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In This Issue:

My True Story of Santa — A Real Christmas Tale
Traditional Jewish Holiday Bread
Treats for the Holiday

My True Story of Santa — Real Christmas Tale
'Twas the Eve before Christmas when Carlo was wee
and the house was all decorated with garland and a tree

I heard the older kids joking that Santa wasn't true
and I had to find out for myself before I turned blue

Not a sound, not a light, not even the Fridge made a noise
this was one frightening night with a chore I had to find out who brought us those toys

So now it was the night before Christmas and it was oh so dark that I couldn't see
not a creature was stirring in my house, well, except just little ol' me.

Things weren't adding up and I suspected that just wasn't right
because I had seen a Santa smoking a cigar not a pipe

I had seen my aunt talking to a clerk about buying a sled I just knew was for me
and was fit and determined to see her put it under our tree

I climbed from my bed and slid onto the cold cold floor
and squeezed my eyes shut as I slowly opened my squeaky door

I checked out the milk and sesame cookies that were still on the table
and not a drop of milk was missing I now was convinced it was only a fable

Then suddenly without a warning, I heard banging and chatter
I ran to the pantry widow to look out at the light pole to see what looked like a ladder

Much to my surprise and with mouth in a gasp and with my wondering eyes did I see
I was so frightened that I almost did pee, there was a shadowy figure on that pole looking back right at me

If he was in Red, I couldn't tell, there was a moon but it didn't really matter
It didn't look like he had a sack or a sleigh and what in the world was he doing on a ladder

I could barely move and could hardly breath
he looked as if he was getting ready to leave

I thought to myself now I've really screwed up big time he was leaving the pole
and this must be what happens to kids that don't believe in Santa and end up with just coal

As he reached the ground and turned and looked back at me,
and with the pull of a switch, the fridge started to purr, and the Christmas lights lit up our tree

As quick as a flash I dashed from the pantry and into my bed
and I heard whispering and noises and pulled the covers up over my head

I said a prayer to the Baby Jesus that if I would be a good boy
if he could cut me some slack and leave me just one little toy

Before I knew it, Christmas morning had arrived
sunshine filled my room, my eyes bolted open and I thanked God I survived

With foreboding and gloom I peeked at the table, and saw the empty milk glass and plates
I next ran to the living room and saw under the tree a red bike and new skates

Standing next to our Tree was my smiling aunt and uncle
I closed my eyes and gave thanks and that all was still well

Soooo if someone tells you that the Christmas Santa's not right
ask them if they ever peeked out the window on cold Christmas Eve night

Many Christmas eves have passed since I saw Him that night
it was Believing in Jesus and Christmas is what is true and is right

And with faith in my heart and from me and my family with cheer
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year!

Traditional Jewish Holiday Bread
Challah is a traditional Jewish holiday bread that is special for any feast. This wonderful loaf is as attractive as a centerpiece as it is a great tasting bread. Challahs are often braided in a complex way, but a simple 3 stranded braid is described here.


Challah

    1 envelope active dry yeast
    1 teaspoon sugar
    2 cups warm water
    8 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons oil
    1 egg, at room temperature
    1 egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons water
    4 tablespoons poppy seeds or sesame seeds

In a small bowl, combine the yeast with the sugar and 1/2 cup water. Cover with plastic and leave in a warm place until well risen, about 20 minutes. Sift the flour and salt into a warmed bowl. Make a well in the center and break the egg into it. Add the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating the liquid into the flour. Gradually add enough remaining warm water to make a stiff dough. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead until it is smooth and elastic and it doesn't stick to your hands, about ten minutes. Put dough in a warmed, greased bowl. Cover it with plastic, and let rise until doubled, about two hours.

Punch down the dough and divide into six balls. Roll the balls between your hands into long strips of equal length and about one inch wide. Braid three strips together and place on a greased cookie sheet. Wrap the ends neatly underneath the loaf. Repeat with the remaining three strips to make another loaf. Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel and leave them in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes. (Alternatively, put them in large plastic bags and leave them in the refrigerator overnight. Then let them rise the next day.)

Preheat the oven to 450F. Brush the loaves with the beaten egg and water mixture and sprinkle with the seeds. Bake loaves for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 375F and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a rack.

Treats for the Holiday

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad was named for Caesar Cardini who invented it in 1924 at his restaurant in Tijuana. He created it when he realized he had nothing left in his kitchen to serve his guests but romaine lettuce, half a dozen eggs, a loaf of stale bread and some cheese. Thus the salad was born. So you know it is probably the original recipe.

    2 cloves garlic
    4 anchovy fillets (optional)
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    1 large egg yolk
    1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    2 heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded, inner leaves washed and dried
    1 recipe Croutons (recipe follows)
    1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, or 2 1/2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler, plus more for garnish

1. Place garlic, anchovy fillets, and salt in a large wooden salad bowl. Using two dinner forks, mash the garlic and anchovies into a paste; whisk in pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and egg yolk. Whisk in olive oil.

2. Cut or tear the romaine leaves into 1- to 1-1/2-inch pieces. Add the croutons, romaine and cheese to the bowl and toss well. Garnish with extra grated cheese if desired. Serve immediately.


Croutons

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 8 to 10 ounce loaf rustic Italian bread, crusts removed, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine butter and olive oil. Add the bread cubes and toss until coated. Add salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper; toss until evenly coated.

2. Spread the bread in a single layer on an 11 by 17 inch baking sheet. Bake until; golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside until needed.



Veau Scaloppine Avec du Beurre de Citron
Veal Scaloppine, with lemon, butter sauce

    1 1/2 lb Veal Scaloppine from the top round, sliced about 1/4 thick
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    2 Tbs. pure olive oil
    1/2 cup Butter
    Juice of one lemon
    3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley
    Salt and pepper to taste
    2 lemons, thinly sliced (garnish)

1. Pound veal scallops between 2 sheets of waxed paper until they are about 1/8 inch thick. Blot meat with paper towels, then lightly dust with flour and shake off excess.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and half the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter and oil are sizzling, brown veal slices, a few at a time, on both sides. Remove and keep warm. Add butter and oil between batches as needed.
3. Remove skillet from heat and add lemon juice and any remaining butter, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan. Add parsley and veal and season to taste. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Remove veal to platter, pouring juices over all and garnishing with lemon slices.

Serves 6.
(Le Pavillon Restaurant, New York, Houston)

more recipes

Get your copy today of The Clinton Legacy Cookbook, a perfect stocking stuffer.
A really great list of Holiday Party To -Do's, to make you holiday brighter . . .

1. Make a list and check it twice. Plan your menu in advance and write it down. Pull out the recipes and jot down the ingredients and check to see if you have everything on hand to complete the meal without having to run to the store at the last minute. Be sure to check the expiration date on spices and milks and dated stuff. There won't be time on the day of a big
dinner to run to the store, and the Big guy is usually busy doing Big Guy stuff, with the remote . . . sigh. Make a list of all needed items such as utensils dishes napkins, etc. For example, next to the specific food, put the dish in which it will be served. Don’t forget decorations, candles, linen, and anything else you can think of.

2. Buy only what you really need, such as the right size turkey, ham, roast, lasagna, goose, peacock . . . We've been conditioned to think that we need to have a Godzilla-sized bird so we can eat leftovers for three weeks. But the rule of thumb for portions of turkey is one pound per person. So if eight people are going to be eating, a 10 to 12-pound bird will do just fine and still provide leftovers.

3. Maybe you don’t need a whole turkey. If your family doesn't like dark meat, why not buy a turkey breast instead? It will be faster and easier to cook and carve.

4. Make fewer side dishes. I’m as guilty as the next person. I feel have to include not one but two dressings, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, and so on. Pretty soon you've got 10 side dishes. Keep it to a manageable 4 or 5. For example, one dressing, sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, a green vegetable like string beans or Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, and perhaps a salad.

5. Have guests bring a dish, decoration, or beverage. Try to match up people with things they do best.

6. Keep the beverages simple. Beaujolais is an easy to drink red wine that won't be overwhelmed by the cacophony of dishes on the table. Sparkling mineral water and apple cider are good non-alcoholic choices.

7. Minimize the hors d’oeuvres. You'll actually be doing your guests a favor. The last thing they need is a lot of food before dinner. A colorful platter of raw vegetables with a simple dip and perhaps some mixed nuts or olives are all you need. Pre-dinner munchies should be cold or room temperature so there is no worry about making them at last minute or keeping them warm. As with the dinner, keep beverages simple. Sparkling wines are a good idea. Spanish cava is a good value. Italian prosecco is refreshing and lower in alcohol.

8. Simplify decorations too. An attractive floral arrangement may be all you need.

9. It’s ok to use some convenience items. I love chestnuts but they're a pain to peel. So I buy cooked and peeled chestnuts in a jar. Canned chicken stock is perfectly acceptable for gravy and soup.

10. Don’t be ashamed to buy a few prepared items. Just because you're having guests, doesn't mean you have to cook every dish. For example, if you're not a good baker or dessert maker, buy the desserts.

11. Prepare as much food ahead as possible. Start as far out from the actual serving time as you can, then work up to dinner time. For example, what dish can be done two, three, even four days ahead? What can be the day before? The morning of? Most, if not all, side dishes can be done ahead, then reheated. Some dishes actually improve in flavor if made in advance. Leave as little as possible to the last minute.

12. Consider how the food will be cooked or reheated. You're not going to be able to reheat everything in the microwave oven. So figure on doing one dish there, another in the oven, another on top of the stove and so on. Remember, the turkey needs to rest at least 20 minutes outside the oven before carving. Use that time to reheat some, if not all, of the side dishes.

13. Set the table the night before. Having the table set when you wake up on Turkey Day puts your mind at ease and gives you a feeling that things are under control.

14. Assign each guests a task. If one person is particularly adept at carving, have him or her slice up the bird. Another can open and pour the wine as well as putting the other beverages on the table.

15. Splurge on a house cleaner. You don’t have to make every room spick-and-span, just the rooms your guests will see, like the living room, dining room, and powder room.
©2003 Morelli Publishing
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