Christmas Time Points to Ponder and Recipes to Share….

Dec 25



We have another Christmas upon us. If a person who has grown up with the celebration of Christmas in their life says they don’t like the holiday, you might question their answer. Maybe Christmas is not the thing that is giving them concern or the real reason to feel as so. I would surely consider that to be the case. The commercial elements aside, it is a time tested wonderful story, great images to draw upon, a time when folks take a moment to reflect; maybe share a good deed for someone needy or perhaps just a time at the end of the year to join with others and embrace all the good reasons for the family of man to celebrate.

Brussels Sprouts Provencal
Recipe type: Gratin baked
Cuisine: French
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6-8

A great dish that gets better after a day or so. Just top with some grated cheese, heat and enjoy.
  • 1½ pounds of small fresh Brussels sprouts ,washed , trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 medium chopped yellow onion
  • 2 medium red or yellow bell peppers ,trimmed and cut in strips
  • 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped garlic
  • 4-6 oz. smoked ham cut julienne
  • 1 quart home canned fresh whole tomatoes (or 1-29 oz. can quality whole tomatoes), coarsely chopped and drained
  • ½ cup pitted Provencal-style brine cured black olives
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh sweet basil
  • 1 Tbsp. dried whole thyme
  • 1½ Tbsp. Herbs de Provence
  • ½ cup quality olive oil (do not use extra virgin because the heat will destroy it;s delicate taste and flavor)
  • 3 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 cup fresh hard grating cheese
  • Grated rind of 2 large lemons
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Sea salt to taste

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Blanch Brussels sprouts for 3-4 minutes in salted water, drain and set aside
  3. In a heavy 6-8 qt. Dutch oven or cast iron pot, heat ¼ cup of the olive oil over medium heat ; saute onions until opaque for 4-5 minutes, add bell peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes stirring. Add garlic, lower heat and continue cooking for 2 minutes . Set at medium heat , add ham, bay leaves, Herbs de Provence,and thyme. Stir for 1-2 minutes and add drained tomatoes, olives and stir well. Next add parsley and basil;stir well and cover ,place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven,stir in lemon rind , and salt and pepper to taste. Mix grated cheese with bread crumbs and spread over top of mixture . Drizzle with remaining ¼ cup of olive oil .Return gratin back to the oven , uncovered and bake until top is browned well and mixture is hot and bubbling- about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Remove to cooling rack,let stand for 15 minutes . Serve as a great holiday side dish for your Christmas or New Years celebration meal!

Christmas for me , always brings up wonderful memories. Memories of holiday meals and special dishes with dear friends and loved ones. Foods they especially liked and I was there to prepare or share with them . I think sharing some of those  would be a good thing. Brussels sprouts. I grew up with them. These days they have become so popular with the new breed of inventive and talented chef’s…they are on menus often. There was a time,”Brussels sprouts! Yuk! “, would be the oft heard remark. It grows in a most curious manner…reminds one of some flora from the set of a Star Trek movie . It is a hearty vegetable that will complement anyone’s offerings from a home garden. A recipe that always has been well received and enjoyed in my world, on many of my menus and at holidays and gatherings. It is especially delicious when served as a left over. Good when chopped coarsely and placed in a brunch omelette with some Havarti or Fontina cheese too. Here is a fabulous Brussels Sprouts gratin with a crusty topping of fresh bread crumbs and some good grating hard cheese.

Ross and Milt’s Excellent Carrot Cake Adventure
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 18-24

This recipe is presented in restaurant/commercial amounts. If you choose to pare it back, be careful the spices maintain the flavors and the batter rises properly.
  • 5 cups granulated sugar
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 6 cups grated fresh carrots
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1½ Tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ Tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ Tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup finely chopped crystalized ginger
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts ,
  • pecans or hazelnuts
  • 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple w/juice

  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees (325 for convection oven)
  2. Grease insides liberally of 5-6 loaf pans with shortening;dust with flour
  3. With an electric mixer beat until pale yellow in a large S/S bowl sugar,eggs and oil
  4. Keep mixing and mix well slowly flour,baking powder,salt and baking soda
  5. When mixed well, add pineapple , and all spices-mix until smooth
  6. By hand stir in carrots, coconut and chopped ginger.
  7. Add raisins and nuts of choice (raisins , nuts and coconut can be left out)
  8. When batter is mixed and smooth, place pans on cookie sheet and fill ⅔ full
  9. Bake until tooth pick or cake tester comes out clean and cake is firm to touch
  10. Cool on rack for 15 min, then turn out of pans and cool 1½-2 hours
  11. Frost with favorite recipe cream cheese frosting or serve plain.

Did Your Mom Ever Say to you…… “Eat your carrots now, they will help you see better? ” I sure bought into that one. There are different opinions, but generally it’s not true. I am sure glad I listened to my Mom though. Love’ em! Mostly I love them in Carrot Cake; not too sure what special health qualities that offers. I mentioned in “The Chocolate Cake…Part 2” that my friend Milt was the benchmark for Carrot Cake quality, of that there is no doubt. Let’s see what all of you think about this recipe. It’s a darn good one, and many have said so. ENJOY! (WARNING! This recipe is straight from my restaurant file. It will make lots of cake! The good thing is it will freeze well if wrapped or placed in freezer containers. This way you have it on hand to serve or gift someone on the spur of the moment .)   

Pans to PonderAll the rage today are the expensive stainless steel cooking pots and pans of all sizes. Not just in food service, but the move is to sell these to the home cook or “foodie” too…..for a high price. Are they good conductors of heat? Yes. Are they well made and will last? If you buy the ones that are made well, but the costs can be substantial. You are all aware of the Chinese/Asian wok; a carbon steel surface that heats quickly and efficiently. Once it has been “seasoned’ ,it will last for years. Just ask any hard working Asian or Chinese chef if he’d trade a high cost S/S unit for his wok! I don’t think so. I started my years in a French kitchen with French carbon steel saute pans that had been in use for 15 or more years…..hard use and daily. When I opened Belinda’s , I bought these same pans. I still use a few of them at home and they were first seasoned in1977. I just absolutely love how they cook. Cost? One can get a 12″ pan ,one with a good solid heft, not a flimsy Chinese knock-off,for about $20.00! Go to the restaurant supply houses and inquire about these carbon steel pans in your area. Lodge Mfg. in Tennessee (the only American cast iron pan company left ) also makes a few sizes that they claim to be already seasoned.

These pans are for the serious cook.Once you get one, you will fight to keep it. Just don’t wash it with soap. When it is caked with food that won’t wipe out easily, I just heat mine up on the stove, pour in table salt as an abrasive (just like we used sand in Boys Scouts when camping), rub until clean. Rinse ,dry and coat with a bit of oil until next time.(P.S. For the record, I think S/S pots and pans are great, just not for saute dishes.)

ONE OF MY FAVORITES: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”   DR, SEUSS

P.S. If the placement of my recipes and photos are askew and a bit off center,, please have patience with me. I am determined to take more night classes and hope to graduate with a “C” average in Mr. Word Press’ University!



Carrot Cake



Sweet Italian Carrots

Brussels Sprouts Provencal


  1. Thanks Ross,

    Will be attempting to recreate your Brussels Sprouts Provencal. What libations to pair it with?

    Warm Holiday Wishes.

    • James! This is a good cold weather one dish meal. perhaps incraese the ham or use some artisanal sausages. Crusty bread, and some favorite salad too.I would drink a dry Reisling or a good beer, not too overpowering body;my recommendation.

  2. Chantal /

    Brussels sprouts are indeed such a perfect holiday treat. We made some with chorizo sausage for Christmas eve dinner this year (along with creamy green bean casserole with fried onions, corn bread stuffing, root veggie casserole, salmon, ham, flour-less chocolate cake and salty bourbon pecan bars). The best part? Cooking the meal with loved ones. And lots of leftovers to share!

    • That is a great menu! …and you know me, the top three things I love has “cooking with friends’ included. I am so glad Brussels sprouts have been “discovered” by people who love food. Along with offal,beets,spinach (not in the can),etc. etc.-all great foods. Keep on cooking with loved ones, dear friend!

Leave a Reply

Rate this recipe: