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Archive for Christmas

RECIPE: Light, Moist Fruitcake Bundt

Sour Cream Fruitcake

Dried Cranberries

Sultanas

[1] A light, moist fruitcake for people who don’t like the dense ones, from King Arthur Flour. [2] No candied citron here, just dried fruits! Use dried cranberries instead of cherries for a seasonal touch (photo courtesy Ocean Spray). In Merrie Olde England, where fruitcake began, they didn’t have cranberries. [3] Sultanas, or golden raisins, add more brightness than their dark purple relatives (photo courtesy BT.com).

 

Today is National Cake Day. What cake should you consider?

Fruitcake of course! Even though National Fruitcake Day isn’t for another month, on December 27th, why should you wait?

We love a good fruitcake. While most people have had bad experiences with commercial fruitcakes, here’s a quick and easy solution from King Arthur Flour that is both light and moist, thanks to sour cream.

This tasty fruitcake from King Arthur Flour features a sour cream pound cake base and a filling of dried fruits: cherries, apricots, pineapple and golden raisins. If you don’t like candied fruits, this is the cake for you! Pecans or walnuts complete the picture.

  • For a more colorful cake, add 1 to 1-3/4 cups of red candied cherries to the other fruit.
  • If you’d just like a simple pound cake, omit the fruits altogether and bake it in two pans instead of three.
  • If you’re an aficionado of citron and other candied fruits, feel free to substitute them.
  •  
    TIPS

  • If using a 10-cup (10″) bundt-style pan or several smaller pans, adjust the baking time accordingly. No matter what pan(s) you use, don’t fill them more than three-quarters full, or you’ll be cleaning blackened cake batter off the floor of your oven.
  • If you’re making the cakes well ahead of serving, brush them with brandy or rum before wrapping tightly and storing at room temperature. If desired, sprinkle with glazing sugar or frost with a light glaze before serving.
  •  
    RECIPE: SOUR CREAM FRUITCAKE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried pineapple, diced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries, sour or sweet
  • 1 cup dried apricots, diced, or slivered dried apricots
  • 2 cups golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup brandy or rum, for soaking the fruit
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening or 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup brandy or rum, to add to the cake batter
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 cups walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • Optional: vanilla or rum raisin ice cream for serving
  • Preparation

    1. SOAK the fruit: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the dried fruits and the 1/2 cup brandy or rum.
    Set the fruit aside for 2 hours or longer. Stir occasionally, so the fruit absorbs the liquor evenly.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour three 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans. Alternately, line them with parchment, leaving an overhang on each side and securing the paper with metal binder clips.

    3. MAKE the cakes: In a large mixing bowl, beat together the shortening, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until fluffy after each addition. Stir in the brandy or rum.

    4. WHISK together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add half the flour to the shortening mixture, and mix well. Add the sour cream, beating all the time, then add the remaining flour and blend well. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally to be sure all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

    5. STIR in the fruits (they should have absorbed all the liquid; if not, don’t drain them) and the nuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans.

    6. BAKE the cakes for 55 to 65 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let them cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.

    7. STORE, well-wrapped, for 5 days at room temperature. Freeze for up to 3 months.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Champagne Alternatives

    Whether for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve, Champagne is a tradition in holiday homes; that is, holiday homes with means.

    Champagne, by far the most famous sparkling wine in the world, is in the highest demand. But can only be produced on limited acreage, the region of Champagne, in northeast France.

    The worldwide demand for Champagne has been increasing since the 1990s, as affluent consumers in Asia, Russia and elsewhere joined the demands in Europe and North America. Last year, about 312 million bottles were sold.

    While that may seem a lot, worldwide, 3.2 billion cases of wine were produced (2013 figures). That’s 38.4 billion bottles (54%, red wine, 37% white, 9% rosé). The number one country for volume of wine purchased is the U.S. See more wine statistics below.

    The demand for Champagne and the limited ability to produce more of it has upped the prices. The most affordable bottles are non-vintage Champagnes (blends of juice from multiple grape harvests), which make up the bulk of the market. It isn’t less good than a vintage Champagne; in fact, it best shows off the house style, since vintage Champagne by law can only include grapes from that vintage.

    Not all years produce great grapes (not sweet enough, too sweet, etc.), so instead of creating a vintage Champagne, vintners reserve those wines and blend them them to create the precise flavor they seek.

    You can buy good nonvintage Champagnes for $35 to $45.00. Our favorites are Louis Roederer’s NV Brut Premier and Champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve.

    Only Champagne connoisseurs—those who drink a lot of it and have the expertise to analyze what they’re drinking—can tell you if a glass of Champagne served blind holds a vintage or a nonvintage.
     
    HOW ABOUT BUBBLY THAT ISN’T CHAMPAGNE?

    By law, only sparkling wines made in the Champagne region can be called Champagne. This AOC designation ensures consumers that the food has been made in its original region, with specified ingredients and traditional techniques. It delivers a taste consistently and true to its nature.

    Every other wine that bubbles is called “sparkling wine.”

    These other wines offer bubbles at lower prices; and every non-expert wine drinker will be thrilled that its bubbly, from wherever. (Experts also enjoy these other sparklers.)

    Head to your nearest wine store and check the prices. Don’t hesitate to ask the clerks for their favorites. Consider:

  • Australian Sparkling Wines, such as Yellowtail Bubbles (our favorite is the Yellowtail Bubbles Sparkling Rosé), and other brands (around $10).
  • California “Champagne”: Champagne-style wines made from California grapes by French Champagne houses (Chandon from Moet et Chandoon, e.g.) are pricier, but look for All-American bottlings like Robert Mondavi’s Woodbridge Brut and Domaine Ste Michelle Brut from Oregon (about $10.00).
  • Cava from Spain (for $8.00, look for Cristalino Brut and Cristalino Brut Rosé; Freixenet is $12.00).
  • Crémant From France’s Loire Valley: This wine is made in France with the same method, just not in the Champagne region. Crémant de Bourgogne, for instance, is made in the Burgundy region ($12.00-$15.00 for many bottles).
  • Prosecco from Italy (many around $9.00-$10.00).
  • Sekt from Germany.
  •  
    Sweet Sparkling Wines

    For dessert, go for a sweeter sparkling wine, such as:

  • Amabile and Dolce sparkling wines from Italy.
  • Asti Spumante from Italy (it’s sparkling Moscato).
  •  

    Sparkling Cocktail

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/cranberry kir royale oceanspray 230sq

    Freixenet

    Glass Of Cava

    [1] Sparkling wines are made all over the world (photo courtesy Grey Goose). [2] Check out the rosé and red wine bubblies (photo courtesy Ocean Spray). [3] freixenet-cordon-negro (photo courtesy Freixenet). [4] Cava, from Spain, is a popular, affordable sparkler (photo courtesy Food & Wines From Spain).

  • American sparklers, such as Schramsberg Crémant Demi-Sec from California. There are sparkling wines produced from coast to coast. There’s also Sparkling Gewürztraminer from Treveri Cellars in Washington State.If you want to celebrate with American wines on Thanksgiving (we always do), see what your store has to offer.
  • Brachetto d’Acqui (a rosé wine) from Italy.
  • Demi-Sec and Doux sparkling wines from France (including Champagne but also from other regions).
  • Dry Prosecco (a.k.a Valdobbiadene) from Italy (in wine terminology, “Dry” is a tad sweeter than “Extra Dry,” which is sweeter than “Brut)”.
  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Sweet Cuvée and Freixenet Mía Moscato Rosé from Spain.
  •  
    WHO DRINKS ALL THE WINE?

    According to International Wine & Spirit Research, Europe and the U.S. consume the most volume, with 2013 statistics showing the big drinkers by volume to be:

  • U.S., 339 million cases
  • France, 296 million cases
  • Italy, 288 million cases
  • Germany, 274 million cases
  • China, 144 million
  • U.K., 133 million cases
  •  
    Per capita wine consumption shows the really big drinkers. In order, they are Italy, France, Switzerrland, Portugal and Austria.

    The biggest sparkling wine drinkers are the Germans, who drank 46 million cases of fizz in 2014. France came in second, at 30 million cases; and Russia, traditionally a large market for Champagne since the wine was created†, consumed 26 million cases. The U.S. was fourth, with 18 million cases, and the U.K. fifth, consuming 11 million cases—incredible given the difference in population of the two countries.
     
    HISTORICAL NOTES ABOUT CHAMPAGNE

    The region now called Champagne was settled by the Gauls around 500 B.C.E. When the Roman legions conquered the area in 56 B.C.E., they bestowed upon the land the name Campania (Champagne) because of the similarity between the rolling hills of that area with the Roman (now Italian) province of Campania (the word campania itself means “open country”).

    In the Middle Ages Champagne was a duchy, then a country. In 1284, Champagne was brought under French rule when Jeanne, Queen of Navarre and Countess of Champagne, Brie and Bigorre married the future King Philippe IV (she was 11 years old). When Philippe’s father died the following year, Jeanne became Queen of France at age 12.

    The wine grapes grown since Roman times were made into still wine†. In the 17th century, the process for making champagne was discovered and the vintners have been making bubbly since then.

    The best grapes are grown where a Tertiary period chalk plain overlaps a vast Cretaceous chalk plain that lies underneath the soil layer (it’s the same huge basin that creates the White Cliffs of Dover in England). The chalk provides good drainage and reflects the heat from the sun. The unique terroir creates the unique creamy, toasty flavor of Champagne wines.
     
    ________________
    †The original wines of Champagne, made since Roman times, were still wines. The first sparkling Champagne was created accidentally, when pressure in the bottles caused the corks to pop and sometimes, the bottles to explode. It was first called “the devil’s wine,” le vin du diable). The technique to master modern Champagne began in the 17th century, with Le Veuve Cliquot, the woman who did it. It was pricey, and became popular with royalty and nobility. The emerging middle class wanted their share, too.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Cranberry Wreath…And A Mistletoe Ball

    Christmas Wreath With Cranberries

    Mistletoe Ball

    Bowl Of Cranberries

    Ocean Spray Cranberries Package

    [1] Make a cranberry wreath for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or [2] a cranberry and mistletoe “kissing ball” for Christmas (photos 1, 2 and 4 courtesy Ocean Spray). [3] Were cranberries served at the first Thanksgiving? No one knows* (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    Sure, you can buy evergreen wreaths galore during the holiday season. But you can also have fun making your own, or as a gift for holiday hosts.

    A fresh cranberry wreath or mistletoe ball will last approximately one week. Replace the cranberries when they begin to soften.

    To extend the life of the cranberries, you can spray them with an even coating of shellac. Caution: For the safety of wildlife and birds, do not use shellac if you plan to hang wreath outdoors.

    To avoid staining, do not place fresh cranberries directly on lightly-painted surfaces or linens.

    CRANBERRY WREATH

    Ingredients

    For The Wreath

  • 1 12-inch evergreen wreath
  • 1 thin needle
  • 5 yards of strong cord or waxed dental floss, cut into five 36″ lengths
  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • Hook for hanging
  • Optional: shellac
  •  
    For The Cranberry Ball

  • 1 five-inch Styrofoam® ball (or other size of preference)
  • Dark red acrylic craft paint (or other suitable for painting styrofoam)
  • 1-2 12-ounce bags fresh cranberries
  • 1 box metal pins with small flat heads, approx. 1″ long (approx 300 quantity)
  • 1 12-18″ length of 3/4″ wide red ribbon
  • 1 48″ length of 3/4″ wide red ribbon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the wreath. Start with one 36″ length of thread and a thin needle. Knot one end of the thread and string the cranberries one at a time by piercing through the center with the needle. Secure the end of the thread with a large knot.

    2. REPEAT with the 4 remaining lengths of thread. To make stringing cranberries easier, use waxed dental floss or try waxing the needle and thread with beeswax.

    3. WRAP each strand around the wreath 3-4 times.

    4. MAKE the ball: Paint the Styrofoam ball with red paint and set aside to dry. Painting the Styrofoam ensures that any spaces between the cranberries will be less noticeable.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Lay the wide red ribbon over the top of the wreath with the ends hanging down into the middle. Pin each end of the ribbon to the ball so it hangs in the middle of the wreath. To complete, attach the 48″ ribbon at the top of the ball and tie a bow.
    ________________
    *There is no complete record of the food at the feast shared by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag in 1621. Two letters written near that time mention wheat, corn, barley, waterfowl, deer, fish and wild turkey. The Wampanoag ate cranberries and they may have brought some, but there is no direct evidence that they did so.

    HOLIDAY KISSING BALL

    Ingredients

  • 5” Styrofoam ball
  • Dark red acrylic craft paint (or other suitable for painting styrofoam)
  • 24-gauge beading wire
  • Hot glue gun/glue sticks OR wooden toothpicks
  • 1-2 12-ounce bags fresh cranberries
  • Holiday trim of choice: ribbon, mistletoe, holly, ivy, bells
  • Hook for hanging
  • Optional: shellac
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PAINT the ball with red craft paint. Set aside to dry.

    2. CUT an 18″ piece of wire and fold it in half. Push the folded wire all the way through the center of foam ball, leaving a 1” wire loop extending at bottom of ball and 3” of wire extending at top.

    3. ATTACH the cranberries to ball with the hot glue gun or toothpicks, covering the ball completely. Twist the wires at the top of the ball into a simple hook for hanging. Use ribbon to tie the mistletoe and other trim to the wire above and below the ball. Hang with a hook.

    4. INSERT a pin through each cranberry and press into the styrofoam, placing the berries as closely together as possible. Continue until all areas of the ball are covered with cranberries. TIP: Completing a section of berries close together is easier than continuing a single row all the way around the ball.

    ABOUT OCEAN SPRAY

    Cranberries are native to America, and first cultivated on Cape Cod around 1816.

    Ocean Spray was formed in 1930 by by lawyer and grower Marcus L. Urann and two other growers. Since then, the Ocean Spray cooperative has grown to more than 700 grower families all across North America.

    The cooperative’s first product was jellied cranberry sauce, followed by original Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail, hitting the shelves a few years later.

    Since 1995, Wisconsin has produced the largest crop of cranberries, currently about 57% of the U.S. total production. Massachusetts, originally the largest producer, fell to second that year, and currently produces another 23%-30% of the crop. The remaining U.S. cranberry crop comes mainly from New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.

    The U.S. is the largest producer of cranberries, followed by Canada, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Ukraine, Romania, Macedonia, Tunisia and Spain.

    Here’s more cranberry history and details of the different product introductions from Ocean Spray, and great details from the University Of Wisconsin (for example, where does white cranberry juice come from).

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Gingerbread Scone Mix

    November 21st is National Gingerbread Day…and also a reminder that it’s easy to make gingerbread scones with a $6.95 gourmet boxed mix from King Arthur Flour.

    We typically give small gifts to our Thanksgiving guests, and last year it was these scone mixes (this year it’s the Gingerbread Cake and Cookie Mix).

    The one-pound box makes 8 to 16 scones, depending on size. The mix is certified kosher by CRC.

    They’re whole grain, too, made with white whole wheat flour.

    The mix is certified kosher by CRC.

    The 1-pound box of mix makes 8 to 16 scones, depending on how you portion them.

    And you can use it to make gingerbread loaf, coffeecake, muffins, pancakes and shortcake.

    Get yours at KingArthurFlour.com.

    THE HISTORY OF GINGER

    Since ancient times, the Chinese and Indians used ginger root as medicine. Ginger originated in the tropical rain forests of Southeast Asia.

    By the first century, it had been introduced in the Mediterranean via India and became a popular spice in Rome. It fell from use with the fall of the Roman Empire fell, to return during medieval times as a spice for baked goods and other sweets.

    Ginger has been traded throughout history longer than most other spices. It was valued for its medicinal merits: it is a popular warming spice, a digestive aid, and sometimes used to treat flatulence and colic. Today, ginger is easily accessible in local grocery stores and throughout markets, but back in the 14th century it cost about the same amount as a live sheep or piece of livestock!

    Used as a medicine in medieval times, ginger became a popular holiday spice (it was too pricey to use year-round), most famously in gingerbread cookies.

    In 11th century northern European countries, it was used to flavor buttermilk drinks and over the next two centuries became used in cooking meats and in ginger pastes.

    During the 13th and 14th centuries, Arabs traders voyaging to Africa and Zanzibar planted the rhizomes, spreading the cultivation of the plant.

    Many ginger-flavored baked goods have evolved since then, from muffins to cakes. Today, we offer this recipe from King Arthur Flour for gingerbread scones: perfect weekend breakfast and brunch fare throughout the holiday season.

    THE HISTORY OF SCONES

    You may have heard two different pronunciations for “scone.” The word is pronounced “skahn” in Scotland and Northern England (rhymes with gone) and “skoan” in the south of England (rhymes with own), the pronunciation adopted by the U.S. and Canada.

    Which is the authentic one? They both are!

    Scones are traditionally connected with Scotland, Ireland and England, but exactly who deserves the honor of invention, no one knows for sure.

    Scones may well have originated in Scotland. The first known print reference, in 1513, is from a Scottish poet. However, in earlier eras, when communications were more limited, the creation of an actual item can have predated the first appearance of printed references by many years.

    Centuries ago, there weren’t newspapers that reported on the minutiae of life the way modern news sources do. There were no food columns in the local papers announcing that “McTavish Bakery has created a new griddle-fried oatcake called a scone—now available at 3 Sheepshead Lane.”

    In fact, there were few newspapers. Much of the population was not literate. So culinary historians rely on cookbooks and mentions in literature and other printed records. Given the perishability of paper, it is logical that many first-printed mentions of foods and other items may not have survived.

    What About The Name?

    One claim, probably not the best, says that scones are named for the Stone of Destiny at the Abbey Of Scone, a town upriver from Perth.

     

    Gingerbread Scones

    Gingerbread Scones

    Gingerbread Scone Mix

    Ginger Root

    Scone Pan

    [1] Triangle scones with icing. [2] Round scones with sparkling sugar. [3] Scones, pancakes, muffins and more come from one box of mix (all photos courtesy King Arthur Flour). [4] Ginger root (photo by Jan Schöne | SXC). [5] Long before baking pans were invented, scone dough was shaped into a round, cooked on a baking stone and cut into wedges. Modern bakers can use scone pans like this one from King Arthur Flour/

     
    It is a stone bench upon which Scottish kings once sat when they were crowned. The original was long ago removed to Westminster Abbey, and a replica stone stands in its place.

    Others say that the word derives from the Gaelic “sgonn” (rhymes with gone), a shapeless mass or large mouthful; the Dutch “schoonbrot,” fine white bread; and the closely-related German “sconbrot,” fine or beautiful bread. The Oxford English Dictionary favors the latter two.

    What About The Shape?

    Scones are related to the ancient Welsh tradition of cooking small round yeast cakes (leavened breads) on bakestones, and later on griddles. Long before the advent of baking pans, the dough—originally made with oats—was hand-shaped into a clarge round, scored into four or six wedges (triangles) and griddle-baked over an open fire.

    With the advent of stovetop and oven baking, the round of dough was cut into wedges and the scones were baked individually.

    Today’s scones are quick breads, similar to American biscuits. They are traditionally made with wheat flour, sugar, baking powder or baking soda, butter, milk and eggs, and baked in the oven—both in the traditional wedge form and in round, square and diamond shapes. This recipe produces a hard, dry texture.

    Traditional English scones may include raisins or currants, but are often plain, relying on jam, preserves, lemon curd or honey for added flavor—perhaps with a touch of clotted cream.

    Fancy scones—with dried fruit such as cranberries and dates, nuts, orange rind, chocolate morsels and other flavorings—are best enjoyed without butter and jam.

      

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    RECIPE: Beet Marmalade

    Talk about memorable fall foods: This beet marmalade recipe from our colleague Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog is an eye-opener.

    With its beautiful color and rich flavor, it’s a condiment that goes well:

  • As a spread with bread or crackers
  • On a cream cheese brick or goat cheese log
  • With grilled and roasted meats and poultry
  • Mixed into a dip with yogurt or sour cream
  •  
    The flavor is earthy yet sweet and zesty, with layers of flavor from the caramelized onions, orange zest and maple syrup. It may well convert beet haters to beet lovers.

    If you like to make food gifts, add this one to your repertoire.

    While the recipe specifies red beets for a ruby-color marmalade—a color that’s ideal for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day—you can also make it with orange beets as a change of pace.

    You can make canapés, or put out the ingredients and let people assemble their own.
     
    RECIPE: BEET MARMALADE

    Ingredients For About 2 Cups

  • 4 medium red beets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons 100% Grade B maple syrup*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  
    For Serving

  • Crackers or crostini (toasted baguette slices)
  • Goat cheese log, sliced in fairly thin (i.e. not thick) circles
  • Boston lettuce or baby greens
  • ________________
    *Grade B is the darkest and most flavorful maple syrup. Here are the four grades of maple syrup. You can substitute what you have, as long as it’s 100% real maple syrup.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets completely in aluminum foil and roast for about an hour, or until fork tender. Let cool before peeling. The skins should just rub right off with a bit of pressure.

    Meanwhile…

     

    Beet Marmalade & Goat Cheese Recipe

    Fresh Red Beets

    Orange Beets

    [1] Beet marmalade on a cracker with goat cheese (photo by Hannah Kaminsky). [2] Red and [3] orange beets (photos courtesy Good Eggs | SF).

     
    2. HEAT the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and add the sliced onion. Cook gently, stirring frequently for 30 to 40 minutes, until deeply caramelized and almost silky in texture. Add the orange juice halfway through, and reduce the heat if necessary to prevent burning.

    3. ROUGHLY CHOP the cooked beets and place them in a food processor along with the caramelized onions. Add the orange juice and zest, maple syrup and and salt. Lightly pulse all of the ingredients together until broken down and thoroughly combined but still quite chunky.

    4. SERVE warm or chilled.
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JAM, PRESERVES & MARMALADE?

    Check out our “spread sheet”: a glossary of the different types of bread spreads and fruit condiments.

      

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