Well, it’s that time of year again. The Holidays are upon us and that means the that food bloggers from all over are dutifully making donations, and baking and shipping secret packages of cookies to one another. This is my third year participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and it was just as fun this year as it has been in the past. As always, a big thank you to the lovely ladies at Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for coordinating such an awesome cookie swap and keeping all the moving parts in motion. No small task! I hope Santa has been paying attention! (more…)
Tag: Christmas recipe
The holidays are upon us and things are starting to get pretty festive around our house.
The tree is up, glittering in all its finery – we went with a pared down red, white and <gasp!> black palette this year. Soon we will cut out snowflakes and hang them from the ceiling between the dining and living rooms, making a wintry arch of fluttering flakes. The door has a wreath, and each of us is creating a stash of secret gifts, soon to be wrapped and stuffed under the tree.
As you know, I’ve been busy with some related projects and there are now two styles of limited edition 2013 calendars available (just look to the sidebar on the right —> ) as well as a really delicious ebook detailing everything you need to know for a full blown, classic-yet-contemporary, Christmas Feast. It’s been delightful to see people responding so positively to the calendars and Christmas Feast book. The feedback has been excellent and I’m really proud of how they have turned out. If you haven’t got yours yet, I encourage you to click through, especially if its for the calendars since they literally are limited edition; only so many have been printed!
Beyond that, we are all busy with holiday shopping and planning fun things to do. We will be hosting our 2nd Annual Holiday Open House next weekend. Last year we had over 60 people come through to eat, drink, laugh and catch up. We’re looking forward to as many or more this year, and of course, we are already well into planning the menu. (more…)
The Christmas I was 13, I had a boyfriend named Matt. He was smart and witty and the dreamiest guy I had ever met. We could finish each others’ sentences, had many of the same likes and dislikes and we had a very innocent, if not adoring, courtship. Previous to Christmas he was invited for dinner one weekend. For whatever reason, I got it in my head that I was going to make fudge for dessert. I read as many recipes as I could find but having never made candy of any kind I was nervous about the difference between ‘hard ball’ and ‘soft ball’ and the dreaded horrors of crystallization that every cookbook and magazine recipe warned against. I consulted my mother, who although she was great cook, was not the kind of cook who went all out for things like candy. (I can clearly recall her describing candy making as “too finicky for my liking!”). Since she didn’t think it was prudent to buy a candy thermometer for one batch of love-sick fudge, she recommended we find a quick fudge recipe that had marshmallows in it. She explained that the gumminess of the marshmallows made up for the “finicky” cooking of sugar. We found a recipe. It seemed easy enough.
The morning of the day that Matt was to come for dinner I measured and mixed, I cooked and stirred, and finally poured the silken chocolate mixture into a pan to set. In my excitement and anxiety I must have opened the refrigerator door a hundred times or more to ensure that the glossy surface was turning matte, that it was firming perfectly, that it would be sheer Heaven when it was finally enjoyed and he would know the love that was in it. Four o’clock came around and I bundled up to meet him at the bus. It was a delightfully snowy December that year and the city was hushed with falling snow. Mittened hands clenched, we returned. Dinner was successful, everyone liked him, he liked everyone. It was essentially as perfect as my early teen heart could bear.
Then, dessert. I unmolded the fudge, cut it carefully into perfect squares, stacked them on a plate and brought them to the table, beaming. Everyone was impressed. Tea was poured and everyone took a bite of my stupendous confection. The taste was excellent; chocolaty but not achingly sweet. The texture, however, was all wrong.
My heart sank.
Leave it to my niece (then 9) and my cousin (then 5) to add some levity to the situation. “It’s good. But it’s kind of gritty.” Other terms like “fresh concrete” and “wet sand” were used. In hindsight I was more embarrassed than necessary, but I refused to lose face even when we all dissolved into laughter and it was referred to as “beach fudge”.
The relationship may not have lasted, we down graded to “just friends” the following spring, but the teasing moniker “beach fudge” has lasted all these years. I have made it again, many times, each one with complete success — make sure your sugar is fully dissolved! — but even still, a decade and a half later, when I proclaimed I thought I’d whip up a batch of fudge for Christmas, my niece Justine smiled and said “Oooh! Beach Fudge?”. I guess I’ll never live that one down.
Quick Chocolate Fudge
1½ C sugar
½ C butter
½ C evaporated milk
1 C chocolate, chopped (or chips)
2 C mini marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla (or other flavouring)
Prepare an 8″x8″ baking dish by greasing lightly. Cut a strip of parchment or foil 8″x16″ and press into pan, leaving “handles” out the top. This will help you lift the fudge out of the pan to cut and serve it. Lightly grease the parchment or foil. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sugar together until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the evaporated milk and continue to cook until the mixture boils. This may take up to 5 minutes. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat so it is at a simmer and cook, stirring regularly for 5 more minutes. Add the chocolate and marshmallows, stirring constantly util they are melted. Stir in the vanilla (or other flavouring).
Pour the mixture (careful! it’s very hot and sticky!) into the prepared pan. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until fully set. Cut into 1″ squares. To store, keep refrigerated in a sealed container.
The humble yam. There isn’t much to say about a yam. It is one of those vegetables that serves it’s utilitarian nutritional purpose but doesn’t exactly cry out for applause. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of yams that compels so many people to mash and whip them within an inch of their lives , adorn them with marshmallows, or turn them into golden souffles. The other option seems to be to boil or steam them and serve them plain. Personally, I’m not a great fan of the yam, so no way is the “right” or “wrong” way to prepare them for me. I do, however, live with some committed yam fiends who like them just about anyway that they can get them. So which way do yams manifest on our plates? More often than not, especially when prepared alongside turkey or chicken, I roast them with maple syrup and ginger. Not wholly unique or original, but as a potential yam convert I appreciate the balance of sweet and spicy, and in general, almost anything is good or better with maple syrup.
It all starts with fresh yams, peeled and chopped.
Then fresh ginger makes its entrance, grated. If you’re clever, do as I say and not as I do and grate the ginger right over the dish you will roast the yams in to collect all the gingery juice that you’ll get from grating it.
Toss the cubed yams in the rest of the ingredients and pop them in the oven. Less than an hour later you’ll be enjoying spicy-sweet, earthy roasted yams …and not a marshmallow in sight!
Roasted Yams with Maple and Ginger
preheat the oven to 375
3 medium yams, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Toss yam cubes in maple syrup and oil, sprinkle spices in, mix well to coat.
Roast at 375 for 30-40 mins or until the yams are tender and have begun to caramelize.