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JoelF and SueF's 2017 Holiday Party

JoelF and SueF's 2017 Holiday Party
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  • JoelF and SueF's 2017 Holiday Party

    Post #1 - December 18th, 2017, 10:33 am
    Post #1 - December 18th, 2017, 10:33 am Post #1 - December 18th, 2017, 10:33 am
    This year we were inspired by Chicago neighborhoods:

    The party menu
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    Nihari Knishes for West Rogers Park History
    Mini knishes filled with Pakistani Nihari, for Devon Avenue (West Rogers Park), which started Jewish and is currently Indian/Pakistani. Recipe for Nihari from Anupy Singla's "The Indian Slow Cooker", Knish from "Cooking Under Wraps" by Nicole Routhier.
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    Kung Pao Meatballs for Chinatown
    Spicy turkey meatballs with Kung Pao sauce. The recipe idea came from the internet, but modified to be closer to the recipe in Fuschia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty". For Chicago's Chinatown.
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    Immigrant Cheese Board
    Imported cheeses representing the explorers and immigrants to Chicago: English Cheshire, French Bleu, Italian Asiago with herbs, German Brie, marcona almonds, orange/fig jam, homemade makrut (keffir) lime marmalade
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    Korean Chicken Wings from Albany Park
    Albany Park is Chicago's Koreatown. These fried wings were made from Serious Eats' recipe online[/b], including the sweet soy and gochujang sauce. Best thing we've ever fried, I highly recommend the recipe.
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/22C8TcD]Image


    Lamb Boureki from Greektown
    Phyllo-wrapped cigars filled with lamb. Recipe from Middle Eastern Baking. Representing Greektown.
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    The Spaghetti Bowl
    Pasta salad inspired by the near west side Little Italy and the tangle of highways where 94 and 90 split. Pasta salad is spaghetti, zucchini, goat cheese, mint, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil, inspired by an internet recipe with the first four ingredients.
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    African-Spiced Deviled Eggs from East Rogers Park
    Representing the African restaurants springing up in East Rogers Park, these are spiced with onions, chiles, ginger, tomatoes and peanuts, inspired by an egg salad recipe from Marcus Samuelsson's "Discovery of a Continent"
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    Mexican and Czech Empanadas from Pilsen
    Inspired by the history of Pilsen, we have two kinds of empanadas: For the original Czech neighborhood, a filling based on kolajda, a mushroom soup with a poached egg and dill. For modern Mexican Pilsen, these have a braised pork and tomatillo filling. Wrapper from Nicole Routhier's "Cooking Under Wraps", fillings inspired by an internet recipe for kolajda and from Rick Bayless' "One Plate at a Time" book.
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    Sauerbraten for Oldtown
    Germans are the largest immigrant group in the Chicago area, Chicago's Old Town was originally mostly German. Sauerbraten is beef marinated in wine and vinegar for several days, then braised, and the vegetables pureed to make a thick gravy.
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    River North Mexican - Seared Cheese
    Straight from one of Rick Bayless' recipes, seared Queso Fresco with a freshly made sauce of tomato, onion, poblano chiles and garlic.
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    Collard Green Casserole from Lawndale
    Classic southern dish made with fresh collard greens cooked down, mixed with cream of mushroom soup, onions, and crumbled cornbread. We used Lawndale as the inspiration, where we worked on repairing a house for "Rebuilding Together" this year.
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    Polish Sausage Crostini from Cragin Park
    Inspired by one of our friend's mostly Polish neighborhood, fresh polish sausage that we smoked, on crostini with caramelized onions and a whole mess of condiments.
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    Cookies Part 1
    Top: Pecan-Orange Shortbread.
    Middle: Pecan Nut Crescents.
    Bottom: Peppermint Thumbprints, Apple Squares.
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    Cookies Part 2
    Top: Salted Nutbars.
    Middle: Pistachio Cookies, Millionaire Shortbread.
    Bottom: Chewy spice cookies, Chocolate Pinwheels.
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    Cookies Part 3
    Top: Mini Kolachkes with cream cheese and cherry filling.
    Middle: Cheesecake Brownies.
    Bottom: Chocolate Crinkle.
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    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #2 - December 18th, 2017, 10:37 am
    Post #2 - December 18th, 2017, 10:37 am Post #2 - December 18th, 2017, 10:37 am
    Let me be the first to say Wow!
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - December 18th, 2017, 10:49 am
    Post #3 - December 18th, 2017, 10:49 am Post #3 - December 18th, 2017, 10:49 am
    big time spread, impressive.
  • Post #4 - December 18th, 2017, 10:51 am
    Post #4 - December 18th, 2017, 10:51 am Post #4 - December 18th, 2017, 10:51 am
    I'm frequently asked, "How the heck do you do this?" The short answer is, "Slowly, then all at once." (apologies to John Green) Neither of us are cooking pros, we both love it but would never want to do it for a living. We don't send out holiday cards, this is our expression of the holidays. We're lucky enough to have both our sons and their wives in the area, and at least one couple is usually available to help out.

    It starts months ahead of time when we start bouncing around ideas for a theme. Without a theme, it's just "stuff we like" -- with a theme, it puts a constraint on, so we have to think creatively within the bounds.

    Then we start whittling down what kinds of dishes we want to do. Over the last few years we've had a framework we build on: A deviled egg, a salad, a cheese board, a "presentation meat", one thing fried, and several things that we can make and put in the freezer a couple weeks ahead of time. We have several Kosher-keeping and vegetarian friends and relatives, so we try to go with 4-6 vegetarian dishes. We have others with allergies to chicken and pork. All these limits help us focus the menu.

    We then build the master spreadsheet: one worksheet has the list of recipes with cookbook and page or web link, how it's cooked (oven temp, for instance), multiplier for the recipe (usually 3-8x), and what stage the dish is at (recipe, shopped for, filling made, done...). The second worksheet is a master shopping list, with columns for what department and/or store, whether we have it, and when we need it. The third is a list of processes, which then gets sorted by when it can be done: frying has to be done the day of the party, but things like empanadas can be made weeks in advance and frozen.

    The cookies started baking the week before Thanksgiving. The sausage was smoked, and the empanadas and boureki made the next week, the nihari and knish dough the following week. The sauerbraten had to be marinated starting Tuesday, a few sauces made Thursday, more sauces, a lot of prep, and the eggs boiled Friday, and then craziness on Saturday.

    With any big project, the challenge and joy is knowing you finished it. When 4PM on Saturday rolled around and the doorbell rang, there were still three dishes not yet plated (still in the oven), but we got it done.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #5 - December 18th, 2017, 12:12 pm
    Post #5 - December 18th, 2017, 12:12 pm Post #5 - December 18th, 2017, 12:12 pm
    Very impressive, Joel and Sue!
    -Mary
  • Post #6 - December 18th, 2017, 3:56 pm
    Post #6 - December 18th, 2017, 3:56 pm Post #6 - December 18th, 2017, 3:56 pm
    Tremendous amount of creativity with the skill and taste to pull it off!

    Brava!

    CAthy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #7 - December 18th, 2017, 4:16 pm
    Post #7 - December 18th, 2017, 4:16 pm Post #7 - December 18th, 2017, 4:16 pm
    One other note: One of the hardest things is figuring out how much. It depends on how popular the dish is (roast leg of lamb was barely touched, a beef wellington years ago from Gourmet cookbook using walnuts and cilantro instead of pate disappeared), and how much it really makes. This year, the only things we ran out of were the deviled eggs (no matter how many we make -- we scaled up to 18 eggs last year, 24 this year, and still ran out), and the chicken wings -- an 8-pound package from Costco looked like a lot until we took them out of the package and realized my son could just about eat them all.

    Sometimes I call an audible: The pasta was going to be a triple batch of the original recipe, but when it came time to put it together, it looked like too much pasta for the zucchini and cheese, and a lot of the noodles were pulled out.

    Collard greens surprised me: The recipe called for 2, 29oz cans, but really, canned? So I stripped about 6 pounds of leaves from the stems and large veins, shredded (it seemed like about 3 pecks), and braised with garlic, veg. broth and smoked paprika (instead of bacon). When tender, it still was still close to 6 pounds. Yes, a fair amount of moisture was still in there, but there would be in a can too. I was expecting it to collapse like spinach.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #8 - December 19th, 2017, 3:33 pm
    Post #8 - December 19th, 2017, 3:33 pm Post #8 - December 19th, 2017, 3:33 pm
    Wow -- clever AND appetizing. Impressive.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #9 - January 2nd, 2018, 2:54 pm
    Post #9 - January 2nd, 2018, 2:54 pm Post #9 - January 2nd, 2018, 2:54 pm
    What a creative, loving gift to your family and friends.
    Your photos make me hungry and I just ate lunch!
    Happy New Year!!

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