A New Season


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.

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Mushroom Holiday Appetizers


Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought I would share this recipe that we’ve used at holiday parties and at Christmas Eve and New Years Eve buffets.  These are nice either served cold or warm and can be kept hot in a chafing dish.  I prefer them cold.  Put them on a nice platter that is lined with a colored foil and some sprigs of herbs such as thyme or rosemary for a nice presentation.  They’re a little work, but well worth it.  Puff pastry in different brands can be found in the frozen section of your supermarket.  It usually comes four large rectangular sheets to the box.

INGREDIENTS:

2 packages frozen puff pastry
1 pound mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (white or Vidalia)
1/4 cup white wine
1 large egg, beaten together with 4 Tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
celery seeds (in jar in spice section of market)
1 garlic clove or two teaspoons jarred chopped garlic

Defrost the puff pastry according to package directions.  Saute the mushrooms and garlic in butter; add the parley and onion.  Season the softened mushroom mixture with salt, thyme and pepper.  Saute further until the liquid evaporates.  Add the wine and cook the mixture until it becomes dry.  Let cool.  On a floured rolling surface, roll out 1 pastry sheet to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut out 24 circles with 2 inch round cookie cutter (if you do not have one, use a glass with a 2 inch rim dipped in flour).  Place teaspoon of mushroom mixture on each piece of pastry dough leaving a 1/4 inch edge.  Using a second piece of pastry, roll out and cut 24 more circular 2″ pieces.  Use these for covering the first batch of filled rounds.  Press down the edges and use a table fork to seal the edges.  Put pastries on large ungreased baking sheets and brush with beaten egg, cream mixture. Cut a slit on top of each pastry to vent the steam.  Repeat the process using the second package of pastry.

Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 14 minutes or until mushroom appetizers are puffed up and golden.

When lightly browned, remove to wire baking rack to cool.  Serve warm or cold, but not do not refrigerate unless you are planning on serving them a few hours later.  You may also freeze these in between sheets of waxed paper after they have cooled and reheat in a conventional oven.  They do not microwave well.

I hope these are a big hit at your next holiday gathering.

Gingerbread Cookies


Gingerbread house with path.

Gingerbread house with path. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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:

INGREDIENTS:

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.
-LOWELL

A Real New England Roast Turkey


English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine,...

English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine, USA 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having been raised in the land of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving feast here in New England, I know firsthand that we take our selection of a Thanksgiving turkey very seriously.  It is that time of year again when the markets and supermarkets stock turkeys of all brands and varieties making selection a daunting task.  I don’t have room in a small post to list everything there is to know about selecting, thawing and preparing a turkey dinner, but I’ll try to break down the process into several smaller writings.

To those unfamiliar with the process of selecting and handling poultry, especially large American bred turkeys that can weigh over 24 pounds, I will simply give you this link to the United States Department of Agricultures’  fact sheets on the safe handling of turkey and poultry products:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Lets_Talk_Turkey/index.asp

Here’s my familys recipe for roast turkey which is the way it was done by my great-aunt Julie.

ROAST TURKEY

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahreheit.

15 – 16 lb. thawed turkey
Aunt Julies’ stuffing (or of your choice to fill cavity of turkey)
1  1/2 sticks margarine or butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons sage (dried is fine)
1 Tablespoon thyme (dried o.k.)
1 Tablespoon rosemary (dried o.k.)
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 can chicken broth (16 ounces)
1 1/2 cups water

Remove giblet packet and neck from inside of cavity of turkey.  Sometimes the neck is loose inside the neck cavity.  Thoroughly wash turkey with cold water and place on counter on a platter and dry it completely with clean cloth or paper towels.  Do not let the raw turkey touch surfaces of counter.  Wash up behind yourself and periodically wash your hands with hot soapy water.

Stuff the turkey with stuffing mixture and  place on raised roasting rack in a deep sided large roasting pan.  Baste the turkey with melted butter or margarine, then sprinkle liberally with dried herbs, salt and pepper.  Pour broth and water into the bottom of the pan and cover with heavy duty aluminum foil, tenting slightly in the middle away from the top of turkey.    Place the stuffed turkey in the oven on the lowest oven rack and roast for 5 1/2 – 6 hours.  About 40 minute before roasting is complete, uncover the turkey so that it may brown.  Cook for additional 40 minutes until turkey is golden. Remove turkey from oven and check internal temperature with meat thermometer.  The thermometer should read 165 degrees when place in the thickest part of the thigh and, also, it should measure 165 degrees when placed in the thickest part of the breast.  Stuffing, likewise should be thoroughly done at 165 degrees.  Juices at leg joint should run clear.  Let stand for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.

Serves 12 with leftovers

My hopes are that you have a very happy Thanksgiving season.
Aunt Julie’s Stuffing recipe follows in my next post.

Thank you for following my blog.

Chocolate Liqueur


English: Roasted cocoa (cacao) beans

English: Roasted cocoa (cacao) beans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

CHOCOLATE LIQUEUR

1 CUP LIGHT CORN SYRUP
3/4 CUP SUGAR
2 CUPS VODKA
3 TABLESPOONS CHOCOLATE EXTRACT
2 TEASPOONS PURE VANILLA EXTRACT

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 extract

vanilla extract (Photo credit: craftapalooza)

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.