As it came time to baptize the twins, I knew that I wanted to enjoy the special day with my daughters, as well as the family and friends who joined us for the important occasion. My mind started racing, and I could feel the tension building in my shoulders as I thought of all that needed to be done to make the day special.
I took a deep breath and thought back to my childhood and the times the extended family gathered for holidays or celebrations. Immediately, a smile comes to my face, and I momentarily drift to a place in time where I can hear my Grandma laugh with her sisters in the kitchen, while my cousins and I run through the house to find yet another place to play a game. But mostly, it was the smells from the kitchen that really bring a smile to my face.
Throughout the day, my grandmother and her sisters would busy themselves in the kitchen ensuring the homemade food would be kept hot and flowing for the family to enjoy. There were certain foods that were always present, and I’m sure if I asked anyone who was there – my mom and dad, aunts and uncles, brother and cousins, they would be able to recall the same things I can.
I too wanted to bring that experience to this baptism celebration, except, I did not want to spend my time in the kitchen.
As I continued to plan (with the tension in my shoulders being slightly relieved), I thought about which food traditions I would continue, and what else I could do that would be memorable, but relatively stress free. For the traditional foods I decided on stuffed cabbage, Listy. A fried Czech pastry, a delicious homemade cake, and Ladylocks – those delicate pastry cones filled with frosting that I haven’t enjoyed for decades (reason is they are very tedious to make, and require LOTS of time and patience).
Luckily Mom was on hand to help with the stuffed cabbage, as I had never made this before. No sooner had she started to get the ingredients ready, than did Grayson and Nicole pull up their chairs to help. I have to admit that I mainly watched the process, and Grayson and Nicole actually participated, with Grandma (and her patience) teaching them how to roll the meat mixture into the cabbage. I am sure that if they hadn’t participated in the making of the rolls, they would have never ventured to try them.
As for the Listy, while I had made this before for Grayson’s baptism several years prior, I was glad that Mom was quick to jump in and help get it made while I focused on other last minute details.
Now, I could fell the tension mounting as the time came close to the making of the ladylocks. I actually wanted to stay clear of the kitchen, because of my 30-year-old memories of batches of pastry cones burning, or crumbling to pieces when being filled.
But my guilt was too much for me. I couldn’t disappear, especially since I specifically asked Mom to make them for the Baptism. I had to endure, from the outskirts of the kitchen. Knowing the task that lie ahead, Mom bravely entered the kitchen to make the dough. Rolling and buttering the dough before folding and buttering again and again. Next, as she cut the dough to begin wrapping around the cone forms, Grayson and Nicole found their way into the kitchen again, asking to help. Grandma happily welcomed them to the table, and showed them how to roll the dough around the cones. Before I knew it, the ‘cones’ were baked, with only a few casualties (which were gobbled up by the kids). Grayson and Nicole still had no idea of what goodness they had in store for them. The cones were soon to be filled with a lovely light filling, then the ladylocks were sprinkled with powdered sugar and left to tempt us on the counter until the party the next day.
For the remainder of the brunch, I turned to Chef Mick Rosacci of Tony’s Market in the Denver, Colorado area. I told him I needed suggestions on what to serve my guests that would be memorable, tasty and relatively stress free. I didn’t want a deli or vegetable tray bought from the local market, but something more memorable, that could be virtually ready to go when we returned from the church.
My list of demands didn’t prove too daunting for Mick, as he quickly sent over a delicious menu that was just what I had asked for – great tasting, unique and relatively stress-free preparation.
Spring Baptism Brunch: Supplied by Chef Mick Rosacci of Tony’s Market
Premium Smoked Ham
Choose a “Ham” or “Natural Juice Ham” – these are premium hams with less water. Hams can vary dramatically in quality and taste – it’s ok to ask for a taste before you buy.
Heat your ham in a 250-degree oven for about 10-12 minutes per pound, tented and with a little liquid in the pan – this can happen while you are out. When you get home, uncover the ham and glaze.
Mini Kabobs To Please All
Making kabobs the day before will make an extra special treat when the guests arrive. I’d make the kabobs short, about 4 oz each, leaving long handles for easy grilling. You can make meat only kabobs and veggie only kabobs, or mix it up – the idea here is to have something for everybody.
Mist your kabobs with oil and season, or douse in marinade and display attractively on a platter. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
When the guests arrive, simply light the grill and the guests can have fun grilling their own (or get a husband to run the grill, its very manly and we love it!)
Here is a suggested set of kabobs to prepare in advance.
• Chicken breast and red bell pepper
• Beef sirloin and green bell peppers
• Sautéed Mushroom (mushrooms, onions and 1×1 squares of bacon)
• Pineapple scallion and ham
Fresh Greens Bar
Fresh veggies and salads are always a great idea, but salads can be limiting and veggie trays get boring – so try a Fresh Greens Bar. It can be picked at like a veggie tray, and can be turned into dozens of custom salad combinations. Larger groups call for larger variety – and the leftovers can be used later in salads and suppers
Here is a sample list of ingredients displayed on platters along with a variety of dressings… Shredded green cabbage, shredded red cabbage, spring greens, spinach, torn lettuce leaves, carrot and celery sticks cut thin on a bias, hard boiled eggs, radishes, broccoli and or cauliflower florets, cherry or grape tomatoes, shredded or cubed cheese, sprouts, sliced pears, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries.
Baby Potato Bar
Small red or white potatoes can cook in the oven alongside your ham, at 250 degrees they will be done in an hour or two.
Scatter a variety of small potatoes onto a sheet pan and roast – and then serve warm with an array of potato toppings, such as cheeses, bacon bits, sour cream, minced herbs, or even chili.
Place the baby potato bar right next to the Fresh Greens Bar, and place ingredients that can go into either between the two (such as cheese, bacon bits, etc.)
The leftovers are manageable when everyone goes home – cooked potatoes in the skin can be used for dozens of dishes.
Yogurt, fruit and whole grains are just about the tastiest responsible food you can serve at a brunch buffet. Let’s make some extra special yogurt for this one – start with a good quality plain yogurt and an interesting canned fruit, such as lychee or rambutan. Chop the fruit and blend it along with some of the syrup from the can to flavor your yogurt.
Offer the yogurt in a bowl surrounded with fresh cut fruit and bowls of granola and toasted nuts. Display with stemmed glasses, building one fruit parfait and place it in the back to give everyone the idea.
Biscuits and Honeycomb
Ok, so this one is a little flash – but with the availability of fresh honeycomb, it’s a nice touch for a special occasion.
Fresh biscuits served with a chunk of honeycomb. The honeycomb is place on one half of a plate with deep sides – then elevate the comb side and cut away some of the wax – the comb will constantly drain into a pool of honey on the other side of the plate – surround with biscuits and butter pats.
The celebration was wonderful and I actually had the chance to spend time with my family and friends. I saw my cousin Chris’ eye light up when he smelled the stuffed cabbage rolls (I think it brought him back to the same place it did me). Every aspect of the menu was a hit, with nothing left untouched. The leftovers proved very handy for the following days when family was still in town.
All in all, I believe it was a success. I thank my Mom for stepping in and passing along the great traditions, and thanks to Mick for giving my inspiration to make a memorable event that I could actually enjoy.
Next time you’re planning a special event, or even a get-together with friends, try to combine a bit of your family’s traditional recipes, with ones that are quick, easy and sure to be a hit with adults and children alike.
Source: Grandma Marie
• 1 large egg
• ½ cup heavy cream
• 4 egg yolks
• 2 ¼ cups flour
• 1/3 cup sugar
• ½ tsp. salt
• 2 tsp. vanilla
1. Mix together thoroughly.
2. Chill overnight.
3. Roll thin, then cut in triangles.
4. Make slit in each, and pull end through slit.
5. Fry in deep fat.
6. Drain on brown paper.
7. Dust with powdered sugar.
• Large head cabbage
• 1 lb. ground chuck
• ½ cup uncooked rice
• 1 small onion, grated
• 2 eggs
• 1 tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. pepper
• 1 large onion, sliced
• 2 cans tomatoes (7 cups) (1 lb.- 13 oz. cans)
• 2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
• Juice of two lemons
• 1 teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon pepper
• ½ to 1 cup brown sugar
1. Remove 12 large leaves from cabbage. Trim off thick part of each leaf. Let boiling water stand on leaves a few minutes, so they become easy to roll.
2. Combine meat, rice, grated onion, eggs, 1 tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper. Place mound of meat mixture in cup part of each leaf. Loosely fold over sides of each leaf; roll up.
3. Start heating oven to 375 F. In bottom of Dutch oven, place a few of remaining cabbage leaves. Arrange layers of stuffed cabbage, with seam sides down, and sliced onion in Dutch oven. Pour on tomato sauce, tomatoes, lemon juice. Add 1 tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper. Bring to boil on top of range. Sprinkle with brown sugar to taste. Bake, covered, 1 hour; uncover; bake 2 hours. Makes 8 servings.