Christmas – New Recipes
November 27, 2009
Hello from Arta.
Here is something new for Christmas, seen first at the Highwood Dining Room last Thursday. The Highwood (a Southern Alberta Institute of Technology run restaurant), train their students in the restaurant business. By some miracle, Wyona booked their Christmas buffet. The room was decorated with German nutcrackers on every table and seasonal music was piped into the room – a good starter for the Christmas season for us. One of the charms of the event is that the salad bar, the dessert bar and the entrée counter are all serviced with students who are experts, having created the very food they are serving for that day. I was interested in an artichoke stuffed with salmon-flavoured cream cheese that was sitting on a mirrored tray. Wyona loved the sauce on the pork, a reduction of beautifully mixed flavours.
The first order of the day was the waiter offering drinks from the bar. Water, we say, water for all of us, but we like to listen to what the bar is serving for the day and they like to practice offering their selections. Thursday the drink sounded so interesting, Wyona ordered the mocktail. We asked the server for its ingredients:
I. SAIT Mocktail
Equal parts cranberry juice, orange juice and pineapple juice
One splash of ginger ale
One squeeze of lemon juice
To be served in a beautiful glass with a seasonal straw and 3 floating cranberries.
Having most of the juices at home, I stopped by the Coop to pick up fresh cranberries. I am on my third round of days serving that drink at home – warning people that I prefer the floating cranberries in the drink to be decorative. I have also been floating cranberries in glasses of water. Why not? ‘Tis the season to be festive.
An orange-flavored, chocolate-dipped cheesecake lollipop was the piece de resistance at the buffet table. When I find a dessert that I want to imitate at home, I usually check with the student at the dessert bar who will tell me how to make the item I am asking about.
Last year I discovered that the raspberry coulis on the chocolate mousse was a flavor combination made in heaven. In the summertime of 2009, whenever I was picking raspberries, I was thinking about how to make them into a raspberry coulis to serve at Christmas on a Belgium chocolate mousse. I was usually eating the raspberries as I fast as I was picking them, and did not get enough of them frozen to get my coulis plan into action. But I think I am going to bring the lollipop to life this Christmas season.
II. Orange-flavored, Chocolate-dipped Cheesecake Lollipop
- Create the filling for an orange flavoured cheesecake. The SAIT cook used the essence of orange as the flavoring. I was thinking she might have used an orange liqueur but she assured me that the brilliant flavor was oil of orange.
- Freeze the filling.
- When frozen, scoop the filling into a circle using a melon baller.
- Insert a popsicle stick.
- Dip the centre in melted chocolate to which has been added some butter. (I wouldn’t have thought of that addition, but the chocolate coating did not crack when I bit into it as a chocolate covered ice-cream from the Dairy Queen might. I haven’t figured out how much butter to add yet. The smoothness of the chocolate has to be something like a truffle, but a little firmer. )
Last night, when shopping at Winners, I found myself buying a melon baller that might be the right size for the orange-flavored, chocolate-dipped cheesecake lollipop that has been on my mind. Wyona said that she is going to create the cheesecake filling this week, before she goes to London on the 6th of December. I hope we aren’t both just dreaming.
I have been thinking about the method of coating the lollipop, fearing that the centre will slip off of the stick when I put it in the chocolate. I have concluded that I should place the product on a fork, immerse it in the chocolate/butter solution, slip the dipped lollipop off of the fork onto a wax-paper lined tray and refreeze it.
III. White Chocolate Lollipop with a burst of Salted Pistachios
Doral told me that his trip to Las Vegas involved food that was four times saltier than his regular fare at home. He wondered if all of that salt isn’t adding to the U.S. national weight problem. His talk of the saltiness of the food reminded me of another confection they have been serving at SAIT: a free-form lollipop which I find too salty.
With a spatula, make a dash of chocolate on wax paper and lay a stick into the chocolate. At the base of the free form (which looks something like a tulip petal, though probably 4 inches high), embed some crushed, salted pistachios.
I didn’t like the taste of the salty pistachios in the chocolate, but when shopping at Winners again last night, I came across some chocolate dipped pretzels and was reminded that mixing the saltiness of some food with chocolate is also an old and honoured Christmas confection.
Have fun in the kitchen.