Ring in the New Year with “Good Luck Foods” - Part 2

Haluski (Pork and Cabbage) serves 4

Haluski, polish food, pork, cabbage, traditions, good luck,

4 pork chops

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 onion, chopped

½ TB canola oil

¼ cup water

1 large green cabbage, roughly chopped

1 lb egg noodles

1 TB butter

Season the chops with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute chops for 4 minutes on one side. Turn over and saute for another 4 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add the onions and saute until soft and turning brown. Pour in water and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add cabbage an cook down (7-10 minutes).

While cabbage is cooking bring a large pot of water to boil and cook noodles according to directions. Drain and toss with butter.

Cut pork into 1” pieces. Toss the pork and cabbage with the noodles and serve.

Lemon-Thyme Collard Greens

Not your traditional collard greens, which are made with bacon or ham hocks and cooked to death. Slicing the greens thin allows them to cook faster so they keep their character.

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1 bunch collard greens, heavy center stems removed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium Spanish onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 (15-ounce) can vegetable broth

Salt, to taste

Juice of 1 lemon

Wash the collard greens well and roll a few leaves at a time into a tight cylinder. Slice across the cylinder to produce thin strands. Repeat until all leaves are cut.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan and add the onions and garlic. Saute 5 minutes until browned lightly. Add the pepper flakes, thyme sprigs and cut collard greens. Continue to saute 2 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer 4 minutes or until greens are just tender. Season with salt and lemon juice and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Blackeyed Peas and Rice

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1 of bacon

1 lb of dried black-eyed peas

1 tsp salt, or to taste

Cooked rice

Dice a pound of bacon finely, sprinkle with salt. Fry the bacon and salt mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. While the bacon is in the first stages of frying, sort and rinse the black-eyed peas. Drain well. Lay the peas out on a cookie sheet to air dry as much as possible.

When the bacon is brown add the black-eyed peas swiftly to the pot. Stir them in well and keep stirring over medium-high heat for a minute or two until the peas are coated with grease and very slightly darkened. Add cold water covering the peas by at least 2 inches. Place the pot back on the stove over medium high heat and stir the peas with a clean wooden spoon. As soon as the water starts boiling gently, turn the heat down a little to maintain a light simmer-boil. Cook uncovered for at least an hour. Stir the beans every so often to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add water generously as needed. Cook until the beans are tender and the consistency you want: soupy or thick. The consistency will depend on how much water you use and how long they cook.

Ladle the black-eyed peas over white or brown rice.

Ring in the New Year with “Good Luck Foods” - Part 1

It is almost the New Year. Every holiday has its own traditions and celebratory foods; as we enter a new year, it seems that the world shares the belief that certain foods bring good luck and prosperity.

Each culture has a unique spin on these good-luck foods. The wonderful thing is that the availability of ethnic ingredients makes it possible for us to cook traditional dishes here, no matter our country of origin.

Coming from a family with one side of Italian heritage and the other side of Polish heritage, traditions were occasionally celebrated side by side. The pig in many countries signifies good luck because hogs cannot look or see behind them without completely turning around, and therefore only look forward.

In Italy, lentils are eaten as a symbol of good luck and prosperity because they resemble tiny coins. Tuscans eat lentils with "Cotechino", a large pork sausage. People in Bologna and Modena eat lentils with "Zampone", the sausage mixture stuffed into the skin of a pig's foot. In the Piedmont, little grains of rice symbolize money, so New Year's Day menus feature risotto.

Good luck begins at the stroke of midnight for many German and Polish people eating a shiny pickled herring. In the U.S. pork is served the next day with green cabbage, signifying green money.

In Greece, the dish is “vasilopita.” The cake is named after St Basil - Aghios Vasilis (the Greek Santa), the bearer of presents and the Saint of blessings and wishes, whose feast day is celebrated on 1st January. This is a large cake with coins baked into it. Of course, the person who bites into the coin is assured good luck during the coming New Year. It is important to serve the cake in the proper order. The first piece is “for the house”, then in order of oldest to youngest, making sure to leave pieces for family that could not be there and one for Christ.

The Chinese New Year's menu features long soba noodles that are eaten whole, actually sucked up into the mouth, one strand at a time. This is to ensure a long life. Sticky rice is formed into little cakes. These are broiled or simmered in soup. The whole family partakes, guaranteeing good health, good luck and wealth all year.

In the United States it seems most traditions come from the south.  For example, a popular dish is  collard greens, which symbolize greenbacks or money. Black-eyed peas are considered especially lucky and create wealth as they resemble coins. And corn bread is eaten because it resembles gold.

However you celebrate the New Year, we leave you with a family saying: “May you enjoy great Health, much Happiness, and just enough Wealth.”  

We will share with you some recipes for the food/countries mentioned above over the next couple of days. Pick what you want and enjoy.

Risotto with Fondue (serves 4-6)

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8 ounces Fontina cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup milk, heated to lukewarm

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 bay leaf

2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

4-1/2 cups beef broth

1 tablespoon flour

1 egg yolk, well beaten

Salt and white pepper

Put the cheese in a bowl with the warm milk.

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the garlic, bay leaf and rice and sauté 3 minutes.

Add the wine and cook until it has evaporated.

In another saucepan heat the broth to a boil.

Begin adding it to the rice a half cup at a time, stirring continually.

It will take about 20 minutes until all of the broth is added and absorbed.

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine the Fontina, milk, and flour.

Stir until the cheese is melted. Add the egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper.

Form the rice into a mound on a serving platter.

Make an indentation in the middle and pour the cheese in.

Sausage and Lentils (serves 4-6)

1-1/2 cups lentils

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1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup pancetta, diced

1 large onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 pound Italian sausage (substitute cotechino)

1/2 cup traditional tomato sauce

1 bay leaf

Salt to taste

Place the lentils in a large saucepan. Add 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Drain and set aside.

In a skillet, sauté the pancetta, onion, carrots, and celery in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.

Remove mixture and set aside.

In the same skillet, cook the sausage until golden brown.

Remove the sausage and cut into pieces. Discard the fat from the skillet.

Add the reserved vegetable mixture to the skillet with the tomato sauce, lentils, and bay leaf.

Cook over low heat, covered, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the lentils onto a serving platter and arrange the sausages around them.   VASILOPITA Photo courtesy of Parent Map

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1 cup butter, softened

1-3/4 cups white sugar

5 eggs

2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 325ºF (165ºC).                     

In a large bowl, blend the butter and sugar together. Separate 3 of the eggs; add the yolks and the 2 remaining whole eggs to the butter mixture. Stir in the vanilla and water.

In another bowl, sift the baking powder and flour together. Add these dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.

Beat 3 egg whites until they are foamy. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and continue to beat the whites until they are stiff. Fold the whites into the batter.

Pour the batter into a greased 10 x 4 inch tube pan. Wrap the lucky coin or a charm in foil, and press it down into the batter until it is completely hidden. Sprinkle the nuts and seeds on top of the batter.

Bake the cake for about 70 minutes, or until done.

Two Takes on Christmas Ham

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE turkey, in every way, shape and form.  My problem with turkey is no one seems to want to cook anything but turkey for every holiday gathering.  Here I go again; this year it is with ham.

The tradition of eating ham for Christmas came from a pagan tradition from the pre-Christian Germanic and Norse tradition of killing a boar and serving it to honor Freya or Frigg(Frija), one of the Norse Gods. St. Stephen, whose feast day is December 26th, is often depicted as serving a boar’s head as an offering.  The two were combined and there you have it...a new tradition is born.

We’ve all seen the big hams with the criss-cross slices dotted with cloves and draped in pineapple rings and cherries.  Below are two takes on the Baked Ham; let’s hope they will become new “standards” for you, whether it is a holiday or not.  

The type of ham referenced in these recipes can be either a partially or fully cooked, mild - cured ham for simplicity’s sake.  A dry cured ham takes 24 hours to soak/prepare/cook. They are delicious, but do take much longer. It is your choice.

Most likely, you will buy a ham that has the skin and most of the fat trimmed off, but if not, follow these instructions. If it is trimmed up for you, skip this first section and proceed to the second.

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Orange Glazed Ham

6 - 8 lb/3–4kg middle cut ham with the knuckle left on

 2 carrots, chopped

 2 sticks of celery, chopped

 2 bay leaves

 1 bouquet garni (a piece of leek, a bay leaf, 16 black pepper corns, a sprig of fresh thyme wrapped in cheese cloth)

 zest and juice of 2 oranges

 3 tablespoons/45ml freshly ground black pepper

14 whole cloves

 1 jar of orange marmalade

 3 - stalks fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped     

Place the ham in a pot just large enough to hold it snugly. Cover it with water. Throw in carrots, celery, bay leaves, bouquet garni and orange zest. Pour in the orange juice. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for an hour and a quarter with a lid on, skimming fat when need be. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for half an hour in the broth. This will allow the flavours to really penetrate the meat. Strain the broth, and use as a base for soup or sauce.

Pre-heat oven to 325°F/170°C/gas mark 3

Remove the meat to a board, cut off the skin and all but ½ inch/1cm of fat. Score the fat left on the meat in a criss-cross fashion, making sure not to cut into the meat.  Season it generously with the ground black pepper. Stud the fat at the edges of the diamond cuts with cloves evenly over the entire ham. Place the meat in a roasting tray and roast for 20 minutes until the fat renders and becomes slightly crispy. Remove from the oven. In a small bowl mix the marmalade with the rosemary leaves. Evenly spread it all over the meat with a spatula. Place the ham back in the oven for about 1 hour and baste frequently until beautifully golden and crisp. Remove from oven, and let rest, tented with foil for 15 minutes.  Discard the cloves and slice.

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Jambon Farci en Croute (Stuffed Ham Baked in Pastry)

Pre-heat oven to 325°F/170°C/gas mark 3


2 lbs/900g fresh mushrooms, minced

3 tablespoons/45ml oil

½ cup/118ml minced shallots

¼ cup/60ml Madeira


2 carrots, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons/30ml butter plus 1 tablespoon/15ml oil

6 sprigs parsley

1 bay leaf

6 peppercorns

½ tsp fresh thyme leaves

3 whole cloves

2 cups/500ml Madeira wine

3 cups stock (your choice vegetable, chicken or beef)

 6 - 8 lb/3–4kg cooked ham (boneless)

large piece of cheese cloth

2 boxes pre-made puff pastry

2 eggs beaten

In a large saute pan over medium heat add the oil. Saute the shallots and mushrooms for 8-10 minutes (most of the liquid from the vegetables will have evaporated). Add the wine to the mushroom mixture. Raise the heat to medium high and boil until most of the wine has evaporated.   

Remove the fat from the ham with a knife. Cut the upper two thirds of the ham into thin horizontal slices, piling them on a plate in the order sliced.  Leave the bottom third unsliced. It will act as a “seat” to stabilize the slices once put back together.

Spread a spoonful of the mushroom stuffing in the center of each slice, top with the next piece of ham and repeat, finishing with the top piece of ham. It should resemble the original shape. Wrap the ham in the cheese cloth.

Sautee vegetables in butter and oil for about 10 minutes in a large oven proof casserole or roasting pan.  Place ham upright wrapped in the cheese cloth over the vegetables. Add parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, cloves, wine and stock. Bring to a simmer on the stove, cover and place in the middle of the pre-heated oven. Braise for 2 ½ hours. Baste every 20 minutes.  The ham when cooked should reach an internal temperature of 140F/60C. When ham is done, remove from casserole and let cool on a cutting board.

Raise the oven temperature to 375F/190C/gas mark 5

Roll out the puff pastry into a large enough rectangle to completely wrap the the ham.  Seal the edges by wetting them with water and pressing together. Poke a couple of holes to let the steam escape. Brush with beaten eggs. Decorate the base with any remaining dough if you wish. Bake in pre-heated oven 30-40 minutes or the dough is golden brown.

Christmas Sangria Recipe

christmassangria, cranberry, apple, brandy, festive, holidays, cinnamon, sangria, spanish, mulled wine, personal chef, miami, florida,

1/2 cup/45g dried apples

1/2 cup dried/76g cranberries

1/2 cup/76g raisins

6 dried apricots, cut into slivers

1/4 cup/125ml brandy

2 tablespoons/30ml honey

1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise

1  stick cinnamon

1 750 milliliter bottle Rioja red wine or Merlot

2 cups/500ml club soda

In a large saucepan stir together the apples, cranberries, raisins, apricots, brandy, honey, vanilla bean, and cinnamon. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a gentle boil. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in wine. Transfer mixture to a pitcher. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours to blend flavors. Just before serving, stir in club soda. Serve in glasses over ice. If desired, using a slotted spoon, spoon some of the fruit into each glass.

Disney Swirl Cookies Recipe

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Q: How many times can you say, "Have a merry, minty, Mickey-and-Minnie Christmas!"?

A: By the dozen. With this festive cookie recipe, your family can serve up sweet holiday greetings in true Magic Kingdom style.


by Cindy Littlefield

mickey-and-minnie-swirl med hr
  • Double batch of sugar cookie dough (made with an added teaspoon/5ml of peppermint extract, if desired) *
  • Food coloring (red and green)
  • 1/2/2ml teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)
  • Disposable food preparation gloves (for kneading food coloring into the dough)
  • Flour
  • Wax paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Plastic wrap
  • Kitchen knife
  • Small round cookie or fondant cutter
  • Spatul
  • Baking sheet
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Green decorator's icing and small red candies (for Minnie's bow)

Helpful Tip:

Homemade sugar cookie recipes tend to work best for these cookies. If you don't already have a favorite, try a Classic Sugar Cookie Dough recipe that's especially tasty and reliable. If you choose one of the ready-made refrigerated doughs sold at grocery stores, keep in mind that they tend to spread. You may want to knead in additional flour to stiffen it and then bake a single cookie to see how the dough holds up. If it still loses shape, try kneading in a bit more flour and then chilling the cookies before you bake them.

  1. Divide the cookie dough into four equal portions. Knead green food coloring into one portion and red food coloring into another. Leave the other two plain.
  2. Individually wrap one of the plain portions and the red portion in plastic and keep them in the refrigerator for now.
  3. Working on a flour-dusted sheet of wax paper, roll the green dough into a 9-inch square. On another piece of wax paper, roll the plain dough into the same size square. Invert the sheet of plain dough onto the green dough. Trim the edges of the square to straighten them, if needed. Then cut the double-layer square into a 6- by 9-inch rectangle and a 3- by 9-inch rectangle. Transfer the smaller rectangle to a separate piece of wax paper.
  4. Starting at one of the 9-inch edges, snuggly roll the larger rectangle into a log. To get started, pull up the edge of wax paper and use it to fold the long edge of the dough over onto itself. When you reach the other side, gently press the opposite edge of the dough against the roll to hold it in place. If needed, you can dampen the dough edge with a bit of water to help it stick. Wrap the roll tightly in plastic. Repeat this step with the smaller rectangle, again starting the roll at one of the 9-inch edges. Chill both of the wrapped logs for 30 minutes or more to stiffen the dough.
  5. Remove the red dough and the remaining plain dough from the refrigerator and use them to create logs as described in steps 3 and 4.
  6. When you're ready to make the cookies, unwrap the green swirled logs and cut them into 3/8-inch slices. Use the bigger slices for Mickey heads and the smaller ones for ears. To fit them together, use a small cookie or fondant cutter to cut a pair of curved notches in the top of the head. Moisten the cut edges with a bit of water and fit the ears in place, gently pressing the dough together at the seam to help it stick. Repeat this step with the red swirled logs.
  7. Use a spatula to transfer the assembled cookies to a baking sheet and then bake them according to the recipe directions. Allow the cookies to cool briefly on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. For the finishing touch, embellish each of the red-swirled Minnie cookies with a green frosting bow and candy holly berry.

Struffoli (Italian Honey Balls) Recipe

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This is a traditional Neapolitan dish of deep fried balls of dough about the size of marbles.  Crunchy on the outside and light inside, struffoli are coated with honey and sprinkled with nonpareils.

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon/15ml/14g unsalted butter soften

1 teaspoon/5ml granulated sugar

1/2 cup/118ml/96g granulated sugar

1 cups/250g flour

1/2 teaspoon/2 ml baking powder

1 cup/250ml honey


oilfor frying

Heat the oil in a large pot or deep fryer to 375F/190C.

Whisk together eggs, butter, and 1 teaspoon/5ml sugar until eggs get foamy.  With a wooden spoon, add the baking powder and flour.  Turn the dough out to a lightly floured worktop and kneed for 1-2 minutes until it is a soft dough.  Divide the dough into four pieces.  Roll each piece into a rope about the width of your index finger and 10 inches/25.4cm long.  Cut each rope into 1 inch/2.5cm pieces.  Roll the into balls.  Lightly dust the balls in flour.  Remove excess and fry a few at a time until they puff and become golden brown.  Remove to towel to drain fat.  Combine the honey and remaining sugar until the sugar dissolves .  Add the fried dough a few at a time tossing to  coat.  Transfer the balls to a wire rack or lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with nonpareils and shape into a wreath or a pyramid/Christmas tree shape (you may have to dampen your hands).


bouillabaisse, seafood, french food, soup, garlic, tomatoes, fennel, Marseilles, France, Julia Child, Cookbook, Pescatarians, freelance chef, yada chef, personal chef, yacht chef, celebrity chef, chef Joseph Yacino, Portugal, UK, London

...if you do not happen to live on the Mediterranean, you cannot obtain the particular rockfish, gurnards, mullets, weavers, sea eels, wrasses, and breams which they [French experts] consider absolutely essential. But you can make an extremely good fish soup even if you have only frozen fish and canned clam juice to work with because the other essential flavoring of tomatoes, onions or leeks, garlic, herbs, and olive oil are always available."

--Julia Child

Yes, I know this is December. I know it is holiday season filled with traditions. There is a wonderful celebration, it is Bouillabaisse Day on 14 December.  It is with a tip of my hat that I present my version of this most terrific “French Fisherman’s Stew”.

Bouillabaisse is a fish stew that originated in Marseilles, France around 600 B.C.. Yes, B.C.  Marseilles was a Greek colony at this time and being such as known as "kakavia." Bouillabaisse also appears in Roman mythology as a soup that Venus feeds to Vulcan.

You may think that it is some mystical and complicated culinary creation. The truth, as you will see, is it is a simple dish. Use whatever fish you have access to. Shellfish is nice, but certainly not a necessity.  This can be a GREAT new addition to your holiday menu. Follow the rules of Kashrut and it can be a wonderful main dish for Hanukkah.  Add a couple more types of fish and you have all of the fish needed for an Italian Christmas Eve celebration.  

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1 leek, washed well and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic,chopped
1 large can of diced tomatoes, drained
6 cups/1.5 liters of water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp fennel
2 pinches saffron
1 large piece of orange peel
About 3 pounds/1.35kg of assorted fish, We used: sword fish, halibut, lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil for drizzling


Saute leeks in olive oil for about 5 minutes until wilted but not browned.

Add garlic and tomatoes. Raise heat and cook for a few more minutes.

Add water, all the herbs and seasonings, orange peel and fish. At this point I placed in all the fish but the shellfish. Allow to cook at a moderate boil for about 30 minutes.

Add in the shell fish and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Once the fish is cooked. Gently take the fish out and reserve to a platter. Using a strainer or sieve, strain the soup leaving just the tomato broth. Taste broth for seasoning.

To plate, plate fish and shellfish in bowl and ladle broth.

Baked Chicken Tapenade Recipe

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Tapenada is French for capers. Tapenade is a dish from the Provençal region of France of finely chopped olives and capers. Frequently you will find anchovies, and poached flaked tuna. It is generally as a spread on bread, but is delicious on pasta or baked like this. 

serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups/343ml/270g Kalamata or Gaeta olives, pitted
3 tablespoons/45ml capers, drained
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup/59ml/10g minced fresh parsley leaves
1/8 teaspoon/.5ml red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon/2ml salt
1/8 teaspoon/.5ml freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup/60ml extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor or mortar, combine the olives, capers, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the oil and pulse or work with the pestle into a coarse paste, retaining some bits of olive and caper for texture. Taste to adjust the seasonings. Stored tightly covered in the refrigerator, this will keep well for a week or two. 

Preheat oven to 375F/190C/GM5
Place chicken on lightly oiled baking sheet. Spread ¼ of tapenade on each breast. Bake for 20-25 minutes or juices run clear on chicken.
Serve with roast potato and leafy green.

Quinoa Salad (keen was) Recipe

This turned out well and I since my day consists of nothing by "creating at a desk"....I had time to sit down and eat. I added fresh tomato and left out the broccoli as we had not fresh in the house.

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The first time I encountered quinoa I was living with my cousin in Manhattan on the lower east side. She was not the most handy person in the kitchen. When I walked in she yelled from her bedroom that the air-popper may be broken as she tried to “pop” the little seeds like you would pop corn and they got sucked into the air vents.

Serves 4

2 ½ cups/625ml water or vegetable broth
2 cups/450ml quinoa
2 cups/450ml broccoli 

¼ cup/59ml red bell pepper
¼ cup/59ml yellow bell pepper
¼ cup/60ml canola oil
2 tablespoons/30ml fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon/2ml salt
¼ teaspoon/1ml black pepper

Bring water or broth to a boil (if using water add salt). Add quinoa, lower heat, cover and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed (15-20 minutes). Add broccoli to quinoa the last 5 minutes and allow to steam on top to just soften. Add the bell peppers to cooked mixture. In small bowl, whisk the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper well. Pour over salad. This can be eaten hot, cold or room temperature.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has been grown for thousands of years in the Andes mountains in South America. It is often thought of as a grain, but it is actually the seed of a leafy green plant called Chenopodium (also known as goosefoot), which is related to Swiss chard and spinach.

The True Meaning of the 12 Days of Christmas, a Riddle

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YaDa Chef and staff wish all a happy and safe holiday season.

Each year we post the following, which we find extremely interesting.

We received a Christmas card this year with an insert about the hidden or true meaning of the 12 days of Christmas song. No one on staff had ever heard or read this interpretation. 

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a coded-message, a memory aid. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, young Catholics could sing the song without fear of imprisonment. The authorities would not know that it was a religious song.

"The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance.

The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…"

The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.

1st Day: The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. 

The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.

2nd Day: The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.

3rd Day: The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).

4th Day: The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.

5th Day: The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

6th Day: The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.

7th Day: The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

8th Day: The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.

9th Day: The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

10th Day: The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments.

11th Day: The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.

12th Day: The ‘twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.

So the next time you hear "the Twelve Days of Christmas" consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in keeping alive the teaching of the Catholic faith.

adapted from email messages,
from "How To Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas,"
by Hugh D. McKellar,
U.S. Catholic, 12/1979,
and from "‘12 Days of Christmas’ is no nonsense, but a serious riddle"
by David Crowder
El Paso Times, 12/19/1993.
Also, Origin of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"
An Underground Catechism
by Fr. Hal Stockert 12/17/95

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks Recipe

No need to salt the eggplant slices. This is done when the eggplants are old to remove liquid and some of the bitterness. The original eggplants where small oval shaped and cream or white coloured,like an egg, hence the name. Later they were bred to be the purple colour and this is why many call them “aubergine”

Serves 4

2 large eggs

1 large eggplant, sliced into ½ inch/1.27cm rounds

1 cup/225ml half corn meal and half crisped rice crumbs

1 teaspoon/5ml salt

1/2 teaspoon/2ml ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon/2ml garlic powder

1 tablespoon/15ml dried Italian Seasoning

1 tablespoon/15ml olive oil


1 tablespoons/15ml olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups/450ml tomatoes, diced

½ teaspoon/2ml salt

½ teaspoon/2ml black pepper

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons/30ml fresh oregano or 2 teaspoon dried

½ tablespoon/7ml fresh rosemary, minced or 1 teaspoon/5ml dried

½ cup/118ml/90g vegan parmesan cheese

4 ounce/114g vegan mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400ºF/204C/Gas Mark 6

In an oblong baking dish mix together the crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian herbs. Pour the oil into the mixed crumbs and mix well to just dampen the crumb mixture. Beat eggs in a bowl.  Dip eggplant in eggs and then in crumbs.  Place the coated eggplant slices on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes, flipping after6 or 7 minutes, or golden brown and the eggplant is easily pierced with a knife.  Add  oil to a saucepan on medium high heat.  Add garlic, sauté  for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add fresh herbs and stir.  

On the same baking sheet evenly divide 1 cup/250ml of the marinara sauce over half of the eggplant. Sprinkle with ¼ cup/59ml/45g parmesan. Top with remaining eggplant and sauce.  Cover with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Place in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or the cheese is melted and bubbling.

If using dried herbs add with tomatoes.  For a smoother sauce puree or mash tomatoes.

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