Tag Archives: christmas

Springerles

I am not a baker. I think I’ve mentioned that before. I much prefer cooking, where you have a great deal of leniency in what and how you can cook. Errors can be caught and fixed before the dish goes on the table. Don’t have a specific ingredient? No worries, just substitute something similar.

Baking… baking involves MATH. It involves a great number of ratios and exact ingredients. And after you’ve committed your batch to the oven, it’s like peering into the core of a nuclear reactor: if anything goes wrong, too bad! You have to wait for it to finish. And if you totally screwed up, there’s no fixing it.

So I when I bake, it’s for specific reasons or with very tried and tested recipes. And Christmas is one of those specific reasons where I really get the urge to bake: to satiate my nostalgia.

Springerles, baked

Among all of the cookies that my family traditionally made was the springerle. Springerles are a German cookie flavoured with anise. Traditionally the flavouring came from scattering anise seed on the cookie sheet, but my mother’s recipe calls for anise oil. After mixing, the dough, which is very stiff, is decorated using a stamp or a roller with traditional designs. (I use a rolling pin. Also, after I noticed that one of the designs looks like a dick, it’s something that I simply cannot unsee. My inner 10 year old salutes you.) After cutting the cookies apart, they have to stand and dry for a day or so before baking.

Springerles, unbaked

Because of the chilling and drying time, these aren’t cookies that you can just whip up in an hour or so. That, combined with my reluctance to bake, means that I don’t get around to making these every Christmas.

However, this year I had the time and the inclination, and so I made springerles. That means on Christmas Eve we’ll be able to sip steaming mugs of hot chocolate and dip springerles into them as we watch the cats disassemble the Christmas tree.

Aah, traditions.

Merry Christmas

Springerles
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
An anise-flavoured shortbread cookie.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: German
Serves: 30-40 cookies
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 4 ½ cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp anise oil (to taste; make sure it’s anise oil, not extract)
Instructions
  1. Using a whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the eggs until light (about five to ten minutes). Add the sugar slowly and beat until very light (another five to ten minutes). Add the anise oil and mix until incorporated.
  2. Switch to a flat beater. Sift the baking powder into the flour, then add to the batter slowly. Mix thoroughly (the dough will be quite stiff.)
  3. Chill covered for about an hour (or if you live in Winnipeg, place on your back porch for about 20 minutes). Roll the rough to approximately ½ inch thickness. Roll or press designs into the dough, then cut apart and arrange on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a Silpat.
  4. Leave exposed overnight, or until the designs on the top are dry. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies for about 30 minutes. Watch them carefully so that they do not brown.
  5. Transfer to a cooling rack. When completely cool, store in a sealed tin. As they age they will become tender. Makes 30-40 cookies.

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Christmas Goose

I hope everyone had a good and safe Christmas. Ours was, in turn, very exciting and very laid-back. My husband broke a bone just before Christmas, so the days leading up to the holiday were filled with crutches, casts, and trips to the hospital. Things are starting to settle down a bit (knock on wood), and I’m hoping there are no more disasters in the few days leading up to New Year’s.

This year for Christmas dinner I decided to make a goose. My last experience with goose was many years ago when my mother decided to do a “traditional Dickens Christmas,” ala A Christmas Carol. We had goose and plum pudding and Christmas crackers and all the other trappings you’d find when dining with Bob Cratchit and family. Unfortunately, the only tradition that survived that Christmas was the Christmas crackers. The goose, while tasty enough, was a bit of a hassle and just didn’t have enough meat for a family of five. My family has since gone back to a Christmas ham or turkey.

Christmas Dinner

However, here in Winnipeg there is only my husband and me to feed. With that in mind, we found ourselves a 4.2kg (about 9 lb) goose, and I started researching how to cook it.

I used my experience with the duck several years ago as a starting point. Waterfowl are naturally fatty birds, with a layer of fat just under the skin to keep them warm in chilly water. The first thing I found when I unwrapped our goose a few days before Christmas was just how much fattier the goose was compared to the duck. I pulled great handfuls of fat out of the bird’s cavity, and plunked it down into a saucepan to render.

Next, I used the tip of a wooden skewer to prick the goose’s skin all over, making sure not to poke into the meat. These holes provide lots of tiny channels for the fat to run off while the bird is roasting. Then, I boiled the bird.

No, it’s ok! Several recipes recommended either steaming the bird or submerging it in boiling water for two minutes, and then letting it dry in the fridge for two days. This was supposed to help crisp up the skin. (It also made the bird a bit goose-pimply, which I found funny.)

Roast Goose, pre-roasting

On the big day, I pulled the bird out of the fridge and rubbed the skin all over with a mixture of kosher salt, lemon zest and pepper. The cut lemon halves went into the cavity along with a mixture of rosemary, sage and thyme. I also trimmed off the wingtips to prevent them from burning, and used them along with the neck to make gravy.

After setting the goose breast-down on the roasting rack, I popped it into a 425°F oven for 20 minutes, and then lowered the temperature to 325°F. After an hour at the lower temperature, I removed the roaster from the oven and drained off the fat that had collected in the bottom, and I flipped the goose onto its back. Back it went into the oven for another 45 minutes.

By this time the goose was reading between 165°F to 175°F in the thigh and breast. (Health Canada does not distinguish safe internal temperatures for chicken and waterfowl, but the USDA recommendation is 165°F for goose. It doesn’t need to be cooked as well-done as chicken or turkey.) After letting it rest for 20 minutes, we carved it.

Roast Goose

As I said earlier, there isn’t as much meat on a goose as you would get on a similarly-sized turkey. (I think part of the reason might be because they’re much sturdier birds. When stripping the carcass later, my husband found the wishbone, which was the thickest, most serious wishbone I’ve ever seen.) However, goose is the bird that keeps giving. All together, I got about four cups of rendered fat from the goose. Half is in the fridge, and half is in the freezer. This will be used for roast potatoes, sautéed vegetables, and anything else I can think of to use it on. And finally, we’ll get several gallons of stock from the bones.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and I hope you have a Happy New Year!

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Christmas Dinner in Pictures

I hope everyone has had a good holiday. We sure did! And thanks for everyone’s feedback on my poll about traditional Christmas meals. Turkey was the overwhelming favourite, probably due to the high Canadian readership. My husband posed the same question on his blog, which has a fairly high American readership, and the most popular answer there was ham. So there is a difference over the border!

One reader put it this way: “In the USA a lot of people avoid turkey [for Christmas] because everyone just had it for Thanksgiving, but of course that’s less of an issue north of the border where Thanksgiving is celebrated several weeks earlier.” Good point!

Anyway, after some discussions and logistical figuring, we finally settled on a dinner for this evening.

A gorgeous prime rib roast of Manitoba beef. We picked it up from The Carver’s Knife on Wednesday, and they “cradled” the roast for us. That means they sliced off the ribs and retied them turned around the other way, so that they cradled the roast. I used the spice rub from this post in Livejournal’s Food Porn community, and bastardized Alton Brown’s roasting method (sans pottery). The roast was juicy, succulent, melt-in-your-mouth tender, tasty, and perfectly cooked. This is a Do Again!

Prime Rib on Flickr

With the dripping from the roast I made “proper” Yorkshire pudding. I’m well practiced with making popovers, and this is the same idea: a thin batter, leavened with steam. This came out great.

Yorkshire Pudding, on Flickr

We had a bit of a backlog of potatoes from our Fresh Box, so I used this recipe for Roasted Potato Medley: Yukon Gold, red and sweet potatoes, all local.

Roasted Potato Medley on Flickr

Broccoli from our Fresh Box in a lovely cheddar cheese sauce. I wasn’t sure how much sauce the recipe I had would make; now I know it’ll be about two cups worth! We had lots of sauce left. ;)

Would you like some broccoli with that cheese?

…And we finished it off with pumpkin pie, made with roasted, frozen pumpkin that we had bought at the last farmers’ market of the year. I’m stuffed!

Happy holidays to all my readers!

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