Tag Archives: Hanukkah

Traditions: Latkes and Choucroute

What we cook and serve at home is an expression of from who we came, where we’ve been…and who we’ve married. Fittingly, At Home includes recipes for both Henny’s Stuffed Cabbage, from my mother, and Ginny’s Meatballs with Tomato Sauce from Christina’s mother. We are a combination of traditions old and new, inherited and borrowed. Our table is who we were, who we are today and who we aspire to be. What follows is a “bottom note” about my traditions — it is one of the autobiographical notes that pepper the pages of At Home.

Latkes and Choucroute
Many years of demanding work, single fatherhood and a reclusive social life meant I was a near-celibate when it came to home entertaining. Christina changed all that. She has a wide range of friends and family and loves having them over. A very stylish entertainer, she always has a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator and her oft-repeated and perfected salt and pepper chicken is featured on page 157.

Naturally, Christina has influenced the shape of this book, just as she’s shaped my home entertaining attitude. She is from the KISS school of entertaining: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. Her philosophy is that by keeping it simple, you’ll be inclined to host more often and maintain the focus on your guests. For too long, I thought of entertaining as my art and guests were simply a welcome excuse to practice that art.

Married on November 29th, we decided on an early December holiday gathering. Worn out from our wedding and the demands of recipe testing, I was, frankly, hardly in the mood for extracurricular cooking. Yet holiday entertaining was a long-held Christina tradition and we wanted to celebrate married life with friends and family in a season of celebrations. Potato latkes (see page 340) were de rigueur. On my list of recipes to test was choucroute garnie, the traditional pork-laden sauerkraut dish that I made for Christina for our first New Year’s Day together. So, killing two birds with one stone, the choucroute garnie complemented our latkes, making for a reasonable Hanukkah and Christmas pairing befitting our respective holiday traditions. Dessert was lavender ice cream—leftovers from the batch I’d made for our wedding.

Choucroute Garnie
Choucroute garnie is a classic cold-weather tour de force. Making it well requires advance planning but no special skill, and you can’t help but feel proud placing this impressive display before your guests. (This is a recipe for a crowd, on the theory that if you’re going to this trouble, why not have a crowd enjoy it?) If you don’t have a very large pot, you can do the sautéing in batches in a skillet and transfer everything to a roasting pan covered with foil for the long oven cooking. The traditional accompaniment is boiled potatoes tossed with parsley.

do ahead Everything may be made up to five days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Before serving, reheat, covered, in a 350° oven until hot, about 30-45 minutes.

12 ounces sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
11⁄2 pounds kielbasa, cut into 1-inch pieces
11⁄2 pounds bratwurst or knockwurst, cut into 3-inch lengths
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch slices
8 garlic cloves, crushed
4 pounds sauerkraut, rinsed well with water squeezed out
4 long lengths orange peel
3 smoked ham hocks
1⁄4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons juniper berries
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
3-4 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder
4 bay leaves
3 fresh thyme sprigs
3 fresh parsley sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 fresh sage sprigs
31⁄4 cups white wine (ideally Riesling)
1 cups chicken stock
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1 Place ham hocks in a large pot and cover with water. Add brown sugar, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until meat is tender, about 11⁄2-2 hours. Allow to cool. Trim away skin and fat and cut meat into bite-sized pieces. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid.
2 Make a bouquet garni by wrapping juniper berries, black peppercorns and coriander seeds in a small square of cheesecloth. Tie packet.
3 In a large Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, stir bacon over moderate heat to render fat and just cook through. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon and set it aside. In the residual fat, first brown kielbasa. Remove and brown bratwurst or other sausage. Remove and brown pork butt or shoulder. Be patient and brown everything well, leaving residual fat in the pot each time.
4 In the same pot with the same fat over moderate heat, sauté onions, carrots and garlic until onions lightly brown, about 20 minutes. Add sauerkraut, bacon, ham hocks, orange peel, bay leaves and the bouquet garni. Mix well.
5 Preheat oven to 300°. Place browned pork on top of sauerkraut mix. Place sprigs of thyme, parsley, rosemary and sage over top. Cover and bake until pork is very tender, about 3 hours. If serving right away, add kielbasa and bratwurst around the perimeter of pot to heat during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
6 Remove pork and set aside to cool. Remove and discard herbs, bouquet garni, orange peel and bay leaves.
7 To serve, cut pork into approximately 3⁄8-inch slices. Arrange sauerkraut on a large platter and arrange slices of pork down the middle; arrange sausages around pork. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. If you are serving potatoes and have a large enough platter, arrange potatoes around and just off the edge of the sauerkraut.
serves 10-12

See Recipe for Latkes.

Reading Terminal Moments – The Passing of Harry Ochs

Harry Ochs died a week ago Sunday. Harry was an un-sung hero of Philadelphia’s food renaissance. His Reading Terminal “butcher shop” — which his son Nick continues — has been the meat mecca of accomplished and aspiring Philadelphia cooks for generations.

If Harry was your butcher, you were a lucky cook. Harry’s knowledge added interest to countless Philadelphia tables. There will be a memorial service honoring Harry at 1 p.m. today in Reading Terminal Market’s Center Court.

A note on The Butcher from At Home:

Supermarket meat departments provide the most common cuts of meats and poultry. But there are wonderful uncommon cuts of meats that are often less expensive than the usual filets and steaks. If you get friendly with your supermarket butcher they may be willing to special order less common cuts. Better still, find a local butcher shop. Use your butcher’s knowledge to expand the range of cuts you use and add interest to your table.

Upcoming Book Signings

Today at Coopermarket
I will be at Beth Cooper’s Coopermarket from 3PM to 6 PM. Coopermarket is at 302 Levering Mill Road in Bala Cynwyd.

Weekends at The Reading Terminal Market
I will be at Reading Terminal Market weekends between now and the end of the year. Look for At Home’s table in Center Court across from Meze on Saturday’s and near Spataro’s Cheesesteaks — across from the pig — on Sundays.

Saturday, December 19th at Weaver’s Way
I will be at Weaver’s Way in Mt. Airy on Saturday, December 19th from 11 AM to 2 PM. Weaver’s Way’s Mt. Airy is located on 559 Carpenter Lane.

Thanks for visiting.

Steve

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At Home’s Stocking Stuffers: The Twelve Days of Christmas (Also works for Eight Days of Hanukkah)

Everything on this list makes an excellent stocking stuffer and welcome addition to the kitchens of home entertainers. (Well, the grill press would need a very sturdy stocking and the Repositonable Labels a very wide stocking.) The side margins of At Home by Steve Poses are filled with advice like this on equipment as well lots of other advice designed to inform and inspire.

1. Dough Scraper
My dough scraper to scoops up and transfers chopped vegetables from my cutting board to bowl or pan. I also use it keep my prep area clean and tidy. It is an invaluable assistant. I would not think about prepping vegetables without it. See my Setting Up for Prep on Page 21 of At Home or see the dough scraper in action on my Setting Up For Prep video. View Video.

2. Stainless Kitchen Tongs (Spring-Action)
Everyone needs a pair of stainless steel spring-loaded kitchen tongs. Kitchen tongs are an extension of my hands when handling anything hot. Much more handy than a kitchen fork or spatula. Read more about how I use Kitchen Tongs on page 182 of At Home.

3. Microplanes
These super-sharp graters come in a variety of sizes. They are perfect lemon zesters — removing only the zest and leaving behind the bitter white pithe. I use my microplane to grating a little nutmeg or big hunk Reggiano Parmesan. Read more about Microplanes on page 129 of At Home.

4. Instant Read Thermometer
Thermometers are your x-ray vision. They enable you to see inside anything you can poke and tell you the temperature. Use them to tell if your premium sirloin steak on the grill is medium rare and if your Mac ‘n Cheese heating in the oven is sizzling hot inside. Read more about X-ray Vision: Instant Read Thermometers on page 167 of At Home.

5. Electric Spice Grinder
The best way to extract maximum flavor from spices is to toast whole seeds and pods in a dry pan over moderate heat until they release their fragrance, allow to cool and then grind in an electric spice grinder. (These are commonly sold as coffee grinders.) I regularly grind small batches of black peppercorns and keep a small wooden box of fresh ground pepper next to my stove. I strongly advise against ever using pre-ground pepper!

6. Juice Reamer
A juice reamer – typically wood – is about 5 inches long with a pointed end with grooves along its sides. This turns out to be the ideal shape to extract juice from a lemon or lime — much more effective than squeezing.

7. Repositionable Labels
Repositionable Labels are Post-It’s for Kitchen Professionals and an indispensable tool for the Organized Entertainer. I use them for everything from making and arranging my prep tasks, arranging (and re-arranging) my work schedule — allayed on my refrigerator or kitchen cabinets — to labeling my platters and bowls so I know what goes in what. Make sure you get the removable type. Pictured here are Avery #6460. For a fuller explanation see Page 12 of At Home. In addition to a pretty bow, you may need to include some explanation as to why in the world you would give these as a gift. But trust me, they will revolutionize the life of an entertainer.

8. Flexible Fish Spatula
People unnecessarily fear cooking fish. Turning a fish filet in a pan can be a challenge — unless you have one of these flexible fish spatulas.

9. Silcone Pastry/Basting Brush
Silicone pastry brushes are ideal for basting as they remain pliable while holding up to heat. They also are simple to wash in the dishwasher.

10. Grill Press
This weight with a stay-cool wooden handle improves and speeds your grilling by pressing against the top of whatever you are grilling, increasing contact of the underside with the grill and helping form a better grill marks and crust. Also excellent for cooking burgers in a pan or grilled cheese.

11. Remote Oven Thermometer with Alarm
The only infallible way to know whether a roast is done is to know its internal temperature. Using a guide of minutes per pound is just not reliable because oven temperatures are often not true and roasting time depends on the starting temperature of what you are roasting. (Ideally you should bring a roast to room temperature before roasting.) Certainly you can use a simple meat thermometer and check often, but these useful gadgets have a probe that goes inside the roast and an external thermometer that sounds the alarm when you have reached your programmed temperature.

12. Timer
The less you have to think about and remember when cooking the better. Read about The Value of a Timer of Timer on Page 159 of At Home.

At Home – The Perfect Gift for Hanukkah or Christmas
Of course, the best gift you could give would be At Home — the book with the companion website. But at 500 pages and three plus pounds, it surely would not fit in a stocking. At Home is not available in bookstores but only at our on line store or at book-signings around Philadelphia. Here’s the current line-up.

The Reading Terminal Market on Weekends
I will be at Reading Terminal Market weekends between now and the end of the year. Look for At Home’s table in Center Court across from Meze on Saturday’s and near Spataro’s Cheesesteaks — across from the pig — on Sundays.

Beth Cooper’s Coopermarket on Monday, December 14th
Beth opened Coopermarket in 1995 and since that time Coopermarket has been an everyday and special event Main Line source for wonderful prepared foods and catering. Beth’s first restaurant job was at The Commissary and she also cooked for me at the 16th Street Bar & Grill. Sara, Beth’s key assistant, worked for me at The Market of The Commissary where she single-handedly introduced Philadelphians to fine cheeses long before fine cheese became a food store staple. I will be visiting with Beth and Sara and signing At Home on Monday, December 14th from 3 to 6 PM.
Coopermarket is at 302 Levering Mill Road in Bala Cynwyd.

Weaver’s Way on Saturday, December 19th
I will be at Weaver’s Way in Mt. Airy on Saturday, December 19th from 11 AM to 2 PM. Weaver’s Way General Manager Glen Bergman is an old friend and former General Manager of The Commissary. Weaver’s Way’s Mt. Airy is located on 559 Carpenter Lane.

At Home Visits The 10! Show
I was a guest on The 10! Show on Monday. I demonstrated Pan-Fired Jerk Peanuts and offered suggestions about Multi-Ethnic Snack Mixes.Here’s the video.

Thanks for visiting.

Steve

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Plan to Entertain: The Holiday Season

If you are a regular here, you know that I have a mission to increase home entertaining nationally by 10%. Really. If you are new to my blog, now you know about my mission. Cynics kid me about the 10%. They ask, “Why 10%?” or, with a touch of sarcasm, “How will you know you have accomplished your mission?” My response is that I believe in setting expansive goals. President Obama would call them audacious. Ten percent is a nice round number and actually not so difficult to accomplish. If you normally entertain friends and family in your home once a year and I encourage and inspire you to do it twice a year, that’s a 100% increase in your home entertaining. So, help out! Entertain at home.

Make My Holiday Party Recipe Your Holiday Party Recipe
My recipe for holiday parties has three simple steps.
1. Invite people you love and enjoy being with. (Forget pay back and obligation.)
2. Think about having The Good Enough Holiday Party. Don’t set the bar unrealistically high for yourself. Over-reaching rarely has a happy ending. Either you end up saying, “No, that’s too hard” and skip home entertaining altogether. Or, you try something that’s way beyond your resources — psychic, time and/or money — and at your party’s end you are resentful and swear off future entertaining at home.
3. Whatever you do, spend the upfront time to plan and spread out your tasks over at least one week so you get your one relaxed hour before guests arrive. Plan to entertain this holiday season. Better. Easier.

Hanukkah’s Coming
Hanukkah begins Friday evening, December 11th and runs through Saturday evening, December 19th. That gives you two weekend windows to entertain friends and family with latkes. Plan ahead! If you make applesauce this weekend it will hold in your refrigerator up through that last candle in the menorah. Visit your local farm stand or farmer’s market if you can for a mix of fresh sweet and tart apples for your applesauce. (The Reading Terminal — where I am spending weekends with At Home — is loaded with varieties of local apples. Shop, visit and get a signed book…or two or three.) Latkes may be made in advance and frozen.

Traditional Potato Latkes & Applesauce
(from At Home by Steve Poses)
It’s a shame that potato pancakes tend to be made only for Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that comes in December. The Hanukkah story celebrates the miracle of oil—there was reportedly just enough to burn one day in the temple, but it lasted for eight days. The fact that potato pancakes require prodigious amounts of oil to fry is surely a coincidence. The key to making them crispy is to squeeze out excess water from the grated onion and potato. Make the applesauce first so it’s ready for your hot latkes. The recipe will yield more than you will likely need for the latkes.

do ahead Applesauce may be made up to two weeks ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Latkes may be made up to three days ahead and stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator or frozen up to a month. Reheat in a 350° oven for 7-10 minutes, turning them over midway through.

Applesauce
1 cup apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
21⁄2 pounds apples (for best results, use a mix of sweet and tart)
sugar to taste

Latkes
1 pound onion, peeled
11⁄2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
vegetable oil

1 Make the applesauce: In a large pot, add apple cider and cinnamon sticks and simmer slowly for 10 minutes, taking care not to boil the cider away.

2 Leaving skin on, core apples and cut them into chunks.
3 Add apples and sugar to pot. Increase heat to high and cover. After about 5 minutes, stir apples to move the top apples down into the liquid. Continue cooking until apples are soft and falling apart, about 10-15 minutes more.
4 Remove cinnamon sticks and reserve. Using a food mill or food processor, puree apples to desired texture. Add back cinnamon sticks to sauce. Chill. (Just be sure to remove cinnamon sticks before serving.)

5 Make the latkes: On the largest holes of a box grater, grate onion and potatoes. The large-holed grating disk on the food processor does a fine job too. Turn the mixture onto several layers of cheesecloth or an open kitchen towel. Gather the corners and squeeze the water from the mixture.
6 Combine eggs, flour, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add onions and potatoes and mix well.
7 Preheat oven to 200°. Line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towels and have another unlined baking sheet ready. Heat 1⁄2 cup oil in a sauté pan over moderately high heat until very hot but not smoking. Fill a 1⁄3 cup measure with the potato mixture. Drop it into the sauté pan and push it down with the flat side of the measuring cup so you have a pancake about 3 inches in diameter and 1⁄4-inch thick. Cook pancakes until brown and crisp on one side, about 2-3 minutes, and flip, taking care not to splatter the oil. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes more. Add more oil as needed, making sure to get the oil hot before adding the pancake mixture. Adjust heat as needed so that the pancakes brown as they cook through without burning. As you get to the bottom of the mix it will be watery, so be sure to give it a stir. Transfer cooked pancakes to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Pat the top of the pancakes with another double layer of paper towels. Cook remaining batter in batches until all the pancakes are cooked, transferring cooked and drained pancakes to the unlined baking sheet.
8 Keep them warm in the oven until ready to serve. Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream.
yields 2 quarts applesauce and 1 dozen 3-inch pancakes

Additional note about making latkes in advance: Make sure latkes get cooked through if you are making your latkes in advance. Uncooked potato will discolor. To make sure latkes are cooked through, make sure you cook over moderate heat so that the inside gets cooked before the outside gets over-cooked.

Thursday’s Daily News — A Dinner Party a la Poses
To tell the story of At Home, Daily News writer Beth D’Addono created a mini reality show by recruiting a willing, but mildly entertaining-phobic Cara Schneider to work with me. Together we designed a plan for a small dinner party. Over the next several weeks I was Cara’s coach. I could not have wanted a better student. I confess to being a bit nervous at the outset. Would these principles to make home entertaining better and easier work in real time and real life? Read the article to find out or watch the video.

Buy the Book — Live and In-Person
At Home by Steve Poses is not available in bookstores, but only online or “live and in-person.” Please stop by one of these places. I would love to inscribe a book to you and everyone on your holiday list who loves or aspires to entertain more — better and easier.

The Reading Terminal Market on Weekends
I will be at Reading Terminal Market weekends between now and the end of the year. Look for At Home’s table in Center Court across from Meze on Saturday’s and near Spataro’s Cheesesteaks — across from the pig — on Sundays.

Beth Cooper’s Coopermarket on Monday, December 14th
Beth opened Coopermarket in 1995 and since that time Coopermarket has been an everyday and special event Main Line source for wonderful prepared foods and catering. Beth’s first restaurant job was at The Commissary and she also cooked for me at the 16th Street Bar & Grill. Sara, Beth’s key assistant, worked for me at The Market of The Commissary where she single-handedly introduced Philadelphians to fine cheeses long before fine cheese became a food store staple. I will be visiting with Beth and Sara and signing At Home on Monday, December 14th from 3 to 6 PM.
Coopermarket is at 302 Levering Mill Road in Bala Cynwyd.

Weaver’s Way on Saturday, December 19th
I will be at Weaver’s Way in Mt. Airy on Saturday, December 19th from 11 AM to 2 PM. Weaver’s Way General Manager Glen Bergman is an old friend and former General Manager of The Commissary. Weaver’s Way’s Mt. Airy is located on 559 Carpenter Lane.

Thanks for visiting.

Steve

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Filed under At Home News, Entertaining at Home, Holidays, Recipes, Tips

Traditional Potato Latkes & Applesauce Recipe

It’s a shame that potato pancakes tend to be made only for Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that comes in December. The Hanukkah story celebrates the miracle of oil—there was reportedly just enough to burn one day in the temple, but it lasted for eight days. The fact that potato pancakes require prodigious amounts of oil to fry is surely a coincidence. The key to making them crispy is to squeeze out excess water from the grated onion and potato. Make the applesauce first so it’s ready for your hot latkes. The recipe will yield more than you will likely need for the latkes.

do ahead Applesauce may be made up to two weeks ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Latkes may be made up to three days ahead and stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator or frozen up to a month. Reheat in a 350° oven for 7-10 minutes, turning them over midway through.

Applesauce
1 cup apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
21⁄2 pounds apples (for best results, use a mix of sweet and tart)
sugar to taste

Latkes
1 pound onion, peeled
11⁄2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
vegetable oil

1 Make the applesauce: In a large pot, add apple cider and cinnamon sticks and simmer slowly for 10 minutes, taking care not to boil the cider away.

2 Leaving skin on, core apples and cut them into chunks.
3 Add apples and sugar to pot. Increase heat to high and cover. After about 5 minutes, stir apples to move the top apples down into the liquid. Continue cooking until apples are soft and falling apart, about 10-15 minutes more.
4 Remove cinnamon sticks and reserve. Using a food mill or food processor, puree apples to desired texture. Add back cinnamon sticks to sauce. Chill. (Just be sure to remove cinnamon sticks before serving.)

5 Make the latkes: On the largest holes of a box grater, grate onion and potatoes. The large-holed grating disk on the food processor does a fine job too. Turn the mixture onto several layers of cheesecloth or an open kitchen towel. Gather the corners and squeeze the water from the mixture.
6 Combine eggs, flour, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add onions and potatoes and mix well.
7 Preheat oven to 200°. Line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towels and have another unlined baking sheet ready. Heat 1⁄2 cup oil in a sauté pan over moderately high heat until very hot but not smoking. Fill a 1⁄3 cup measure with the potato mixture. Drop it into the sauté pan and push it down with the flat side of the measuring cup so you have a pancake about 3 inches in diameter and 1⁄4-inch thick. Cook pancakes until brown and crisp on one side, about 2-3 minutes, and flip, taking care not to splatter the oil. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes more. Add more oil as needed, making sure to get the oil hot before adding the pancake mixture. Adjust heat as needed so that the pancakes brown as they cook through without burning. As you get to the bottom of the mix it will be watery, so be sure to give it a stir. Transfer cooked pancakes to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Pat the top of the pancakes with another double layer of paper towels. Cook remaining batter in batches until all the pancakes are cooked, transferring cooked and drained pancakes to the unlined baking sheet.
8 Keep them warm in the oven until ready to serve. Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream.
yields 2 quarts applesauce and 1 dozen 3-inch pancakes

Additional note about making latkes in advance: Make sure latkes get cooked through if you are making your latkes in advance. Uncooked potato will discolor. To make sure latkes are cooked through, make sure you cook over moderate heat so that the inside gets cooked before the outside gets over-cooked.

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Filed under Holidays, Recipes