What Decked Halls?

For the first time in my life I have no Christmas tree. The Victorian skaters that usually grace my dining room table are in the basement in a box. No Santa perched on a tiny sleigh piled with tiny packages, led by a reindeer, graces my mantelpiece with pinecones and small, glittery ornaments sprinkled into spruce boughs. Bah, humbug; this year because of Covid-19 family gatherings are verboten as are so many of our holiday (Hanukah, Christmas, other) traditions.


I will “celebrate” by working at the All Souls Soup Kitchen Christmas morning (it’s a regular Friday thing so it falls out on Christmas) and then Zoom with family and friends during the afternoon. Instead of lasagna on Christmas Eve (in keeping with my role as Italian grandmother) and a church service to sing carols, I’ll watch TMC. On Christmas Day I will open a bottle of Prosecco (some traditions are just impossible to let slide) but instead of gravlax, quiche, edamame, haricots vert, ham or filet or some other meatly protein, I plan to chow down on Chinese food (a Jewish tradition I’m embracing for the very first time.)

I wish everyone a safe and as happy as possible holiday season. Here’s to a better 2021 in every way.

And, because I’m not making gravlax this year, here’s the recipe with one for the sauce that’s so good it would be delicious on cardboard.


(Start this a week before you plan to serve it)

2 lbs salmon. Have fish store remove skin and cut through the slab of fish so it’s in two equal horizontal thicknesses.

1/4 c salt

2 Tbls. sugar

2 Tbls chopped dill plus 1 large bunch fresh dill

t Tbls. bottled green peppercorns plus 1 Tsp of peppercorn brine

1 Tbls. fresh tarragon (or dried, makes no difference)

1 Tbls. Thyme  (fresh would be great but I typically used dried)

1 Tbls fresh chervil    (usually omitted because I don’t have any)

2-3 Tbls capers and additional fresh dill for garnish.

Place salmon on piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap it up in. Mix salt, sugar and chopped dill. Rub this all over both pieces of fish front and back. Arrange remaining dill on top of one piece; cover with the other and wrap in foil, crimping edges.

Put wrapped fish on plate in fridge. After one day turn over.

After two days remove and unwrap fish. Reserve dill sprigs. Make a puree of peppercorns and capers and mix with the chopped fresh herbs. Spread on fish and put the dill sprigs back. Add more fresh dill. Wrap again in the foil.

Put a cutting board or other flat surface on the fish and weights on top. (It needs to be quite heavy.)  Return to fridge for three days.

To serve, slice as thinly as possible at a diagonal. Arrange slices and garnish with fresh dill and capers. Serve with black bread and gravlax sauce.

Gravlax Sauce

4 Tbls Dijon mustard

1 tsp dry mustard

3 Tbls sugar

2 Tbls. white vinegar

1/3 c. light vegetable oil

1 small bunch dill, finely chopped.

Combine mustard, sugar and vinegar in bowl or food processor. Add oil drop by drop until mixture is thick. Stir in dill. Refrigerate until ready to use. It keeps several weeks.

Ho ho ho to all.  2021 on the horizon.




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