Tag Archives: christmas

Drunken Elf

I was reading fanfiction (PLEASE don’t judge me) last week and ran across a selection of naughty and nice Christmas-themed drinks in one of the stories. One of the ones that caught my attention, mostly because it only had a few ingredients, was the Drunken Elf. For colouring the pink lemonade, I used some of my home made cranberry sauce. The results … delicious.

Drunken Elf – makes 1 drink

1 oz Bacardi Golden Rum
Pink Lemonade
crushed candy cane for rimming the glass
2-3 frozen cranberries, for garnish
1 mini candy cane, for garnish

Glaze For Coating/rimming the glass – Combine 2 tbsp icing sugar and 1 tsp water in a shallow plate or saucer. Stir well.

Dip the rim of each glass into the glaze then dip into the crushed candy cane, chocolate shot or Christmas sprinkles. Let dry thoroughly.

In a pitcher, or large measuring cup, add as much of the rum and lemonade as needed per person. Pour into prepared glasses. Add a couple or three cranberries per glass.

Serve with a mini candy cane hanging off the edge off each glass.

For the Pink Lemonade – Add raspberry syrup to your regular lemonade until it’s the colour you like. For a Christmas theme, stir some cranberry sauce into about 1/4 cup of the lemonade. Strain out any berries or seeds and add to your jug of lemonade.

Add some frozen cranberries to your jug before bringing it to the table to serve.

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German Themed Christmas Menu – Sauerbraten and Gravy, Rotkohl and Gingerbread Cookies

I had planned on a traditional Christmas meal featuring a roast turkey and its accompaniments, but, less than a week before the event, I changed my mind, and decided on a German themed menu. Perhaps because I made gingerbread cookies. Or perhaps because I ran across an eye of round roast while rooting around in the freezer, which had been labelled ‘for sauebraten’. In any case, this is what I ended up with.

For the vegetable side dish, I went outside my comfort zone and chose to try ‘rotkohl’ or braised German red cabbage. I started with the Better Homes and Gardens recipe but added some more vinegar (cider), because the flavour seemed flat after tasting. I also added a heaping tablespoon of home made cranberry sauce. I cooked the cabbage for about thirty minutes until it was limp but still had some chew to it. If you want it more tender, cook it longer.

Braised Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) – serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil*
1/2 onion, finely diced*
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp caraway seed
1/4 tsp salt, add more to taste
dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded red cabbage
3/4 cup coarsely chopped peeled apple
1-2 tbsp cranberry sauce, to taste

* Substitute with 2 tbsp sauted onion.

In a large skillet, saute the onion in vegetable oil over medium/medium-low heat until soft and just beginning to get golden brown.

Add the brown sugar, vinegar, caraway seed, water, salt and pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until everything is hot, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the shredded cabbage and diced apple. Cook, covered, over medium/medium-low heat 20 to 30 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.

After 20 minutes or so, taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. If you want a tangier cabbage, stir in some more vinegar. For a sweeter cabbage, add a bit more sugar. For a seasonal touch, stir in some cranberry sauce (home made or bought) and let it melt into the cabbage.

Sauerbraten Dinner  – Yes, I forgot to plate the braised red cabbage until after I took the pictures. I may post the sauerbraten recipe I used in the New Year just for my own records. Until then, enjoy the pictures.

For the starch, I stuck with mashed potatoes, but topped them with ‘sauerbraten gravy’ … crushed gingersnaps/gingerbread cookies stirred into the strained braising liquid from the sauerbraten. To be honest, I couldn’t picture this actually turning into a gravy, so I prepared a ‘beurre manie’, a paste consisting of equal parts of soft butter and flour which can be whisked into a hot liquid until it thickens to the degree desired. It turned out that the crushed cookies were more efficient at thickening the liquid than I expected and, in future I would use half the amount that I used because I had to thin my gravy down a LOT to get it to be pouring consistency.

Cooking the meal was a true learning experience, and, on the whole, a successful one. I don’t know that I’d repeat the menu in the future but, for this Christmas, it was a delicious meal.

A Comfort Meal for Christmas … Pot Roast

Cooking for one is a challenge during the holidays. You want something special but an elaborate spread is time consuming and can be expensive. The roast below was economical and the long braising time turned a tough piece of beef into a tender and tasty main course.

The outside roast I cooked was small (1.2 kg) so the cooking time was shorter than in the recipe that inspired it. And, while it was braising, there was plenty of time to make the side dishes. I added some new, Christmas-inspired, treats to the meal to make it special.

Purchased Egg nog with a shot of brandy and a grating of fresh nutmeg

Pot Roast, mushroom gravy over mashed potatoes, pot veggies and salad

Mincemeat No-Churn Ice Cream and Mincemeat Kolach

The mincemeat ice cream was a simple variation of the cranberry sauce one I made a while ago. To save time, I’ve posted the recipe below.

Mincemeat No-Churn Ice Cream – makes 3 1/2 – 4 cups

3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup mincemeat, plus another tbsp or 2 for marbling
1 tbsp brandy

In a large cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, brandy and the mincemeat.

Add a scoop or two of the whipped cream to the bowl with the sweetened condensed milk and fold in to lighten the mixture. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream as gently as possible.

Scoop half of the ice cream mixture into a freezer safe container. Place several dollops of mincemeat over the ice cream. Scoop the rest of the ice cream mixture into the container. Place a few more dollops of mincemeat over the top. With a butter knife gently marble the mincemeat into the ice cream. Put the lid on the container and place into freezer for a minimum of 8 hrs or overnight.

Cranberry Sauce Variation: Replace the mincemeat in the recipe above with home made or jarred cranberry sauce. Use whatever alcohol you prefer … Cointreau or Grand Marnier bring out the orange notes in the cranberry sauce recipe I used.

Cooking the pot roast – The roast is seasoned with salt and pepper and seared before continuing with the rest of the braise.

The pot roast was tender after 3 hrs but it could have been cooked for another half hour if desired.

Mushroom gravy made with sauteed white mushrooms and strained braising liquid.

Christmas Duck Dinner (2016)

Christmas for one doesn’t have to be dull and boring. I always set the table for two. This year, I used my mom’s Christmas china … I bought it for her at Canadian Tire many, many years ago. The turkey platter (only $10) picked up at the same place is perfect for this year’s duck. I found the old linen tablecloth tucked away under a stack of ‘good’ dish towels in the bathroom closet.

Duck and orange is a classic pairing but, instead of an orange sauce, I added oranges to my kale salad and dressing. Or rather, Kraft did.

Drippings from roasting the duck made a tasty base for gravy.

Bread pudding made with leftover Nutella, chocolate and pecan babka, Bree Drummond’s easy caramel sauce and a scoop of French vanilla ice cream

I spent a bit over $13 CDN for the duck (2.3 kg) but there’s enough meat for at least 4-5 servings. And the carcass (not in the picture) will end up as stock.

Christmas Dinner: Prime Rib

Beef isn’t on the menu too often at my house. Not that I don’t love it, but chicken and pork are more affordable and usually on sale. However, I decided to splurge this year and make a British themed Christmas menu with the focus on a prime rib.

It was huge for a single person, almost 5 pounds, but the price was right (<$30), and I figured I’d get at least six meals out of it.

So, I bought what turned out to be a single bone roast and made the traditional sides – Yorkshire puddings/popovers with gravy from the juice, roast potatoes and carrots and mincemeat tarts and some bought marzipan topped fruit cake for ‘afters’.

I tried to restrain my picture taking cause I wanted to eat warm food for a change. I wasn’t totally successful but I TRIED.

Prime rib meal

Dessert plate

And then, because I always have to go that little bit further, I bought a wedge of Stilton cheese and did a poached pear (cranberry mead, honey, cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick sugar syrup), Stilton and walnut plate.

Cheese and nut plate

Plating 2 … cause I couldn’t decide which one I liked better

Prime rib before and after roasting

  

Carved and leftovers for the freezer … some were more rare than others

  

Popovers

Prime rib and sides

Cheddar Cheese Crackers or Straws … and some Chocolate Truffles

I have been eating well in the past few weeks but, other than 2 new soups and a trio of chocolate truffles, nothing worth posting about.

Speaking of truffles … here’s a picture. There are close-ups under the cut.

I used a semi-sweet chocolate ganache for the red (cranberry and French brandy) and green (mint extract and vodka) truffles. The white truffles (almond and orange extract and Cointreau) were made with a white chocolate ganache which, even with the addition of ground almonds, half again as much chocolate and reducing the whipping cream, never really hardened, even after frozen. I ended up rolling the resulting balls in ground almonds or Christmas themed chocolate shot.

I decided to share a fast and easy cheesy cracker recipe that will make a nice appetizer/nibble to enjoy with a glass of bubbly for New Year’s eve.

Cheese Crackers or Straws – makes about 4 dozen 2″ long, 1/8th of an inch thick crackers

2 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese, yellow or white
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, for a moderate kick
paprika, sprinkled on top or 1/4 tsp added to dough for more color (optional)

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer combine all of the ingredients with the paddle to make a cohesive dough, sprinkling in a tablespoon or so of water if the dough doesn’t seem to want to come together. As soon as the dough starts to come together, turn off the mixer and gather it into a rough ball.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and roll into a shape that fits into your cookie press.

Chill if the dough is very soft or if you don’t have a cookie press and want to make Cheese Coins instead. In that case, roll the dough into a 16-inch log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then make like slice ‘n bake cookies by slicing into 1/8″ rounds.

For straws made in the cookie press, put dough into the tube of the press. Use the star-shaped disk. Squeeze out onto parchment. Close together is fine. Squeeze one long strand then cut it into 2-3″ segments and slightly offset them.

NOTE: I didn’t have a star-shaped disk for this cookie press so I used the ribbon disk instead and broke off in 2 inch pieces or cut a pan width segment into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces.

Sprinkle them with a bit of paprika, if desired and if you didn’t already add the paprika to the dough.

Bake in a preheated 375° F oven 11 minutes or until edges are just beginning to brown. (If using yellow cheddar and the paprika, you may have a hard time judging if the edges are browned as they’re pretty yellow. You will want to take them out after about 13 minutes in that case.)

Allow the crackers to cool on the pan for several minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.