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from Jude's Kitchen: Canadian Christmas

Canadian Christmas goodies - Judie Steeves/Capital News
Canadian Christmas goodies
— image credit: Judie Steeves/Capital News

Since I’m a big fan of cooking with local ingredients, it follows that local traditions are also on my radar—the two just fit together nicely.

And, everyone should have some traditional Christmas recipes tucked away to bring out in December, just as there are traditional recipes you bring out for other occasions of the year, such as Hanukkah, if you’re Jewish, or  for Easter.

A little book written by iconic Canadian food writer Rose Murray more than 30 years ago is one that should be on everyone’s bookshelf.

It was just revised and updated and published by Whitecap Books, and is called Canadian Christmas Cooking: the Classic Guide to Holiday Feasts.

It includes traditional dishes from the variety of cultures that make up this country, from Ukrainian Poppy Seed Bread, to German Fruit Cookies, Swiss Basler Leckerli to French Canadian Tourtiere, English Mincemeat to Danish Butter Kringle.

The only complaint I have about this book is the design. I don’t understand why anyone would choose to print the ingredients list in light red on gray stock so it’s much more difficult to read than it would be in black on white.

Despite that, this book is worth purchasing for all the memories you can make with it, and the ones it will evoke.

It would also make a nice gift, just as my book, Jude’s Kitchen would.

It features a couple of hundred recipes arranged by the seasons of the year, so you can easily make use of what's fresh and local, in season. It also includes special holiday recipes for holidays throughout the year, such as Christmas in December.

Both are the sort of gifts that will keep giving throughout the year, and may even give back to you with something delicious.

They’re available at local bookstores.

 

Rutabaga Puff

This traditional side dish can be made a day or two prior to the Christmas feast, which would really lessen the stress on the big day. Just prepare it, then cover and refrigerate, bringing it to room temperature before re-heating it for dinner.

3 c. (750 ml) hot, mashed rutabaga

1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter

2 eggs, beaten

3 tbsp. (45 ml) flour

1 tbsp. (15 ml) brown sugar

1 tsp. (5 ml) baking powder

1 tsp. (5 ml) salt

fresh-ground black pepper

fresh-grated nutmeg

1/4 c. (60 ml) fine, dry bread crumbs

1 tbsp. (15 ml) melted butter

Great a six-cup (1.5 l) casserole with butter and pre-heat the oven to 375 F.

Peel a medium to large rutabaga, chop, steam and mash.

In a food processor, combine the hot, mashed rutabaga, butter and eggs, and process until smooth.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, pepper and nutmeg and process until well-blended.

You may also mash the rutabaga with a potato masher until smooth, then add the remaining ingredients and combine well.

Spoon the rutabaga mixture into the prepared casserole.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the rutabaga mixture.

Bake, uncovered, for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serves 6-8.

 

Scotch Bars

There’s no scotch in these, but they originated in Scotland. This is a very simple recipe that even children could make, with just a little guidance from an adult. I substituted chopped pecans for the topping because I was out of walnuts.

Bars:

1/2 c. (125 ml) butter, softened

1/4 c. (60 ml) sugar

1/4 c. (60 ml) brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 c. (125 ml) flour

1/2 c. (125 ml) rolled oats

1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla

Topping:

1 c. (250 ml) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tbsp. (15 ml) butter

chopped walnuts or coloured, shredded coconut

Grease a nine-inch square pan and pre-heat the oven to 350 F.

To make the bars, cream the butter in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Stir in the flour, rolled oats and vanilla.

Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

To make the topping, melt the chocolate chips and butter together in the top half of a double boiler, a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, or in the microwave.

Spread the chocolate evenly over the baked bars and sprinkle immediately with chopped nuts or coloured coconut.

Cool in the pan, then cut into bars.

Makes 36 bars.

 

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