CI Newsletter - Dec. Edition
Dec 21, 2000 08:17 PST
- December 2000, Holiday Edition
Welcome to the holiday edition of the Cuisine International Newsletter.
The foods of Christmas have been a very important part of my life. As a
child, my English and Swedish heritage were always celebrated by my
parents. We baked a variety of Swedish and gingerbread cookies and had
an English trifle along with the traditional stuffed turkey. When I had
my own family, we would often choose a different country to celebrate
with foods, customs and decorations on the Christmas tree. One very
special year we even went to Mexico City for Christmas to be part of an
authentic celebration. This year I have asked several of our Cuisine
International schools to share their favorite holiday recipes and
customs with us. Please enjoy.
Dick, Craig, Amy and I wish you a wonderful and peaceful holiday with
your families and friends.
Christmas in Italy
The Christmas holiday foods vary widely throughout the regions of Italy
and Christmas Eve lasts for several hours. In historical times it was
meatless but this is not always adhered to. In southern Italy and in
Venice, eel is generally the main course. Other fish commonly used are
calamari, codfish and clams. On Christmas day, most Italians begin
their dinner with soup such as tortellini in brodo. Turkey or ham are
generally the main course. Panettone is served in nearly every Italian
region and can be purchased in food shops throughout the country.
Betsy Oppenneer, a dear friend and the best bread baker I have ever
studied under, makes this wonderful version of Panettone given to her by
an elderly Italian lady. You can find this recipe in her book, "Breads
From Betsy's Kitchen." Visit her website to see where she will be
teaching and be sure to take advantage of her expertise.
- ¼ cup 110 degree water
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1½ cups 110 degree milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup soft, unsalted butter
- 5 cups bread flour, approximately
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds
- ¾ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup pistachio nuts
- ½ cup candied lemon peel
- ¼ cup candied citron
- 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
In a large bowl, soften the yeast in the water. Add the
milk, sugar, salt, butter, 1 cup flour and beat
vigorously for 2 minutes. Gradually add remaining flour,
a little at a time until you have a kneadable dough.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and
elastic. Put into an oiled bowl, turn once to oil the
top, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled in
size, about 1 hour.
With a mortar and pestle, crush the anise seeds. Combine
the crushed seeds, raisins, nuts, lemon peel, citron,
and orange peel; mix well. Turn the dough out onto a
well-oiled board and knead in the fruit and nut mixture.
Let rest 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, punch a
large hole in the center and slip the dough over the
center tube of a High Tube Pan. Cover the dough with a
towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 60
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the
internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. Immediately
remove from the pan and cool on a rack.
Another very popular dessert served during the Holiday season is a
special fruit cake from Siena called Panforte made with candied fruits,
almonds and dusted with powdered sugar. Difficult to make, it is much
easier to find in an Italian import food store.
Find more recipes at:
Christmas at Crocialoni
A Christmas Story by Buncky Pezzini
"The turkey is the first to arrive. He's not invited, of course, he is
ordered. I say 'he' because turkey is masculine in Italian, a language
in which there is no "it". While admonishing the butcher over the phone
that the animal is to be delivered to me 'integral', I know the back end
of the unfortunate beast will be ravaged beyond recognition. "Lady" the
'macellaio' sighs, "consider yourself fortunate you get a whole bird.
We sell them in pieces, you know" he repeats tiredly, shoving a large,
hurriedly wrapped bundle in my directions.
"He's going to be delicious" I tell the grandchildren, open-eyed before
the 25 pound mound of raw, Christmas dinner. Off go the last feathers
and friend turkey gets a good internal and external wash under the hot
water. Chopped celery and onions are simmering in butter on the stove
and the roll call of my Mother's ingredients follow. Chicken breast,
pork chops, sausages sans casings, Porcini [and Italian concession]
mushrooms, all slowly sauté down to diminished proportions. Then the
meat goes under the knife. The mezzaluna reduces the above to a fluffy
substance, quickly back into the pot with Marco's bread soaked in milk
[squeezed dry, no crusts] and pistachio nuts which the children have
been patiently cracking while eating half. "It's all part of Christmas,
right Nonna?" Lastly the magic herbs without which the above-mentioned
batch is not considered 'stuffing'. The days are over when we scraped
and wiped large, knobby white truffles before slicing them copiously
into the melange. Sigh! Last year the truffle dog uncovered one marble
and 2 pea-sized, inglorious pellets from under a chestnut tree."
"Spreading and stitching the skin across the bird's truncated neck, I
proceeded to stuff from his bottom until well bloated and rounded out at
both ends. Again taking twine and my ancient upholsterer's needle in
hand, I began the plastic surgery. It is important to select those
pieces of skin - the butcher provides me with a sack full - that
constitute sufficient elasticity and strength to withhold the burden of
a bulging interior. After measuring, cutting and sewing, I step back to
check out the effect. 'I deserve an Oscar for reconstruction or no?'
The children giggle.
"Trussing the legs together and passing the twine over the wings, our
turkey is a neat package. Lastly, I give him a good olive oil body
"'Are we going to put him in the oven?' 'No,' I say, 'all you pussy
cats are going to bed,' taking them by their sticky hands. 'Babbo
Natale is coming!'"
Christmas at the Luna Convento
Rosemary Anastasio, director of the Hotel Luna Convento Cooking School
in Amalfi, is British born and raised. Her very favorite holiday treat
is a ginger biscuit and she has generously given us her recipe to use in
ROSEMARY'S GINGER BISCUITS
- 3 ounces butter
- 5 ounces golden syrup
- 8 oz. Flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
- 4 ounces sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F / 180 degrees C
Melt the butter and syrup together in a pan. Sift the
flour, baking soda and ginger together and add to the
warm mixture. Stir in the sugar and mix well.
Remove from the pan and knead mixture lightly until no
longer sticky.Roll out thinly on a floured surface and
stamp into shapes. Place on a lightly greased tray and
bake in the center of the oven for 12-15 minutes. Cool
on a wire rack. The biscuits firm up when cool. Make
sure they are good and crisp. Store in an airtight tin.
If they become a little soggy after time, heat through
Christmas in Venice
From Venice, Fulvia sends the following two recipes that she uses during
her Holiday Celebrations.
WALNUT AND GORGONZOLA CHEESE TORTE (serves 8)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup flour all purpose
- 2 cups milk boiling
- ½ cup gorgonzola cheese cut in 1/4 cubes
- 1 cup walnut kernel coarsely chopped
- 4 slices rye bread
- salt and pepper
In a meduim size pan melt the butter add the sifted flour
and cook for a few minutes, let it cool then add the
milk, making a béchamel, stir until velvety and thick,
add salt and pepper to taste. Place the béchamel in a
food processor; add the cheese and process for about 5
minutes. Cut the bread in four discs, place one of them
into a spring form, spread 1/3 of béchamel then 1/3 of
walnut kernel, place another disc of bread on top, make
another layer of béchamel and walnuts, do the same for
the third time then cover with the fourth disc.
Keep into the refrigerator for 2 hours and serve after
decorating with walnut pieces set on top of some of the
SEMIFREDDO AL MANDORLATO (serves 10)
- 6 egg yolks
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ quart cream, whipped
- ½ cup raisins soaked in rum
- ½ lb mandorlato or Italian nougat cut in cubes 1/4 inch
In a medium bowl beat yolks and sugar until white, add
the cornstarch, the raisin and the mandorlato, mix all
together with a rubber spatula. Line a mold, capacity one
quart, with film parchment, poor in the mixture.
Keep in the freezer for 5 hours, unmold onto a platter,
garnish with pieces of mandorlato and holly leaves around
Christmas in Portugal
Sofie Vieira from Refugio da Vila in Portugal sends this lamb recipe.
She says it is common for 3 generations of family to gather at the
- 1 very young lamb, weighting approximately 5 kg
[a rack or young leg of lamb may be substituted]
- Sea salt
- 4 onions
- 2 carrots
- ½ liter of white wine vinegar
- Bay leaf
- Special Sauce
Prepare the meat and season it with the sea salt and the
following sauce. Slice the onions and the carrots and
put this on the bottom of the tray. Place the meat on top
and add the white wine vinegar along with the bay leaf
and parsley. Roast in the oven at 200 Celsius degrees
for about 45 minutes. For the last 20 minutes, you can
add small potatoes so they can roast with the flavour of
- 2 onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 Tsp. of paprika
- 3 Tsp. of white wine vinegar
- 1 Tsp. of sea salt
- 1 tsp. of pepper
- 2 dl of vegetable oil
Put all the ingredients in the blender for about 2
minutes. Use this sauce to season all kinds of meat and
you can use it in meat that you will grill or roast.
Christmas in Brazil
Yara Castro Roberts from Brazil serves this wonderful stuffed pork roast
along with the accompaniments of black beans and pineapple. My family
thought the recipes looked so good that we made in along with our
traditional Thanksgiving meal in order to sample it before Christmas.
It was fantastic!
STUFFED PORK ROAST KING STYLE (Serves 8)
- 1 boneless pork roast 4 to 5 pounds, cut from the loin
(ask your butcher to butterfly it)
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 Tsp. salt
- 1 Tsp. black pepper
- ½ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 large onions, peeled and cut into large squares
(for the roast pan)
In a bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients and reserve.
To butterfly the roast, place the meat vertically over a
working board. Imagine that your piece will open like a
book. Place a slender knife parallel to the center of the
meat cut it all the way to the bottom. Make sure you do
not cut all the way through. You should have the first
side of the book. Proceed the same way on the other side,
flipping the meat over in order to obtain the second side
of the book. You should have now a rectangle. Place a
plastic wrapping paper over the rectangle and pound it
thoroughly, making the surface evenly flat. Place the
meat in a recipient and marinade it for 6 hours.
- 2 ounces sliced smoked ham, cut into 1/4-inch strips (optional)
- 1 cup baby carrots (select the smallest ones)
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, cut into 1/4 inch strips
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch strips
- 12 medium size pitted prunes
- 12 apricots
- 1 cup pitted green olives with pimientos
- 1½ Tsp. oil
- 2 Tsp. mustard
- Salt and fresh black pepper
- Orange juice
Cook the baby carrots in boil water for 1 minute. Place
them in a bowl with ice and water for 5 minutes. Strain
and reserve. Repeat the same procedure with the bell
peppers. Using your fingers, flat the prunes and the
apricots and reserve. Place the meat flat on a working
surface and brush off the excess of the marinade. Spread
the mustard over the meat and start arrange the
ingredients of the filling ingredients lengthwise,
alternating the rows of ham, carrots, peppers, prunes,
apricots and olives.
Cover the meat and rows of ingredients with plastic
wrapping paper and press firmly down with your hands.
Take the paper of and start rolling the meat lengthwise
pressing down firmly to make sure all the ingredients are
held in tightly. You will have a cylinder like shape. Tie
the roast with a string until it becomes a firm solid
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the stuffed
meat in a roast pan coated with oil and sear over direct
heat on each side till golden. Remove from heat. Pour 1/2
cup of water and 1/2 cup of orange juice around the roast
pan, spread onions cut in 2 inches squares, and bake it
for 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes according to the
thickness of the roast. Baste a few times and add more
liquid to the roasting pan if needed. Let the roast cool
at room temperature of 10 minutes. Remove the strings
with a pair of scissors and cut the roast lengthwise into
1/2 inch slices. Heat the roast pan over medium heat, add
2 cups of orange juice and bring to a boil. Scrape the
bottom of the roast pan to collect all the juices. Strain
and put on a serving bowl.
Place the meat slices on a platter; garnish with parsley,
prunes, apricots, parsley and tropical flowers if
TUTU or Black Bean Puree (Serves 8)
- 1 pound black beans
- 2 Tsp. vegetable oil
- 5 garlic cloves crushed with 2 Tsp. salt
- ½ cup onion finely chopped
- 1½ cup manioc flour
For the sauce:
- 1 Tsp vegetable oil
- ½ cup red onions, cut into julienne
- ½ cup yellow onion, cut into julienne
- 3 Tsp. vinegar
- 1 Tsp. tomato paste
- 1 small can whole tomato, drained and cut into 4 pieces
- Tabasco, salt to taste
- 4 hard-boiled eggs cut in four pieces
- Sprigs of parsley
In a sauce pan Saute the onions slices in oil till
wilted. Lower the heat and add the tomatoes with some of
its juices, the tomato paste and the vinegar. Stir and
season with Tabasco and salt and simmer for a 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and reserve.
Wash the beans changing the water many times until the
water comes out clear. Place the beans in a large
saucepan, cover with water and bring it to a boil cooking
for 5 minutes. Drain the beans and discard the water.
Place the beans back to the pan and cover with water 1
inch above the level of the beans. Add salt, garlic, bay
leaves and simmer the beans for 1hour and half or until
the beans are soft. Check the liquid once in a while and
add more if needed.
Drain the beans and reserve the liquid. Using a potato
masher, mash the beans thoroughly until you obtain a
thick puree. If the mixture is too thick, add some of the
cooking liquid to help the process. The puree should be
moist, not too thick neither to liquid but of a creamy
shining consistency. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
and sauté the onions till wilted.
Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute over low heat. Add
the blended beans and mix well making sure it does not
stick to the bottom. Lower the heat and start pouring 1/2
of the manioc flour through your fingers while stirring
to avoid lumps. Add more liquid to the pan to adjust the
consistence of the puree. Taste for salt and pepper as
you keep stirring. Pour the rest of the manioc as you
stir vigorously. The Tutu should have the consistence of
a thick puree. Pour the Tutu in a serving bowl; cover
with the tomato onion sauce. Decorate with wedges of
hard-boiled eggs and parsley.
- 1 medium size ripe pine apple, peeled and cored
- 4 Tbs. butter
- 1 tsp. oil
Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium high heat.
Sear the slices of pineapple both sides until light
brown. Serve the pan seared pineapple slices with the
Tutu and the stuffed pork roast.
Christmas in France
NOEL is the French word for Christmas meaning "the birthday of Christ".
Food plays an important part in the Holiday customs of France.
Christmas Eve supper is called Reveillon, a lavish array of delicious
food including shellfish, pates and the traditional Buche de Noel, a
chocolate dessert resembling the Yule Log.
This red pepper soufflé from Alex McKay at Le Baou d'Infer may be made 6
or so hours in advance ready for it's second cooking. It is beautiful as
a starter or as a luncheon dish during the Holidays. Alex serves it
with a red pepper chutney and Tabouleh salad. I garnished it with a bit
of crème fraiche and fresh basil leaves.
RED PEPPER SOUFFLE
For lining the moulds:
- 20 g softened Butter
- 6 tbsp coarse dried Breadcrumbs
- 6 tbsp chopped Parsley
For the soufflé:
- 20 grams Butter
- 10 g Plain flour
- 70 ml Milk
- 1 large Red pepper
- 1 small mild Chili
- 1 large Egg yolk
- 3 Egg Whites
- 6 tbs Basil Pesto
- 50 grams Breadcrumbs (for the second baking)
Preheat your oven to 190 °C / 375 °F. Line six ramekins
with the softened butter and the breadcrumbs and parsley
and set aside. Place the red pepper and chili over an
open flame, turning them until they are blackened on all
sides. Place them into a bowl and cover with cling film
then leave for ten minutes. Peel the pepper and chili
then remove all of the seeds. Puree them both then
transfer the puree to a pan. Reduce the puree over a
high heat, stirring constantly until you are left with a
third of it's volume. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the
heat and whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the
milk and return to the heat, bring to the boil and add
the red pepper puree. Cool slightly then whisk in the
egg yolk, transfer to a bowl. Whisk the egg whites to
soft peaks then mix a third with the pepper mixture, add
the remaining two thirds and fold gently to combine.
Fill the lined ramekins with two thirds of this mixture,
place a teaspoon of the basil pesto in each then cover
with the remainder of the mixture. Place them into a
bain Marie of hot water that reaches 2/3 of the way up
the sides of the ramekins and bake in the preheated oven
for 8-10 minutes [the soufflés should still be slightly
soft in the center]. Leave the soufflés to cool slightly
then remove from the moulds. Transfer to a tray on top of
the 50 g. of breadcrumbs. Set aside and turn the oven up
Place the soufflés in the preheated oven for 5 minutes
until they develop a crust. Spoon the pepper cooking
juices around then gently put the soufflés in the center
of the plate. Serve without delay.
If you've had an amazing experience at a Cuisine International school
and would like to share it with our readers, please contact us! We would
love to hear from you and would like to include you in our next
Until next month, Cheers and Buon Appetito!