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You can make this soup up to three days ahead of time.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 pound button mushrooms
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms
1 fennel bulb, sliced, including the feathery tops, chopped
1 tablespoon dried fennel seed
8- 10 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon cracked  black pepper

1. Place a large stockpot over a medium-low heat and when it is hot, add the onion, celery, fennel and fennel seed and cook for 10 minutes. 
2. Add the mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cook until the fennel is tender, about 20 minutes.  Off heat, add the black pepper and transfer the mixture to a blender. Blend, in batches until smooth.
4. Serve garnished with the chopped fennel tops.

Yield: about 12 cups


The sweet potatoes can be prepared up to two days ahead of time but add the topping and cook just prior to eating.

4 sweet potatoes, cut in large dice
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup pecans, finely chopped  
½ cup brown sugar, laid out on a plate overnight to dry it out 

1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes are tender and all but one inch of water has evaporated, about 20 minutes. 
2. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, place the pecans and brown sugar in a small bowl and mix until well combined.  Set aside.
3. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until they are smooth. Add the butter, maple syrup, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. Transfer to an 8 x 8 baking pan and top with the pecan and brown sugar mixture. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.   


You can make this sorbet up to one week ahead. I give a range for the sugar because pears can range quite a bit in sweetness- err on the side of less sugar. If you overdo it, you can always add a little extra lemon juice.

Serves 4- 6

½- 3/4 cup white sugar 
1 cup water
1 teaspoon ground ginger
5 over-ripe Pears, peeled, cored and sliced   
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup walnuts, ground as finely as possible

1. Place the sugar, water, ginger, and pears in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the pears are completely soft, about 20 minutes.  Set aside to cool. Place in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the lemon juice and walnuts and blend until incorporated.
2. Refrigerate until cold. 
3. If you are using an ice cream maker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
4. If you are not using an ice cream maker, place the mixture in a shallow bowl, cover, and place in the freezer, stirring every hour.  When the mixture is frozen and you are just about to serve it, cut it into 10- 12 pieces and place them in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and pulse until the frozen chunks break up and the mixture has a creamy but solid consistency. Serve immediately.


1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chicken stock
3 cups arborio rice (Do not substitute any other kind)
10 cups chicken stock
2- 3 1/2 ounces montrachet cheese (1/2- 1 small log)
fresh basil

1. Put onion and 1/4 cup chicken stock in heavy-bottomed saucepan and simmer until onion is translucent, about 15 minutes.
2. Add rice and saute one minute.
3. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock to rice and simmer until all the stock has been absorbed, stirring constantly and slowly.
4. Repeat step 3 until all the stock has been absorbed, continuing to add it gradually and stirring all the while.
5. When it is still slightly firm but tender, add goat cheese and chopped basil. Serve immediately: risotto waits for no one.


Crust and topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups cranberries
2 granny smith apples, diced
1/4 cup white sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350′
2. Combine crust ingredients by hand and line 8 inch pan with half.
3. Top with filling ingredients.
4. Add topping and bake for about 35 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm or cool. 


Be sure to cook the filling first in order to give it a chance to cool.

Chicken Filling:
1 tablespoon corn oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, cored and chopped 
1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
salt and pepper

1. Heat oil over medium flame.  Add onion and cook until golden.
2. Add tomatoes and cook until mixture starts to thicken slightly.
3. Add chicken and cool.

Shrimp Filling:
1 tablespoon corn oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup pitted green olives
1 1/4 cups peeled raw shrimp
1/4 cup peeled dried shrimps, reconstituted in 1/2 cup warm water for 20 minutes and then drained

1. Heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and tomatoes and cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.
2. Add remaining ingredients and cook until shrimp is no longer transparent, about 4 minutes. Cool.

Tamale Dough:
1/4 pound lard
1 pound prepared corn tortilla masa
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon achiote seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
18 pieces banana leaf, 9 x 7
3 jalapenos, slivered
18 ties

1. In a mixer, beat the lard until white and fluffy.
2. Gradually add remaining ingredients and mix until very smooth but somewhat dry.  Divide into 1 1/2″ balls.
3. Grease the banana leaves with lard.  Put one of the balls in the center of each leaf and flatten with the heel of your hand. 
4. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon filling on top of the dough, add jalapenos and then close tamale “package”, by folding both sides in so that they overlap. Tie with banana leaf strips.
5. Steam until the dough almost slips away from the banana leaf, about 50-60 minutes.

Tamales can be made ahead and resteamed or reheated on a griddle or in the oven.

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