Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Santa's North Pole Cookbook

Title: Santa's North Pole Cookbook
Author: Jeff Guinn
Copyright/Year of original publication: 2007
Publisher/Format: Penguin Group/E-book
Subject: Holiday Recipes
Number of pages: 218

Santa!  Am I kidding you?  Halloween is just coming up this week.  But...........for those of us who are Christmas baking/cooking junkies, you can never get enough ideas about goodies for the holiday.  For several years, my Christmas giving has been centered on homemade delectables.  I have a binder (move over Mitt) full of recipes that work for me - copied from cookbooks and clipped from magazines.  Each recipe has notes about adjustments I made, who I gave them to, and where I may have found exotic ingredients. They are all then put into protective sleeves so I can open the binder, slap it up on the counter, and splash and splatter to my heart's content.

When my daily NOOK Bargain popped up in the email offering this one at a good price, I first downloaded the sample to see the table of contents.  I immediately decided this one was a "BUY" and hit the button.  It works equally well on both my NOOK Tablet, and on the Nook Simple Touch.  I will say up front, that the single drawback is the lack of photos.  There's a well defined assortment of Santa's favorites from around the world: Breakfast, Appetizers, Main Courses, Side Dishes, Drinks, and Dessert (including cookies).  Santa assures us that he has sampled these goodies as he tours around the world, and gives us a unique panoply of recipes from every continent. Santa even gives us phonetic pronunciation for words we're not familiar with, hints on where to find unfamiliar ingredients, and suitable substitutes if we can't find for example baker's cheese to make Palacsinta (pancakes) from Hungary.  Hint: use cottage cheese.
A particularly intriguing recipe caught my eye, although I'll admit I've not yet tried it.  Every year I make at least 20-25 dozen biscotti using several different recipes, so I was drawn to Karringmelkbeskuit (Buttermilk Biscotti) from South Africa.  I'm used to a double baking for biscotti, but the FOUR HOUR second bake (at 200°) is rather daunting.  They are also baked in "golf ball sized" rolled balls, not in the long dipping shape I'm used to.  I'm determined to try a batch of these.  That long bake time will certainly allow me time to read while I'm waiting.

I've made rolls similar to the Galinha de Portugal - chicken "wraps" stuffed with sheep's cheese, peppers, onions, and a variety of spices - a sort of Portuguese cordon bleu.   One we'll definitely try.  There's a variety of turkey, goose and other fowl recipes from around the world, and some seafood recipes from Italy and other areas that are well known to our family from the traditional Christmas Eve festival of the seven fishes.

The lamb stew recipe is fabulous.  I had roasted a leg of lamb on Sunday, but there was quite a bit leftover.  So I used Layla's Festive Lamb Stew from Ancient Lycia (modern Turkey).  It was scrumptious!!  The combination of the lamb, some wine and broth, potatoes and mushrooms, chopped  tomato, onion and celery, all combined with the rosemary to waft gorgeous flavors through the air as it simmered on the stove.

I've decided to make the Ensalada Navideña (Nativity Salad) to contribute to our family get together for the big day.  It's very colorful and combines several of our favorite fruits and vegetables into a beautiful celebration of produce. Here's what goes into this attractive dish:

The Salad:  
2 large beets (cook, peeled, and cut in 1" chunks)
2 whole oranges (peeled, cut into chunks)
3 bananas (peeled, cut into 1" chunks)
1/2 jicama (peeled, cut into 1" chunks)
1 (16oz ) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 pomegranate (cut in 1/2 -to extract seeds
1 head iceberg lettuce - shredded.
1 (12 oz) package almonds

 The Dressing:
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
9 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
dash salt

All these chunks should be tossed together with the dressing and refrigerated until ready to serve.

In addition to the traditional holiday puddings and fruitcakes, there is a fantastic assortment of sweets from around the world...many I've never tasted or heard of.  Cookies, cakes and the traditional Buche de Noel  from France round out the repetoire.

It's a wonderful, inspiring group of recipes at a decent price.  I just wish it had some pictures - I'd be much more motivated to make some of them.

Beth Fish Reads sponsors this weekly meme where we foodies can chat about cookbooks, cooking gadgets, recipes, or anything else gustatory. Be sure to stop over there to find other terrific weekend cooking posts


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