Christmas Vegetables 2011

This year we had two Christmas Dinners!  Jeremy and his family were here for a few days but had to leave on Christmas Eve day.  So we had our family dinner on the 23rd with our whole family.  Since Christmas Day fell on Sunday, the rest of the family went to church then came back here to have a mid day meal.  Both meals were wonderful…after all, it is not what is on the plate, but who is in the chairs, right?  I am choosing one recipe from each to include here. 

Christmas Day Dinner featured Shrimp Strata, Baby Green Peas, Maple Glazed Baby Carrots, Crispy Potatoes and Fennel, Croissants, and Eudora Welty’s famous White Fruitcake.  This skillet of potatoes and fennel is becoming a Christmas tradition in the Parker house.

Crispy Potatoes with Fennel

1 -2 fennel bulbs

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 lb. small red potatoes, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or use dried French Thyme)

1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

You need an old-fashioned 9 or 10 inch iron skillet to bake this due to the high oven heat. 

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Rinse fennel well, trim root end and stalks. and thinly slice bulb.  Add oil to cast iron skillet.  Arrange half of potato slices, layer with fennel slices and then add another layer of potato slices.  Sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cover with foil. Bake at 475 for 35 minutes, uncover and bake 15 more minutes or until potatoes are browned.  Serve hot.  May be transferred to serving dish.  Serves 6- 8.  This is an adaptation of recipe from December 2010 Southern Living. We doubled it, making 2 skillets!

 Our Friday night gathering included smoked turkey and cornbread dressing with roasted root vegetables, Parmesan green beans, and fresh fruit salad of pears, pineapple and pomegranate, Yeast Rolls, and Christmas treats hand dipped by Maddie and Jordannn. 

Roasted Rosemary Root Vegetables

1 large onion1 medium Rutabaga

2 small purple top turnips

1 bag parsnips

3 large carrots

2 sweet potatoes

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Olive oil and sea salt

Peel and chop all vegetables into one inch cubes.  Toss rosemary, olive oil and sea salt in a large bowl, then spread on foil covered baking sheet in single layer.  Roast at 425 degrees until vegetables are fork tender.   Serve at once.

Cook’s note:  We love roasted beets, but if included in the mix, everything turns beet color.  So I roast a few small beets separately and add them on top.  This year, I also added one bunch of tiny white Japense turnips. 


Chocolate Dipped Ritz and Peanut Butter

There are many Christmas goodies our family has included in traditions of foods we cook together and enjoy at this time of year.  Due to Joe’s surgery and hospitalization in the past 2 weeks I have baked very little. When Maddie and Jordann arrived and wanted to bake Christmas cookies, I needed to implement a Plan B recipe – one that didn’t involve as much time in the kitchen but would still be a tasty treat.  So I passed up old favorites like German Butter Balls and Candy Cane cookies.  Making roll out cookies to frost and decorate was their first choice, but they quickly decided this just might be even better.  These cookies barely qualify for a written recipe because the ingredient list is so short and the directions even shorter.  But at least one cookie expert at our family gathering last night declared them the best cookies she ever ate.  We used the leftover melted chocolate for dipping marshmallows and dried apricots.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

Ritz crackers (we used regular ones; bite size really make “bites”)

Creamy Peanut Butter

Chocolate for dipping (we used Ghirardelli dipping chocolate)

Spread the inside of one Ritz cracker with peanut butter, top with another.  Dip into melted chocolate and place on baking sheet until hardened.


Fruitcake Report

As promised, I am posting the results of using Eudora Welty’s White Fruitcake recipe.  I used slightly less pineapple than called for, and baked the cake in one large tube pan.  It took 2 1/2 hours, and I did increase the oven temperature from 225 to 275 for the last 45 minutes since it was such a deep and dense cake.  When I took it out of the oven, I could hardly wait to see it.  I drizzled 3/4 cup bourbon over the hot cake, and have sprinkled 1/4 cup every few days since.  The crumbs are delicious.  This tastes nothing like the dark citron spotted fruitcakes that arrived in red tins when I was a child.  I think it will make a splendid addition to the Christmas Day dessert table.  Thank you, Miss Eudora.

Apologies and Fruitcake

Computer problems created a gap in posting, but I am just starting my Christmas baking and candy making, so more frequent posts these next 2 weeks will make up for the absence I hope.  Now, about fruitcake.  I have never really liked most fruitcakes, so I have never baked one.  The closest I came was a date roll made with Mother’s recipe years ago.  But I recently came across a recipe that Eudora Welty used and wrote about.  And if I am ever going to bake a fruitcake, it is going to be this one!  It was originally given by her friend Mrs. Mosal to Eudora Welty’s mother, who passed it on to her

In her foreword  to The Jackson Cookbook , she writes:  “I daresay any fine recipe used in Jackson could have been attributed to a local
lady, or her mother – Mrs. Cabell’s Pecans, Mrs. Wright’s Cocoons, Mrs. Lyell’s Lemon Dessert. Recipes, in the first place, had to be imparted – there was somthing oracular in the transaction – and however often by others, they kept their right names. I make Mrs. Mosal’s White Fruitcake every Christmas, having got it from my mother, who got it from Mrs. Mosal, and I often think to make a friend’s fine recipe is to celebrate her once more, and in that cheeriest, most aromatic of places to celebrate in – the home kitchen.”

                             Mrs. Mosal’s White Fruitcake

1 1/2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
6 whole eggs
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whiskey [plus additional for soaking]
4 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pound chopped pecans
1 pound crystallized cherries, half red, half green
1 pound crystallized pineapple, half red, half green

Cut fruit in small pieces and dust with 1 cup flour. Cream butter and sugar well; add eggs 1 at a time. Sift dry ingredients with remaining 3 cups flour;
add this to sugar mixture alternating with whiskey. When well blended, add fruit and pecans. Bake in tube pan at 225 degrees [F] for about 2 hours.
When done, pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup whiskey over while still hot. Serves 20-24.
Mrs. J. A. Mosal

I will let you know how it turns out!