Tidewater Kitchen - December 2006

Holiday Menus Made Easy

by

Pamela Doyle

     Of all the holidays we celebrate, Christmas can be the most labor intensive. Holiday Menus Made Easy aims to bridge the gap between the fundamental cooking information you need to get through the holidays and the knowledge it takes to transform traditional holiday meals into gourmet holiday meals. And believe it or not, we can do this without adding a tremendous workload to our already hectic holiday schedules.
      Many recipes that I am sharing have been passed down to me from my mother. By adding new recipes to your traditional recipes, you will start some holiday traditions of your own.
      My suggestion to you throughout the holidays is to “stay organized”. Whatever recipes you choose, I strongly urge you to read them carefully a week or so in advance. Many of the recipes can be made in advance, so take advantage of this and jot down your shopping lists and block out time for you to get a head start prior to the holiday. This will allow you to prepare the meals with minimum hassle and maximum fun.
      Let’s focus on turning these special times into lasting memories for our loved ones.

Festive Hanukkah Buffet
      Known as the festival of lights, this Jewish celebration can fall anywhere from early winter to past Christmas, depending on the position of the moon. The Jewish calendar is based on the lunar one, and so the dates constantly change for Jewish holidays.
      For those of you who don’t know what Hanukkah is, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem at the end of a terrible war. During this war the Jewish temple was destroyed. An oil burning light, that always burns, was left dark due to the war. The people only had enough oil to burn the light for two days. It took eight days to make more oil for the light. The story is told that the light burned for eight days and was never dark again. That is why Hanukkah lasts for eight days.
      The foods that are eaten at Hanukkah are made up of distinctly traditional Eastern European dishes. These dishes are as important to Hanukkah as the turkey is to Thanksgiving. They belong in a certain category of foods. Perfect for the winter, perfect for comfort, perfect for anytime.
      You can prepare the brisket, the applesauce and the cake up to two days ahead. That should make this meal easy for you. It only leaves the salad, the vegetables and the potato pancakes to make the day of your buffet. So even if you don’t celebrate Hanukkah, try this wonderful food, and enjoy a simple delicious meal.

Mandarin Orange Salad
¼ cup sugar
½ cup slivered almonds
1 pound mixed field greens
1 cup celery, chopped
2 whole green onions, trimmed, and chopped
1- 11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained, and chilled
Dressing
¼ cup olive oil
2 T. sugar
1 T. chopped Italian parsley
2 T. champagne vinegar
½ t. sea salt
¼ t. freshly ground pepper
Dash of Tabasco

     In a medium skillet, heat the sugar over medium high heat until it begins to melt. Add the almonds to the pan. Stir until coated and sugar is dissolved and light brown in color. Remove the almonds from the pan and immediately spread them onto a pie plate.
      Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing and chill. Mix all salad ingredients. Just before serving toss and add almonds and oranges. Serves six.

Edith’s Perfect Brisket
      This traditionally tough piece of meat becomes tender and flavorful as it is braised in the oven.

5 to 6 pound brisket
1 to 2 t. flour
¼ cup corn oil
6 onions, thinly sliced
1½ t. sea salt
3 T. tomato paste
Coarse ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled, trimmed, and quartered
3 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

     Preheat oven to 375° F. Trim fat from the brisket. Dust with flour and sprinkle with pepper. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan, and then add the brisket and brown on both sides over medium heat. Transfer the brisket to dish.
      At medium heat add onions to the pan and stir. Cook until softened and brown in color, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, place brisket on top of onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread with tomato paste. Add garlic, carrots, and potatoes then cover and bake 2½ hours or until tender.
      The key to serving tender brisket is a combination of slow cooking and carving the brisket against the grain. If your aren’t sure which way is against the grain, ask your butcher. Slice the meat and serve with the carrots and potatoes. Serves 8.

Grams Potato Latkes
      The rule of thumb for potato pancakes is one egg for every potato. Using Bisquick baking mix is Gram’s secret. It adds flavor and creates a light pancake. Growing up, this was a favorite recipe a neighbor would make for our family, and it is a keeper.

4 potatoes, peeled
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
¼ cup Bisquick
1 t. sea salt
Vegetable oil

     Grate the potatoes by hand with a box grater or in the food processor. Then chop the potatoes with a knife, or chop the grated potatoes with the metal blade of the food processor. Place them in a colander and rinse them with cold water to remove the extra starch. Drain them well and transfer them to a large bowl. Add the eggs, Bisquick, and sea salt. Mix well.
      In a large skillet, heat 1/8 inch of oil over medium high heat. With a spoon add some of the batter to the oil and flatten it with the back of the spoon. Cook for three to five minutes, turning only once, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, sugar or preserves. These can be kept warm on a cookie sheet in a 200° F oven for up to thirty minutes.

Fresh Homemade Applesauce
      Serve this on top of the potato pancakes with sour cream. You can make this up to two days ahead. This was always fun to make as a young child, and now I make it with my son.

12 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks
¾ cup fresh orange juice
2 T. fresh lemon juice
½ cup sugar
2 t. grated lemon zest
1 t. cinnamon

     Place the apples, orange juice, and lemon juice in a heavy sauté pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the apples are soft. Stir in the sugar, lemon zest, and cinnamon, and cook for about 20 minutes. Place half of the mixture in the food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add the apple puree back into the pan and stir to combine.
      Adjust the seasonings and cook for five minutes more. Serve warm or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Serves 8.

Baby Carrots and Scallions
      Steam the carrots up to two days ahead and them just sauté them before serving.

1¼ pounds baby carrots, peeled, tops trimmed to ¼ inch, halved lengthwise
2 bunches scallions
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel
½ t. sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

     Cook carrots in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. Refresh under cold water. Drain and pat the carrots dry. Cut scallions lengthwise in half, then diagonally into 1½-inch long pieces.
      Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and toss to coat with butter. Add scallions and stir until carrots and scallions are heated through, about 3 minutes. Add lemon juice, lemon peel and ½ t. sugar; toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Taste; add more sugar if desired. Serves six.

Green Beans
with Toasted Walnuts

2 pounds green beans, trimmed
2 T. butter
2 T. walnut oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2 T. minced fresh parsley

     Cook beans in large pot of boiling water until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. Rinse beans with cold water and drain well. Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
      Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add beans and toss until heated through, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add walnuts and parsley and toss.

Elegant Chocolate Pound Cake
      Finish this chocolate cake by dusting the plate with powdered sugar and cocoa. Place a sprig of mint on the side with some raspberry coulis and your dessert will be complete. This gets better with age, so make it up to 2 days ahead.

6 oz. Callebaut bittersweet chocolate
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 t. vanilla, Use Nielson Massey vanilla for the best flavor
1¾ cup all purpose flour, sifted
1 pint good quality vanilla ice cream

     Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Place the chocolate in a metal bowl or in the top of a double boiler. Set it over a pan of just simmering water. Stir the chocolate until it begins to melt and then remove it from the heat. Allow the chocolate to finish melting.
      Place the butter and sugar in an electric mixer bowl. Set the mixer to medium speed. As the sugar and butter begins to combine increase the speed to high. Beat this until the butter and sugar become light and fluffy. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg is added. Add the vanilla extract, and then set the mixer at a low speed. Now beat in the cooled chocolate. Once this is incorporated turn off the mixer and remove the bowl. With a rubber scraper, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.
      With the rubber scraper, fold in the flour. Stop folding as soon as the flour is incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the edges start to pull away from the sides, about 50 minutes.
      Transfer the pan to a wire cooling rack, and let cool completely. Release the sides of the springform pan. Then invert the cake onto a plate and remove the bottom of the springform pan. Turn the cake back over. Serve with a scoop of ice cream and garnish with Fresh mint and raspberries.

Holiday Season Open House
      At no other time of the year are we as apt to invite friends and family to our home as we are during the holidays. The foods that we want to prepare are hearty, robust and fit for the season. There are light items on this menu as well as the traditional ones. It makes it easy for our guests to cozy up to the fire and stay awhile.
      An open house buffet provides us with the perfect opportunity to create dishes that are easy to prepare and crowd pleasing. Adults and children alike will enjoy the pleasures of your annual holiday buffet. Make things that can be prepared ahead so that you will have a chance to decorate your house for your guests.
Try decorating your table with empty wrapped gift boxes. Use boxes that can hold up your filled bowls and trays. This will give your table dimension and help you to add color without expensive centerpieces. Try using your favorite bowls filled with nuts in their shells. Place different nutcrackers beside each bowl to add color and festivity to your side tables.
      One of the things that I like to do is to set up different stations of foods and drinks throughout the house, not just in the kitchen and dining room. Place the drinks at one station with a bowl full of warm cider beside them. Only give your guests a few choices so that you won’t be overwhelmed with too many things to make. You can repeat menu items at different stations to fill in the tables. Have a dessert table with a tiered pie rack to show off your creations.
      Finally, borrow, borrow, borrow. I never like to hear that people won’t entertain because they feel that they don’t have enough plates or platters or whatever. Borrow the missing items from friends or rent them from a party rental shop. Make your event elegant and special and most importantly enjoy it!!! The point of this is to get family and friends together, not to stress you out.

Smoked Salmon on Red Potatoes
      This recipe is a very elegant holiday appetizer. It can be served on thinly sliced pieces of bread. An alternative to the salmon would be small shrimp.

1½ cups sour cream
¾ cup fresh dill, minced
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2½ pounds baby red potatoes, cleaned, unpeeled, and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
5 T. olive oil
2 T. finely grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound smoked salmon, thinly sliced, cut into 1-inch squares

     Preheat oven to 400° F. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, minced dill, mustard, until well blended. In a large bowl, combine the potato, olive oil and lemon zest. Season generously with salt and pepper. With your hands, turn the potatoes to coat them evenly. Then spread the potatoes in a single layer on large cookie sheets.
      Bake them, turning once, until golden on both sides, and tender when pierced with a fork. The potatoes can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance and stored at room temperature until ready to serve. Reheat them in the oven at 375° F, until warm.
      Place a spoonful of the dill sauce on each hot potato slice. Top each with a square of the salmon and garnish with a dill sprig. Makes 40 pieces.

Christmas Colored Crostini
      Assemble these up to 6 hours early and bake them for 3 minutes at 350°F. Finish baking them just before your guests arrive.

¼ cup olive oil
4 white onions, trimmed and dices
3 large red bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and diced
2 T. fresh oregano, chopped and oregano sprigs for garnish
2 t. sugar
2 T. sherry wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 French Baguettes, sliced in ½-inch rounds
1 lb Stilton blue cheese, or Gorgonzola
15 green onions, cleaned and trimmed, slice using two inches of the green only

     In a large heavy sauté pan, heat 3 T. of the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onions until translucent. Add the bell peppers and the oregano and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add the sugar and the vinegar and stir for a few minutes until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Remove the pan from the heat and season the mixture with salt and pepper. You can make this up to a day ahead to this point.
      To bake the bread rounds: Preheat an oven to 400° F. Brush the bread with olive oil on both sides and place the slices on a cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown on both sides, turning once during the baking process. Let cool and then place in an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature for several days.
      To Serve: Brush the browned rounds with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Spoon the onion mixture over the tops of the rounds and then sprinkle the cheese evenly over the tops. You can do this up to 2 hours in advance. Leave the tray out at room temperature, covered, until ready to heat.
      Preheat the oven to 350° F. Bake the rounds until the cheese is melted, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle the rounds with the green onion and serve garnished with the oregano sprigs. Makes about 80 pieces.

Savory Biscotti with
Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

      Make the biscotti up to two months ahead and freeze it. Re crisp it in a 350° F. oven for five minutes prior to serving.

Savory Biscotti
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
4½ cups all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
2 t. sea salt
¼ cup cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
2 cups walnuts, toasted and ground

Goat Cheese Spread
½ cup goat cheese, softened
2 T. prepared pesto
Sea salt to taste

     Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Beat the eggs into the mixture one at a time. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, and walnuts. Mix this until well combined. Divide the dough into fourths. Form the dough into oval logs and place the logs onto two ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Allow them to cool on wire cooling racks for 10 minutes.
      Reduce the temperature of the oven to 250° F. Cut the logs diagonally into ½ inch slices. Lay the slices onto the cookie sheets and bake until dried, about 10 more minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to 2 days or freeze for two months.
      To Serve: Place the goat cheese in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the pesto and some salt to taste. Place the biscotti in baskets or ceramic canisters. Serve with the goat cheese. Makes 40 pieces.

Wild Rice, Polenta,
and Orange Salad

      This salad isn’t the traditional buffet salad. It uses my favorite ingredient, polenta. The polenta will be soft, so add it at the end after you have tossed together the other ingredients.

6 navel oranges, peeled and chop-ped
10 green onions, cleaned, trimmed, and chopped using only 2 inches of the green
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup sherry wine vinegar
2 T. grated orange zest
1/3 cup fresh tarragon, chopped
1 t. sea salt
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup olive oil
3 cups cooked wild rice
Polenta triangles
1 head romaine lettuce leaves

     In a large bowl combine the oranges, green onions, and pecans. In a small bowl combine the orange juice and vinegar. Add the orange zest, the tarragon and mix well. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. In a slow stream add the olive oil, whisking as you add the oil.
      Pour the dressing over the wild rice and allow it to sit for thirty minutes at room temperature to absorb the flavors. Add the rice to the oranges and mix well. Add the polenta and toss the salad gently.
      Line a large bowl with the lettuce leaves and spoon the salad into the bowl. Serves 24.

Polenta Triangles
      Polenta is a wonderful side dish. It can be made ahead and grilled when the rest of the food is almost ready.

3 cups water
1 tsp sea salt
2 T. unsalted butter
¾ cup fine grained polenta
¾ cup Parmigiano Reggiano
¼ t. cayenne pepper

     Combine the water, salt and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Gradually add the polenta, whisking constantly so that it doesn’t lump. Lower the heat and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until very thick, about fifteen minutes. Remove from the heat and add the Parmigiano Reggiano and cayenne.
      Line jellyroll pan with plastic wrap, letting it extend over the edges. Spread the polenta evenly over the plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least one hour, or as long as overnight.
      Invert the jellyroll pan onto a work surface. Remove the plastic wrap and cut the polenta into strips two inches wide. Cut the strips into triangles and add it to the salad.

Baby Greens Salad
with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

      This salad is light, refreshing, and definitely different from traditional holiday fare.

¾ cup pomegranate juice, boiled until reduced to ¼ cup
¼ cup fresh orange juice
3 T. balsamic vinegar
½ t. grated lemon peel
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup walnut halves
6 cups mixed salad greens
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
½ of the seeds from one pomegranate
Sea Salt and pepper

     Whisk together the pomegranate juice, orange juice, vinegar, and lemon peel. Slowly pour the olive oil, in a thin stream, into this mixture, whisking constantly as you go. This will help the dressing thicken. Chill.
      Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them in a 350° F oven until lightly toasted. Pour them from the pan and cool.
      Place the greens in a large bowl and season them with salt and pepper. Toss with the dressing. Plate the greens and then sprinkle each plate evenly with nuts, cheese, and seeds.

Sautéed Spinach with Pancetta
      The sweetness of the pancetta pairs perfectly with the spinach greens. Add some toasted nuts to these and sauté them right before you put them out on the buffet.

½ cup fruity olive oil
16 slices of pancetta, diced
2 cups white onion, chopped
3 T. garlic, creamed
½ cup red wine vinegar
3 lbs spinach
½ cup red bell pepper, roasted, and julienne ½ inch
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
6 T. fresh mint, chopped

     Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until translucent. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the vinegar, the spinach, and the bell pepper to the pan, toss together and cover the pan. Cook the greens until they are wilted, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the fresh mint just before serving. Serves 12.

Rosemary Potato Gratin
      There are many versions to potato gratin. In this one you can make it up to a day ahead and reheat it. It is good at room temperature so that it works well for a buffet.

3 T. unsalted butter, melted
5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
2 T. garlic, creamed
2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

     Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the sides of a 9 X 13-inch dish with the melted butter. Layer half of the potatoes in the dish. Sprinkle with all of the garlic, half of the cheese, and the rosemary. Pour 1 cup of the cream evenly over the top. Sprinkle the top lightly with salt and pepper. Layer with the rest of the potatoes and then top with the remaining cheese. Pour the remaining cream evenly over the top.
      Place the dish on a baking sheet and place it in the oven. Bake until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are tender, about one hour. Serves 12.

Christmas Rib Roast
      This recipe is perfect for a holiday buffet. Serve it with the mustard sauce and slice it in advance. It is fine served at room temperature, so don’t bother reheating it.

½ cup fresh parsley, minced
3 T. freshly grated lemon peel
2 t. dried rosemary, crumbled
8 juniper berries, crushed
6 cloves garlic
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
4-8 drops Tabasco sauce
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1-7 pound standing rib roast of beef
Mustard Cram Sauce

     Combine parsley, lemon peel, rosemary, juniper berries, garlic, pepper and Tabasco in blender. Add oil 1 T. at a time, blending until a smooth paste is formed. Add lemon juice and blend. Rub mixture over surface of roast. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
      Bring roast to room temperature before proceeding. Place roast in large, heavy roasting pan and roast in preheated oven at 500° F for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 200° F and continue roasting until meat registers 130° F (medium-rare), about 3½ hours. Let roast rest for 20 minutes before carving. Serves 10-12.

Mustard Cream Sauce
      Here is a creamy sauce that complements roast beef, sautéed fillet of beef or broiled veal chops. It is also nice with sautéed or roast chicken, roast pork loin, and poached or broiled salmon. The sauce is rich but tangy and provides a nice accent to a host of vegetables as well, including beets, carrots, green beans or simple boiled potatoes. It can be prepared a few hours in advance and reheated gently over low heat

2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup chicken stock, heated
6 T. Dijon mustard
1 cup heavy (double) cream
2 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 T. fresh chives, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper

     Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, a few minutes. Gradually add the stock, whisking constantly. Whisk in the mustard and cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the herbs, if using, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Makes about 2 cups.

Cranberry Tart
1 Prebaked Buttery Tart Shell
½ cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 T. melted unsalted butter
½ t. grated orange rind
1 cup walnut halves
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

     Combine sugar, syrup, eggs, butter and orange rind. Place walnuts and cranberries on the bottom of tart shell. Pour sugar mixture into tart shell. Bake 25 to 35 minutes until filling is firm and crust is golden. Cool on wire rack. Refrigerate until served. Serve with whipped cream.

Buttery Tart Dough
1 and 2/3 cup unbleached All Purpose Flour
¼ cup very fine granulated sugar
½ t. salt
10 T. (1¼ sticks) sweet butter, chilled
2 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla extract
2 t. ice water

     Sift flour, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut chilled butter into pieces into the bowl. Using two forks or your finger tips, rapidly rub the butter and dry ingredients together until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
      Stir egg yolks, vanilla and water together and add to flour/butter mixture. Blend in using a fork. Shape dough into a ball. Place the ball of dough on a pastry board. With the heel of your hand, smear about one quarter cup of dough away from you into a six to eight inch smear. Repeat until all of the dough has been done. Reform into a ball, rap in wax paper, and chill two to three hours.
      Roll out dough on a floured board. Work quickly so the dough does not become sticky. Line a nine-inch tart pan with the dough, fitting it loosely into the pan and pressing it to fit the sides. Trim the edges and press into place with fingers. Chill.
      Preheat oven to 425° F. Line dough in the tart pan with a piece of aluminum foil or wax paper and weight with rice or beans. Bake eight minutes. Remove foil and beans. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places. For a partially baked shell, return to the oven three to four minutes longer. For a fully baked shell, return for eight to ten minutes or until edges are light brown.
      Yields one eight or nine-inch tart shell or six individual tart shells.

Roasted Walnut Chocolate
Chiffon Cake with Roasted
Walnut White Chocolate Cream

      This cake is lighter than air. Top it with candied walnuts and piped white chocolate cream.

9 oz boiling water
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 & 2/3 cups sugar
1½ T. baking powder
¾ t. sea salt
11 large eggs, room temperature, separated
¾ cup roasted walnut oil
3 t. Nielson Massey vanilla
¾ t. cream of tartar

      Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325° F. Combine the boiling water and cocoa in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the cocoa then set it aside.
      Sift together the flour, sugar, and baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the cocoa mixture, egg yolks, oil and vanilla. Mix this together until thoroughly combined. In a mixer, add the egg whites. Starting at a low speed, begin to beat the egg whites until foamy. Increase the speed to medium and then to high. Add the cream of tartar and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
      Using a rubber scraper, add one-third of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture. Gently mix them to lighten the chocolate mixture. Fold in another third of the egg whites, taking care not to deflate the batter. Add the final third of the egg whites and fold them in.
      Spray an 18 X 12-inch Jellyroll pan with vegetable spray. Line the pan with parchment paper. Pour and spread the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Place the pan into a preheated oven and bake until a toothpick comes clean.
      Remove the cake and all to cool on a wire cooling rack. Remove the cake and cut it into three 6-inch wide sections. Spread white chocolate cream between the layers and around the outside of the cake. Decorate with sugared walnuts.

Roasted Walnut
White Chocolate Cream

      You can make this cream up to one week in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to 6 months. You must make it at least 4 hours before you need to use it.

2 cups heavy cream
1½ lbs white chocolate
½ cup roasted walnut liquor

     Warm the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear at the edges. Remove it from the heat and stir in the white chocolate. Stir it until the mixture is smooth. Add the roasted walnut liquor and stir briefly. Allow to cool and chill for at least 4 hours before using it.

Sugared Walnut Pieces
      Garnish the cake with some of these sugared walnuts.
      These are great in a pretty dish for a snack, or even sprinkled on a salad!

½ cup white sugar
1 cup walnut halves

      Heat a medium sized sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the sugar and allow the sugar to sit over the heat until it begins to melt. Stir it until smooth and golden then add the walnuts.
       Toss them in the sugar until toasted and then pour them out into a glass dish. Separate the nuts and then allow them to cool. Garnish with them as desired.

Traditional Wassail
      This was something our friend “Aunt Kate” always made for the holidays. What a special treat and it makes your house smell so good!

2¾ cups sugar
4 cups spring water
2 cinnamon sticks
8 allspice berries
10 whole cloves
1 piece of crystallized ginger
4 cups fresh orange juice
2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 quarts apple cider

     Combine the sugar and the water. Boil for five minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cinnamon, allspice, cloves and ginger and allow this mixture to stand for at least one hour. Strain this mixture, then add the juices and bring this to a simmer. Serve. Makes 18 cups.

Holiday Nog
¼ cup sugar
½ t. cinnamon
¾ t. dry ginger
6 large eggs
4 cups fresh orange juice
4 cups pineapple juice
4 cups ginger ale
1 pint orange sherbet

     Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and ginger together. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Stir in the juices, and chill. Just before serving, add the ginger ale and scoops of sherbet. Makes 12 cups.

Cranberry Margaritas
1¼ cups cranberry juice cocktail
½ cup sugar
1½ cups frozen cranberries, rinsed
¾ cup fresh lime juice
¾ cup tequila
½ cup orange liqueur
3 cups crushed ice

     Pour ¼ cup of the cranberry juice into a shallow bowl. Pour 3 T. of sugar into a flat plate. Dip the rims of the glasses into the juice and then the sugar. Set the glasses aside.
      Reserve ¼ cup of the cranberries. In a blender add the remaining cranberry juice, cranberries, lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur, and ice. Blend until smooth and fill the glasses. Garnish with the reserved cranberries.

Spiced Cranberry Cocktail
4 cups cranberry juice cocktail
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup unsweetened grapefruit juice
½ cup grenadine syrup
¼ t. ground cloves
¼ t. nutmeg

     Combine all of the ingredients and heat until warm. Makes about 8 cups.