December 2005

In This Edition
December 2005
A Raisin-filled Italian Holiday Feast
Chef of the Month – John Geschrei
Health and Nutrition
Holidays are exciting!

Enjoy them to the fullest…

  • Get a good night’s sleep every night.
  • Maintain your daily exercise regimen.
  • Hydrate with water frequently.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and nuts.
  • Remember that 1/4 cup California Raisins counts as one whole fruit!


December 2005

Celebrating the Holidays with California Raisins

Originating near the Mediterranean sometime around 1490 B.C., raisins predate Christmas by several centuries. It was 274 A.D. when Italian Emperor Aurelian designated December 25 for the first Nativity Feast and the colors of the Italian flag – red, white and green – became the colors of Christmas, too.

Today, observing La Festa di San Nicola on December 6, continuing throughout the month with several other feast days, and ending with La Fest dell’Epifania (Epiphany) on January 6, Italians find much to celebrate at year’s end. For them, the essence of Christmas and these holidays is family, love and food. Fanciful specialities and traditional dishes add to the festivities.

A Raisin-filled Italian Holiday Feast

Beginning with the antipasti or appetizers, along with the usual olives, tomatoes, and marinated artichoke hearts, this Jumbo Shrimp with Pernod-plumped California Raisins and Fennel adds upscale elegance to a holiday buffet. For something a bit more ‘everyday’, add Raisin-Olive Roll Ups.

Antipasti or ‘before the pasta’ is followed by primo, the pasta or first course. One of our best raisin and pasta recipes, California Raisin, Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Orzo, received Honorable Mention in our Coast-to-Coast Recipe Contest. Serve it as your primo, or Spanish Mountain Paella with California Golden Raisins.

To clear the palate and whet the appetite, Minted Yogurt Soup with Raisins, Walnuts and Chives, another Coast-to-Coast Recipe Contest winner, or Sweet Plantain and California Raisin Soup with Saffron will clearly fit the bill.

For the main course or secondi, our Chef of the Month John Geschrei’s Roast Tenderloin of Beef with Fennel-Raisin Gnocchi, Wilted Watercress, California Raisin Caponata and Syrah Butter can’t be beat. The gnocchi and caponata will stand alone and complement many other meals.

Prefer chicken or pork? Try Chili-Sugar Cured Pork Tenderloin with Smoked Corn-Jalapeno Whipped Potatoes, Raisin-Port Chipotle Demi-Glace or Breast of Chicken Stuffed with Prosciutto and Sage served with California Raisins and Parmesan Potato Puree – very easy chef’s recipes to dress up the menu.

Now for the dolci, sweets or dessert! This molded White Sesame Seed Panna Cotta with Rum-soaked Raisins and Red Dates is a do-ahead. Or choose Mascarpone Cheesecake with Five-Spiced California Golden Raisins for a satisfying upbeat ending to any holiday feast.

And don’t forget the bread! There is Panettone, Three Grain Raisin Ciabatta, and Mary Kay’s Pistachio and Currant Biscotti to dunk in the after-dinner espresso.

There is an abundance of traditional holiday recipes at, so check it out!

Chef of the Month – John Geschrei

Omni Hotel’s Chef John Geschrei joins the California Raisin Marketing Board’s “Look Who’s Cooking with California Raisins” Celebrity Chef Campaign.

Using only the finest ingredients to create a memorable dining experience, John Geschrei believes the star ingredient at Omni Hotel’s Ambassador East Pump Room is California raisins! The AAA four diamond haven of contemporary American cuisine has a classic ambience and rich history that has been a celebrity magnet for stars, moguls, socialites and dignitaries since 1938.