Seasons' Greetings, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and welcome back to Dinner and a Book Club!
In this month of winter holidays, we're featuring 2 classic Christmas books, an Amazon Prime Original series, and Mrs. Maisel's famous brisket, wonderful for Hanukkah, Christmas, or any occasion. Is it her exact recipe? Probably not. But it's our favorite, and we love it!
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 3
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel just launched season 3, and we couldn't be more thrilled. It's brilliant.
If you adored season 1 but season 2 didn't quite live up to your hopes, then hold onto your hats. All of them. Season 3 delivered on the show's original promise with all the warmth and laughter of season 1 and then some.
Midge makes some new friends, her parents continue to spiral, her manager develops a few problems of her own, and Mrs. Maisel puts everything on stage with the same zingy edge that started it all.
If you haven't watched season 3 yet, go watch it. You'll fall in love with it all over again.
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
First published in London in 1843, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol captures the heart of the holidays like no other novel.
Adapted many times for film, stage, opera, and other media, you know the story: Scrooge, the cold-hearted miser who despises Christmas; Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s abused, underpaid clerk; the loving, pure-hearted Tiny Tim, Cratchit's youngest son, who is very ill; and the ghosts of Christmas, who warm Scrooge's heart just in time for Christmas.
What you might not know is that Dickens wrote the book as a response to industrialization's dramatic increase in child labor. He witnessed the dangerous, exhausting work done by children in factories and mines and was horrified by what he saw. At first, Dickens thought about publishing an inexpensive political pamphlet.
He decided, instead, that the most effective way to reach as many people as possible with his social concerns about poverty and injustice was to write a deeply felt Christmas narrative. The result was A Christmas Carol, a story that has stood the test of time, reaching countless millions over almost two centuries.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss
The Grinch has become a timeless classic of the holiday season: a heartwarming tale that takes a friendly jab at the commercialization of Christmas and highlights the power of a joyful human spirit.
Written as a children's story, it will grow the hearts of young and old alike.
There's even a holiday tradition inspired by the book. Grinch-mas (not to be confused with Universal's Grinchmas celebration) encourages readers to grow their hearts three sizes by doing good deeds.
Mrs. Maisel's Brisket (As We Imagine It), with Onion Jam
We have no idea whether this is Midge's specific recipe, but we like to think it is. Despite how long it takes to cook, it's actually very easy to prepare. The oven does all the work, filling the kitchen with its mouth-watering scent for several hours while you're free to make other holiday dishes—or binge-watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!
Cooking Time 3.5 - 4 hours
Preheat oven to 325°F
Combine the following ingredients:
2 tsp salt
1 tsp each: black pepper. ground cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, paprika
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp canola oil
Rub seasoning over the side of the beef without the fat cap. Place the brisket, fat side up, in a roasting pan.
Add the stock and beer:
4 cups beef stock
1 12-ounce IPA beer
Add the beef stock and beef, cover (with foil or lid), and braise in the oven for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until brisket can easily be shredded with a fork. (In season 3, Midge suggests cutting it into slices about halfway through the cooking time, claiming that she swears by this but that the method is "controversial.")
Remove from oven. Skim fat from cooking liquid and reserve 1 cup of the liquid for the onion jam.
Is this why Moishe and Shirley's house always smells of onions? Sure, why not.
1 tbsp oil
3 medium onions, sliced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 cup reserved cooking liquid
Heat oil in a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add a little bit of water if the pan gets too dry. Add flour and stir to coat the onions. Add balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, thyme, and reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with brisket.
NOTE: The onion jam can be made ahead. Follow the directions with all the above ingredients except the reserved cooking liquid. Then, when the beef is done, reserve the cup of liquid. Reheat the caramelized onions with the liquid and cook until the jam has thickened. Serve with the brisket.
Bonus Recipe: Filled Mini Phyllo Cups
I made these at a gathering recently. So easy to make and superbly delicious. There were no left-overs.
Athens Mini Phyllo Cups: 15 to a package
One Wheel of Brie Cheese will fill 2 packages
Pepper Jelly: 1/2 tsp per mini cup
Place the phyllo cups into a mini-cup muffin pan.
Remove the rind from the Brie. Cut the wheel into pieces to fit into the cups.
Top the cheese in each mini cup with 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper jelly, or with your favorite jam if you prefer sweet to savory.
Bake at 350°F until cheese melts. About 10 minutes.
You can fill the cups with anything you like—sweet or savory—and serve them anytime you choose. Breakfast, snacks, hors d’oeuvres, even dinner.
The possibilities are endless. Spinach with feta. Soft cheeses with jam or preserves. Shellfish or chicken salad. Mushrooms with ... anything. As long as the moisture is low, the phyllo cups will stay crispy.
For more great book recommendations, visit Dragon Authors.
Flourish Vectors by Vecteezy