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I don’t ski. And for the record, I don’t date bankers or wear Christmas sweaters either. I grew up in a working class town covered in snow six months out of the year, with very few peaks or ski snobs to speak of. I like winter for her log fires and her forced interiors; I like the robust meaty flavors in her entrées and the roast earthen root vegetables that take center stage come the harvest season’s final bow. Perhaps not surprisingly, what I like best about winter is her encouraging bluster to stay inside, gather with friends and cook meals of biblical proportions that together make gentiles and their Jewish brethren proud. As a representative Cashew (Dad’s Catholic, Mom’s a Jew), for me, the best part about both Christmas and Chanukah is definitely dinner. I’m not sure Jesus would agree with my edible accolades, but I can’t quite picture him in a ski bib either!
That said, I am going to Killington, Vermont for a winter wonderland holiday weekend over New Years. There will be nearly a dozen sets of skis in tow, surely someone will don a snowflake-emblazed sweater, and admittedly, next week the mountains will be populated with more bankers than Wall Street. But I’m not headed up north for sport, romance or fashion. I’m in it for the feasting.
As all my housemates wake at 6 AM to hit the mountain and shred the nar (or whatever the kids call it these days), I will be sleeping in, then sipping breakfast smoothies while soaking in our hot tub, cooking my ass off all afternoon, building fires at dusk, and welcoming home my friends for après ski feasts each and every evening. Nothing sounds more blissful or a better beginning to 2010 than a long weekend of luxuriating in maple-moose country among dear, fun-loving friends. And so, between moments of frantic holiday shopping and catering, I’ve found respite developing winter recipe ideas that pull from regional holiday tables and celebrate Vermont’s frosted, snow-white setting. Perhaps you’ll even glean a recipe or two for your own holiday spread this week…
The MenuFireside Snacks upon Arrival ~Stuffed Brownies a la Sicilian Pistachios, Candied Ginger, Organic Cranberries, Valrhona Ivoire White Chocolate & Fleur de Sel ~ ~Maple Manhattans~
New Year’s Eve ~Dickson’s Devils on Horseback~ ~Wild Boar Ragu over Rosemary Pappardelle ~ ~Strings of Spaghetti Squash with Feta, Cerignola Olives, Almonds & Lemon~ ~Chardonnay Braised Caramelized Fennel~ ~Celery-Walnut-Pecorino Hash~ ~Salted Chocolate-Pretzel Pie~
New Year’s Day ~Roast Side of Salmon with Tarragon-Dijon & Chive Sauce~ ~Fennel Pollen & Mustard Seed Crusted Pork Tenderloin~ ~Bacon Hoppin’ John~ ~Truffle Smashed Potatoes~ ~Baby Beets, Tangerines & Honeyed Pine Nuts with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette~ ~Apple Pillows & Raspberry Mezzalunas
Back to The Big Apple Breakfast ~Strawberries & Cream Rice Pudding with Amaretti Cookie Crumble ~ ~Pink Grapefruit-Clementine-Lime Juice~
I’m happy to lay this year to rest and eager to step into 2010 with a renewed joy in the power of real food to make a real difference in our world. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming video segments from my kitchen and my ski house this season, and click here to get more recipe inspiration from my free, downloadable eBook, Season-a-Belle: Winter, where you’ll find my Fondue for Four recipe from my last visit to Vermont. Eat it Up!