Tag Archives: Christmas

Else’s Saffron Bread

Saffron Bread tastefood Swedish Saffron Bread (Lussekatter)

I have been making saffron bread with my Danish husband since we first met and lived in Geneva, Switzerland.  It’s a charming and delicious tradition passed down from his mother, Else, which celebrates the festival of light during the dark winter solstice, Swedish-style, by forming billowy saffron scented breads into various shapes (lussekatter) and buns. In those early years, before our children were born and since my husband and I lived far from our own families, we made a point of inviting friends who had children, since this holiday isn’t complete without the help of little fingers assisting in shaping and nibbling the dough. While the bread rose, we would take a long walk in the vineyards beneath the Jura mountains overlooking Lake Geneva, before returning to form and bake the breads, which we would enjoy with  a glass of glogg or tea before the fire. Later, we had our own children to help, but we continued to invite our friends to join making Else’s saffron bread, even as we moved from country to country in Europe. No matter where we lived, this was a lovely holiday celebration enjoyed by everyone, no matter their nationality, impossible not to share with our extended family of friends.

This year, we are a half empty nest, with our oldest away at college. We continue the tradition, once again inviting friends of my daughter to help. After all, the more hands the merrier. Needless to say, we’ll also be making an extra batch of Else’s saffron bread when our son arrives home next week – but we couldn’t wait until then.

Else’s Saffron Bread
Makes about 24 buns

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar plus ⅔ cup
⅔ cup unsalted European-style butter, softened
2 cups whole milk
1 envelope dry yeast (.6 ounce fresh yeast cake)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 to 7 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins, plus extra for garnish
1 large egg, lightly beaten

In a small porcelain mortar or bowl, crush the saffron and a pinch of sugar with a pestle or spoon until finely ground.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the milk and heat over medium-low heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Place the yeast in a large bowl, the add 1/4 cup warm milk. Let stand until the yeast dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining milk and the saffron, then add the ⅔ cup sugar and the salt. Stir once or twice to blend.

Add 6 cups flour to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to blend. Add the 1/2 cup raisins. The dough should be sticky but not overly wet – if necessary add a little flour. Knead the dough until it pulls away from the bowl and is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes, sprinkling with a little extra flour if too sticky. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a warm draft-free spot, such as the oven with the pilot light on. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down and let stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough into shapes by grabbing a small handful and, with light hands, rolling out into a ½-inch thick rope. Shape the rope into an “S” shape, or braid 2 ropes together. Place the shapes on a baking trays lined with parchment paper.

Lightly brush the breads with the egg and garnish the folds and corners with a few raisins. Bake in the oven until puffed and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on wire racks. Serve warm with butter.

Holiday Desserts: Cranberry Orange Trifle with Candied Walnuts

Here is a festive trifle that will carry you through the holidays – it’s a great do ahead party dessert with show-stopping results. Buttermilk poundcake is blanketed with layers of cranberry compote, orange infused mascarpone cream, and candied walnuts. Each bite is light and airy with the pop of sweet-tart cranberries and the crunch of cinnamon dusted nuts, so be sure to get a little bit of everything in each spoonful. The best part is this dessert can be assembled a day in advance, which leaves you plenty of time to take care of that turkey.

Cranberry Orange Trifle with Candied Walnuts

While there are several components to this trifle, each one may be prepared in advance, and each one is stand alone good, so feel free to use them on their own. Serve in a trifle bowl or individual goblets. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

For the buttermilk pound cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Butter a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Add half of the flour, then the buttermilk, then the remaining flour, mixing well to combine after each addition. Pour into the loaf pan. Bake in the oven until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a rack and cool completely. The pound cake may be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate until use.

For the cranberry compote:
12 ounces cranberries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries pop and release their juices. Remove from heat and cool completely. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 4 days.

For the candied walnuts:
1 1/2 cups walnut halves
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the walnuts on a baking tray and bake 10 minutes. Heat the sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan. As soon as it begins to dissolve, stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is liquid and amber colored. Add the walnuts and stir to coat. Add the salt and cinnamon. Remove from the heat and pour the walnuts onto a baking tray lined with parchment or a silpac sheet. Cool completely then break into coarse pieces. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

For the orange mascarpone cream:
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, chilled
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier or Cointreau
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the cream and mascarpone in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire attachment. Beat until traces of the whisk are visible. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until use. (May be made 4 hours in advance.)

Assemble the trifle:
Reserve a few whole cranberries from the compote for garnish. Pour a thin layer of cranberry compote into the bottom of the trifle dish or individual serving glasses. Cut the pound cake into 3/4-inch cubes. Arrange a layer of pound cake over the compote. Top with a layer of cream. Sprinkle a few of the nuts over the cream. Repeat the layering process, finishing with a layer of cream and nuts. Garnish with reserved cranberries and finely grated orange zest. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 24 hours before serving.

Optional: Brush each layer of pound cake with Cointreau or Gran Marnier for an adult version of this dessert.

Gløgg – Mulled Spiced Wine

glogg wine TasteFood
Gløgg

Hot, spiced and boosted with wine and spirits, gløgg is an elixir worthy of the vikings. Throughout the month of December, this libation is served in cafes, doled out from street carts and ladled at social gatherings. It’s the season’s response to the cold and dark and as ubiquitous as herring. Most home cooks will make their own brew, either enabled by a mix or from scratch. This recipe is my version of gløgg from scratch, and I encourage you to try this method. It avoids the cloying sweetness often found with mixes and is remarkably easy to prepare. You don’t have to splurge on a nice bottle of wine for this recipe, but be sure it has heft.

Serves 8 to 10 friends.

For the garnish:
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/2 cup whole almonds (optional)

For the gløgg:
1 1/2 cups Port wine
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/3 cup brown sugar
Zest of 2 untreated or organic oranges, shaved in strips with a vegetable peeler
10 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bottles full-bodied red wine

Fresh orange slices as garnish

Prepare the garnish:
Combine the raisins and Cointreau in a small bowl. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours. (Raisins may be prepared up to one week in advance.  Cover and refrigerate until use). Toast the almonds in a dry skillet on the stove. Remove from heat and coarsely chop in large pieces.

Prepare the gløgg:
Combine all of the ingredients except the 2 bottles of red wine in a heavy large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until reduced to 2 cups, 12-15 minutes. Add red wine and warm over low heat with the lid on the pot. Do not let the gløgg come to a boil (lest the spirits will evaporate!)

To serve, add a spoonful each of raisins and almonds, if using, to a glass or mug.  Strain gløgg into glass.  Garnish with fresh orange slices. Serve with a spoon for scooping up the raisins and almonds.

Cranberry Fig Chutney

~ Cranberry, Fig & Rosemary Chutney ~

Thanksgiving dinner is simply not complete without a cranberry sauce. While I have nothing against the traditional cranberry-sugar combination, I often find missing an extra layer or kick of flavor – so I devised this chutney. Chutneys are concoctions of sweet and savory fruit, spices and herbs, resulting in a well-rounded mouthful that pops in your mouth. This recipe is not heavily weighed down by too many spices, so the humble cranberry shines through – which, of course, is a requisite for Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Fig Chutney

This chutney is not just for the Thanksgiving table. Use it as a condiment for roasted pork, duck and chicken. It’s also delicious when served as a condiment on a cheese board, or dabbed on crostini with soft goat cheese. Makes about 2 cups.

18 dried black mission figs, quartered
1/2 cup Port wine
12 ounces cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger (I use a microplane)
Juice and zest from 1/2 orange
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (2-inch) rosemary sprig

Place the figs in a small bowl. Pour the Port wine over the figs. Set aside for 30 minutes. When the figs are ready, place the cranberries and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add the figs and Port wine, the ginger, orange juice and zest, pepper, salt, and rosemary sprig. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, until the cranberries burst and the chutney has thickened, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Discard the rosemary sprig. (The chutney may be made up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature).

Here are a few more recipes for the Thanksgiving table from TasteFood:

Brussel Sprout Gratin
Sweet Potato Mash
Pumpkin Pecan Roulade
Cranberry Walnut Trifle

Orange Almond Semifreddo with Port Wine Poached Figs

~ Orange Almond Semifreddo, Port Wine Poached Figs, Almond Praline ~

This dessert has the whiff of Christmas. The good news is that you don’t need to wait until December to taste it. It’s really a 2-part dessert, with each component stand-alone good. Fresh figs are poached in a heady reduction of Port wine, balsamic vinegar, citrus and spice yielding intense results reminiscent of Christmas puddings and mulled wine. You could stop there and serve the figs in their stew as a simple dessert soup, but why hold back? That was my thought, when I ladled the figs and their sauce over a wedge of melt-in-your-mouth semifreddo. Semifreddo is a fancy way to describe this frozen Italian concoction of whipped cream and meringue, which, in this case, is flecked with toasted almonds and orange zest. Each bite is ethereal, light and airy, disappearing on the tongue in a teasing poof. For a little structure and lasting crunch, I topped the dessert with a shard of caramelized almond praline. Like I said – why hold back?

Orange Almond Semifreddo with Port Wine Poached Figs 
Serves 8

Semifreddo:
3/4 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Pinch of salt
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 teaspoon Amaretto or almond liqueuer
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Figs:
1 cup Port wine (or heavy bodied red wine)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
12 ripe medium-large figs, halved

Praline:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Prepare the semifreddo:
Line a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic, leaving a 3-inch overhang. Place almonds and ¼ cup sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add orange zest and salt; pulse to blend. Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until they begin to hold soft peaks. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks. Transfer to a large bowl. Beat cream, Amaretto and vanilla extract in a clean mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cream until no traces are visible. Gently fold the almonds into the egg whites until evenly distributed. Spoon into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Cover with plastic. Freeze at least 8 hours or overnight.

Prepare the figs:
Bring all of the ingredients except the figs to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil until liquid is reduced by half. Strain the liquid and return to the saucepan. Add the figs and toss to coat and submerge. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely in the liquid. (Figs may be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate until use. Allow to come to room temperature before serving).

Prepare the praline:
Heat the sugar in a heavy small saucepen over medium heat until sugar melts, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until sugar turns amber in color. Add the almonds and sea salt and stir quickly to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and spread into a thin layer.. Do not touch with your fingers. Cool completely. Break into small pieces.

When ready to serve, remove the semifreddo from the loaf pan. Working quickly, cut in 3/4-inch slices and arrange on serving plates. Spoon figs and juice over the semifreddo and garnish with praline shards. Serve immediately.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Cranberry Orange Trifle with Candied Walnuts from TasteFood
Pistachio Pound Cake from Oui Chef
Holiday Pumpkin Roulade from TasteFood
Fig Crostata from The Wimpy Vegetarian

Potato Gratins

Yes, that’s potato gratins in the plural – not singular. I made these last weekend. Not only are they very cute in their individual ramekins, they are also elegantly and cleverly portioned. This ensures that you will be less likely to find yourself gobbling up half a baking dish of gratinéed potatoes or wrestling your child for the last crunchy cheesy corner stuck to the rim. Just saying. It happens.

Potato Gratins

A mandoline works best for thinly slicing the potatoes. Keep the skins on for extra nutrients and texture to balance out all of the cheesy goodness. Makes 8.

Unsalted butter
2 cups full-fat sour cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small white, Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold potatoes, washed, very thinly sliced – no more than 1/8 inch thick
8 ounces grated Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 8 3/4-cup ramekins. Whisk sour cream, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper together in a bowl. Arrange 2 layers of potatoes overlapping in ramekins. Top with a heaping teaspoon of sour cream, spreading to cover the potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese. Repeat layering process, occasionally sprinkling with additional salt and pepper, until ramekins are full, gently pressing down on each layer. Finish with a layer of sour cream and grated cheeese. Arrange ramekins on a baking tray. Bake until potatoes are tender and top is brown and bubbling, about 1 hour. (If top browns before potatoes are fully cooked, lightly cover with foil to prevent burning.) Serve hot.

Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets, Wheat Berries and Goat Cheese


~ Yellow Beets, Wheat Berries, Goat Cheese, Chervil, Winter Greens ~

I used to hate beets. Now I can’t get enough of them. Perhaps I am scrambling to make up for all of those lost beet-eating years when I shuddered at the thought of tasting the earthy beet. Now that I am a covert, I always have a bunch of beets in my refrigerator, ready to accompany a roasting chicken or stir into a couscous or rice pilaf. Beets’ murky sweetness also adds a fresh foil to grains and salads, working especially well when matched with other strong flavors like bitter greens or tangy citrus. In this recipe they team up with healthy wheat berries and a mix of peppery, sharp greens. A shower of chervil adds a complementary anise note to this wintry salad.

Mixed Greens and Beet Salad with Wheat Berries and Goat Cheese

Don’t discard the pan juices from the roasted beets in olive oil. Once cool it makes a lovely dressing for the beets. Serves 4.

4 medium golden (or red) beets, about 1 pound
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt
6 cups mixed greens, such as arugula, chicory, mizuna, red oak lettuce
1/3 cup cooked wheat berries (or farro)
1/2 cup fresh chervil sprigs
3 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese
1/2 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Roast the beets:
Preheat oven to 400 F. Trim ends of beets and scrub clean; throughly dry. Place beets in an oven-proof rimmed pan or pot with a lid. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat. Cover pot with lid or aluminum foil. Bake until beets are tender but not too soft, 50 minutes – 1 hour. Remove from oven. Transfer beets to a cutting board and cool. Reserve cooking liquid in pot. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel away skins. Slice 1/4 inch thick and place in a bowl. Whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice and salt into reserved beet juice. Drizzle the beet juice over the beets and gently toss to coat.

Assemble salad:
Arrange greens on a serving plate. Sprinkle wheat berries over the greens and arrange beets over the salad. Scatter with chervil and sprinkle goat cheese over the salad. Drizzle any remaining beet juice over the greens. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the salad, to taste. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies

~ Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies ~

We’ve waited until very late (for us) to get our Christmas tree this year. Normally it’s up in early December, and by time the 25th arrives, we light the candles in a last hurrah, before dismantling it the next day. This year is a little different. We harvested our tree only this past weekend, on Saturday evening in the dark. As we picked it out, it felt like we were back in Denmark, searching for a tree in the darkness of the nordic winter. We spent Sunday decorating and will continue to do so over the next few days – after all, everyone has to have their way with the decorations. Then on the 24th, we will light the tree in its full glory as we celebrate julaften or Christmas eve, when we eat our big holiday dinner. In true Scandinavian fashion we use live candles, and it’s truly the most beautiful sight to behold.

Since the tree is so fresh, it will remain standing for a good week after Christmas, which is perfect, since we are home for the holidays this year and look forward to friends stopping in for wine and gløgg.  In anticipation, I’ve made an extra large batch of these Ginger Molasses Spiced Cookies to have on hand for any last minute tree tweaking and unexpected guests who might surprise us. The spice of these cookies goes very well with a glass of warm spiced gløgg.

Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies

I was honored that Food52 selected these cookies last week as their contribution to a virtual cookie swap, hosted by Food Network and Yahoo! Shine. And Alicia, the talent behind the delicious blog Weekly Greens, has featured this recipe in her Whole Foods Market Cooking Column. Christmas has indeed come early this year!

Makes about 42 (1 1/2 inch) cookies.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1/3 cup finely diced candied ginger, optional
Granulated sugar for rolling

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, salt, and cloves in a bowl to combine.  Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and molasses and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in the candied ginger. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Pour some granulated sugar into a small bowl. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, then in the sugar. Arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and gently flatten. Bake in oven until set and crinkled on top, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and cool.

Cranberry Orange Trifle with Candied Walnuts

Buttermilk Pound Cake, Cranberries, Candied Walnuts, Orange Mascarpone Cream

Here is a holiday trifle that I couldn’t wait for Christmas to make. The good news is that it’s perfect for Thanksgiving, too. This sumptuous dessert is sweet, tart, crunchy and creamy at once. Buttermilk poundcake is blanketed with layers of cranberry compote, orange infused mascarpone whipped cream and candied walnuts. (Do you see why I couldn’t wait?) Each bite is light and airy with the pop of sweet-tart cranberries and the crunch of cinnamon dusted nuts, so be sure to get a little bit of everything in each spoonful. And, even better, the trifle can rest in the refrigerator overnight, so it’s a perfect do-ahead holiday dessert.

Cranberry Orange Trifle with Candied Walnuts

While there are several components to this trifle, each one may be prepared in advance, and each one is stand alone good, so feel free to use them on their own. Serve in a trifle bowl or individual goblets. Makes 8-10 servings.

For the buttermilk pound cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Butter a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. Line bottom with parchment; butter parchment. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl; set aside.
Beat sugar and butter in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Add half of the flour, then the buttermilk, then the remaining flour, mixing well to combine after each addition. Pour into loaf pan. Bake in oven until wooden skewer inserted in center comes clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely. Pound cake may be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate until use.

For the cranberry compote:
12 ounces cranberries, fresh or frozen
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop and release juices. Remove from heat and cool completely. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 4 days.

For the candied walnuts:
1 1/2 cups walnut halves
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange walnuts on a baking tray. Bake in oven 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Heat sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan. As soon as it begins to dissolve, stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is liquid and amber colored. Add walnuts and stir to coat. Add salt and cinnamon. Remove from heat and pour walnuts onto a baking tray lined with parchment or silpac sheet. Allow to cool completely. Break into pieces. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

For the orange mascarpone cream:
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, chilled
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier or Cointreau
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine cream and mascarpone in bowl of electric mixer. Beat until traces of whisk are visible. Add remaining ingredients and continue to beat until peaks form. Refrigerate until use. (May be made 4 hours in advance.)

Assemble the trifle:
Reserve a few whole cranberries from the compote for garnish. Pour a thin layer of cranberry compote into the bottom of the trifle dish or individual glasses. Cut the pound cake in 3/4 inch cubes. Arrange a layer of pound cake over the compote. Top with a layer of cream. Sprinkle with a few of the nuts. Repeat layering process, finishing with a layer of cream and nuts. Garnish with reserved cranberries and finely grated orange zest. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered up to 24 hours before serving.

Optional: Brush each layer of pound cake with Cointreau or Gran Marnier for an adult version of this dessert.

Kale and Carrot Salad with Pecans and Cranberries

~ Salad with substance: Kale, Carrots, Shallot, Pecans, Dried Cranberries ~

Fall and winter salads differ from their light and cooling summer cousin. Cold weather salads should be filling and comforting, hardy with fruit and nuts, cheese and dried meat. While served fresh, these salads should give warmth in substance. The base of this bright fall salad is kale. In it’s raw form kale is tough and bitter, best shredded in a slaw or sautéed in olive oil. For this salad I’ve softened the kale  by quickly blanching it just to soften its edges without wilting. The other ingredients fall willingly into formation, adding sweetness, crunch and a vibrancy of color pretty enough to decorate any holiday table.

Winter Kale and Carrot Salad with Pecans and Cranberries
Sliced persimmons would also be a nice addition to this salad.
Serves 4 as a side.

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bunch curly green kale, tough vein removed, torn in large pieces
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pecans, halved
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add kale and blanch just until the color brightens and the leaves still hold their shape, 20 seconds. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water. Spin dry in a salad spinner or blot dry with a kitchen towel. Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Toss with half of the dressing and taste for seasoning. Serve with additional dressing to taste.