Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas Special menus and recipes

Our friends at Palingates have exchanged loads of recipes over the holidays and Sleuth collected them for easy reference. Here they are:


Merry Christmas from Oregon everyone.
Here's a quick breakfast idea if anyone wants an early start in the morning. I made one earlier today for breakfast.

1 1/2 cups shredded potatoes, onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, or anything else you might like. (I added sausage)
1/4 cup fat-free egg product or 2 plain eggs.
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup Bisquick
1 teaspoon salt OR a salt blend (I used Cajun)
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray bottom and side of 8- or 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Spread potatoes in bottom of pie plate.
2. In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients except cheese with wire whisk or fork until well blended. Pour over potatoes. Sprinkle cheese over top.
3. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until eggs in center are set.
Double amounts if you want a thicker one. I did! But use a 8 x 8 square pan with higher sides.


Merry Christmas! I think I just make my best pumpkin pie ever! Woo Hoo! (I'm not the best, most natural cook in the world, LOL!). My new trick is to very slowly, over low heat, pre-cook the filling just until it gets thick and leaves a "trace" when you dribble some filling from the spoon onto the surface. Then I pre-bake my pie crust (store bought, because I'm still afraid to make a homemade pie crust!), pour in the filling, and baked it for about 30 minutes at 350F. Here's my recipe if anyone is interested:

15 oz. can of Farmer's Market brand pumpkin puree (the best in my opinion!)
1/2 cup sugar (I use that organic, slightly tan/brown granulated stuff, it has a touch of brown sugar flavor without the hassle)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
heaping 1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp ginger
scant 1/8 tsp allspice
a dash or so of nutmeg (I'm not a huge nutmeg fan)

--Mix all of that well, then add in
3 beaten eggs
Then 1 cup whole milk, or half-n-half, or cream (depending on how creamy you want it)
Heat slowly in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat with constant stirring (I use a silicon-coated whisk), then pour into the pre-baked pie shell. About 30 minutes at 350F.
Now if I can just get my shortbread to come out as well!

Ripley in CT

It's called TOURTIERE in French. My mom sent me the recipe her grandmother used to make. The measurements are approximate.

Preheat oven to 400.
2 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 boiled potatoes
3 slices of day-old bread
Poultry seasoning (I use Bell's.. the best)- approximately 1-2 Tbsp I find is best
Salt and pepper to taste. (like maybe 1.5 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper)
I also add a little crushed garlic... because I like garlic ;) If you want, you can add other things like shredded carrots, or use ground turkey instead of the beef. It's rather fluid :) I like it simple.

Cook pork, beef, onion, celery and seasonings in a large pot till done, usually around 45 minutes. Cook over medium heat, do not burn. Mix it all up and break up the meat as you go. In the meantime, cook the potatoes whole, or cut in half. If you use regular (not red) potatoes, leave the skins ON. Peel them before you add them later.

Break up the bread in to small pieces (I used bread I made last weekend). When the potatoes are done, (peel if necessary and) cut them up into smallish, irregular pieces. I like red potatoes so I don't have to peel them. Not mashed, just busted up.

When the meat is done, drain the fat. Add bread and potatoes and mix well.
Stick it all in a deep dish pie shell and cover with top crust. Make slits in the top to let steam escape. Bake around 40 minutes. I use foil on the edges during the first 15 minutes so it doesn't burn.

That's it. I make mine the night before and re-heat it in the morning for breakfast. All the men in my family eat it with Ketchup. When I used to eat meat, I liked it just as is.


1 LITER GRAIN ALCOHOL (190 PROOF)...I could not find...used 151 proof Everclear instead
2 1/2 quarts Parmalat whole milk (ultra-pasteurized in the brick boxes)
12 lemons (wash with hot water to remove wax and dry)
8 cups sugar
3 packets of Vanillina pura (Vanillin, each packet .05 grams)
1 covered glass or ceramic bowl or large jar ( Do NOT us plastic)
Cheesecloth ( a must!)

Peel off the rind (zest) from the 12 lemons. Be careful not to peel off any of the white pith as this will make the final product bitter. I used a good potato peeler or you could use a zester.
Place the rinds in the bowl. Pour the alcohol into the bowl and stir. Cover tightly and set aside for the next 10 days, stirring once a day. (do not let sit any longer than 20 days)
DAY 11

Slowly bring to a boil the 2 1/2 quarts Parmalat milk, add the sugar , while milk is boiling stir until completely dissolved, ....do let let milk burn!
Once sugar is completely dissolved, set aside to cool. Add the Vanillina (comes in small packets like Sweet and Low....i could only find at a Natural Food store)
After cooling, pour mixture of alcohol and lemon peels through a funnel lined with cheescloth into the cooled milk.

Stir mixture and pour into small saved Perrier bottles (or any bottles you want) through cheesecloth and a funnel again. Screw caps on.
I went to the craft store and bought flattened yellow marbles and hot glued them on top fo the metal caps and made fun yellow and green hang tags, saying "Crema Di Limoncello", home brewed for you by __________________________
KEEP IN FREEZER....NO WORRIES...IT DOES NOT FREEZE BECAUSE OF ALL THE ALCOHOL. The flavor is best enhanced when it is very cold.

I made a DOUBLE batch....you should too....once you start giving them as gifts, you get more requests! ;0) You will love this stuff as an after dinner sipping liquor!
I also have the recipe for Crema di Orancello which I will make next year.


Christmas Zuccotto
Serves 10-12
2 x 8" vanilla sponge cakes
1/4 cup maraschino liqueur
1/2 lb mascarpone
1/2 lb ricotta, drained
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 pint cream, whipped
1/2 cup chopped glace fruit
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
4 ozs dark chocolate

Line a 8" mixing bowl with plastic film.
Cut each sponge into 3 horizontal discs. Cut the discs to line the bowl, patching any gaps with leftover sponge. Brush the sponge with maraschino liqueur. Set aside remaining maraschino liqueur and sponge for finishing the zuccotto. Place the mascarpone, ricotta and confectioners sugar in the food processor and pulse until smooth. Add half the whipped cream to the mascarpone/ricotta mixture, together with the glace fruit and hazelnuts. Fill the sponge dome with the mixture, creating a space in the middle; this will be filled with the chocolate mixture.
Melt the chocolate and when slightly cooled add to the whipped cream. Spoon into the centre of the dome. Place a sponge lid on top of the filling and brush with the remaining maraschino liqueur. Cover with plastic film, place a tray or plate on top and weight it down with some jars or tins overnight. When the zuccotto has set, turn it out on to a plate or wire rack and prior to serving sift confectioners sugar over it.

If you're a chocoholic and you have plenty of time, you can drizzle the zuccotto all over with warm chocolate ganache then return it to the fridge. Repeat a couple of times to create a thick smooth coating.

1/2 lb dark chocolate
1 1/2 cups cream
Melt the chocolate and cream together and stir until smooth.


Creme Brulee French Toast
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed br sugar
2T corn syrup
1 (8-9 inch) loaf challah (or Italian) bread
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cup half and half
1t vanilla
1t Grand Marnier (optional)
1/4 t salt

-In small heavy sauce pan melt butter, br sugar, and corn syrup over moderate heat stirring until smooth
-Pour into 13x9x2 pan
-Cut 6 one inch slices of bread (from the center), trim crusts (I leave 'em)
-Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.
-In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half n half, vanilla, GM, and salt until combined well, then pour over bread
-Chill bread mixture, covered, in refrigerator at least 8 hours, or up to one day (I love that you basically make this ahead!)
-Preheat oven to 350, and bring bread mixture to room temp.
-Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden...35-40 minutes.


Easy Rum Cake (with variations)

1/2 cup minced walnuts (or 1/3 cup minced pecans & ½ cup shredded coconut)
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow (or butter-pecan) mix
1/2 cup dark rum - I like Meyers Dark (or you can use Coconut rum, spiced rum, etc.)
4 eggs
1/2 cup water (or ½ cup coconut milk, pineapple juice, etc.)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla (or coconut cream pudding mix)

1/2 cup butter
1/8 cup water (or pineapple juice)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup white rum - I like Appleton Estates

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts (and shredded coconut if making Coconut cream version) over the bottom of the pan.

Mix together the cake mix, 1/2 cup dark rum, eggs, 1/2 cup water (or coconut milk), oil, and vanilla (or coconut) pudding mix. Pour batter over the nuts in the pan.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Cool slightly, then invert cake on a serving plate. Deeply pierce the rounded top of the cake all the way around with a meat fork many times.

To Make The Glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in 1/8 cup water (or pineapple juice) and the 1/2 cup sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove glaze from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup rum.

Pour slightly cooled glaze back into the bundt / tube pan. Then, carefully replace cake (top side down) back into the baking pan to absorb the glaze through the piercing in the top. After about 30 minutes, or when cake has absorbed all the glaze, turn onto doily-covered cake platter, and garnish with powered sugar.

I always make extra glaze to then drizzle over the “bottom” of the cake, but I will boil-away the alcohol on that portion of the glaze. My family loves “strong-tasting” foods.

You may substitute many ingredients. For example, you may want to use yellow cake mix with just coconut cream pudding mix and walnuts; or butter pecan cake mix with coconut milk and plain dark rum. Adding pineapple makes this a Pina Colada Rum Cake. Feel free to play with this recipe. Dark rum works best IN the cake & white rum works best for the glaze. I like Meyers dark rum best.


There's a budget-fracturing prime rib thawing on the counter, an eggnog cheesecake finished in the fridge, goop made for the baked potatoes, cranberry sorbet made and curing in the freezer, and I'm working on the mac and cheese. (Preschooler grandson will eat mac and cheese happily every day of his life.)

I still have to do the apple crumble, caramel sauce, cinnamon ice cream, and strawberry ice cream (for daughter who doesn't like cinnamon/caramel stuff) and the prep on the salmon (daughter doesn't eat beef). And I need to cook the chicken for the salad. Then I get to clean the house. Slow and steady. I'm taking a Palin-break.

Tomorrow I make the rolls and salad, and I decided to turn the leftover cinnamon rolls into a bread pudding with LOTS of rum. Hey, it's my dinner- anyone else is free to offer to cook if they don't like what I turn out. Later tonight, I'm going to dig out the gin and tonic. Happy holidays!

I have a leg of lamb marinating in olive oil, rosemary, thyme, fresh ground pepper, crushed garlic and wine. Side dishes are roasted potato, oven baked sweet potato fries, green bean casserole, seasoned greens (in this case, spinach) and fresh-baked artisan bread. Dessert is peach cobbler and applesauce cake and, just added tot he menu, butterscotch brownies.
Breakfast is French toast using the buttermilk cinnamon-raisin artisan bread I baked 2 days ago, and fresh-made raisin syrup.

We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, a variation on the Italian Seven Fishes dinner. It has changed a lot from when my grandmother did it the old style way. We have fresh fish, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, fettucini alfredo, and Italian Bread Soup, a family favorite! With having little ones who had to get home and leave cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, we're home early enough to finish a few last minute things for tomorrow. We host a Christmas buffet that starts around 3:00 and lasts until the final guest leaves. We serve a variety of hot and cold foods, deviled clams, crab cakes, rolled boneless rib roast that you slice really thin, putting it these soft fresh rolls with au jus and the little sandwiches melt in your mouth, love the horseradish dressing on it, too. We'll also have macaroni & cheese, potato salad, steamed shrimp, meatballs & gravy and a variety of cheeses, cold veggies w/dips, and a dessert table. I started doing the buffet when my children got older because their friends wanted to visit or they wanted to go and visit all their friends. It was easier than trying to plan a nice dinner that everyone would sit down to with the kids wanting to hurry up, eat and leave. It wasn't worth spending hours in the kitchen to sit for 20 minutes and I wouldn't let them leave until everyone was done so it all worked out better for everyone, not to mention, I get to spend almost all my time with guests and get everything ready ahead of time.

Roast is in the oven. Salmon is prepped and ready to go in. Rolls are baked and smell wonderful- I made a special teddybear-shaped roll for the grandson. Potatoes are prepped and wrapped in foil. Green bean casserole- son-in-law's fave- is made and ready to go into the oven. Mac and cheese, all ready to go into the oven. (No mixes here! Even though, unlike Sarah, I CAN read the directions on a box!) Goop is made for the baked potatoes. I have made strawberry ice cream for daughter, baked an apple crumble and made cinnamon ice cream to top it and caramel sauce to top that, and because Mr. Free does not care for ice cream, I have made him a cranberry sorbet. Because I am having guests tomorrow for Boxing Day, I also made an eggnog cheesecake kind of as an extra, but I'm hanging onto those cinnamon buns because they will be a bread pudding by tomorrow dinnertime.

All I have left to do is toss a salad, which I will do right before dinner. Nothing worse than soggy greens.

I have the thought, "it's Miller time" but it's really Standard Time- which means it's three pm according to my body, not 2 pm- so I'm breaking out the gin.

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