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Saturday, December 18, 2010

More Holiday Stuff by Margot Justes

This will be a short blog, I'm expecting 20 people to dinner, and for the first time, I'm going the tapas route; from Spanish potatoes, samosas, Italian beef, chestnut and prosciutto ravioli in olive oil sprinkled with Grana Padana Parmesan cheeses. I've included a spinach and artichoke dip, hummus, a good selection of cheeses and sausages, American style wings and meatballs cooked in wine sauce.

I wanted something different with many varied flavors, but just in case I have mulled wine and eggnog with rum on hand, hopefully everyone will have a good time.

I was at Costco yesterday and bought a Brie goat cheese, and it is scrumptious. Dinner consisted of a toasted English muffin and the goat cheese, melted right into all the crevices. Delicious.

If anyone wants to make an easy and yummy fudge, here it is.
1/2 cup of butter ( 1 stick)
1 large can of evaporated milk
4 cups of sugar
1/2 lb small marshmallows
2 oz bitter chocolate
12 oz chocolate chips (I use all dark Ghirardelli chocolate)
12 oz dark chocolate (each bar is 4 oz)
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

Combine butter, canned milk and sugar. Stir over medium heat until dissolved, cook to a boil. (about 5 min). Turn off heat and add the marshmallows. Stir until melted, add the chocolate, one at a time. Stir until all is dissolved, add the vanilla and nuts. Mix well. Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap, pour and let cool. Remove from cookie sheet, cut in pieces and serve.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Season by Margot Justes

I've been absent for two weeks, Thanksgiving weekend was fantastic, had enough turkey on Thursday and again on Saturday to last me a year. Very convenient.

Last Saturday, Dina and I went downtown. The falling snow and relative warmth and little wind made it a perfect winter wonderland in which to soak up the holiday cheer.

We ate breakfast in a restaurant that faced the Chicago River, a young and very talented jazz guitarist, made our meal a sensation.

Breakfast was followed by a walk down to the Art Institute to welcome back the Chagall Windows, and I visited an old friend, the new wing now houses the Old Guitarist by Picasso.

From there we walked down Michigan Avenue to Nordstrom's, Dina needed new shoes. Pretty soon they will be knocking out walls in her bedroom to accommodate said shoe collection. She didn't buy any that day, but we had an invitation from Nordstrom's for a special event on Sunday, of course we went, and yes, she bought shoes, more than a pair. But I digress.

After Nordstrom we went to Navy Pier for dinner at Bubba Gump, my granddaughter's choice, and the Navy Pier Winter Wonderland. In the process by received a gracious tour of the Coast Guard Icebreaker, Mackinaw.

That tour was an incredible experience, the massive ship's utilitarian appearance had a few holiday trinkets strewn along and actually felt homey, but you never forgot this was a working ship, the people on board faced extreme and severe conditions to save lives, they had limited comfort and most likely would not be home for the holidays. It was a sobering experience.

We finished the evening with Navy Pier festivities, and it was fantastic, the decorations were stunning, with many rides for the kiddies. It was truly a Winter Wonderland.

And I might add by the time I got home, I did not want to move.

Now, I'm going to visit my kitchen and make rum balls, they are easy to make and delicious.

2 1/2 cups of Vanilla Wafers (About 1 box)
51/2 cups of ground walnuts
1 cup of honey
1 cup of dark rum. (I use Myers's)
1 cup of powdered sugar.
In a bowl mix all ingredients together, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for a couple of hours. Form into small balls and roll in the powdered sugar.

I recommend frequent tasting.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris