Cozy in the kitchen: Winter foods

Tobias Classen’s ‘23 Favorite Winter Food: FRIED PLANTAINS

Approx. three tbsp Vegetable Oil

1. Get ripe plantains (when they are fresh, they take about a month to ripen). Ripe plantains are nice and black on the outside, past the point where you are like, “oh my god, that is the most disgusting banana I have ever seen,” said Classen.

2. Next, cut them up into little bite sized chunks and add them to a pan of oil.

3. Then wait until one side turns golden brown, flip it over and repeat on the other side.

4. Serve with toppings and enjoy!

“This is the recipe my mom uses, and now I make them because I like them a very, very, very specific way. I went to Ghana when I was in eighth grade for my uncle’s wedding, and they had a lot of plantains there. Almost every meal included plantains. That definitely made me re-fall in love with [them] again, because of all the different ways you could prepare them and all the different things you could add to them. Beforehand, I just had them straight but you can add honey or you can add peanuts and [there are] all these other little side dishes that you can add to bring it together. When I eat them, it reminds me of my family.”
Classen ‘23

Talia Becker’s ‘25 Favorite Winter Food: MATZO BALL SOUP
The following recipe is adapted from Alison Roman’s newsletter, and was suggested by Talia Becker.

Four – five pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken (this can be wings, parts or a whole chicken cut up)
Two large yellow onions, unpeeled, quartered
Two garlic heads, unpeeled, halved crosswise
Six celery stalks, chopped
One – two carrots or 1 large fennel bulb, unpeeled, chopped
A small handful of black peppercorns
One – two fresh or dried bay leaves (optional)
Kosher salt

One cup matzo meal (not matzo ball mix), or one cup finely ground matzo boards (from three – four matzo boards)
A quarter cup finely chopped chives, plus more for garnish
A quarter cup finely chopped dill, plus more for garnish
One and three-quarters teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
Five large eggs
A third cup chicken fat or unsalted butter (if not keeping Kosher), melted
A quarter cup club soda or seltzer
Two celery stalks, thinly sliced, plus any leaves
One small carrot, unpeeled and thinly sliced, optional
Freshly ground black pepper

Place chicken, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, peppercorns and bay leaves, if using, in a large pot and cover with 10-12 cups of water (basically you want to fill your pot to the top with water, this should take 10-12 cups.)
Season with a good amount of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low (the broth should be gently simmering) and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through and falling apart. The vegetables are nearly mush (but still taste good) and the broth is as seasoned and delicious as you’d want it to be when serving, another hour and a half or so. If you want to pluck the legs/thighs out and pick the meat from them for later use, you should (I do!).
Strain the broth (I use a basic strainer, no need for cheesecloth). Keep it warm if using the same day, or let it cool before refrigerating overnight (you should have eight-10 cups of broth).

1. Combine matzo meal, a quarter cup cup of chives, a quarter cup of dill and one and three-quarters teaspoons of kosher salt in a medium bowl. Using a fork, incorporate eggs until well blended. Add chicken fat, followed by club soda and mix until everything is evenly soaked in chicken fat/seltzer. This mixture will look loose!
2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until mixture is firm and fully hydrated, for at least two hours (and up to 24 hours). It should have the texture of wet clay. Malleable and shapeable.
3. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Using your hands, roll matzo ball mixture into balls, somewhere between the size of a ping pong and golf ball (if you prefer more, smaller balls, go ping pong– if you want fewer, larger balls, go golf), placing them on a plate or parchment-lined baking sheet until all the mixture is rolled (you should have about 12–24 matzo balls, depending on if you went smaller or larger balls).
4. If the mixture starts to feel too soft, you can always put the mixture back into the fridge to firm it up. You can also skip the “roll on a sheet pan” step and just roll directly into the pot of boiling water. They always somehow end up perfectly spherical.
5. Gently plop all of the matzo balls into the boiling water and cook for 12 to 15 minutes until floating, puffed and cooked through. (Pluck one from the water at 12 minutes and cut it in half to see how it is doing—the texture should be uniform in color and texture, lighter in color than the raw state. It should look fluffy, not dense.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the matzo balls to the chicken broth to finish cooking.
6. Add celery and carrots, if using, and season again with salt before ladling it into bowls. Top with lots of dill, chives, celery leaves if you have them and a crack of freshly ground pepper. A squeeze of lemon is certainly not traditional, but I will say it is good.

“This is not really a winter food, but I only eat this in the winter. It is supposed to be for a holiday that’s in the spring (Passover) but I only think it is good in the winter. My mom makes a really, really good matzo ball soup. She makes a ton and freezes [them] and then we just defrost [them] when we want [them]. I would say [my reasons for eating it are] both cultural and familial, but it is also just delicious.”
Becker ‘25

Lucy Bone’s ‘26 Favorite Winter Food: CHRISTMAS COOKIES

Santa Claus Cookies

Three and three-quarters cups sifted flour
One and one quarter tsp baking powder
Two and a half tsp cinnamon
One and one quarter tsp cloves
One and a half cups butter
Two cups brown sugar
One egg

1. Mix together all dry ingredients.
2. Cream butter. Add sugar gradually and cream until fluffy. Add in the egg and mix.
3. Sift in dry ingredients to butter mixture gradually and mix.
4. Shape the dough into two discs covered in plastic wrap and chill for two to four hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 350º.
6. Take out a disc (leaving the other in the fridge), and roll out the dough until it is about an eighth of an inch thick; using flour to ensure that the dough doesn’t stick. If the dough becomes too warm, place it back into the fridge and pull the other disc out.
7. Use cookie cutters to shape the cookies and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
8. Bake for 12 minutes. Repeat until there is no dough left. Store in an airtight container.

“[This recipe] is from my grandma on my mom’s side and it is my family’s special gingerbread cookie recipe. I have her recipe card. We use [the recipe] every time we make cookies. I think a lot of people make gingerbread houses [and] stuff like that, but we make Santa Claus cookies instead. I feel like that’s part of why it is so special, and I always make them with my mom. I like rolling them out and cutting the shapes. [If you are making them for the first time] make sure you flour your surface!”
Bone ‘26