Bay Burger and Joe & Liza’s Ice Cream owners Joe and Liza Tremblay pick their seasonal favorites.
Grandma Blake’s Pumpkin Bread (Liza):
“For every Thanksgiving and Christmas my mother makes her grandmother’s pumpkin bread, which is a very dense pumpkin spice cake cooked in a Bundt pan and served with the savory part of the meal. It’s really a cake, has more spices than pumpkin, and she always reads the recipe off a stained recipe card that probably dates back to the twenties or thirties. I hope we never lose that card.”
Nila Wafer Mini Cheese Cakes (Joe):
My parents were very involved in the Catholic church and we went to a lot of church pot-luck dinners. There was a lot of recipe swapping that went on in that church basement and one year my mom picked up this simple hors d’oeuvre style desserts that are simply a Nila wafer cookie on the bottom of a muffin foil, baked under some cheese cake batter, chilled and topped with canned cherries. I think of them as iconic old-fashioned American cooking.
Beef Tenderloin with Bernaise Sauce (Liza):
“On Christmas Eve my side of the family has a tradition of having roasted beef tenderloin, which as children my sister and I named ‘Christmas Meat’. I think it’s really just an excuse for my mom to have bernaise sauce, one of her favorite things. There is always drama around the preparation of the sauce, it inevitably breaks right before we sit down at the table and we have to take turns whisking cold butter into it to bring it back together. We’ve never lost a sauce.”
Oysters on the Half Shell (Joe):
Raising oysters has become a big part of my life, and growing up I think I had the very common experience of our family sharing raw oysters on the holidays. It was always a spectacle that brought the family together. With seven male cousins, it was a big deal to see which of the kids was brave enough to try and slurp one down. I loved assembling them with all the different topping combinations and the feeling of people thinking I was braver than my older brothers.
Leek and Wild Mushroom Stuffing (Liza):
“For Thanksgiving I have made the same stuffing several years in a row, leek and wild mushroom. You use dried porcini mushrooms and moisten the stuffing with the liquid you rehydrated the mushrooms in. The finished product is basically mushrooms, leeks and bread suspended in a ridiculous amount of butter. It takes all afternoon and is one of my favorite things to cook at the holidays.”
Zucchini Casserole (Joe):
There are few vegetable preparations that kids go crazy for, but when I was young my mother’s zucchini casserole was often my favorite foods at holiday dinners. Admittedly, the mild flavor of the zucchini takes a supportive role to the onions, cheddar cheese, and egg that really define the casserole. I don’t make it much for holidays anymore because I tend to go with more seasonal vegetables, but when I do, it’s always a star.