The Christmas season hustle and bustle is drawing to a close as we get ready for the feast! As the years go by, I work to make my holiday simpler so I can enjoy this time instead of running around like a chicken with no head. I am not quite there yet, but can report that I am a bit more organized this year.
This year I found myself getting more sentimental as I pondered why we do what we do at Christmas. Why do I cook for the holidays? Here’s what I came up with…
We celebrate with food: This is a big one for me coming from a Ukrainian family.
Food brings us together: I don’t know about you, but we have lots of visitors this time of year!
To carry on traditions: We have many that the kids have come to love and be a part of.
Food is comforting: We have all had our ups and downs this year. Somehow food makes everything feel better.
To share a moment: Think back to the fond memories of your childhood and remember you are now creating memories for your family and friends.
To WOW: I love creating a new tradition or just a dish my guests enjoy.
To show my love: When I cook, I pour my thoughts into my actions, knowing it will all taste better if cooked with love!
So when you find yourself getting flustered over the season as you are organizing everything to be just right, remember why you are doing it and let that stress melt away.
Another way to handle this dinner is to call us at From Scratch…we have a Christmas Dinner that is ready for pick-up. You take all the credit and we promise not to tell anyone!
Here are some recipes that I use over the holidays and I hope they become a new tradition or WOW with your family.
Incredible Gingerbread Cookies
This recipe is tried and true. I let my kids munch on these if they are hungry as we are cooking Christmas dinner. P.S. This is also the recipe of the cookies the kids got at the Windermere Elementary Christmas Dinner that many of you asked me for! It makes about 50 cookies using a two-inch cutter.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground allspice
Sift above together
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses
90 g butter
Beat above four ingredients together
Mix wet and dry ingredients together and place in fridge for one hour.
Roll out on a floured surface. Cut cookies with your favorite shapes.
Bake at 350 C for 8 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
One tradition we have at Christmas is a soup before turkey. It warms your belly and for whatever reason, I find myself not as tired at the end of this meal. This soup has been the WOW factor at many dinners in our past.
Celeriac & Hazelnut Soup*
Celeriac is celery root. You find it in your local grocery store. It looks like a muddy turnip and tastes great when cooked properly!
3 cups celeriac cut into ¼ inch dice
1 cup onions cut in ¼ inch dice
1 cup potatoes cut in ¼ inch slice
55 g butter
5 cups chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup milk (optional)
Garnish… 2 tbsp hazelnuts chopped, a few tbsp whipped cream, sprigs of chervil or flat parsley
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan; when it foams, add the potatoes and onions. Toss them in the butter until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover with a paper lid (I like to use the foil wrapping from a pound of butter) and sweat on gentle heat for about 10 minutes until vegetables are soft, not coloured.
Discard the paper lid. Add the celeriac and chicken stock. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until celeriac is soft.
Blend the soup in a blender till smooth and feel free to add more stock or milk if it’s a bit thick. Taste and season accordingly.
Serve soup piping hot with a small blob of whipped cream on top sprinkled with hazelnuts and fresh herb.
*Soup recipe copyright from Ballymaloe Cookery School.
Lara McCormack is one of the owners of From Scratch – A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs where one can savour fabulous seasonal food, sip from a selection of beverages including B.C. wines and enjoy the views of our gorgeous valley landscape