Flavorful Finish to 2023 – aka: holiday, culinary merrymaking

      Finishing 2023 brings flavorful and healthier holiday cooking. While I am one to go all out on the holidays, using Irish butter, making carb loaded sides and enough gravy to sail a ship; this year I am actually excited to see the new trends for holiday cooking.

The themes for this year’s holiday cooking rings of plant based, yes even vegan for the traditional carnivore and international spices replacing sweet casserole and the like.

Spice up you butternut squash by roasting with Indian spices
Spice up your butternut squash by roasting with Indian spices.

     Global foods like roasted mushrooms with earthy seasonings, drizzled with olive oil and truffle salt, roasted carrots topped with a drizzle of hot honey and spaghetti squash  drizzled with Greek seasonings and topped with drizzles of lemon yogurt are the new starts at the holiday table. There is still room for stuffing but think about Moroccan spiced butternut squash with pomegranates as a replacement for the marshmallow laced casserole alternative. Vegetables are the star this year.   Fear not, turkey, hams and Prime ribs will center your table, but perhaps as an accompaniment more than the main feature. In fact, trends show more people are starting to order their turkeys and roasts already cooked, allowing more time and oven space for roasting more vegetarian dishes.

Simple table settings are setting the tone
Simple table settings are setting the tone.

     Appetizers are changing as well. Deviled eggs, yes that spring and summertime treat are gracing this year’s starters along with sautéed mushroom crostini with fresh ricotta and herbs. Instead of a heavy cornbread stuffing, think small squares of corn bread drizzled with hot honey. Even those favorite “pigs in a blanket” change up to switch out the mini hot dogs for andouille sausage.

Deviled eggs
Deviled eggs

     Gravy can be jazzed up with a splash of apple brandy and those green beans can replace the age old casserole by blanching and topped with dollops of whipped goat cheese and balsamic glaze.

Roasted rainbow carrots
Roasted rainbow carrots

     If you are roasting your own turkey, add soy sauce to your brine, a big trend this year. Go out of the box and glaze your ham with Korean barbecue sauce. (The leftovers are perfect for Korean tacos). Seek locally sourced ingredients, support your local communities by shopping for ingredients at local farmers markets and farm. Sustainability is the theme moving forward and we can all do our part. Just imagine: a creative, internationally flavored feast that delights the palate and inspires some past traditional recipes changed up for flavorful and internationally inspired herbs, species and  light sauces.

A graduate of Johnson & Wales, Judi has managed restaurants and owned restaurants in the northeast and was the founder of a successful dessert company. Today, she is a sought-after restaurant consultant, TV cook on the ABC affiliate in her hometown, and culinary editor of a city magazine. Her personal passions are culinary travel to exotic places and holiday cooking in her home for huge gatherings of friends and relatives. Her guilty pleasure? Bruce Springsteen concerts. “I follow him around the country and have for years,” she admits. “But, in every city where Bruce sings, I do check out new restaurants and talk to up and coming chefs. I want all the food news I can get.”

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