Thursday, December 28, 2023

Fun new food, fireworks, family ring in New Year around the world

Fireworks erupt in an artful arch on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu.





A powdered-sugar dusted beignet with a frothy coffee hits
the spot anytime in New Orleans, especially for  holidays.


IF YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED to try a new recipe and do something daring in the kitchen, why not now? For this, our third annual holiday recipe column, we offer a family favorite with an Asian twist.

We're on the other side of the solstice, thank the gods, and I'm already getting seed catalogues in the mail. So I've ordered herbs for the small garden that will garnish many meals. Consider this recipe, 

We cooked this jambalaya while visiting friends
in their New Orleans home over Christmas.

and think about next summer's garden between trips to the buffet table, stove or  cookie jar.

Do make time to try a favorite recipe, perhaps something you tasted over the holidays at a company party or neighborhood soiree.

Try your hand at improvising with this tasty "fork roasted"
dish, char siu. Add some red or yellow peppers to jazz it up.

I'm most resourceful in situations where innovation is called for.  It's time honored. What better time to improvise and invent then when you're a "holiday cook" Here's a recipe that cries out for you to make it your own. It's a family favorite -- a pretty, garlic laden dish using pork, beef or chicken. Char siu is  heavily influenced by Chinese culture and came to me in Asia.

It is quick, easy and not expensive and makes a favorite, showy holiday buffet item, or on any special occasion when you want a fast, succulent and satisfying meal.  It's also a great choice if you like small plates for a main course.  Try it with a couple other dishes and present them as appetizers, making a meal of these instead of a large main course of only one offering.
A dinner out at a new restaurant is always
a good back-up at holiday time.

Char siu literally means "fork roasted." Whether you use pork, chicken, beef or tofu, the point is to get the "char." Make sure the main course is patted dry. Tofu should be drained and carefully patted with towels before the quick cook.)
If your cooking skills betray you, try dining out on
comfort food. Clifton's in Los Angeles hits the spot.

An appetizer plate of cheeses, pate, olives and fruit
makes a beautiful nosh while preparing a light meal.

SO TRY it for a special occasion or even a speedy weeknight dinner when unexpected company shows up. Heck, try it for 
yourselves for no special occasion!

It's the ultimate comfort food -- juicy pork, beef or chicken, nicely spiced, charred a bit (the marinade slightly scorched gives it its lightly burned sweetness.) Serve it with your favorite rice and a salad.

This recipe came from a sweet old Vietnamese woman we met several years ago on a bike tour. She didn't have specific measurements (like my Irish grandmother.) So improvise and use your best judgment. 
By the second time you make it, you'll know exactly how much of
everything to prepare it the way you like.
As a back-up, consider dinner out at a favorite, close-by restaurant.

Cookie met a Thai grandmother and they formed an
instant bond, communicating with her Berlitz Thai and
a fondness for cats and cooking. Ba Diem shared a recipe.


(Ba means grandmother; Diem means beautiful. This recipe is heavily influenced by Ba Diem's Chinese grandmother's recipe. You can make the dish spicier with more pepper or serve it with Vietnamese chili or dipping sauce.

Rinse and cut chicken, pork or beef. (3/4 pound to pound, depending on number of guests.) Cut into strips at least 2-3 inches wide and long or short as you like.
Marinate. Mix 3/4 to one cup of honey, hoisin and soy sauce to taste (1/4 cup or more each.) Add cup of Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, 2 smashed and minced garlic gloves, tablespoon of ground ginger, teaspoon of five spice powder, hot ground pepper if you like, generous white pepper. Rub it over the meat/poultry. Marinate overnight (or at least a couple hours) in refrigerator.
An appetizer plate of olives,
chips, cheese and sardines
can make a light holiday meal.

Roast. Let the meat get juicy and cooked through on a wire rack in a low oven. Put pan beneath for drippings to add to glaze.
Make a quick glaze by bringing the excess marinade and drippings, plus a couple large spoons of honey to a boil.
Generously brush the meat/poultry/tofu with the glaze and give it a blast of heat to char it. Slice and enjoy!

Set your sights on something new, daring and exciting for
the new year.  Here we are on NCL's new cruise ship
Viva. The Speedway is a three-level race track. 
UP NEXT: Why not plan that cruise or trip to Rome, Paris, Venice, Amsterdam, Oslo, Copenhagen, Tokyo or the Andes??? Maybe it's a cruise you're yearning to take.  Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship, Viva, is made to order for fun.  Its imaginative design beckons for independent travelers who want the pleasures of cruising without the crowds. Artful spaces encourage small groups, gourmet dining or visits over a cocktail with friends. Our New Year's column ushers in 2024, with the hopes we'll stretch and challenge ourselves.  If you've always wanted to plan a trip to a specific country -- perhaps Ireland, Norway, Austria or the Netherlands -- now's the time! Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a new twist on travel, art, family, nature and more.


  1. Upbeat, fun and love the recipe. Trying NY's Eve.

  2. Always on the lookout for new adventures and foods!

  3. We made jambalaya! Fun piece.