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Showing posts from December, 2017

Smoked Goose

Recipe Credit: Chef John at Food Wishes  I often watch youtube videos of chefs. My favorite to watch are Christmas feast videos, even if it’s summertime. Some of my favorites are of Gordon Ramsey or Nigella Lawson describing Christmastime in Britain. I suppose this is where I got the itch to have a Christmas goose. However, with the craziness of my family schedule around Christmastime, I eventually decided it made more sense to make a New Year’s goose instead.  I was nervous since I had never eaten goose and certainly never cooked one before. I scoured the internet for ideas, and found very little recipes that sounded fool-proof for a neophyte. Then, as if by fate, one of my very favorite food bloggers, Chef John, posted a recipe using a pre-cooked, smoked goose. It sounded delicious and simple. The only changes I made to Chef John’s recipes were to use allspice and clove since I don’t like the licorice flavor of star anise, and I subbed in a different jam (a suggestion

Smoked Salmon

I love smoked salmon. I like to make it as a gift at Christmas and for my father’s birthday. It is a time intensive process, but most of the time is inactive. You brine the fish, smoke it while basting occasionally, then you  cool it down. I always snack on a bit of it with crackers and cheese right after it’s finished, but the flavor improves when the fish is cold.  In order to give this as a gift, I vacuum-seal it. If I make the fish far in advance, I vacuum-seal it and freeze it. I always write the date I smoked and packed the fish right on the vacuum sealing. (I have to say, though, that everyone I give this to opens it up right away and snarfs it down.) With all the cookies and candies being given at the holiday season, I like to switch it up with something savory. Enjoy!  Ingredients: 5 pounds of salmon 1 quart of water 1/3 cup salt 1 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup maple syrup, plus extra for basting Method: Mix together the water, salt, brown suga

Cinnamon Rolls

It’s Christmas tradition! I bake a batch of cinnamon rolls once a year on Christmas morning. (I have to impose this limit on myself; I can eat a whole pan by myself. They are my very favorite thing). I make the dough the night before, then pop them into the oven in the morning. There is nothing like a cup of coffee, a warm cinnamon bun, and opening your presents on a snowy Christmas morning. These make an excellent addition to a Christmas (on non-holiday) brunch. If, by some miracle, you have leftovers that go stale, make them into decadent french toast or phenomenal bread pudding. If you are like me, however, you will turn into a cinnamon-roll-itarian for a few days and they will disappear before you can think of using them in something else. So if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for fourths.  Ingredients: Dough: 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F) 2 eggs, room temperature 1/3 cup butter , melted 4 1/2 cups bread flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon va

Sticky Buns

Sticky buns are my husband’s family Christmas tradition. They are made by family members every year; first his great grandmother, then his grandmother and now me. Why me? A few years ago, the ladies of the family had a baking competition. We each baked our best version of a sticky bun. The family would then sample a bite of each, and whoever got the most votes won. I took this competition very seriously. I brought my own Breville toaster oven to the party so I could bake my buns off at the party, ensuring optimum freshness. Sticky buns are best enjoyed fresh and warm, and I wanted every edge I could give myself.  I won, and now every year I make a batch of these to bring to the gathering. And yes, I do still bring my toaster oven.  Enjoy! Ingredients: Dough: 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F) 2 eggs, room temperature 1/3 cup butter , melted 4 1/2 cups bread flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 1/2 teaspoons bread

Peanut Brittle

This peanut brittle has a wonderful buttery vanilla toffee flavor. It reminds me of the peanut brittle I used to get from See’s Candy.  I like to make a few batches of this candy to give away as home made treats for Christmas. Be sure that whatever you package this candy in is airtight; you want the peanut brittle to stay dry and crisp. Any moisture in storing in will ruin the treat. Be careful with this candy; it’s easy to snack on about half of it as your portion it away as gifts!  Ingredients: 2 cups sugar 1 cup light corn syrup 1/2 cup water 1 cup butter, cut into pieces 2 cups raw peanuts 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon vanilla Method: Butter two 15 by 10 by 1 inch baking sheets. Set aside. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a three quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a full boil. Add the butter, and cook stirring, 15 to 20 min

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Raspberry and almond is a flavor pairing made in heaven. These buttery cookies are perfection. I like my raspberry preserves with seeds but if you hate them, opt for seedless. These are my favorite cookies to make at Christmas time; they are festive with out needing any additional decoration. The white cookie, the red filling with a dusting of powder sugar snow; pile these up on a cake stand or plate and be proud to see them at your holiday table. If you are gifting these, it might be helpful four you planning process to know that they freeze and thaw quite well.  In fact, I like to make a very large batch, give most away, but squirrel away a stash in my freezer. Then, after Christmas, I have a stash of my favorite cookie to last me from New Years to Valentines. Enjoy! Ingredients: Dough: 2 sticks softened butter 2/3 cup sugar 1 large egg 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon almond extract 2 1/2 cups flour Filling: 1 1/2 cu

Winter Birch Cake

This cake is the perfect winter wonderland dessert. Decadent chocolate cake paired with moist vanilla cake and slathered with rich mocha buttercream is perfectly delicious; it also creates a very pretty cake interior when sliced and served. However, the outside of this cake is what makes it so whimsical. Birch trees are my favorite tree. In a forest of solid, dark bark, there stand out the birch tree, pale white, peeling bark whirled and dotted with brown and black. I have a few birch trees at my new house; they stand out like little stars in the inky dark scrub. This cake was inspired by my back yard’s winter wonderland; pine trees, snow, deer and birch trees, dusted with falling snow. Making the bark for this cake is very fun. Get your inner painter raring to go and paint the parchment paper with dark chocolate with your best birch swirl impersonations. The cover that in white chocolate, let it set, and break the bark into shards and paste on the cake. The imperfect

Holiday Chutney

Chutney is a lovely, sweet, spicy jam; it bridges the gap between the sweet and the savory. The chutney is a wonderful addition to Christmas appetizers; speed a bit of it on a cracker with meat and cheese and melt into the holidays. Or, spread it thickly on a sandwich with your Christmas leftovers. This chutney is full of holiday flavors: apple, cranberries, clementines and dates and spiced with cloves, cinnamon and ginger. It had a mild punch of spice and the onion and vinegar balance the red Christmas spread out perfectly.  I like to give this away as an unexpected and unique gift to my friends and family. By now, however, my parents have come to expect it in their Christmas basket so I am sure to make them a double batch every year.  Ingredients: 5 cups of chopped apples (granny smith and golden delicious) 2 medium sweet onions, chopped 4 1/2 cups cranberries 2 cups medjool dates, chopped Juice and zest of 2 clementines 2 cups granulated sugar 1/