Merry Christmas!


Well, we did it.  Another Christmas in the books.  And now it’s time to put it on the blog.  We’ll talk about the fishes of Christmas Eve in another post.  Today, we’re going to talk about one of my favorite menus of the year: my traditional Christmas Day Menu.  I think the thing I enjoy the most about this menu is that it can be prepared entirely in advance, up to a week ahead of time, except for the roast, which takes almost no preparation at all.  And, as is the case on any occasion on which you are making a roast, you get to enjoy that heavenly aroma as it fills your home and entices your appetite all day long, and then take in the credit as though you had anything to do with the magic that happened in the oven while you were relaxing, visiting with family and friends, chatting and lounging.  This menu is hearty and vibrant, fresh and filled with happy colors and textures, satisfying, simple and easy, yet has enough special touches to be worthy of a holiday like Christmas.

Credit for this menu goes to two people: Bobby Flay, whom I assume you all know, and Eric Hammond, a great friend and terrific amateur chef with whom I’ve been honored to swap tricks over the years.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had his Caesar salad.


(Click on the blue words to link to recipes!)

Vidalia Onion Soup with Blistered Cheddar Cheese and Fresh Parsley Pesto


Herb Crusted Standing Rib Roast


Mashed Potatoes (I forgot to take a picture of them, but they were fantastic!  All credit goes to my amazing sister, Maria, who makes the best mashed potatoes EVER.  And maybe she will share her secrets here one day soon!)

Christmas Salad 


Warm Gingerbread Cake with Cinnamon Frosting


From our kitchen to yours: Mangia! Have a happy and healthy holiday season and a delicious new year!


Tuesday Night Risotto

Everybody needs a quick and satisfying, go-to risotto recipe that can be easily thrown together (much to the amazement of your grateful family) and plopped on a plate next to some pork chops or chicken breast or whatever you have in your freezer.  Here’s mine.  It’s not fancy, but boy is it good.  Please don’t be intimidated by risotto.  Better cooks than I will tell you it’s tricky and give all kinds of specific instructions, but honestly, this recipe will keep your fans happy and coming back for more.  Use what you have.  I happened to have a head of fennel and a leek (leftover from Thanksgiving) in my fridge.  This recipe would work with onions instead of or in addition to leek, and you can give or take the fennel.  I happen to love it, but if you don’t, leave it out, and you won’t miss it.  Don’t leave out the love, though, and by that, I mean: be prepared to stand by and stir for the entire 25-30 minutes it takes to cook this creamy wonder of a rice dish.  This recipe calls for about 1/2 bottle of white wine, so you might as well pour yourself a glass and sip while you stir, since you’ll be “stuck” with half a bottle to chill/store, otherwise.  If you put in the work, this dish will love you right back.  And again for lunch on Wednesday.


Cranberry-Pignoli Oatmeal Muffins

I just invented this recipe an hour ago.  I woke up in a NyQuil induced haze (it turns out that I’m not feeling all that well, the day before my 39th birthday), stumbled downstairs on a mission to turn this day around, and out came these muffins.  They are tangy and nutty and not too sweet (my definition of an ideal taste combination). Pour yourself a cup of dark roast coffee, heavy on the steamed whole milk, and whip these up for breakfast.  They will treat you right.


Basic Red Sauce, Part I (Marinara)

This is the Life Force.  “It’s medicinal,” my mother says.  She is right.  My cousin, Melissa, calls it “gravy.”  My brothers call it “sugu.”  We Lindquists call it, “red sauce,” (and if you’re my stepson, you insist that it’s “soup” and drink it from a thermos), but that’s just to distinguish it from “bolognese,” “meat sauce,” “summer sauce,” and from my Grandma Lanzafame’s sauce and from my Nonny Calvano’s sauce and from my own mother’s sauce…  You can see why this is only Part I. There is a lifetime of sauce about which to blog.  This is the most basic version and I entreat you to start your own sauce-making journey right here.  But before we begin, we have to talk tomatoes.


If you are serious about your sauce, and I daresay you are or you wouldn’t be reading this, you are going to want to think about canning your own tomatoes.  There just isn’t any other way to capture the true August-vine-ripened essence of the Fruit of the Gods.


This is my Elizabeth and my sister, Susanne, who comprised 2/5 of the canning team in 2015, pictured here with the product, as my mom would say.


I think we canned over 80 quarts that year.  We are going to have to talk about the canning process in another post, on another day, because it’s JUST TOO MUCH to cover in one post about basic red sauce.  But it had to be mentioned.

For now let’s just agree that when my recipes call for several quarts of canned tomatoes, you are going to know that you need to substitute cans of store-bought stewed, crushed, or whole peeled tomatoes.  Don’t worry.  I do it too, when I run out of the real stuff.  I don’t think my Scandinavian family can distinguish… yet.  But I can, and you will too, once you get hooked on the good stuff.  Anyway, this recipe is good and simple enough to make up for most sins, it will literally “cure whatever ails you,” and should result in a consistent and pleasing enough result to keep you out of the bottled sauce aisle, permanently.  Mangia!



Soft Molasses Ginger Cookies

My favorite winter cookies, these soft molasses ginger bites are perfection when paired with a big, hot cup of peppermint tea.