Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Christmas Dinner at Downton

In December we gathered for  a Christmas "Dinner at Downton".  Alisha and Emily planned out the evening and then everyone helped with different parts so that it wasn't too much work for any one person during the already hectic holiday season.  Tori decorated the table and chandelier for us and it looked perfect.  She also borrowed some awesome silver goblets from her mom that added the perfect touch to the table.  It was simple and elegant, very Downton-ish.

Holly made a delicious red punch which added the perfect touch of holiday color to the table.

Appetizers:  Carrie made Cranberry and Brie Tartlets in Puff Pastry and Mandy made Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Canapes.  I loved the horseradish in the canapes. 

Tanya made Masion Salad for us. It was light and the perfect start to our meal.

For the main course Alisha and Emily made Chicken and Mushroom Picatta with Creamy Garlic and Herb Mashed Potatoes.   Alyssa made Roasted Brussel Sprouts, and Corinne made Cheese Souffles.  Mrs. Patmore would have been proud!

GG made a lovely English Trifle for dessert.

Brenda helped us make these fun pearl and ribbon bracelets. 

Then it was onto our traditional holiday dessert exchange.  This year we changed it a bit and had everyone make mini desserts so that we could all go home with a taste of each instead of just one.  It was a fun twist and there were so many beautiful and yummy treats to enjoy.

GG made Chocolate Cheesecakes with Carmel Frosting, Emily made Lemon Poppyseed Cakes with Lemon Frosting, Corinne made Raspberry Bread Pudding, Mandy made Italian Creme Cake, Alisha made Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling and Frosting, Brittany made Oreo Cheesecake Bites, Tori made a Citrus Cream Tartlet with Lemon Curd, Tanya made Raspberry Hot Chocolate Cupcakes, Carrie made Peppermint Cheesecakes, Holly made Sweet Potato Souffles, Alyssa made Pumpkin Cheesecake with Carmelized Pecans and Pecan Graham Cracker Crust, and Brenda made Carmel Turtles.
My kitchen table never looked so sweet!

Apparently it was a wild party because it sent Brittany into labor and she gave birth early the next morning to a sweet baby boy!

Back Row: Mandy, Corinne, Alyssa, Carrie, Brenda, Brittany, GG, Emily
Front Row: Alisha, Tanya, Holly, Tori


Brie and Cranberry Tartlets
Brie and Cranberry Tartlets
Makes 45 tartlets

3    (1.9-ounce) packages miniature phyllo pastry shells (45 shells)*
1    cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
1    tablespoon orange zest
1    (8-ounce) wheel of Brie, rind removed

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place shells on prepared baking sheet, and bake for 5 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 300°.

In a small bowl, combine cranberry sauce and orange zest. Cut Brie into about 45 pieces. Place 1 Brie piece in each pastry shell; top with about 1 teaspoon cranberry mixture.
Bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or just until cheese begins to melt. Serve immediately.

Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Canapes
For the Yorkshire puddings
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten 
For the horseradish cream
  • 1/2 cup non fat greek yoghurt or non fat sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. prepared horseradish (we love extra hot to give a burst of flavour)
  • salt and pepper
For the mustard cream
  • 1/2 cup non fat greek yoghurt or non fat sour cream
  • 2 – 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard (we love grainy and spicy)
  • salt and pepper
For the filling
  • 12 slices of thinly shaved roast beef
  • flat leaf parsley, to garnish
Makes at least 24 
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Add a very thin layer of vegetable oil in each cup of a 24 mini muffin tins and heat in the oven.
  3. To make the Yorkshire puddings, blend the four and salt, gradually whisk in the milk to ensure no lumps, then add the eggs.
  4. When the tray is hot, spoon in the batter in each muffin tin and return to the oven.  Watch carefully, and cook for about 8-10 minutes until the mixture has puffed up and has browned. Then let cool on a wire rack.
  5. To the make horseradish cream, simply mix the ingredients together. To make the mustard cream do the same.
  6. Tear each slice of roast beef in half.  Loosely wrap into a rose shape and pile on each of the baby Yorkshire pudding. Add a dollop of horseradish cream to half of the canapés, mustard cream to the other.  Decorate all with a sprig of flat leaf parsley, tray and serve at room temperature.

Masion Salad
from Favorites

1 large head green or red leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn
1 cup grated swiss cheese
1/4 lb bacon cooked crisp and diced
2/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted

juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup veg oil

Whisk together dressing ingredients (refrigerate overnight for optimal flavor).  Toss dressing with salad just prior to serving.

Chicken and Mushroom Piccata with Garlic and Herbed Mashed Potatoes

NOTE: we used real chicken, milk, white flour, butter, and no capers.

Garlic and Herbed Mashed Potatoes:
1.5 pounds yukon gold or other small white potatoe, quartered
1 clove minced garlic
3 Tbsp. Earth Balance vegan butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup vegan milk (soy, almond, rice, etc.)
1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, and add the potatoes. Boil for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender.  Drain water. Add the rest of the ingredients to the potatoes. Add the milk slowly to achieve the right consistency , and then taste them and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
For the "Chick'n":
1  1/2 to 2 pckg. Gardein Chick'n Scallopinni (depending on how many you are serving)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Earth Balance vegan butter
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to season
Lay out your Gardein Vegan chicken on a cutting board and season each one with a pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the olive oil and butter Gently dredge each of the Chick'n into the whole wheat flour, and cook in the pan on each side until lightly crisped and browned. Remove from the pan.
For the Mushroom Picccata Sauce:
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil,
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion
8 ounces of sliced shitake mushrooms
2/3 cup vegetable broth
juice of 2 lemons
2 Tbsp of capers, rinsed well, and chopped up a little
pinch of salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance vegan butter
Fresh parsley for garnish
In a bowl, combine the vegetable broth, lemon juice, and capers and set aside. In the same pan that you cooked the Chick;n in, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, and add in your garlic, onion and mushrooms, and a small pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are softened. Then add in your lemon/vegetable broth mixture. Deglaze the pan a little Cook  over low for a few minutes to let the flavors combine, then add in 1 Tbsp. of earth balance to the sauce and slowly melt it in. Add your Chick;n pieces back into the pan to reheat.  Taste the sauce and add any additional salt and pepper if needed. Be careful not to over salt though, capers will add a natural saltiness to the dish.

To Assemble the dish:
Place about 1/2 cup of the potatoes on a plate. Then add 1-2 chick;n pieces per person and add top with the Mushrom Piccata sauce and some fresh chopped parsley.

Cheese Souffles

Preparation method

  1. Prepare the basic mixture by stirring one generous tablespoon of flour into 1oz of butter melted in a heavy saucepan. Gradually add just under ½pt of warmed milk, stirring until your mixture is quite smooth. Let this sauce cook very gently and slowly, stirring frequently, for close on 10 minutes. Now stir in 2oz of finely grated parmesan cheese (or if you prefer, 1oz each of parmesan and gruyère) and then the very thoroughly beaten yolks of 4 large eggs. Remove the mixture from the fire, and continue stirring for a few seconds. Now add a seasoning of salt (always to be added after the cheese) and quite a generous amount of freshly-ground pepper, plus if you like, a scrap of cayenne. This basic mixture can be made well in advance.
  2. When the time comes to make the souffle, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Have the shelf placed fairly low in the oven, and a baking sheet on the shelf. Butter 1½pt souffle dish (the size is important).
  3. Whisk the whites of the eggs, in a large scrupulously dry and clean bowl, until they stand in peaks on the whisk and look very creamy. Tip half the whites on top of the basic mixture. With a palette knife cut them into it again, slowly rotating the bowl with your left hand, lifting rather than stirring the whole mass. Add the remainder of the whites in the same way. All this should take only a few seconds and as you pour the whole mixture, without delay, into the dish, it should look very bubbly and spongy, but if the whites have been over-beaten or rammed into the main mixture with a heavy hand, it will already begin to look flat. With a palette knife, mark a deep circle an inch or so from the edge, so that the souffle will come out with a cottage-loaf look to the top. Put it instantly into the oven.
  4. As to timing, it depends so much upon the size and type of both the oven and the dish that it is misleading to give precise details. I can only say, as a general guide, that in the oven of a representative domestic gas cooker, this souffle is perfectly cooked at 200C/400F/Gas 6 in 23 to 35 minutes.

English Trifle

1 (6oz) pkg raspberry jello
1 1/2-2 cups boiling water
2 pkg frozen raspberries
2 cups vanilla ice cream
2 cups milk
1 pkg vanilla pudding
2 bananas
1/2 cup pecan pieces (optional)
1 angel food cake cute into 1 1/2 inch cubes

Dissolve Jello in boiling water and then add frozen raspberries.  Melt ice cream in Jello mixture and set aside in bottom of trifle bowl.  Make pudding and set aside.  After Jello is set, put angel food cake cubes in trifle bowl, then slice bananas and arrange on top.  Next layer the pudding.  Then top with fresh whipped cream.  Decorate with pecan pieces or fresh berries. Refrigerate.

Here are some of the recipes from the dessert exchange:

Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe from Emily Jensen and Donna McCann

1 box lemon cake mix
1 small box instant lemon pudding mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
2 tsp poppy seeds
grated lemon peel (optional)

8oz cream cheese
3/4-1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
4-8 Tbsp of lemon peel
2-4 Tbsp of milk

GG's Chocolate Cheesecake with Carmel Frosting

Caramel Frosting:2 cups whipping cream (whipped), set aside
2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. caramel extract*
1 1/3 cup brown sugar

Beat cream cheese, vanilla, extract, and brown sugar until smooth.
Fold in the whipping cream.

Brittany's Oreo Cheesecake Bites
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

*Makes 36 or more bites, depending on size

36 Oreo Cookies, divided
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
4 packages (8-ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
4 ounces white chocolate


Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, with ends extending over sides. Finely crush 24 Oreo cookies. Melt 1/4 cup butter; mix with crumbs. Press onto bottom of prepared pan.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar with mixer until blended. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each just until blended. Chop remaining cookies. Gently stir into batter; pour over crust.
Bake the cheesecake for about 35-40 minutes or until the sides are set and the center is almost set. Cool completely on a wire rack in the pan.
When the cheesecake is completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When chilled, remove the cheesecake using the foil overhang and cut the cheesecake into bite-sized pieces. Place the cheesecake bites on a wax or parchment paper-lined baking tray. Melt the semisweet chocolate and white chocolate in separate bowls (I use the microwave on 50% power, stirring frequently). Pour the melted chocolate into a ziploc bag, one for the semisweet chocolate, one for the white chocolate. Snip a small corner off the corner of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the cheesecake bars. Chill the bars until ready to serve. Alternately, the drizzled bites can be frozen in an airtight container for up to a month. Let them defrost in the refrigerator and serve chilled.

Tanya's Raspberry Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate Cake:
Devil’s Food Cake Mix
3 eggs
½ cup oil
¾ cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Raspberry Marshmallow Filling:
½ cup marshmallow cream
¼ cup raspberries, strained
1 cup powdered sugar
Raspberry Whipped Cream:
1 pint whipped cream
2-3 teaspoons raspberry gelatin
1 cup powdered sugar
1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pans with cupcake liners (yields 34).
2.    In a large bowl, gently combine eggs, oil, buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon.
3.    Stir in cake mix (sift in for easy mixing).
4.    Fill cupcake liners ¾ full and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. 
5.    Raspberry Marshmallow Filling: Combine all ingredients. 
6.   Raspberry Whipped Cream:  Beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form.  Stir in gelatin and powdered sugar until desired taste is reached. 
7.    When cupcakes are cooled, cut a cone shaped hole out of the tops and fill with marshmallow filling. 
8.   Just before serving pipe whipped cream on top and top with mini marshmallows and sprinkles.  

Mandy's Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake (adapted from PW recipe):
1C. Buttermilk
1tsp. Soda
1tsp. Powder
2C. Sugar
1/2C. Butter
1/2C. Oil
1/2C. Shortening
4 Egg yolks
1tsp. Vanilla
2C. Flour
1-2C. Chopped walnuts
1-2C. Sweetened shredded coconut
Cream together sugar, butter oil and shortening. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each one. Mix flour, soda, powder. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to sugar mixture. Add vanilla. In a desperate bowl whip egg whites to stuff peaks. Carefully fold egg whites in to batter. Carefully stir in nuts and coconut.
Bake @325 for 25-30 min.

1pkg. Cream cheese (room temp)
1/2C. Margarine (room temp)
4C. Powdered sugar
1tsp. Vanilla
Cream together cream cheese and margarine. Add powdered sugar gradually. Add vanilla.

Top with more chopped walnuts

Tori's Citrus Cream Tartlet with Lemon Curd

1/2 c. chopped macadamia nuts, toasted and cooled
3 T. sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
2 T. cold butter

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
2 t. each orange, lemon and lime juice
1 t. each grated orange, lemon and lime peel

Lemon Curd
5 large eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
4t. lemon zest
Pinch of salt

To make the lemon curd combine all the lemon curd ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and registers 170 degrees, do not boil. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap is touching the top of the curd to keep a film from forming. Cool in refrigerator until at least room temperature.

For the crust combine the nuts, sugar and flour in a blender or food processor and process until blended. Add butter; blend until mixture forms coarse crumbs.
Press into the bottom and up the sides of two greased 4-in. tartlet pans with removable bottoms. Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown (11 minutes was perfect for mine). Cool completely.

For the filling beat cream cheese until fluffy in a mixing bowl. Add the confectioners' sugar, citrus juices and peels; beat until blended. 

The lemon curd isn't part of the original recipe, I added it myself. So I just spooned in as much lemon curd as I wanted in the bottom of the crust and then filled the rest of the crust with the citrus/cream cheese filling. Refrigerate for at least and hour. Garnish with whipped cream and a small slice of citrus fruit.

Corinne's KNEADERS COPY-CAT RASPBERRY BREAD PUDDINGrecipe from: Purple Chocolat Home
1 1/2 loaves aged, white bread, or stale french bread
1 qt. heavy cream
3 C. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
5 C. raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. apple juice
In a large bowl mix the cream, sugar, egg and vanilla. Cut bread into 1 1/2 inch cubes and add to cream mixture, coating the bread well.Let stand 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to allow cream to absorb.Mix the raspberries, sugar and apple juice, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

Layer a 9×13 inch baking pan 3/4 full with the bread mix and pour fruit filling over the bread mix, spreading evenly.

Top with the remaining bread.Bake 40 minutes at 375.

Serve warm topped with vanilla cream sauce.

(If you want it to cut into nice squares you can chill it and then cut it into squares, then microwave it for 20-25 seconds per piece and top with sauce.)

Vanilla Cream Sauce

1 1/3 C. butter
5 T. flour
3 C. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp vanilla
2/3 C. sugar

Melt butter in medium saucepan and add flour.  Stir 10 minutes until it has a nutty aroma, do not brown.  Add salt, cream and sugar until mix is thick.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Serve warm over the pudding.
*This makes WAY more sauce than you need, I'd say you can cut it in half.

Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
¾ cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
½ cup Ground Pecans
2 Tbsp White Sugar
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
¼ cup Butter
Pumpkin Mixture
½ cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup White Sugar
¾ cup Pumpkin
3 Egg Yolks
1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Allspice
½ tsp Ginger
¼ tsp Salt
Cheesecake Mixture
1 8oz. pkg Cream Cheese
⅜ cup White Sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk
2 Tbsp Whipping Cream
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
½ tsp Vanilla
½ tsp Lemon Juice
½ cup Chopped Pecans
⅓ cup Brown Sugar
1-2 Tbsp Butter
Mix ingredients until butter and sugars are well combined. Firmly press into 9" springform pan.

Pumpkin Mixture
Combine in medium bowl. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Cheesecake Mixture
Beat cream these in mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar. Add eggs and cream. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Add Pumpkin mixture. Pour batter in pan. Bake for 40 minutes.

Combine ingredients. Set aside.

Remove cheesecake and add Topping. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Center will be soft. Cool completely then refrigerate overnight.