Sunday, December 18, 2005

Wandering Coyote's Christmas Faves

I'll be leaving tomorrow for my Christmas vacation with my family. I thought I'd post some of my favourite Christmas recipes for you to check out. I don't know if I'll make any of them while away, but if you try them, let me know how they turn out! In the meantime, I wish all my readers a holiday time full of good food, good fun, and good fellowship.

Christmas for me always meant having special things we never had at any other time of the year. The following two recipes were made by my mother every year, only at this time of year. I looked forward to Christmas because I loved these two particular items. They're very simple but very good.

Creamy Salmon Spread

1 can drained red salmon
1 package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 small onion, grated
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp horseradish
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 or 2 drops tobasco sauce
salt & pepper



How hard is that?

Cheese Ball

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz medium or sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 small grated onion
1 clove garlic, crushed


Mix well. Roll into a ball and roll the ball in some chopped nuts. Or, press it into a bowl.

Got it?

Christmas Chip Cookies

I can't remember where I got this recipe, but it was during my time in Ottawa. These are really good. I bought the Christmas (i.e. red and green) M&Ms or Smarties at Bulk Barn.

1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups M&Ms or Smarties

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Sift in the dry ingredients and combine. Add the M&Ms or Smarties until mixed in. Drop onto cookie sheet and bake 8 - 10 minutes for chewy cookies or 11 - 13 minutes for crisp cookies.

Two-Tone Chocolate Shortbread

This came from the 1998 Bakefest insert that comes in Canadian Living. I love these little booklets and get lot of great recipes from them. In fact, I look forward to the Christmas edition of Canadian Living just for the Bakefest booklet!

1 cup softened butter (DON'T use margarine, for crying out loud! This is shortbread!)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 oz (or 2 squares) semi sweet chocolate, melted

1. In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Sift together flour and cornstarch. Beat into butter mixture until just mixed.
2. In a 9" square baking pan, drop half of dough in small portions, scattering randomly. Combine melted chocolate with remaining dough. Drop small chocolate portions in between white dough portions in pan. Press top lightly to flatten.
3. Bake at 300F for 25 minutes or until firm to touch in centre. Let cool and cut into squares or bars. These also freeze very well.

Nanaimo Bars

Okay - I definitely only make these at Christmas because they are so decadent and having them around the house at any other time of the year is just not a good plan. These are one of my absolute favourite food items ever! This particular recipe comes from Canadian Living magazine.

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten

- In a bowl, stir together all ingredients. Press into a 13x9" pan, greased or parchment-lined. Bake at 350F until firm, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. Like, completely, eh? As in cold.

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup custard powder (like Bird's)
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk

In a large bowl, beat the butter, custard powder and vanilla until light and creamy. Alternately beat in icing sugar and milk in two additions of each. Spread over COOLED base. Refrigerate for one hour or until cold.

8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp butter

- Melt chocolate and butter in a bain marie, i.e. in a bowl over a saucepan of hot, not boiling water. Spread over filling. Refrigerate until almost set. With the tip of a sharp knife, score into bars. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set. Cut into bars along lines. (NB: if this isn't working neatly, use a hot knife. Put hot water into a pitcher and dip the knife in, then cut the bar. Repeat, wiping off the knife with a clean cloth or papertowels.)

Enjoy, everyone! See you in the New Year!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Party Salads

Party Salads
Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

This was something I was pleased with: the salads I made for the the Christmas party dinner last night. This was my first attempt at tomato roses and I spent a long time carving those mushrooms into stars, also something I'd never done before. The picture hardly does them justice!

Christmas Cake

Christmas Cake
Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

This is the cake I made for a luncheon we catered last Thursday. It's a 16"x24" slab of Orange Cake. I was not happy with how it turned out at all. I am capable of so much better and just couldn't make my vision conform to what I wanted in reality. Everyone but me was thrilled with it.


Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

This is a Finnish recipe I got from my friend Anita, who is half Finnish. Her mom gave her a copy of a cookbook (keittokirja) put out by the Emmaus Lutheran Church in Burnaby and all most of the recipes are from the homeland, and all are printed in both Finnish and English. Anita has fond memories of pulla, as her grandmother used to make it. She was craving it last weekend and I offered to make her some. She frowned and said, "It's a little complicated." I frowned back and said, "I'm a professional." That sealed it, and away I went.

This is very similar to the French milk bread (pain au lait), only flavoured with cardamom. Try to get the freshest cardamom you have for the best results.

Finnish Pulla Dough

2 cups milk, 120 - 150F (or very warm but not scalding)
2 tbsp quick yeast
2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cardamom
approx. 2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter, softened

1. Throw all your dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the milk and mix. Add the egg and mix. Remove the dough onto a floured surface and begin kneading it, gradually adding the butter in knobs. Alternately, put the warm milk into the Kitchen Aid bowl and throw all your dry ingredients on top. Add the egg and mix on speed one. Develop the dough on speeds 2 - 6, gradually adding the softened butter.

2. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. It might be slightly sticky after the butter is added, but that's ok. By hand, this'll take a good 6 - 8 minutes of muscle power; in the KA it'll take about 4 - 5 minutes.

3. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Then roll it out into a rectangle approximately 1/4" thick. Spread it with thin layer of butter, and on top of this sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon. Dot with more butter. Roll up as in a jelly roll and slice into 1 cm thick slices. I got 9.

4. Place in a greased baking dish. In this case, I used a 9" glass pie plate. Allow the dough to rise to double its bulk. I typically turn my oven onto low and turn the light on. Once the temperature light has gone out, I let some of the heat out and place a pan of boiling water in the oven. This should be sufficient heat to rise and mine took about an hour to double.

5. After the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 400F. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. (The original recipe calls to brush the dough with sugar water before baking.)


- You can do several things with this dough other than make cinnamon buns. You can make Boston Cake, which is like a cinnamon bun only includes raisins and apple chunks. You can make Shrove Tuesday buns, which involves dividing the dough into small buns and baking them. Once out of the oven, you cut the buns and spread them with the following filling: 2 cups icing sugar, 2 cups ground almonds, 1 egg white. Whipping cream can also be added to the middle along with this filling. Additionally, you can braid this dough, dividing it in 3 and rolling it out into 15" strips. Braid, pinch ends, and tuck under.
- I halved this recipe to make the 9 cinnamon buns, and that's about all the Kitchen Aid bowl I used could tolerate.


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