Saturday night – 12/29/2012

A busy week called for an easy menu this week and there’s not much easier in my book than pasta and salad.

Ziti with tomato sauce
Turkey meatballs
Salad greens with Quick Pickled Shallots, thinly sliced fennel and lemon vinaigrette.
Ted’s Saffron Herb bread

Gingerbread for dessert

Notes under the cut

Beet-Pickled Deviled Eggs

While trying to come up with the menu for Christmas Eve dinner I came across a suggestion of deviled eggs as a party appetizer. This is nothing new, I’ve been making deviled eggs for probably as long as I’ve been cooking for friends. They are easy and generally well liked.

So in and of themselves they weren’t a fit for the menu. However I saw a suggestion of using a pickled egg as the basis for the dish and that intrigued me. We love us some beets in this house so a beet pickled deviled egg seemed fun and a bit different. And I think they look quite extraordinary.

[Beet Pickled Egg]Beet Pickled Deviled Egg

Recipe under the cut

Christmas Eve Dinner 2012

Every year we have friends over on Christmas Eve for dinner. It is usually a subset of the group from our regular Saturday night gathering. We use it as a chance to present a slightly fancier meal than usual, with plated service instead of family style.

Hors d’oeuvre – Tomato-Rosemary Palmiers, picholine olives, cheddar, crackers
Amuse bouche – Beet-Pickled Deviled Eggs
First course – Butternut Squash Ravioli, Sage Brown Butter, Gingersnap dust
Entree – Pomegranate-glazed chicken thighs
– Smoked Paprika and Salt Crust Potatoes
– Creamed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Dessert – Gingerbread with mascarpone cream, sweetened whipped cream
Cranberry Sorbet
– Blackberries

Beet Pickled Deviled EggButternut Squash Ravioli
Pomegranate Glazed ChickenGingerbread with Cranberry Sorbet

Notes under the cut

Saturday night – 12/15/2012

Last week we visited our friends D&H&G for our annual Hanukkah dinner together. There was brisket and roast chicken, latkes, kuggel, chopped liver and homemade donuts. It was a wonderful celebration.

This week we are back home with a smaller than usual group. It is cold and the forecast is a bit dreary. So something a bit hearty and comforting was on my mind as I constructed this menu.

Braised Dark Meat Turkey
Buttered Egg Noodles
Chickpeas with tomatoes and peppers

“Giant” Cranberry Cookie

Notes under the cut

Cranberry Tangerine Scones

I woke up wanting scones and so I made them. This recipe, with slight modification, comes from Ocean Spray.

Cranberry Tangerine Scones
Servings: 4 (2 scones each)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 27 minutes


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • a pinch plus of cinnamon (I used Ceylon)
  • a pinch plus of ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Craisins (or other dried cranberries)
  • zest from 1 tangerine
  • extra sugar for sprinking before baking


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a 1/4 sheet pan with parchment.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Add the butter to dry ingredients. Use a pastry blender to work the butter into the dry goods. After 5 minutes or so the butter should be well cut into the dry goods and the dry goods should look grainy.
  4. Add 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cream, egg, Craisins and tangerine zest. Mix until dry ingredients are moist and the dough holds together when compressed..
  5. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Pat into a circle 3/4-inch thick; cut into 8 wedges.
  6. Place on cookie sheet. Brush with the remaining heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.
  7. Bake 12 minutes, rotating the sheet pan half way through.

My husband prefers tangerines over oranges so that’s what we have in the house this time of year.

For me “a pinch plus” means something like a sixteenth of a teaspoon. I use the tip a teaspoon handle to reach into the jar, grab a small amount of the spice and add it to the bowl. Both spices here are really background notes that you may not taste in the final product. I think they help enhance the other flavors.

The directions from the original recipe suggest that the flour, et al and butter, once cut in, will look like small peas. Mine didn’t even after 10 minutes of hand blending with the pastry blender. It looked more like flour mixed with rice with some bigger pieces amid the flour. So don’t fret if you don’t see small peas.

Crab and Coconut Rice

I subscribe to a number of food product e-mail lists, mostly for the occasional coupons. One of my favorites is Goya. One of their recent recipes led me to their website where I came upon their recipe for Crab and Coconut Milk Rice. The husband, who was looking over my shoulder at the time, said “Oh, that sounds tasty.. And thus it was added to the try this sometime list.

[crab and coconut rice]

Crab and Coconut Rice with Pan fried Tilapia

I thought the amount a liquid to rice was kind of off in the Goya recipe. I increased the amount of water & coconut milk. I also used the entire 16 oz. can of crab meat rather than the 12 oz. from the recipe. 4 oz. of crab just sitting in the fridge would get lost and eventually make me wonder what stunk.

As you can see from the picture I didn’t think the crab and coconut rice was quite enough for dinner. I cooked up a quick pan fried tilapia filet while the rice rested after cooking. It was a tasty combination.

Recipe under the cut

Homemade Sazon

A number of recipes I find from the Caribbean, Central and South America call for “sazon”. My friend Google offers this definition: A seasoned salt mixture used in Latin America and Mexico that often includes cilantro, achiote and garlic. A number of companies sell a pre-mixed blend in a handy package right in your grocers “ethnic” aisle.

The problem I have is that that those pre-mixed packages have so much sodium that they can overwhelm a careful attempt to moderate your sodium intake. Making your own spice blend at home is a handy alternative, especially if you are like me with an overabundance of whole spices.

Based on some web searching I came up with the following formulation. I left out the salt as I prefer to salt as I go. According to my research 1 1/2 teaspoons of homemade sazon is about equal to the amount of seasoning in one of those packets.

Recipe under the cut