Archive for the ‘Holidays’ category

Coconut Layer Cake

May 17th, 2011

This year was my first mother’s day with only one grandma.  Since it was also that same grandma’s birthday two days after the holiday, I decided to throw a special little party for her, my mom and my godmother.  Coconut is my grandma’s absolute favourite, so I scoured my cookbooks and the internet for just the right dessert.

Coconut Layer Cake

Everyone came over for afternoon tea and I served a fancy coconut layer cake with tea or blueberry lemonade.  The cake recipe came from Martha Stewart and the lemonade recipe can be found below.  The cake was a two day preparation, but still simple enough for a layer cake.  I’d never made seven-minute frosting before, but was quite pleased with how easily it came together and how lovely it looks once spread over a cake.  Turns out it was my great-grandmother’s signature icing, so maybe I have it in my genes.

Coconut Layer Cake

Blueberry Lemonade

1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 – 1/2 cup berry sugar
1 large bottle spring water

Using a blender, liquify the blueberries in lemon juice.
Add the sugar, starting with a 1/4 cup and increasing to taste.
Pour the blueberry concentrate into a large glass pitcher and top with spring water.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14th, 2011

Heart-shaped salami!

How cute is this salami?  My local deli has been carrying it for a while, but I waited until this week to try it.  It didn’t seem right to have any before Valentine’s Day.  Apart from being adorable, it’s also tasty – a bit like a semi-spicy Genoa.  Just the thing for a quick but special lunch!

Cranberry cake

January 17th, 2011

Epiphany cake

With Christmas being as busy as it was this year, I didn’t get around to making my mom’s traditional cranberry cake until well into the new year.  Maybe we can call it a late Ukrainian Christmas cake.  Or if I’d made it without the green cherries, an early Valentine’s fruit cake.  Hmmm… I may have to make another one next month, maybe with a little splash of food colouring for extra pinkness.

1 cup white sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, softened
hot water
juice and zest of 1 orange
1 cup fresh cranberries, cut into halves
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup red and green cherries, cut into halves
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder

Cream together sugar and egg using an electric mixer.
Put butter into a 1 cup measure, and fill remainder with hot water.
Add butter and water to creamed mixture along with the orange zest and juice.
In a small bowl, coat fruit in 1/4 cup flour.
Add fruit, remaining flour and baking powder to creamed mixture, stirring gently until blended.
Pour batter into a greased and floured large Bundt pan.
Bake for 1 hour at 375ºF, checking at 45 minutes for doneness.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Fillet of Beef

December 30th, 2010

Proscuitto-wrapped beef with carmelized onions

I was in charge of this year’s Christmas Day dinner.  My mom had made the traditional turkey earlier in the week to coincide with my sister’s visit from the coast; I wanted to do something different, something we’d never had before.  I would have loved to serve lamb, but my dad isn’t a fan.  I found a great-looking recipe for beef in Donna Hay’s Simple Essentials: Beef Lamb and Pork cookbook.  It was wrapped in prosciutto and smothered in carmelized onions.  I figured it would go nicely with some of my favourite veggies and allow for that ultimate of side dishes – Yorkshire puddings.  I was serving 5 people (and wanted leftovers) so I used two small fillets of beef.  A single fillet can be made in the same manner by halving the ingredients.

1 large sweet onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

2 500g fillets of beef
olive oil
salt & pepper
8 slices of prosciutto

Cut the onion in quarters, then into thin slices.
In a large frying pan on medium-high heat, cook the onion until just soft.
Add the sugar and vinegar and continue to cook until carmelized – about 10 minutes.
Set aside in a small bowl to cool while you start to prepare the beef.

Brush the fillets in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Using the same frying pan over medium-high heat, sear the fillets on all sides.
Spread 4 slices of the prosciutto out in an overlapping manner.  Spoon carmelized onions in a line down the centre, perpendicular to the direction of the prosciutto slices.
Lay the beef on top of the onions and wrap around the prosciutto.  Tie kitchen twine around each piece of prosciutto to keep the thing together.
Repeat the wrapping with the second fillet of beef and place both into a small roasting pan lined with parchment paper.
Cook, uncovered in a 400ºF oven for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature has reached 155ºF (for medium).
Allow to rest for a few minutes, tented in foil, before carving into 1 inch slices and serving.

Christmas dinner Yorkshire puddings

It was my first time making Yorkshire puddings, and I’d call them semi-successful.  Nice and spongy, with a good absorption-rate for gravy.  Next time I think I’ll try my grandma’s old method of using a 9×9 pan and slicing the giant pudding into portions at the table.

Brussels sprouts Mixed, mashed squash

I served pan-fried Brussels sprouts, mixed/mashed squash and garlic mashed potatoes as veggie side dishes.

Greens with sweet oranges

December 27th, 2010

Citrus green salad

My mom always likes to serve a green salad before big meals.  Usually my sister or I are drafted into plating and dressing the salads while the parents finish up the hot dishes.  This year’s pre-turkey salad was entirely my mom’s creation: fresh baby greens topped with mandarin orange chunks and almonds with a sweet, creamy dressing.

1 box baby salad greens
3 mandarin oranges, peeled
1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp rice vinegar (more if you like your dressing tart)
1 tbsp white sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Place a handful of greens on each salad plate, or put all of them in a wide salad bowl.
Separate the oranges into segments and cut each segment in half.
Spread the almonds out in a glass pie dish or deep plate and microwave for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. (this can be done well ahead of time)
Top the greens with the oranges and almonds.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.
Pour the dressing over the salad and add a last-minute grind of fresh black pepper.

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