Tag Archives: holiday

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

As close as I can get to an Irish meal to celebrate the occasion.

Corned beef brisket, colcannon and carrots.

I forgot to buy any beer but a nice pint glass of an Irish beer (is Harp beer good?) would be a nice accompaniment, I think. Dessert will be a slice of cran-apple pie though a piece of Irish “Brick” cake with some custard sauce might be more appropriate.

PS: I have some creamy potato-leek soup in the fridge but just wasn’t hungry enough to serve it.

Happy (Early) Paczki Day!

Yesterday, my SIL gave me a head’s up that my brother was stopping over with a treat today. I kind of forgot that tomorrow (Feb 16) is Paczki Day. Paczki are glorified filled donuts for those who are not in the know.

So, when I got up to snow, with more snow predicted through the day AND into tomorrow, well, I couldn’t be TOO cranky.

I’ve sent an email to the gentleman who shovels my snow to book a visit after it’s all done. I haven’t heard from him yet but he’s got three weeks off so I’m hoping for timely shovelling.

In the meantime, I’ve got coffee and donuts to make my day.

I’ll post a picture … whenever.

I ended up with six apple filled paczki.

Christmas 2020 … Leg of Lamb Dinner

Christmas for One

I wasn’t going to do anything special this year cause I had a case of the Christmas blahs, but, at the last minute I bought a fresh leg of lamb and roasted it off with rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Threw in some diced potatoes and carrots as sides. Washed the meal down with a spiked (vodka) cranberry lemonade. Dessert was slices of a bought dark fruit cake. And, it was, on the whole, a good Christmas.



Because I had a lot of leftover meat (sliced lamb and salami), I baked off a quick batch of enriched (eggs, milk, sugar and melted duck fat) kaisers and hamburger buns for sandwiches.





Lunch plate of nibbles … bought cracker assortment, cheese (smoked Gouda and old white cheddar), Genoa and Hungarian salami and some apple slices (Ambrosia).



Regardless of the way you celebrate this time of year, I hope you were surrounded, virtually or in person, by friends and family (blood or choice).

And here’s hoping for a much better New Year.

Cranberry-Orange Duo

I hadn’t planned on doing any Christmas baking because I still had a mini pumpkin pie in the freezer from Thanksgiving. Then, I changed my mind, because it was Christmas, after all.

So I went rooting around my pantry and freezer to see what I could find.

In the freezer, I found a half package of cranberries, left over from making a half batch of cranberry sauce, so I made a fast and easy cranberry loaf.

Cranberry-Orange Quick Bread – makes 1 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan

Cranberry Preparation

~1 1/2 cups/170 gm frozen cranberries, partially thawed and cut in half
1 tsp flour

Dry Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cups white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

1/4 cup honey
2 eggs, large
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
2 tsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lightly oil or butter the loaf pan. (See NOTE below.)

Toss the cranberries with the flour and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.

Stir the web ingredients into the dry ingredients just until mixed. Gently fold in the cranberries. Pour the batter into your loaf pan.

Bake for 45 min to an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out cleanly.

Cool in pan set onto wire cooling rack, to room temperature then slice and serve.

NOTE: My loaf pans are bigger than this so I used a disposable aluminum loaf pan, filled about half way. The excess batter was baked in the wells of a medium sized muffin tin. Both the loaf pan and 3-4 of the muffin tin wells were oiled lightly. The loaf pan took about 55 min to bake while the muffins took 20-25 min.

Cranberry-Orange Muffins

There were dried cranberries in a jar in the pantry so I used them to make cranberry-orange short-bread cookies.

I was going to be fancy and dip part of the short-breads in chocolate but after tasting the short-breads plain, I decided they didn’t need any embellishment.

Cranberry-Orange Short-breads

Cranberry-Orange Short-breads – makes 28 1 inch wide x 2 1/4 inch long x 1/2 inch thick bars.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 cup/ 227 g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup icing or powdered sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
castor sugar, optional

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Add the chopped cranberries and toss through to coat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter, icing sugar, vanilla and almond (if using) extract, and orange zest, with a hand mixer.

Add the flour/cranberry mixture to the butter mixture and beat at a low speed with the hand mixer until well incorporated, 3-5 min, and then give it another minute or two at a higher speed until it holds together into a ball.

Divide the dough into two even parts. Pat each portion into a 7 inch by 4 1/2 inch rectangle. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut each section into 14 x 1 inch wide x 2 1/4 inch long x 1/2 inch thick bars. Alternatively, roll each section of dough into a one inch diameter log, about 7 inch long, wrap with plastic food wrap and refrigerate until firm. Cut into half inch coins.

Bake at 325 deg F/160 deg C for approximately 30 minutes, or until dry and firm but still pale.

Transfer to a wire cooling rack until cool. Serve.

Three Kings Cake … with Repurposed Filling

They know how to party in New Orleans, especially before the forty days of Lent when Christians are supposed to fast or give up something they like. Mardi Gras is the name for the time period before Lent … a joyous carnival like atmosphere of parades and indulgence.

And, in New Orleans, King Cake or Three Kings Cake is the personification of that joyous occasion in pastry form.

There are a number of variations in terms of whether there’s a filling or whether it’s braided, but decorating the finished cake with the colours purple, gold and green is traditional in the southern regions of the United States.

For Christmas I made a sweet Boursin cheese spread flavoured with dried cranberries and orange zest. It was tasty, but other than a single rather skimpy smear on my Christmas bread wreath, it’s been lingering in my fridge. So when I was deciding on a filling for my Mardis Gras style (Three) Kings Cake during the Epiphany, I repurposed my sweet Boursin. I thought it needed some additional texture and substance, so I chopped up about half to three-quarters of a cup of sliced almonds and sprinkled it over the Boursin.

The resulting cake, using this recipe, was tender and delicious, though my decoration fell short of my expectations. It needed a lot more glaze. Double or even quadruple, I think.

The filling was an unqualified success.

Cranberry-Orange Spice Boursin – makes about 3/4 cup of spread

1/2 pkg cream cheese, room temp
1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1-1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp orange zest

Cream together the cream cheese, butter and salt using a hand blender. Stir in the cranberries, black pepper and orange zest. Pack into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate so that the flavours will marry. Remove from the fridge 1 or 2 hrs before serving so that the Boursin will be soft enough to spread.

Pumpkin Fudge and Pies/Tarts

I haven’t bought a can of pumpkin puree in six to seven years but I decided to make my first ever pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, so I picked up a can. It was even on sale.

But before attempting the pumpkin pie, I made something that I haven’t tasted for even longer … pumpkin fudge. My first taste of that rather unique flavour came from the seasonal fudge that my brother made for my SIL’s chocolate store. It was an unexpectedly tasty candy and I hoped to be able to make something similar. My results weren’t bad but not as amazing as the one I remember. Of course, my cranberry fudge wasn’t as good as his either. Maybe one day.

Pumpkin Tart and Fudge

I made a couple of half batches (400-420 gm) of pumpkin fudge using this recipe. I over-cooked the first batch because I don’t have an accurate candy thermometer, so I had to use the soft ball test. It may have been a bit crumbly but it was tasty and I ate the whole thing in no time at all. For the second batch, I may have under-cooked it JUST a bit but some judicious stirring once I had poured the fudge into the pan and I got it to where it should be.

The half batch of pumpkin pie filling I made used Chef John’s recipe from Food Wishes, and filled a couple of mini pie crust shells (6 inch diameter) and two tart shells made in muffin tins.

And, lest you think that all I made with that pumpkin puree was desserts, I also made a batch of creamy red lentil and pumpkin soup using about a cup of the puree.