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Think homegrown for the holidays

Holiday entertaining is made simply delicious with Ontario produce. Choose recipes that are ‘make ahead’, quick and easy to prepare, such as these from Foodland Ontario. You will be surprised how well organized and stress free you can be with all the preparation done ahead. What better way to say “Merry Christmas!”

Curried Carrot Soup Shooters

Make a big batch of this flavoursome brew to serve either in tiny shooter glasses as a stand up appetizer, or as a starter in traditional soup bowls. Garnish with a swirl of yogurt or sour cream accompanied by a mini cheddar and caramelized scone (recipe follows).

4 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

1 cup (250 mL) sweet potato or squash, peeled and chopped

2 to 3 large cloves garlic, quartered

1 tbsp (15 mL) curry powder

4 to 6 cups sodium reduced chicken stock

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

¼ tsp (1 mL) black pepper

Garnish: Sour cream or yogurt and chopped coriander

In large heavy saucepan combine potatoes, carrots, onion, sweet potato, garlic and curry powder. Pour in enough broth to just cover vegetables; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.

Puree vegetable mixture in blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, garnished with sour cream and coriander. Makes about eight cups or 20 appetizer servings, or four to six main course servings.

Cheddar and Caramelized Onion Scones

Ideal as a companion to soup, these may be sandwiched with smoked ham and maple mustard for lunch or supper or made into mini sizes – they are perfect cocktail fare. Once baked, scones may be made ahead and frozen for up to three months. Be sure to freeze in a freezer proof container.

Caramelized Onions:

2 cups (500 mL) chopped onions

2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil

1 tbsp (15 mL) each, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar

pinch salt and pepper

Scones:

4 cups (1 L) all purpose flour

2 tbsp (25 mL) baking powder

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

1 cup (250 mL) cold butter

2 cups (500 mL) shredded extra old cheddar

1 1/3 cups (325 mL) plain yogurt

3 eggs, beaten

Glaze:

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp (15 mL) water

In large skillet, cook onions with oil over medium low heat, stirring often until onions are soft and light brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper, cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter with pastry cutter, until fine crumbs. Transfer to large bowl; stir in cheese.

In small bowl, combine sour cream and eggs; stir in cooled onions. Add to flour mixture; stir until dough is smooth and soft.

Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead eight times. Roll out dough until ¾ inch (2 cm) thick; cut into 2 ½ inch (6.25 cm) rounds for large scones or 1 inch (2.5 cm) for cocktail size.

Beat egg and water together to make an egg glaze and brush on top of biscuits.

Preheat oven to 400°F ( 200°C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange scones on baking sheet leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) between each scone. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until puffed and brown. Cool a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Makes two dozen large scones or four dozen cocktail scones.

Maple Yule Log

The Yule Log is a traditional Canadian Christmas cake. Make it even more ‘Canadian’ with pure maple syrup, flavoured whipped cream and flavoured cake. The cake can be made up to three weeks ahead, assembled and frozen.

Cake:

1 cup (250 mL) all purpose flour

1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder

¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

4 eggs

¼ cup (50 mL) maple syrup

1 cup (250 mL) lightly packed brown sugar

Filling:

1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream

2 to 3 tbsp (25 mL) maple syrup

Topping:

1½ cups ( 375 mL) whipping cream

¼ cup (50 mL) maple syrup

Garnishes: cocoa, shaved chocolate, whole cranberries

Line 17x11-inch (45x29 cm ) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400°F ( 200°C). Spray with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt to blend well.

In large bowl using electric mixer, beat eggs and maple syrup until slightly thickened. Gradually add brown sugar, beating until thick. Sift flour mixture over egg mixture in three additions, folding in gently after each addition. Spread evenly in pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown and firm to the touch.

Sift about 2 tbsp (25 mL) icing sugar onto clean tea towel in even layer. Invert cake and pan onto towel. Remove pan; carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together (begin at short or long edge, depending on whether you want a longer thin or shorter thick Yule log). Cool completely.

Filling: In chilled medium bowl, whip cream with maple syrup until firm peaks form. Unroll cake and spread filling evenly over cake. Roll up, using towel to help. (Cake can be wrapped and frozen at this point if desired, or frozen after adding whipped cream topping.)

Topping and Garnishes: In chilled medium bowl, whip cream with maple syrup until firm peaks form. Completely cover top, sides and both ends rolled cake with cream. With fork, make tree bark marks on surface. Dust with cocoa if using. Cover and refrigerate or wrap well and freeze until serving time. Transfer from freezer to refrigerator half hour before serving. Garnish; makes 12 servings.

 

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca

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