Friday, December 14, 2012

Holidays are coming....

Store front window, picture taken in France.
With the help of DS and DH, we got the house decorated for Christmas.  I love seeing all the decorations I've made over the years come out of the boxes and take their place in the room.  I fill the empty boxes with everyday decorations that are out all year, like pictures, nic-nacs, extra dishes and kitchen towels (as I have a couple dozen Christmas themed towels).  Yes, this time of year is special to us.  We spend our Christmas day together starting with a homemade hearty breakfast.  I make french toast from the Finnish Pulla bread I make a week before.  My recipe makes 4 loaves, so 2 go in the freezer for later.  We open presents and listen to Christmas music.  Every year, Santa brings a 1000 or more piece puzzle that we build on the dining room table.  The turkey roast goes in the oven around 1:00pm while we clean up the wrapping and stack our treasures.  By 3:00pm we are sitting down to Christmas dinner with stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, roasted potatoes and parsnips and turkey breast with gravy.  Sometimes I don't bother with a dessert as most times Santa is very generous in stuffing our stockings with chocolates and goodies.  As the sun sets and the fire slowly burns down, we share our hopes and dreams for the coming New Year.  Most importantly, we thank God for all His blessings on us.  May God bless you and your family at this time and always.  I want to share some recipes we enjoy every Christmas. 

Pulla
1 pkg. dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups scalded milk, cooled
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7-8 whole white cardamom seeds, crushed 
4 eggs, beaten
8-9 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
Scald the milk and melt the butter, set both aside. In a large mixer bowl,dissolve yeast in the warm water and let sit for 5 minutes.
Stir in milk, sugar, salt, cardamon, eggs and about 2 cups flour.  Beat until smooth. Add 3 cups flour and beat well.  Add melted butter, stir well. Beat until glossy. Stir in remaining flour until a stiff dough forms.  Turn out on a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.  Cover and let rise until doubled.  Divide dough into 4 parts.  Divide each part into 3 equal pieces.  Roll each into a rope and braid the 3 pieces together.  You should have 4 braided loaves. Place 2 loaves on a greased baking tray leaving about an inch gap between.  Glaze each loaf with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Repeat with the next 2 loaves.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool slightly before removing to a cooling rack and cool completely before wrapping tightly and storing. 

Cranberry Sauce
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons orange zest
Juice from 1/2 orange (or 1/4 cup orange juice)
In a saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 3 minutes.  Add the cranberries and gently cook, maintaining the boil, for about 12 minutes stirring occassionally.  Do not let boil down and burn.  The berries will pop and get soft and thicken. Remove from the heat after 12 minutes and add the juice and zest.  Stir and let cool slightly.  Using a bowl and sieve, spoon in some of the sauce to strain off the skins and give the sauce a smooth texture and ruby color.  Transfer to a serving bowl and chill for about 1 hour before serving.  Keep covered and refrigerated for up to a week or freeze in a tightly covered container for up to 2 months.