Silent Night

Silent Night

In life as in music, ‘the rests’ allow you to realize the music.

by Chef Jon Schopp

It seems this day and time, everyone feels compelled to fill the quiet moments in life. Not that communication or information exchange is a bad thing, indeed it is not. Never before have we wanted to be heard so desperately. A very wise friend once shared the idea of a conversation requiring active listening from the engaged parties. Well, of course it does I thought to myself.

When I started listening to my own conversations, I soon realized the message was correct and powerful. This part of our humanity seems to be eroding. We do not always take or have the time or the need to listen to the people we communicate with. There seems to be an uncontrollable desire to fill the quiet space with opinion. The opinion that what ‘I’ have to say is more important, more valid or simply more interesting than what ‘you’ have to offer. How did we get here, and more importantly, how do we get change this human behavior?

As we prepare for a new year, think about setting some time aside for silence. Try to listen more than you speak. Remember to support more than you criticize. Appreciate the good things in your life versus dwelling on the bad.

Cook with courage, purpose and passion and the rest will follow.



Peppermint mocha ‘no bake’ cheesecake

Servings: 6 to 8

  • Cream cheese 8 ounces
  • Sweetened condensed milk 14 ounce can
  • Fresh lemon juice 3 ounces
  • Bitter sweet chocolate 6 ounces
  • Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
  • Coffee extract 1 teaspoon
  • Peppermint extract (optional) few drops
  • Peppermint candy (crushed) 4 ounces

Beat cream cheese until fluffy and no lumps remain. Gradually mix in condensed milk, lemon juice and extracts. Stir in melted chocolate and crushed peppermint candy. Pour mixture into a prepared graham cracker crust. Refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours.

* variation – make a ginger snap crust by crushing 12 ounces of ginger snap cookies, 2 ounces sugar and 3 ounces melted butter.

* coffee extract – add enough hot water to instant coffee to just dissolve.

Homemade Egg Nog is delicious with bourbon, as ice cream or even a dessert sauce for your pecan pie or peppermint mocha ‘no bake’ cheese cake.


Winter Gord Gratin

  • Butternut squash 4 cups (peeled and diced)
  • Pumpkin 4 cups (peeled and diced)
  • Heavy whipping cream 6 cups
  • Sea salt 1 tablespoon
  • Black pepper 1 teaspoon
  • Nutmeg ½ teaspoon

Season the raw diced butternut squash and pumpkin with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Place into an ovenproof casserole and cover with cream. Place this casserole onto a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees until cream thickens and browns slightly, approximately 1 hour.



Blueberry Kugel

Servings: 16 portions

  • Cooked egg noodles 8 ounces
  • Sugar 6 ounces
  • Sour cream 8 ounces
  • Butter 4 ounces
  • Goat ricotta cheese 8 ounces (can sub Montrachet or cream cheese)
  • Eggs (beaten) 4 each
  • Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
  • Lemon juice 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon ½ teaspoon
  • Kosher salt pinch
  • Fresh blueberries 16 ounces
  • Honey 2 ounces

Mix all ingredients together (except blueberries & honey). Place in a buttered pyrex dish and top with blueberries and honey. Bake for approximately 1 hour at 325 degrees.


Egg Nog Custard aka Crème Anglaise

Servings: 8 to 10

  • Milk 16 ounces
  • Heavy Cream 16 ounces
  • Salt 1 teaspoon
  • Sugar 8 ounces
  • Egg yolks 10 ounces
  • Vanilla extract 1 tablespoon
  • Nutmeg 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon 3 sticks

Combine milk, cream, salt and cinnamon in a heavy bottomed saucepot and heat to scald (pre boil). Whisk the sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract and nutmeg in a large bowl until pale yellow. Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the whisked egg mixture, stirring constantly. Pour everything back into the saucepot and place on low heat. Stir constantly, until mixture coats the back of a spoon. *this will not take long and it definitely should not boil. Strain into a clean bowl over an ice bath. Stir occasionally to help mixture cool.

Enjoy with your favorite bourbon!


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