At Home 2021: Purim

February 26, 2021

Today is Purim. Yesterday, I made Hamantaschen. In addition to making the cookie-style dough, I made the prune and apricot fillings.

At Home 2021: Purim

It has become a tradition for us to have Bobe Bopsy’s Holiptches* (aka Stuffed Cabbage) on Purim. So, I made them yesterday for our Erev Purim dinner.

At Home 2021: Purim

To start:
Chopped Liver from The Pickled Herring Appetizing and Deli, plated with sweet onions, tomatoes, red pepper, and stuffed green olives.

At Home 2021: Purim Dinner

Then:

At Home 2021: Purim Dinner

Ended with:

At Home 2021: Purim Dinner

We had this same meal today for a our “dinner for lunch.”

Chag Sameach!

*To see my post about Bobe Bopsy’s Holiptches which includes how to make them, click here.

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael’s 80th Birthday

February 20, 2021

Reaching one’s 80th birthday is truly a milestone.  It should be celebrated with those nearest and dearest.  But due to circumstances beyond our control, i.e., the pandemic, celebrating Michael’s 80th took place at home with just the two of us. We came up with a plan: He would chose the menus for the day’s meals, and I would prepare the food.

BREAKFAST

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Bagel with Nova, Cream Cheese, and Onion

LUNCH

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

French Onion Soup

DINNER

To Start

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Caesar Salad

Main Course

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Beef Wellington for Two

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Beef Wellington for Two

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Beef Wellington, Potato Gratin, and Roasted Broccoli

To Drink

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

Dessert

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

For Him: van Leeuwen Vanilla Ice Cream with Kahlua

At Home 2021: Celebrating Michael's 80th Birthday

For Me: van Leeuwen Vanilla Ice Cream, Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup & Homemade Whipped Cream

In June, Jen will celebrate her 50th birthday! Hopefully, by summer, everyone close to us will be vaccinated, and we’ll be able to get together to celebrate Michael’s 80th and her 50th.

Happy 80th Birthday, Michael!

January 26, 2021

Watercolor Painting by J.

BIRTHDAY GIFT

Watercolor Painting by Jen

Michael and His Beloved Triumph TR4A

From an old photo, circa 1967

At Home: New Year’s Eve 2020

January 3, 2021

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

Spending New Year’s Eve at home just the two of us is hardly new though we did depart from this norm in 2015 and 2017, both times going out to Eleven Madison Park. For many years, our New Year’s Eve meal centered around Beef Fondue. However, last year, we decided to change things up by making the centerpiece my first ever Beef Wellington. This year, we changed again, bringing back an “oldie but goodie” from New Year’s Eves in the distant past: Rack of Lamb.

The rack came from Lobel’s, a premier butcher located in Manhattan. I’ve been having orders shipped to us from their Madison Ave. store because they customize items for me. However, a few weeks ago, they offered free shipping for on-line items totaling a certain dollar amount. Since there was no need to customize the rack of lamb (it was already Frenched), I ordered it and a few other things that also didn’t need customizing. Everything from Lobel’s, whether ordered from the store or on-line, comes unfrozen and cryovaced. So, I froze the rack until I was ready to use it.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

I chose a classic preparation. Sprinkled with salt and pepper, the rack was seared briefly on all sides in a pan. After resting a few minutes, a coating of Dijon mustard was applied. It was then liberally coated with breadcrumbs mixed with garlic, rosemary, parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Back in the pan and into the oven.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

I used an alarm with probe to make sure it would be roasted to the correct temperature. Et, voila!

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

After letting the lamb rest, I sliced it.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

Beautiful!

I had already prepared a Potato Gratin which was in the warming oven.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

Haricots Verts Almondines awaited in a pan. (I didn’t snap a photo.)

TO START

Salad: Red Leaf Lettuce, Grape Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, Pickled Red Onions, and Vinaigrette, along with warmed and buttered slices of French Baguette.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

MAIN COURSE

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

Michael’s Plate

I ate two chops and Michael had one more. That left two chops. Along with a bit of leftover gratin, it made a pleasing small lunch the next.

Michael used his Coravin to have a glass of Bordeaux.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

DESSERT

For Michael: Breyer’s Strawberry Ice Cream.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

For me: There was some leftover dough hanging around in the fridge from when I made Turkey Pot Pies after Thanksgiving! Needless to say, the dough wasn’t in very good shape. Even so, I managed to make a midget free-form Apple Tart using a quarter of a Granny Smith apple. (I did say midget!) It turned out better than expected and was quite tasty. I cut it in half and paired it with van Leeuwen Vanilla Ice Cream.

At Home 2020: New Year's Eve

As usual, we listened to the WQXR Countdown.
#1. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Quel surprise!! (As far back as I can remember, it has always occupied first place.)
#2. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7
#3. Dvorak’s New World Symphony (No. 9)
#4: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5
#5: Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2
#6: Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos

I’ve listed #5 and #6 because their positions really surprised me because I don’t recall them ever being this high up. They are both among my most favorites.

The photo set for this dinner can be viewed on my Flickr here.

Best wishes to everyone for a safe, healthy, and joy-filled New Year!

At Home 2020: Perfect Food for a Snowstorm

December 29, 2020

Winter officially arrived on Monday, December 21st. But Mother Nature didn’t bother to check the calendar when she decided to “gift” us with a major snowstorm on Wednesday, December 16th.

It started early in the afternoon…

At Home 2020: December Snowstorm

At Home 2020: December Snowstorm

… continued throughout the day, into the evening and overnight.

This is the kind of weather that called for food that’s warming and comforting.

LUNCH

Classic French Onion Soup

Because it is so filling, it’s a complete lunch in a crock. (Note: Amounts given are for two servings.)

Start browning lots and lots of sliced onions (1 very large and 1 small one) in a tablespoon of oil.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

After a few minutes, add a large clove of chopped garlic.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

After incorporating the garlic for a minute or two, mix in 1/8 tsp. dried thyme and a bay leaf.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

Continue cooking the onions until they become very browned but not burnt. (Browning start to finish takes about 45 minutes.) Add 3 cups of beef stock.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

Stir, lower the flame to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, toast slices of French bread, grate about a cup of Gruyère cheese, and set the oven to 350 degrees.

When the soup is ready, add salt and pepper to taste. Using a slotted spoon, put lots of onions into the oven-proof crocks (or bowls), and add the broth with any remaining onions. Top bowls with a slice of toasted bread.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

Top bread with copious amounts of cheese.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

Place in oven and cook until the cheese has melted and the soup is bubbling.

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

(Note: I put the crocks on a foil lined baking sheet in case there is any spillover and to more easily facilitate taking the piping hot crocks out of the oven.)

Lunch is served!

At Home 2020: Classic French Onion Soup

DINNER

Ginger-Orange Duck “Cassoulet”

I saw Sara Moulton make this dish on her program “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” It looked delicious.

The recipe can be found here.

This was exactly the right time to make this hearty dish. I had ordered duck legs from D’Artagnan to have them on hand.  Her recipe is for 4, but I cut it down and made it for 2. I made two changes. I used a jalapeno instead of a serrano pepper and a regular carrot cut into chunks instead of nubs.

At Home 2020: Duck "Cassoulet"

Dinner is served!

We started with a salad: Red Leaf Lettuce, Grape Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, Red Onion, and Vinaigrette. (No photo)

Then:

At Home 2020: Duck "Cassoulet"

For dessert, Michael had a Whole Foods Vanilla & Chocolate Ice Cream Pop. I had a slice of 7-Layer Cake that came from The Pickled Herring Deli & Appetizing. (No photos)

By the time we woke up the next morning, the snow had stopped and we had about 6 inches. We got away easy when compared to other places that got a foot or more. The people who mow our lawn clear our snow. Always reliable, they came at 8 a.m. Looking at the forecast for the next few day, which includes temperatures in the 50’s with rain on New Year’s Eve, we’re done with snow for 2020.

At Home 2020: Chanukah

December 11, 2020

At Home 2020: Chanukah

No Chanukah dinner with Jen and Louis this year. Just Michael and me at home in NJ.

At Home 2020: Chanukah

Pot Roast

At Home 2020: Chanukah

Red Cabbage with Apples

At Home 2020: Chanukah

Potato Latkes

First of a sizable batch.

To start:

At Home 2020: Chanukah

Chicken Soup with Matzoh Ball & Noodles

From The Pickled Herring Deli & Appetizing

Followed by:

At Home 2020: Chanukah

At Home 2020: Chanukah

Homemade Applesauce

For the Potato Latkes

Michael drank this:

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

For dessert, Michael had an ice cream pop. (No photo) I had this:

At Home 2020: Chanukah

7-Layer Cake & Jeni’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream

7-Layer from The Pickled Herring Deli & Appetizing

Chanukah Sameach!

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Day Dinner and Leftovers

December 10, 2020

Before we get to dinner and the leftovers…

A TURKEY TALE

I ordered a 10 lb. turkey from D’Artagnan in October. Before putting in the order, I spoke to a customer rep who recommended I choose the earliest of the delivery dates so that if there was a problem, there would still be plenty of time for the bird to arrive. I chose Friday, November 20th, after she assured me the fresh, cryovacked turkey would be fine in the fridge until Thanksgiving Day, the 26th (and even until Sunday, the 29th).

Even though there would only be the two of us for Thanksgiving Day dinner, I didn’t hesitate to get a whole turkey because Michael LOVES turkey and could, if it came to it (which it wouldn’t), finish the whole bird off by himself in a few days. As for me, while turkey isn’t my favorite fowl, I’m o.k. with eating it as long as there is lots of gravy. Also, there are things I make with the leftovers that we both like. And, of course, there are the delicious “trimmings.”

Because I had ordered several times before from D’Artagnan, I knew their SOP. The day before a delivery date, I always received an email informing me that my order was shipped and providing a FedEx tracking number. So, when no such email arrived by late afternoon on November 19th, I called. The customer rep said that not getting that email did not mean I would not be getting the turkey. She checked and my order number was, indeed, on the list. The next morning, an email did arrive. But it was not the usual. Instead, it was an apology. My turkey was going to be late and would be arriving on Saturday, November 21st. O.K….

On Friday, the 20th, around 3 p.m., Michael happened to look out our front door and yelled to me (I was in the kitchen) that the D’Artagnan delivery had arrived. When he opened to the door take in the box, he discovered that there were two D’Artagnan boxes. When we opened them, each contained a 10 lb. turkey. Yes! We had TWO turkeys!

I immediately called customer service to inform them that we’d mistakenly received two turkeys. “Oh, my!” she said. Of course, we wouldn’t be charged (the charge for the turkey had appeared on my October bill which had already been paid), so she said we should enjoy it as a gift. But there was something else that needed to be addressed. I told her about the email received that morning indicating that a turkey was going to be delivered the next day (Saturday), and when she checked her list, my order number was still on there! And when I checked my account on the website, it still said “Processing.” Ergo, no indication that a turkey had been shipped to us, let alone two! If something wasn’t done ASAP, we’d be getting another turkey! The customer rep said she would call the warehouse toute de suite and have them remove our order from the list.

That should have been the end of it. But it was not. Saturday morning, I received another apology email stating that my turkey would now be arriving on Tuesday, November 24th. What?!! Obviously, the rep’s call to the warehouse on Friday hadn’t achieved its purpose. Customer service is only available Monday through Friday. On Monday, by the time I was able to speak to a rep and explain to him my turkey situation, he told me his info showed that my order had been picked up by FedEx. The best he could do was try to recall it. If that didn’t work, turkey #3 would arrive. Next, I received an email showing that FedEx did, indeed, have the turkey, and the tracking number showed delivery by the end of day on Tuesday. Oy! But then Tuesday morning, miracle of miracles, I received three emails at once advising that I would NOT be receiving my package because the sender had recalled it. Oh, frabjous day!

Back to the two turkeys residing in the frig. No way was I going to roast two turkeys for our Thanksgiving Day dinner. Michael suggested I roast the second one right after we finished eating the leftovers from the first. I wasn’t keen on that, so we agreed to have it sometime down the road. The two were nearly equal in weight, one 10 lbs. 4 oz., the other 10 lbs. 3 oz. I froze the “smaller” one.

THANKSGIVING DAY DINNER

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

I salted and peppered the bird inside and out; put onions, garlic, rosemary and sage into the cavity; brushed the skin with peanut oil; and roasted it using full convection.

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

Only 10 lbs. and roasted that way, it didn’t take long to finish (less than 2 hours). And the beautifully browned skin was crispy.

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

While the bird was roasting, I prepared turkey broth with the giblets and used it along with the pan drippings to make gravy after the turkey was out of the oven and resting.

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

Turkey Gravy

I finished preparing all the “trimmings.”

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

Dressing

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

Candied Sweet Potatoes

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

Green Beans Almondine

To start:

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

Beer and Ketchup Meatballs

Michael drank a small glass of the beer used in the meatball sauce.

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

Main Course Extravaganza

(Michael always gets the drumsticks.)

Are you wondering why no cranberry sauce on that plate? Oops! I forgot to take the can out of the fridge. By the time I saw it sitting there, we had just finished the main course.  Undaunted, Michael insisted I open it. A good “excuse” for him to have more turkey! I was too full.

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

He drank this wine with the main course.

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Dinner

I didn’t make a dessert. Michael had his favorite dessert, ice cream, and after I finished cleaning up, I had a black and white ice cream soda.

ABOUT THE LEFTOVERS

Friday

Lunch:

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey Sub

Dinner: A reprise of yesterday’s dinner with some changes.
Instead of meatballs, we started with Vegetable Liver.

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Leftovers

For the main course, there was plenty of turkey and gravy left and sufficient dressing. Only a little bit left of the sweet potatoes, so I added mashed potatoes covered with gravy. Instead of green beans, I roasted some broccoli. And I did not forget the cranberry sauce!

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Michael’s Plate

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Leftovers

My Plate

Saturday

Lunch: Turkey and Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, Dressing, and Cranberry Sauce (No photo)

Dinner:

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Individual Turkey Pot Pies

Sunday

I finished stripping all the meat off the carcass and used it to make lots of turkey broth.

Lunch:

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey Soup

Dinner:

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey Croquettes with Fried Spaghetti

Monday

Lunch:

At Home 2020: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey Noodle Soup

Tuesday

Lunch: Michael had another Turkey Sub. Using up the last of the turkey and gravy, I had an Open-faced Turkey Sandwich on one slice of white bread. (No photo)

As you can see, it didn’t take us too long to finish off a 10 lb. turkey.

At Home 2020: Thinking About Thanksgiving

November 27, 2020

I’ve been thinking about how I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving through the years. It’s strange that I have no memory of Turkey Day celebrations when I lived on Norfolk Street. Yet, I do have one vivid memory of what happened two days after Thanksgiving on Saturday, November 27, 1948. I was 6 years old and was playing in our apartment’s vestibule which had a view directly into the kitchen. My parents were sitting at the table eating dinner. My vague recollection is that they were eating leftover turkey though how there would be turkey stumps me since, as I said, I don’t remember a T-Day celebration. In any case, my mother was pregnant and, suddenly, her water broke. My grandmother came to take me to my grandparents’ apartment which was on the next block. My brother was born on November 28th. His birthday sometimes coincides with Thanksgiving Day as it did last year.

Clear memories of Thanksgiving celebrations at home began after we moved to our house in Laurelton in 1957. Every year, my parents hosted Thanksgiving dinners with somewhere in the vicinity of 20 members from my mother’s side of the family. Uncle Arthur, Aunt Symie and their two sons; Cousin Thelma, her husband Bob, and their two daughters; Cousin Beverly, her husband Hank, and their four children (two daughters and two sons). It was always a raucous and fun time! My mother didn’t cook the meal. Instead, my father got the Kosher turkey feast from one of his clients, Papilsky Caterers.

When Michael and I became engaged, his parents and brother were added to the guest list. We continued to go to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving after we were married in ’68 and Jen was born in ’71. Over the years, there were changes to the assembled crowd. Our last Thanksgiving with my parents was in 1980.

My Dad’s death in January 1981 and my Mom’s move to Florida meant finding new ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. I don’t remember what we did about it that year. Not sure exactly when, but at some point, I began cooking T-Day dinners at home, and we invited a longtime friend, her husband, and their two sons who lived a few blocks away to join the three of us. After several years, celebrating that way ended, we began going to my brother’s house in Syosset. Though it was nice not having to prepare the meal (I always brought along a dessert), and I enjoyed being with my brother, my sister-in-law, and her sister’s family, frankly, I hated having to put up with the horrible traffic. So, when EMP announced that they would begin opening on Thanksgiving (it was either 2009 or 2010), we jumped at the chance to celebrate T-Day three blocks from our apartment — the first time we’d ever done it at a restaurant. Jen and Louis came with us. But the next year, they decided to go to his parents and have continued to do so. Michael and I have continued to go to EMP. For us, it always feels like being with family. The perfect way to celebrate the day: a delicious meal prepared and served by someone else — and no traffic!

This is how it was until two years ago when circumstances required that we stay home for Thanksgiving. Jen came out to be with us while Louis went to his parents. She and I prepared the meal together. (I wrote about that Thanksgiving dinner here.) Last year, we were happily back at EMP. Now, one year later, the pandemic has forced us to again celebrate Thanksgiving at home. This time, just Michael and me.

At Home 2020: My Birthday Lunch, Dinner, and Day After Brunch

November 24, 2020

I’ve never minded getting older. And considering the year we’ve been having, I’m actually thrilled to have reached another birthday – my 78th! In normal times, we’d have been in the city celebrating the occasion with meals at two favorite restaurants: lunch at the NoMad and dinner at EMP. However, we have not been to the city since March 10th and continue to be extra-cautious with regard to the virus. Groceries and all other necessities only by delivery or curbside no contact pick-up. And, need I say it?  No restaurant dining. So, when it came to my birthday, I did something I don’t recall ever having done before. I cooked the celebratory meals myself. If you’re wondering why I didn’t order a meal from a restaurant for either pick-up or delivery, the answer is simple: I don’t like take-out.

LUNCH

My birthday falls during white truffle season. For the past few years, we’ve been going to the NoMad for my birthday lunch not only because we’re known to the House and love the food but specifically because they offer the best deal on white truffles — at cost! A ridiculously generous amount of the truffles is shaved over tagliatelle. (Last year, we felt honored to have Chef Mike Reilly come to our table and do the shaving.) When planning my birthday lunch, I thought, why not try to make that dish? Via the Google, I discovered that Urbani, one of the premier importers of truffles and supplier to restaurants, offers white truffles for sale to the public. When my order (which included a shaver) arrived, there was a surprise. The lovely folks at Urbani had gifted me with some white truffle butter.

These white truffles were so-o-o aromatic!

White Truffles

1 oz.

I prepared the tagliatelle in a cream and parmesan sauce, divided it into two bowls, and shaved on the truffles.

Shaving...

Considering that I was a novice at truffle shaving, I think I did pretty well.

White Truffles on Tagliatelle

Michael drank a most appropriate wine.

Brunello di Montalcino

DINNER

As those of you who frequent this blog know, I am the self-styled Queen of Foie Gras. So, of course, having foie gras on my birthday is a must! EMP always has some version on the menu. There’s no way I’d ever attempt to duplicate any of those stellar creations. Looking for something simple, I checked D’Artagnan and found that one of their offerings is a Duck Foie Gras Torchon. Just slice and serve. I added slices of toasted baguette. Perfect!

At Home 2020: My Birthday Dinner

While I don’t drink much wine, I do like a sweet wine with foie gras. Michael poured this lovely wine for both of us.

Sauternes

For the main course, it was a toss-up between two of my favorites: lamb or duck. I decided to do Duck Magret à l’Orange with Wild Rice and Haricots Verts.

Duck Breast à l’Orange

Michael drank this wine.

Bordeaux

For dessert, I original planned to make Grand Marnier soufflés. However, at the last minute, we both preferred to have something else. I quickly put together an Apple Tart.

Apple Tart

Served with vanilla ice cream. Breyer’s for Michael…

Apple Tart

…van Leeuwen for me.

Apple Tart

I do like sweet wine with dessert, so we drank some more of the Sauterne.

DAY AFTER BRUNCH

I had more than enough white truffles left for two more bowls of pasta. Since it was my birthday weekend, why not have them at brunch next day? Seemed fitting.

No better way to start this elegant brunch than with charcuterie. When I ordered the foie gras torchon from d’Artagnan, I also ordered the charcuterie. I’d gotten St. André cheese from Whole foods but couldn’t get cornichons, so gherkins had to suffice.

I composed individual Charcuterie Plates: Duck Saucisson Sec, Jambon de Bayonne, Foie Gras Torchon, St. André Cheese, Gherkin.

Charcuterie Plate

Then, Fettuccini with White Truffles.

Fettuccini with White Truffles

For Michael, more of the Brunello.

There were a few bits of white truffle left. Never one to let a really good thing go to waste, I put them on my scrambled eggs at breakfast the next morning.

To see the entire photo set of my birthday lunch on my Flickr, click here.
To see the entire photo set of my birthday dinner on my Flickr, click here

Happy Birthday, Louis!

November 17, 2020

IMG_2487