UNIQUE HOLIDAY GIFTS PART 1: BRINDILLE PERSONALIZED HOLIDAY BASKETS AND HOLDAY TEAS

I will be posting unique, one of a kind experiences to celebrate the holidays in Chicago and begin by featuring the creativity of the Uber talented Chef Carrie Nahabedian. Each meal at Brindille is an occasion to remember and the exquisite creative menu experience is enhanced by the service, the wine and the unbelievable friendliness of Chef Carrie and the impeccable staff….where the front of house and wine program are supervised by co-owner, cousin, Michael Nahabedian.

Chef Carrie was always a huge supporter of many of the charity events I planned at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago when I featured the top Chicago Chefs and their restaurants. The Chefs did their own table decor, always quite elaborate, along with tastings of their signature dishes. I would say to them, “This isn’t a competition”, to which they answered…”To us it is”! But always a friendly camaraderie, their presentations were spectacular and made the events!

Michael Nahabedian

Personalized Holiday Gift Baskets…I asked, how does a person personalize their baskets this year…..

“Each basket is custom made based on your request. Simply, send us the profile of the recipient, their preferences and we will curate a basket that will be sure to impress friends, family, co-workers and loved ones!”

A quote from Chef/Co-Owner Carrie Nahabedian on the Gift Baskets on how they came about and an example on what one can find in their baskets….

“I am a traveler in my heart and was Inspired by the hampers from London and Paris food halls––these beautiful baskets are filled with Epicurean delights, and adorned with festive holiday decorations.”

“Examples of what can be in each personalized basket that range in price from $250-$1500: Jams, confitures, chocolates, cookies, White Alba and French Black Perigord Truffle products, Greek EVOO, honeys, hot chocolate, nut spreads, Locally sourced Farmstead items and cheeses, crackers, vinegars, preserved fruits in alcohol and syrups, Holiday Panettone, candied nuts, maple syrup, Satsuma mandarin oranges, Dried fruits, charcuterie, Jambon de Bellota, mustards, Medjool dates, Hand batched cocktails, vermouths, and wines”.

MARCELLAS REYNOLDS

In addition….how about a unique Holiday experience when… “Brindille kicks off French Afternoon Tea, in honor of Marcellas Reynolds: Author of Supreme Models and (just released) Supreme Actresses. Enjoy a beautiful afternoon of delicious frivolities, as Marcellas shares his inspiration behind writing his two acclaimed books. Vogue named Supreme Models “one of the nine best fashion books of 2019” and Town and Country named Supreme Actresses “one of October 2021’s best books”. We are thrilled to welcome our friend and Chicago native into our home for this two day event. Grab a reservation today and spend a day with Marcellas as he shares his personal inspiring story along with witty anecdotes from his “behind the scenes” adventures. Both books will be available for purchase along with a signing…this is a special event you won’t want to miss!”

Details:
December 10th + 11th: 2p-5p
Arrival: 1:45p | Conversation: 2:30p
Pre-Paid Event on Open Table: $90: excludes tax + tip

Questions: brindillechicago@gmail.com | 312-595-1616
…save-the-date for their upcoming Festive Holiday Teas:
December 17 + 18
Sunday, December 19th: Takeaway tea | $70 pp for pick up between 10-12p.

I have always enjoyed my visits to Brindille and put the Holiday Teas at the top of my annual Holiday tradition list….I hope you will too. (As usual this is not a sponsored post, I don’t have sponsors!!!!). The photos are courtesy of Brindille.

HOLIDAY COOKIES 2021 EDITION PART 2

Lebkuchen

More goodies to add to your Cookie Collection…..

FROM TOM MANTEL, HIS MOTHER’S RECIPE

Lebkuchen

Bring to a boil and cool 1 cup honey

Stir in:

¾ cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 TBSP lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

Sift together:

2 ¾ cup flour

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp nutmeg

Stir into honey sugar mixture

Mix in:

1/3 cup chopped citron

1/3 cup chopped pecans

Put in jelly roll pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes in 350 degreeoven

Score into squares while hot

While hot glaze with lemon glaze

Beat 1 egg white slightly add 1 ½ cup sifted powdered sugar & 1 TBSP lemon juice beat until smooth.

THOMAS O’GORMAN’S BISCOTTI DI NATALE

BISCOTTI DI NATALE
My favorite Christmas Cookie is a Biscotti flavored with anise seeds and anise extract, pistachio nuts and dried cranberries.
It’s a delightful combination of flavors that reminds me of my childhood Christmases. It’s festive looking as well.
It’s baked twice at 350 degrees, once in 3 log forms for 30 minutes and once after cooling for ten minutes and
cutting diagonally into 1-inch thick slices for 10 – 15 minutes.


They will keep in an airtight container 1 week or frozen 1 month. So delicious!

The ingredients are:

4 1/2 cups flour,
1 teaspoon each baking powder and baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon anise extract
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
egg wash

Christmas in Italy doesn’t end at New Years. It goes deep into January. Decorations don’t disappear. You really get to engage the festive beauty of the season from the Vatican to small precious churches. These anise biscotti reveal the grandeur of Christmas Holy Season for me. And I treasure the memory-ladened mystery they always reveal.

Two more to add to our growing collection…..I can do a Part 3…..just saying…..

HOLIDAY COOKIES 2021 EDITION

I have, once again this year, asked some of my friends to share their favorite holiday cookie recipes. I am sharing them as they were sent to me. There is still time to send me your favorite….I can do 2021 PART 2!

My Mom, Ruthy, and I made Christmas cookies for many, many years and I have saved recipes since I was a child…many clipped from magazines and now from the Internet using my New York Times Food App…love it! In addition, I collect cookbooks and have amassed a great variety…I am as eclectic in my book collections as I am in the objects in my home! Here is one from the 1950’s that has many of the cookies we included each year

We did dozens of cookies each Christmas for our holiday entertaining, trays for parties at work and tins full for gift giving. We looked forward to this tradition each year and added new ones to our tried and true favorites.

I’ll start with one of my most favorites….LIZZIES….I still make these each year along with RUSSIAN TEA CAKES….both last a long time if you can resist stuffing them into your mouth!!!!

LIZZIES
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups raisins
1/2 cup bourbon
4 cups pecan halves
3 cups candied cherries
1/3 pound diced candied lemon peel (optional)

Instructions
Soak fruits in bourbon at least 1 hour to plump.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
Cream butter, gradually adding sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients, then fruit and nuts. Mix well.
Drop from teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.

CANDACE JORDAN Mouse Cookies

When we lived in Old Town, we hosted yearly Christmas parties. My neighbor Stefani Turken, made these cookies and when she brought them in, I fainted they were so cute! They were darn tasty too but it was hard for me to eat these little works of art. Anyway, if I had a favorite cookie, this would be the one!

Preparation Time–1 hr

Cooking Time -27 min

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup finely ground pecans
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Chow mein noodles
  • Mini-chocolate chips
  • Sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar; beat until combined. Mix in flour, pecans and salt.
  2. Shape dough into 1-inch ovals, tapering one end. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven; insert noodle at tail end and 2 almonds about 1/3 of the way from pointed end for ears. Return to oven; bake until slightly browned, about 12 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven; immediately place 2 chocolate chips in front of ears for eyes. (Chocolate will melt slightly and stick to cookie.) Dust mice bodies with confectioners’ sugar. Cool on wire rack.

PAMELLA CAPITANINI Italian Cannoli Cookies ! makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup chopped pistachios
  2. 1 10 ounce bag mini chocolate chips divided
  3. 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  6. 1 cup granulated sugar
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest – optional
  10. 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  11. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  12. 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  13. 2 cups all purpose flour

Instructions

  • Number One, In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs then ricotta cheese until well combined then mix in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and fresh orange zest.
  • Number Two, Next, mix in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Mix in the flour. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips and the pistachios. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
  • Number Three, Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease.
  • Number Four, Using a medium cookie scoop or spoon, drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough for each cookie leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.
  • Number Five, Bake cookies at 375 degrees F for about 8-11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool slightly then move to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Number Six, Microwave remaining chocolate chips on high in a small microwave safe bowl in 20 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Spoon melted chocolate into a small resealable bag, clip one corner slightly, then drizzle melted chocolate over cookies. Let cool for chocolate to set.

AMY AND CLODAGH LAWLESS OF THE DEARBORN….FROM JULIANNA WESTGOR, THE DEARBORN PASTRY CHEF DE CUISINE

BARBARA VARRO FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I don’t know about you but I need to get my supplies and get baking…..ENJOY!