Holiday Recipes: Festive Dishes To Brighten Up The Winter Months

Holiday+Recipes%3A+Festive+Dishes+To+Brighten+Up+The+Winter+Months

Kruthica Dama

Kruthica Dama, Staff Writer

I don’t think there is a time more intense in America than the winter holidays. Not even a week after Halloween ended, my workplace was fully decked out in holiday gear, with snowflake and reindeer decals everywhere. As with all things, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the brakes on many winter celebrations. 

 

When interviewed about COVID’s effects on the holiday season, however, Luke Patefield, ‘22, said, “The world may be different, but Christmas is the same: a time of love, celebration, and kindness.” 

 

This holds true with all celebrations that occur at this time. 

 

Take the time to spend extra time with family at home with these fun and delicious Winter recipes!

 

Eggnog

 

Source: Tastes Better From Scratch

 

Description: This classic winter drink is a popular favorite. Though eggnog is typically made with rum or wine, this specific recipe is notably alcohol-free, so anyone is welcome to enjoy it. Take a sip of this sweet, lightly spiced drink and get one step closer to the true holiday spirit. 

 

Thoughts: I really like eggnog, so it’s nice that I found a base recipe that would work well for customizing. It’s really easy to add in any spice that you like. The typical bubblegum taste that people get from eggnog isn’t present in this specific recipe, so I recommend this recipe for people who would want to try it but are hesitant because of that traditional taste.

 

Would I Make This Again?: Honestly, this recipe isn’t as thick as I’d like it to be. It tastes like eggnog, so I might make it again because it’s decent, but I really like a nice thick eggnog. I might look at other recipes and see what the secret to making a thick eggnog is and if it really is just adding more heavy whipping cream.

 

Ingredients:

  • 6 large egg yolks 
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg [see Recipe Note 1]
  • Pinch of salt 
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon (for topping)

 

Extra Equipment:

  • One large bowl
  • Medium saucepan
  • Strainer (optional) [see Recipe Note 1]

 

Method:

  1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until light and creamy.
  2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream, milk, nutmeg, and salt. Stir often until the mixture reaches a bare simmer.
  3. Add the hot milk to the eggs a little bit at a time, while whisking vigorously [see Recipe Note 2]
  4. Once most of the hot milk is added to the eggs, add the mixture back into the saucepan and turn the heat back on
  5. Whisk constantly for a few minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened (about 160 degrees). It will thicken more as it cools.
  6. Remove mixture from heat and stir in vanilla. 
  7. Pour into pitcher and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon and fresh whipped cream (optional).

 

Recipe Notes:

  1. As I mentioned earlier, this recipe is very customizable, but that’s because there’s only nutmeg in it. The first time I made this, my mom put so much cinnamon topping in my eggnog by mistake, and it only barely tasted like cinnamon. The second time I made this recipe, I put in whatever spices I felt like using, and it ended up tasting much better. If you’re using something like cardamom, I do recommend straining it out, but that will also get rid of the nutmeg grains that give eggnog its signature look. 
  2. When this recipe says whisk vigorously, I really mean whisk like your life depends on it. If you have a second pair of hands around, have them either pour/spoon in the eggnog slowly or whisk vigorously while you do the other task. If you let the hot mixture sit with the eggs too long, you’ll end up actually scrambling the eggs rather than tempering them, which is what we want. 

 

Yule Log Cake (Bûche de Noël)

 

Source: Life, Love, and Sugar

 

Description: This Swiss Roll cake is perfect for the holiday season. Named after the logs burned during Christmas, this cake is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It’s incredibly moist and nicely balanced in taste.

 

Thoughts: This cake was honestly easier than I thought it would be to make. That being said, the key word for this recipe is PATIENCE. I cracked the cake by accident because I unrolled it too early. You can never wait too long, but you can always unroll it too early. In the end, the cake didn’t taste as sweet as I thought it would and resulted in a really nice, rich, chocolatey cake that my friends and their families really enjoyed. 

 

Would I Make This Again?: I would definitely make this cake again. I literally cannot stress how actually delicious this recipe was. Even though I cracked it, it still rolled up pretty well, and the end result was still stunning in my opinion. Obviously when I try it again, I’m going to wait more before unrolling my cake so that it doesn’t crack. Still, I was more than pleased with what I got the first time I made this cake, which was also the first time I ever made a swiss roll. 

 

Ingredients:

 

Chocolate Cake:

  • ¾ c all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ c dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs, divided
  • ¾ c granulated sugar
  • 5 tbsp sour cream
  • ¼ c butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Mascarpone Whipped Cream

  • 1¼ c heavy whipping cream, cold [see Recipe Note 1]
  • ¾ c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened but still chilled

 

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream

 

Extra Equipment:

  • 17 x 12 in sheet pan

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the sheet pan with parchment paper, taking care to make sure the parchment is extending at least an inch above the sides. 
  2. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar and whisk until well combined. Whisk in sour cream, melted butter and vanilla extract until well-combined. Gently whisk in the dry ingredients, then set aside.
  4. Separately whip egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold about ⅓ of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen up the batter before adding the rest of the egg whites and gently folding until well combined. [see Recipe Note 2]
  5. Spread cake batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back to the touch and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately lift the cake out of the pan and place it on a counter. 
  6. While the cake is hot, use the parchment paper the cake was baked in and slowly, but as tightly as you can, roll the cake up. Set the cake aside to cool completely 
  7. When the cake has cooled, make the filling [see Recipe Note 3]. 
  8. Add heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and salt to a large bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the mascarpone and whip to stiff peaks (this will happen pretty quickly.)
  9. CAREFULLY unroll the cake roll, using a butter knife or offset spatula to release the cake from where it might be sticking to the parchment paper. 
  10. Spread the filling evenly onto the unrolled cake, then roll it back up without the parchment paper (it’s okay to touch the cake with your hands if they’re clean). Wrap the cake in plastic wrap with the seam side down and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
  11. When you’re ready to decorate, make the ganache. Add the chocolate to a medium-sized bowl and set aside. 
  12. Heat the cream in the microwave (or a stove if you want to be fancy) until it begins to boil, then pour over the chocolate. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes before whisking until smooth (if it’s not smooth, you can heat it all up a little longer–no one’s going to tell). Whip the ganache on high speed until it has lightened in color and takes on a frosting-like consistency. 
  13. To decorate the cake, use a serrated knife to cut off a piece of the log and use a dab of ganache to attach the small piece to the side of the longer log. Spread the chocolate ganache all over the cake, then use a fork to create bark lines all over it. Garnish with sugared cranberries and rosemary (optional) [see Recipe Notes 4 and 5].

 

Recipe Notes:

  1. This is just a little fun fact. Whipped cream is easier to whip when it’s cold. The same goes for egg whites. It took me almost 15 minutes to whip up the ganache, but after I put it in the freezer for about 5 minutes it instantly whipped up. Remember this. 
  2. It’s obviously important to make sure you don’t knock out all the air you just whipped into the egg whites, but more often than not people remember this and underfold the mixture. It’s okay to be a little rough with the egg whites, just make sure you’re handling them with care. 
  3. It’s so important that the cake is cooled before you make the filling. I made the filling before it cooled, and it’s in my nature to be impatient, so I ended up unrolling the cake too early, and it cracked. That doesn’t mean it was a total failure because I somehow managed to force it into a roll regardless, but the moral of the story is to wait. 
  4. In terms of creating bark lines, the fork tore up the ganache a little bit, so you have to be careful when making the lines. I don’t know if freezing and/or chilling the cake beforehand will help because I didn’t try. 
  5. I used regular cranberries to garnish the cake because I already spent more than 24 hours on the cake, and I really wanted to eat it rather than take more time. To make sugared cranberries/rosemary, bring ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup of water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is melted. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Spread ½ cup of sugar on a shallow dish. Dip cranberries/rosemary in the sugar water, then roll in the sugar. Let dry. 

 

Latkes

 

Source: Food & Wine

 

Description: These classic Jewish potato pancakes are a staple table item during Hanukkah. These golden brown, savory pancakes can be eaten with applesauce, sour cream, and/or smoked salmon and salmon roe.  But, all in all, fried potatoes are a classic food, and latkes are another delicious way to eat it. 

 

Thoughts: Honestly, despite the latkes being really greasy (which was my fault because I turned them over more than once), they were really good. It takes precision to know when it’s cooked on each side, because you make them greasier every time you lift them up to check. Either way, they still came out nice and crispy, especially on the edges. 

 

Would I Make This Again?: Yes, absolutely! I would probably mix around with the spices more because, being in a household with access to a lot of spices, I would want to experiment to see how they would be different with different spices. Either way they were so good, and it was something different than what I normally eat. 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ pounds baking potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded on a box grater [see Recipe Note 1]
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely shredded on a box grater [see Recipe Note 2]
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ c finely chopped scallions
  • ¼ c matzo meal [see Recipe Note 3]
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Applesauce, sour cream, smoked salmon and salmon roe, for serving [see Recipe Note 4]

 

Extra Equipment:

  • Colander/Towel
  • Large skillet

 

Method:

  1. In a colander set over a large bowl, toss potatoes with onion and squeeze dry. (Alternatively, use a towel to squeeze the potato-onion water into a bowl.) Let drain for 2 to 3 minutes, then pour off liquid in the bowl, leaving the starchy paste at the bottom. [see Recipe Note 5]
  2. Add the potatoes and onion mixture, eggs, scallions, matzo meal, butter, salt, pepper, and baking powder and mix well. 
  3. In a large skillet, heat a ⅛ inch layer of oil until shimmering. Spoon ¼-cup mounds of latke batter into the skillet and flatten slightly with a spatula [see Recipe Note 6]. Fry latkes until golden and crisp, turning once to ensure the latkes are not as greasy as they could be. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, smoked salmon and salmon roe. 

 

Recipe Notes:

  1. Look, I read so many comments about this. Some people insist that there’s a difference in texture if you box grate versus using a food processor. Honestly, if you don’t care too much, use a food processor, because the taste will still be the same. If you would like to be more traditional, use a box grater. It depends on how much work you’re willing to put into it, and recipes that I looked at used both methods equally. 
  2. When grating the onion, I feel like it’s a good idea to have someone watch you to make sure you don’t actually grate your hand. If you’ve ever cried while chopping onions, it’s worse when you grate them. I have been literally blinded on five different occasions. It’s pain. If you haven’t considered the food processor option, I strongly recommend it. 
  3. If you’re not worried about what’s considered kosher and when, then all-purpose flour is a good substitute for matzo meal. It will prevent the latkes from falling apart as easily. However, I asked one of my Jewish friends if I should consider using all-purpose flour instead and she gave me a resounding no. If you want to stay true to the traditional recipe, use matzo meal. I found it in the Indian shelves in the international section at Cub foods. 
  4. I found the recipe to be a bit too salty for me, but I found that applesauce and sour cream really balanced it out nicely. Also, the applesauce with the latkes was actually really good, and I liked it more than latkes with sour cream. It’s kind of like fries with milkshakes. It sounds weird at first, but it’s actually really good. 
  5. The starchy paste at the bottom part is pretty optional. I’m not really sure what it adds, but a lot of recipes said that you should keep it, while others left it out. Make sure you don’t move the water around a lot while you drain it, because otherwise you would drain the starch as well.