take the feast so far, as I think it's important to enjoy what you eat.

Our Menu:

So I decided to make a lobster risotto and fried calamari with a caesar salad to celebrate Christmas Eve.  We had 14 people in total - it was simply lovely!!

Lobster Risotto

2-3 1.5 pound lobsters (have them steamed at the fish counter to save you a step)
7 cups chicken broth (heated)
1 stick butter
1 cup of shallots or onions
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
1 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped thyme
1/4 teaspoon of fresh pepper

Remove meat from lobster, cut into bite-sized pieces.

Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add shallots and cook until tender.  Stir in rice and stir until coated with oil about 2 minutes.   Add the wine and stir until the wine is cooked off and absorbed. Add the broth one ladle at time, stirring constantly until the broth is absorbed.  (My Mom's hint:  It's time to add more broth when your spoon creates a track in the rice.) Continue adding broth until rice is fluffy, tender and creamy.   Next add the parmesan, lemon juice, pepper and thyme.  And finally, add the lobster until warm.  Enjoy!!  This will serve 6-8 people.

Click the photo to watch a very homemade video:

Saturday December 19, 2009

Carole’s Concoctions:
Homemade Hostess/Holiday Gifts on Newschannel 13

When I was a making caramels, struffoli and spiced nuts yesterday and then packaging them prettily for the segment, my thoughts were all over the map..."hope they taste good - but wait - you can't taste things on TV, well then they have to look GOOD - oh, dear, I have to package all these goodies I just made..."  And of course it is that anxiety and adrenalin that propels me and prepares me. It's like studying for a final exam - if you are prepared, you'll do OK.

And, so I present you with my most recent TV spot. I had a blast. Thank you Mom. Thank you Jim for assisting me. Couldn't do it without my "wing men!!"
 

Click the photo to watch the show:

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