AJS Gift Guide 2021

Every year, I look forward to putting together my annual holiday gift guide for you. I spend the months leading up to the holidays making notes of my favorite products across the web, from small businesses to big-box retailers. I think this year’s guide is one of my best yet!

Since Hanukkah begins on November 28 this year, I wanted to go ahead and get this year’s guide published. Plus, it’s always easiest to do shopping early, especially this year. Keep in mind shipping might take longer than usual, so give yourself plenty of time to get things in and wrapped.

From left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Midnight Vine Percy Jacket from Pink City Prints, where everything is handblocked and handmade.
  2. Ghia, a non-alcoholic aperitif!
  3. Miklos Reading Glasses by Caddis, you know I love fun frames for glasses, and Caddis has loads of chic options.
  4. Ooni Pizza Oven, if you’ve ever dreamed of your own pizza oven, this one is for you. It’s a great price-point too!
  5. Wood Oiling Wax, a great stocking stuffer! Wax will keep your wooden utensils and charcuterie boards in excellent shape.
  6. Hello Dahlias Puzzle, we are big puzzle people, and this one is beautiful.
  7. Curio Spice Chef’s Pack, everything you need for a tasty spice cabinent.
  8. Boy Smells Iris Fantome Candle, you can never go wrong with a great-smelling candle.
  9. Sezane Beanie, practical yet cool (or should I say, warm?!).

xx Anette

All celebration christmas gifts Events Gift Guide gifts hanukkah Holiday holiday guide Holidays my picks Personal Shopping : Tags: , , , ,

My Hanukkah Latkes

201111-xl-killer-potato-latkes

I make homemade sweet potato + Yukon potato latkes with homemade applesauce every year for Hanukkah. This year might look a little different from the usual holiday celebrations, but that doesn’t make them any less special. If you’re celebrating Hanukkah this year, give my yellow and gold latkes recipe a try. Actually, give these a try regardless of your celebrations; everyone loves latkes!

Yellow and Gold Latkes
serves 4 to 6
You will need:

– 3 medium size sweet potatoes
– 3 medium size yukon gold potatoes
– 2 eggs
– 1/4 cup matzo meal
– 1 small yellow onion diced
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 cup olive oil
To prepare:

Prepare a paper towel-lined cookie sheet for finished latkes.

Hand grate potatoes, so they are shredded. Add salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

By hand, squeeze the liquid out of the potatoes, transfer to another mixing bowl.

Add eggs, matzo meal and diced onion and mix.

Note: if the potatoes still have some water, it’s fine to add 1 more egg and more matzo meal to bind.

In a large skillet put 1/4 cup oil and heat. Drop-in latke mix with a spoon forming small pancakes.

Fry in the oil until golden and crispy.

Place cooked latke pancakes on the towels to drain oil, and continue to fry the latkes and drain. You will need to continue to add oil to the skillet as you continue to fry the latkes. Place the cooked, and drained latkes in the oven on low until guests arrive.

Serve with homemade applesauce, sour cream, or non fat plain greek yogurt.

xx Annette

Latkes photo by Stephanie Meyer for Food & Wine

All behind the scenes cooking Entertaining Events hanukkah Holiday Holiday Entertaining holiday recipes Holidays homemadeapplesauce Recipes : Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comfort food (for kids too!):: Apple Sauce

FRJ5023

Apple sauce is one of those wonderful fall foods that is so simple, you can truly make it yourself. It’s a recipe that kids can also help with. Give them a masher and have them go to town mashing the sauce that they can enjoy for a snack for the next two or so weeks. It’s a great family activity for fall!

Traditional Homemade Apple Sauce
You will need:
– 3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples
– 4 strips of lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths
– Juice of one lemon, about 3-4 Tbsp
– 3 inches of cinnamon stick
– 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
– Up to 1/4 cup of white sugar
– 1 cup of water
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt


To prepare:

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels.

Mash with a potato masher.  Place in the fridge. It should last for 2 weeks in the fridge.

All baking cooking Fall Food fall menus Food styling hanukkah Holidays homemadeapplesauce Recipes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving recipes Uncategorized vegatarian food : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Buon Natale! Celebrate the Holidays Italian Style with Fruit Cake

While perusing through my archives, I rediscovered this Italian fruit cake recipe and felt like with the holidays in full swing, I should share it again.

Skye McAlpine is a talented friend of mine. A few years ago, she sent over this absolutely stunning (and delicious) Italian fruit cake recipe. On Skye’s recommendation, this fruit cake is lovely with a glass of sweet red wine, like port. If you have a local wine merchant, pick up a port to finish a holiday dinner party. It’s such a fun ending to a fun evening.

While perusing through my archives, I rediscovered this Italian fruit cake recipe and felt like with the holidays in full swing, I should share it again.

Certosino di Natale: Honey, Pinenut and Almond Fruitcake
Serves: 8-10

For the cake, you will need:

– 40g raisins
– 40g mixed candied peel
– 30ml dry red wine or Marsala
– 320g flour
– 30g cocoa powder
– 2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
– 300g honey
– 40g butter
– 70g sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 3 tbsps water
– 60g pinenuts
– 200g blanched almonds
– 60g dark chocolate

For the decoration, you will need:

– 2 (heaped) tbsp apricot jam
– 2 tsp water
– 10-12 slices of glacé orange
– 3 glacé pears
– 10-12 glacé cherries
– handful of blanched almonds

To prepare:

Add the raisins and candied peel to a medium-sized bowl and pour in the wine, then leave to soak overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, grease and line a 25cm cake tin. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarb into a large mixing bowl and set to one side.

Add the butter to a small saucepan along with the sugar, honey, fennel seeds and cinnamon, then set over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir now and then to make sure that nothing burns on the bottom of the pan.

Add the raisins (with all their juices) and pine nuts to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, stir well.

Roughly chop the chocolate and the almonds, then add them too. Stir again.

Now pour in the melted butter and honey, and stir until well combined. The batter will be quite stiff, so stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. If needs be, add another splash of red wine.

Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 45 mins to 1 hr, until it’s golden on top, and when you press a skewer into the cake, it comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

To decorate, spoon the jam into a small saucepan with the water; set over a low to medium heat until the jam becomes syrupy and begins to bubble. Take it off the heat and use a pastry brush to glaze the cake, then lightly press the glacé fruits and nuts on to the top of the cake leaving no gaps. Brush the remaining glaze over the nuts so that it is all shiny.

For those of you that need measurements in cups see the conversion chart here

Photos by: Skye McAlpine

All baking behind the scenes celebration dinner party Entertaining Events Fall Food hanukkah Holiday Holiday Entertaining holiday recipes Holidays italian cooking italy Parties party tips Recipes Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

2 Apple Sauce Recipes for Latkes (and anything else!)

FRJ5023 FRJ5079

On Monday, I shared my recipe for latkes, and as everyone knows, latkes are even better with toppings. Greek yogurt and sour cream are good additions, but there’s nothing like topping them with apple sauces.

Over the years, I’ve perfected not one but two amazing apple sauce recipes perfect for latkes, and I’m sharing both with you today. Let me know what you think and which one you prefer. Honestly, I think it will be a tough decision to determine the winner!

Wouldn’t this make a lovely hostess gift? Tie some ribbon on the jar and you’re all set.

Traditional Homemade Applesauce
You will need:
– 3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples
– 4 strips of lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths
– Juice of one lemon, about 3-4 Tbsp
– 3 inches of cinnamon stick
– 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
– Up to 1/4 cup of white sugar
– 1 cup of water
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt


To prepare:

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels.

Mash with potato masher.  Place in the fridge. It should last for 2 weeks in the fridge.

FRJ5016

Cranberry Apple Sauce

You will need:
– 8 cups of cranberries
– 8 small or 6 medium apples sliced
– 1/2 cup sugar

To prepare:
In a large sauce pan place cranberries, sliced apple, and sugar.

Simmer on low heat, stirring regularly to prevent sticking, for 45 minutes until completely cooked and softened. Press the cooked cranberries and cooked apples with a fork to completely combine. The fruit should have a smooth yet chunky consistency.

Let the applesauce cool. Stored in a closed jar, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

All behind the scenes celebration cooking dinner party Entertaining Fall Food fall menus Food styling hanukkah Holiday Holiday Entertaining holiday guide holiday recipes Holidays kitchen last minute gifts latke recipe Recipes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving recipes Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,