Monday, December 19, 2011

Gifts for the christmas table.....

You may have heard me mention at times, my sister Micki and her delectable food gifts which she purveys from her kitchen.

After leaving the corporate world of banking, she began baking and cooking as a mindless refuge to the rigours of a demanding career. Today almost ten years later, she brings much happiness to customers all over Niagara with her delicious cookies and sweets during the Christmas season.

 Jars of condiments such as red pepper jelly, and apricot pear conserve with Poire William gleam in her tiny kitchen.

After years of collecting vintage kitchen accessories and utensils, her cooking area is a visual dream as well as contributing other sensory delights.

During this time of year, literally thousands of cookies are all hand made using only the best ingredients and home made techniques acquired through hours of trial and error...

Every cookie is a delicious as it is beautiful.

Biscotti, hand dipped in chocolate are bursting with lightly toasted pecans, walnuts and old family recipe of my Mom's. They are a favourite among her customers.

....dozens waiting to cool and then beautifully packaged in tins or gift trays......

Every known vintage kitchen utensil has been carefully collected and displayed, and of course put into use as well......
Semi sweet chocolate waiting to be tempered after it is carefully measured by weight.

Cake domes from the 50's, in perfect condition, make baking in this kitchen a treat!

Just a few of the numerous cookbooks which Micki uses for inspiration and information.

Never too many ideas to gleen from!

A view of her spotlessly clean work table. You will notice two vintage theatre seats where she peruses her cookbooks, or just takes a much needed coffee break.....

Individual pots de creme served in espresso cups, with a white chocolate dipped cherry as garnish, served at a recent holiday party which she catered.

Spiced pecans presented in a vintage compote dish, add a bit of dash to the bar, and are a perfect nibbler with cocktails.

Prosciutto and figs, a simple yet satisfying antipasto.

Cheese boards are a simple alternative to fussy appetizers for today's busy hostess.

Thinly sliced eggplant, cut with a mandolin and then breaded and lighly fried till crisp are a favourite on the antipasto tower...I call them eggplant chips...
also a family recipe from our Mother.

Hand formed chocolate truffles, rolled in chopped pistachios and coconut, make a sweet finale to a
sumptuous holiday buffet.

Although Micki loves to cook, her greatest achievements are her sweet confections, which are very sought after, especially during the holidays.....

I really don't think she realizes how much joy and happiness she brings to so many patrons as well as recipients of her beautiful confections...truly gifts from the heart.  I hope you will be inspired by her passion and love of cooking this holiday season.

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Comfort and Joy

One of the little special things I do for Christmas is make egg nog from scratch. I started making this when my boys were very young and made two batches, one with spirits and one without. It tastes just like a milkshake and is very simple to make.  It is called Comfort Eggnog, because it is made with Southern Comfort.

As the boys got older, they would try their hand at it, and it became a much anticipated and special family tradition, even for my Italian Christmas Eve.....

This past week I decided to make extra and gift it at some holiday celebrations which we had been invited to....

The glass litre bottles, made in France,  and found at the thrift store, were perfect decanters for dispensing the thick and creamy nog....

A small vintage cordial glass is all you need of this delicious beverage.....

.....after attaching a whole nutmeg for grating, I added some gold bullion and Christmas greetings to the gift.....

I hope you will enjoy this recipe, as much as my family has over the years.  Cheers!!!

Comfort Eggnog

6 eggs seperated
3/4 cup of sugar
2 cups of whipping cream or for my American friends heavy cream
1 cup of half and half
1 cup of whole milk
2 cups of Southern Comfort
Ground nutmeg

Seperate egg whites from yolks . Beat yolks with sugar till thick and lemon coloured.
Gradually add milk and half and half.
Fold in or incorporate whipping cream (whipped) with a wire whisk.
Add Southern Comfort.
Set aside.
Beat egg whites till stiff. Gently whisk into egg mixture. Chill well.
Serve with a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.

Makes 10  5 ounce servings.

The consistency should be billowy and cloud-like...

Stir well to incorporate cream which may rise to the top after refrigerating.

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