Dec 082014
 

Strawberry Sponge Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 6 oz butter, soft
  • 6 oz white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 oz self-rising flour
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar and extra for sifting
  • ¾ lb strawberries
  • 4 tbsp good quality strawberry or raspberry jam
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Butter and line two 8 or 9-inch cake tins with parchment paper.
  3. Using a standing mixer, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest until it becomes pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well.
  4. Then fold in the flour, one spoonful at a time, and blend until well combined.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 cake tins and level off with a knife.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes until the sponge cakes are well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch. Run a rounded butter knife around the inside edge of the cake tin and carefully turn the cake out onto a cooling rack.
  7. Meanwhile, hull the strawberries and slice them in half.
  8. Whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla until it becomes quite stiff.
  9. When the cakes are cool, spread the jam on one of the sponge cakes and spread half of the whipped cream on top.
  10. Place half of the strawberries on top of the cream.
  11. Place the other sponge cake on top and spread with the remaining whipped cream.
  12. Arrange the remaining strawberries in a spiral round the top of the cake.

 

Dec 082014
 

Baklava (a Greek dessert pastry)
Cuisine: Greek
 
Ingredients
  • For the Baklava:
  • 1 pound pistachios and/or walnuts, coarsely ground, plus more for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
  • 1 cup ground zwieback crackers or breadcrumbs
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 sheets phyllo dough (thawed, if frozen), cut in half
  • For the Syrup:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 6 -to-8-ounce jar honey
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the nuts, cinnamon and ground crackers in a bowl.
  3. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with some of the butter.
  4. Layer 10 pieces of phyllo in the dish, brushing each piece with butter before adding the next (keep the remaining dough covered with a damp towel).
  5. Sprinkle a quarter of the nut mixture over the dough.
  6. Layer 4 pieces of phyllo on top, brushing each with butter before adding the next; sprinkle with another quarter of the nut mixture.
  7. Add 4 more phyllo pieces on top, brushing each with butter, then add another quarter of the nut mixture, 4 more pieces of phyllo with butter, and the remaining nuts.
  8. Layer the remaining 10 pieces of phyllo on top of the nuts, brushing each with butter; brush the top piece with extra butter.
  9. Cut into the baklava to make strips, about 1½ inches wide.
  10. Then make diagonal slices, about 1½ inches apart, to create a diamond pattern.
  11. Bake until golden, about 1 hour.
  12. Meanwhile, make the syrup: Bring the sugar, honey and 1½ cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, 10 to 15 minutes.
  13. Add the lemon juice and boil 2 more minutes, then let cool slightly.
  14. Pour the syrup over the warm baklava; let soak, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Garnish with nuts.

 

Dec 082014
 

Lussekatter ( St. Lucia Buns)
Cuisine: Swedish
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • Ingredients:
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1-1/3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, chopped fine and soaked in a few drops of water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, divided use
  • 4 cups unbleached flour + flour for kneading
  • Raisins for garnish
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat.
  2. Add milk and saffron and heat until just until warm.
  3. Pour into bowl of an electric stand mixer.
  4. Sprinkle yeast over milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Add sugar, salt, 1 egg and 2 cups flour.
  6. Beat with paddle attachment until smooth and well combine, about 2 minutes on medium speed.
  7. Add final 2 cups of flour.
  8. Using dough hook, beat until mixture is smooth and begins to climb beater.
  9. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until perfectly smooth.
  10. This dough has a wonderful velvety texture to it.
  11. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to coat all surfaces, and let rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  12. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  13. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Punch dough down, roll into a cylinder 36 inches long.
  14. Cut 18 2-inch pieces from cylinder.
  15. Roll each piece into a 10-inch rope.
  16. Form each piece into an S, spiraling ends to form a figure eight.
  17. Transfer pieces to to prepared baking sheet.
  18. Let rise, covered, until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  19. Brush buns with reserved egg.
  20. Tuck raisins into spirals at each end of figure eight.
  21. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Yield: 18 buns.

 

Dec 082014
 

Buche de Noel (Yule Log)
Cuisine: French
 
Ingredients
  • For the Cake:
  • 4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup cake flour, sifted
  • 2 once butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven 350 F.
  2. Grease a jelly roll pan (17 by 12 inches) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Grease the parchment paper and flour the bottom and sides of the pan, knocking out the excess.
  4. We first need to make a meringue. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whip attachment, beat the egg whites on low, gradually add the sugar and raise the speed to high, beat for about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and using a rubber spatula, carefully fold them into the meringue.
  6. Fold the cake flour into the meringue and last fold the cooled melted butter.
  7. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out into an even layer.
  8. Bake the cake for 5 minutes, rotate the pan and continue to bake for another 7 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly touched.
  9. While the cake is baking, place a clean kitchen towel on a work surface.
  10. Place coco power in a sieve and generously dust the kitchen towel evenly.
  11. When the cake is done, immediately flip it into the prepare kitchen towel.
  12. Remove the pan and gently peel off the parchment paper.
  13. Carefully start rolling the cake from the long end into a tight spiral.
  14. Keep the cake rolled until it's completely cooled and really to be filled.

 

 

Buche de Noel (Yule Log) Buttercream
Cuisine: French
 
Ingredients
  • Dulce de leche Buttercream: ( Buche de Noel)
  • 1 sticks of butter, softened
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup dulce de leche
  • 1½ cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese together until creamed.
  2. Add the dulce the leche and mix until smooth.
  3. Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the vanilla and salt and mix for 3 minutes more.
  6. To assemble:
  7. Gently unfold the cake and using an offset spatula, lightly coat the surface of the cake with a thin layer of butter cream.
  8. With the help of the kitchen towel, carefully re-roll the cake into a tight roll.
  9. Transfer the cake to a serving platter before continue with the decoration.
  10. Using a serrated knife, cut 1 inch off one of the ends of the log and place the end piece cut side up on top of the log ("glue" it to the log with some butter cream) to resemble cut brunch.
  11. Using the offset spatula, cover the entire log including the ends with butter cream.
  12. With the help of a fork, score the log in long even lines to resemble tree bark.
  13. Decorate the cake with mushrooms meringues (this is the fun part so enjoy it!) and last but not least, let it snow!! Dust the cake with confectioners' sugar!!

 
Buche de Noel (Yule Log) Mushrooms
Cuisine: French
 
Ingredients
  • For the mushroom meringue:
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 9 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • chocolate frosting
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven 200 F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  3. Beat the egg whites with lemon juice until stiff peaks form.
  4. Add the sugar one tablespoon at the time mixing well after each addition.
  5. Mix until whites are stiff and glossy.
  6. Beat in vanilla.
  7. Transfer mixture to large pastry bag fitted with ½-inch plain pastry tip.
  8. For the mushroom caps: Pipe domes, 1 to 2 inches in diameter, onto prepared baking sheets, and flatten the tips with your fingers.
  9. Pipe stems onto baking sheets.
  10. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven or until dry.
  11. To assemble, spread bottoms of caps with a thin layer of chocolate frosting, carefully insert stem.
  12. With your fingers, rub some chocolate frosting on top of each mushroom cap.

Coquito – Puerto Rican Egg Nog

 Beverages, Christmas, Entertaining, Holiday/Entertaining  Comments Off on Coquito – Puerto Rican Egg Nog
Nov 282014
 

Coquito - Puerto Rican Egg Nog
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 - 12 oz can Evaporated Milk
  • 1- 14 oz can Condensed Milk
  • 1- can Coco Lopez brand Cream of Coconut
  • 6 oz Bacardi or your favorite White rum
  • ¼ tsp Cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Coconut or Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Mix or blend all ingredients together
  2. Pour into a decorative bottle or re-use the rum bottle
  3. Refrigerate for minimum of 1 hour , before serving
  4. Serve Ice cold with a stick of cinnamon as decoration

 

3 Non-Traditional Ways to Prepare Your Holiday Turkey

 Christmas, Entertaining Ideas And Tips, Thanksgiving  Comments Off on 3 Non-Traditional Ways to Prepare Your Holiday Turkey
Dec 142011
 

Deep-Fried Turkey

3 gallons peanut oil for frying, or as needed
1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
1/4 cup Creole seasoning
1 white onion

In a large stockpot or turkey fryer, heat oil to 400 degrees F. Be sure to leave room for the turkey, or the oil will spill
over.

***** Side Note *****

How to determine the amount of oil you need:

The easiest way I’ve found to determine the amount of oil you need is to place the turkey into the fryer and fill with water until the turkey is just covered. Remove turkey and allow to drain, pat dry with paper towels as well. Make note of the level of water in the fryer. Discard water and dry thoroughly. Fill frying vessel with oil to the level as noted above. This should help in preventing hot oil spill overs.

***** End Side Note *****

Layer a large platter with food-safe paper bags. Rinse turkey, and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Rub Creole seasoning over turkey inside and out. Make sure the hole at the neck is open at least 2 inches so the oil can flow freely through the bird. Place the whole onion and turkey in drain basket. The turkey should be placed in basket neck end first. Slowly lower basket into hot oil to completely cover turkey. Maintain the temperature of the oil at 350 degrees F, and cook turkey for 3 1/2 minutes per pound, about 45 minutes. Carefully remove basket from oil, and drain turkey. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; the internal temperature must be 180 degrees F.

Finish draining turkey on the prepared platter.

Grilled Whole Turkey

12 pounds whole turkey
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon paprika

Prepare an outdoor grill for indirect medium heat, and lightly oil grate. Rinse turkey, and pat dry. Place turkey breast side down on the prepared grill. Sear turkey on both sides until skin is golden to dark brown. In a large roasting pan, mix together the water, bouillon powder, garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning, parsley, and paprika. Place turkey breast side down in the roasting pan. Scoop the pan mixture over the turkey. Cover tightly with foil and place on grill. Grill 3 to 4 hours, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180F. Remove turkey from grill and let stand 15 minutes before carving.

Smoked Turkey

1 turkey 8 to 22 lbs., fresh or completely thawed
Sweet Pickle Brine (recipe to follow)
Maple syrup

Sweet Pickle Brine:

1 gal. water
2 1/2 cups salt, rock, pickling or canning salts are recommend
1/3 cup of light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Liquid garlic
1 oz. pickling spices

Mix well. You may need to adjust the amounts depending on the size of your bird. This recipe should suit you fine for an 8 to 12 lb. turkey.

Rinse turkey thoroughly with cold water, drain and pat dry. Prepare sweet pickle brine. Brine turkey according to the following schedule, 8 to 12 lb. bird 3 days, 13 to 16 lb. bird 4 days, 17 to 22 lb. bird 5 days. Remove from brine; rinse thoroughly in cold water and pat dry. Allow to dry in refrigerator for 24 hours.

Lock wings behind back and tie legs and tail together. Baste turkey with maple syrup before putting in smoker and every 2 hours while smoking. Position turkey on cooking grill. Smoke cook until done.

The best way to determine whether or not is done is to insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey (the breast) the internal temperature should read 180 degrees F.

Smoking food is more an art than a science; this recipe is not intended for the novice. Allot of factors go into determining the cooking time for a particular food when smoking.

Cool turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving to enhance the smoked flavor. You may serve the turkey right away if you wish.

Dec 122011
 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many different ways people celebrate Christmas. Below are just a small sample of the variety of traditions:

From: Santas.net

 

 

Christmas in Germany

 

Christmas preparations often begin on the eve of December 6th. People often set aside special evenings for baking spiced cakes and cookies, and making gifts and decorations. Little dolls of fruit are traditional Christmas toys.

Children leave letters on their windowsills for Christkind, a winged figure dressed in white robes and a golden crown who distributes gifts. Sometimes the letters are decorated with glue and sprinkled with sugar to make them sparkle.

Germans make beautiful gingerbread houses and cookies. The German Christmas tree pastry, Christbaumgeback, is a white dough that can be molded into shapes and baked for tree decorations.

In parts of Germany, people believe that the Christ Child sends a messenger in Christmas Eve. He appears as an angel in a white robe and crown, bearing gifts. The angel is called Christkind. There is also a Christmas Eve figure called Weihnachtsmann or Christmas Man, he looks like Santa Claus and also brings gifts.

Some homes in Germany have several Christmas trees, and in all towns across Germany, they can be seen glittering and glowing.

In Germany they hang up advent wreaths of Holly with four red candles in the center. They light one candle each Sunday and last on Christmas Eve. Children count the days until Christmas using an Advent calendar. They open one window each day and find a Christmas picture inside.

In Germany the traditional visitor is the Christkindl who is the Christ Child’s messenger. She is a beautiful fair-haired girl with a shining crown of candles who visits each house with a basket of presents.

In some homes a room is locked up before Christmas. On Christmas Eve the children go to bed but are woken up at midnight by their parents and taken down to the locked room. The door is opened and they see the tree all lit up, with piles of parcels on little tables.

In Germany boys dress up as kings and carry a star round the village, singing carols.

 

Christmas in Italy

The Christmas season in Italy goes for three weeks, starting 8 days before Christmas known as the Novena. During this period, children go from house to house reciting Christmas poems and singing.

In some parts shepherds bring musical instruments into the villages, play and sing Christmas songs.

In the week before Christmas children go from house to house dressed as shepherds, playing pipes, singing and reciting Christmas poems. They are given money to buy presents.

A strict feast is observed for 24 hours before Christmas Eve, and is followed by a celebration meal, in which a light Milanese cake called panettone features as well as chocolate.

Presents and empty boxes, are drawn from the Urn of Fate – lucky dip, which always contains one gift per person. By twilight, candles are lighted around the family crib known as the Presepio, prayers are said, and children recite poems.

At noon on Christmas Day the pope gives his blessing to crowds gathered in the huge Vatican square.

In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. According to tradition, the presents are delivered by a kind ugly witch called Befana on a broomstick. It was said that she was told by the three kings that the baby Jesus was born, she was busy and delayed visiting the baby.

She missed the Star lost her way and has been flying around ever since, leaving presents at every house with children in case he is there. She slides down chimneys, and fills stockings and shoes with good things for good children and it is said leaves coal for children who are not so good.

 

Christmas in Japan

Only 1 per cent of Japanese people believe in Christ. Even so, most Japanese people decorate their stores and homes with evergreens during Christmas.

They enjoy giving each other gifts, and this is the part they celebrate.

They have a Buddhist monk called Hotei-osho who acts like Santa Claus. He brings presents to each house and leaves them for the children. Some think he has eyes in the back of his head, so children try to behave like he is nearby.

Among the Christian Japanese Christmas is not a day for the family. They do not have turkey or plum pudding, rather than that the day is spent doing nice things for others especially those who are sick in hospitals.

Christmas for those in Sunday schools is the happiest day of the year. On Christmas Eve or Christmas night, the children put on programs that last for hours, they sing, they recite and they put on a drama of the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Most children may not like Hotei-osho so they may receive their presents from Santa who goes around with a red-nosed reindeer.

 

 

Christmas in Mexico

 

Mexicans share many traditions with the Spanish. Their main Christmas celebration is called La Posada, which is a religious procession that reenacts the search for shelter by Joseph and Mary before the birth of Jesus. During the procession, the celebrants go from house to house carrying the images of Mary and Joseph looking for shelter.

Santa Claus is not predominant, but the bright red suit is represented in the traditional flower of the season. This flower is the poinsettia, which has a brilliant red star-shaped bloom. It is believed that a young boy walking to the church to see the nativity scene showing the birth of Jesus had realized on the way that he had no gift to offer the Christ child so he gathered up some plain green branches as he walked in he was laughed at but upon placing the branches near the manger they started to bloom a bright red poinsettia flower on each branch.

The Mexican children receive gifts. On Christmas day they are blindfolded and taken to try and break a decorated clay piñata that dangles and swings at the end of a rope. Once the piñata has been broken, the children clamber to recover the candy that was inside the piñata. Those children who have been good also on January 6th receive a gift from the Three Wise Men.

Mexicans attend a midnight mass service which is called la Misa Del Gallo or “the rooster’s mass,” and at the mass they sing lullabies to Jesus.

 

Christmas in France

 

On Christmas Eve, children leave their shoes by the fireplace to be filled with gifts from Pere Noel. In the morning they also find that sweets, fruit, nuts and small toys have been hung on the tree.

In cathedral squares, the story of Christ’s birth is re-enacted by both players and puppets.

Nearly every French home at Christmastime displays a Nativity scene or crèche, which serves as the focus for the Christmas celebration. The crèche is often peopled with little clay figures called santons or “little saints.” In addition to the usual Holy Family, shepherds, and Magi, the craftsmen also produce figures in the form of local dignitaries and characters. The craftsmanship involved in creating the gaily colored santons is quite astounding and the molds have been passed from generation to generation since the seventeenth century. Throughout December the figures are sold at annual Christmas fairs in Marseille and Aix.

The Christmas tree has never been particularly popular in France, and though the use of the Yule log has faded, the French make a traditional Yule log-shaped cake called the buche de Nol, which means “Christmas Log.” The cake, among other food in great abundance is served at the grand feast of the season, which is called le reveillon. Le reveillon is a very late supper held after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The menu for the meal varies according to regional culinary tradition. In Alsace, goose is the main course, in Burgundy it is turkey with chestnuts, and the Parisians feast upon oysters and pat de foie gras. Le Revellion may consist of poultry, ham, salads, cake, fruit and wine.

In Southern France, a log is burned in people’s homes from Christmas Eve until New Years Day. A long time ago, part of the log was used to make the wedge for the plough as good luck for the coming harvest.

The traditional Christmas is a chocolate log.

In France families once had a Three Kings Cake with a bean hidden in it. Whoever found the bean in their slice was made King, or Queen, for the day.

In France the children go out to look for the Kings, taking gifts of hay for the camels.

Another name for this day is Twelfth Day. It is the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which used to be one long holiday. It was the last night of the Feast of Fools before the Lord of Misrule had to give up his crown and become themselves once again.

In France it is a time for the whole family to come together at Christmas time to holiday and worship. On the eve of Christmas beautifully lit churches and cathedrals, ring out Christmas carols with the church bells.

Once dinner is over and the family has retired to bed, they leave a fire burning and food and drink on the table in case the Virgin Mary calls in. Children leave their shoes or wooden clogs called sabots in the hearth for the Christ Child or Pere Noel to fill. In the north of France, children are given gifts on December 6, which is St. Nicholas’ Day, instead of Christmas Day. The adults give each others presents on New Year’s Day.

French children set out their shoes in hopes that le petit Jesus will fill them during the night with small gifts.