Holiday Classics With a Twist

Holiday Classics With a Twist

By Pamela Jacobs.

Some foods are a given during the holiday meals—turkey on Thanksgiving, latkes for Hanukkah, gingerbread cookies throughout the Christmas season. You rely on their comforting, tasty presence. But what if you want to shake things up a bit, serving your family and friends holiday classics that have been modernized and amplified?

We decided to do just that, putting a creative spin on our favorite holiday dishes. Then, we went to the experts at Flatiron Wines, our go-to source for all things vino, and asked them to choose a wine that would pair perfectly with each recipe. Here are the delicious results:

For Thanksgiving: Butternut Squash Cornbread Stuffing

Stuffing is a guarantee on Thanksgiving (thank goodness!), and butternut squash is almost certain to make an appearance. If you're smart, cornbread is on the menu as well. But we decided the best way to serve these three favorites is to combine them into one super side dish and watch your guests swoon.

4 ½ cups cornbread, cubed
½ butternut squash, peeled and cubed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warmed
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Toss cubed squash in 3 tablespoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast abou t 20 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Remove and lower oven to 350˚.

Add remaining olive oil and 3 tablespoons butter to large sauté pan; sauté celery and onions until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine cornbread and cooled roasted squash; add onions and celery, and toss gently. Add in about ¼ of the chicken broth, toss gently with a fork, then alternate adding a ¼ at a time and tossing with fork until entire mixture is moist and well mixed. Transfer mixture to a buttered baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned and crispy on top.

Wine Pairing: Domaine Michel Caillot,

Meursault, 2012, $44.99
A good white Burgundy like this, according to the Flatiron Wines experts, "has that great combination of richness and minerality," which means it pairs perfectly with "robust, buttery dishes." In fact, they point out that is works well with the entire Thanksgiving meal.

For Hanukkah: "Breakfast" Latkes

So these latkes aren't necessarily for breakfast—especially since we plan on enjoying them with a glass (or two) of wine—but who doesn't love breakfast for dinner? By turning them into latke waffles and topping them with our favorite bagel accoutrements, these are pretty much the perfect food. You're welcome.

3-4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled
1 yellow onion, peeled
½ cup flour plus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened slightly
¾ cup capers
1 pound smoked salmon, cut into 1-inch squares
2 teaspoons chopped dill

Coarsely shred potatoes and onion in a food processor then transfer to a cheese cloth and squeeze out all excess liquid several times until mixture is as dry as possible. Place mixture in a large bowl and add baking powder, flour, and salt, and stir well. Add eggs and stir well again until entire mixture is evenly coated.

Heat a waffle iron, and once hot, spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spread a heaping spoonful of latke mixture evenly onto iron and cook until golden brown and crisp. Repeat until all mixture has been used, keeping finished latkes warm in an oven on 250˚.

Lay all latke waffles out on a serving platter. Add a dollop of cream cheese (a melon baller works well) to each, then top cream cheese with chopped salmon and garnish with capers and chopped dill.

Wine Pairing: Domaine Netofa,

Basse Galilee Rosé, 2014, $19.99
The fruit in this dry rosé "balances out the saltiness of the cakes while the acidity cuts through the fat of the salmon," says our wine expert. Wine from this kosher Domaine in Galilee is the ideal choice for all Hanukkah entertaining.

For Christmas: Pumpkin-Gingerbread Pie

From October through December, pumpkin reigns supreme in the kitchen, its most popular use being in pie. Gingerbread, however, starts to take the spotlight once the holiday season is in full gear. We decided to combine the two into one insanely good Frankendessert.

1 frozen pie crust (we like Mrs. Smiths)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 package gingerbread mix
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ cup light cream
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350˚. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, and egg, and stir just until combined. Slowly stir in cream and combine well.

In a separate bowl, prepare gingerbread mix according to directions. Pour batter into pie crust, then spoon pumpkin mix over batter and swirl lightly. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

Wine Pairing: Vietti,

Moscato d'Asti, 2014, $16.99
Our wine pros note that "light, refreshing wine" is the best way to go when it comes to decadent holiday desserts, "so you can save room for another slice." This delicate, airy Moscato has enough sweetness "to stand up to the richness of the gingerbread, pumpkin, and cream."

For New Year's Eve: Mini Lobster Cakes with Caviar

We think a little lavishness is necessary on New Year's, and when we think lavish, we think lobster. We also believe that party food should be easy to eat. Finally, we think caviar is perfection. Therefore, we've decided that these little bites of heaven are the best way to ring in the New Year, and we know your guests will agree.

1 pound fresh lobster meat, chopped
1 large egg
½ cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 green onions, very finely sliced
1 red bell pepper, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, very finely chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ounces black caviar

In a large bowl, gently combine all ingredients except oil and caviar and mix well. Form into small cakes—about 2 tablespoons each. In a large skillet, cook lobster cakes in vegetable oil in batches (adding more oil if necessary), about 4 minutes on each side. Keep cakes warm up to 45 minutes in a 200˚ oven until ready to serve. Before serving, top each cake with a small dollop of caviar.

Wine Pairing: Jean Milan,

Champagne Blanc de Blancs "Special," NV, $48.99
We couldn't agree more with their choice here: "New Year's equals champagne, of course!" But they point out that champagne isn't just about partying. It can pair well with foods like lobster and caviar, and this "Special" cuvee from Jean Milan is 100% Chardonnay "that is aged in barrels before undergoing the secondary bottle fermentation." The result? "A rich, golden, luxurious champagne that makes lobster taste even more exquisite." We'll toast to that!

(All wines can be purchased at Flatiron Wines, 929 Broadway,

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