This week is a special week on our alphabetical trip around the world because we’re studying the place we’ll be visiting in less than two weeks. Time has flown by and not only are we on letter N already, but we’re fast approaching our big family New York New Year’s adventure!
We’ve been talking about New York a lot for the past few months, so they are already familiar with some of the books and TV shows from the Big Apple and can identify the city skyline. We’ve looked at the art from the museums we hope to visit and discussed the things we want to see and do. With Christmas only a week away, we skipped the crafts and activities this week in favour of watching a few shows that feature New York City including Eloise and a classic version of The Cricket in Times Square. I also found a few “New York” themed playlists online featuring jazz from the 50’s and 60’s and Greenwich Village folk songs.
For a New York themed menu I suppose I could have done almost anything. There probably isn’t a single ethnicity or style of cooking that isn’t covered somewhere in the city. You even find restaurants devoted entirely to one specific dish or ingredient such as macaroni and cheese or peanut butter sandwiches. But in order to narrow things down and keep things interesting I decided to make a menu consisting of dishes that were named for New York City itself or one of it’s icons.
For my main course I went with Manhattan clam chowder , served with Waldorf salad and New York knishes. The main thing that distinguishes the Manhattan style of chowder from the New England version is that it’s tomato based and not creamy. I actually found it quite a bit easier to make because of that. Waldorf salad is a mixture of grapes, apple, celery and walnuts in a creamy dressing that was supposedly invented at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in 1896. I can never hear about it without automatically thinking of the “Waldorf Salad” episode of Fawlty Towers! The knish is a Jewish invention which is often associated with the delicatessens of New York’s lower east side but aren’t limited to the city. Most recipes consist of some sort of potato or meat and potato filling wrapped in some sort of dough. I made the simplest version I could find with a filling of potatoes and onions. They were pretty heavy, but went well with the soup and filled out the meal nicely.
For beverages we had Manhattans, of course. I’m not really a cocktail person, but it was fun to try a bit of mixing. Let’s just say, though, that the Manhattan may not be the best starter cocktail. Those things pack quite a punch (hic!).
And the verdict? My husband loves seafood chowder, likes things that are wrapped in dough and is pretty easygoing about his salads, so all was good in that department. I was pleasantly surprised about the salad myself since two of the four ingredients are things I’m not all that fond of, yet somehow it worked when you put it all together. And the kids? All I’m going to say for today that it’s probably a good thing the Manhattans were so strong.
For dessert we had New York cheesecake with raspberry sauce. I do a fair bit of baking, but I’d never attempted cheesecake before and I was quite happy with how it turned out. My only problem is that a little cheesecake goes a long way for me and now that I’ve had one slice I probably won’t be in the mood to have more for quite a while, so I have no idea what I’ll do with the rest of cheesecake that’s now sitting in my fridge. Oh well, I guess there are worse problems to have.
So that was New York. And now I’m even more excited about heading off there soon for New Years. I’ll be taking a break from my alphabetical theme for a few weeks since no one seemed to think that an “O”country themed Christmas dinner was a good idea, but we’ll be back in January with more. Next stop New York!