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Not Turkey… Again? Ban the Bird! (December 19, 2014)

Fried Deviled Eggs
Bonnie Stern's Brisket
All Time Fave Potato Latkes
Roast Lamb
Lobster Tail Wrapped in Prosciutto Ham
Ontario Highlander Pie
Celebration Cake

Have you had enough turkey and the too usual trimmings this winter? Thanksgivings have come and gone, and Christmas coming up?

Oh please, can we try something else this time?

Help is here, as millions around the world enjoy their winter celebrations with nary a pinfeather in sight! We've got some delicious new and old favourite cookbooks to pique your interest in new dishes.

Let's see what they're eating while celebrating winter festivals in Denmark, Iceland and Japan, and move on to Hanakkuh, Hogmany, Mawlid al-Nabi, and Kwanzaa. You could also celebrate Festivus, a well-celebrated parody, that has become a secular holiday held on December 23 that serves as an alternative to the commercialism of Christmas season, or get to Philadelphia for Mummer's Day, a 115-year-old tradition originating from an ancient Cornish midwinter celebration with 10,000 men, women and children dressed in colorfully lavish costumes who twirl, sashay, pirouette and strut down one of the city's main streets. There's always 'Obby 'Oss festival in Padstow, Devon and Golowan in Penzance and St. David's Day in Wales. In India Diwali is a five-day festival of lights celebrated in October or November; Mongolia celebrates the first new moon between the end of January and March as the start of the Tsagaan Sar (white month), the beginning of the lunar new year. Or you could just take up Morris Dancing!

Now for something completely different! You'll gobble up this menu!

We've just met Chef Lars Willum, Danish born, now living in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Well travelled and talented, Willum acquired his early culinary skills from family, one a master chef at a renowned Danish health spa, and his grandparents' cheese dairy on the majestic island of Bornholm. His latest book (which would make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves food) is Festive Flavours featuring some of his favourite culinary destinations: among the list you'll find Lapland, Hawaii. Iceland, Japan, France and of course, Denmark. Fancy pickled ram's testicles from Iceland, or rot-cured shark meat? No, neither did we, but you'll love Lobster Tail Wrapped in Prosciutto, Reindeer Meat-Cheese Pie with a side of Tree Leaf Salad (move over Noma!), or Arctic Char with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a finish with the Danish classic Celebration Cake, redolent with raspberries! So nice to meet you, Chef Lars! We'll see you again soon!

Hanakkuh, the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication, is an eight-day Jewish commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the 2nd century BC. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, and may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights on the nine-branched menorah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. A typical Hanukkas menu sounds as though it were planned by the under-twelve crowd: potato pancakes, fried, of course, in lots of oil; strawberry-jam-filled doughnuts covered in powdered sugar; fried apple fritters; cheese-filled doughnuts fried in oil and dipped in honey; cheese blintzes; and more.

Is it all just a ploy to keep kids lingering around the candles and enjoying a family meal? Not at all! Hanukkah food traditions have their origins in the first years that the holiday was celebrated, and are meant to remind Jews of certain miracles associated with the events of Hanukkah itself.

Who better to give us recipes for Hanukkah than Bonnie Stern, one of Canada's most popular and beloved food writers and cooking instructors? She operated the Bonnie Stern School of Cooking for over 37 years and knows just what information to include in her recipes so that people succeed every time. She is the author of twelve bestselling cookbooks, hosted three national cooking shows, and appears regularly on various television and radio shows across Canada. Bonnie told us that "I feel so honoured that people trust me enough to serve my recipes to their families and friends and, in a funny way, to be at their table." For more information, go to

You want to know more about Jewish food traditions? Of course you do! Besides Bonnie's books, two more favourites are Eating Delancey: A Celebration of Jewish Food, the funniest, most entertaining food book in years. Trying to read it in a corner of your local bookstore fast becomes a problem as (1) you cannot put it down, and (2) you cannot stop howling at the jokes and delightful anecdotes. Avoid embarrassment – buy one now. We also love the quirky (to say the least) The Brisket Book: A Love Story with Recipes – a complete history of this iconic dish!

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration honoring African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1965; the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest" and has its roots in the Black Nationalist movement of the 1960s. It was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage. Many African Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa do so in addition to observing Christmas.

On today's menu:

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Fried Deviled Eggs

Fried Deviled Eggs

Celebrate Kwanzaa or anything else with this irresistible appetizer from Pat and Gina Neely, co-owners of Neely's Bar-B-Queue, which started in Memphis. The Neelys turned their family restaurant into one of the most successful barbecue restaurants in the South; they now appear on Food Network's "Down Home with the Neelys," which became the highest-rated series debut in the history of Food Network's "In the Kitchen." Their cookbooks Down Home with the Neelys and Neelys Celebration Cookbook: Down Home Meals for Every Occasion became bestsellers; the Neelys opened Neelys BBQ Parlor in New York City, immediately garnering rave reviews.

Read more about this delightful, talented couple and their food at and

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp chopped chives
  • Dash hot sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • Parsley, for garnish
  • Peanut oil, for frying

Add the eggs to a large saucepan filled with cold water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit in the water for 14 minutes.

Peel the eggs and slice lengthwise. Remove the yolks to a bowl. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon, lemon zest, chives, hot sauce and salt and pepper. Mash the yolks together with a wooden spoon. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Fill the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites.

Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, add 1 cup of flour and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, beat the eggs, in a third bowl, add 1 cup of panko.

Dip the eggs into the flour, then the egg and finally into the panko. Gently put the eggs into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined sheet tray. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley.

Tony's wine recommendation:
sparkling wine – Champagne, Prosecco or Spanish Cava



Bonnie Stern's Brisket

Bonnie Stern's Brisket

Bonnie says, "When I was growing up brisket was a favourite Jewish Friday night dinner but now it is popular with everyone. Chefs are using it in poutine, ravioli and pappardella and it is the favourite cut in the popular Texas style barbecues. It is a tough and relatively inexpensive cut of meat that has to be braised for a long time and then the magic happens – it becomes meltingly tender. I always cook my brisket from start to finish until tender (up to 5 hours) but my good friend and colleague Mitchell Davis always cooks his for 2 hours, slices it, reassembles it with the juices and, covered tightly, cooks it for 1½ to 2 hours longer or until very tender. Either method works well. Brisket is the main course of choice for many Seders. Just cook it long enough and it will be one of the best meals ever – traditional and modern at the same time."

Serve with latkes, recipe follows. And just try to get up from the table after dinner!

Makes 10 to 12 servings

  • 1 6 lb (3 kg) whole brisket (approximately weight)
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) each of salt, pepper and paprika
  • 3 large onions, sliced
  • 1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
  • 2 cups (500 mL) dry red wine
  • 2 cups (500 mL) beef or chicken stock
  • 1 cup (250 mL) pureed tomatoes
  • sprigs of thyme and rosemary
  1. Sprinkle brisket with paprika, salt and pepper.
  2. Place onions and garlic in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Place brisket on top. Add red wine, stock and tomatoes. Top with sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Place parchment paper directly on top of brisket. Cover tightly with the lid or aluminum foil. Bring to a boil on top of the stove if possible or place directly in the oven.
  3. Place in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 4 to 5 hours or until fork tender. Remove lid and paper (discard sprigs of herbs) and if brisket is not browned on top, continue cooking until browned about 1/2 hour longer.
  4. Remove brisket to a carving board. Strain liquid and remove and discard fat. (Reduce juices in a wide deep skillet over medium high heat if they aren't intense or thick enough.) Slice meat and place in a serving dish. Pour juices over meat.

Note: If you have time, chill brisket overnight for easy carving. Place sliced meat in a shallow baking dish and spoon juices over the top. Cover tightly. Reheat in 325°F (160°C) oven for 45 to 50 minutes until hot and bubbling.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Zinfandel, Amarone, Valpolicella Ripasso



All Time Fave Potato Latkes

All Time Fave Potato Latkes

Potato pancakes (latkes) are one of the most delicious Jewish foods and are traditional at Hanukkah. Everyone has their own favourite recipe and this is mine. They are usually served with apple sauce or sour cream and best hot out of the pan. You can add shredded sweet potatoes, carrots, or celery root and even make them with half finely grated potatoes and half coarsely grated potatoes. Thank you, Bonnie!

Makes 16 to 20 pancakes

  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (about 1½ lbs.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbsp cornflake crumbs or breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup unflavoured vegetable oil
  • Applesauce or sour cream
  1. Place onions in food processor and chop. Add eggs and blend. Add potato chunks and process on/off until potatoes are chopped/grated into eggs and there are no large chunks of potatoes. Do not overchop. Mix in salt, pepper and cornflake crumbs. (If you do not have a food processor – the modern miracle of Hanukkah – combine grated onions with eggs in a bowl and grate potatoes into eggs. Stir in salt, pepper and cornflake crumbs and continue.)
  2. Heat about 1/4" oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add batter by the tablespoonful, flattening them with the back of a spoon. Cook until browned and crisp, turn and cook second side. Drain pancakes on paper towels. Repeat until all batter is used. If pan seems dry, add additional oil in between batches and heat before adding more batter.
  3. Serve with applesauce or sour cream.

Tony's wine recommendation:
oak-aged New World Chardonnay



Roast Lamb

Roast Lamb

Mawlid al-Nabi is the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It occurs on the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. Fatimids began celebrating Mawlid in the 10th century, and the Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588. Mawlid is celebrated in most predominantly Islamic countries, and in other countries that have a significant Muslim population, such as India, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Canada..

Roast lamb is a traditional favourite for Mawlid, and this recipe is meltingly delicious! Forget about carving this easy slow-cooked pot roast – pull the fragrant, tender lamb from the bone, rustic style. Wonderful for any celebration!  

  • 1.4 kg/3 lb shoulder of lamb, trimmed
  • Handful dried chamomile (or contents of 4 chamomile teabags)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
  • 12 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 1 Tbsp good Greek or wild flower clear honey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 125 mL/4 fl oz water
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
  2. With the tip of a sharp knife, make shallow scores through the outer layer of skin and fat of the lamb shoulder, but not into the meat, cross-hatching the entire surface.
  3. Mix the dried chamomile, the thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano together in a bowl. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Press a handful of the herb mixture into the skin of the lamb, massaging it in well all over the flesh of the lamb.
  5. Sprinkle some of the herb mixture across the bottom of a casserole with a lid. Place the lamb into the casserole, then squeeze the lemon juice over the top, before sprinkling with any remaining herb mix.
  6. Drizzle the honey over the top of the lamb and pour over a little olive oil.
  7. Pour the water into the casserole, then put the lid on. Transfer to the oven and cook for 2½ hours. Check the dish after one hour - the lamb should be taking on a little colour. If the water has evaporated, add a little more to maintain the dish's moisture.
  8. After the 2½ hours cooking the lamb meat should pull away easily from the bone.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 4-5 minutes.
  10. To serve, using a knife and fork, pull large pieces of meat away from the bone and arrange on a large serving place. Drizzle the meat with any pan juices and allow guests to help themselves.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, Australian Shiraz



Lobster Tail Wrapped in Prosciutto Ham

Lobster Tail Wrapped in Prosciutto Ham

In Japan, the New Year, Oshogatsu, is the most important of all Japanese holidays. The entire country shuts down from December 30 to January 3, and is often celebrated with bonenkai (year-forgetting) parties to leave the old year's troubles and worries behind.

While buckwheat noodles are symbolic, we like Lars Willum's lobster recipe instead. Make it a gourmet celebration with this recipe! From

Serves 4

  • 2 lbs. small white or red potatoes, cooked and cubed (skin on!)
  • 4 eggs, hardboiled, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup green peas, blanched
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon for garnish
  • 4 blanched/raw lobster tails, no shells
  • 4 slices Prosciutto ham
  • 2 Tbsp butter for frying

Prepare potato salad by mixing all ingredients together. Keep refrigerated. Wrap ham around the lobster tails and secure with a toothpick. Pan-fry the wrapped lobster tails just enough to brown the ham. The lobster tails have been blanched and only need 2–3 minutes to be fully cooked. Do not overcook as this will make the lobster meat tough. Serve with the potato salad.

Tony's wine recommendation:
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Pouilly-Fumé



Ontario Highlander Pie

Ontario Highlander Pie

Ah, those Scots! Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of New Year's Eve and no one does it better, as festivities can last for days! The Scots probably inherited the celebration of Hogmanay from the Vikings marking the shortest day, but many believe that as Christmas was virtually banned and not celebrated in Scotland from the end of the 17th century until the 1950s, New Year's Eve was a good excuse for some revelry plus indulging in whisky and good food. Hogmanay involves parties and festivals across Scotland with the largest and most famous public party in Edinburgh. Just imagine, all those bagpipes and swirling kilts... snort!

Steak and ale pie is a traditional Hogmanay dish probably served the morning after; comforting and nourishing, it will re-charge even the most serious celebrants! This recipe courtesy Foodland Ontario is so good you'll want it throughout the darkest and shortest days of winter!

Serves about 12

  • 2 lb (1 kg) stewing beef cubes
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) each salt and pepper
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL) (approx.) vegetable oil
  • 2 Ontario Onions, diced
  • 3 Ontario Carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves Ontario Garlic, minced
  • 2 cups (500 mL) beef stock
  • 1 bottle or can (about 12 oz/341 mL) ale
  • 1 can (5½ oz/156 mL) tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp (25 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) Tabasco sauce
  • 2 Ontario Potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup (250 mL) Ontario Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 pkg (14 oz/400 g) frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg yolk

Cut beef into small cubes. In sturdy plastic bag, combine beef, flour, salt and pepper.

Shake to coat beef cubes well and set aside.

In large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of the oil. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. With slotted spoon, remove to large, heavy ovenproof saucepan. Turn up heat under skillet to medium-high; add 1 Tbsp (15 mL) more oil and brown floured steak, in batches, adding more oil as necessary and removing browned meat to onions. Reserve extra flour.

Add carrots and garlic to skillet; cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add a drop more oil if necessary. Stir in reserved flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add stock and bring to boil, stirring up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Whisk in ale, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, thyme and Tabasco; bring to boil, whisking. Pour over meat mixture and bring to boil. Cover tightly and place in 350°F (180°C) oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Alternatively, simmer over low heat on top of stove for about 1 hour, stirring often.)

Stir potatoes and mushrooms into meat mixture; bake, covered, for 45 minutes or until beef and vegetables are tender. (Alternatively, simmer over low heat on top of stove for about 30 minutes, stirring often.) Remove bay leaf; taste and adjust seasoning. (Filling can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Reheat over low heat, stirring often.)

Spoon hot beef mixture into 12-cup (3 L) shallow casserole dish. Roll out puff pastry to fit top of dish with 2-inch (5 cm) overhang. Place on top of meat and crimp edges. Cut out steam vents. Stir egg yolk with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) cold water and brush over top. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for about 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Châteauneuf-du-Pape or a Rhône red



Celebration Cake

Celebration Cake

No more pumpkin pie after a heavy meal, instead go for this exquisite sponge cake loaded with raspberries and whipped cream! Christmas in Denmark commences on the first Sunday of Advent and is celebrated on the 24th; it is a time for family and friends to visit, and when they arrive are offered a selection of Danish cakes served with a selection of homemade jams. A hot mulled wine, gløgg, is brewed with raisins and cinnamon sticks and served from a pot on the stove that has been simmering, waiting for guests! Ah, won't that go beautifully with this cake! From Lars Willum, Festive Flavours.

Serves 6

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 sponge cake, cut into three layers
  • 1 cup fresh/frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup raspberry jam
  • 1 pint whipping cream

First prepare the custard. Take a pot and add the milk and seeds from vanilla bean. To remove seeds from the bean, flatten it on a cutting board with a sharp peeling knife. Cut the bean flat in two halves. Take one side at a time and scrape the seeds out from the bean and add to the milk. Let simmer. This will flavour the milk.

In a heavy bottomed pot, whisk eggs, sugar and corn starch. Add milk over medium heat while constantly whisking to avoid custard sticking to the bottom. Let it come to a boil for 2 minutes while thickening. Remove pot and stir now and then while cooling off. You can sprinkle a little sugar on top to avoid the surface hardening. When completely cold mix in 1 cup of whipped cream and keep the custard in the fridge.

Mix fresh berries with jam.

To cut sponge cake: it is easier when it is half frozen. Take a serving dish and place the bottom piece of the sponge cake in the centre. Generously spread the custard on top. Place the middle piece of the sponge cake and press gently down to make sure the custard is out to the edge of the cake. Spread the berry/jam on the sponge cake and place the top piece on, again press gently to make spread go to the edge.

As a top decoration you can cut a pattern in a piece of paper, place it on top of the cake and sprinkle icing sugar over it. Remove your pattern and decorate with leftover berries.

Cake should be kept in the fridge. This cake tastes better if it is done up at least 6 hours before serving. Serve whipped cream on the side.

Tony's wine recommendation:
German Riesling Auslese or Ontario Select Late Harvest Riesling



We wish to thank the following for permission to publish material and photographs:

BBC for Roast lamb by Valentine Warner from What to Eat Now:

Fried Deviled Eggs recipe courtesy of Patrick and Gina Neely. © 2014 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved. SHOW: Down Home with the Neelys. EPISODE: Southern Hospitality. Read more at

Bonnie Stern,, for Fried Deviled Eggs and All Time Fave Potato Latkes.

Boularderie Island Press for recipes from Festive Flavours with Lars Willum. © 2014 Lars Willum.


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Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Helen Hatton and Ron Morris at Le Caveau des Gourmets in Gigondas




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