Christmas Recipes from Yesterday, Today
Can you believe that we’re only five days away from Christmas?
You’re probably in your kitchen and getting your goods ready for all the festivities that are still to come. But maybe, just maybe you’re still at a loss for what to make for your upcoming get-together. You’re probably thinking, a few recipes from triadfoodies in YES! Weekly would be just the thing.
Well, we got you. I’ve dove into my heirlooms and reached out to a couple of chefs for family recipes that are sure to please. These recipes don’t take too much time and all are definitely delicious.
Red Velvet Cake
This is the real thing, baby. This gorgeous cake just screams Christmas and it’s so moist, wonderful and colorful. *Note: Nothing gets me going like someone who tries to tell others that a Red Velvet Cake is a chocolate cake. Nope, it is not. It doesn’t have much cocoa at all. The cocoa is necessary with vinegar and buttermilk to create a chemical reaction for texture as well as the unmistakable flavor that makes a true Red Velvet. I’ve made this every year I can remember as it is always demanded at our family Christmas gatherings (and sometimes for birthday cakes).
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vinegar (I used white distilled)
1 tbsp cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp pure vanilla
2 ounces red food coloring
Grease and flour two round cake pans.
Sift flour, soda and salt and set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, incorporating one at a time. Make a paste with the cocoa and vinegar and add to the batter. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Add vanilla and coloring and mix well. Pour into cake pans. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until the tester comes out clean. Allow for cooling before frosting the cake.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 stick butter
1 box powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix the cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar (you may not need the whole amount—I never do), add vanilla and whip until fluffy. Spread on the cooled cakes and decorate how you wish.
Full disclosure. The red velvet pictured is by Jenni Field, author of the blog, PastryChefOnline.com. Feel free to try her recipe, which is nearly identical, except for the light and fluffy Ermine frosting featured on her website.
This eggnog is thick and creamy. You may leave out the booze if you want. It’s just as delicious but may come off very sweet without bourbon or rum. Adjust as you like. You can even make this eggnog Keto by adding an erythritol or monk fruit sweetener (which is how we do it at home). You can make it Paleo by subbing a non-dairy milk. You will want to double this recipe for a larger group. If you add rum or bourbon, it will keep in the fridge for a while. We like our eggnog warm but it’s so delicious cold as well. You don’t even have to cook the cream or heat the eggs at all, but if you’re concerned about raw eggs, this is the way to do it. This recipe serves four to six people.
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar or sweetener
1 cup heavy cream (light cream is also great)
2 cups milk or a non-dairy alternative of choice (we inverted our cream to non-dairy ratio)
1/2 -1 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh is best)
pinch of salt
4-8 shots of bourbon or rum. We used Outer Banks Distilling Kill Devil Rum with Pecans & Honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Ground cinnamon or cinnamon stick for garnish
In a saucepan, heat the cream, milk, vanilla, salt and nutmeg until just under a simmer. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks until foamy. Add a little of the milk mixture to the egg mixture, tempering them (so they won’t cook in the milk), whisking constantly. Keep adding the egg mixture a little at a time until blended well and creamy. Add the rum or bourbon now or at serving time, one to two shots per person, depending on taste. Serve warm or chill (it will thicken). Top with whipped cream and/or grated nutmeg, cinnamon.
*For even thicker eggnog, use the whites! Just whip them up separately with some sugar until very soft peaks form. Fold into the mixture. I’ve never done it this way because I think it’s thick enough, but there are many recipes that incorporate them.
Pecan Pineapple Cheese Ball
You know this cheese ball. It’s about as old school as it gets. You can totally serve this as a dip, just don’t roll it into a ball. Take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes prior to serving and serve with a simple cracker. For added flavor, season the pecans in salt and butter and roast for a few minutes.
2 8 oz packages cream cheese
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup green pepper, finely chopped
2 cups chopped pecans (1 cup to be set aside)
1 tbsp minced onion
1 tsp seasoned salt
2 tbsp Parsley flakes (fresh is best but dried is okay too)
Mix all the ingredients except parsley and the one cup of nuts together. Refrigerate in the bowl for two hours before forming into a ball. Mix the pecans and parsley together. Roll cheese mixture into a ball and roll in the pecan mixture. Allow to sit out for a short period before serving.
We asked local chefs to share with us some favorite family dishes that are great for sharing around the table.
Tim Grandinetti’s Grandmother’s Chicken Cacciatore with Potato Gnocchi
Grandinetti, who’s the owner and chef of Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar; Quanto Basta Italian Eatery and Wine Bar; and Jasper’s Southern Homestead Kitchen (at Sander’s Ridge Winery) has had the busiest of years. He just published his first book, Soulful Harvest, where you’ll find this recipe in the “Winter” chapter. He says, “It’s an Italian family tradition, hand-crafted, soul-satisfying deliciousness during the colder days of the holiday season.”
Whole Chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tbsp + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) (added in later)
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, small dice
2 red bell peppers, small dice
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, cut in half
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
red chile flakes to taste
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 can (28 oz) whole or diced tomatoes
Parmesan for garnish
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Salt and pepper both sides of chicken pieces. Dredge chicken in flour. Heat skillet to medium-high and add oil and butter. Place chicken skin side down in the pan. Brown on both sides and remove. Repeat with remaining chicken. Pour off half the fat in the pan and discard. Add additional EVOO. Add onions, peppers, garlic and mushrooms then stir around about four to five minutes. Add thyme, paprika, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Pour in wine and tomatoes, stir to combine. Add chicken back into the pan. Place the lid the on pot and put into the oven for 45 minutes. Remove lid and increase heat to 375. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.
2 lbs potatoes, baked and slightly cooled
1/2 lb all-purpose flour
1/4 cup eggs, beaten
1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Nutmeg, freshly grated, two passes over the grater.
Push potatoes through a ricer or grate. Sprinkle with flour and gently incorporate by hand. Transfer to a mixer with paddle attachment. Beat together eggs and oil and add to potato mixture, then season with salt and black pepper. Rest for 15-20 minutes. Shape into small dumplings. Each in salted simmering water, allow to float 1 minute then remove and toss in melted butter.
B. Christopher’s American Steakhouse Corn Creme Brûlée
We enjoyed this luscious side dish when we visited Chef Chris Russell’s fine steakhouse for our anniversary. It looks just like creme brûlée but it’s a savory dish, and it’s amazing. This recipe serves six.
1/2 quart heavy cream
6 whole eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup fresh shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3-4 ears of corn, sweet if you can get it. Or 8-12 oz of frozen corn (you’ll want about 2 oz per serving)
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic to taste
Here, Chris roasts the ears on the grill to give it a smoky flavor, but you don’t have to do it. You can boil it or use the frozen corn. Mix all ingredients together in one big bowl. It’ll be almost glue-like consistency.
Pour in individual ramekins or serving dishes.
Bake in a water bath (to prevent scalding) at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Once removed from oven, sprinkle with raw or granulated sugar and torch it.
Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!
Kristi Maier is a food writer, blogger and cheerleader for all things local who even enjoys cooking in her kitchen, though her kidlets seldom appreciate her efforts.