Central America: The Poinsettia, A Christmas Plant

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For those who celebrate Christmas in frostier places of the
world, our most used plant of the season is the Poinsettia.  You see the image on tablecloths, table runners and so forth.  And if done well, conside putting them on your Christmas table.

Poinsettia plants are native to Central America, especially an area of southern Mexico known as ‘Taxco del Alarcon’ where they flower during the winter.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

poinsettia

Recipe for Rosca de Reyes(King Cake Recipe)

Rosca de Reyes

This bready, donut-shaped cake is decorated with dried fruits and spiked with a non-edible representation of the baby Jesus. Rosca de reyes is traditionally eaten on January 6 to commemorate the biblical story of the arrival of the Three Kings(Also known as the Epiphany) Finding the baby Jesus in your slice of cake is an honor –  See Recipe from the Latinkitchen.com

http://thelatinkitchen.com/recipe/rosca-de-reyes-kings-cake

Christmas in the Philippines

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known for gorgeous Parols ( Christmas lanterns), Tarlac province comes alive Photo Credit Wikipedia

 

Christmas in the Philippines, one of two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia (the other one being East Timor), is one of the biggest holidays on the calendar. The country has earned the distinction of celebrating the world’s longest Christmas season, with Christmas carols are heard as early as September and the season lasting up until Epiphany.

World’s Longest Christmas Season

The Philippines has earned the distinction of celebrating the world’s longest Christmas season. Although faint traces of the coming Christmas arise beginning from early September, it is traditionally ushered in by the nine-day dawn Masses that start on Dec. 16. Known as the Misas de Aguinaldo (Gift Masses) or Misa de Gallo (Rooster’s Mass) in the traditional Spanish. These Masses are more popularly known in Tagalog as the Simbang Gabi. Christmas Eve on December 24 is the much-anticipated “noche buena” — the traditional Christmas feast after the midnight mass. Family members dine together on traditional noche buena fare, which includes the quéso de bóla (“ball cheese”, usually edam cheese) and jamón (Christmas ham). Usually, aside from the already legal holidays which are Rizal Day (December 30) and New Year’s Eve (December 31), other days in close proximity such as Christmas Eve (December 24), Niños Innocentes (December 28), and the Epiphany (traditionally, January 6) are also declared as non-working days. In Asia, Christmas is also the liveliest in the Philippines, since the country is one of the few predominantly Christian nation in the continent besides Russia, East Timor, Georgia and Armenia.

Food Traditions

For Filipinos, Christmas Eve (“Bisperas ng Pasko”/Spanish: Vísperas de la Navidad) on December 24 is celebrated with the Midnight Mass, and immediately after, the much-anticipated Noche Buena – the traditional Christmas Eve feast. Family members dine together around 12 midnight on traditional Nochebuena fare, which includes: queso de bola (Spanish: “ball of cheese”; this is actually edam cheese), “Tsokolate” (a hot chocolate drink made from cacao and traditionally from crushed peanuts which add a pleasant grittiness and nutty flavor*.) and jamón (Christmas ham). Some would also open presents at this time.

 

*Source Wikepedia

*-Definition of Tsokolate-Desserts come first

Chef Jamie Oliver’s Spicy Jerk Ham

ham

Easter is a ham’s time to shine, but Thanksgiving or Christmas—fuggedaboutit! “No more!” says the pig. Tired of being the other meat, your ham is claiming center stage this holiday season. Move over turkey! Chef Jaimie Oliver adds a Caribbean spin to pork with this recipe for Spicy Jerk Ham.

For poaching

  • 1 x 5kg leg of ham
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 6 Scotch bonnets, halved
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 stick of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 small leek, washed and roughly chopped
  • 3 bay leaves,
  • 1/2 bunch thyme,
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Jerk marinade

  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 8 Scotch bonnets chillies, stalks removed
  • 250ml dark rum
  • 250ml malt vinegar
  • a small bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked

Ham glaze

  • 3/4 jar good quality, fine-cut marmalade
  • 125ml golden rum

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-1098836/Spicy-Jerk-Ham.html#ixzz1eX23B000

Thanksgiving Vocabulary en Español (el Día de Acción de Gracias)

Prepare to speak Spanish on Thanksgiving by learning these words related to the holiday.

Thanksgiving-1

Keep in mind, though, that names of foods don’t necessarily translate well, or might not be understood in Spanish-speaking countries, due to cultural differences. For example, the various words that can be translated as “pie” include pasteltarta,empanada, and even pay. All of those words except the last also refer to other types of desserts, and it might take an explanation or picture to make the meaning clear to someone not familiar with the food being talked about. The flip side of that, as an example, is that while the word relleno would normally be used to refer to turkey stuffing, the same word can be used for just about any type of food filling. Someone unfamiliar with U.S. holiday cuisine may not know specifically what the word refers to without an explanation.

Click to See Listing

Portuguese Sausage Dressing Recipe

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n a spin on the familiar Thanksgiving sausage and bread dressing, this version uses linguica (Portuguese sausage), a common ingredient in Hawaii.

PREP AND COOK TIME About 1 hour, plus 30 to 40 minutes baking time

MAKES 16 servings

Marinated giblets and 1 cup marinade from
Hawaiian-Portuguese Smoked Turkey
(Click to See Recipe)
1/2 cup butter
3 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. minced fresh sage
1 tbsp. minced garlic
8 oz. linguica (Portuguese sausage)
16 cups 3/4-in. cubes coarse, crusty white bread
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley1. In a small saucepan, bring giblets and marinade to a simmer over medium heat, cover. Cook giblets 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Let cool; finely chop. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

2. Preheat oven to 375[degrees]. Melt butter in a 10- to 12-in. skillet over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion, and chopped giblets and saute, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup chicken broth, poultry seasoning, sage, and garlic. Lower heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until celery and onion are tender, 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut linguica in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/4-in.-thick half-moons.

3. Put bread cubes in a large bowl and stir in celery mixture, linguica, and parsley. Stir in 1/2 cup giblet cooking liquid and remaining 1 cup chicken broth.

4. Spoon dressing into a 4- to 5-qt. baking dish and cover loosely with foil. Bake 25 minutes, uncover, and cook until browned on top, 10 to 20 minutes more. Serve hot.

Click Here For More Great Recipes for Thanksgiving in Hawaii

Make a Mexican-Influenced Thanksgiving Meal with a Mole-Roasted Turkey

Ready to take a walk on the wild side this Thanksgiving.  Ready to shun the usual light brown glaze of your turkey in favor mole turkeyof a blackened one. They say the darker the turkey the juicier the meat. Okay, I made that up, however;  prepared properly, Epicurious says, ” This gorgeous bird emerges from the oven nearly black and very deeply flavored.”  Make mole part of your Thanksgiving Day celebration, adding a little Mexican flair to your Thanksgiving menu with this Mole-roasted turkey with chile gravy.

If you are looking at the picture and expecting the turkey to be crispy, it’s not. The mole sauce makes the skin very tender and juicy. Sides are optional, but if you are looking to go all the way with this Mexican-influenced Thanksgiving meal, stuff your bird with masa stuffing. Click the links below to learn more about making this truly unique Thanksgiving meal.  Let us know what you think about the recipes.

Making the Mole:     Mole sauce for turkey

Making the stuffing: Masa stuffing

Making the turkey:   Mole Roasted turkey and Chile Gravy

Recipes from Epicurious.com

Roasted MacFarlane Pheasant, Celery, Chestnut Stuffing

Guided by market-fresh inspiration from farmer to plate, Chef Michael McDonald’s contemporary American cuisine Pheasantcelebrates daily life. A stylish Chicago West Loop restaurant, one sixtyblue captures the essence of leisurely dining at the American table.

“I’ve learned so much during my experiences in various kitchens, from forging relationships with purveyors to getting the freshest ingredients to Mexico, to handling the stress and volume of a top notch Manhattan operation.

Chef Michael McDonald says “I’m so happy to be back in Chicago, heading up the kitchen at such a reputable restaurant.”

Yield for two persons. INGREDIENTS:For Pheasant

  • Whole pheasant 1 ea
  • celery chestnut stuffing 2 cup: see recipe below
  • 12 pcs brussel sprouts, boiled in salted water till tender, quartered.
  • Diced bacon 2 oz
  • Chicken stock 3 oz
  • Butter 2 oz

DIRECTIONS: For Phesant
1. Season pheasant with salt and pepper and sear the bird in a hot pan with a small amount of vegetable oil, turn bird on all sides to sear evenly.
2. Place bird in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes; to check make a small cut in thigh meat and juices should run out clear, not red
3. Let bird rest before cutting.
4. Cut the legs and thigh off and pick the meat from the bones, reserve.
5. Carve the breasts off the bone and reserve.INGREDIENTS:For Stuffing
Onion, chopped fine 1 Tbs
Celery, chopped fine 1 Tbs
Chestnuts, frozen is ok, chopped fine 2 Tbs
Garlic, minced ¼ tsp
Bread crumbs, course, dried 1 ½ cup
Butter, whole 2 oz
Chicken stock 2 cup
Parsley, chopped 1 tsp
Thyme, fresh, picked from stem 1 pcs
Sage, fresh, chopped 1 ps
Olive oil 1 oz
DIRECTIONS: 1.In a small pot, heat oil and add onion, celery and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat.
2. Add chestnuts, breadcrumbs, herbs, butter and chicken stock and cook all together.
3.Finish with picked leg and thigh meat, parsley and salt and pepper.
To Serve: Spoon the stuffing onto two plates. Use a ring mold if you want to make presentation better. Slice the pheasant breasts and arrange on top of stuffing. In a hot sauté pan, add bacon and cook until crispy. Add cooked brussel sprouts, salt and pepper and spoon over pheasant.

Do it Yourself: Mason Jars- Get Spicy!

Mason Jar #2

Get a little spicy with your holiday gifts and consider giving fresh salsa.  Salsa is a combination of tomatoes, chilies and other spices. It’s origins can be traced back to the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs. The Aztec lords used the spicy chili  and tomato

Image from farmandfleet.com

combination serving it on turkey, venison, fish and lobster. In 1571, the mixture was named  “salsa” by Alonso de Molina, a Spanish Franciscan priest who came to Mexico (as a child) shortly after the Cortes invasion.

Whether it’s mild or the kind that clears up both yours and  your neighbors sinuses; salsa sauce is a great gift to give at holiday parties. Make a big batch and give it to your coworkers. Now when you are making salsa and putting it in a mason jar, don’t fill it all the way up to the top and make sure there is no excess salsa around the rim. if you do not want to go through the canning process, make sure to tell the gift recipient to keep the salsa sauce refrigerated and it should last up to two months.

If you do the canning process for salsa then it can stay up to a year. See the following link to find out how to can salsa. http://www.ehow.com/how_4735815_canning-salsa.html

For both of these Mason jar gifts use a little decorative garland, mistletoe, a bow or some artificial holly to tie around or  drape your jar. Get creative! Have fun and get to giving out your mason jar gifts.

Written by Monica Johnson

Easter all Around the World

Blessing of Easter Food in Poland

Blessing of Easter Food in Poland

Easter is celebrated all around the world, whether it is celebrated with a big family dinner, religious parade, or hunting for Easter eggs. Different countries celebrate Easter in their own way. In this article the four countries that will be highlighted are Brazil, Russia, Egypt, and France. These four countries all celebrate Easter through games, religious activities, and food.

 

In Brazil Easter is known as Pa’scoa. The beginning of Pa’scoa celebrationstarts off with Semana Santa (Holy week). During Holy week, processionals are in full swing, banners and signs are made to celebrate Mary and the body of Jesus. During the processional, pacoca is handed out to all the visitors. Pacoca is like a candy, which is made from a mixture of crushed nuts and sugar made into a paste. On Good Friday

Paoca

Paoca

bacalhau is made and eaten. Bacalhau is dried and salted cod; this piece of fish is traditionally eaten on holidays.

Easter in Russian is celebrated in different religions but food is the main attraction.  In Russian kulich is made in celebration of Easter and is eaten 40 days after Easter. Kulich is a tall and narrow bread made from butter, eggs, candied fruit, raisins, and nuts. Kulich is usually iced on top like a cake and decorated. Usually served with kulich, paskha is a Russian cheesecake made from curd cheeses and is formed in the shape of a pyramid. Many dishes are made in Russian in celebration of Easter including beet salads, lapsha soup,ham in the dough, and dranikl (potato pancake).

(Russian Kulich)

Brazil and Russia are not the only ones that celebrate Easter, Egypt bakes up it’s own traditional Easter meals too.  In Egypt the Easter celebration begins with Sham el Nessin that is translated as “smelling of the breeze”. The Sham el Nessin celebrations run into the Easter celebration. During the celebrations certain foods are consumed such as slated fish, onions, beans, lettuce, and colored eggs. The main attraction of the celebrations is the baked breads. The baked bread that is very traditional is Armenian Choreg, which is sweet bread. Armenian Choreg has a secret ingredient and that is mahleb, which are ground sour cherry pits. This bread takes patients to make but the pay off of its sweet taste is rewarding enough.

kulich

kulich

France is the mother land of Culinary greatness, and in France Easter showcases that. In France after the child have played all the Easter egg games and have gone to church it then would be time for the Easter meal. The traditional Easter meal in France would consist of several courses, which are accompanied by wine, cheese, and dessert. The main course would be a braised, herb rubbed rack of lamb. After the main course a smaller more delicate course would be served such as a salad. Following that course, cheeses and baguettes would be shared around and then a delightful chocolate dessert. Speaking of chocolate, Easter eggs in France aren’t plastic they are chocolate made by chocolatiers and patissiers.

So as we can see Easter is celebrated all around the world just in different flavors. Brazil, Russia, Egypt, and France all celebrate Easter but some eat salted fish, tall narrow breads, sweet breads made with sour cherry pit, and make chocolate eggs. Once again we see that food can bring people together no matter what the occasion is, so get in touch with you heritage and celebrate this Easter with a traditional meal.

 

Work Cited

  • Abissada. “The Egyptian Kitchen.” : Sham El Nessim / Easter: Armenian Choreg (brioche). N.p., 22 Apr. 2011. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.
  • “Brazilian Easter from Around the World at EasterBunny’s.Net.” Brazilian Easter from Around the World at EasterBunny’s.Net. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.
  • “Easter Traditional Food from Around the World.” Easter Traditional Food from Around the World. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.
  • “Flavors of Brazil: The Foods of Easter in Brazil – Salt Cod (Bacalhau).” Flavors of Brazil: The Foods of Easter in Brazil – Salt Cod (Bacalhau). N.p., 25 Mar. 2010. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.
  • Hanson, Rachel. “How Do the French Celebrate Easter.” LoveToKnow. M.A. French, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.
  • Kubilius, Kerry. “Easter In Russia.” About.com Eastern Europe Travel. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.
  • Laurena. “Easter in Brazil.” Portuguese Blog. N.p., 8 Apr. 2012. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.
  • “Traditional Russian Easter Foods.” The Hungarian Girl. N.p., 9 Mar. 2010. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.