Showing posts with label Hannukkah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hannukkah. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Gingerbread and Christmas. One of the best combinations, ever.

For years, my Auntie Lilly -- who lives in northern Wisconsin -- sent us a tin of homemade gingerbread just before Christmas. She made individual gingerbread men and labeled them so that each of my daughters knew which one was hers. One memorable year when the girls were young, and the much-anticipated package from Auntie Lill came late in the day (too late to eat without spoiling dinner), I set the collection of decorated trees, and the personalized men out on a platter to be enjoyed after dinner. The kids couldn't wait.

My husband came home from work right on time, but I had my back to him. Hungry, and spying the platter, he reached for one of the men and bit off its head. My middle daughter, Sara, whose gingerbread man this was and who had been waiting very patiently all day, started to cry. "Dad's eating my gingerbread man!"

He stopped before consuming the entire cookie, but the head was long gone. Poor Sara. I called my aunt and she got a huge chuckle out of knowing how much we love her gingerbread. She whipped up a new batch and sent it to Sara. And after Sara claimed her new man, she shared with us all.

We laugh about it now, but my poor husband will never live down his "Dad ate my gingerbread man head!" reputation.

My aunt is 88 now. Although she's active and chatty and still just as fun to talk with as ever, she's not able to make her gingerbread anymore. But she gave me her recipe! I make it every year. I prefer to make the trees rather than gingerbread men. Way more icing goes on trees!

I have no idea where she got this recipe originally, but she's tweaked it over the years and I have too. By the way, this makes a lot of gingerbread. You can halve it if you prefer.


2/3 cup Crisco shortening
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I prefer dark)
1 1/3 cup molasses. I like Grandma's brand, robust
2 eggs

Mix together.

In a separate bowl, mix:

5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger

Add the dry ingredients to the shortening/sugar/molasses bowl and mix thoroughly. I generally use
my dough hook.

Roll dough out onto a floured surface and cut into desired shapes. I prefer thick gingerbread, so I roll it to about 1/4 inch thick or better. Place shapes on a greased cookie sheet, and bake for 7-9 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

They look good, and taste great plain, but I prefer them iced...

The icing is the simplest one I ever used and I'm sure you have all used this one before, too...


Powdered sugar
Food coloring

Depending on how many cookies you intend to frost, you can decide how much icing to make. For this recipe I start with 3 cups powdered sugar. I add just enough water to make a loose paste... and then I add my food coloring. The simplest thing ever, and it's delicious!

Simple things are often the best... and that's the sentiment our family will be celebrating this Christmas as we spend time together.

I hope you have been enjoying the entire holiday season... whether you celebrate Hannukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or no specific date at all... I hope you have been taking in the joys of the season and all the goodness of 2009.


Now - before I sign off - please don't forget to send us a Secret Ingredient for our January contest. You might win a great prize... and I'll give you a hint about that... it involves Chocolate!! But we need your secret ingredients, so please send them to

I'll also give you another hint... I'm running another, special contest in January, to celebrate the release of Eggsecutive Orders. I'll be asking you to tell me where you've spotted Eggsecutive Orders - in bookstores, online, etc. And I'll be asking you to e-mail me personally with your answers... So keep your eyes open now, and on January 5th, tune in here and I'll tell you how to enter! It'll be super easy. And that prize? A $25 bookstore gift certificate ;-)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Welcome Guest Blogger - Mary Alice of Mystery Lovers BOOKSHOP

Mystery Lovers Bookshop, of Oakmont, PA, is receiving the 2010 Raven Award bestowed by Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar Banquet in April. The Raven Award is given "in recognition of the constant support and dedication they have shown to the mystery community."

We here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen congratulate you!

Mary Alice’s Books of Christmas for Food Lovers

Each year at Holiday time, our mystery book store is bursting with more than mystery books. There are terrific children’s books, gift books, games and puzzles packing the shelves. For the mystery lovers who love food books too, here are a few of my suggestions.

***Click on the titles for links to covers/more description, etc.***

100 Words for Foodies
From the editor of American Heritage Dictionaries
While watching a recent episode of Chopped on the food channel, I saw a
young chef lose when he couldn't find the powdered sugar he sought and
another chef kept trying to tell him it was the confectioners' sugar. Well
that's not likely to come up in your life but browsing this little guide is
a boon for food lovers whether they cook or just eat out. Take one as a
hostess gift this season and you will be remembered fondly.

Tea & Crumpets
Recipes and Rituals from European Tearooms & Cafes
By Margaret M Johnson with photo assist from Leigh Beisch
Chronicle $19.95
Does the world really need another tea book? Just paging through this
gorgeous delight will tell you that we have never had one like this. A
traveler's guide to European tearooms and all the recipes for the signature
sweets and savories in these hot spots will entice you and before you know it
you'll be turning out the best Bakewell Tart and Glamorgan Sausages along
with scones and clotted cream.

Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids
By Jill O'Connor with photos by Leigh Beisch
The title says it all for this mouth-watering treat for kids of all ages.
From Pinkalicious Princess Cupcakes to Cinnamon Toast Soldiers you will want
to feed your inner kid some cold Winter snow day.

The Trader Joe's Companion
A Portable Cookbook
By Deana Gunn & Wona Miniati
Brown Bag Publishers
Ever since Trader Joe's arrived on the food scene in Pittsburgh, we all find
time to pig out on the well priced store brands with the healthy rep. Now we
have a handy 5"x10" guide for all things TJ's in recipes that are simple,
fast and tasty. Everyday you will find the ingredients for Vegetable Tikka
Masala that will come together faster that delivered dinner. How about Asian
Dumpling Soup, Salmon in Puff Pastry and Lemon Tart for company in under one
hour. Keep one in your shopping bag for the next trip.

Why Italians Love to Talk About Food
A Journey through Italy's great regional cuisines, from Alps to Sicily by Elena Kostioukovitch
Forward by Umberto Eco and Carol Field
Here's a journey through a food culture about which most of us have a fleeting knowledge. Liguria to Lombardy or Sardinia to Sicily food landscapes are gloriously detailed. This is a well written book for reading about food----both festive and nourishing. I loved the truffle tales.

Kid's Kitchen
40 Fun and Healthy Recipes to Make and Share by Fiona Bird and illustrated by Roberta Arenson Barefoot Books
Color coded by food groups and delightfully illustrated this will get those little hands into the mix for meals or snacks. Fruity Faces, Paneer, Pasta Dough and root soup are all lushly illustrated and engaging recipes.

South Beach Diet Parties and Holidays
Arthur Agatston
Whether you entertain, follow or have a healthy curiosity about the South Beach Diet, you’ll want this classic cookbook on the shelf as well as on your gift list. The South Beach Diet Parties & Holidays Cookbook has such a plethora of colorful spreads to show that this is a full-fed diet with attention to lowering carbs and the whites—sugar, rice, pasta and wheat. Have a Diet Kick-off Party for a group to do the two week start-up where the entire buffet rings in at under a spaghetti and meatball dinner with Garlic Bread. Or fill in your Holiday entertaining with some of these gorgeous low-carb option like Lemon Thyme Ice, Pork and Poblano Chili, Chocolate, Almond and Orange Clusters or a Turkey Sausage and Pear Stuffing.

* * * * *
Before I close, I thought I would leave a little gift for you all. Each year, author Debbie Macomber sends recipe packs to her loyal readers. This year, booksellers and librarians submitted recipes to be included in the pack. 11 recipes were chosen to be included. More than 4000 packs of “A Holiday Recipe from Debbie Macomber” will be mailed to readers in the next few weeks. Mary Alice’s contribution to the 11 follows. Enjoy!!!

Here's a wonderful and all inclusive Holiday recipe. It is a composite of my German mother's wonderful Sauerbraten, Richard's mother's Jewish family favorite pot roast and my extra bits tossed into the mix---I'm German, Irish and French married to a Russian Jew with a daughter who is German-Irish-French-Italian-Polish. We think this is especially appropriate for our December 13th Holiday party when we will light the Hanukkah candles, and enjoy this annual dinner with a groaning cookie table of all of our friends' traditional nuts and sweets. I'm thinking of adding some sweet potato fritters this year in honor of my daughter's new husband who is African American.

Happy Holidays!
Mary Alice Gorman

Three Moms' Pot Roast

Generous and necessary serving size: 8

4 pounds beef brisket, flat half, first cut
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 clove garlic -- finely crushed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 onions -- sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon schmaltz, rendered chicken fat
2 ribs celery, outside ribs -- sliced
3 carrots -- sliced
3 cloves garlic -- smashed
4 bay leaves, whole
11 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
6 ginger snap cookie crumbs

Rub both sides of the brisket with mix of ingredients 2 through 14 and let rest for about 30 minutes

In a saute pan brown onions in oil until just beginning to turn color. Salt and stir

Spread onions in roasting pan and top with sliced celery and carrots. Top with bay leaves and garlic

In saute pan, brown beef with melted schmaltz added or more oil if needed.
Add brisket to roasting pan

Deglaze the saute pan with the crushed tomatoes, ketchup and vinegar with dissolved brown sugar and pour over beef in roasting pan

Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 3 to 4 hours--until very tender

Cool meat before slicing very thinly. Best results if meat is chilled in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight

Pour off the pan juices and vegetables and refrigerate until fat is congealed and can be skimmed off the top. Add the ginger snaps and puree until a smooth gravy. The roasted veg give it body and a heavenly flavor.

Can be made a day or two in advance. Layer the meat and gravy in a plastic container and refrigerate. To reheat, place in a large saute pan with some additional gravy and heat gently or put it in a roasting pan with some gravy and heat in the oven

Heat the gravy and serve separately with a fresh bottle of white horseradish, pickle spears and, of course, potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce.

"A hybrid of Richard's mother's pot roast and Mary Alice's mother's sauerbraten that is served at the annual Goldman/Gorman/Babusci/Williams Hanukkah Dinner party."

Richard Goldman & Mary Alice Gorman
Mystery Lovers Bookshop
514 Allegheny River Boulevard
Oakmont, PA 15139

Please support your your books from an independent bookseller at