Category Archives: 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

2009 Christmas cooking project – 12 days of yummy Christmas recipes!

12 Days of Christmas Dish#12: Cranberry Eggs Benedict

The perfect thing to have after a giant Christmas dinner is a nice healthy breakfast…or Caroline McCann-Bizjak’s (Food Network’s Cook Like A Chef) Cranberry Eggs Benedict!  This creamy cranberry hollandaise sauce is spiked with sparkling wine and nicely compliments the smoked salmon that lies under a poached egg on a fluffy cranberry muffin; consider this the final indulgence before going on your New Year’s diet.  Best to make the muffins the night before – and be sure to have a partner in crime help whisk the hollandaise sauce.

The Recipe:

Yield: 4

Cranberry Muffins
2 cups of flour – (500ml)
6 tablespoons of sugar – (90ml)
2 teaspoons of baking powder – (10ml)
1/4 teaspoon of salt – (1.25ml)
3/4 cup of cranberry juice – (175ml)
1/2 cup of melted butter – (125ml)
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen chopped cranberries – (125ml)

Clarified Butter

1 Pound of butter – (500grams)

Cranberry Hollandaise Sauce

1/2 cup of sparkling white wine – (125ml)
1/2 cup of cranberry juice – (125ml)
1/4 teaspoon of peppercorns – (1.25ml)
2 chopped parsley sprigs
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup of clarified butter (see recipe) – (125ml)
Fresh lemon juice – to taste
Salt and pepper – to taste

Cranberry Eggs Benedict
8 medium size eggs
1/4 cup of water – (60ml)
1 teaspoon of white vinegar – (5ml)
4 cranberry muffins
8 ounces (1 cup) of Atlantic smoked salmon – (250ml)
1 cup of cranberry hollandaise sauce – (250ml)
Salt and pepper

Cranberry Muffins
1. Preheat oven to 400°F – (200°C)
2. Combine all the cranberry muffin ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until consistency is smooth. Grease muffing molds. Pour the batter into the tins and proceed to bake for 25 minutes. Set them onto a cooling rack to come to room temperature.

Clarified Butter
1. Prepare the clarified butter by placing the butter into small saucepan over a low flame. Heat the butter slowly until foam rises to the top. Skim off the foam (fat solids) and carefully remove the clear liquid. This liquid is the clarified butter.

Cranberry Hollandaise Sauce
1. For the hollandaise sauce, in a saucepan combine sparkling wine, peppercorns, and parsley sprigs, and reduce the sauce to half the volume. It should coat the back of a spoon.
2. Using a heat proof bowl, beat your egg yolks together until frothy. Gradually – while whisking – incorporate the reduced wine/juice mixture. Do this slowly so that the eggs don’t scramble.
3. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water and whisk continuously until the mixture has doubled in consistency.
4. Keep whisking while very slowly pouring in the clarified butter until completely united. Strain the sauce into a clean bowl and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Cranberry Eggs Benedict
1. To poach the eggs, place water in a skillet. Add the vinegar. Crack one egg at a time into a small cup or bowl and slowly slide them into the water and poach until whites are solid, but yolks are still soft.
2. Cut the cranberry muffins in half or use just the caps. Place 1 oz of Atlantic smoked salmon on each half. Set one poached egg on each muffin half and drizzle with a generous amount of hollandaise sauce. Season once more with salt & pepper.

Cranberry Eggs Benedict
I resolve to only have this once a year…check!

12 Days of Christmas Dish#11: Creamed Leeks

Green beans, rapini, asparagus, Brussels sprouts – I’ve done them all. My holiday menu has to include one green vegetable, and I always struggle to make it interesting. Then I discovered this creamed leek recipe from the Gourmet November 2006 magazine, and oh man is it ever good. The leeks are steamed under a parchment paper and turn out soft and buttery. I used matzah crumbs instead of breadcrumbs on top so that the topping stays crispy providing a nice contrast with the creamy leeks. The best part is – you can make this dish well ahead of time and pop it in right at the end. This one is a keeper.

The Recipe:

Put a spin on creamed onions this holiday by using an ingredient from the same family instead. Not only do these leeks bake into something extraordinary, they get you out of the time-consuming task of peeling all those tiny pearl onions.

Yield: Makes 4 servings (you probably need to double this recipe)
Active Time: 35 min
Total Time: 1 hr

3 1/2 lb leeks, root ends trimmed
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from a country loaf, crusts discarded) or use MATZAH!
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

Special equipment: 1 1/2-qt gratin or other shallow baking dish (10 by 8 inches)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.

Cut each leek into an 8-inch length, measuring from root end, and halve lengthwise, then cut crosswise into roughly 1 1/2-inch pieces. (You should have about 8 cups.) Wash leek pieces in a large bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out and transfer to another bowl. Repeat with clean water, then drain leeks well.

Cook breadcrumbs with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in 3 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and pale golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cut out a round from parchment or wax paper to fit just inside a 12-inch heavy skillet.

Cook leeks with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, leeks covered directly with parchment, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 12 minutes.

Discard parchment and transfer leeks with a slotted spoon to gratin dish. Pour cream slowly over leeks, then scatter bread crumbs on top. Bake until cream is bubbling and slightly thickened and crumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Cooks’ notes:
•Bread crumbs can be cooked 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Scatter breadcrumbs over leeks just before baking.
•Leeks can be cooked and assembled in dish with cream (but not sprinkled with crumbs and baked) 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered.

Creamed Leeks

These leeks are legend (wait for it) DARY!

12 Days of Christmas Dish#10: Gingerbread Stuffing

Can you ever go wrong with bacon?  The answer is no, especially during the holiday season.  So imagine this: bacon, plus gingerbread.  That’s right, crispy, salty bacon married with a sweet, spicy gingerbread, equals a dish made in heaven.  This  is a Nigella Lawson recipe from her Feast cookbook, not surprising, and I make it as my second stuffing, because you can never have too much stuffing.

The Recipe:

Serves 8-10

1 lb (3 medium) onions, peeled
2 eating apples (11 ounces), peeled and cored
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1– 1½ pounds bacon
Zest of 2 clementines or 1 orange
1–pound loaf of good store-bought gingerbread, crumbled makes 5 cups
2 eggs, beaten
Approximately ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Finely chop the onions and apples, using a food processor or by hand.  Heat the butter and oil in a large wide saucepan and fry both until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Now very finely chop the bacon in the processor, and add this to the softened onion and apple mixture.  Cook everything, stirring frequently, for about 5 more minutes and then add the clementine or orange zest.

Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a little before mixing in the gingerbread crumbs.  You can let this get properly cold now if you want and put it aside.  Just before cooking the stuffing, add the beaten eggs and pepper, mix, and use it to stuff the main cavity of your turkey, or cook all of it (or what’s left after stuffing your bird) in a buttered baking dish.  Bake it in a hot oven with your turkey for about the last 45 minutes.  If the stuffing’s going into a very full oven – which it no doubt is as part of a festive meal – it might take longer to cook; alone, 35 minutes should do it.

Let the cooked stuffing sit in its terrine for a good 10 minutes before turning it out and slicing it.

Gingerbread stuffing

If pigs could fly, little gingerbread men would be riding them!