Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

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.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

December 23rd, 2010

Boxing Day coffee and biscotti

I haven’t done much in the way of Christmas baking this year.  I had plans to make shortbread, gingerbread, sugar cookies, maybe even some chocolate bark, but none of those came to pass.  The one thing I’ve managed to get in the oven is a double batch of biscotti.  I like to give these cookies as gifts and I also like having enough around so that I can enjoy a nice slow coffee break on the mornings when I don’t work.  My two no-fail recipes come from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking book.   She’s a cookie goddess – I’ve never had a recipe of hers fail.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for 3 minutes.
Add the eggs and continue to mix on medium-high speed for another 2 minutes until very smooth.
Mix together the dry ingredients, then slowly blend into the creamed mixture.
Stir in the almonds and cranberries by hand.
Turn the soft dough out onto the counter and form into a log.
Split the log in two, then flatten out each half on the baking sheet until it’s about an inch and a half thick.
Bake for 15 minutes then remove from oven to cool for 30 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 300°F.
Slice the logs into 3/4 inch pieces and arrange cut-side-up on the baking sheet.
Bake for another 15 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before packing in an air-tight container.

Seared Scallops over Pasta

January 24th, 2010

I wanted to do something non-traditional for Christmas Eve this year.  It was the first Christmas in my new house and it was just going to be me, my parents and my little sister.  I used my years in Halifax as inspiration, and while these scallops weren’t fresh from the morning’s market, they were still incredibly tasty.

1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 roma tomatoes, diced
handful fresh parsley, finely shredded
juice of half a lemon

24 big scallops
salt & pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
4 servings spaghettini or other long pasta
grated parmesan cheese

In a wide pan, cook the first 5 ingredients for about 20 minutes, or until tomatoes are softened and juices have reduced.
Pat the scallops dry with a paper tower and lightly salt and pepper them.  Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan until it’s just shy of smoking.  Working in batches, cook the scallops for 1-2 minutes a side, or until they are opaque on the inside and seared on the outside.
Top the pasta with the tomato sauce and scallops, and garnish with grated parmesan cheese and lemon wedges.

Chopsticks work really well for turning over the scallops as they’re cooking, especially if you have mad chopsticking skills like my little sister.

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