Food Briefs

Los Altos writers share recipes

The Town Crier’s Food & Wine section only publishes once a month, but you can find recipes and inspiration from our food writers throughout the month at and on our columnists’ individual blogs.

• Food blogger Blanche Shaheen films gregarious YouTube cooking lessons in her Los Altos home. For her advice on cooking with a Middle Eastern twist, visit

Sweet potato and pumpkin make a splash on the side

Photos Rita Held/ Special to the Town Crier
Spice up the simplicity of sweet potato, above, and pumpkin, below, with splashes of Marsala and bitters for an adult take on the classics.

Fast-to-cook sweet potatoes and pumpkin straight from the can inject seasonal flavor with minimal effort with the addition of a splash of liquor.

Sweet potatoes are one of my autumn favorites, and I often bring my Marsala-Whipped Sweet Potatoes to family holiday dinners.

Dreaming of a white and red (wine) Christmas

Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
The delicious black currant and tobacco flavors in the Magnificat make the wine the ideal pairing with steak for two.

With all of the jubilee and celebration of the holiday season, the intimate moments are often the most wonderful.

Of the many happy events of the season, I will most cherish two nights in December: a family pasta dinner eaten from plates on our laps as we watch “Elf,” and an at-home steak dinner date with my husband.

Local brewers warm up with yuletide ales

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A beer-tasting flight at Eureka! enables drinkers to work their way up to a toasty holiday brew.

For many Los Altos residents, the holiday season calls for a holiday beer. While there is no standard definition of a yuletide-style ale, many local beer purveyors have a working agreement on what their customers are looking for.

Stuart Keith, assistant manager at Jane’s Beer Store in Mountain View, said most beers that are specials around the holidays begin with a style called a “Winter Warmer.”

Centuries-old recipe brings modern Thanksgiving appeal

Photo Courtesy of Blanche Shaheen
Hashwa, a Lebanese/Palestinian stuffing, tops fluffy rice with lamb, nuts and spices.

Many of us promise ourselves every year that we will not give in to the holiday feast bombardment – this time we are just going to keep our mouths shut, except for arugula. Then we break that promise after the first temptation.

Let’s face reality: Low-carb Thanksgiving dinners are not a thing. The holidays are the ideal time to set aside the green smoothies, sprouted tortillas and egg-white omelets and celebrate togetherness by reveling in some luxurious carbohydrates.

Giving thanks for family wines at vineyards and local tables

Courtesy of Christine Moore
Wine enthusiast Christine Moore says a vineyard in Sonoma County remains a central part of her young family’s life.

Gratitude is the heart’s memory, according to a French proverb.

As I write about wines for Thanksgiving, my heart brims with gratitude. For me, wine and family are inseparable. I grew up on a small ranch in Sonoma County. In 1998, my parents planted 30 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. By 2001, we were selling those grapes. We named the vineyard Teac Mor, which means “Big House” in Gaelic, an homage to our father’s childhood home in Ireland, which was the only two-story structure in his small village of Leitra, Galway.

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