Friday, January 04, 2008

Holiday Food. Yum!

Christmas Day found me part of this scenario, with my parents lighting a pudding on fire with the aid of a bottle of calvados. That's the Christmas spirit! Oh, bad pun. This particular pudding was Tesco's finest, as we were saving the pudding my dad had made a couple of months earlier (and dutifully fed with alcohol) for our trip to Scotland. Sadly, we forgot it in Devon, which is where we were in this picture. Boo! But we decided to take it with us to France when we will all get together in the summer. That's the amazing thing about Christmas pudding – longevity! Christmas pudding is a steamed concoction of suet and various fruits, peel and nuts, and enough alcohol to preserve it (experts agree!) for a year. Traditionally, it was steamed in a bag hung from a hook, and was actually spherical, but these days it's made in a basin, and is thus basin-shaped. Also traditionally, it used to have sixpence (half-shilling) silver pieces immersed in it, but now that coins are alloys, that practice has sadly been abandoned. However, it is still served with brandy butter (butter, icing sugar and brandy) and rum cream (double cream, whipped, with rum). Mmm!


But there were many other holiday delights to be enjoyed, and it all started in Toronto, my first port of call. Here are some of the delicious baked apples my mom and I made over the holiday. I think of them as wintry food, but they could certainly be made all year round (though not by the cooked-fruit impaired, of course!). They can be made quite simply, with cooking apples, cored and scored around the top, stuffed with raisins and brown sugar, and cooked in water to make a simple syrup. Comfort food!

Ben and I made the latkes for Chanukkah together this year. Last year, Michelle and I used proper potatoes to make the latkes, and they were delicious. This year Ben and I used the Manischevitz latke-in-a-box mix, but they were still really tasty, and brought us back to our childhood, when we used to eat the same type at our synagogue. Perhaps we like them because they have a ton of dehydrated onions in them! Here's Ben sitting on the kitchen counter, mixing the latkes and giving me the "I know this is going on your blog" look.

And here are the delicious-looking latkes frying in their healthy vegetable oil.

My mom and I made some delicious lokshen kugel, another Jewish dish, from my grandmother's 1946 Hadassah cookbook. This is the kind of cookbook that is filled with recipes like 'Ladies' Delight,' 'Pineapple Ice Box Cake' and 'Spice Gems,' and where all the women are referred to by their husband's first initial and last name, as in 'Mrs M. Verner of South Porcupine, Ontario,' (yes, South Porcupine) who contributed a recipe for strudel. Here is the cover (I quite like the typography, particularly the cook and the book, although the colours are a bit dramatic for a cookbook):

And here is the recipe for kugel (called 'Sweet Noodle Pudding'), though I must say we forewent the chicken fat (or schmaltz, in Yiddish) for butter:

And here is a little collage of the process of making lokshen ('noodle') kugel ('round', as in the round dish it was originally cooked in), a sweet pudding using flat egg noodles, with grated apple, eggs, cinnamon, sugar and raisins. I note that raisins have appeared in almost every holiday recipe so far! Clearly they're a festive food. Lokshen kugel might be an acquired taste, as people don't generally associate pasta with sweetness (though I have heard of some favourites – jam on noodles in Chile, for example). But it is spicy and delicious, and I heartily recommend this recipe by Mrs M. A. Goldsmith. I always thought it would be difficult to make it taste like I remembered, but it was actually really easy.


In the run-up to Christmas, many delicious foods were created and consumed in the kitchen of the Farriers, my dad's 400-year old thatched house in Devon. Lists were needed to keep track of the ingredients required for all that Christmas cooking. Here is one that is written in part by my stepmum, in part by my almost 8-year old nephew and finally by my 5 1/2 year-old niece (I think you can see where the list changed hands!). See if you can decode it:

Here is my nephew Joe making gingerbread decorations for the tree on the kitchen table. Bells, bears, angels, trees and stars:

And here are some delicious mince pies my stepmum made, resting on their rack (they won't be there for long!). They were accompanied by sausage rolls, but those disappeared too quickly even for the camera to come out (and that's quickly indeed, as most of you know).

Jenny made this lovely lemon meringue pie – not that it's particularly festive, but it was quite gorgeous, and I thought it resembled a rose.

Here are the ingredients for Christmas breakfast, which was fairly simple, as we knew much tasty and filling food was to come. My dad and I made freshly-squeezed orange juice, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Oh, and coffee.

And here is our Christmas dinner! Lots of lovely sprouts (who doesn't like sprouts?), carrots, parsnips, cauliflower cheese, roasted potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, bread sauce, gravy and of course, turkey. It was spectacular. Particularly as it ended in that amazing Christmas pudding seen at the beginning of this post. I love how all the flavours of Christmas dinner come together. For Christmas drinks, see my Holiday Drinks post on our We Drink blog. Shameless plug!


My family all converged upon my step-brother and sister-in-law's house in Wormit (near Dundee) for four days of New Year's celebrations. There were twelve of us, and we required a seventeen-egg scramble for breakfast. It was impressive! (See below). We had a faux-Christmas dinner together, on a day which we call St. Egbert's Day (for reasons lost in time, but amusingly, entirely made up), which featured tons of sprouts cooked with bacon and chestnuts, a delicious side of roast beef which we ate with mustard and horseradish (we couldn't face another turkey), fantastic roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. Perfect.

Holiday food is unbelievably good. Are the holidays really over? No more snacking on nuts and chocolates? No more alcohol? No more cooked breakfasts? Back to the real world, I suppose!

1 comment:

moyrad said...

Are you sure this wasn't a cultural food tour? Though I am not a fan of the cooked fruit genre of food, which I fear will make me a pariah when I hopefully visit the Great Albion next year, your pictures make them look delicious. Especially the flaming basin shaped pudding.

It is cool, that the holidays revolve around food and that everyone celebrates differently.

My mother has typically gone the traditional turkey, stuffing, turnip route for 12 but next year will be the guest at someone else's house.

My Dad and step-mother have for the past few year foregone a christmas eve dinner with many people for a much calmer order for 20 placed at a nearby Italian catering place.

What does everyone else eat at Christmas?