It’s now 1:03 on Sunday afternoon. I am enjoying what most likely, will be, the last relaxing weekend of 2017. The calm before the Holiday Storm, if you will. Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday and I’ll be baking all Wednesday. We’ll be spending Thanksgiving at my sister’s brother-in-law’s home. They live only 20 minutes away from us and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone.
Among the desserts that was requested was a cheesecake recipe that I had made for years. My recipe was published in the St. Ignatius Loyola school fundraiser cookbook that the parents compiled. I can’t believe I still have this book–it was published in 1992 and this cheesecake recipe is a great one. It dates itself in that I don’t use margarine anymore! Here’s the recipe for you!
I miss the Racanelli ladies–they were a lot of fun. It’s kind of sad when you lose touch with people…
The book is literally falling apart but it’s my prized possession from my days as a NYC mom! This recipe makes THE best cheesecake ever. You can top with fruit too!!
Today I woke up a bit—well, somewhat feeling anxiety creeping into my bones and felt like spending the day in my bespoke pj’s.
Nah! I did NOT want to spend the day dressed like this–actually, I did want to.
But you know what? I can’t get like that so I did my makeup, got dressed and plopped some bobbed hair upon my head. I feel better already!
I dressed in a fun outfit–simple but with a mid-1960’s vibe! Let’s do the Swim or the Mashed Potato!!
Bonaparte and I decided to spend yesterday saving on spending!
Not only did the outlets have some big sales–but they had rather big balls too!!
J. Crew Factory sent me a coupon for 60% off items that were normally on sale for 50% off—so an extra ten percent was a great deal! We did some Christmas shopping and I walked away with a gray Teddie Sweater, the Factory version of my beloved J. Crew Tippi Sweater.
How pathetic am I? I sent a photo of this dress to Oona with the message “I wish you were a little girl again so I could dress you up like this” . Why isn’t that dress in MY size?
I have to say, Bonaparte is so nice to me. He called me “Mon Ange” yesterday because he said I looked like an angel.
What a man! Do angels wear fake hair piled atop their heads in a messy topknot? Perhaps it’s my halo! (And yes. I went out with my hair like that!)
Even when I look like something the cat dragged in, he tells me I look nice. That was just very sweet and unexpected! Others call me much worse!!
Seriously—I’m in a good place having gotten a head start on the Christmas décor in the house. I can concentrate on the food and what I can prepare and bake ahead of time.
Last night we started our dinner off with Escargot—the remainder from the order that was delivered last week.
Ohhhhh..these little snails were so delicious! I could have eaten two dozen!
We had steak with an anchovy cream sauce and I made Brussels Sprouts with cranberries and a balsamic reduction.
That anchovy sauce is life. L.I.F.E!!!
And this wine. At under $25, it was really good! It smelled like dirt and tasted very earthy–with a bit of a smokey taste. Me likey!
Bonaparte was so excited because on Friday I surprised him with his favorite dessert—Crème Caramel. But, I felt like having a bit of dessert myself. Naturally, I’m really trying to watch what I’m eating and I don’t normally have dessert. However, when I was at Produce Junction on Friday, I spotted Bosc Pears. They were 6 for two dollars. Now—I’m not a fan of pears unless they are cooked and I thought I might make a Pear Clafoutis for Bonaparte.
It’s amazing how he never tires of Creme Caramel!! NEVER!!!
Instead, I got selfish and decided to poach some of the pears. I love cooked pears! But I wanted to try something different. Since the cold weather is now in full-swing, I thought it would be a good idea to try some warm flavors in with the sweet. I added sliced ginger and cardamom for starters. The recipe is below.
I only used four of the six pears. I might cook the others and add to salad with bleu cheese!
Poaching away. Some turned right side up while cooking–see where I cored them?
Here’s the cardamom.
I store it in a plastic bottle. This is such a beautifully aromatic spice!
Can I just tell you that when the pears were poaching the scent of the ginger made the house smell so comfy—it was as though our home had turned into a giant bottle of ginger-ale! But the end result was terrific. BTW, I did not add cinnamon. I’m not a fan of cinnamon. At all. It’s way overused. And if you would like to try this recipe, by all means, add cinnamon to your liking!
My pretty pears. This was delicious…
The remainder is stored in this jar. I’m almost tempted to make a caramel cream but I’m seriously cutting down before the Holidays!
Back to Friday. My mind is always spinning when it comes to the appetizers that I’ll serve—especially during Christmas week. Oona will be here a few days before Christmas. I think Jake will too—he hasn’t let me know yet what day he will be arriving from L.A. I’m hoping Roman comes a few days before Christmas —but I don’t know if Fallon will be shooting through the Friday before. Or—he may come Christmas day with his dad. (Yes. I’ve invited my ex-husband and his girlfriend for Christmas dinner. It makes things easier since two of the three kids will be traveling pretty far—and everyone gets along so why not?)
Anyway, back to appetizers. I like to make things that are pretty-much non-fussy. For instance, Rillettes because they can be made in advance. With the bread that I make or with crackers, it’s a win-win situation. Plus, I can take a few moments to enjoy time with everyone before I go back into the kitchen to finish cooking.
Pâté is always a good choice and many of the pâtés I make can be time consuming. I want something easier. I spotted the last container of chicken liver at Wegmans and had an idea. I could make a chicken liver pâté! The recipe is below for you. I call it a “Faux-tay” simply because my food snobby Frenchman said that I didn’t serve it formed as a true pâté, in loaf form. Anyway……
Don’t forget to strain the chicken livers before cooking!
It was great! He loved it. This will be made in a few—actually three more weeks and stored in the fridge for Christmas Eve or whenever the family want’s it!
I like placing sage atop the finished product for that something extra..
The clarified butter really helps to seal the pate and it tastes good too!
This time of year really brings out the cook in me. I’m no pro but boy, cooking is just so calming for me.
As I write this, I have chili in the crockpot. I literally threw everything together. Here’s what I did.
Chili in the crockpot for tonight!
1 pound ground beef; 1 can kidney beans; 2 cans Rotel Tomatoes with Habanero Peppers; 1 large onion; 2 cloves garlic; 3 jalapeno peppers; tomato paste; harissa; cumin; chili powder; salt; pepper
Chop the onion, jalapenos and garlic (I pulsed in the food processor—otherwise I would cry because of the onion). Put a little oil in a sauté pan and sweat all three till the onions are transparent. Then spoon them into the crock pot. Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and the harissa into the onion mixture and stir (I used tubed tomato paste because it’s more economical).
HARISSA! I LOAD up on this when I’m in France because it’s dirt cheap–I can get two tubes for about one euro! Here is like four bucks a tube. If you can’t find it, don’t worry–the chili will be fine! This is just my secret ingredient that is no longer a secret!
Brown the meat in the same pan that the onions, etc. were cooked in. When browned, drain the grease of the meat. Then put the meat into the crock pot.
Open the cans of the Rotel tomatoes and pour contents into the crock pot. Add the kidney beans—bean liquor and all. Give it all a good stir.
Add the cumin (I add a lot!) and chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook it all in the crock pot for a few hours on low.
Serve over rice topped with sour cream and fresh cilantro.
I can tell you this much—this chili has a ton of heat from the habanero’s and the jalapenos. If you like a milder chili, get the regular Rotel tomatoes.
And that’s about it! Hope you like the recipes and I hope you are enjoying this calm weekend before the Holiday Storm!
In homage to my outfit today, I give you…James Brown from the movie “Ski Party”!!! Part of the entertainment of this clip is watching the extreme lack of rhythm that white people have–watch the clapping!