the big day is tomorrow!

i expect everyone is doing the same thing today - cooking, baking, prepping, wrapping.

i finished off my last gift this morning, a shirt for my father in law. stuffing is done, bread is rising, turkey is brining, cranberry sauce is made, chestnuts are roasted & peeled & ready for braising, and i'm just getting to work on the buche de noel (hallelujah for finding chestnut cream, which was sold out at a couple of places!) and the pecan coffee cake for breakfast tomorrow.

tonight, we will go to christmas eve service at first unitarian, then home for fondue by the tree, fruitcake, and egg nog. then, after we've hung the stockings and chased the kiddo off to bed, assembling the coffee cake for its second rise, doing a bit of calligraphy, and getting the table set for xmas dinner. i've already done the flower arrangement (in a vintage salad bowl, so it's low enough to talk over):

green roses, white zinnias, chrysanthemums and berries, cedar and pine boughs - click to enlarge

and then it will be time to relax!


a treat for all!

we just survived our annual tree-trimming party!

the biggest hit turned out to be the cross-cultural dessert: mincemeat (for xmas) hamantaschen (for purim). everyone was saying "wow, best pastry ever" and stunned to learn it was also vegan and gluten-free.

the chocolate-pecan balls (an accidental invention from last year, which i think will become a new tradition) and chestnut shortbread were also a hit.

mincemeat (n.b. this makes lots - make a batch of tarts now, and freeze the rest for more tarts later!

1 lb golden delicious apples, cored and diced finely, peel left on
1/4 cup hazelnut oil
12 oz sultanas
12 oz golden raising
8 oz candied orange peel
12 oz brown sugar
grated zest and juice 1 orange
grated zest and juice 1 lemon
2 oz almonds, chopped
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves

combine all ingredients. let steep together, covered, overnight.

spread in a glass baking dish. bake at 225f for 2 hours.

hamantaschen dough

2 1/2 cups jeanne’s gluten-free flour (and more for rolling out)
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold shortening (i used a mix of 2/3 earth balance, 1/3 crisco, but you could use butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice (from about 1 large orange)

combine dry ingredients. rub in shortening with your fingers till it resembles fine breadcrumbs. sprinkle liquids over and stir in with a fork. chill 2+ hours.

when firm, roll out with more flour, till about 1/8” thick. cut in 2 1/2” circles, put a tsp of mincemeat in the middle, and fold up the edges to look like a triangle. pinch to seal. bake 15 min at 350.

chestnut shortbread

1 cup shortening (i used 1/2 crisco, 1/2 earth balance, but you could use butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups chestnut flour

cream shortening together with sugar, beat with a wooden spoon till fluffy. stir in chestnut flour. chill.

when somewhat firm, shape into logs about 1 1/2" diameter. chill again until firm.

slice into coins about 1/4" or 3/8" thick. bake 12 min at 350.

chocolate pecan balls

2 cups jeanne’s gluten-free flour
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shortening (i used 1/2 crisco, 1/2 earth balance, but you could use butter)
3/4 cup icing sugar (plus more for coating)
2 tsp vanilla

combine half the flour with the pecans & salt in a food processor & chop finely.

cream together shortening, sugar, and vanilla. stir in pecan mixture and remaining flour. chill.

shape into balls about 1" big.

bake 10 min at 350.

let cool for 2 minutes, then roll in icing sugar and cool on a rack.