Enjoy the edible treats of the holiday season

How do we “celebrate” Christmas? We don’t!

In years past, my husband has worked in a busy hospital emergency room on Christmas so his non-Jewish colleagues can spend the day celebrating the birth of their savior, and I spend time with my best friend Karen and her children, as her husband works in a hospital on Christmas as well.

Some years, we’ve had Chinese food. A few times we’ve opted for the “holiday meal with all the trimmings” that is offered at the grocery store. Some years, we involved the children in the menu selection. The boys usually clamor for pizza, while the girls prefer pasta.

This year, my husband is taking some of our children skiing, and I’ll stay cozy at home with my oldest daughter Violet. Weather permitting, I’d like to go on a long bike ride with her, followed by a movie or two and a lovely dinner at home, à deux.

Gideon has become a fan of eggnog, which, although associated with Christmas in our country, is in fact a tradition dating back to 17th-century England.

Nog is a word for a strong ale, and the eggnog was a drink to toast one’s health. Mostly a drink of the upper classes, due to the inclusion of fresh eggs, when introduced to the American South, bourbon replaced the ale.

The flavors of the cream, eggs, bourbon and nutmeg go well in a baked custard, eliminating any risk associated with uncooked eggs.

However you decide to “celebrate the season,” enjoy the blessing of the day, as we Jews should savor and relish the miracles and blessings of each and every day.

Smoked Salmon Pizza | Serves 6

1 10 oz. baked pizza crust (Boboli)
4 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbs. finely chopped red onion
1 Tbs. chopped dill
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. horseradish
6 oz. sliced smoked salmon
Put the pizza crust on a baking sheet and crisp up in a preheated 450-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Mix together the cream cheese, red onion, dill, lemon zest and horseradish. Spread the mixture over the pizza crust and top with the smoked salmon slices. Slice into wedges and serve.

Gideon’s Citrus Salad | Serves 8

For the dressing:
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. mustard
6 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. chopped rosemary
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
For the salad:
6 naval oranges, peeled and segmented3 pink grapefruits, peeled and segmented
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 avocados, peeled and diced
1/2 small red onion, cut paper thin
Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Place the oranges, grapefruits and avocados on a platter in a decorative manner. Layer the onion slices over the top. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Garnish with the pine nuts. Serve at room temperature.

Eggnog Baked Custards | Serves 8

2 cups cream
1/4 cup bourbon or rum
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Place 8 small (4 oz.) oven-safe ramekins in a deep baking dish. Bring the cream and bourbon to a simmer, and remove from heat. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg, until thick. Gradually whisk in the cream-bourbon mixture. Pour the mixture into the 8 ramekins.
Pour enough hot water into the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the custards in a preheated 325-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the custards from the water and allow to cool before placing in the refrigerator to chill. Serve cold.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a certified culinary professional. Visit her Web site at www.GoRebecca.com. She can be reached at [email protected].