Make your own eggnog and Grandma Claus’s cookies; our just-in-time for Hanukkah jelly doughnut taste test; and more.
Molten in the Middle
Take a holiday from calorie counting to enjoy this sophisticated twist on a favorite childhood trio. Granite Springs Inn’s New Chocolate Cake features a warm chocolate lava cake with gooey melted innards that’s topped with vanilla ice cream and a house-made tuile cookie.
From Spain (542 Westport Ave., Norwalk, Connecticut, 203-846-4113; www.fromspain.com), a leading importer of Spanish furniture and artisan ceramics, offers gourmet foods from every region of Spain: Calasparra paella rice, El Bierzo roasted red peppers, Alicante sea salt, plus all sorts of Spanish pine nuts, honey, assorted olive oils, chestnuts, and more...
Shopping is hard work; take a break without missing a beat at these quick-bite eateries.
City Limits Diner is still my favorite at The Westchester (125 Westchester Ave., White Plains, 914-761-1111; www.citylimitsdinercom). Wide-ranging but reliable, stylish but down to earth—and the battalion of strollers parked at the door tells you how tolerant the service can be. Recent specials included Long Island tomato salad with feta, and a grilled chicken sandwich with mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes. You can even get a glass of Zinfandel to help you calm down and decide if you really need that red cashmere cardigan. (Lunch specials: $5.25-$20.95)
Toutite Crepes (The Westchester, 125 Westchester Ave., White Plains, 914-287-2437). Circles of batter crisp up before your eyes and then are expertly filled and folded for a light meal. Savory? Choose chicken, avocado, and jack cheese or niçoise with tuna, olives, and peppers. Sweet? Chestnut cream or Nutella with fruit. ($4.50-$7.50)
Baby Yogurt (125 Westchester Ave., White Plains, 914-761-1709) uses Yogorino, an Italian frozen yogurt process that’s “healthy enough for a baby” (their motto). It’s especially tangy, low calorie, and low fat. With a strawberry or mango topping, a small ($3.25) will give you the strength to negotiate a few shoe departments.
If we’re talking yogurt, we have to mention the famous Forty Carrots (175 Bloomingdale Rd., White Plains, 914-684-6200; www.bloomingdales.com) signature yogurt that has rewarded Bloomie’s shoppers for years. I like the velvety coffee but a friend swears by vanilla with Melba sauce (small $3.75; $4.50 for large). The empty yogurt dishes all around at the lunch counter testify to its ongoing fan club.
Café Nordstrom (125 Westchester Ave., White Plains, 914-946-1122) feels like the update of the place your mom took you after shopping for your winter coat or party shoes. The menu of great girl-food includes a perfect chicken Caesar salad, Cobb or chopped salad, a sturdy turkey sandwich on whole grain bread or a pink yogurt parfait. The tall windows and corner terraces mean there’s actually a wonderfully green view from Café Nordstrom and a breath of fresh air.
Lulu’s Cafe (726 West Nyack Rd., West Nyack, NY, 845-358-5822) is just past the Palisades and surpasses the food court by a mile. Dotted Swiss curtains, vintage tablecloths, and a Hoosier cabinet take you back to Mom’s kitchen, but the menu spans all modern favorites: half-pound burgers with hand-cut sweet potato fries, a hummus platter, California salmon roll, sandwiches and wraps (chipotle pork on a tortilla...mmmm), and homemade chocolate mousse cake for dessert, among other sweets. If the kids are along on the shopping trip, they get their own menu, a Magna Doodle board to scribble on while they wait, and sundaes with house-made ice cream. In the evening, stop for a BYOB first. Banana walnut whole-grain or pumpkin spice pancakes with real maple syrup for brunch too, Saturday and Sunday. (Entrées range from $5.25 to $13.95.)
In the front entrance of the street level of the Westchester Pavilion, Corner Sushi (60 South Broadway, White Plains, 914-328-3095) is a bright and tidy sushi spot with stools and a few tables. A spicy salmon roll, an eel and cucumber roll or a soothing bowl of udon noodles topped with vegetables ($3.95-$8.95) are perfect, quick antidotes to Shopper’s Fatigue.
Grandma Claus’s Päppar Kakör
(Makes about 90 cookies)
[Original recipe by Edith Claus, Features Editor Nancy L. Claus’s grandmother]
“You won’t find a more original Christmas cookie recipe than this one,” says Features Editor Nancy Claus, “straight from my grandmother, Mrs. Claus herself, who came to the United States from Sweden, pretty close to the North Pole. Four generations of Clauses have enjoyed these intensely spiced and crisp wafers—my daughters have been helping me bake the annual batch since they were toddlers—and, I trust, will eventually bake them for their own children.”
1 cup butter
1½ cups sugar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp ginger
3 tsp ground cloves
Cream butter and sugar; add syrup and egg. Mix together dry ingredients before adding to wet ingredients. Roll out on a well-floured board or pastry cloth—the thinner the dough, the better the cookie. Cut the dough with cookie cutters (hearts are a traditional shape), then place on a cookie sheet using a spatula. Decorate with sprinkles. Bake in 350°F oven for about 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks; store in cookie tins.
Larchmont resident Colleen Mullaney, the home lifestyle expert and author of Punch: Celebrations in a Bowl, offers her recipe for a decadent holiday beverage: eggnog. “This version of the essential holiday drink is egg-safe,” assures the self-proclaimed Cocktail Diva, “as the eggs are cooked in a custard before the other ingredients are added.”
Holiday Ho Ho
6 eggs, beaten
²/³ cup sugar
pinch of salt
5 cups whole milk
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 cup heavy cream
6 tsp powdered sugar
1 cup bourbon
1 cup brandy
freshly ground nutmeg
1. In a heavy saucepan, combine eggs, sugar, and salt, then beat with a wire whisk. Add milk slowly, beating until the mixture is smooth. Cook 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.
2. Remove custard from heat and add vanilla. Place custard in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.
3. In a large chilled bowl, combine heavy cream and powdered sugar. Beat until soft peaks form. Add bourbon and brandy. Pour in custard and mix well.
4. Pour eggnog into a punch bowl, sprinkle with nutmeg to taste, and serve.
Note: This beverage can be made up to one hour ahead and refrigerated before serving.
…Through December 21, The Culinary Institute of America (1946 Campus Dr., Hyde Park, NY, 845-451-1372; www.ciachef.edu/restaurants) is offering three-course lunches for $19.46 in celebration of its 60th anniversary
...New York City’s Meatpacking District’s Moroccan restaurant Zitoune has moved across the border into the space that once housed Solere in Mamaroneck (1127 W. Boston Post Rd., 914-835-8350). Signature dishes include lamb tagine and cumin-scented beef short ribs. Entrées range from $13 to $25
…Co-owner Angelo DiFeo has taken over the cooking duties at Blue (99 Church St., White Plains 914-220-0000), replacing Patrick Kelly. The menu will remain the same—New American cuisine with Asian influences
...Portuguese eatery Caravela (53 N. Broadway, Tarrytown 914-631-1863) has new winter dishes on the menu: roast suckling pig, mixed seafood in a herb-olive oil sauce, saffron rice paella, and charbroiled codfish (bacalao) in olive oil and garlic.