Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Darling Night Before Kindergarten

This week has been bittersweet. At some point, I don't know when or how, our baby daughter grew up to be five-years-old. Tomorrow she will begin Kindergarten. I keep shaking my head, saying, "This can't be!" Part of me secretly wants to bundle her up and never let her go.

What keeps me from following through with my secret desire, is that I have been looking forward to this age with Izzy for a long time. I couldn't wait for the day that she would be old enough to carry on a real conversation, where her own personality and thoughts could shine through. So far she has yet to disappoint ... this child is no shrinking violet! She recently asked me why she couldn't stay up passed her bedtime and when I told her that I was concerned that she would wake up with a negative attitude, her response was, "Well, you stay up later than me and now I'm really concerned about YOUR attitude in the morning". This type of exchange is classic Izzy - witty, strong minded and loving. It is a perfect example of why I constantly yearn to hear her inner voice, even if it proves to be a challenge at bedtime.

As a child, I felt confident in my own skin and I wasn't afraid to express what I thought and felt. This was due to my parents' ability to maintain their role as parents while simultaneously allowing me to talk with them, openly, honestly and from my heart.

As a parent, I have learned that part of the joy of parenting is getting to know your child for who they are as individuals. It is a bizarre and lovely experience to see oneself, partner, or parents in ones children but nothing compares to what it's like to see them becoming their own person ... no matter how little that person may be. Walking Izzy confidently to her classroom door, letting go of her hand and allowing her to continue to grow as the bright, self assured and caring young lady that she is, is probably one of the best things I could do for her tomorrow and every day after.

It's a happy coincidence that Izzy's first day of school coincides with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when we welcome another year and wish that it may be healthy, happy and sweet. Since Mr. Darling has been called away for the next few weeks, he will be missing her first day of school. We know that this is a hard reality for our daughter and instead of focusing on Daddy not being present, we are highlighting all the amazing things that are ahead ... A Darling Night Before Kindergarten Dinner, for example!

Tonight, my darling daughter, son and I will be enjoying everything sweet for a beautiful New Year and start of school. Check out a few of the dishes that I have prepared. A couple of them are my family's traditional holiday favorites, but the dessert is a favorite sweet of my sweet! The Darling Family extends a toast in honor of a New Year, a new beginning and the sweet reward of spreading your wings and learning to fly.  Enjoy!

With love,
Mrs. Darling

Mrs. Darling's Holiday Roast Chicken
Mrs. Fleischer's Sweet Kugel
Mrs. Darling's Sauteed Kale
Make Your Own Sundae - Darling Style

Bernardaud Platter - Mrs. Darling's Everyday China
Vintage Limoge Serving Bowl From The Darling Family Collection
Glassware: William Yeoward compote bowl, vintage etched glass (Wildflower)
 Vintage Limoge Ice-cream Dishes From The Darling Family Collection
Fabergé Silver Spoons (Gatchina Palace) From The Darling Family's Silverware

Yield: 8 Servings
Approximate Time: 1 1/2 hours

One 4-5 lb whole chicken, preferably organic
1 Golden Delicious apple, cut and quartered
1 Granny Smith apple, cut and quartered
1 yellow onion, cut and quartered
1 orange, sliced in large pieces
1 bayleaf
1/2 cup of honey
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees
*Rinse chicken inside and out with cold water. (if you have time, you can brine the chicken in a bowl of ice cold water and kosher salt). Pat dry with paper towel.
*Mix 1/4 cup of honey and lemon juice. Set aside
*Season chicken in and out with a mixture of salt, pepper and paprika
*Mix apples, onion, sliced orange and 1 bay leaf
*Stuff the chicken with apple mixture and tie the poultry legs together with twine.
*Put chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for approximately 15 minutes per pound, basting chicken with lemon-honey mixture every 15 minutes.
*Roast until well browned and clear juices flow out of the leg when it is pierced with a fork or knife.
*Allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving

Yield: 6-8 servings
Approximate Time: 1 hour

2 pounds sweet potatoes, diced
4 carrots, cut in chunks
1 cup of prunes
1/2 cup jumbo raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 cups orange juice
1 tablespoon potato starch
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
peel of one orange

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees
*combine sweet potatoes and carrots in a microwavable dish
*Pour 1/2 cup orange juice and microwave for 2-4 minutes
*put mixture in a casserole dish and add prunes, raisins, apricots, honey, sugar, cinnamon, the remaining orange juice, orange peel and potato starch. Mix well
*Bake for 1 hour or until very tender when pierced with a fork

Yield: 8-10 servings
Approximate Time: 45-60 minutes

1/2 lb medium noodles
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
4 oz cream cheese
1 lb cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon, vanilla
apricot marmalade

*Preheat over to 350 degrees
*cook noodles in boiling water until tender. Drain and set aside
*mix yolks with butter, sour cream, 1/4 cup of sugar, cream cheese, cottage cheese and vanilla. Blend well
*Beat egg whites until frothy and gradually add in 3/4 cup of sugar
*continue beating until stiff but not dry
*fold meringue into the yolk mixture
*pour mixture in a casserole dish and bake for 30- 35 minutes
*remove from oven and spoon the apricot marmalade on top and dot with butter
*Bake an additional 10 minutes, until golden

Yield: 4 servings
Approximate Time: 20 minutes

1 pound kale, torn in large pieces
1 red apple, cut in matchstick pieces
2 shallots, sliced
1 tablespoon Ghee
1 teaspoon Harissa 
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon rind
1 tablespoon silvered almonds, toasted

*Heat ghee in a large saute pan that will accommodate all of the kale
*Saute shallots and add harissa, 1 tablespoon agave and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for one minute
*Add kale, mixing to blend evenly. Cover and cook for one minute.
*Uncover and add apples and lemon rind. Stir and cook until kale is wilted
*Add lemon juice, taste and correct seasoning to taste
*transfer to a serving dish
*sprinkle with slivered, toasted almonds

Anything goes! Below are a few of the Little Darling's sundae favorites.

"Mommy! Can we have those silvery jewels on our sundaes?" - The Darling asked ... She shall receive!
These were just too cute to pass up!

Make Your Own Sundae - Darling Style

This dish will not run away with the spoon ... the Little Darlings would never let that happen

These recipes were created in collaboration with Lory Fleischer, Cook/Pastry Chef, graduate of the FRENCH CULINARY INSTITUTE (Classic Pastry Arts).

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