After a long sabbatical, I plan to post new snippets with some holiday recipes from around the world. May your upcoming holiday preparations be interesting and fun. Stay happy and healthy until I write again.
I’ve used this gingerbread cookie recipe for a long time to make gingerbread men and women, and also to put together gingerbread houses for the Christmas season. If done right, it makes up into a dough that cooks up crisply and that will hold up to the rigors of being frosting glued into a holiday gingerbread house. I’m not wonderful using pastry bags to frost too finely, so I resort to using those plastic tubes of frosting that can be found in the baking section of a supermarket. They come in all colors and some even have changeable tips to make different decorating effects for the finished cookies. Use whatever shape of cookie cutters move you, but I still prefer the gingerbread men and Santa’s to make gingerbread shapes that can be punched with a hole and hung as decorations, too. The recipe is as follows:
1/4 lb. pound unsalted butter (not margarine)
1 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg well beaten
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried ginger powder
1/4 cup boiling water
Cream butter and sugar until blended and light. Add the egg and molasses. Mix well. Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water. Sift the flour with the salt and ginger powder and add the hot water to the first mixture and then stir this into the dry ingredients. Chill this for at least one hour. Roll the dough very thin and cut with a cookie cutter of your choosing which has been dipped in flour. Bake in 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately 15 minutes being careful to watch closely as these can burn quickly. Cookies should be firm but not overly browned.
Cookies can be used as walls and roof for a gingerbread house with either a pre-bought kit or cut freehand from your own pattern.
Serving amount dependent on size of your cookie cutters. I use a 2 inch cutter. You can also make ornament shaped ones using a 2 inch glass rim dipped in flour and then decorated with sugar frosting and sprinkles.
“The snow had begun n the gloaming.
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (Chanukah) takes place this year from the evening of December 8th through to the evening of December 16th, 2012.
Hanukkah is a happily celebrated holiday that starts on the 25th day of Kivlis (according to the Georgian calendar and is dated based upon the cycles of moon. Hanukkah is also referred to as the Festival of Lights and is usually celebrated on a date falling somewhere around November into December. It takes place for eight days and nights. The festival is in celebration of the rededication of the ‘Temple of Jerusalem’ – or Temple of Menorah in 165 B.C by Judas McCabe. The word Hanukkah in translation means ‘dedication’ in Jewish.
During the Hanukkah celebration in the eight successive nights, the menorah is lit. The special menorah that is used by celebrants is called the ‘hannukkiyah’. The special ninth candle that is used is called the ‘shamish and it takes a central space on the menorah. It is the ‘servant’ candle used to light the other candles. On night one, the first candle is lit and they are lit successively until all are completely lit on the eighth night. The candles are usually lit from left to right. A blessing thanking God is usually said before and after a candle lighting. A Jewish hymn is sung during the lightings. The menorah is often placed in a front window of the celebrants home.
Gift giving has become the norm and gifts are now given on each of the days of Hanukkah. This is a more recent tradition Games are played during Hanukkah including ‘sivivon’ and ‘dreidel’. Foods fried in oil such as latkes and donuts filled with jams are very often served. Of the many foods served during the celebration, honey spice cookies are popular among children and following is a recipe that I used for a bake sale held at a local temple some years ago. I share it below:
HONEY-SPICE COOKIES —
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine (60% oil), softened
1/2 cup honey
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
In mixing bowl, cream margarine and brown sugar with electric mixer. Beat in the honey and egg until thoroughly combined. In a small bowl, mix the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add honey mixture and mix on low speed until well blended. Cover up the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Can be refrigerated for up to two days.
When ready to bake, grease 2 large cookie sheets and set aside. Working rapidly, quarter the dough, and one piece at a time roll out on a surface dusted with flour to a 1/4 inch thickness. Using shaped cookie cutters (star, dreidel and menorah) cut into desired number of cookies depending on size of cutters. These can also be cut by hand with sharp knife. Reshape scraps and cut more cookies from it. Place on shapes on greased baking sheets and bake in a 350 degree oven for 7-8 minutes or until golden. Quantity of cookies may vary due to size of cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to wire baking racks to cool.
To frost cookies – In large mixing bowl, combine egg whites, confectioners sugar, salt and lemon juice. Beat this on high until mixture forms peaks. A bit of water can be added if too stiff or add more sugar if too runny. Using pasty bag with fitted tube, decorate with icing.
Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame
Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart
by Hannah Senesh
- Hanukkah shows in NYC: Golem, Sephardic Music Festival, Menorah Horah! & more (brooklynvegan.com)
Here’s a quick recipe for a liqueur that can be used for any special occasion. I’ve found it an easy recipe to make and it is can be enjoyed after things have settled down after your holiday meal.
In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and corn syrup, stirring occasionally. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, being careful not to burn it. Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Mix in the vodka; stir in the
vanilla and chocolate extracts. Pour finished liqueur into glass bottles with corks or into other fancy glass containers. Cover and let stand for 2 or more days for the flavor to develop.
YIELD: 1 QUART
This is good served with a shortbread cookie or Biscotti’s.
Remembrance Day falls this year in Canada on November 11th. Some provinces and territories celebrate it, also, on November 12th. My Dad hails from Newfoundland, and at times he made what he called scrappy pie to celebrate it. It is on Remembrance Day there that Canadians remember all of the fallen soldiers from past wars.
My great-uncle Charles was killed in Belgium in the first World War and is buried where he was killed defending his fallen comrades. His name is called out and his memory is saluted by a contingent of military members at Parliament every year on this day. For this I simply give you my father’s Americanized version of Scrappy Pie (or Newfoundland Seafood Pie):
Potato topping ingredients: 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup fresh mashed potato, 4 ounces butter, 1 tablespoon milk, 2 Tablespoons dried breadcrumbs.
Filling: 16 ounces whitefish (cod, haddock, whiting or your choice), large cooked shrimp (8 ounces), 1 small onion- chopped fine, 1 cup frozen peas, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley – chopped fine, zest of a lemon – grated, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 2 cups milk.
Sift flour into a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or fork, mix this with the mashed potato until thoroughly blended. Blend in the butter, then draw into a dough, adding a bit of water until dough sticks together. Wrap dough in pastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour.
Prepare filling by cutting fish into chucks and putting them into a 10 inch pie pan or baking dish. Mix in the seafood, onions, peas, parsley and zest. Blend the cornstarch with a bit of milk in a bowl. Heat the remaining milk almost to boiling and stir it into the cornstarch mixture. Return mixture to pan and stir until the mixture thickens. Add seasoning and pour over fish filling. Cool for 20 minutes. Bring oven to 400F (200C).
Roll out the dough between sheets of wax paper to overlap to of pie plate. Remove the top of the waxed paper and use the bottom sheet to help position dough on top of seafood mixture.
Press dough around edges of pan and clean up the edges. Slash center of pie with small knife to vent steam. Brush the crust with milk and sprinkle liberally with plain breadcrumbs.
Put pie on a baking sheet Bake for 10 minutes – then drop temperature to 350F (180C). Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
My father cooked this for us when we were very young and it’s the closest I can come to the original recipe. I sought out Scrappy Pie recipes everywhere to no avail, so if someone could forward me more from the great nation of Canada, I would greatly appreciate it.
May you stay safe and sound on Remembrance Day. And to my remaining Newfoundland cousins, may the sea treat you right and the cod keep running.
I’ve decided to share with my readers a recipe for Election Cake that is interesting in that there are a few very old variations that have not differed too much throughout the years. The citron has been adjusted and you may use an extract in place of the pure brandy. Just add 1 teaspoon of the extract instead of the 1/4 cup of brandy.
I’m offering this recipe in honor of the upcoming U.S. elections to be held next Tuesday, November 6th. This will decide who our next President will be and will shape the course our nation will take for the next four years. Even though Election Day is not considered one of the national holidays here in America, it is a day of grave decision and reflection as Americans cast their votes. If you have a night of poll watching or an election day function to arrange perhaps this cake might be a novel treat to serve to your guests.
OLD HARTFORD ELECTION CAKE 1 Tablespoon margarine (or other shortening) 1 package regular rise yeast 1 Tablespoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups flour 1/2 cup margarine (or other shortening) 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup warm water 2 well beaten large eggs 1 teaspoon lemon rind (grated fine) 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup chopped citron 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 3/4 cup brandy (or omit and use 1 tsp. brandy extract) Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add one tablespoon butter, salt, sugar and 1 1/4 cups of flour, mixing thoroughly. Set this aside in a warm place to rise overnight. Blend the 1/2 cup of margarine and cup of sugar and beat until light. Add eggs, raising, citron, lemon rind, lemon extract and juice. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg. Add this to first mixture, adding some brandy or extract slowly into mix. Combine raised dough with cake dough and pour into greased pan. Let rise in warm place for one hour or until dough, pressed with finger, indents and is risen. Bake in 350 degree oven for one hour While the cake is still warm, spread with icing made of confectioners sugar dissolved in enough warm water to make a spreading consistency. TO CELEBRATE OUR RIGHT TO VOTE!!
Today brings a normalization of the weather here in New England after the monster hurriane, Sandy, hit our shores. We give thanks to God that we were spared, in my hometown, the devastation that struck the coast farther south of here, especially in the states of New York and New Jersey. Our prayers go out to those whose lives were disastrously affected by the hurricane everywhere along the eastern seaboard.
Today, for everyone who is able to celebrate this Halloween holiday with some resemblance of normalcy, I simply give you an recipe from an old church bulletin. I’m unsure where it originated from, but it was being used and copied somewhere around the 1960’s and has been made in my family to celebrate different holidays since that time. It is very good to use at children’s costume parties.
3 1/2 Tablespoons raspberry gelatin
3/4 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Beat egg whites and salt on high speed with electric mixer until light and foamy. Gradually add gelatin and sugar and continue beating to stiff peaks. Mix until sugar is totally dissolved or kisses will be sticky. Add the vinegar. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoon onto lined, greased baking sheet. Bake kisses at 250 degrees for 25 minutes and then turn off the oven, leaving them in oven for additional 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and remove immediately to wire baking rack to cool.
Makes 6 dozen.
I hope you find these simple to make, and please have a safe, happy Halloween night.