EZ Winter Soups: Something just a little different

For anyone who feels that chicken soup is the one and only comfort soup that will take away the chill of winter stop reading, this blog entry  is not for you. For anyone looking for a new kind of soup to herald the coming blizzards, something different and exciting to serve the family and friends that will be sharing the fruits of your  kitchen labors (and watching football on that big screen TV that is really TOO big for the family room) keep on going.

This is the time of year when leisure time is at a premium and nobody wants to spend anymore time than they have to in the kitchen prepping and cooking.  So many other things (like, again, watching football, raking, and generally rejoicing that the kids are back in school) to do. Soups should be one of the simple thing you make and using ready made broths and stocks (both meat and vegetable) have made it incredibly easy (time wise) to whip up a big, flavorful pot of soup in less than an hour.

I’ve chosen some of my favorite fall soup recipes that utilize squash and a variety of other  vegetables that are readily affordable and available to share in this column. You’re going to love how delicious it is to start a meal with the words………..and now for something completely different.

PUMPKIN AND CHICKEN CHOWDER

2 red bell peppers (about 14 ounces)
2 jalapeño peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
3 leeks, white and light-green parts only
1 pumpkin (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
1 ear corn, kernels removed (1 cup)
3 14 1/2-ounce cans chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

 Preheat oven to broil. Place the red peppers and jalapeño on a baking sheet and cook them under the broiler, turning occasionally, until the skins blacken — about 10 minutes. Seal the charred peppers in a plastic bag for 10 to 12 minutes. Peel, stem, seed and cut peppers into 1/2-inch pieces. Set them aside. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over a medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until browned. Remove the chicken pieces and keep them warm. Add the leeks and pumpkin and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the flour, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the corn, peppers, chicken, broth and oregano and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, about 30 minutes. Garnish with sour cream if desired and serve hot. Serves 8.

HOT APPLE SOUP

This is a really great way to start a simple meal of sandwiches and salad.

4 Green apples (Granny Smith)
4 McIntosh apples
2 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cream

Whipped cream for topping
 
Peel, core and quarter apples. Combine all ingredients except cream in saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer 15 min. till apple’s are soft. Puree; return to pan; add 1 cup cream and heat through but don’t boil. Garnish each serving with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serves 6. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BISQUE WITH BOURBON MAPLE SYRUP

Hummmm what should we do with the left over bourbon………….

3lb. butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 pound butter
1 qt milk
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoon dry mustard
1tablespoon ground cinnamon
salt and pepper

In a heavy bottom pot melt the butter and add the onion and the garlic; cook over med-low heat till just softened and translucent. Add the brown sugar and simmer till melted in. Add  the butternut squash, nutmeg, mustard, cinnamon milk and cream and simmer till the squash is cooked through. Put soup in the blender (carefully) and puree. Strain and season to taste with salt and pepper. To Serve, drizzle the top of each individual bowl with the Bourbon Maple Syrup. Serves 6 to 8.

For the Bourbon Maple Syrup

1 cup Bourbon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple Syrup

In a small pot add brown sugar and bourbon and reduce the mixture over a low flame till the mixture is thickened and foamy. Add the maple syrup and simmer 3 more minutes. Let cool to room temp before using

THAI PUMPKIN SOUP

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon butter
1teaspoon minced garlic

4 shallots, minced
2 small fresh red chili peppers, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups peeled and diced pumpkin
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

fresh basil for garnish

In a medium saucepan, heat the peanut oil and butter over low heat. Cook the garlic, shallots, and chilies in oil until aromatic but not browned. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Cook until the pumpkin is tender, 15 to 20 minutes (longer if necessary) In a blender, blend the soup in batches to a smooth consistency. You could sprinkle fresh basil over this for a garnish. Serves 6 to 8

CAULIFLOWER SOUP WITH CURRIED ONIONS
 Ingredients:
4 strips of bacon, diced
2 cups of onions, sliced
1 and 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon flour
5 cups light vegetable or chicken stock
1 medium potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 and 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound cauliflower, broken into flowerets and the rest chopped
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 cup chutney
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons green onion, sliced diagonally

Method:
Fry bacon til crisp, then remove, drain, and reserve. Pour off all but about 3 Tablespoons of the bacon fat and scrape up the bottom of the pan a bit, then add onion, garlic, curry, and cayenne and stir for about a minute. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, til the onions are soft. Add the sugar, turn up the heat to high, and stir until the onions are brown–about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and set aside.

At the same time, bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan and add the potato and a teaspoon of salt. Cover, reduce heat, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower and tumeric, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, cooking until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool a minute or two.

Puree 3/4 of the cauliflower mixture with the chutney, then pour back into the pan with the remaining cauliflower mixture. Stir in the onion mixture and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. At this point, you can hold it in the refrigerator til you are ready to serve it. Just reheat when you’re ready.

When ready to serve, stir in the crumbled bacon, parsley, lemon juice, and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the green onions. Serve immediately.

SOUTHWESTERN VEGETABLE SOUP  

6 cups chicken broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup water
1 cup canned dark red kidney beans, with liquid
1 cup frozen yellow cut corn
1 cup frozen cut green beans
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
1/2 cup diced Spanish onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce
6 corn tortillas, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
dash garlic powder

Garnish
1 cup grated cheddar cheese blend
1 cup crumbled corn tortilla chips

1. Combine all the soup ingredients in a large saucepan or soup pot over high heat. Be sure to
mince the corn tortillas into small pieces with a sharp knife before adding them to the soup.
2. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the soup
has thickened and tortilla pieces have mostly dissolved.
3. To serve soup ladle 1 1/2 cups into a bowl. Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of the grated
cheddar/jack cheese blend over the top of the soup, and then a heaping tablespoon of crumbled
corn tortilla chips over the cheese.
Makes 6 servings.

ZUCCHINI BISQUE SOUP
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cup zucchini, shredded
2 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

In a saucepan melt the butter and  saute the onion until tender. Stir in the chicken broth, zucchini and basil, salt, nutmeg and white pepper. Heat the soup to boiling and then cool  to room temperature. Puree a portion at a time in food processor; leaving slightly lumpy. Soup can be served hot or cold. Serves 6. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

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Hangover Cures, Really, They Work!

 

CHECK OUT MY ARTICLE ON HANGOVER CURES IN THE JOURNAL GAZETTE

http://journalgazette.com/article/20101229/FEAT0103/312299988/1011/FEAT

Cool Hot Cocoa (Marshmallows Optional!)

For thousands of years, people the world over have searched for the ultimate liquid aphrodisiac. The term aphrodisiac is modified form of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite’s, name. Known to rule over the realms of love and desire there is no more potent drink in her arsenal (omitting alcohol for this family friendly “G” rated column) than hot cocoa/hot chocolate.

While both hot cocoa and hot chocolate are delicious there is a difference between the two. The terms are often used interchangeably, but technically they are as different as white chocolate and bittersweet chocolate. Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder, which is chocolate pressed free of all the fat from it’s cocoa butter.  Hot chocolate is typically made from chocolate bars or chocolate syrup melted into milk or cream.

            I say, what better way to start (breakfast in bed perhaps) or end (in front of a fire is always nice) a cold cold winters day than to prepare a beverage for your sweetie, designed to warm them (and you) up? Oh,you should know that marshmallows are optional.

There are a few of the recipes that do call for a liqueur. If you’re underage or don’t drink alcohol you can always substitute flavor extracts (ie. Almond, cherry, hazelnut)

BROWN SUGAR HOT COCOA

Adding a ton of brown sugar makes this cocoa recipe extra sweet. It doesn’t, however, mask the rich taste of chocolate that’s melted into this hot cocoa.

3 oz unsweetened chocolate

1/3 cup water

4 cups hot milk

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/8 teaspoon salt

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and water together. Slowly mix in the milk, sugar and salt. Whisk until chocolate is smooth and blended. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

INDULGE YOURSELF HOT CHOCOLATE

This recipe calls for two different kinds of chocolate, and it’s whipped frothy. The half and half cream makes for an extra rich cup of cocoa.

1 cup milk

1 cup half and half

8 teaspoon sugar

1 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a sauce pan combine the milk, half and half, sugar, semi sweet and unsweetened chocolate and the brown sugar. Heat everything in a saucepan, whisking occasionally, until the chocolates melt and sugar dissolves. Pour half of the mixture into a blender and mix until foamy. Return to the saucepan, and add vanilla. Stir briefly then serve. Serves 4.

WHITE HOUSE HOT COCOA

I don’t know where I got this recipe but supposedly, it’s the one served, in the White House, when ever it’s required.

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
6 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon
Whipped Cream for topping
Orange zest for topping

Cocoa powder for topping
In a sauce pan combine the cocoa, salt, and sugar. Add the milk. Whisk to combine and heat to dissolve. The add the light cream, cinnamon, vanilla. Whisk to combine and heat to a simmer. Whisk just before serving and pour the cocoa into warm mug. Top with whipped cream, cocoa powder, and fine orange zest.

HOT TODDY HOT COCOA

The amaretto adds a smooth mellow flavor to this luscious drink

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 cups milk (not skim)
3 oz amaretto (or 1 teaspoon almond extract)

Chop the chocolate into very fine pieces, no bigger than 1/4″ in size, and put into a small bowl. Combine the milk and cream in a sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds or so then stir slowly to blend the chocolate and cream together. Put the amaretto into 2 large mugs, then pour the chocolate mixture over it. Stir to mix the liquids and serve. Serves 2

MEXICAN HOT COCOA

The addition of the chili powder, while not familiar to most, is a wonderful way to add an authentic south of the border flavor to your cocoa

2 cups evaporated milk (NOT CONDENSDED)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
6 cinnamon sticks
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1/4 cup whipping cream

In a sauce pan combine the evaporated milk, whole milk, liqueur, vanilla, sugar, cocoa, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and chili powder and whisk to combine. Add 2 of the cinnamon sticks and cook gently over medium-low heat until warm. Add chocolate and cook, whisking until melted. Gently bring the mixture to a high simmer; reduce heat and simmer until liquid thickens and reduces slightly, whisking often, 10 minutes. Combine the cream with remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat until peaks form. Ladle 2/3 cup hot cocoa into each of 4  mugs top with 2 tablespoons whipped cream and garnish with a cinnamon stick. Serves 4.

CHERRY HOT COCOA

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

2/3 cup sugar

4 cups milk

1 1/2 cups hot strong coffee

1/2 cup cherry liqueur (or cherry extract)

Whipped Cream
Combine cocoa and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in the milk. Heat, stirring, until very hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in coffee, and cherry liqueur or extract.  Cool Slightly. Pour into 4 mugs. Garnish with whipped cream and serve. Serves 4.

HERSHEY’S HOT COCOA

The one company who helped define hot cocoa has a wonderful recipe for hot cocoa as well as lots of suggestions on how to tweak it.

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa

Dash salt

1/3 cup hot water

4 cups (1 qt.) milk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Miniature marshmallows or sweetened whipped cream(optional)

Directions:
1. Stir together sugar, cocoa and salt in medium saucepan; stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Add milk; stirring constantly, heat to serving temperature. Do Not Boil.

2 Remove from heat; add vanilla. Beat with rotary beater or whisk until foamy. Serve topped with marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired. Five 8-oz. servings.

VARIATIONS: Add one of the following with the vanilla extract:

SPICED COCOA: 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Serve with cinnamon stick, if desired.

MINT COCOA: 1/2 teaspoon mint extract OR 3 tablespoons crushed hard peppermint candy OR 2 to 3 tablespoons white creme de menthe. Serve with peppermint candy stick, if desired.

CITRUS COCOA: 1/2 teaspoon orange extract OR 2 to 3 tablespoons orange liqueur.

SWISS MOCHA: 2 to 2-1/2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee.

COCOA AU LAIT: Omit marshmallows or whipped cream. Spoon 2 tablespoons softened vanilla ice cream on top of each cup of cocoa at serving time.

SLIM-TRIM COCOA: Omit sugar. Combine cocoa, salt and water; substitute nonfat milk. Proceed as above. With vanilla, stir in sugar substitute with sweetening equivalence of 1/2 cup sugar.

CANADIAN COCOA: 1/2 teaspoon maple extract.

MICROWAVE SINGLE SERVING: Coombine 1 heaping teaspoon HERSHEY’S Cocoa, 2 heaping teaspoons sugar and dash salt in microwave-safe cup or mug. Add 2 teaspoons cold milk; stir until smooth. Fill cup with milk. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until hot. Stir to blend; serve.

 Courtsy of Hershey ® company web site.

Cheeseballs for Everyone and Then Some

CHECK OUT MY JOURNAL GAZETTE ARTICLE ON CHEESE BALLS

http://journalgazette.com/article/20101226/FEAT0103/312269990/1001/FOOD

Happy New Year Recipes Reinvented

Some consider New Years Eve the holy grail of party nights. As per usual my skewed perspective sees it more as a night to NOT share roads with a higher than usual amount of inebriated drivers, NOT spend gobs of money for inexpensive (and usually mediocre) champagne, less than spectacular food and service and especially NOT to listen to a cover band whose median age is that of my children.

            I prefer to invite friends and neighbors over for a casual fun night of scintillating conversation, fabulous food and watching the ball drop in Times Square. I want everyone (including the designated drivers) to be able to party like a bailout was when a rowboat sprang a leak, the ozone was where you parked your car at a football game and cooties was the only type of contamination you had to worry about.

            It’s simple enough to have beer and wine on hand and only slightly more complicated to have stuff to mix up drinks. Most of my friends aren’t drinkers anyway so every year I try to come up with a new non alcoholic version of an alcoholic beverage. Over the years I’ve collected quite a few really good ones and now seems like a great time to share. Kids (that are allowed to stay up till 12:01 always love them). A few tips and tricks to make any beverage better and we’re all good to go.

            HAPPY NEW YEAR ONE AND ALL!

HOW TO MAKES DRINKS EVEN BETTER

1. Use fun and funky stemware! Anything seems more elegant in a wine, champagne, or martini glass. Even water.

2. Go for the garnish! A simple slice of lime to a sugared rim, a decoration like a paper umbrella adds a touch of magic to your glass.

3. Everyone loves bubbles!  A splash or two of club soda, ginger ale or lemon lime soda always add to the adventure.

DRINK MEASURMENTS
1 dash = 6 drops
3 Teaspoons = 1/2 ounce
1 pony = 1 ounce
1 jigger = 1-1/2 ounce
1 large jigger = 2 ounces

SUGAR SYRUP

A must have for many cocktails

 
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Place sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until the mixture condenses into a clear, sweet syrup, approximately 5 minutes. Cool. You can use immediately or store indefinitely in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Makes 1 cup. This recipe can be doubled.

MOCK MARGARITA
A non-alcoholic version of this frozen margarita.
1.5 oz. non alcoholic Margarita mix
1 oz. non alcoholic triple sec
6 ice cubes
Salt (optional)
Lime (optional garnish)
 
In a blender mix all liquids together  Add ice and crush until smooth, like a snow cone.  Serve in margarita glasses rimmed with salt (optional). Garnish with lime. Serves one

APPLETINI TOONEY

4 ounces apple juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

dash of grenadine

chilled ginger ale

apple slice

Pour ingredients except for apple slice into a Highball glass with some ice and stir. Top up with ginger ale. Garnish with an apple slice. Serves one

PURE PINA COLADA
6 fluid ounces pineapple juice or fresh pineapple chunks
2 fluid ounces Coconut cream
3 to 4 cups of Ice
Cherries
Slices of pineapple, orange or lime
Paper umbrellas for decoration

 
In a blender, crush ice while gradually adding the pineapple and the coconut cream. The ice should be thick enough to hold a cherry on top without sinking into the drink. Serve in a tall glass with a straw. Garnish with one cherry and a slice of pineapple. Insert a paper umbrella for that tropical, exotic touch. Serves one

MELLO STRAWBERRY MARGARITA

1 can (12 oz) frozen limeade concentrate

1 1/2 cups cold water

1/3 cup sugar

1 package (16 oz) frozen strawberries

1 cup ice cubes

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until well mixed and thick. Serves 6.

VIRGIN STAWBERRY DAIQUIRI
1 oz fresh lime juice
3 oz fresh strawberries (you can also use frozen strawberries or strawberry syrup)
1 teaspoon sugar
Cracked ice

mint leaves (optional)
Fill lime juice, strawberries, and sugar into a blender. Blend until smooth, then add the cracked ice and blend again until smooth. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with whole strawberry or mint leave. Serve with a straw. Serves one

STAWBERRY LIME SPARKLING COCKTAIL

1/3 cup sugar
10-ounce package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 chilled club soda
2 bottles (25.4 ounces each) chilled sparkling white grape juice

Strawberries, sliced thin, for garnish if desired
Thin lime slices, halved, for garnish if desired

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with 1/2 cup water and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved. Let the sugar syrup cool completely. In a food processor, puree the strawberries with their syrup and the lime juice, transfer the mixture to a large punch bowl, forcing it through a fine sieve if desired, and stir in the sugar syrup, the orange juice, and the club soda. Chill the mixture, covered, until it is cold. Add the sparkling grape juice slowly just before serving and serve the punch in punch glasses, each garnished with a strawberry slice and a lime slice. Makes 8 to 10 servings

LIME AND MELON COOLER

4 1/2 cups cubed honeydew melon (about 1 small)
1 1/2 cups lime sherbet
2 tablespoons lime juice
fresh strawberries (optional)

Place melon cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover and freeze 30 minutes or until firm.  Put the knife blade in food processor bowl and add the frozen melon, sherbet, and lime juice. Process until smooth.  Pour into glasses. Garnish with strawberries, if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 5 to 6

BONUS RECIPES!!!! The following recipes were sent to me by readers who swear they are the best appetizers to serve with mock-tails. While I haven’t tried making them myself they looked so good I wanted to share them.

COCONUT FRIED SHRIMP

1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar, divided use
1 egg
1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
2 1/2 cups vegetable oil for frying

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, soy sauce and 2 tablespoons sugar. Set sauce aside.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, coconut milk, flour, curry powder and remaining sugar; mix well. Spread coconut on a sheet of waxed paper. In a small bowl, combine salt and cayenne. Dip shrimp into coconut milk batter; let excess drip off. Dredge shrimp in coconut; place on a wire rack.

In a deep heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat Add the shrimp in batches; cook, turning once, until browned, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with cayenne mixture. Serve with the sauce. Servings: 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Submitted by Corie Sullivan Elmwood IL

CHEESY BROCCOLI POCKETS

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 jarred roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (16 ounce) package frozen bread dough, thawed

Preheat oven to 375. Grease 2 baking sheets. Cook broccoli according to package directions; drain well and set aside. In a medium skillet, heat oil over low heat. Add garlic; saute for 2 minutes. Add broccoli; cook, stirring until moisture has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine broccoli mixture, mozzarella, Parmesan, roasted peppers, oregano, salt and pepper; mix well and set aside. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 8 pieces; roll out each piece to form a 6-inch circle. Spoon an equal amount of broccoli mixture in the center of each circle. Fold dough over filling to form a half circle. Press edges with a fork to seal; prick a few holes in pocket tops. Place pockets on prepared baking sheets. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 8 pockets

Darin Carmichael Crystal Lake IL

Old Fashion Christmas Food Explained

 

            At this time of year I often get a few requests for “traditional” holiday recipes. Not moms, grandmothers or even great grandma Rosie’s “can’t have a holiday meal with out being excommunicated from the family with out serving them recipes” but rather, the recipes that have made up holiday menus in times past. These are the recipes we all know about but have never made because either they sound too weird, take too much time or frankly, require more ingredients and expertise than the average cook has. I’m talking about Mincemeat, Roasted Chestnuts, Wassail, Syallbub, Gingerbread and Roast Goose.

            These five foods have been discussed, lauded and praised in the Christmas songs and literature for eons. While the Wassail and Syallbub are not as well known or popular as they once were, they are nonetheless, by virtue of their longevity in our collective culinary memories, worthy of inclusion in this column. None of these items are actually difficult to make so I suppose the reason most of them don’t get served is that family favorites have edged out the traditional favorites.     

I’ve made both Wassail and Syllabubs and found both to be delicious. Gingerbread and Roast Goose have both graced my table on many occasions. However, I will admit I’ve never had the desire to try mincemeat but several of my friends love it and assure me that, made right, it’s delicious. My mincemeat lapse aside, tradition has its place. So, without further ado, my holiday gift to you is a nostalgic retrospective of the recipes of Christmas past.

MINCEMEAT

Mincemeat was originally a medieval (England) sweet, spicy mixture of chopped (minced) lean meat (usually beef, or beef tongue), suet and fruit. It was generally served as an entree. Gradually the meat content was reduced, and today the mixture contains nuts, dried fruit (raisins, apples, pears, citrus peel, etc.), beef suet, spices and brandy or rum, but no beef. Mincemeat is used primarily in pies and tarts.

MINCEMEAT FILLING

1/2 lb beef suet, chopped fine

4 cups seedless raisins

2 cups dried currants

1 cup coarsely chopped almonds

1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied citron

1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried figs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied orange peel

1/4 cup coarsely chopped candied lemon peel

4 cups coarsely chopped, peeled and cored cooking apples

1 & 1/4 cups sugar

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

2 & 1/2 cups brandy

1 cup dry sherry

2 recipes for 2 crust pie shell recipe

Combine the suet, raisins, currants, almonds, citron, figs, orange peel, lemon peel, apples, sugar, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves in a large mixing bowl and stir them together thoroughly. Pour in the brandy and the sherry and stir with a large spoon until all the ingredients are moist. Cover the bowl and set the ingredients aside in a cool place (do not refrigerate) for at least 3 weeks. Check the mixture each week and replenish the absorbed liquor with more brandy and sherry, using about 1/4 cup each time. To cook: Preheat the oven to 375. Roll out dough and cut into 4 to 5 inch circles. Place about 1 tablespoons of mincemeat into each pastry circle and cover and fold in half, crimping the edges with a fork. Place the stuffed pies on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let pies cool then remove from tin and serve with whipped cream. Makes 2 dozen With leftover filling.

From http://www.about.com

ROASTED CHESTNUTS

Simply put chestnuts that are roasted and then served warm. Since the middle of the twentieth century, North America has imported most of its chestnuts from Italy. In France, marron glace, a candied chestnut with a typically French cooking style that involves 16 different processes, is always served at Christmas and New Years time. To the early Christians chestnuts symbolized chastity.
To roast your chestnuts use the point of a paring knife to slash an X on the flat side of each nut, being sure to cut through the skin. Bake in a single layer at 425  for 10 to 15 minutes for peeling only. If you want them completely roasted, bake 15 to 25 minutes until tender. Stir nuts occasionally during the roasting time.

Always peel chestnuts while they’re still warm. If they cool so much that the shell won’t easily come off, reheat them briefly.

SYLLABUB

Syllabub was a popular dessert in seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth century England. It was popular for celebrations, special occasions and Christmas due to its festive appearance. Syllabub was made with a mixture of whipped cream, whipped egg whites, white wine, sugar, lemon juice and zest of lemon. The quantity of white wine added would determine the consistency determining whether the mixture was a creamy dessert or a punch.

SYLLALBUB

2 cups white wine

3 cups milk

5 tablespoons grated Lemon peel (rind)

2 cups Light cream

1/3 cup Lemon juice

4 Egg whites

1-1/2 cup Sugar

Nutmeg

Combine wine, lemon rind, and juice. Stir in 1 cup of the sugar and let stand until sugar dissolves. Combine milk and cream, add wine mixture, and beat with a rotary beater until frothy. Beat egg whites until stiff, add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, a little at a time, beating constantly until whites stand in peaks. Pour wine mixture into punch bowl, top with puffs of egg white, and sprinkle whites with nutmeg.

From http://www.webmaster.com

BUCHE DE NOEL

This French pastry origin can be traced back to the ancient Celtic tradition of celebrating the winter solstice. On the shortest day of the year, the Celts would search for a large trunk of a tree and burn it. The burning log was a symbol of the rebirth of the sun as well as an offering of thanks to the sun for returning to the earth. This pagan tradition was transformed by the Catholic Church and during the Middle Ages the logs and the ceremony of the burning log became more elaborate. The logs themselves would be decorated with ribbons and greenery and it would burn through the night.  The big log was replaced by a smaller branch that was set in the middle of the table and surrounded by little sweets that were given as treats to guests. It is this branch that was eventually transformed into the cake we know as the Buche de Noel.

CARAMEL ORANGE BUCHE DE NOEL

Buttercream
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups half and half
8 ounces imported white chocolate (such as Lindt), chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

Cake
1 1/2 cups toasted sliced almonds
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour

6 large eggs, separated
10 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

Pine twigs

Candied Cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup cranberries

For Buttercream:
Whisk egg yolks, sugar and flour in medium bowl to blend well. Bring half and half to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Slowly whisk hot half and half into egg mixture. Return egg mixture to same saucepan and cook until mixture boils and thickens, whisking constantly. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add chocolate and orange peel and stir until mixture is smooth. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pastry cream to prevent skin from forming. Cool completely. (Pastry cream can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

For cake:
Preheat oven to 300. Butter 11×17-inch jelly roll pan. Line with parchment. Butter and flour parchment. Coarsely grind toasted almonds with flour in processor. Using electric mixer, beat yolks with 5 tablespoons brown sugar in medium bowl until slowly dissolving ribbons form when beaters are lifted. Stir in orange peel and vanilla extract. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites with cream of tartar and salt in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 5 tablespoons brown sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into yolk mixture. Gently fold in almond mixture.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides if necessary to loosen cake. Slide cake on parchment onto rack. Cool.

Slide cake on parchment onto work surface. Loosen cake from parchment using knife as aid. Sift powdered sugar over cake. Invert onto cookie sheet. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and invert onto another parchment sheet. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in Grand Marnier. Add pastry cream 1/4 cup at a time, beating after each addition until just blended.

Spread half of Buttercream over cake, leaving 1/2-inch border. Starting at 1 long side, roll up cake jelly roll fashion. Arrange seam side down on parchment. Set aside 1/2 cup Buttercream; spread remaining Buttercream over cake. Cut 2 inches off each end of cake, cutting on diagonal. Transfer cake to platter. Attach ends to top of cake, forming branches. Spread reserved 1/2 cup Buttercream over cake ends and seams. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to firm Buttercream. (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.)

Arrange pine twigs on cake and on platter. Garnish with cranberries.

For Cranberries:
Cook 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Transfer to top of double boiler. Add cranberries. Cover berry mixture and place over simmering water. Cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from over water. Let cranberry mixture stand at room temperature overnight. Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar on plate. Drain cranberries well. Add to sugar and turn to coat. Let dry at least 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)  Serves 8.

From Bon Appétit December 1991

WASSAIL

Wassail is a hot, spiced punch often associated with winter celebrations of northern Europe, usually those connected with the Christmas,  New Year’s and Twelfth Night. While the modern day beverage typically served as wassail most closely resembles mulled cider. Historical wassail was different, more of a mulled beer. Sugar, ale, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon would be placed in a bowl, heated and then the alcohol ignited. Recipes vary, but usually call for a base of either wine or fruit juices (for those who abstain from spirits) simmered with mulling spices, usually fortified with brandy. Orange and or lemon slices were added to the mixture.

WASSAIL

1 gallon apple juice

2 oranges
2 lemons
1 lime
1 tbsp cloves
1 tbsp allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 qt water
1 cup sugar

Heat the water to boiling. Cut the lemons and oranges (and lime if using) in half and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl to save, throw the skins and pulp into the boiling water. Add spices and simmer for one hour.  Remove the cinnamon sticks, a few cloves, allspice and save to one side. Using a slotted spoon or strainer remove the citrus peels and pulp and the remaining spices. Return the cinnamon sticks and saved spices to the water. Add the apple juice or cider and return to heat. . When boiling remove from heat and add the citrus juice and sugar. Simmer very lightly for another 10 minutes and serve. Serves 10 to 12.

From http://www.drinkmixer.com

GINGERBREAD MEN

Gingerbread has been baked in Europe since the eleventh century. In some places, it was a soft spiced cake; in others, a crisp cookie, and in still  others it resembled bread. Sometimes light, sometimes dark, sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy, it was almost always cut into shapes such as men, women, stars or animals and then decorated.

GINGERBREAD HOUSE, MEN, OR COOKIES

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Raisins
Candied cherries, red gum drops
Citron
String licorice
Decorator’s icing

If you are using self rising flour omit salt and baking soda. If you are using quick mixing flour add 3 tablespoons milk. Cream shortening and sugar. Blend in molasses, water, flour, salt, soda, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Chill for 2-3 hours. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured cloth covered board. Cut with cookie cutters or into shapes with a knife. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes. Immediately remove from baking sheet and cool. For crispier cookie roll dough 1/8 inch thick and bake for 8 minutes. Trim cookies as desired. For gingerbread men, press raisins into dough for eyes, nose, and buttons. Use bits of candied fruits and licorice for other trim. Makes 2 dozen regular cookies.

From http://www.cooks.com

ROAST GOOSE

Turkey, Ham, and especially goose have been the main stay of most Christmas dinners. While turkey and ham are a more modern American tradition most Europeans still roast a goose for the holidays.

1 fresh whole goose (13 to 15 pounds)
Butchers’ twine
Kosher salt
3 ounces goose rub (1 ounce each of ground fennel seed, ground coriander seed and ground white pepper mixed together)
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 dinner fork (to poke holes in skin of goose)
1 onion (peeled, cut into large dice)
1 carrot (peeled, cut into thick slices)
1 rib celery (washed, cut into large slices)
1 leek (white part only, washed and cut into thick slices)
1 bay leaf
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350. Tie the legs of the goose together and cut the tips of the wings off. You can save the wing tips with the neck bone and make a quick goose stock, if needed. Next, using the fork, gently poke holes in the skin of the goose without going through the skin into the meat. Do this all over the bird (this will allow the fat to render off during the roasting process). Stuff the cavity of the bird with the fresh thyme and rosemary, and season it generously with salt. Finally sprinkle the entire goose with the goose rub, then transfer the goose to a roasting pan with water, onion, leek, celery, carrot, and bay leaf. It’s important to make sure your roasting pan is deep and strong enough to accommodate the goose. Do not use aluminum foil roasting pans because 3 cups of goose fat will render from the bird and, if spilled onto a hot surface, could ignite.
Place the goose into the oven for one hour. Then, without opening the oven, turn it off and let goose sit for one hour. Remove from oven and cut breast meat off the bird, then slice the breast meat very thin. Next, remove the thighs and legs, and serve with huckleberry sauce (see recipe below).

Tip: Save the rendered fat from the roasting pan and use it to roast potatoes or vegetables in place of cooking oil, a very flavorful option. Serve 4 to 6.

From Chef John Greeley of New York’s historic ’21’ Club NBC Today show web site

Journal Gazette Column Christmas Morning Breakfast

  http://journalgazette.com/article/20101219/FEAT0103/312199978/1132

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