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Friday, 21 December 2012

Alumni Christmas Traditions

We rounded up our Plate to Page alumni from Weimar, Tuscany and Somerset and asked them all to share their favorite Christmas traditions, recipes and memories with us to celebrate Christmas 2012.

Our first workshop was back in Spring 2011 and it’s hard to believe we’re in the middle of planning our fourth one in Ireland next Spring. The talented, beautiful and generous people we have met through these workshops has been something the four of us cherish the most. Often they come as strangers but within the span of 3 days we leave as friends.

It has been important for us for stay in touch with them even after we said our goodbyes, often sad and tearful, and beyond the duty of the workshop. We like to “keep an eye” on how they progress and develop and cheer loudly at new successes, achievements and new feats they take on. It touches us when we receive heartfelt emails with moving words thanking us for being their inspiration … truth is they are our inspiration just as much.

We present some of our gorgeous alumni and their sensational seasonal treats and traditions.
From Jamie, Ilva, Jeanne and myself - have yourself a Merry Christmas, cherish your family and loved ones and hold them a little closer. May you have a fantastic start to the New Year and wish you a joyous, healthy and successful 2013.


Simone of Junglefrog Cooking teases with her Christmas pavlova

Pavlova with pomegranate
My mum was never a cook and hated cooking so most of our Christmas meals would always be the same; fondue with the family. Dessert bought in the supermarket. And that would be it. Not the best in terms of culinary delights I would say!
So when I went to live on my own I had to start from scratch in learning what to make for Christmas and the traditions we now have, really have nothing to do with the way it was when I was growing up.
I think one of my all time favorite Christmas dishes is this Christmas pavlova. It's very easy to make and looks so festive! I've never had anyone complain that I made it again...

Arthi of Debug Cooking presents her Double Chocolate Christmas Fruit Cake

The best thing about any festive occasion is family/friends get together. Since I live abroad away from my beloved family every year we try to spend Christmas with friends. Each of us make a dish and gather around eating and drinking all day, playing games, watching some good old movies. Since I am the official baker, I bake batches of traditional fruit cake, along with festive favourites like panettone or stollen, christmas pudding, steamed ginger pudding. We usually go to the late night mass and then have panettone and mulled wine and
chat around the tree opening gifts.
Jenn of Jenn Cuisine shares her Poached apple with frangipane cream

The tradition in my family is to try something totally new and different, to experiment.  Half of the fun of the holidays is cooking, and I've always enjoyed the times when I've been able to cook with my family.  My mom, dad and I dream up creations, hunt down recipes, and experiment in the kitchen.  This particular recipe was my first time ever poaching fruit, and was a resounding success for dessert on Christmas day.

Jasmine of Labna shares her Christmukkah cookies with the recipe here.

At this time of the year, my family starts to exhibit the most bizarre behaviours: my mother and I test doughnuts recipes and fry latkes for Chanukkah, but at the same time we whip up Christmas cookies for all of our relatives and friends, which will be carefully wrapped to make cute, homemade Christmas presents.
My mother was born Christian and she still cherishes Christmas very much, while my father is Jewish, so I was brought up in the Jewish faith, but still like "all things Christian" a lot. Being a family with mixed origins and faiths is quite weird: in December, we do our very best to celebrate both Christian and Jewish holidays, so we end up doing "Christmukkah", which basically means eight days of presents (Chanukkah), followed by one day of many, many presents (Christmas).
It feels a little strange but... an occasion for presents, family gatherings and good food is always welcome, isn't it?
Today, I share with you a simple recipe for cookies, which in Italian we call "pasta frolla": these treats will go perfectly well in any cookie box, either in the shape of a Christmas tree or a dreidel spinning top.

For approx. 50 cookies you'll need
200 g white flour
100 g sugar
100 g butter, room temperature
2 egg yolks
few tbsp milk
few drops of vanilla extract
In a large bowl, sift together flour and sugar then, using a fork, make a well in the center and add all the other ingredients, blending everything with your hands to form a thick dough.
Gather the dough into a ball, wrap the ball in cling film and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 mins; in the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 F.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface or between two sheets of wax paper and cut out the cookies with the cookie cutters of your choice.
Nicely arrange the cookies on a baking pan lined with wax paper then transfer the pan inside the oven.
Bake the cookies for 10/15 mins, until golden and easily removed from the wax paper surface.
Eat the cookies straight away or store them in a tin box.


Kate of Serendipity indulges in Chocolate and Pepper Cookie Towers

I have the Christmas Factory in full swing. This year, I’m making cards and cookies. We’re giving our neighbors cookie towers, with two or three different kinds of cookies. Don’t tell them!
Halyey of Delectable Diaries has a video post to share her divine and healthy Festive Pumpkin Pie. Don’t miss it …. yes she is just as adorable in real life as she is on that video.

Olivia takes us to Malta and serves us her imbuljuta

During this time of year, chestnuts become a must in our kitchen to make Dad's favourite Christmastime treat - the imbuljuta. Whole chestnuts bob up and down in this warm chocolate soup which is traditionally served after the midnight mass on Christmas eve or on New Year's eve. It reminds me so much of the cosy childhood nights my brother and I spent together watching a Christmas movie, just before getting ready for bed and wait for Father Christmas, who, in the meantime, was probably eating his favourite imbuljuta. Il-Milied it-tajjeb (Merry Christmas in Maltese)

Denise of TLT - The Little Things treats us with mini pavlovas

TLT pavlovas copy
These two-bite pavlovas have been part of many festive desserts I have made over the last few years. I usually bake them a day in advance, when there is plenty of time to keep precise track of oven times and to do multiple taste tests (absolutely necessary, of course!). They are very easy to prepare, look pretty and are light as a feather. Crunchy on the outside and a bit gooey inside, exactly the way pavlovas should be.


Djanira of Sunshine Table serves Ma Evan’s Nut Roast
I’ve been vegetarian for over twenty years so I’ve never eaten turkey. That doesn’t stop me enjoying a traditional roast, instead of the meat I opt for a nut roast. Today I’m sharing my mother in law’s recipe for nut roast. It’s a lot more moist than other nut roasts I’ve tried and its a huge family favourite (including the carnivores who cut big fat slices to go with their roast turkey).


What a gorgeous roundup of treats! Just lovely.

Fantastic post! I wish the Plate to Page team a Merry Christmas.

Gorgeous dishes! Wishing you all a fabulous Christmas time!! Hugs Simone

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