FOOD TRADITIONS NEW AND OLD
It goes without saying that all of us at GP love food. We asked our team members to share some of their memorable food moments from 2021. From introducing new foods to a baby’s palate to honoring loved ones through cherished flavors and traditions, we’re sharing some of our favorite food moments.
Pureed Baby Food
Ali Rea Baum, Senior Event Director
One big culinary change that has occurred in my life in 2021 is adding pureed baby food onto the menu. For our 7-month-old, every few days we try to introduce new foods and tastes. One day we try pureed carrots, the next the same item but with some cinnamon, and the next day some scrambled eggs. Whether she likes the food or not, she always manages to get more on her face (or the floor) than in her stomach.
Morgan Golumbuk, Event Director
When I think about New York City – and what I love about dining in New York City – I think about Kiki’s. I think about tumbling in from a cold night swathed in coats and scarves and beanies and sitting down to unpretentious, well-executed food in an unpretentious, well-executed restaurant. The evening after wrapping up my last wedding of the year in mid-December, I met my cousin for a perfect Greek meal there: roasted lemon potatoes, grilled octopus, braised lamb, moussaka and, of course, the essential staple, horiatiki. Described on the menu as “traditional-no-lettuce-having-Greek salad,” the dish is full of chunky tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, kalamata olives, and a wedge of feta that could’ve served as a meal all its own. It was the perfect mix of refreshing and indulgent, and a memorable end to a very, very memorable season.
Linda Abbey, Executive Vice President
I inherited the hospitality gene from my dad George who loved to have “people ‘round” to cook for them. One Christmas he made a show-stopper English trifle — homemade lemon sponge, layered with apricots, brandied custard, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Since dad is no longer with us, I now continue the tradition of whipping up his recipe in the trifle bowl he gifted me years ago.
I recently had an amazing dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab! This restaurant has been a Miami staple since 1913. The stone crabs at Joe’s are famous for being incredibly fresh and sweet. The claws are paired perfectly with a homemade mustard sauce – a savory combination of mustard, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, and A1 steak sauce. I was inspired to make the mustard sauce at home, so I visited a local fish market to buy the stone crabs. Delicious!
Cinnamon French Toast with Caramelized Blueberries & Maple Syrup
Ronnie Davis, Managing Director
My Grandmother hated wasting anything; probably a result of her Russian heritage. After a holiday dinner there was always breakfast the next day to consider. She would take leftover Challah bread and make her version of French Toast. She would add a half teaspoon of ground Cinnamon to the egg batter, and sauté both sides until brown. When you thought it was finished, she would top it Berries, mostly Blueberries, and bake it for 12-14 minutes until the Berries had “Caramelized”. Add Maple Syrup and you have an amazing dish. Over the years, I started using French Bread in place of the Challah and serendipity! I think of her whenever I make it.
Feast of the Seven Fishes
Carina Hayek, Director of Marketing
Our main tradition during any holiday season is variety. I can count on one hand (maybe with a couple extra fingers) how many times we’ve had turkey for Thanksgiving in the 30+ years we’ve lived in the United States. But one tradition we’ve borrowed from our fellow parishioners and adapted in our own way is the Feast of Seven Fishes. A traditional Christmas Eve feast for Italian-Americans, it’s a grand meal featuring a variety of fish dishes. But in the midst of the epic amount of baking we (read: my mother) does in the days leading up to Christmas and the equally epic feasts we have on Christmas Day, we needed a rest on Christmas Even and opted for a cooking-free, smaller version of Seven Fishes and order sushi. We don’t do this every year, but often enough to make it a delicious, stress free tradition.
Kate Michelli, Sales strategy & Operations
Some photos from our Wigilia – Polish meatless Christmas Eve Dinner. The dinner has been a tradition passed down in my family for generations. All items are homemade.
We start off with Oplatek (The unleavened wafers are baked from pure wheat flour and water, are usually rectangular in shape and very thin. The Opłatki wafers are embossed with Christmas-related religious images). Each person shares a small piece of their larger piece with each person while wishing them well in the new year. Once that is over we sit for a toast and the meal begins.
- Mushroom soup with onions (with or without oyster crackers)
- Fish – this year was haddock and salmon
- Kapusta (split peas and cabbage)
- Homemade cheese, potato and sauerkraut pierogi
Also on the table:
- Cooked prunes
- Black olives
Cherish Knudsen, Event Producer
This is a family recipe that we make for the Holidays or just whenever we feel like it. It is yummy, comforting, and sort of healthy! My mother and I just made it over the Holidays for our family to enjoy. It is not only one of my personal favorites but even my nieces and nephews love it! Great way to eat your greens while still feeling comforted… Most of all, its made with love… Enjoy!
Yields 2 Pies
- 10-16 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach per pie (depends on how dense you want it)
- 2 Pie crusts – fresh or frozen
- (If use Pillsbury crust – 2 in one pkg-follow directions: Roll out like you roll a rug – don’t pinch it off with the flap going away from you)
- Plastic food gloves (to squeeze water from spinach)
- 4 – 5 Eggs (total)
- 8 oz of each: whole milk Mozzarella cheese & fontina cheese
- 3-4 cloves Garlic per pie
- Mushrooms (if you want)
- Boil, then simmer spinach and press to drain water (use just enough water to cook)
- Saute garlic (*and mushrooms if you’d like) in a little extra virgin olive oil
- Place cooked (& drained) spinach into oil with garlic (mushrooms?) – add mixture of mozzarella and fontina cheese (10-16 ounces/ pie) and 2 eggs per pie…heat, melt & combine mixture….add salt and pepper to taste….
- Put pie crust in oven while pre-heating 4-5 minutes (350 degrees)
- Put spinach mixture in pie crusts
- Cook pies for 40-45 minutes
- Let pies stand for approx. 5-10 minutes before cutting…. And enjoy!
Unstructured Meals and Greenmarket Finds
Liz Neumark, Founder and Chair
Our end of December at home was quiet. The kids were scattered around the globe having been home for 2 weeks during Thanksgiving. It was a time of unstructured meals and zero family obligations.
My first food project involved canning about 20 lbs of apricots and cherries I had frozen during the summer. My efforts yielded 4 cases of jams and chutneys.
On Christmas Eve, I made latkes from the bag of russets left over from Chanukah. Latkes are amazing for any holiday! I had a few heads of late season broccoli from the Greenmarket and roasted them on a cold night with olive oil and sea salt, along with fried gnocchi and sage in butter. Pure comfort.
(The steak and cat is wishful thinking on the part of Kimchi who only wished that meat was for her. Silly Kitty!)
Not pictured are the endless cheeses I ate, the creamiest creamed spinach (local!), crock pot soups and stews, various smoked fish on black bread and everything else that drove me back to the gym this week in search of self-discipline. It was a peaceful and delicious end to the year.