Cooking With The Holiday Season

Cooking With The Holiday Season
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Each country and culture has their own holiday tradition and what they eat during that time. What might seem strange to us, is home to them! Over the years, I have modified recipes from friends that celebrate Christmas or Yule from various parts of the world. I would like to share those recipes with you, and some others I have accumulated over the years, as well as encourage you to start a discussion and share some of your favorite holiday recipes! It is the season of giving, so let's begin!

Brandy Ring Twists

By Jennifer A. Wickes

Traditionally served in Sweden at Christmas time.

1¾ cups butter

2/3 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

3¼ cups flour - approximately

3 tablespoons brandy

cinnamon sugar

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat egg yolk into brandy and mix in with butter. Gradually sift in enough flour to make a smooth yet soft dough. Gather this into a ball and chill for 1to 2 hours. Pinch off small pieces of dough, and on a lightly floured board toll into thin pencil strips approximately 5 inches long. Twist the rolls together in pairs, rope fashion and then make a ring. Dough should remain cold until it is rolled, so divided into portions so some will remain chilled while you work the rest. Sprinkle with sugar and place on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350- degree oven for 10 minutes, or until a pale golden yellow. Cool and store in an airtight container. Yields: 60

Brandy Snaps

By Jennifer A. Wickes

Traditionally served in England at Christmas time.

1½ cups flour - sifted

pinch salt

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon nutmeg

¾ cup butter - melted

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup dark molasses

2 tablespoons brandy

Sift flour, salt, ginger and nutmeg together in a bowl. Combine melted butter, sugar, molasses and brandy in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto a lightly buttered cookie sheet, leaving 2½ inches in between. Bake in a preheated 300-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool until cookie can be handled. While warm, roll each cookie around the handle of a wooden mixing spoon to form cigarettes. Reheat cookies in a slow oven if they harden before they were rolled. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Cookies can be shaped into cones and filled with whipped cream and ginger. Yields: 48

Cassava Pie

By Jane West "Bermudian Cookery"

Traditionally served in Bermuda at Christmas time.

6 pounds cassava

14 eggs

2½ cups butter - softened

1 cup sugar






4 pounds chicken breast -- and thighs

Boil chicken in a large pot with every kind of seasoning you have available! A couple of chopped carrots and stalks of celery will help make the broth rich and savory.

Debone chicken and reserve broth.

Mix cassava (that has been drained of its juices as much as possible), eggs and soft butter with your hands. Add sugar and a good pinch of all the spices and mix well.

In a large, well greased roasting pan, put in about 1½ inches of the cassava mixture. Add the chicken in an evenly distributed layer. Top with remaining cassava (another 1½ inches) and prick with a fork. Then add about one cup of chicken broth and put in the oven at 350 degrees. This will require approximately 2 hours of cooking. Remember to baste with chicken broth every ½ hour. The pie is done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Yields: 12 servings

Chocolate Truffles

By Jennifer A. Wickes

Traditionally served in France at Christmas time.

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

3 egg yolks

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons icing sugar

1 tablespoon rum

½ cup semisweet chocolate -- finely grated

Melt chocolate in the top half of a double boiler, set over boiling water. Beat in butter and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add egg yolks one at a time, beating well between additions. Stir in rum. Turn into a bowl, and cover with waxed paper. Set aside overnight in a cool dry place. Do NOT chill. Shape into balls 1 inch in diameter and roll in grated chocolate.

Roll in grated nuts instead of grated chocolate. For example, walnuts or almonds.

Use brandy OR another alcohol based flavoring, such as vanilla extract, orange extract, or almond essence. Yields: 12

Chocolate Yule Log

By Jennifer A. Wickes

This is served traditionally at Yule time (Winter Solstice) in Pagan cultures, also during Christmas time in France.

2 eggs

½ cup sugar

½ cup self-rising flour

1 tablespoon self-rising flour

1 tablespoon cocoa

1 tablespoon hot water

1½ cups icing sugar

6 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons evaporated milk - approximately

2 tablespoons cocoa - approximately

Beat eggs. Add each ingredient following, beating well. Grease and flour pans (or line with greased proof paper). Bake at 425 for 7 to 8 minutes.

Turn onto sugared paper. Roll up with the paper inside and leave to cool.

Make icing by beating the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the milk and mix well. Take ½ of the icing away, and add the cocoa to that batch.

When the roll is cool, unroll and spread most of the white icing saving a little to do the ends of the log. Roll up firmly and ice the outside with chocolate icing first. Then, use the remaining white icing on the ends.

Christmas Braid

By TJ Hill - Appetites Catered

Traditionally served in Eastern Europe during the Christmas season.

5 cups flour

2 packages active dry yeast

1 cup milk

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 egg white

1 teaspoon anise seed - crushed

1 teaspoon lemon zest - grated

1 cup seedless raisins

1 egg yolk - beaten

¼ cup blanched almonds - sliced

Combine yeast and 2½ cups flour in a mixer bowl and mix well. Combine milk, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a saucepan, over a low flame. Heat to 120 degrees, remove from heat. Stir into flour mixture. Add eggs, egg white, anise seeds, and lemon zest. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in as much flour as you can by hand. Add raisins and turnout onto a very lightly floured board knead for 6 to 8 minutes by hand, until smooth and elastic shape into a ball. Place into a greased bowl and turn once. Cover and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until doubled in size. Punch down, divide in half, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Set one half aside. Divide the remaining piece in half. Cut one half in thirds. Roll each third into an 18-inch rope. Loosely braid and place onto a greased cookie sheet. Divide the other half into fourths. Roll three into 14-inch ropes. Braid loosely and place on top of the 18- inch braid. Cut the remaining fourth into three pieces. Roll into 12- inch ropes. Braid loosely and place on top of the 14-inch braid Tuck ends under. Repeat with the other half of dough. Cover and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes. Brush with egg yolks and sprinkle with almonds. Bake @ 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yields: 12

Christmas Cake

By Jennifer A. Wickes

This is traditionally served in Britain at Christmas.

1/2 pound butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2cups flour

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup sultanas (Golden raisins)

1/2 cup currants

3 eggs

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

5 ounces candied fruit peel

1/2 lemon - zest


1/2 teaspoon mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg etc.)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.

Sift spice with flour and salt. Add some of the flour mixture to the fruit. Fold the remaining flour into the butter mixture. Gently fold in the fruit, lemon rind and marmalade. Then, add the sherry.

Put mixture in a prepared tin (lined with grease-proof paper). Bake at 325 or less for about 1½ hours, and then reduce the temperature to 275 until done.

Serving Ideas:

Instead of sherry, try rum

Serve with custard.

Christmas Oyster Soup (Soupe Aux Huitres De Noel)

Public domain recipes converted from Meal Master format

This is traditionally served in Quebec at Christmas time.

2 carrots -- medium, peeled & grated in long thin shreds

1/2 cup celery -- finely diced

1/4 cup butter - melted

4 cups milk -- or 1/2 milk, 1/2 cream

4 cups oyster

salt and pepper -- to taste

Peel and grate in long thin shreds, the carrots and add finely diced celery. Melt butter in saucepan and add the vegetables. Stir. Cover and simmer over very low heat for 20 minutes, without browning the vegetables. Add milk (or use 1/2 milk, 1/2 cream); bring to a boil. Heat oysters in enameled cast iron pan over medium heat; do not boil. Pour into milk and serve. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The soup should be served as soon as ready, otherwise it tends to curdle. The milk and vegetables can be prepared ahead of time and the oysters heated and served at the last minute. Yields: 4

Christmas Sugar Cookies

By Jennifer A. Wickes

This is eaten during the holiday season in the United States.

1/4 cup margarine 1/4 cup sugar 3/4 cup flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 egg 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon salt

Grease a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream margarine and sugar together until white and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients, and mix well. Divide the mixture into 3 and roll out one. Use Christmas shaped cookie cutters and lift with a palette knife to put on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with coloured sugar before baking. Add scraps to next batch and keep working. Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are golden.

Serving Ideas: If desired, ice with a frosting after cookies have cooled.

Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

By Joan P. Chilvers

Traditionally made by my mother during the holidays!

12 ounces cranberries

4 cups sugar

½ cup bourbon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir ingredients together. Place in the oven for 1 hour. Stir contents occasionally during cooking. Tastes best when it has had time to sit, for example, 2 weeks. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavours. Store in a refrigerator indefinitely.

Cranberry-Orange Walnut Scones

By Jennifer A. Wickes

Traditionally served by me during the holidays!

3 cups cake flour

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup butter

2 tablespoons orange zest - grated

1 cup cranberries

½ cup walnuts - chopped

¾ cup milk

¼ cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons half and half

2 teaspoons sugar

Preheat your oven to 425 and butter a baking sheet. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Blend the butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips or a pastry blender, until the mixture is crumbly. Add the orange zest, cranberries and walnuts and toss to combine. Add the milk and juice, and stir until the dough is rough.

Gather the dough together and place on a floured work surface. Knead gently about 10 times. Divide the dough in half and pat each piece into a circle about 6 inches in diameter and about ½ inch thick. To glaze, brush the circles with the half and half and sprinkle with sugar. Cut each circle into eight pie-shaped wedges. Place the scones, barely touching, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until puffy and golden, 15-18 minutes. Yields: 16

Gluehwein (Hot Spiced Wine)

Source: Donauland Kochbuch by Albert Kofranek

Traditionally served in Austria at Christmas time.

¼ liter white or red wine (1 cup)

1 small piece lemon peel plus 1 tbsp

a little stick cinnamon

5 sugar cubes -- or to taste

1 whole clove

Warm the above ingredients together. Pour into a pre-warmed glass, wrap glass in a napkin, and serve immediately. Yields: 1

Holiday Wassail

By Thomas J. Lipton, Inc.

Traditionally served in Britain during the Holiday Season.

4 cups apple cider -- or juice

1 cup water

4 Lipton Flo-Thru Tea Bags

1 cup cranberry juice cocktail

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 whole allspice

3 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick - broken

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Apple rings - sliced

In large saucepan, bring cider and water to a boil. Add tea bags; cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove tea bags. Stir in juices, sugar and spices. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove spices. Garnish with sliced apple rings. Servings: 4

Mexican Rompope (Mexican Eggnog)

By Jennifer A. Wickes

Traditionally served in Mexico at Christmas time.

10 egg yolks

1 cup rum - white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 quart milk

1½ cups sugar

Bring milk to a boil, cool to lukewarm and add the sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes. Add vanilla extract and cool. Beat egg yolks until very thick and ribbon-like. Gradually beat in milk and rum. Stir, strain and chill. Yields: 15

Instead of vanilla, add cinnamon sticks to the milk when heating.

Neopolitan Mustaches

By Jennifer A. Wickes

Traditionally served in Italy at Christmas time.

½ pound blanched almonds -- finely chopped

½ pound walnuts -- finely chopped

3 drops orange flower water

½ cup honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch freshly ground pepper

2 egg whites -- lightly beaten

1½ cups flour - approximately

Combine nuts, orange flower water, honey, cinnamon, fresh ground pepper and lightly beaten egg whites. Mix to a paste. Add flour gradually, working it into a thick paste but one that is not too stiff. Spread to ¼ inch to ½ inch thickness on a board and cut into diamond shapes about 2 inches long. Place on a buttered and floured baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 250-degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until firm. Yields: 24


Public domain recipes converted from Meal Master format

Traditionally served during the Jewish holidays.

½ pound unsalted butter

8 ounces cream cheese - softened

2 cups flour -- all purpose

½ cup sugar

½ cup seedless raisins -- or currants

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup almonds -- ground/or other nuts

¼ cup sugar -- for topping

½ cup almonds - ground

½ cup jam -- Strawberry or other jam

¼ cup sugar -- for topping

Cream the butter and cream cheese together. Beat in the flour, a little at a time. Knead the dough lightly until all the flour is incorporated. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Divide the dough into two portions. Prepare one of the fillings by combining the ingredients except the sugar for the topping, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out a portion of the dough in a circle about 1/16" thick. With a knife or pastry wheel, cut the pastry into 16 pie- shaped wedges. If the dough is sticky, dust it with a little flour. Sprinkle or spread the filling on the wedge. Beginning at the wide edge, roll the dough up toward the point. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and carefully sprinkle with a tiny bit of the reserved sugar. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden. Yields: 32

Notes: The dough for this cookie will literally melt in your hands if not worked very quickly, and kept as cold as possible! I freeze a marble pastry board before I begin to make these and use a marble pin for rolling the dough. If you do not have this equipment, ice down the area you are going to work on. When rolling the dough, it is wise to place a sheet of waxed paper over the board. If the dough gets too sticky to work, put it back in the fridge for a while, then continue.

Spritz Cookies

By Jennifer A. Wickes

Traditionally served in Germany at Christmas time.

1 cup butter

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 egg

¼ teaspoon salt

2 ¼ cups flour - sifted

Let butter soften slightly at room temperature. Cream the butter until white and fluffy. Add the sugar a little at a time, beating until the granules of sugar are no longer felt, and the mixture is light and fluffy. Add flavoring and egg. Blend thoroughly. Add the flour and salt, gently with a metal spoon, a little at a time, until the dough is soft and workable. Pack dough into a cookie press or a pastry bag, using any pattern you prefer. Lightly butter baking sheets. Press out dough. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 10 minutes, or until cookie edges are a light golden brown. Serving Ideas: Instead of adding vanilla extract try almond extract OR the rind of ½ lemon. Yields: 24

Vanilla Broetchen

By Jennifer A. Wickes

Traditionally served in Germany at Christmas time.

5 eggs -- room temperature

3½ cups flour - sifted

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

Beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar one spoonful at a time. Beat for 20 minutes at medium speed. Gradually add vanilla extract and the sifted dry ingredients. Grease a cookie sheet with butter. Drop rounded spoonfuls of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet approximately one inch apart. Cookies must dry overnight. Bake at 325-degree oven for 10 12 minutes.

Hints: For a crisper cookie, use butter and all-purpose flour. For a more cake-like cookie, use shortening and cake flour. For a lower-fat version, you can substitute whole eggs for tofu! Use ¼ cup firm tofu for each whole egg!

Have a VERY happy holiday season!

More Holiday Cooking Resources

Christmas Recipes brought to you by

Suite 101's 19th Century "Old Fashioned Christmas Recipes"

A Vegetarian Christmas

Jewish Holiday recipes

How other countries celebrate Christmas

This article was originally published at Suite 101.

Copyright 2001 Jennifer Wickes

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Christmas Ham

The Holiday Turkey

Festive Drink Recipes


About The Author

Jennifer Wickes is the editor at "Cookbook Reviews" and "Cooking With The Seasons", which has been voted to be one of the Top 100 Culinary Sites on the Internet! For more information about Jennifer Wickes or her columns, please go HERE

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