Saturday, December 19, 2009

holiday time!

Ahhhh, the winter holidays in New York City. This is my favorite time of year. New York pulls out all her jewelry and puts out a lavish display, from the tacky to the superfine. AND the city clears out and becomes the hometown again that I grew up in. Not having to travel or go near a crowded airport is another bonus of staying home next week.

There is a neighborhood near me in Queens called Middle Village that is really fun to drive through at dusk to see all the lights on the Archie Bunker style houses complete with moving mechanical reindeer and inflatable Santas on Vespas. In Manhattan yesterday I walked by Bergdorf Goodman's and was mesmerized by their Alice in Wonderland inspired holiday windows. Every year they outdo themselves and this year the details are truly incredible. The Time Warner Center at Columbus circle is dazzling with gigantic stars and glittering purple trees out front. The outdoor craft market across the street on the corner of Central Park is worth a visit too.

I have to admit the festivities on the home-front have gotten off to a slow start this year. I have been cooking for so many parties straight through Thanksgiving that I haven't had a chance to plan my own. Christmas this year will bring 28 family and friends to my dinner table. This is what my mother would have called "a busman's holiday" for me. Which is to say that there will be a lot of work involved! yeah. I usually farm out dessert duty to my sister-in-law who makes a beautiful bouche de noel (a French yule log cake).  I think I will stick my uptown sister on Champagne duty (anything special she should look for this year, Amanda?)
I found these Mandarine oranges at Fairways to put in my salad.  I was looking for kumquats, but these were a happy alternative.

As for the menu, it has to be simple but special. It won't be vegetarian for this crowd, but there will be plenty for everyone's preferences (I hope). What is it you may ask. Well, I don't know yet, but I will definitely include my favorite salad of the season which is colorful and festive and easy to make for a crowd. I prepare all the different ingredients ahead of time (even the day before) and then assemble right before serving. The salad consists of mixed greens, chopped radicchio, sliced tangerines or kumquats, pomegranate seeds and sliced radishes.
My daughter loves the chore of removing the seeds from the skin of a pomegranate. Hey, I'll take the help!

The julienne does not have to be perfect. Daikon radish would work in this recipe too but I like the like red tips on these radishes.

This combination seems to be a winner. The sweetness of the fruits really plays well against the bite of the radish and radicchio. The colors are just perfect and the texture is great; crunchy and juicy- all in one little salad. I will dress the greens with the tangerine and walnut oil vinaigrette recipe from a few posts ago. To serve, I toss the salad greens and radicchio with the vinaigrette then sprinkle the rest of the ingredients on top. So pretty!

Mixed Greens with Citrus, Radish, Radicchio and Pomegranate Seeds
1 lb mixed greens
1/2 a small head of radicchio, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 cup sliced kumquats or sliced tangerines
10 radishes sliced or julienned
1 pomegranate seeded

Toss salad greens and radicchio with vinaigrette. Top with the remaining ingredients.
serves eight

Tangerine & Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
Juice of 1 Tangerine (my tangerine yielded 1 Tbs of juice, not much LOL!)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teas. salt
1 teas. freshly ground pepper
3 TBs Sherry Vinegar
1/4 cup walnut oil

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl except the walnut oil. Mix well with a whisk. Slowly drizzle in the walnut oil as you continue to whisk until well blended. Toss vinaigrette with the salad and serve.

Beautiful salad, Deb! Your comments make me miss my NYC days! Don't get me wrong, I love the "burbs" this time of year. But the Big Apple certainly holds a special place in my heart! On Thursday, the Westwood, NJ firetrucks came down my street, blasting Christmas music, with Santa riding on top. The firemen run alongside the trucks, giving candy to all of the children patiently (or not so much) awaiting this yearly ritual. It's so festive and wonderful, I wouldn't miss it for anything!

This time of year I like to take advantage of Italy's answer to Champagne - Prosecco. It's delicious and sparkly  - and much more affordable than Champagne. Prosecco is made predominantly from Prosecco grapes, in the northern region of  Veneto. It's elegant, refreshing, and simply put - delicious. Typically, this delightful sparkler has citrus notes, as well as flavors of almond, honey, and melon. It is crisp and lively, and suits all festive occasions. (I drink it all summer long as well...)

Prosecco is my sparkler of choice for all family gatherings and celebrations. Ranging from $9.99 to $17.99 a bottle, this is the perfect alternative to Champagne - especially for larger get-togethers. My family loves it. Rose Prosecco is also wonderful. It makes a perfect host/hostess gift as well. For something different, add a little peach nectar to make a belini. Yummy! Look to Riondo, Bisol, and Sorelle for some outstanding examples of this affordable gem.


  1. I am bringing this salad to our holiday gathering. There is typically very little veg on the table and this will be perfect!

    p.s. I LOVE Middle Village--isn't it hilarious? Greenpoint is similar on a smaller scale. Haha. xxx

  2. Incredible pix of the salad. That belongs on the cover of a magazine!

  3. Thank you! I think I am beginning to get the hang of it.. Some shots just work better than others. I am getting to know the macro settings on my camera.

  4. This was great...Even an old dummy in rural NV was able to put it together...


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