German Spritz Cookies

cropped-spritz-cookies-header-raw.jpgIf you’re looking for something besides sugar cookies to make with your children, you may want to try Spritz Cookies. Heather Melton, United Thank Offering Missioner, share her memories and recipe:

“My favorite Christmas cookie is a tiny, unassuming cookie from Germany.  Spritz cookies are fragile, not too sweet, and buttery.  The name comes from the German verb, spritzen, which means to squirt, so these cookies are traditionally made using a cookie press.  If you don’t have a press, or like me get frustrated with the cookie press, they also roll out beautifully.

Spritz cookies are fairly common among German families, and it seems that no two recipes are the same, except for the fact that they are handed down from generation to generation. Spritz cookies are a descendant of gingerbread cookies, and just like gingerbread, this dough is sturdy enough to be built with, rolled or pressed. I got my recipe from my German Great-Grandmother.

I think what makes these cookies so special is the almond flavor. It’s sort of an unexpected flavor at Christmas, and the light nature of the cookie isn’t what most Americans are used to around the holidays. If you have children or grandchildren, Spritz cookies are a great family activity.  I remember first learning how to use the cookie press as a teenager, and I don’t remember a Christmas without these cookies.

This is the first year my children got to make Spritz cookies with me. My children love painting the cookies.  They were very serious in their work and made sure each cookie was covered in glaze…along with their hands, our table and the chairs!”

Wisdom is a fountain of life to one who has it, but folly is the punishment of fools. The mind of the wise makes their speech judicious, and adds persuasiveness to their lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. ~ Proverbs 16:22-24


Spritz Cookies
Makes 150 small cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups Cake Flour, sifted
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 1 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 Cup + 2 T. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 t. Almond Extract (or whatever flavor you prefer)
  • 2 Egg Yolks beaten

Glaze:

  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1-2T. Milk or Water
  • Food Coloring

Cream together the butter, powdered sugar, salt, extract and egg yolks until evenly mixed.

Gradually add flour until combined.

If using a cookie press, press immediately.

If rolling out the dough, place in refrigerator for one hour to chill if rolling out the dough.  Then roll dough to ¼ inch, or a little bigger. Use small cutters to cut cookies the size of what a cookie press would make.

Cookies do not spread so you can place a lot on one cookie sheet.

Bake at 400 for 8 minutes.  Check at 7 minutes after the first batch.  The tops will be white still, but there should be a very light brown bottom.

Once cookies have cooled, create a simple glaze using powdered sugar and milk/water.  Using a paintbrush or basting brush, paint the cookies the colors of your choice.  Allow cookies to dry before packaging.

Submitted by: Heather Melton, United Thank Offering Missioner, The Episcopal Church

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Tomorrow: Br. Timothy’s Coffee Cake

Grandmother’s Chicken Tamales in Green Sauce

cropped-tamales-header-raw.jpgHow well do you know your tamales? The word “Tamale” is actually “Tamal” in Spanish, which comes from “Tamalli,” which means “carefully wrapped.” Called the Festin de Dioces (Feast of Gods) by those who made them some 2,000 years ago, they were first reported in Friar Bernardino de Sahagun’s General History of the Things in the New Spain.

A single tamale is an entire universe within Latin American food. In Mexico alone you can find hundreds and hundreds of completely different recipes. Most fall into the sweet or salty categories. Here’s just one of those recipes for you to try.

Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of honour and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures for ever. He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant. ~ Psalm 111:2-5


Grandmother’s Chicken Tamales in Green Sauce
10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1lb of pork lard
  • 2lbs tamale flour
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (lukewarm)
  • ¾ cup of boiling water with the outer skins of the tomatillos
  • 4 boiled green tomatillos (careful not to boil too long, they explode!)
  • 5 boiled serrano peppers (depending on how hot you want it, go for 10 even!)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • corn husks wet, as needed (some depends on if you wrap in one or two)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Filling Preparation
In a blender mix the tomatillos, garlic and onion.
Heat a little bit of the lard in a frying pan and then add the mixed green sauce.

Boil the chicken breasts. Once cooked, pull them apart and add to the green sauce with a little of the chicken broth. (Save the rest of the broth for the tamale paste!)

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Boil until it reduces a bit and gets a bit thicker.

Tamale Preparation
Beat the lard until it gets spongy.

Add the tamale flour and some of the broth and the tomatillo skin water until you arrive at a pretty consistent paste.

Add salt to your taste.

Keep beating. You’ll know it’s ready when you put a bit in water and it floats.

Final steps
Put some of the tamale paste (about a large round spoonful) in a wet corn husk.

Add some of the filling to the middle.

Wrap the tamale. And repeat until all are done.

Steam cook for about an hour.

Submitted by: Fr. Lorenzo Lebrija+, Pastor on behalf of the Bishop, St. John’s Episcopal Church, San Bernardino, CA 90026

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Tomorrow: Spritz Cookies

Savannah Pralines

pralinesMarcie Cherau, United Thank Offering Board Vice President, shares a sweet holiday treat from Savannah:

“Having moved to Savannah, Georgia, when I retired, my family became interested in some of the specialties of the region.  A recipe they have enjoyed which we make for Thanksgiving and Christmas is Savannah Pralines.”

My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, you will find a future, and your hope will not be cut off. ~ Proverbs 24:13-14


Savannah Pralines
Makes 8 – 10 pralines

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tbsp Karo syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Dash salt
  • 1 cup pecans( more if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt butter in heavy saucepan.

Stir in brown and white sugar, salt, whipping cream, and Karo syrup.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, making sure the mixture doesn’t burn.

Add pecans.  Stir and cook 5 minutes more at same temperature. (Temperature will reach about 200° on candy thermometer.)

Remove pan from heat.  Add vanilla and stir vigorously to blend.

Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper sprayed with vegetable oil. Allow to cool then store immediately in tins.

Submitted by: Marcie Cherau, United Thank Offering Board, Vice President

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Tomorrow: Grandmother’s Chicken Tamales in Green Sauce

Navajo Fry Bread & Blue Corn Mush

cropped-navajo-recipe-raw-header1.jpgNavajo Fry Bread is a staple of every Navajo diet. It is very easy to make, and the ingredients are easy to come by. Recipes are different with each person, especially with other tribes, because they have their own version of the fry bread.

The Navajo Blue Corn Mush is also a traditional delicacy. It is a main fiber source for the Navajo and can be mixed with mutton stew or any kind of stew. The mush also serves as a laxative preferred by most elder Navajo, which is why it’s mixed into stews.

These are recipes of The Rev. Catherine B. Plummer, priest-in-charge of St. Mary’s of the Moonlight Episcopal Church, Oljato, UT, submitted by her daughter Cathlena.

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. ~ John 6:35


Navajo Fry Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 2 tbsp powdered milk
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup lard

Mix flour, powdered milk, baking powder, and salt together

Add 1 1/2 cup of warm water and mix with hands. Mix until soft.

Take a ball of soft dough, pat back and forth and knead until flat and round

Put 1 cup of lard in large frying pan or skillet.

Carefully lay flattened dough into hot fat.

Let dough cook until golden brown flipping over to brown both sides.


Navajo Blue Corn Mush

Mix 1 cup of juniper leaves ash (dried and burned) with 1 cup of boiling water

Add 3 cups of water to ash and water mixture in a pot. Bring to boil then strain ashes into water.

Stir and add 4 handfuls of blue cornmeal.

Boil for 30 minutes. Stir.

Take off heat and stir.

Serve with Fry bread.

Submitted by: The Rev. Canon Cathlena A. Plummer, Canon for Communications, 1271 Mission Ave. Box 720, Farmington, NM 87499

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Tomorrow: Southern Pralines

Prepare the Way for a Creole-style Christmas Eve Réveillon

cropped-reveillon-raw-header.jpgThe First Mass of Christmas is always an exciting time, and in the old days New Orleaneans continued to celebrate once home and on through the night.  The Lord is here!  A special spread of food would be laid out to enjoy leisurely through the small hours of Christmas morning.  This was the Christmas Eve Réveillon, a custom the Creoles brought from France.

There would always be champagne, and in short time Daube Glacé became a standard item.  “Daube”, for a boiled stew, and “glacé”, as in frozen or jellied.  It would be prepared from the remnants of a Boeuf Daube enjoyed several days earlier.  Other favorite and festive food items would round out the menu, along with more champagne.

By the 1990s many restaurants in the city began to feature special fix prix “Réveillon Dinners” for the month of December.   While not entirely in the spirit of the original réveillon (which, like many other New Orleans celebrations, requires a religious observance – think Mardi Gras followed by Ash Wednesday, or Hallowe’en followed by All Saints), these dinners are popular and good.  They reflect the modern movement of the Christmas season into Advent.

Some notes about the menu from Brian Reid:

  1. Beef Stock is best made at home. To make five quarts of stock, the extra of which will make hearty soups during the cold months ahead, you will need five pounds of beef and bones.   I use about 3½ pounds of the cheapest soup shanks – not the pretty ones, but the more fatty ones from the ends.   I also use about 1½ pounds of bone in stew meat.   Place the meat and bones into a roasting pan and the pan into a 425˚ oven for two hours.   After one hour of roasting I add to the pan and its meat four onions, unpeeled and quartered; the ends of several stalks of celery; and five carrots, unpeeled and in half inch lengths.   After the two hour roasting I dump the meat and vegetables into a large stockpot, and pour in five to six quarts of water.   Bring this to a boil, then reduce to the barest simmer, and simmer like this for 10 to 12 hours.   Do not stir and do not salt the stock at any time.  After the simmering time is up I strain it through a cheesecloth lined colander placed over a second stockpot, quickly chill the strained stock, then bottle it for use.   It will keep for a week in the refrigerator, and a year or more in the freezer.
  1. I like to make the Boeuf Daube for the fourth Sunday of Advent (that’s today), a special dinner to mark the imminent arrival of Christmas.  Of course, this requires having a few days between Fourth Advent and Christmas Eve.  You’ll want about a pound of the cooked roast to remain for the Daube Glacé.
  1. The remaining foods are favorites of my household for réveillon. The meal is really like a table of snacks and appetizers, a rich affair that comes only once each year.  Christmas sweets can round out the meal, and I usually slice the fruitcake for the first time on Christmas Eve.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.  ~ Psalm 36:7-9


Boeuf Daube
(6 to 8 servings – often best when made the day before)

Ingredients: 

  • ¼ pound sliced salt pork, cut into strips 2 inches long and ¼ inch on the sides
  • Salt and pepper
  • 16 to 20 cloves garlic, minced, to make ¼ cup
  • 5 pound beef shoulder roast, or a 5 to 5½ pound bottom round roast
  • ½ cup bacon drippings or vegetable oil, or a mixture of the two
  • 2 medium-large onions, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 to 5 carrots, chopped, to make 2 cups
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 quart brown beef stock, plus ½ quart more if needed

Mix together pork, salt, pepper, and half of garlic cloves (1/4 cup) in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cut 6 to 8 one inch slits into the beef shoulder roast, and stuff the slits with the salt pork and garlic mixture.  Season the outside of the roast with salt and pepper.

Heat bacon drippings/oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Brown the roast on all sides and remove to a platter.

Add onions, celery, bell pepper, and additional garlic (1/4 cup) to the hot drippings and sauté this mixture (often called the “Trinity and the Pope’s head”) until the vegetables are wilted.

Blend tomato sauce, carrots, wine, and beef stock into the “Trinity” mixture, bring to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and add the roast.

Add stock if needed to mostly cover the roast.  Cover the pot and simmer until roast is tender, about 2½ hours.  Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Remove the cooked roast and allow to sit on a cutting board while you strain a good portion of the cooking liquid into a fat separator.  Let the fat rise to the top in the separator, then pour the sauce into a gravy boat.  Slice the roast and serve with the defatted sauce.

Serve with mashed potatoes.

Place all the leftovers (roast, strained sauce, the vegetables, and the cooking liquid) into one container and refrigerate to make the Daube Glacé (recipe below) the next day.


Daube Glacé

Ingredients:
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¼ cup warm water

Remove the remains of the roast from the refrigerated container and place on a cutting board.   Strain the liquid left in the container, leaving the cooking vegetables in the strainer and the liquid in a pot.   As the vegetables strain, finely mince or shred one pound of the beef.   (Any remaining roast can be used for sandwiches.)

Place the strained cooking liquid in a fat separator, working in batches if your separator is not large enough.   Place the defatted cooking liquid into a large saucepan and boil it down to 2 cups.  (If the defatted liquid is already at 2 cups, or is less, then add a cup or two of fresh brown beef stock, the fat removed from its surface, and boil the combined liquid down to 2 cups.)   Remove the liquid from the heat once it reaches 2 cups.

Add parsley to the reduced liquid, and correct the seasoning with salt and cayenne.

Dissolve the gelatin in the warm water in a small bowl, then whisk it into the reduced liquid. Allow this to cool slightly.

While the liquid cools combine the minced meat with about half the vegetables from the strainer and place them in an eight by four inch mold (such as a glass loaf dish), or Le Creuset’s 1½ quart pate mold.  Do not pack the meat and vegetables into the mold.

Pour the slightly cooled liquid and gelatin mixture over the meat and vegetables.   Cover this with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

Unmold the Daube Glacé onto an oblong serving plate and serve with thin slices of garlic toast.


Cheese Ball

Ingredients:

  • Two 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 10 strips bacon, fried crisp, then chopped
  • 5 green onions, minced fine
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • About ¾ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine thoroughly in a medium bowl with your hands.   Chill in the bowl for a couple hours, or overnight, then form into a ball.

Place the nuts in a pie plate, then roll the ball in the nuts to coat.

Serve with assorted crackers.


Eggs Stuffed with Crabmeat
Makes 1 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • ¾ cup (4 ounces) crab meat
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 celery ribs, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or less
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
  • paprika

Cut each hard-boiled egg in half lengthwise, and remove the yolks to a medium bowl.

Set the whites aside, and mash the yolks.

Drain and flake crab meat, checking for shell bits and cartilage. Add to the egg yolks.

Add mayonnaise, celery, mustard, salt, and cayenne to the egg yolks and crabmeat.   Stir to combine well, then spoon into the egg whites.

Sprinkle paprika over the eggs.

This recipe is easily doubled. A small container of crab meat is 8 ounces. Use 3 celery ribs if doubling.

There may be more filling than the eggs can hold, in which case the surplus is great on crackers!


Brie en Croute
8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup whole walnuts
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 ounce wheel Brie cheese
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375˚.

Defrost puff pastry at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, then unfold onto a large rimmed baking sheet.

Sauté the walnuts in the butter in a saucepan until they turn golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Stir cinnamon into the mixture and set it aside.

Unwrap Brie and place on the puff pastry.

Sprinkle brown sugar over the Brie wheel.

Top Brie with the walnut mixture.

Gather up the edges of the puff pastry, pressing them around the coated Brie. Gather the corners of the pastry at the top, squeezing the edges together.  Tie the four corners at the top with kitchen twine.

Brush egg over the top and sides of the Brie package.

Place in the oven and bake at 375˚ for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve with assorted crackers.

Submitted by: Brian Reid from St. George’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans. Brian has contributed recipes that have appeared in The Times-Picayune and other local publications. (With thanks to Karen Mackey, Communications Coordinator, The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Tomorrow: Navajo Fry Bread & Blue Corn Mush

Apricot Jam

Few jar full of homemade apricot jamIf you’re looking for a sweet taste of summer during Advent, you might try to track down some apricots and stir up some jam to go with your winter morning toast or muffins. Kathy Funk of The Episcopal Community shares her memory of making jam with her mother:

“When I was a young girl about 7 year old, my mother had me start helping  with the summer canning season. We always made several types of jams and preserves.

During the Christmas season we would deliver to neighbors and friends a jar of jam with either a loaf of homemade bread or muffins, or sometimes cookies with the jam in the center.

When my mother past away in 2003, I found some of her jam recipes. I now make the jam in the summer and store in a cool place. During the time leading up to Christmas, I will deliver one or two jars of jam with fresh baked muffins.”

My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, you will find a future, and your hope will not be cut off. ~ Proverbs 24:13-14


Apricot Jam
Makes 12 6 oz. jars

Ingredients:

  • 5 ½ cups apricots (roughly chopped)
  • ¼ cup of lemon Juice
  • 1 tablespoons of grated lemon rind
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • 7 ½ cups of sugar

Combine apricots & lemon juice; mash apricots.

Add pectin and stir well.

Place pot over medium to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Add sugar and grated lemon rind.  Mix well and continue stirring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for exactly 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Skim.

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, leaving about 1” space at the top.  Seal with two piece lids, tighten bands and invert jars 5 minutes, then turn upright., or use USDA water bath method.

Submitted by: Kathyleen Funk, Treasurer, The Episcopal Community

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Tomorrow: Recipes for a Creole-style Réveillon

Filipino Chicken Arroz Caldo

Arroz Caldo“Simbang Gabi,” a Filipino Christmas tradition, is a series of nine dawn masses that begin on December 16 and end with midnight mass on Christmas Eve in spiritual preparation for Christmas. After the daily mass traditional delicacies await church goers, including bibingka, puto (rice cakes), puto bungbong, suman sa pasko, suman sa ibos, and today’s recipe: arroz caldo.

Used as fellowship dinner dish during “Simbang Gabi,” Arroz Caldo is a hearty Filipino congee made with chicken and rice and seasoned with onion, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce and topped with crunchy fried garlic. The result is a quick, comforting bowl that’s a perfect wintertime meal (and rivals chicken soup for its ability to sooth those suffering from a cold).

He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep. Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. ~ Isaiah 40:11


Filipino Chicken Arroz Caldo (Chicken Porridge)
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup canola oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup freshly minced garlic (about 12 medium cloves), divided
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 tablespoon calamansi, key lime, or lime juice
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into 1/4-inch slices (optional)
  • 2 fresh limes or calamansi, quartered

Place 1/2 cup of oil and two-thirds of the garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic turns light golden brown. Transfer garlic to fine mesh strainer and drain. Spread garlic out on a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes.

Add ginger and remaining garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

Add chicken and cook until browned all over.

Stir in fish sauce and pepper and cook for 1 minute.

Add rice and stir until well coated.

Stir in chicken stock, running spoon along bottom of dutch oven to release any browned bits. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is completely tender and stock has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Stir in lime or calamansi juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle arroz caldo into bowls. Top with scallions, fried garlic, and egg slices, if using. Serve immediately with additional lime or calamansi wedges on the side.

Submitted by: The Rev. Dr. Winfred B. Vergara, Asiamerica Ministries, The Episcopal Church

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, visit: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/blog/advent/resources

Tomorrow: Apricot Jam