When the witches and goblins of Halloween are put away, many of us get in high gear for the holidays. The calendar relentlessly counts down to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
It is during this mad rush that our frenzied minds and frazzled bodies seek a bit of comfort from the past. It might be that snowflake ornament your daughter made in Girl Scouts. It could be a snuggly quilt made by your grandmother. Or, it may be a faded recipe card for a favorite holiday cookie that you faithfully make each year.
For Kathleen Hassett, chef and professor at Horry-Georgetown Technical College Culinary Arts Technology program, holiday memories are linked with food. "For me, I have a Scandinavian background. I think of herring, Swedish butter cookies, holiday stolen; all traditional items that my family made."
"Food is so linked to the sense of smell," Hassett says. "You smell a scent and you instantly remember an occasion or time of year." From Thanksgiving to Christmas, Hassett say cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are all front and center, both in her memory and the dishes that she makes. They say "holidays" to her.
Earthy tones in scents and flavors work especially well at the holidays for Bradley Daniels, executive chef at Croissants Bistro & Bakery in Myrtle Beach. "Cinnamon, nutmeg, sage and allspice are used more during these months. They are so associated with memories."
Daniels says that many of these spices just naturally go better with seasonal root vegetables and gamey meats. "They lend to richer, heartier dishes. Often these are foods that warm and comfort us."
We asked our chefs to provide some recipes that they make and are often featured on their menus. Hopefully some of these creations will provide inspiration and comfort to you and your family. Maybe one of these dishes will become a tradition for you, too.
Happy holiday cooking!
Chef Hassett loves this easy recipe for an appetizer for holiday parties. It is very forgiving, so if you do not have or do not like brie, use chevre cheese instead. Also, you can use a variety of preserves. All the ingredients meld together for a great flavor. This pairs well with Chardonnay or champagne.
Brie Bites with Preserves And Caramelized Onions
Kathleen Hassett, HGTC
Ingredients: (Appetizer, makes 20)
1 large sweet onion
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 small wheel of brie 4 ounces
1/2 cup preserves (apricot, raspberry, apple butter, or fig)
Add onion and brown sugar to skillet. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until onion is lightly browned. Cut the puff pastry sheet four across and five down to make 20 rectangles and arrange on a sheet tray. Cut the brie into 20 pieces and place one on each piece of puff pastry. Add a teaspoon of preserves on the brie and bake in a 400-degree oven until puffed and golden brown. Top with caramelized onions and serve hot.
Roasted Turkey Roll with Cranberry Ginger Sauce
Kathleen Hassett, HGTC
Ingredients: (Entree, serves 6)
8 ounces onions, cut into julienne
4 ounces celery, cut into julienne
4 ounces carrots, cut into julienne
2 ounces butter
3/4 ounce fresh sage, chopped
3/4 ounce fresh parsley, chopped
1 ounce fresh thyme, chopped
4 ounces toasted croutons
4 1/2 ounces egg whites
3 pounds turkey breast lobe, skinless
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
16 fluid ounces chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
24 ounces cranberry sauce
Sweat the vegetables in the butter, add the herbs and croutons and cool. Add the egg whites and mix. Butterfly the turkey breast into a rectangle shape and place it between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Pound the breast gently with a tenderizing mallet until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Season the meat to taste with salt, black pepper and herbs. Place vegetable mixture neatly in center. Roll the turkey breast to form a tight 3- to 4-inch roll. Season the turkey roll to taste with salt and black pepper. Butter generously a large piece of aluminum foil, placing the roll in the middle of the foil and wrap the roll into a round cylinder rolling the foil tightly at the ends. Place the roasting pan in a pre-heated 450-degree oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the roll and cook an additional 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Cook for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until the turkey reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees for at least 15 seconds. Remove the turkey roll from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Remove from foil and reserve the juices to make your pan deglazing. Deglaze the pan with reserved juices and chicken stock. Combine cornstarch with deglazed pan liquid to create a slurry. Add to a pot and heat stirring constantly until it reaches a boil for the cornstarch to slightly thicken the sauce. Remove from heat and keep warm until you are ready to serve. To serve: Slice the turkey roll into slices and place on a hot plate. Carefully ladle approximately 1 ounce of deglazed liquid over half the turkey and around the plate. Serve each portion with approximately 4 ounces of cranberry sauce.
Bradley Daniels, Croissants Bistro & Bakery
1/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, large
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin flesh, Canned
1 cup walnuts, chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted, plus more
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 15- x 10-inch jelly roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in the flour mixture. Spread into the prepared pan. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when touched. Loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off the paper. Roll the cake and towel together, starting at the narrow end. Cool on a wire rack.
For the filling: Beat cream cheese, 1 cup of powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake and re-roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.
Pimento CheeseDivine Dining Group
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 cup grated Monterey Jack
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 to 3 pimentos, chopped in food processor
1 teaspoon grated onion
Combine in mixer and mix until well blended. Can be enjoyed right away but it is better if it sits overnight in the refrigerator.