Tuesday, December 17, 2013


There’s no denying that I love the holiday season, and the undercurrent of excitement that passes from person to person in New York City, with each transaction at the deli or hand offered when exiting a city bus. It’s easy to take my beloved city for granted, since it’s my home and the backdrop for daily school runs and trips to the dry cleaner. But when I have guests, especially during the Christmas season, it allows me to see the city again with innocent eyes. 

Once again I feel the fizz of living within walking distance of Rockefeller Center with its monumental tree festooned in red and gold ribbons. I walk out-of-towners through Macy’s, making sure to take a ride on the old wooden-slatted escalators, and a peek at Santa so we can pretend we’re in the movie Miracle on 34th Street. And I love watching the ice skaters on the rink at Bryant Park, gliding to the music amidst the stalls peddling handmade holiday gifts, as we sip hot cider and cocoa.

After long days of walking in the chill air, I enjoy treating my guests to a homey dinner, as an antidote to the rich and exotic restaurant fare the Big Apple offers. Most guests will have sampled sweets and desserts ranging from cherry blintzes at the Edison Café, to Junior’s cheesecake, to Crack Pie from Momofuku, so I like to make savory dishes during the holidays. 

Here are a few of my wintertime favorites that I hope will help warm up your kitchen, your spirit, and your guests.

Minted Mashed Carrots

Winter is the time for comforting foods, the sturdy ones that stick to your ribs. I love root vegetables — carrots in particular — for checking that box. This cheerily bright side dish is homey, while popping as not-your-every-day fare. The tangy citrus harmonizes with the herbal mint, making this mash perfect for serving alongside savory meats with rich gravies. 

This recipe was inspired by one developed in the Fine Cooking “Fakesgiving” trial run cooking marathon in which cooks make as many Thanksgiving sides as they possibly can. It certainly holds its own on a table with a turkey dinner, or why not serve it as a complement to gamey venison steaks or rich Moroccan-spiced lamb meatballs.

Makes 4 Generous Servings

2 pounds / 900 grams carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks (about 1 inch / 2 1/2 centimeters)
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons whipping cream or double cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, set over high heat, combine the carrots with enough cold water to cover by about 1 inch / 2 1/2 centimeters.  Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the carrots are fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the carrots to a colander and drain, allowing them to rest.

In the same saucepan, set over low heat, combine the remaining salt, oil, cream, butter, mint, lemon zest, orange juice, and pepper, and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the ingredients combine.

Return the carrots to the pan with the oil and butter mixture and mash with a potato masher. Serve immediately.

Store in the refrigerator in a tightly lidded container for up to 3 days.

Winter Turkey and Barley Soup

The holiday season is the time for roast dinners, and in my house, not many nights pass without chicken or turkey on the menu. Every bit as warming and as satisfying as  roast fowl, is a winter soup. And it’s the perfect dish to make with the leftovers from a Sunday lunch. It’ll fill your belly, soothe your soul, and ward off seasonal colds.

For the Stock:

Leftovers from a roast chicken or turkey
1 large white or yellow onion
1 head garlic
1 bay leaf

Using your hands, pick all the nice bits of chicken or turkey off of the carcass of a leftover roast, put it in a bowl, and set it in the refrigerator.

In a large stock pot, cover the bones, skin, and remaining meat, and cover with cold water by about 1 inch / 2.5 centimeters. Set the pot over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low, and simmer covered for 30 minutes. 

Remove the lid, and reduce the heat to low,  and simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour, or until the liquid has reduced by half.

Strain, and let stand for half an hour. Using a large, wide spoon, skim the fat and film from the surface. Use immediately to make soup, or store in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

For the Soup:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound / 225 grams celery, ribbed if necessary, and chopped finely
1/2 pound / 225 grams carrots, peeled and sliced

1 medium leek, cleaned and sliced

1.2 lt/2 pt chicken stock (see box)

3 ounces / 80 grams / 1/2 cup pearl barley

8 ounces / 225 grams cooked chicken or turkey, chopped coarsely
6 ounces / 175 grams potatoes, cooked until tender, then chopped
(more or less, from one medium to large potato)
6 ounces / 175 grams cooked sweet peas, cooked until tender
1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot set over medium heat, warm the oil, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and leek, then saute for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to get tender. Add the stock, pearl barley, chicken and potatoes and season well.
Increase the heat to high, and stirring constantly, bring the soup to a high simmer, stopping just before the boil.

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the barley, celery and carrots are tender. Stir in the cooked vegetables, return to the boil and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper. 

Store in a tightly-lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Endive Spoons, with Cheese, Fruit, and Nuts

I love this appetizer for its elegance as much as its simplicity. Easy to make, this pretty hors d’oeuvres makes a splash served at the table or passed during the cocktail hour.

The palate of this dish is genius: The bitterness of the endive, the sweetness of the pears and figs, the tang of the blue cheese and lemon, and the depth of the nuts combine to make each mouthful a mini-meal. And as far as holiday snacks go, this one offers health as well as flavor!

2 ounces / 50 grams goat cheese
16 leaves of Belgian endive (from 2 or 3 small heads), leaves separated, washed thoroughly and patted dry
2 large, ripe Bartlett pears, cored and sliced thinly (peel left on)
4 ounces / 100 grams dried figs, pitted and quartered
2 ounces / 50 grams gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 ounces / 50 grams walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 small lemon, halved and seeded

Lay the endive leaves out flat on a large platter, and spread a thin layer of goat cheese on each. Lay a pear slice onto each and press down firmly. Dot the tops of the pears with pieces of fig, then divide the gorgonzola, and walnuts over the tops. 

Squeeze lemon juice lightly over all of the hors d’oeuvres, plate on a decorative tray, and serve immediately. Store in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Author Bio

HarperImpulse novelist Lynn Marie Hulsman's varied employment background includes stints as a copywriter for a direct marketing agency specializing in casino advertising (Free buffets! Loose slots!), ushering at Manhattan Theatre Club where she ran smack into Steve Martin's chest, irritated Jeremy Irons's agent, and saw John Slattery naked over 50 times, editing materials for major pharmaceutical companies (Ask her anything about the prostate: She knows.), creatively ideating to re-brand major household products for huge corporations, and passing out cheese cube samples (a decided low point). As a performer she's been seen onstage at Caroline's, Stand Up New York, and headlining with her sketch group Hits Like a Girl at The Big Stinkin' Comedy Festival in Austin,TX. She can't tell you what she's ghost written (obv!) but she's co-written two books on cookery, and is sole author of the forthcoming cookbook The Kentucky Bourbon Dessert Cookbook. She does not believe in white chocolate.

Book Blurb: 

Need a fun, festive treat to warm you up on cold winter nights? Don't miss this terrific debut from a witty new voice in romantic comedy!

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend's apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas - with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!

So when she's personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it's not long before Juliet's standing at the (back) door of the impossibly grand ancestral pile.

The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.

But other flames are burning besides those on the stove... Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet's getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?

As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall's numerous dark cupboards!

CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.

Buy Christmas at Thornton Hall

Connect with Lynn Marie Hulsman


  1. I've been to NY in January, but never have managed to make it there at Christmas time. Would love to one day!

    Sounds like such a fun read! I have a very similar turkey/barley soup recipe and it's delicious!

    1. NYC Christmas = Magical, Jackie. Also, don't you just love barley in soup? So hearty and comforting...

  2. These recipes sound sound absolutely delicious. I'll have to save these to try later.

    I've never been to NYC in December, but it's a personal goal. NYC seems like a place with a lot of holiday spirit surrounding it.

    Fabulous post. Congrats on your book.

    1. Thanks for your nice words, Laura. It's really fun to have guests at this time of year because it reminds me of all I have in my backyard (so to speak)!

  3. As a fellow New Yorker, I also tend to take my city for granted, and seeing it through the eyes of tourists is pretty amazing. So is Rockefeller Center during Christmas time. I must admit that I avoid Macy's until after the New Year unless I absolutely cannot avoid it :) Congrats on your new release - it sounds like a very fun read!!

    1. I hear you about Macy's, Meredith! As a shopper, nix. As a tour guide, I can view it as festive. Thanks for the nice words about my book!

  4. I live in (Upstate) NY, but have never been to NYC during the Christmas season. I know, shame on me! I would love to take my daughter to see the Rockettes and just take in the scenes of NYC in the winter.

    Your book sounds amazing. It is definitely going on my TBR list.

    1. Mom and daughter day in the city for Christmas? Memory of a lifetime! Thanks for putting Christmas at Thornton Hall on your TBR list! I know all of us have long ones this season with all of the great books out.

  5. Great post! Makes me want to drop everything and head for NYC. I've only visited the city twice but it is one of my favorite places. Thanks for the recipes! Everything looks delicious. Congrats on the book!! :)

    1. Thanks for the nice wishes, Cat. I know you know how proud a new book can make one feel! Have fun with the recipes. I swear by the carrot one. A real crowd pleaser!

  6. As a one time New Yorker (for 5 years in my early 20s) your post is making me think I didn't appreciate the city enough! Maybe I can swing Xmas as a tourist in NYC next year... Those recipes sound divine and your book sounds sensational!! :-)

    1. NYC is a GREAT place to be when you're young. I sometimes find myself walking blindly past the "wonders" of the city. That's why I love being a tour guide...

  7. Lynn, your book looks so good, and I can't wait to read it. NYC is one of my favorite places in the world, and your post made me want to hop on a plane and stay at your house. Thanks for the recipes! Happy Holidays!

    1. Come on by, Sam! If you don't mind the mix of school-aged children, elderly dogs, and chaos, you're most welcome :)

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