To many descendants of America’s servant class, who at hog killing time helped smoke the very best parts of the pig or prepared those cuts for the planter’s table, a succulent, golden-brown ham is more than sustenance; it is the centerpiece whenever special occasions are celebrated.
Once the choices are made for a feast’s roasts and meats, it’s time to focus on the vegetables. Brussels sprouts roasted with honey, apples, and marjoram taste almost too good to be just a side dish, so let’s view them as a fabulous cozy weekday dinner as well.
If you’re already thinking about your Christmas menu and pondering how to please your vegetarian guests, here’s a recipe that will put an end to your worries and make meat lovers jealously spy on their neighbor’s plate.
Braised beef shanks are succulent and tender. Although the preparation isn’t labor-intensive, it does take time—about five hours—to tenderize and infuse the marbled meat with vibrant spices and full-bodied red wine. If you braise the shanks the day before Christmas, the flavors will deepen considerably and you won’t be left with much work during the festivities. The leftovers make a wonderful meat pie, or a quick pasta dish: pappardelle with Neapolitan beef ragu.
The hallmark of Dutch apple pie is its creamy apple filling, but we didn’t rely on the traditional cream to achieve it. Instead we added melted vanilla ice cream to the apple filling for extra creaminess and a rich vanilla flavor that nicely complements apple pie.
I love snacking on packaged Middle Eastern sesame bars, which are very hard and crunchy. These florentines are much chewier, but their sesame flavor reminds me of those.
This lamb can be your savior on those evenings when you’ve got a bunch of strangers around the table.
Sally claims there is something therapeutic about a simple bowl of greens. "This dish is my tonic," she says. "Whenever I feel a cold coming on, or I am tired and my thirteen-year-old insists on baking a cake at nine p.m., I haul out a bunch of greens (even if they are in dubious condition) and wilt them in a pan with garlic and olive oil. The wisdom of the old advice to use fresh greens as a spring tonic comes through loud and clear - you feel purified."
You may think I have gone off the rails by adding curry powder to cookies, but along with the ground and candied ginger, the combo really wakes up a classic American cookie.
The tart looks homey, but it's oddly sophisticated in its own way and not-so-oddly very satisfying, particularly after a hearty meal.