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Manhattans and Merriment

For Denise Poole of Johns Creek, her family’s Northern Italian heritage have driven the Christmas menu for as long as she can remember.

The long holiday table was filled with antipasto, salami, and prosciutto that her grandmother would bring with her from New York. Next up was spinach ricotta ravioli that the family all made together in the morning after enjoying a gift exchange and brunch casserole. Keeping the family traditions alive is very important for Denise and, just as in years past, her ravioli are served on a huge oval platter swimming in melted butter.

Denise is CEO at AMI Group based in Alpharetta, providing food and beverage solutions for the travel industry and helping relief agencies in the battle against food insecurity. She is a proud member of the Les Dames d’Escoffier International – Atlanta Chapter.

The holidays speak to tradition and generations of tried and true family recipes.  

For the grown-ups, there was always a pitcher of Manhattans on the table and for dessert, her aunt’s pineapple cheesecake, date nut bars, zuppa anglaise made from her grandmother’s recipe and a square bakery box of Italian cookies from her grandmother’s local bakery.

Date Nut Bars

              Beat until light:  3 eggs

              Gradually add:  1 cup sugar, continue beating until very light

              Add:  2 cups chopped dates

                        1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans 

                         1 tsp vanilla

              Sift together: I cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/8th tsp salt. ¼ tsp cloves, 1/4tsp cinnamon

              Add the sifted ingredients to the egg mixture

              Beat until well blended, pour into a greased 9x13 in pan

              Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes

              Cool and cut not bars and roll in confectioners’ sugar.

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