Photo courtesy of Janelle Zagala

Dear Neighbors,

As it’s the time of year to eat — and overeat — the Epicenter team wanted to share some of our favorite go-to recipes. We are a diverse bunch — read on for instruction for an Assamese fish curry, a cranberry pie that will only set you back 99 calories per serving (which means, have many), a dolled-up mac & cheese and more. What are some of your favorite recipes, holiday or otherwise? We’re all ears —

Janelle Zagala, Operations Manager

Pork adobo

My favorite recipe around the holidays is pork adobo. My grandfather was Filipino and every Christmas, my family makes traditional Filipino food. I am lucky enough to have a copy of my grandma’s recipe!


  • 2 tb vegetable oil
  • 5 lb pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 15 peppercorns
  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 1/2 pt white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 soy sauce
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. In a medium dutch oven or pot over medium high heat, add the oil and sear the pork until browned on all sides.
  2. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaf, pepper bouillon cube and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Remove the cover and continue simmering for another 30 minutes to reduce the sauce.
  4. Serve over rice!

S. Mitra Kalita, Co-founder

‘Masor tenga,’ a signature Assamese fish curry 

A brief preamble. Most of the cooking in our house is done by Nitin, although I am not entirely bad. However, when the staff decided to share recipes for our holiday newsletters, I thought it was a good time to ask my mom for her favorites. I asked for ‘masor tenga,’ a signature Assamese fish curry that’s super healthy and great in the winter. Disclosure: I didn’t get a chance to test this (because of holiday cards, my kid got Covid and deadlines) but I plan to make it and will let you know if anything is off. My mother’s system of measurement and instructions are very much based on intuition — not ideal for a recipe but a decent way to live and cook. 


  • Half a pound of fish cut into small to medium pieces (wild salmon or carp or red snapper should do), baked or fried 
  • 3 medium boiled potatoes
  • 2-3 lbs of fresh tomatoes, pureed in a mixer or blender (my mother’s email to me adds: “LOTS OF VITAMIN C AND GOOD FOR DIGESTION”)
  • Thekera tenga (this is a souring agent and the translation is mangosteen in English; my mother says it can be replaced with half a cup of fresh lemon or lime juice and she says it must be freshly squeezed)
  • Salt
  • Two teaspoons of turmeric
  • Two teaspoons of grated ginger
  • Fresh coriander leaves
  • Green chili 


In a deep frying pan or wok over medium to high heat, fry the fish in three tablespoons of olive oil with the salt and one teaspoon of turmeric. You may also bake it if you prefer. 

Set aside. 

Fry the tomatoes in olive oil, add a bit of mustard oil and cover. 

Stir and add salt to taste and turmeric. Cover for 5 minutes. Add boiled potatoes. Add a cup of warm water and keep on medium heat until boiled. Add the souring agent (tenga or lime/lemon juice) and keep on boiling. Add the cooked fish pieces. Add raw ginger. The aroma should be of tomatoes and a slight sour smell perhaps reminiscent of Thai soups. 

Cut the fresh coriander leaves and use as a garnish before serving. Serve with white or brown rice. Enjoy!

Kim Narisetti, Copy Editor 

The Poinsettia drink is festive and  uses only a few ingredients. I dressed up the title, but  it’s essentially a cranberry champagne cocktail. 


  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau, or other orange liqueur
  • 4 tablespoons 100% cranberry juice (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 glass champagne
  • For the garnish: 1 rosemary sprig, whole cranberries or blueberries or any other berries you like.


  1. Place the cointreau and cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds until cold. Strain the liquid into a champagne flute. (You can skip this step if the cranberry juice is well chilled.)
  2. Top off the glass with champagne (no need to measure). Garnish and serve.

Crustless cranberry pie


  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or to taste
  • 2 cups plus 1/4 cup fresh cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a nine-inch round pie dish very well with cooking spray; set aside. I used a glass pie dish; baking times may vary if using metal.

*In a large bowl, add 1 cup sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and whisk to combine; set aside.

*In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 45 seconds. Wait momentarily before adding the eggs so you don’t scramble them.

*Add the eggs, extracts, and whisk to combine.

*Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir to combine; don’t overmix.

*Add 2 cups cranberries and stir to combine; batter is very thick.

*Turn mixture out into prepared pie dish, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.

*Evenly sprinkle 1/4 cup cranberries over the top.

*Evenly sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over the top and bake for about 34 to 38 minutes, or until edges are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs but no batter. I prefer to underbake slightly (33-34 minutes) for a more gooey center but it’s personal preference and since all ovens, climates, and berries vary, watch your pie and not the clock.

*Allow pie to cool in pie dish on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

*Can top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Note: pie can stay unrefrigerated in an airtight container for five days. Serves 8, 99 calories, 2g of fat

A few words why I like this recipe


My now 16 year old daughter put me on to this recipe a few years back when she stumbled over it on one of those social media platforms. She made it for Thanksgiving and we’ve since made it for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and, well, just because. It’s easy to make, it’s not super sweet, and you can keep fresh cranberries in your freezer until you’re ready to use them. I enjoy making this dessert because it’s something we do together. 

Photo courtesy of Danielle Hyams

Danielle Hyams, Editorial Director 

Spinach balls with spicy mustard sauce

This is my favorite recipe, really for any occasion. My grandma used to make it for us when we were growing up during holidays and family gatherings. Now, it’s my go-to whenever I’m asked to bring something to a party or gathering, and it’s always a hit.


Mustard sauce:

½ cup dry mustard powder

½ cup white vinegar

½ cup white sugar

1 egg yolk

Spinach balls:

1 20-ounce package of frozen spinach, fully drained

3 cups seasoned stuffing mixture 

1 cup grated parmesan

6 eggs, beaten

¾ cup soft butter

½ teaspoon thyme

1 tablespoon garlic salt

½ grated onion

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped


The spicy mustard sauce must be started one day in advance. Mix the mustard powder and vinegar, cover and let sit overnight at room temperature. The following day combine the mustard vinegar mixture, sugar and egg yolk in a small pan and simmer over low heat. Should be served at room temp. 

For the spinach balls, start by making sure the spinach is completely drained. This is the most time-consuming part of the recipe. No corner cutting! Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Once mixed, roll the mixture into small balls and place on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Spinach balls should be cooked frozen. Bake at 350F for 15-25 minutes until balls are firm to touch. Enjoy! 

Nitin Mukul, Co-founder & Artistic Director

Cocktail Recipe: The Coco Loco

The perfect cocktail for the warmer days, or sitting by a fire or in a hot tub while it’s snowing.


  • Juice of two fresh limes with pulp 
  • 1 16 oz can of coconut water (with chunks is ok)
  • 8 oz Vodka
  • 2 oz agave syrup
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • Ice


Combine all ingredients in a blender and fill with ice close to the top.

Blend well until mint is thoroughly minced.

Adjust according to your preferences.

For kids and young at heart: The Mac from Beyond:


  • 2 boxes Annie’s organic mac and cheese
  • ⅓ cup whole or 2% milk 
  • 2 Beyond Burgers (somewhat thawed)
  • 5-6 cloves garlic cloves minced
  • ½ a small onion chopped 
  • Olive oil
  • White truffle oil
  • ⅛ stick butter
  • Paprika to taste


  1. Boil the pasta, drain and keep warm in a covered pot.
  2. Saute the Beyond Burger patties with the garlic and onions and a little olive oil.
  3. With a wooden spoon or spatula, mash up the patties into grounds, until just slightly charred.
  4. Warm milk in a saucepan, with the butter and mix in the two cheese packets from the Annie’s.
  5. Add the sauteed grounds to the pasta and pour the cheese sauce over it.
  6. Mix all together to coat the pasta and grounds.
  7. Sprinkle it with paprika and drizzle with the truffle oil. 

Daniel Laplaza, Community Manager 

Photo courtesy of Daniel Laplaza

Spanish pumpkin soup 

My father’s pumpkin soup is ‘family-famous’ during the holidays. The recipe I share below is his adaptation from Spanish chef Karlos Arguiñano’s Sopa de Calabaza con Almejas. My father will also add clams and shrimp, which are briefly sautéed before adding to the puree.


  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 leek
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1lb pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce*
  • Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • *Instead of tomato sauce, you can sauté chopped tomatoes


  1. Sauté first onions, leek, green pepper and garlic in a small amount of olive oil.
  2. Add pumpkin, carrot, potatoes and sauté.
  3. Add water to cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Slowly add tomato sauce and salt.
  5. Simmer until done.
  6. Puree with a tiny amount of olive oil.

Andrea Pineda-Salgado, Community Reporter

Vegan apple cake

This recipe is for a vegan apple cake. My family and I used to be vegan so we have a handful of vegan recipes on hand. During quarantine we wanted to limit the amount of “unhealthy” food we ate like cakes and candy, so we stumbled across this recipe. This is a great recipe for when you want a guilty-pleasure snack but without the guilt, it’s also great for those who are vegan (obviously). 


  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of oil (anything but olive oil)
  • 4 tbsp. of chia seeds
  • Water for the chia seeds
  • Oil for greasing your baking pan
  • 2 tsp.of baking powder
  • 50ml of water
  • 4 apples, preferably green apples, cut and peeled
  • Cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp. of salt
  • 1tsp. of baking soda

Start off by peeling the apples and slicing them, make sure to take out the core. Make sure the slices are about half a centimeter thick or less. While you prepare the cake’s batter you can put the apples in a bowl and cover them with a wet cloth. 

Hydrate the chia seeds, for every tablespoon of chia add 9 tablespoons of water. It should end up being about 2 ¼ cups of water. While they soak, sift some of the powders. Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. 

When you are done, put it to the side and begin to mix the sugar and oil together. You can mix by hand or by using a mixer. Little by little add the chia seeds to the sugar and oil mixture. Once that is all mixed up, begin adding the flour mixture little by little, as you mix add the 50 ml of water. It is done mixing once it becomes a thick paste. 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, grease your baking pan and add a bit of flour to prevent it from sticking. Put the batter in your mold and make sure it is spread evenly. Begin adding your apples on top of the batter, decorate it as much as you want with the apples. 

If you want, mix some sugar and cinnamon to add it on top of the apples. Then, bake your cake for 40-50 minutes. After 40 minutes check your cake to make sure it is all baked, if you poke it the knife should come out clean. 

After it is finished, wait for it to cool down and it is ready to eat. 

Macarena Moreno, Executive Assistant

Roscon de Reyes

Christmas is my favorite time of the year, it is such a happy season when my family gets together, and having my family far from me, seeing them together and healthy, even if it’s on-camera means more than I could say in words. I want to share the recipe for Roscon de Reyes as we eat this cake every year on the morning of January 6. In Spain, that day we celebrate the Three Magic Kings day, and it is such a special day when families just meet and enjoy the last few hours of the holidays together and the kids enjoy their new presents brought by the Kings. I hope you enjoy making it, happy holidays from my family to you all! 


  • 5 1/4 cups of strong flour
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon fresh yeast
  • 5/8 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ¾  teaspoons salt
  • 2 ½  tablespoons orange blossom water
  • Grated peel of 1 large lemon and 1 orange

For the decoration:

  • Candied fruit to taste
  • Sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 orange
  • Bakeable figures


1. Prepare your starter dough: In a bowl, mix a bit of the warm milk with about three tablespoons of flour. Add in all the fresh yeast and stir properly until everything is dissolved. Cover the bowl with a lid. Place it in a warm place and allow the dough to ferment for about 20 minutes.

2. In another bowl, combine your wet ingredients: lightly beat your eggs and add in the rest of the milk, followed by the melted butter and orange blossom water. Mix in the lemon and orange zest.

3. Take a large bowl and combine the sugar, salt, and the remaining flour. Add in the fermented starter dough. Little by little, add the mixture of the wet ingredients. Mix until the dough becomes homogeneous.

4. Find a smooth surface to knead your dough. Spread some flour over the surface, transfer your dough and start kneading. Add in some flour as you go. You know you’re done when your kneaded dough is shiny, smooth, and elastic. Once you have achieved this, shape your dough into a big ball. Transfer it to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let it rest in a warm place.

5. Wait for at least two hours or until the dough has risen two times its original size. Knock the dough back on a smooth floured surface and start kneading again.

Transfer it on a lined baking tray and begin forming the round or oval shape of the Roscon de Reyes, making sure to place a big hole in the center of the dough.

Once the cake bakes and rises in the oven, the hole will become smaller so it is important to start with a hole that is big enough. Return the shaped dough to a warm place, again covered with a damp towel, and allow it to rest for about one hour.

6. Preheat your oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Use this time to crack one egg to brush on top of your roscon. Decorate it, for example, with candied fruits, powdered sugar, chopped nuts. If you like to keep it traditional, add the baby Jesus figurine or a trinket of your choice.

7. Bake the decorated roscon for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size. Afterward, let it cool down before cutting the cake in half horizontally and filling it with the flavor of your choice.

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