It’s holiday time and what would the holidays be like without “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” Holiday Edition, on the Food Network. I’ve rounded up some of the holiday favorites that were talked about on the show by various talented chefs.
For one chef, it was spaghetti with seafood and bread crumbs, (clams and mussels, squid, shrimp, sea urchin.) Another chef”s favorite were butter tarts, starting with a mini pie crust (baked in muffin tins) butter, raisins, and brown sugar, I think I am drooling. For another chef it was beet and carrot latkes for Hannukah. As one of the chefs said ” Hannukah has oil, Cristmas has butter.” I never knew that there could be non-potato latkes but I would try them if someone made them for me; I can’t promise that my children would. A rack of pork, pork loin roast with ribs, (don’t forget to brine the pork if you know what that means) and add some herbs and honey and serve with a compote made of apples and pears, mustard and a pinch of cayenne pepper. It looked delicious but everything looks delicious on television.
Another sworn favorite: the seafood cobb salad featured at Nordstrom’s. Yes, the department store. I’m sure its absolutely delicious but the “best thing you ever ate?” I will have to take a trip to Nordstroms, AFTER the holidays. My opinion only but it’s a salad! Nevertheless, to each, his own. The next favorite first made me groan and then grin. It was a pannini, made in Nashville. I believe it was called “The Elvis,” but don’t quote me on that. Bacon, peanut butter, banana, parsley and honey, served grilled on sour dough bread. At first it didn’t sound appetizing to me, but it sounds just nutty enough ( pun intended) to be amazing. Apparently the key ingredient is the parsley, who knew?
Duck ragout with home-made pasta, saffron, and a duck egg, is another chef’s favorite and one more: Indian pudding, served warm, using cornmeal instead of flour, molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg and served with vanilla ice cream. I can practically smell the molasses, cinnamon and nutmeg right here at my computer.
My favorite holiday tradition are the foods that bring back happy memories. They are not my favorite foods that I ever ate (look for that in an upcoming blog) but they are steeped in tradition. In our family, Christmas morning begins with scrambled eggs (we fight about how they are made each year, some wanting itsy-bitsy specks of eggs, constantly stirred, others ( like me) prefer the smooth, velvety mounds. Bacon, again, some like it half-cooked and others like it practically burnt. I think the annual arguing, not fighting, is part of the entertainment and a ritual in itself. After the eggs and bacon comes the highlight of every Christmas: Pillsbury’s refrigerated cinnamon rolls, with sweet sugary icing that comes attached in a little plastic cup.
Many years ago, when my sister and I were young, our parents frosted the cinnamon buns. I remember when our parents allowed us to take over. A few years ago (oh dear, it’s probably ten years by now) we passed the tradition down to our kids, “the cousins.” Whether its pork belly or barbeque, waffles or Peking duck, food and tradition bring families together. For us, the cinnamon rolls and icing are key, not because they are our favorite food but it’s what we remember, together, with great love and fondness, as a family.