Our business is mostly about Christmas. So when Labor Day is gone, Columbus Day is on the horizon and the leaves are turning and then falling, our excitement builds as we become busier and busier with calls and orders for our Nativities , Nutcrackers, Santa and Toy Soldiers.
Since I like to cook, the change of seasons means a change in the kind of dishes I prepare. Gone are the salads and lobster rolls, steamers and burgers on the grill. Instead we eat roasted chicken with root vegetables, chicken fricassee, steak and fries and salmon prepared several different ways. Roasted duck is a favorite and various hearty pastas, including a sinfully good carbonara with eggs and cream. I had better stop. This list is making me hungry.
Other pleasures to anticipate are the special seasonal items made by our local bakery cafe. Our town is blessed with a world class bakery cafe owned by a professionally trained perfectionist and employing some of the best pastry and bread bakers in the country. I would compare our gem to the best shops in the largest cities and our bakery would still come out ahead.
During the summer, our bakery cafe produces fruit pies with seasonal berries, plums and fresh figs. When fall comes they switch to pumpkin and apple pies ,as well as southern pecan pie. Thanksgiving brings cranberry walnut pie, pumpkin-caramel pecan pie and , our favorite, chocolate-pecan pie. Then there is something called a Plymouth described as “layers of chocolate mousse, pecan meringue and pumpkin mousse”. Delicious!
Baked Christmas goodies include Christmas pastry cream logs and Christmas cakes with preserved fruit, but nothing like the pies. Having worked with Christmas decorations all year long, we travel at Christmas. Someplace sunny and warm. A different kind of Christmas.
Recipe for LEMON CHICKEN FRICASSEE:
4 Pound Chicken cut into 10 pieces, Flour, Olive oil. Three cups thin sliced yellow onion, Chopped garlic clove, Juice of one lemon, Lemon cut into 10 slices, 2 cups chicken stock, 8 sprigs fresh thyme, salt, pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F, Dredge the chicken pieces in flour and salt and pepper and brown completely in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Remove and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook at medium low for 20 minutes until soft. Add thyme and chicken pieces. Pour in stock and squeeze lemon over chicken. Place lemon pieces on top of chicken pieces, cover pan and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook another 30 minutes, basting every 10 minutes until done. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve on a platter with a bitter green vegetable, such as broccolini, and french bread