Many of us take some time off during holidays, but not the bakers and cooks of the house. It’s a busy time. The stove is always on, there’s always one more thing on the grocery list, and even the best-laid plans go awry. But why fuss? What we’ll remember from holiday meals together is that there was laughter and peace, and a sense of place and belonging around that dinner table. No one cares if we forget the dill sauce.
If you spill, write your name and the date beside it. I read somewhere of a family who made it their tradition to have everyone at Christmas dinner sign the tablecloth. It became a wonderful hodgepodge of handwriting, little pictures and messages down through the years, and one of the family’s most precious possessions.
Good eats are a consideration too, of course. You’ll have your own favourites, but here are three desserts you might want to try at one of your celebratory meals.
This is my last column for the year, so I’d like to wish you many blessings for the season and share a saying to keep you all happily cooking and baking in 2014; nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.
Awhile back I wrote about the afternoon teas my grandmother used to serve, and afterward received a wonderful letter and recipe from my cousin Jeanne Gitzel in Brandon. Jeanne wrote of the Ne’ers Dae dinners she remembers at our Aunt Nellie and Uncle Bob Blackwood’s house at Basswood where roast goose, shortbread, Christmas cake, pudding with brown sugar sauce, and these luscious cream puffs were served. I am passing along this recipe that is much loved in our families. Thanks, Jeanne!
- 1/2 c. butter (do not substitute margarine)1 c. flour1 c. water3 large eggs (or 4 small)
Thanks to its buttery taste, shortbread dough is the starting point to many scrumptious recipes during the holidays. In this recipe, the shortbread dough is shaped in the form of a wreath and topped with fruit such as strawberries, mandarins and kiwis, and lots of whipped cream. A simple, yet colourful and yummy dessert!
- 1 c. butter, softened1/2 c. granulated sugar1-3/4 c. flour1/2 c. cornstarch1 c. 35% cream1 c. halved strawberries1 kiwi, peeled and sliced or fresh fruit of your choice
Real cream is what naturally separates from and floats on top of the milk layer of freshly gathered milk.
In large bowl, beat butter and sugar on high speed of mixer until light and fluffy. Combine flour and cornstarch and gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Shape dough into a large ball and on a baking sheet flatten into a 9-inch round; score into eight wedges. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 F. Bake shortbread about 20 minutes or until set and edges start to brown. Re-score almost all the way through; let cool 15 minutes then slide onto wire rack to cool completely.
Beat whipping cream with electric mixer until firm peaks form; spread over shortbread. Arrange fruit on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves: 8.
Inspired by the original English version, this variation on the traditional trifle is very easy to make and perfect for a holiday dessert. Take an angel cake infused with orange juice or sherry, topped with vanilla pudding, a heap of whipped cream and fresh fruit and voilà, you have all the ingredients for an irresistible, fairy-tale dessert.
- 1 angel food cake1-1/2 c. 35% cream1 four-serving package of vanilla instant pudding and pie filling2 c. milk1/4 c. orange juice*1-1/2 c. whole raspberries, washed2 kiwi, sliced or quartered
Slice angel food cake into three layers. Beat whipping cream. Prepare pudding with milk as directed on the package. Gently fold in a cup of whipped cream. Place one cake layer on serving dish and sprinkle with half of the orange juice and spread with half of the pudding mixture. Top with half of raspberries and kiwi slices and a third of remaining cream. Place second cake layer on top and sprinkle with remaining orange juice. Spread with remaining pudding mixture; sprinkle with remaining fruit and spread with half of remaining cream. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread whipped cream over top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves: 8.*Sherry can be used instead of orange juice.