Our friend Rita who grew up in Dahn Germany, which is in the Black Forest, is sharing one of her favorite Christmas recipes. Rita has created this recipe from one that was shared with her many years ago.
1 box chocolate brownie mix
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
3 Tablespoons golden rum
3 Tablespoons Kahlua
1/4 cup Swiss cocoa mix or 1 package chocolate drink mix
1/4 cup splenda
1 tub chocolate strusel
Bake brownies according to directions. Cool. Use only 2/3 of baked brownies, tear into small pieces.
In a large bowl, add chocolate mini chips, hazelnuts, splenda, cocoa mix, add rum and Kahlua. Mix well. Add torn brownies to mixture and stir to mix well.
Roll into 1" balls and roll into chocolate strusel until ball is well covered. Place Rum ball in sealed container in layers of waxed paper. Store in refrigerator or can be frozen. If balls are to dry add more rum or a little water to dough.
This Christmas season I did not bake any traditional "Christmas cookies". With a 50Th wedding anniversary, birthday, Christmas, a cruise to celebrate the anniversary all within a four week period along with time constraints, I thought I could fore go the cookie baking this year.
My thoughts often turn to my mother at this time of the year remembering how she loved to make such a happy Christmas for the family.
This is a recipe that my mother received as a young married. The cookies were requested often in my youth. The taste conjures a special memory of by-gone times. How I still miss my mother.
1 cup butter
3 cups packed brown sugar
4 eggs separated
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup chopped nuts
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in chopped nuts. In a small bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into the dough. Shape into four 9 inch rolls; wrap each roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
Unwrap and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Place 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to cooling rack.
Last year at this time we were in Italy for the holidays. Friday is Market Day in our daughter's neighborhood. It is a very entertaining event. Everyone comes out to shop. Vendors set up booths with the freshest meats, cheeses, sausages, flowers, textiles, toys, hardware, kitchenware and window coverings. It is a fun experience to observe as well as shop.
This is a recipe from the files of Giada. I like the fact that it has a shortcut with frozen bread dough. Sometimes you just get caught short on time and these short cuts make all the difference.
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (1-pound) loaf purchased frozen white bread dough
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon buttermilk
Brush 1 tablespoon of melted butter over the bottom and sides of an 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish.
Mix the nuts, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a small bowl.
Roll out the thawed dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush 1 tablespoon of butter over the dough. Sprinkle the nut mixture over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the top and bottom sides.
Starting at 1 long side, roll up the dough jelly-roll style, forming a log. Pinch the seam to seal. Cut the log into 9 equal pieces. Arrange the rolls, cut side down, in the prepared baking dish, spacing evenly.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise in a warm draft-free area until puffed, about 45 minutes.
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
Bake the cinnamon rolls uncovered until the tops are golden brown, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the powdered sugar, mascarpone cheese, and buttermilk in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy.
Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over the baked cinnamon rolls and then drizzle the mascarpone cheese mixture over top. Serve warm.
I received this recipe forty-five years ago. We then had milk delivery from a local dairy. At Christmas time we would receive a calendar from the dairy with a recipe on the calendar page each month. This was the December recipe and a long time holiday favorite at our house..
12 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Kentucky Bourbon
4 cups whole milk
1 pint whipping cream
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Beat yolks with sugar until creamy, add Bourbon to yolk mixture which serves to "cook" the yolks. Add milk, stir. Fold in the egg whites, the the whipped cream until smooth, but do not stir too vigorously. You need to keep the air in the egg whites in order to maintain the light fluffy consistency of the drink.
Use a ladle to pour into wide mouth glasses. Sprinkle with fresh nutmeg.
Many of us admire the European Bakeries when we travel and must admit the baked goods are a picture. Today I am offering a recipe from Melanie living in Germany. Our son and his wife had an au pere twelve years ago. They were blessed to have Melanie with them for one year. They have remained in contact with Meli. Actually she and her new husband visited California while they were on their honeymoon. Meli posted on her Facebook that she baked Christmas cookies. I requested the recipe and she obliged. Thank You Melanie. I have posted the recipe as she sent it. The converted measurements are in italics. Enjoy!
300 grams of flour
2 1/2 cups flour
180 grams butter
3/4 cup butter
100 grams vanilla sugar
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
a bit of salt
my guess 1/2 teaspoon salt
two handsful chopped nuts
my guess 1/2 to 3/4 cup of chopped nuts
* lf vanilla sugar is not available to you, you may use granulated sugar and add the vanilla flavoring.
Mix ingredients quickly with hands. Let cool for 30 minutes. roll out dough to 3 millimeters (1/4 inch) thick. Cut out little circles with a glass. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Cookies don't have to be brown.
When cool place jelly between two cookies. When finished you can sprinkle with powdered sugar.
For icing: 1/2 cup confectioners sugar 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process) 3 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon hazelnut-flavored liqueur
Directions: Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.
Butter a large baking sheet.
Pulse hazelnuts, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a food processor until nuts are finely chopped, then add butter and zest and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add juice and liqueur and pulse until dough comes together into a ball but is still crumbly. Form level tablespoons of dough into balls and flatten to about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, arranging 1 inch apart on baking sheet.
Bake cookies until puffed and slightly cracked, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Make icing while cookies cool:
Whisk together all icing ingredients until smooth.
Dip tops of cooled cookies into icing and transfer to a wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Let stand until icing is set, about 1 hour.
Note: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of parchment paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 4 days.
Fig Compote and brie make perfect partners in these inspired strudels. Serve them at the beginning of the meal over a bed of peppery greens, or sprinkle them with a little coarse sugar befor baking a not-too-sweet dessert.
6 oz. dried figs, stems removed and chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
8 phyllo pastry sheets
1/4 cup butter, melted
8 oz. brie, rind removed and sliced
Directions: Preheat oven to 375ºF.
In a heavy saucepan, combine figs, onion, water, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, raisins, garlic, ginger, orange zest, salt and cayenne over medium-high heat; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer until most of liquid has been evaporated, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in pine nuts. Let cool.
Place 1 sheet of phyllo on a work surface, keeping remaining sheets covered with damp tea towel to prevent drying out. Brush sheet lightly with some of the butter. Fold in half lengthwise; brush lightly with some of the butter. Arrange 2 slices of Brie along 1 narrow end of the phyllo, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with ¼ cup of fig mixture and top with another slice or 2 of the brie (use 1 oz. per strudel). Fold sides over to enclose filling and roll up.
Place seam side down on parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Brush with butter. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 7 more strudels. Using the tip of a sharp knife, make diagonal slits about 1 inch apart in the tops of the strudels.
Bake in the center of the oven until pastry is golden, about 13 to 16 minutes. Serve warm with sliced apples and pears.
Santa With ReindeerThe Merry TreeOld Globe Theatre PiazzaThe Entrance To Balboa ParkThe Chinese Gardens *
A Day At Balboa Park
The Crown Jewel of San Diego is Balboa Park. The Park was developed from a grant of 1400 acres of prime land by three very generous citizens. The architecture was dedicated in 1915 celebrating the Panama Exhibition.
We spent the day at Balboa Park in the Museum of History. John Shelton's photography of The California Baja Peninsula was especially interesting. Having traveled there several times some of his sights were identifiable but many were inspiring and educational0. Another museum display of Dinosaurs was interesting but probably more so for the youth. The Park was getting decked for the holidays and the big weekend Festival of Lights.
Stuffed Pork Tenderloins with Fresh Cranberry Compote
This recipe is shared by the LCBO.
For a festive meal, serve this dish with roast potatoes, squash and green beans almandine. Both the compote and stuffed loins can be prepared earlier in the day.
Cranberry Compote: ⅓ cup finely diced red onion
2 tbsp water
2 cups fresh cranberries, divided
¾ cup dry red wine
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large apple or almost-ripe pear, peeled and grated
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 cinnamon stick
Roast: 3 tbsp butter ⅓ cup finely chopped onion 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage,or 1½ tsp dried 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley ¼ tsp each of salt and freshly groundblack pepper ½ cup chicken broth 4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs 2 large pork tenderloins, each about 1 lb 1 tbsp peanut or canola oil ¼ cup cranberry compote 2 tbsp maple syrup
For compote, combine onion and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile cut ½ cup of cranberries in half; set aside. Stir remaining cranberries, red wine, sugar, apple and ginger into onions. Add cinnamon stick. Bring to a low boil, stirring frequently. Adjusting heat as needed, briskly simmer mixture, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Stir in reserved cranberry halves; simmer another 5 minutes. Cool, cover and refrigerate until needed. (Compote can be made 2 to 3 days ahead.)
For roast, heat butter in a large frying pan over medium heat until bubbly. Add onions; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in herbs, salt and pepper; remove from heat. Add broth and bread crumbs; toss until evenly coated. (Crumbs feel moist, not wet.)
Lay tenderloins on cutting board; remove any surface fat or silver skin. Cutting only halfway into meat, slice length of each loin. Open up like a book. Lay a piece of plastic wrap underneath and over top; use smooth side of a meat pounder or bottom of heavy skillet to pound loins until about ¾ inch thick.
Cut-side up, firmly press stuffing onto loin. Then top with other loin, cut-side down towards stuffing. Use cooking twine or silicone bands to bind together at each end and on either side of centre point. Firmly stuff any dislodged filling back into meat. (Stuffed loin can be covered and promptly refrigerated for up to half a day.)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan over medium heat until very hot. Sauté stuffed pork in frying pan until browned, about 5 minutes per side.
Meanwhile mash measured compote with a fork; stir in maple syrup. Spread about half over pork top. Place roast, still in frying pan, on centre rack in oven. Roast, uncovered for 20 minutes; spoon remaining glaze over top. Continue roasting for 20 minutes or until thermometer shows 140°F.
Remove roast from oven to stovetop; immediately cover with foil. Rest 15 minutes to complete cooking. Temperature rises to 160°F during this rest. Then cut away strings; slice roast about ¾ inch thick. Serve with cranberry compote.
Roses From Mary, Tom And FamiliesThe Cutting Of Our Cake
The Hostesses Of The Party, Daughters Barbara On Left And Anne On Right With Host husband Greg (below)
Our Wonderful Son-in-law Gregory Visiting With Phyllis And Bernie
Barbara And Charlotte At The PianoOlivia Playing The Piano and Veronica On The Flute Phyllis, Bernie & Pat, "Griff", Don and DonnaJan, Donna, And Ruth
Bob And Maxine *
Our 50Th wedding anniversary day didn't pass without a small celebration. We originally thought that since we were hosting our family on a cruise in December that would be an adequate celebration. Our daughters thought different.
Our neighbors Bernie & Pat belong to our church where Bernie serves as a deacon. Bernie arranged that we would repeat our vows at the five o'clock mass.
Following mass we gathered at our daughter and son-in-law, Greg and Anne's home with a small group of friends. Our granddaughters played the piano throughout the evening for entertainment. It was a beautiful gathering. Anne, Greg, and Barbara hosted the group. Daughter Mary and son Tom who could not be with us sent the bouquet of roses which made a beautiful centerpiece for the table. Nothing could have made a more beautiful memory of the occasion.
Fifty years ago today we began our journey through life together. We will celebrate the day with family but our entire family will join with us on a seven day Mexican Riviera Cruise after Christmas. It has been fifty years with many blessings!
Today was such a perfect day to be together with family. The weather was absolutely beautiful with a high of 87 degrees. I stayed behind to prepare our meal while the rest of the family did their traditional Thanksgiving seven mile hike. When they returned, the adults sat down to enjoy a tasty brunch prepared by our daughter Anne. The celebratory Thanksgiving meal was enjoyed toward the evening hours. Daughters Barbara and Anne and family were a part of our holiday this year.
School is in recess this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. Yesterday we took our granddaughters to the "Dog Beach" This is one of four public places for dogs to run unleashed. The dogs were just like little kids, so happy to see each other, and wanted the ball that the other dog was playing with. They were hilarious to watch! Our granddaughter's dog ran and ran almost to the point of exhaustion. I don't remember Charlie ever having so much fun!
One blog I follow is "Cream Puffs In Venice" @ blogspot.com". The blogger has a network of fellow bloggers who often colaborate on an effort which provides some interesting reading. This recipe was taken from King Arthur flour and found on her blog. Check her blog for some very interesting recipes.
Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies
Salt and sugar go together like coffee and cream — each brings the other to new heights. These butterscotch cookies are heavily laced with toasted pecans and butterscotch chips. Love salty/sweet? They're rolled in a mixture of sugar and salt before baking, which gives them over-the-top flavor. There are a few of options once you have the dough made. If you bake the cookies right away, you'll have a flatter, lighter-colored cookie. Refrigerate it for 4 to 5 hours, the cookies will be flat, but not "puddley." Chill overnight, and the dough dries out, with some of the starch in the flour turning to sugar. The cookies will be darker, more "caramely," and won't spread nearly as much. Also, these cookies are a good candidate for the "tablespoon vs. teaspoon" scoop choice. A tablespoon cookie scoop (actually 4 level measuring teaspoons) will yield big, 3" cookies; a teaspoon scoop (1 3/4 level measuring teaspoons) will make smaller (2 1/4") cookies.
Ingredients: 1 1/3 cups pecan halves
2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon butterscotch, vanilla-butternut, or butter-rum flavor
1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
1 large egg
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/3 cups butterscotch chips
1/3 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, for topping*
*If you're making smaller (teaspoon cookie scoop-sized) cookies, increase the coating to 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar mixed with 1 3/4 to 2 teaspoons salt.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast till they've darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside.
In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, vanilla, flavor, and vinegar, beating until smooth and creamy.
Beat in the egg, again beating till smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.
Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.
If you're going to refrigerate the dough, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 3 1/2 to 4 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.
Mix the 1/3 cup sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. To bake cookies immediately (without refrigeration), use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1 1/2" balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2" between them on all sides; they'll spread quite a bit. Or use a teaspoon cookie scoop to scoop 1 1/4" balls of dough.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes — 11 minutes for smaller cookies, 12 for larger ones. Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. (For dough that's been refrigerated, add 30 seconds to 1 minute to those baking times.) Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan till they've set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Yield: about 4 dozen 3" cookies, or 7 dozen 2 1/4" cookies.
My daughter-in-law gave me a small recipe book published with recipes especially for Thanksgiving. I spent time checking the recipes choosing what I could incorporate into our holiday meal. What I liked about this recipe is that it could be made the day before, refrigerated, does not require kneading and does save time. Mix the dough the day prior and you are still able to bake just before serving. Nothing draws people to the kitchen like the aroma of yeast dough baking.
1 pkg. (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water, divided
2 egg whites
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Melted butter, optional
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add yeast mixture, honey, oil, salt, whole wheat flour, and remaining water. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes or until smooth. Stir in enough all purpose flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky). Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a well floured surface; divide in half. Shape each portion into nine balls. To form knots, roll each ball into a 10 inch rope; tie into a knot. Tuck ends under. Place rolls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 50 minutes. Bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter if desired.
The Pagoda The Reflection Water of Flowing Fragrances
The Fresh Water Pavilion Tea House
Garden Of Flowing Fragrances
Liu Fang Yuan translated means the Garden of Flowing Fragrances. A Chinese Garden is often compared to a work of art; a scroll painting composed of carefully arranged scenes. As you stroll through its pathways and pavilions, new vistas are revealed as if the scroll were being slowly turned. In the garden as in the painting several elements play a key role. Carvings of bamboo, pine, and plum blossoms are used to adorn ceilings. In Chinese literature these plant represent unity in perseverance, courage, and endurance because they flourish in the cold season. The water represents the ever changing, the rocks create harmony in the garden, balancing the ying and yang.
The weathered limestone rocks from Lake Tai line the waters edge evoking the craggy mountains of the Chinese landscape painting. Water creates an added visual dimension to the garden by reflecting the changing mood of the light, sky, and the clouds. True to the authentic nature of a Chinese garden it respects the site on which it is built.
Opened in 2007, the Garden Of Flowing Fragrance was built in the canyon north of the Japanese Garden. The area was the collecting point for water after a rainfall and deemed a perfect setting.
The Gardens cover nine acres of a canyon. The five room home in the top photo is a copy of an upper class home. The dining room is furnished with the typical pillows for seats on the floor at a low table appointed with a tea service and tableware. The home is completed with typical furnishings throughout. The Drum Bridge or Moon Bridge is a copy of an authentic pedestrian bridge.
The Dry Garden in the lower photo which is designed in gravel and used for meditation has a very serene setting. Located in an area behind the Dry Garden is the collection of the Bonsai Trees. The entire garden gives one the feeling of peace as everything is designed in balance and harmony.
The Entrance To The Rose Garden
Tea In The Rose Garden Tea RoomTea In The The Rose Garden Tea Room
The Huntington Estate Rose Garden
One hundred thirty acres of the Huntington Estate is dedicated to botanical. The fifteen specialized gardens are arranged within a park-like landscape of rolling lawns. Among the most remarkable are the Desert Garden, a large outdoor grouping of mature cacti, the Japanese Garden, the Chinese Garden, and the Rose Garden. The Camellia collection is the largest in the world. Other important botanical attractions include the Subtropical, Herb, and Palm gardens.
The Rose Garden shows the history of roses covering a 2000 year history of the Rose. The Rose Garden Tea Room which serves tea daily is a special treat for visitors.
Viewing the home of the Huntington's left me wondering where they went to be comfortable. The chairs in the formal living room were museum pieces of the French Provincial style covered with beautiful French tapestry . The living room lacked the cozy look. The dining room had a warmer feel as sunlight streamed through the tall windows. In 1934 a 2,900 square foot hall was added to the home to display the GG Grand Manner portraits. Now called "The Thornton Art Gallery" it is home to Gainsborough's Blueboy and Lawrence's Pinky. Interesting to me was the fact that when Henry Huntington bought "The Blue Boy" for over $700,000, it was the highest price ever paid for a work of art at that time. Pinky is the portrait of a young girl from Jamaica. The story is that she died shortly after the painting was completed. Blue Boy is a stunning work of a 12 year old lad posing in a velvet suit. The folds of the fabric are so exquisitely shaded and painted to appear with dimension.
Surprising to me was a view of the chapel. It was a very small room in an obscure area of the residence. The art glass windows were striking.
To heighten one's understanding and appreciation of the 51,000 pieces of Huntington art collection of which only 1200 objects are on display at any one time, free audio tours are available. Major pieces have a brief explaination.
One Of Two Brass Sculptures On The Terrace or Outdoor Living Room
The View Of The San Gabriel Mountains From The Terrace
The Outdoor Living Room
Click on photos to enlarge.
When planning his residence, Henry Huntington first envisioned a more modest retreat. Arabella Huntington, his uncle's widow whom he would marry in 1913 was looking for a scale similar to her own lavish residences. Ultimately the residence came to some 55,000 square feet, with the north facade reflecting her affinity for Paris and French architecture, and the south facade emerging Mediterranean style of the 20-century California.
The loggia on the east side of the house represents a concession by the architect. Archival documents show that Myron Hunt preferred a modest terrace on the east side: Henry Huntington envisioned a bolder, more spacious "outdoor living room." Huntington ultimately prevailed.
The guests would arrive from the north side in a somewhat modest area where their luggage could be stowed with closets as needed.
Tomorrow I will post the photos from the interior of the Huntington Estate.
Our daughters Barbara and Anne encouraged the origin of Dine With Donna. Dining is not all about food but encompasses enjoyable conversation. Since photography is an interest of mine, I chose to add postings that could be interpreted as conversation allowing me to share with my readers other experiences.