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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Christmas Food Recap

It's a little silly for me to be posting this now, when we've all moved on to healthier fare. So this is being posted more as a "note to self" - and isn't that partly what a blog is all about?

I'm not sure when the creamy saffrony fennely fish thing established itself as a Christmas eve tradition in our house, but it does seem to have taken hold. Notable this year was that daughter H made it (with some overly didactic sous-chefery from me). I think it was the best ever, and she carefully wrote down what has never been an actual recipe til now. Progress!

For Christmas dinner we copied daugher G's idea - the Silver Palate pork loin roast stuffed with prunes and apricots and glazed with Madeira (actually we used Marsala, since it's what we had). I hadn't made this since their wedding (a mere 13 years ago). If I make it again I think I'll brine or marinate the pork. The "other white meat" really does seem to have had the flavor bred out of it. Not that it wasn't moist and yummy - but I think it could have been even better if the meat flavor had been richer and more pronounced. It made wonderful sandwiches afterward, though - the meat sliced thin and slathered with a lot of grainy mustard. Those are the famous "Mrs Butland's Potatoes" you see alongside. You can read about them if so inclined on Supermom's Wisconsin Cooks blog.

And, of course, the cookies. Blame it on the gods (see "Electricity" post) but I got kind of a late start, and didn't really put my heart and soul into it, knowing that we were a smallish group. Still, you can't have Christmas without cookies! We all loved the Pistachio Brittle, which I'd never made before, but will certainly make again. Perfectly easy as long as you aren't afraid of caramel. Thankfully G provided a generous hunk of the generations-old family fruitcake which everyone including diehard fruitcake-haters adores. It's one of D's new favorite things. The fruit is limited to dark raisins, dried currants, and candied citron. It's moist, dark, and redolent of brandy. The ancient recipe gives all the liquid measurements in "gills"** and exhorts the cook to "Seed, seed, seed!" the raisins. It has to be made weeks (if not months) ahead of time; Thanksgiving weekend is pretty much a "last call" for this.
It's also a good time to make the Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars) - my very favorite, and noticeably absent here. Nobody can make them quite like Aunt Lucy did ("how are you supposed to roll out a liquid?" asked my sister J, confronted with the recipe for the first time). I didn't get to them this year, and I regret it. The other favorite that I hadn't yet gotten to were the Zuckerkringeln (Sugar Pretzels). H put in a special plea for these, and there was no reason not to oblige - they are extremely easy. And for those who have patiently read this far expecting a recipe to appear, I'll include this one:
Zuckerkringeln (Sugar pretzels)
3/8 lb butter (1 1/2 sticks)
3/8 lb sugar (about 3/4 cup)
1 egg
3/4 lb flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
grated lemon rind to taste (one lemon is about right)

Stir butter and sugar to foamy consistency. Add egg and stir some more. Add rind. Then add flour (you may not be able to get all the flour in - save the rest for rolling). Dough should be malleable but not dry, though not overly sticky either.
Roll into 6" lengths, about 1/4" diameter, and form pretzels. (I don't twist the center, just criss-cross.) Dip top of cookie in sugar, and put on cookie sheet lined with parchment or Silpat or equivalent. Cook about 11 min @ 350. Remove immediately from pan. Cookies should be just BARELY golden brown at edges - they will firm up as they cool.
Note: This is a preKitchenaid recipe, and the long hand stirring was supposed to be a critical part (probably the reason my mother dropped the ball and refused to make some of these old recipes, though this is one she did make). I use the Kitchenaid mixer set on low to mix the butter and sugar for a very long time, and then even longer once the egg has been added. Once the flour goes in the mixing should be minimal.
** If you try to find out what a gill is you will discover that you need to know whether you are talking about the British measurement system (5 liquid oz) or the United States (4 liquid oz). Family recipes can lead one to a lot of head-scratching.


Anonymous Ibby said...

Typo! - they didn't get married 23 years ago!! Or did I manage to lose about 15 years of my life?

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Ibby said...

Oops, ok, not 15 years of my life. But a bunch of years anyway...

8:01 PM  
Blogger sixty-five said...


8:07 PM  

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