Are you ready for the holidays? I’m getting there and to kick off this Friendly Friday Holiday Party, I invite you to have some of my favorite Christmas Treats.
Christmas in my home starts with birthday celebrations. No, not for baby Jesus but rather for my own baby boy who arrived as an early Christmas gift on December 5th. After his birthday, I officially bring out the wreaths and ribbons to decorate our Christmas piano. I gave up on Christmas trees years ago, when I stuffed a fully flocked tree into my car. It shed half it’s needles in the trunk and the rest on the living room floor. It seemed like I was sweeping up pine needles for months afterwards. Ever since I’ve preferred the festive, non-shedding properties of my old stand-up piano.
Christmas for me is all about the food. Christmas cakes, puddings and cookies. Christmas breads, fruity panettone, fragrant ciabatta, herby focaccia, heavenly houska. Christmas hams, turkey and homemade stuffing.
Christmas sweets are a must. I try to keep them homemade. A yearly tradition is my mother’s recipe for Christmas pudding, her version of Jamaican Black Cake. It’s a denser, richer and boozier version of English plum pudding.
I’ve seen pictures of English plum pudding dressed up in marzipan, drizzled with sauce and lit up with flames. That’s all very pretty. In my home, I’ve only ever seen pudding wrapped up in paper sodden with rum and plum juices.
At Christmas dinner it is undressed and simply served plain. I once went to a Christmas party where the hostess shockingly put hard butter rum sauce on the side. Everyone discretely scraped it away and tutted at her eccentricities.
A couple Christmas seasons ago, I took a course in making Charcuterie. Never before or since, have I made so many fancy meat and fish dishes. Pates. Terrines. Confit. Gravlax. Deboned, stuffed and rolled galantines and ballotines (the former is served cold, the latter hot.) I made the dishes in school and then went home to make them again – once, twice, maybe five times to practise.
That Christmas I made forty-eight ramekins of pate for dinner parties and gifts. Luckily for my arteries and health, Covid intervened and I’ve not made pate since.
A safer, more heart friendly tradition is making bread. I make bread regularly but for the season, I’ll get fancy and make specialty breads as gifts.
One of my favorites is houska, a Czech bread similar to a challah or brioche. I worked on the recipe with a friend to help recover her mother’s long-lost recipe. I’m not sure if we recreated it exactly, but it was delicious.
Stollen is another bread that I’ve tried to make live up to its reputation. Frankly, I’m still trying. While the version I made at home was better than any I’ve purchased in the market, I think I’m missing something. Do you have a sure-fire recipe? Let me know and I’ll try it.
This year, I intend to make a favorite I discovered in Singapore. It’s a rich, sweet bread flecked with candied citron and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Yummy. A bite and a loaf go down very quickly.
These are some of my favorite Christmas treats. If you could come by, I’d invite you in and serve up a slice, a piece or a dish to sample. Instead, I hope you can imagine it. It’s almost as good and not nearly as fattening!
Now, I’m ready to see what other folks bring to the party! Come with me and go here, to have a look at the pingbacks.