Around the world, people eat certain foods thought to symbolize good fortune when the new year arrives. Here are a few recipes guaranteed to make you feel lucky.
Happy New Year.
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Pork, thanks to its rich fat content, symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
3 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1 (5 to 7 pound) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt
Mustard Barbecue Sauce:
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix the paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, dry mustard and salt together in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Put the pork in a roasting pan and roast it for about 6 hours. An instant-read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the pork should register at least 170 degrees F, but basically, what you want to do is to roast it until it falls apart.
While the pork is roasting, make the mustard sauce. Combine the vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne and black pepper in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently, stirring, for 30 minutes until the sauce is thickened slightly. Take it off the heat and let it sit until you’re ready for it.
When the pork is done, take it out of the oven and put it on a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 20 minutes. While the pork is still warm, you want to “pull” the meat. Use 2 forks: 1 to steady the meat and the other to “pull” shreds of meat off the roast. Put the shredded pork in a bowl and pour half of the sauce over. Stir well so that the pork is coated with the sauce.
To serve, spoon pulled pork mixture onto the bottom half of a hamburger bun and top with some of the mustard sauce.
Legumes including beans, peas and lentils are symbolic of money. Their small, seed like appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked. In Italy, it is customary to eat cotechino con lenticchie or sausages and green lentils, just after midnight. In the Southern United States, it is traditional to eat black-eyed peas in a dish called hoppin’ john.
4 cups shelled black-eyed peas
2 ounces bacon
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chicken broth, plus extra if needed
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
Cook the bacon in a large saucepan. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel plate and reserve for later.
Add the onion and celery to the hot bacon fat and cook until tender. Add the peas and saute for a minute or two.
Add the thyme and 2 cups of chicken broth or just enough to cover the peas by about 1 inch. Add more if the peas are not covered.
Bring to a low boil and add the sugar and stir well.
Scoop off any foam that forms and discard it.
Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, let simmer for about 25 minutes.
Add the pepper and salt, stir well and continue to cook for 10 more minutes.
Taste the peas for tenderness, they should be tender after this amount of time but not mushy. Drain.
Top with the crumbled bacon and serve.
Southern Winter Greens
Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale and chard, are consumed at New Year’s in different countries for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money and are symbolic of an economic fortune.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 1/2 pounds mixed winter greens such as collards, mustard greens or kale
6 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch sticks
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cider vinegar, or to taste
Salt and pepper
Discard stems and center ribs from the greens, then coarsely chop leaves.
Cook bacon in a wide 6 to 8 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown but not crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then pour off the fat from the pot and wipe clean.
Heat the butter in the pot over medium-low heat until browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes, add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high, then stir in the greens, 1 handful at a time, letting each handful wilt before adding more. Add garlic, red-pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, uncovered, stirring, until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in bacon, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
The Chinese word for “fish” sounds like the word for “abundance,” one of the many reasons fish has become a go-to good luck food. In Germany, Poland and Scandinavia, it’s believed that eating herring at the stroke of midnight will ensure a year of bounty—as herring are in abundance throughout Western Europe. Also, their silvery color resembles that of coins, a good omen for future fortune.
1 lb flounder fillets
1 pkg (10 oz) fresh spinach or a 10 oz package frozen, thawed and drained
1/4 cup Feta cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for baking
1/4 cup diced scallions
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to season
Heat oil in skillet. Add garlic and scallions and saute for a minute or two.
Add spinach to the pan and saute for about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the feta and Parmesan cheese. Season with black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place about 2 tablespoons of filling onto the center of each piece of fish.
Roll fish around stuffing. Place fish seam side down into an oiled baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil Sprinkle fish with oregano and paprika.
Bake at 400 degrees F uncovered for 30 minutes.
Fettuccine in Lemon Sauce
In China, Japan and other Asian countries, it’s customary to eat long noodles on New Year’s Day.because they signify. The noodles must not be broken or shortened during the cooking process.
1 pound fettuccine
1 clove garlic, grated
2 lemons (zest of 1 lemon, juice of 2 lemons)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
Place the spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water and cook the spaghetti al dente.
Place the grated garlic in a warm pasta serving bowl. Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and slowly drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil while whisking.
Whisk until the ingredients have emulsified and add the cheese. Drain the spaghetti and add to the serving bowl. Mix the pasta with the lemon sauce to coat evenly.
Sprinkle the pasta dish with fresh parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.
1 pound/bunch broccoli rabe
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, cut into 3-inch lengths
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and flattened with a large knife
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup water
Cut off the tough ends of the stems and cut each into two-inch lengths.Wash the trimmed broccoli rabe in a sinkful of cold water and drain in a colander.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a large deep, heavy skillet with a lid.
Add the sausage and cook, turning, until caramelized on all sides and no trace of pink remains in the center, about 8 minutes for thin sausage or longer for thicker sausages. Remove the sausages to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep them warm.
Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into the pan and add the garlic to the oil. Cook, shaking the pan, until golden brown, about 1 minute.
Carefully lay the broccoli rabe into the oil, season lightly with salt and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Stir and toss to distribute the seasonings.
Pour 1/4 cup water into the skillet and bring to a boil. Cover the skillet tightly and cook, lifting the lid to turn the stalks occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is tender, about 10 minutes.
Return the sausages to the skillet and turn them until warmed through. Place the sausages and broccoli rabe on a serving platter. Add some with crusty Italian bread or serve over pasta.
Hear are some of my favorite dinners for entertaining friends over the holidays. The underlined entrees can be accessed by clicking the word.
Oven Barbecued Brisket
Serve with baked potatoes and green peas.
Cooking Time: About 4 hours
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole beef brisket, about 5 pounds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup dry red wine or beef broth
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven that can later be covered over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes.
When it is hot, add the oil, swirl it around, then add the beef.
Sear the meat for about 5 minutes on each side, seasoning with salt and pepper; when nicely browned, remove from pot to a plate.
Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes (if the meat is very lean you might need to add a little oil).
Add all remaining ingredients, stir and cook for about a minute. Return the meat to pot, nestling it in sauce.
Cover the pan, put it in oven, and cook until the meat is tender, at least 3 hours and probably closer to 4. Turn the meat over several times during the baking process.
When the brisket is done, you can refrigerate it in its liquid for 1 to 2 days and reheat before serving.
Serve with a Green Mixed Leaf Salad.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced guanciale, pancetta or bacon (about 1/4 pound)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine or other long, thin pasta
4 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, or more to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
In a medium skillet, combine the olive oil and pork/bacon and turn heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
Add salt to the boiling water and cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of water before the draining pasta.
Beat eggs in a large warmed pasta serving bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan and the bacon and its juices. When the pasta is done, drain and toss with egg mixture.
Add a little of the pasta cooking water to moisten. Season with plenty of black pepper, and serve.
Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Serve with Meatballs and a salad.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili) flakes
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Half a sweet onion, finely diced
Two 26-28 ounce containers finely chopped Italian tomatoes
2 lbs (32 oz) container whole milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup grated mozzarella
½ cup chopped parsley
24 jumbo dried pasta shells
Oil two 13 x 9-inch baking pans, or equivalent. Set aside.
Bring a big pot of water to boiling and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the sauce:
Combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, sea salt, onion and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant – you don’t want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
To make the filling:
Combine the ricotta, egg, parsley and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until combined, then stir in the mozzarella. Set aside.
To make the pasta:
Cook the shells according to package instructions in well-salted water – until barely al dente. Don’t overcook the shells or they will tear as you attempt to fill them. Drain and let cool on kitchen towels until you can handle them with your hands.
Spread 1/3 of the sauce across the bottom of each prepared pan. Fill each shell with ricotta filling, and arrange in a single layer in the pan. Ladle the remaining sauce over the shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover for the final 15 minutes or until the shells are cooked through and the cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
Herb-Crusted Pork Roast
One 3 pound top loin, bone-in pork roast, fat trimmed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tablespoon coarse or kosher salt
¼ cup minced herbs (I used sage, rosemary, tarragon, oregano and basil)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
Pat the pork loin dry with paper towels. Place the roast on a platter or in a baking dish. Rub the roast with the olive oil and press the herbs and salt onto all the sides of the roast.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 24 hours). Bring to room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Place the roast on a rack that has been placed inside a roasting pan and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the roast over and baste with 1/4 cup of the wine.
Return the roast to the oven and reduce the temperature to 325°F. Cook for 60-75 minutes longer, turning the roast and basting it with wine every 20 minutes; reserve 1/4 cup of wine for the sauce.
Check the roast after it has been cooking for 60 minutes. Place a meat thermometer in the roast to determine if it has reached 150 -155 degrees F.
If not, continue cooking until the temperature is reached.
Transfer the roast to a platter and pour the pan juices into a measuring cup.
Place the roasting pan over moderate heat on the stove-top; when it starts to sizzle, add the reserved 1/4 cup wine and cook for 2 minutes, scraping up the drippings from the bottom of the pan.
Add to the pan juices in the measuring cup; let the fat rise to the surface, about 5 minutes. Skim off the fat and season the sauce with black pepper.
Carve the roast into thin slices and arrange the meat on a platter. Serve the pan juices on the side.
Preparing appetizers that can be made ahead or serving quickly prepared appetizers make entertaining for the holidays much easier. Here are a few of my favorites.
This stuffed bread recipe can be made ahead and reheated just before serving time.
2 (one pound) pizza dough balls, at room temperature
1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
1/4 pound thinly sliced capicola
12 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup marinara sauce
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the dough balls to a 15 x 10 inch rectangle.
Spread half the marinara sauce over the dough.
Sprinkle with half the shredded cheese.
Layer half the meat over the cheese on the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Roll the dough up into a log and brush the seam edges with beaten egg.
Leaving the seam at the bottom and pinching the ends closed, brush the seams with the beaten egg mixture
Place the Stromboli on one of the baking sheets. Complete the other dough in the same manner.
Cut four small slits in the top of the log. Cover the Stromboli with kitchen towels and let rise for 45 minutes.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool 10 minutes before slicing.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for cooking
2 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
16-20 small fresh mozzarella balls (about 6 ounces)
2-3 cups cold risotto
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups panko or traditional bread crumbs
Marinara Sauce, for serving
In a medium saute pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in the shallots and cook for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add in the oregano and basil and stir until the herbs are wilted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add the herb mixture to the mozzarella balls and stir to mix.
Take approximately 2 tablespoons of cold risotto in your palm and flatten slightly. Add one mozzarella ball covered in the herb mix to the center. Cover the cheese with the rice and roll into a ball form. Dip the ball into flour, shaking slightly to remove any clumps, then into the beaten eggs, and finally, roll the ball in the bread crumbs. Place the coated balls on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining risotto until all of the risotto and/or cheese balls are used.
Pour enough olive oil in a deep skillet to just cover the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil and add the arancini. Cook on all sides until lightly brown all over. Drain on paper towels.
Note: I usually make them in advance and then reheat before serving in a 375 degree F oven for about 15 minutes.
For the bread crumb topping:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
For the calamari:
1/2 pound cleaned squid cut into rings, dry on paper towels, air dry and then move to a plate
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Make the bread crumb topping:
Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet and add the garlic and Italian seasoning. Saute for a minute. Add the breadcrumbs and stir until lightly brown. Set aside
For the calamari:
Heat a medium skillet and add the olive oil. Then garlic, butter and chili flakes. Add calamari, salt and pepper and parsley and cook 1-2 minutes Squeeze lemon over the fish and sprinkle lightly with the toasted bread crumbs.
Note: It is important not to overcook calamari or it will become tough. A minute or two is all it needs to cook.
Serves 6 as an appetizer. This also makes a good spread for bruschetta.
1 1/2 pounds eggplant (1 large)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the baking pan
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely diced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups chopped Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
8 chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup minced jarred roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score once or twice with a knife (not hitting the skin on the bottom.)
Roast face down on foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with oil, about 20 minutes or until tender. Let drain on a paper towel for 10 minutes, cut side down.
Scoop the eggplant out of the skin and finely chop.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil (or substitute vegetable broth) over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onion, celery, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the Italian tomatoes, vinegar and agave and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the remaining oil, eggplant, capers, red peppers, olives and parsley and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until thickened.
Cool to room temperature. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and serve with your favorite Italian bread.
Pop all the dishes in the oven and dinner will be served. While dinner is baking in the oven, you can do something else during this busy season. I like this kind of meal where all the pots can go in the dishwasher. Besides fried chicken is one of my favorites. I always make extra so there are leftovers for lunch.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Oven Fried Chicken
8 chicken thighs
2 cups flour
1 large egg
½ cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Cajun spice
Use a baking sheet with a rack on top. Brush some butter on the rack so the chicken won’t stick.
In a small bowl, mix together all the seasoning ingredients except for the paprika and then divide in half. Dry the chicken thighs with paper towels.
Add the paprika to one half of the seasoning and mix this well into the chicken pieces. Set aside. Can be done early in the day and refrigerate until cooking time.
Take the other half of the seasoning and mix with the flour in a shallow bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the egg and milk.
Taking one chicken piece at a time, dip in the egg and milk mixture and coat in the flour mixture and set on a plate. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes.
Coat each chicken piece in the flour again (not the egg) and place on the baking rack.
Drizzle the melted butter over all the chicken pieces.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the chicken pieces are brown and cooked through.
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
8 oz elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch/arrowroot
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon yellow mustard powder
8 oz 2% milk Velveeta cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Grease an 8×12 inch or 7×11 inch baking dish.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard until smooth and then gradually whisk in the milk. Cook until thickened.
Add salt, pepper and Velveeta. Lower the heat and stir until the cheese melts. Turn off the heat and stir in the cooked macaroni.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with the cheddar. The casserole can be refrigerated if you are not ready to bake.
Bring to room temperature when ready to bake.
Place the casserole in the oven with the chicken, after the chicken has cooked for 25 minutes. The macaroni and cheese will be ready after 20 minutes of baking.
Oven Baked Asparagus
½ pound of thin asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Grease an 8 inch baking dish or a dish that will fit the asparagus in a single layer.
Place the asparagus in the dish and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the asparagus in the oven after the chicken has cooked for 25 minutes. Cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven and drizzle with the lemon juice.
Sautéed Cabbage and Onions
I had half a head of savoy cabbage leftover from making the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. Leftover cabbage makes a great side dish. Cabbage sautéed this way is quite delicious.
2 tablespoons butter
Half of a medium onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups shredded savoy cabbage
½ teaspoon paprika
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic to the pan.
Sauté until the cabbage is soft and somewhat creamy, stirring often while it cooks.
Add the paprika, salt and pepper. Toss to mix all ingredients together and coat the cabbage with seasonings. Serve.
Broccoli in Cheese Sauce
I had half a head of broccoli and about 1 cup of the cheese sauce left over from the Chicken Divan recipe. The recipe made a generous amount of sauce and I only uses half of the broccoli when I made that dish.
Half a head of broccoli florets
1 cup leftover cheese sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the broccoli into a medium pot with salted water to cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, 5–6 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Pour the cheese sauce into the empty pot and heat on low. Add the drained broccoli and toss to coat, Serve when the broccoli is hot.
Texas Chili Stuffed Burritos
Instead of reheating the Texas Chili, I decide to use some of it in burritos for our dinner. The original recipe made quite a lot, so there was plenty leftover for the burritos.
1 cup of leftover Texas Chili
½ cup cooked black beans
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 flour tortillas
Heat the chili and beans together. Lay a tortilla on a flat surface. Arrange half of the chili mixture in the middle of the tortilla. Top with 1/4 cup cheese.
Fold two sides of the burrito in, then fold the remaining two sides over to form a small packet. Please seam-side down on a plate.
Repeat with the remaining tortilla and filling. Place on a microwave plate and heat until warm. Serve with Guacamole and Sour Cream.