Tag Archives: holiday cooking

Things We Love: German Christmas Markets

One of the things I miss the most about living in Germany, especially at this time of year, is browsing around the Christmas markets, or Weihnachtsmarkte, that are found in big cities and small towns across Germany. You may have even heard of the most famous Christmas markets in Nurnberg or Munich, but my favorite Christmas market is in Cologne.Cologne Christmas Market

Sitting at the base of the huge Gothic Cathedral, the Christmas market fills the large town square with booth-after-twinkling-booth of things to delight your eye!

CologneMarket5

A large Christmas tree stands above the concert stage in the middle of the market, which is always filled with carol singers accompanied by musicians. There are booths filled with sparkling glass Christmas ornaments in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

CologneMarket7

There are booths filled with hand-crafted wooden toys, jolly wooden nutcrackers and smokers, and all sorts of gifts to take home to your family and friends.

Christmas Toys at CologneMarket
There are booths filled with giant cookies that say Ich Liebe Dich! (I love you!) and roasted nuts that smell incredible as you walk by.

CologneMarket Christmas nuts and cookies

Even bundled up in winter coats, scarves and mittens, eventually you begin to feel the cold as you wander through the booths, each more colorful and inviting than the next. It’s time for Gluhwein!

CologneMarket11 Gluhwein

CologneMarket9
Spiced warm wine, or hot chocolate if you prefer, in souvenir mugs is just the thing to warm your hands – and, after a couple of mugs, your toes and nose too!

But my absolute favorite is the booth with the chocolate dipped fruit! Christmas-Market-Chocolate Fruit

Skewers of chocolate-dipped fresh fruit – pieces of bananas, pineapples, grapes, strawberries – dipped in white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate – it is divine!

Although not found at the Christmas markets, my favorite meal at this time of year in Germany is Christmas goose.

ChristmasGooseDinnerIf you’ve never had goose, you’ve missed out. It is mouth-wateringly delicious! It tastes similar to duck and is traditionally served with Klopse (round steamed potato dumplings), rotkohl (pickled red cabbage) and roasted chestnuts – my all-time favorite German meal.

Gluhwein recipe

Although I’ll miss out on the Christmas goose and chocolate-covered fruit this year, I’ll be reminiscing while trying out this Gluhwein recipe I found on Pinterest!

It calls for 1 bottle of dry red wine, 1 cup of brandy, 1 sliced lemon, and 3 sliced oranges. To add the spice, stir in 6 sticks of cinnamon, 8 to 10 cloves, and 3 to 5 whole anis. Mix in 3 tablespoons of sugar then simmer for 45 minutes.

Prost!

AimeeAvatarAimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her husband and best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Find us on Facebook or connect with EuroLux on Google+. Or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

 

A Traditional English Christmas

Downton Abbey fans will already know that the popular English TV show is back for its sixth and final season soon, starting on January 3, 2016 on MASTERPIECE on PBS. The very last show in the series will be a Christmas special! But if you want your Downton Abbey Christmas fix now, I’ve also heard that PBS is re-airing the Christmas special finale from Season 5 on December 27, 2015. Downton Abbey Christmas

There’s something nostalgic about an old-time English Christmas. I guess it must be all those Masterpiece Theatre shows as well as holiday stories like A Christmas Carol. Here are some of the English Christmas traditions that stand out to me.

Christmas crackers children

An English Christmas dinner table is always set with Christmas crackers – NOT a food but the novelties that pull apart with a bang. They’re ‘cracked’ before Christmas dinner and the person who “wins” by keeping hold of the longest piece gets the prizes inside. They put on the paper crown and tell the (usually terrible) joke. Once everybody has a paper crown, the feast can commence! This illustration of two children tugging on a cracker dates back to 1878.

Yorkshire PuddingThe English Christmas meal is very similar to our own, except redcurrant jelly might replace cranberry sauce and roast parsnips are traditional too. Turkey is a favorite although in medieval England a roast peacock or wild boar might have been on the menu! King Henry VIII was the first English King to tuck into turkey for Christmas. Many families add a Yorkshire Pudding to the meal. This is not a dessert but a savory dish between an American biscuit and a savory pancake. If you want to try this tasty treat, here’s a recipe for Yorkshire Pudding.

Christmas puddingAfter the meal comes the ‘real’ pudding: Christmas pudding or plum pudding. Except that it’s not a pudding in the way we understand a pudding either! Instead of being a custardy dish, it’s more like a dense steamed cake, full of dried raisins, cherries and other dried fruit and nuts. It’s traditional to hide a silver coin (in the old days it was a silver sixpence) inside the pudding. It’s good luck for whoever finds it in their bowl. Sometimes the pudding is doused in brandy or rum and then set alight as it is carried to the table. It is served with custard, rum butter, clotted cream, or a brandy sauce of thick cream with a few spoons of brandy stirred in.

Osborne House Festive Guided ToursFor snacks between meals or to accompany a pot of tea, everyone loves mince pies! Even if you don’t have servants to bring you mince pies on a silver tray, they are easy to make if you find a jar of the mincemeat in your local grocery store. Despite the name, there is no meat involved, although when the delicacy first appeared in the 13th century it was indeed real meat, seasoned with dried fruits and spices including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Now the meat has gone and just the sweet stuff remains, although suet is a part of the mix. If you don’t eat meat, look for products with vegetable suet rather than lard suet.

Christmas-decorations-Finally, the English take Boxing Day, December 26, as a national holiday as well as Christmas Day itself. It has nothing to do with the sport of boxing, although there are lots of sporting events on Boxing Day including horse racing. It is actually the day that people traditionally gave gifts (or boxes) to their servants and tradesmen. Nowadays most people don’t have servants but they still celebrate the day as a chance to visit friends or extended family and exchange gifts, or just relax and eat more mince pies!

This looks like a very grand and festive place to entertain visiting friends. It’s a picture of the Christmas tree at Holker Hall in Cumbria, England, the ancestral home of Lord Cavendish. Even the bust of the Greek poet Homer on the mantelpiece over the fireplace is decorated with a mistletoe wreath!

If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you might also like my post on Old World Christmas Traditions in France and Italy, or the one about Downton Abbey Kitchen Style.

Merry Christmas!

AimeeAvatarAimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her husband and best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 9 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Find us on Facebook or connect with EuroLux on Google+. Or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Christmas Cookies and Franklin Nut Cake

We are so lucky at this time of year! Kathy makes tray after tray after tray of Christmas cookies – she likes to give out gifts of cookies to the neighbors. Kathy is Greg’s mom and also our Mrs Fixit who handles all our restorations. Of course, she can’t stand the idea of her family not being able to eat as many cookies as humanly possible.

Kathy makes sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter blossoms, magic cookie bars, gingerbread, the Christmas cookies list goes on and on. However, Greg’s dad John and I agree on our favorite cookie – the white chocolate peanut butter sandwiches. In case you have never tried this scrumptious treat, here is Kathy’s recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Christmas Cookies

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Decide how many cookies you want to make – you’ll need twice that number of Ritz crackers. Spread peanut butter on half the Ritz crackers and use the other half as sandwich tops. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Carefully dip each peanut butter sandwich into the melted chocolate until it is coated, then set on wax paper and top with a pecan. Allow to dry. (Hide them from the family until you want to serve them as they tend to disappear quickly.)

Magic Christmas Cookie BarsGreg’s favorite Christmas cookies are Magic Cookie Bars. These are also pretty darn good, especially if you like coconut.

Kathy’s Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for a glass dish). Melt the margarine in the oven in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle Graham crumbs over the margarine. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the crumbs and then top evenly with remaining ingredients. Press down firmly and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Chill if desired. Cut into bars. Store the cookie bars loosely covered at room temperature.

Franklin Nut Cake

However, Kathy doesn’t stop at just Christmas cookies. She also makes fruit cakes and my favorite, Franklin Nut Cake. Greg’s sister Laura and I agree that Franklin Nut Cake is fantastic for breakfast with a steaming cup of coffee – especially if you want to curl up with a good book while you nibble and sip. Franklin Nut Cake is actually a very old family recipe, handed down from Kathy’s mother, Margaret.

Margaret’s Franklin Nut Cake

1 lb. butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb. chopped candied cherries (red and green)
1/2 lb. chopped candied pineapple
1 lb. chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla
NOTE: Save a few whole cherries and pecan halves to decorate the top of the cake.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the beaten eggs. Add 3 cups of the flour sifted with the baking powder and salt. Mix remaining cup of flour with chopped cherries, pineapple, and nuts. Stir into batter and then add vanilla. Pour into a tube pan that has been heavily greased and floured. Decorate with saved cherries and nuts. Bake in a preheated oven at 250 degrees for 3 hours. Let the cake cool in the pan.

This cake is really rich, moist, and tasty! Even people who don’t like fruit cake love this. John is a case in point.

If you try these Christmas cookies and cake recipes, we’d love to know if you enjoy them! Tell us in the comments box below… or share your own Christmas cookies recipes.

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Old World Christmas Traditions

Greg and I aren’t taking an antiques buying trip to Europe during this holiday season because we’re too busy filling customer orders for gifts. But I love thinking about interesting Old World Christmas traditions – especially the food! It’s fascinating to see the different ways people in France, England, and Italy celebrate the holidays. While some of these Old World Christmas traditions are familiar to us too, at least in certain regions of the USA or Canada, others are less well-known.

Old World Christmas Traditions in France

Old World Christmas Traditions: FranceDid you know that instead of hanging up a stocking for Santa Claus, children in France often leave shoes out by the fireplace for le Père Noël to fill? Around the holidays, French bakeries are busy making Galette des Rois or King’s Cake. The puff pastry cake is filled with frangipane or almond paste to be enjoyed around Epiphany on January 6. That date is also known as Twelfth Night, to close the twelve days of Christmas. The Galette des Rois traditionally had a lucky bean hidden inside it. Over the centuries that changed to a little charm. If you are served the slice with the charm in it, then you are crowned King for the Day!

Old World Christmas Traditions in England

Mince pies: Old World Christmas traditions

It isn’t an English Christmas without a plate of mince pies! The pies are filled with mincemeat — despite the savory-sounding name the tarts are actually a dessert treat. The mincemeat is a sweet blend of dried fruits, spices, and usually a hearty dash of brandy or rum.

Robin and mince pieThe photo of the robin taking a nibble of a mince pie is just so cute, but also the robin is symbolic of Christmas in England. You often see robins on Christmas cards there. European robins are much smaller than our American ones, and they have a deep red breast. Some say the robin’s red breast is associated with the blood of Christ. Others tell the nativity tale, where the night of the holy birth was so cold in the Bethlehem stable that Mother Mary asked the animals to help warm baby Jesus as the fire near the manger started to die out. Then Mary heard the flapping of wings and looked down to see a tiny plain brown bird fanning his wings at the fading embers, till the fire burst up brightly again to warm the Christ child. In the process, a flame burned the robin’s breast a vivid red, the color it has been ever since.

Old World Christmas traditions: Christmas crackersChristmas crackers are also essential to English celebrations. They are ‘cracked’ before Christmas dinner begins, by one person pulling on each end. The cracker splits apart with a bang, and a trinket, a joke, and a paper hat fall out. You often see Christmas crackers in American stores now too. It’s important to realize that you don’t expect the joke to be very good. It’s usually some kind of groaner!

Old World Christmas Traditions in Italy

Old World Christmas traditions: PanettonePanettone is one of the most delicious Italian Christmas treats. The light and fluffy sweetened fruit bread is shaped like a tall puffy chimney. It originated in Milan and some say its long history stretches back as far as Ancient Rome. Panettone appeared in a 16th century Bruegel painting, and was baked for emporers and popes!

Panettone is tasty on its own, usually served with sweet wine or liqueur. You can also make a quick and sophisticated dessert dish by toasting slices of Panettone, and topping them with a fruit compote. Make a compote with frozen or fresh fruit cooked with a little sugar and water, plus some cornstarch to thicken the syrup if needed. Any fruit will work, but frozen mixed summer berries add a festive splash of color and the tart flavor complements the sweet bread. Pears poached in wine would be wonderful too! Then sprinkle some snowy confectioners sugar on top and add a dollop of whipped cream.

Children shepherdsAnother sweet Old World Christmas tradition: Italian children dress up head-to-toe as shepherds when they go carol-singing. Bless them! Then on Christmas Eve, Italian households bring out the Urn of Fate. The Urn of Fate is a large bowl that holds lots of small presents.  Family members take it in turn to take their chance in a kind of lucky dip.

Do you have any favorite Old World Christmas traditions that you enjoy in your family? Tell us about it in the comments box below.

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her husband and best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Best of November 2013: Holiday Gifts, Folk Art & French Inspirations

We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving! Don’t forget that our 20% discount on everything in our EuroLuxAntiques.com inventory continues until December 3, and we include free shipping too – just as we always do. Now there’s a holiday gift to make Santa smile! Simply enter the coupon code at checkout: HappyHolidays

This month on the blog I’ve enjoyed getting my fix of French inspirations, writing about Beaujolais Nouveau Day for starters! At this time of year Greg and I are far too busy to take one of our antiques buying trips to France. We’re a regular Santa’s workshop here, packing up all the orders for holiday gifts. I’m also on the phone a lot, talking with our customers about their selections, especially with the fine antique furniture. They want to be sure they’ve found the perfect match for their home and I want the same thing.

Maybe we should wear Santa hats!  I’ll try to talk Greg into that. Meanwhile, let’s revisit some of our most popular November posts.

Château de Bagnols fireplaceChâteau de Bagnols in France was built in the 13th century, but now it’s a castle hotel where anyone can stay. After a $16 million restoration it is kitted out with stunning interiors, including tons of original antiques. The grounds are as gorgeous as the inside of the castle, with medieval towers, formal French gardens and a 100-year old lime tree terrace. See a panoramic view of the castle and more inspiring rooms in my Château de Bagnols post.

Antique chinese screen over the mantel
Our client Chris is retiring with her husband to a new house. Chris wanted a large and unique piece to decorate the mantel in the new living room. She chose a 1900 Late Qing Dynasty Chinese window screen. The folk art screen is ornately hand-carved with symbols of good fortune and prosperity. We hope those good fortune symbols are lucky charms for Chris and her husband as they enjoy their retirement! See more photos and what all the carved symbols mean in our client spotlight on the antique Chinese folk art screen.
holiday gift ideas: antique French clockCheck out my holiday gifts suggestions post if you’re looking for unique gift ideas for your loved ones. Or even if you are just taking advantage of our 20% discount for new additions to your own home. You’ll find even more ideas in our recent EuroLux Antiques newsletter. While we’re best known for our “fine antiques for regular folks” we also carry some unusual and exquisite home decor accents in the gallery, as well as newly-made, antique-inspired furnishings.
Oysters and Bloody MaryWe can’t wait to enjoy my Uncle Dick’s Famous Bloody Mary as part of our family Thanksgiving feast! It’s usually served with our appetizer of oysters on the half shell. Next day we relish yet more oysters when my grandmother Elsie dishes up her traditional delicacy: Elsie’s Oyster Stew. If your mouth is watering as much as mine is, I shared the family’s culinary secrets in my Bloody Mary and Oyster Stew recipes post!
Happy Thanksgiving!

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Things We Love: Elsie’s Oyster Stew Recipe & Uncle Dick’s Bloody Mary

Thanksgiving dinner with Elsie's Oyster Stew Recipe for breakfastI love spending time with family during the holidays. This Thanksgiving, Greg and I look forward to traveling to Maryland to visit my family. We’re looking forward to it so much, I want to share my grandmother’s Oyster Stew recipe with you and my uncle’s wonderful Bloody Mary!

My grandmother, Elsie, lives in Westminster and I’ve always loved going to her house. As a child, it seemed like it took forever to get to Grandma’s house on the long drive from Florida. But Grandma was always waiting for us with open arms and some home-made delicious treat. She always let me lick the beater – even if it was a cherry pie filling that got all over my white jumper.

Grandma is famous for her Oyster Stew recipeAimee and Grandma

As I child, I didn’t realize how hilarious my grandmother is. She is quite the family clown and especially loves to tell stories. Even though we’ve all heard the stories many, many times, I still love to hear them again. At 87 years young, she’ll still climb up and hang from the tree branches with her grandchildren or strike a pose with a Rasta hat. (She claims she didn’t know I put that hat on her head – not true!)

GrandmaRastaGrandma

Oysters and Bloody MaryMy Uncle Dick and Aunt Leigh host the big Thanksgiving meal and they surely know how to put on a gourmet feast for a crowd. The table is spread with all of the traditional favorites. Of course, my favorite part of the meal is when they serve the oysters! My Uncle Dick actually raises oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and lovingly tends to them all year long. We feel so blessed that he shares his bounty with us! Oysters on the half shell are served as appetizers with Uncle Dick’s Famous Bloody Mary cocktails. I am a huge Bloody Mary fan, so I will share this fantastic family recipe with you.

 

Uncle Dick’s Bloody Mary recipe

2 cups Clamato juice
1/2 cup vodka
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

If you want a spicier drink, add more hot sauce or Old Bay Seasoning. (I do both.) Serve over ice.

Grandma after frying the oystersUncle Dick actually puts the oysters on the grill for a few minutes, which makes shucking easier. Grandma is in charge of making fried oysters – also a family tradition that I love. After the big meal, we all sit around digesting, watching football games, and catching up with the latest family news. I snapped this photo of my dad and grandma kicking back – she still has on her chef’s coat from frying the oysters!

Uncle Dick always brings enough oysters to make Elsie’s Oyster Stew recipe for breakfast the next morning. If you’ve never had it, you might think it sounds gross. (Greg won’t even try it!) But if you like oysters, it is heavenly.

Elsie’s Oyster Stew Recipe

Stick of butter
1/2 pint of shucked oysters
Milk, enough for everyone to have a bowl
Salt & pepper to taste
Old Bay Seasoning

Bring the milk, butter, and spices to just below boil. (Don’t boil it or the milk will scald.) Take it off the heat and add oysters and juice. Let the stew sit for a few minutes until the oysters curl up on the edges.

Aimee&Grandma2013I always look forward to spending time with my family, and especially my grandmother, as you can see from this photo taken this year.

Do you have fond memories of your grandparents? Tell us about them in the comments area below, or share some of your favorite family recipes!

 

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Bookshelf: Napkin Folding, Soups & More

Part of what I love about living with antiques is the innate sense of history each piece embodies. And nowhere is this more evident than with antique or vintage French Country kitchen furniture. When I sit down at my antique kitchen table, I can almost feel the original owners gathered around, the entire family enjoying a bowl of the classic French pot au feu. Who knows how many generations ate this hearty stew and drank wine together at this very table? I love France, and my antique dining table connects me with those wonderful people on a soulful level.

So I was delighted to discover a trio of new books from Robert Rose publishing that will help you enjoy your antique furnishings during this holiday season. Two are cookbooks and one teaches you how to create elegant napkin folds — perfect for any occasion, and particularly appropriate for those planning a Victorian Christmas. Let’s dive right in!

Top 100 Step-by-Step Napkin Folds

This delightful book by Denise Vivaldo takes you through all kinds of fun and pretty napkin folds with skill levels that range from easy to challenging. Vivaldo has catered everything from the Academy Awards Governor’s Ball to Hollywood wrap parties, so she knows her stuff. The book is helpfully wire-bound so you can set it flat right next to you as you walk through the steps to create each napkin fold.

Napkin folding is kind of a lost art, yet it will make your family members and friends feel very special to sit down at a place setting that includes a folded napkin. And your holiday dinners will feel even fancier with the simple touch of a folded napkin.

In the book, Vivaldo also discusses how to choose the right napkins for any occasion, what to look for in terms of fabric (to make folding work better), and what size napkin to use for various occasions (think: cocktail napkins, luncheon napkins, dinner napkins, and even paper napkins). This is a book that will reside on your bookshelf for years to come, as you discover the fun of napkin folding.

I thought this “orchid fold” would look particularly lovely on a Victorian Christmas table. Email me for a full-size version of the photo you can print out and keep! (Note: All photos and recipes courtesy www.robertrose.ca.)

Orchid Napkin Fold Directions from EuroLux Antiques.jpg (5.19 mb)

150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the volume of cooking involved in the holidays? I know I do. So, I was pleased to discover this book of delicious (and simple!) grilled cheese sandwiches. Written by Alison Lewis, a nationally known recipe developer, 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches includes selections that range from humble to decadent.

A little history (because antiquers always love history!): The grilled cheese sandwich dates back to about 1920. It became popular during the Great Depression as an inexpensive company supper dish and was often called the “Cheese Dream.”

If you picture the grilled cheese sandwich of your childhood and can’t stomach even the thought of the calorie load, you’ll be happy to learn Lewis’s book includes tips on how to lighten-up a grilled cheese sandwich (hint: use grainy mustards and Greek yogurt) and devotes an entire chapter to light and healthy sandwiches.

Grilled cheese sandwiches are enjoying a huge resurgence and were recently named a major trend in cooking. These sandwiches can be fun to prepare with guests, and you can even create dessert sandwiches!

One of our favorites to help us get out of the holiday turkey rut is this decadent-looking Grilled Roast Beef and Stilton sandwich.

Grilled Roast Beef and Stilton
Serves 4

You’ll need: a panini grill or large skillet. Preheat panini grill to medium, if using.

  • 8 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise or basil aioli
  • 12 oz thinly sliced roast beef
  • 1 cup arugula leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup crumbled Stilton cheese (or your favorite blue cheese)
  1. Brush one side of each bread slice with butter. Place on a work surface, buttered side down. Spread 4 bread slices equally with mayonnaise. Top equally with roast beef, arugula, tomatoes and cheese. Cover with remaining bread slices, buttered side up, and press together gently.
  2. Place sandwiches on preheated panini grill or in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once if using a skillet, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

300 Sensational Soups

Getting back to that pot au feu I mentioned earlier… With their classic beef stew, the French knew this truism: A good soup nourishes the heart as well as the stomach. This fabulous soup cookbook by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds will keep your family warm all winter. When you share the sublime soup recipes in this book, you’ll connect with friends and family members on an intimate level.

Vegetarians and vegans will be happy to know the book contains plenty of meat-free selections. There’s even a classic pot au feu recipe! But I loved this decadent lobster chowder recipe because I think it would make a beautiful first course for any holiday dinner.

Rich Lobster and Roasted Corn Chowder
Serves 6

Preheat oven to 425F. You’ll also need a large rimmed baking sheet.

  • 3 cups corn kernels (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • 1 1/2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 Tbl unsalted butter
  • 3 cooked lobster tails (each about 10 oz), meat removed and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 Tbl chopped fresh chives
  1. On a baking sheet, combine corn, oil, 1/2 tsp of the salt and 1/4 tsp of the black pepper; toss to coast evenly and spread in a single layer. Roast in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Stir and redistribute into an even layer. Roast until corn is lightly but evenly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, saute bacon over medium heat until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
  3. Pour off all but 2 tbsp of the fat in the pot. Add onions and saute until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add cayenne and saute for 1 minute. Add potatoes, stock, clam juice, and the remaining salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in roasted corn and cream; return to a simmer, stirring often, until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Do not let boil.
  4. In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add lobster meat and saute until heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Ladle chowder into heated bowls and top with lobster. Garnish with reserved bacon and chives.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and the napkin-folding instructions and can use these ideas for your holiday entertaining — and the cold weeks ahead! These three books from Robert Rose will make a welcome addition to your antique French Country kitchen bookshelf. (Note: We are not affiliated with Robert Rose in any way.)

What elegant, decadent, or surprising dishes do you make during the holidays? Do you salute your ethnicity through food? Please share with us in the comments!

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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