Holiday Goodies

Chocolate, Walnut, and Almond Kugelhopf

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by Joseph Erdos

holidaycakeThis new year I'm going along with my resolution to get good luck, which involves eating a number of different good luck foods. Lentils, beans, greens and round cakes are all on the menu. Ring cakes are a classic dessert for celebrating the new year, especially in Europe. The ring shape is believe to bring luck, wealth, and prosperity. There are many cakes that fit that mold, like Bundts and Kugelhopfs.

Kugelhopf is a cake made famous in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Hungary. The cake is most often made with a yeast dough that's rolled up with a filling of cinnamon and raisins. But the cake can also be made with baking powder or soda, which turns out a cake much like any standard quick bread or American-style Bundt cake. But this cake recipe is special because it's made entirely without leavening.

A Tasty New Year's Eve Pairing

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by Susan Salzman

potato crispyny2011 2New Years Eve is upon us. Before kids, the hubs and I would pick a great restaurant, go out with friends, drink too much, and spend way too much money. After several years of that, we switched to cooking an amazing meal at home, made great cocktails, invited friends, and played board games until dawn.

Then we started a family. When Eli was young, we grabbed my parents and made 6p.m. reservations at The Palm. Came home, put on our sweats, and played games. We now bring in the New Year with friends, great food, cocktails, and lots of board games. The kids like to stay up until 12 (I rarely make it) and the evening usually ends with someone else’s kid sleeping here, and one of ours sleeping elsewhere.

This year we are having cocktails with friends. A light snack of cripsy potato skins and a simple “French Blonde Cocktail” to start off the evening. After that, a huge Tripoli match is on tap along with chocolate lava cakes. Let’s just hope I make it until 9p.m. That way I can at least bring in the New Year, east coast time!

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for filling my year with blessings and gratitude.

Christmas Morning Popovers: Which Pan To Use?

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by Susie Middleton

fresh-green-table popovers 01This Christmas especially I am wishing we could be with my Mom and Dad and sister in Delaware. But it is not to be, so I will have to make do, recreating the traditional Christmas morning breakfast we’ve cooked year after year. Popovers are the star, with scrambled eggs and scrapple on the side. Scrapple might be a bit hard to find in Massachusetts (!), but I will definitely be making my Dad’s famous popovers. Only I’m not sure which pan I’m going to use.

When I was a very little girl, my job was to stand on a stool, dip a paper towel into a can of Crisco, and grease the cast-iron muffin pan with the stuff. The Crisco kind of went by the wayside, but for some reason, that cast iron pan wound up with me, and has traveled around the Northeast for the last 25 years or so. I’m not sure how old the pan is (it’s marked “Griswold, Erie PA,” so I know for sure that it was made before 1957, when the Wagner company absorbed Griswold. But it is likely much older than that). But I think it is due a little more respect than I have given it lately.

Chocolatey Espresso Nut Cookies

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by Cathy Pollak

chocespressocookiesAre you looking for that perfect cookie to round out your holiday cookie platter? The one that will please the chocolate lovers, the coffee lovers and nut lovers alike? This is it!

It is complex and full of goodness. I suggest tripling the recipe because it is crazily addictive. But, here is why I like it for a cookie platter. You need variety in your assortment of holiday cookies, but every cookie can't be a labor intensive nightmare. You'll never get it done. Listen to me, I'm so cynical?  But really, it's experience talking. You know what I mean. We all want these gorgeous plates of holiday cookie beauty, but it is so hard to do.

You have to have a few cookies that knock it out of the park on taste and are easy-schmeazy to make. This one doesn't need eggs and all that other fancy stuff. It's so easy to throw together between all the sugar cut out cookies.

Holiday Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels

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by Cathy Pollak

holiday-peanut-butter-filled-pretzels-5My kids beg for chocolate covered pretzels every holiday season. We have been making versions of these for years and years. Sometimes it's just the long rods with sprinkles, or the thick "pretzel shaped" ones. 

They are another easy, easy addition to the holiday cookie platter. And they look so pretty too. We made so many of these the other day. It's also the perfect project for kids who like to do this kind of thing. No stove required.

I have been using Candiquik for a very long time. It only shows up at my grocery store "sometimes" during the holiday season. When I see it, I buy every single package. It lasts all year and is perfect for lots of holiday projects (Valentine's, Easter etc). I especially like how it sets up so easily on the item you are dipping. I have always had great luck with this product. I just wish it was more readily available and I'm finding myself ordering it online more and more.

Andes Crème de Menthe Chocolate Brownie Cookies

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by James Moore

andesmintcookiesAccording to their site, Andes Crème de Menthe candies rank as the “number one after-dinner mint” delivering a “smooth blend of mint and chocolate flavors– the perfect post-meal treat”.

They are particularly popular during the holidays and easy to find at your local grocery store. They help bring these easy chocolate “brownie” cookies to a new level of decadence.

After removing the cookies from the oven, each one is topped with an Andes mint while still warm. The residual heat melts the candy, turning it into a spreadable “frosting” to swirl over each cookie.

They’ll be the hit of any holiday gathering cookie swap.

Apple Pie Gets Whisky Tipsy

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by David Latt

whiskeyFor the holidays, old favorites are entitled to special love. Case in point, apple pie. Nothing is more American and no dessert is more satisfying than apple pie, hot from the oven, topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Delicious as it is, special occasions call for special ingredients.

Whisky's smoky sweetness seems like a perfect companion for apple pie's richly comforting wholesomeness.

My mother made apple pie for Thanksgiving and Chanukah. Her recipe was the essence of simplicity. One of those dishes that intuitively adheres to the principle of "let the ingredients speak for themselves."

At a time when farmers markets didn't exist in cities, my mom would pack my sister and myself into her Dodge and we'd head out to the farms in the areas surrounding Banning, California, the small town on the way to Palm Springs where we lived during my high school years.

Rugelach

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by Cathy Pollak

rugelachMy husband has been begging me to make rugelach for years now.  They are the favorite cookie of his youth and he has always raved about his mother's rendition of them.  I've just never gotten around to making rugelach happen.

About five years ago, my husband attempted to make his own batch of rugelach.  Oh my goodness, they were these horrible little petrified pieces of doodoo.  They were so hard and burnt they exploded when you took a bite.  Of course I laughed and didn't think about making them for a long time. 

About a year ago, this recipe was published in my local paper and I held on to it until now.  It belongs to Margaret Hasson from Portland, Oregon whose rugelach is sought out by friends whenever she is baking.  I truly believe it, because these little bites are pretty much heaven on a plate. 

Hoppin' John

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by Joseph Erdos

hoppinjohnNew Year's is about a lot of things: partying into the night, getting tipsy on Champagne, sharing a moment with a special someone at the stroke of midnight. But most importantly, the new year is a reboot, a chance to make some changes, to set a goal and go for it, to choose a new direction in life. Many cultures believe there's a way to ensure a positive outcome in the new year by eating lucky foods. So to guarantee your good luck, why not eat your way to prosperity and wealth? It's worth a try!

It's tradition to eat pork on New Year's Day since the pig symbolizes forward progress due to its predilection to dig things up with its snout. Whereas other animals, like the chicken who scratches backwards, is a no-no on New Year's. Southerners equate black-eyed peas and greens with wealth—the beans look like coins and the greens like money. Hoppin' John is one of those traditional dishes you'll find on the Southern New Year's table because it has black-eyed peas and bacon—what a winning combination.

 

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