Jamie Oliver's Mincemeat Palmiers

Do you need to come up with something truly elegant in a hurry? These palmiers fit the bill perfectly. Make them ahead of time and stick the roll in the freezer; slice and bake when you need them. These won't take 10 minutes to make as practically everything comes in a jar or from the freezer. Jamie adds some fresh orange rind, nuts and a dash of brandy to the bottled mincemeat to brighten it up. I love the idea and they are full of all the yummy flavors of Christmas. With a glass of wine or sherry, you've got the perfect little treat. 

Jamie Oliver's Mincemeat Palmiers
Adapted from Jamie Oliver

zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 piece stem ginger (from a jar), finely chopped ( I omitted)
1 1/2 cups mincemeat (I used Crosse & Blackwell)
1 splash brandy
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator overnight
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 bottle Pedro Ximénez or other sweet sherry, to serve 

In a bowl, mix the orange zest, chopped pecans and stem ginger into the mincemeat, then add a splash of brandy. Set aside. 
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. 
Lay the pastry on a clean work surface, very lightly floured, with a short edge facing you. Spread thinly and evenly with the mincemeat mixture, leaving a 1 inch border around the pastry. Brush the pastry border with a little beaten egg. Then, working from the short ends, fold each end halfway to the center. Then fold each side again toward the center until the folded edges almost touch. Fold one side over the other and press lightly. Wrap in wax paper or cling film and place in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. (Or freeze)

Unwrap the pastry and cut off and discard the ends to make it neat. Slice into 24 rounds, then lightly flatten each one. Transfer to 2 non-stick baking sheets, spaced apart. Bake in the oven for 15–18 minutes, until cooked through, puffed and golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool. 


Gingerbread Biscotti

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'll be thinking of you all, slaving away in the kitchen while we're eating out at our favorite restaurant. I'm being catered to this year instead of catering for. I'm going to enjoy every minute of it.

I hope you're not being affected by the big storm crossing the country...we're expecting lots of rain and cooler weather, but South Florida pretty much gets a miss. It's travel that affects us...I'm hoping my daughter gets down from NYC without huge delays.

And then you know what follows Thanksgiving: Black Friday. I'd do anything to avoid it, but when my daughter comes home to visit, it's almost the only time she has to shop. I am NOT looking forward to it. 

So....do you have time for some gingerbread recipes?  I got carried away with a gingerbread theme this year and made three different gingerbread-type recipes, all in one day! LOL.
Here's the first: Gingerbread Biscotti. These biscotti are delicious fun to serve with eggnog, coffee or just plain milk. Easy to make too. Don't you love the smell of gingerbread in the house? Better even than bread!

Gingerbread Biscotti 

Jillianpie via

1/4 C butter
3/4 C packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 C molasses
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 C macadamia nuts
White chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar until there are no lumps of sugar. Beat in the eggs, then blend in the molasses. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Blend until smooth. Fold in the almonds (and candied ginger if using).

Divide the dough in half onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Spray your hands generously with nonstick spray (dough will be sticky) and form each half into a log about three or four inches wide and one inch high. Place them two inches apart. Bake dough for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Cool logs for 10 minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut each log into one-half-inch slices. Place the slices cut-side down on baking sheet and return to oven to toast. Remove after 10 minutes and flip all of the cookies over. Toast an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Optional white chocolate coating: Melt coating or white chocolate chips according to package directions. Dip cookies halfway into coating, or use a spoon to drizzle quickly back and forth. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint before the chocolate has set. Let set completely before storing.


Aromatic Seed Cookies

These lovely cookies are another recipe from Gayle's new eCookbook. She describes them as reminding her of Indian Mukhwas, an after-meal digestive and mouth freshener. Don't let the description of mouth freshener throw you off.  :) Not so. These cookies are very delicate and somewhat mysterious in flavor. Quite mild and an absolute delight with tea. They will also be a unique addition to your holiday cookie tray.

Aromatic Seed Cookies
From The Global Pastry Table by Gayle Gonzales

2 cups flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted cold butter
 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place flour, sugar, almonds, all three seeds and salt into food processor. Process until almonds are finely ground. Add diced cold butter and process 15 seconds. 
Whisk the yolks and vanilla together and add. Process 15 seconds or until dough hold together when pinched.
Place dough on wax paper and press flat. Cover with another piece of wax paper and roll out to 1/8 inch thickness. Slide onto baking sheet and chill.
Preheat oven to 325. 
Line baking sheets with parchment. Cut cookies into squares and bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating sheets half way. They should be a light golden  brown. They're delicate, so cool them right on the parchment.


Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan and Proscuitto

If a serving bowl of brussel sprouts (made any way at all) was placed in front of my kids, they wouldn't have touched them with a barge pole. But then I came across this recipe, tried it one Thanksgiving and they couldn't believe they were eating brussel sprouts and loving it. After many years, they still ask for it when they're here for a holiday. 
This recipe is also from pre-blogging days so is yet another MasterCook entry without a recipe source. It's also a re-post, back from the beginning when practically nobody was paying attention, which they should have been since we posted some of our best recipes in the beginning, right?
It's an awesome recipe. Yep, another eye roller. Mega delicious. But oh so calorie-laden. All that whipping cream! Never mind,  if ever we're going to splurge, it's this time of year. Wouldn't be any fun otherwise.

Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan and Proscuitto

1 stick unsalted butter
6 cloves garlic, crushed
4 ounces prosciutto, cut in thin slivers
2 pounds brussel sprouts, trimmed and sliced/shredded
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 cup light cream
1/4 cup sweet Marsala
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups Parmesan, grated


Preheat oven to 350. 
Melt butter and add garlic and prosciutto. Cook 4 minutes. Add sprouts and cook 4 minutes. Stir in flour, then the creams and Marsala. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the Parmesan and stir until melted. Pour into a casserole and top with remaining Parmesan. Bake 20 minutes.


Thanksgiving Breakfast: Cranberry Almond Streusel Coffeecake

Of course, this coffeecake is best right out of the oven, but for a holiday breakfast, that's just not going to happen....at least in my house! So you can make it ahead, seal it in a container and freeze it. Then just thaw it the night before, warm it up in the oven, sprinkle some confectioners sugar on top to make it snazzy and serve. 
It has a lovely moist crumb because of the sour cream, a hint of almond and tart cranberries balanced by the streusel topping. It's a big cake and will serve 10-12 people for breakfast or brunch.

Cranberry Almond Streusel Coffeecake
From A Cup of Mascarpone

For the coffee cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the streusel topping:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.
Butter a 9" springform pan. (Be sure it has at least 3 inch sides!)
Cream butter and sugar until light. Add eggs, one at a time, and stir together well.
Mix in vanilla extract, almond extract, and sour cream.
Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
In a small bowl toss the cranberries with the 3 tablespoons sugar, and fold into the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan.
In a medium bowl, work together the sugar, flour and butter until crumbly, and sprinkle over the batter.
Bake it on a cookie sheet (just in case) until golden brown, approximately 50 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a rack for approximately 30 minutes and remove the springform side.
Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.

Refrigerate any leftover cake in an airtight container.


Mushroom Bread Pudding

I love mushrooms. And while I've been making this dish for years, only my father and I pigged out on it. One would think I'd give it up, but no, I made it year after year. Frankly, if the cook and her dad love it, they ought to have it. I can pass up mashed potatoes and gravy without a qualm. I'd rather eat mushrooms. Morels, if I've been fortunate enough to freeze some. As far as the rest of my family is concerned, it all harks back to choices...they want the mashed potatoes, fine. Pass me the mushroom bread pudding.

This recipe has been in my files since the 60's, it's one of those MasterCook recipes I stashed without attributing. We lived in a subdivision back then where everyone exchanged recipes constantly; I bet half my recipes come from those days. I've only made one change over the years, I substituted leeks for shallots. Oh yes, and Gruyere for Swiss. I matured in the kitchen. :) Doubtful anyone even knew what Gruyere was in that 1960 neighborhood!

If you agree with the "table's too full on Thanksgiving" theory, don't make it for the big dinner. Make it for supper one night during the holidays. Perfection with steak.

Mushroom Bread Pudding


1 1/4 cups mushroom stock
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
4 cups shiitake, morel, cremini or chantarelle mushrooms or a combination
1 cup gruyere or similar cheese
Button mushrooms and stems leftover to make stock
1 loaf of bread, stale ( or briefly toasted in the oven) 1/2 inch diced (about 6 cups)


Boil some regular mushrooms to make stock- including leftover stems. Reduce this stock until 3/4 cup. You may freeze stock at this point. 
Add heavy cream and reduce again until 1 1/2 cups. Allow to cool slightly.
Whisk milk, eggs, 3/4 teaspoon salt and add stock mixture, set aside.  
Melt butter, add olive oil, then leeks, garlic and thyme and saute 8 or so minutes or until leeks are somewhat browned and tender. Add sliced mushrooms and saute another 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. You may freeze mushrooms at this point. 
Line bottom of  casserole or baking dishes with 1/3 of the bread, put half mushrooms, more bread, the remaining mushrooms, ending with bread. Pour stock over all. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Bake 350 oven for 2 hours.
Chefs notes: I made this pudding in several 5" ceramic baking dishes, so adjusted the time.


Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake

If I was going to be the chef for Thanksgiving dinner this year, this cheesecake would be on the menu. Forget the traditional pumpkin pie. From the almond crust to the espresso powder in the cheesecake, this turned out beautifully and tasted ambrosial. Simple to make too, as most cheesecakes are. It's probably considered an "adult" cheesecake, what with the espresso addition, but I bet my grandkids would love it too.
The finishing touches Heather suggests for garnishing make for a pretty presentation, but feel free to do your own thing. It'll be a smash hit at your Thanksgiving dinner, cheesecake lovers or not. Everyone loves a latte, right? 

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake
From Sprinkle Bakes

Ingredients for the crust: 
2/3 cup all purpose flour 
2/3 cup sliced almonds 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
3 tablespoon sugar 
4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

Ingredients for the filling: 

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
3 large eggs 
1 cup pumpkin (canned is fine) 
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon 
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 
3 teaspoons espresso powder

For garnishing: 
Powdered sugar 
Whipped cream 
Cinnamon sticks

Method for the crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease well.
In a food processor, place all ingredients and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand. Press firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Method for the cheesecake:
In a mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in vanilla extract and eggs. Beat in pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and espresso powder until smooth. Pour mixture on top of baked crust.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until filling is set. The center should wiggle slightly...the cheesecake will continue to bake a bit after it's removed from the oven. Allow to cool completely to room temperature in pan before chilling in refrigerator until ready to serve. 

If you'd like to decorate with powdered sugar: when cheesecake is cool and the top is dry, lay strips of wax paper across the surface on the cheesecake in even stripes. Sift powdered sugar over the top to form a thin layer. Remove wax paper strips carefully. Place whipped cream on the center of the cheesecake, sprinkle with cinnamon, and garnish with cinnamon sticks.


Stuffed Zucchini

Here's another side I often served to my family on Thanksgiving. I like this one because you can make it in the morning and hold it on the counter until you are ready to bake. No last minute fussing here, although it's quite a simple recipe and doesn't take all that long to make. Once again, I haven't a clue where I found this recipe. 

Usually one sees zucchini stuffed with meat, tomatoes and all sorts of things. This is the only recipe I've seen with shiitake and hazelnuts. If you don't have Panko, make your own bread crumbs...so easy in a processor....and you can use any number of cheeses. Just depends on what you have. It's a nice vegetarian option for your holiday table.

Stuffed Zucchini

6 zucchini, scrubbed and trimmed
3 garlic cloves,  minced
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, cut in smallish pieces, no stems
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and ground
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (sometimes I use fresh thyme, sometimes both)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup panko
1 cup grated gruyere or your favorite cheese....not cheddar, please.

Halve zucchini and scoop out pulp, leaving 1/2 inch shells. I use a melon baller to take out the pulp. Chop pulp rather finely. Cook garlic, shallots, mushrooms and hazelnuts for 4 minutes. Add zucchini pulp and oregano and/or thyme. Cook 7 minutes. Let cool for 10  minutes and stir in panko, salt and pepper to taste. 
Place filling in shells and top with gruyere. Bake in a 400 oven for 20 to 25 minutes until cheese is melted, it's hot throughout and a little brown.


Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust

Are you mulling over lists for holiday dinners yet? My biggest quandary has always been side dishes...veggies or potatoes...finding something a little different. My family demands mashed potatoes, so year after year they grace the table. Any inventiveness and adventure rested with vegetables or sweet potato dishes; they didn't mind variety there, just as long as I didn't mess with their turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. 
Now that everyone's older, when I'm doing the cooking at Thanksgiving, I don't even necessarily make a whole turkey, but try things like Ina's stuffed turkey breast  or the Two Fat Ladies chicken. Anything goes. 
For potato-type sides, Ina's Rosemary Roasted Potatoes  were a big hit one year but this year you really must try this gem of a recipe I found recently: Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust. There is a double crust with rosemary and Gruyere stuffed in between. Very unusual. While the bottom photo looks like this gratin has an overabundance of crust, you can see by the first photo there's not as much crust as you would expect.
Let me sum it up: pretty layers of potatoes, cheesy
 and delicious. Go ahead, make it for your family...they'll love it. 

Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust
From Southern Living, December 2010

1   (14.1-oz.) package refrigerated pie crusts  
1 tablespoon  chopped fresh rosemary  
1/4 teaspoon  freshly ground pepper  
2 cups  (8 oz.) shredded Gruyère cheese, divided  
1 1/2 pounds  Yukon gold potatoes  
1 1/2 pounds  sweet potatoes  
1 teaspoon  kosher salt  
2/3 cup  heavy cream  
1   garlic clove, minced  
  Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs  

Preheat oven to 450°. 
Unroll pie crusts on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle rosemary, pepper, and 1/2 cup cheese over 1 pie crust; top with remaining pie crust. Roll into a 13-inch circle. Press on bottom and up sides of a 9-inch springform pan; fold edges under. Chill.
Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice Yukon gold and sweet potatoes. I used a mandolin to get thin, even slices.
Layer one-third each of Yukon gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, and salt in prepared crust. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers twice, pressing layers down slightly to fit.

Microwave cream and garlic in a 1-cup microwave-safe measuring cup at HIGH 45 seconds; pour over potato layers in pan. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. I was afraid it would leak, so I covered a baking sheet with foil and then placed the springform pan on top. Then cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Bake at 450° for 1 hour. (Yes, that says 450) Uncover and bake 25 minutes longer or until potatoes are done and crust is brown. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully transfer to a serving plate, and remove sides of pan. If desired, carefully slide gratin off bottom of pan using a long knife or narrow spatula. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.


Pumpkin Cranberry Twist Rolls

I go a bit roll crazy when it comes to holidays. Probably because my mother always served them, so I've made some kind of yeast roll for every holiday dinner all through the years. My brother liked them and complimented me (no doubt because he also remembered our mother serving them), but when there is so much food on the table, rolls get lost in the turkey and trimmings shuffle every time. Is this an age thing? A calorie thing?
My kids weren't interested in them much either, although rolls are always useful in giving babies something to gum on so you can enjoy a peaceful meal. :)

After seeing the recipe on Stephanie's Girl Versus Dough (she has good step by step instructions there if you like those) and because I am such a sucker for yeast rolls, I couldn't pass up this tempting recipe. The name alone did it for me. Just look at all those fall flavors along with the pumpkin...maple syrup, cranberries, pumpkin pie seasonings, even nuts. These are good my friends, really good.

I usually make rolls in advance and freeze them. One less thing to think about. See no reason that won't work here as well (does it go without saying that all rolls are best hot out of the oven?) and while I'm not serving Thanksgiving dinner this year, there will be other meals over the holidays and I plan to serve them then. Frankly, I think they'd be divine for breakfast.

Pumpkin Cranberry Twists
From Red Star Yeast via Girl Versus Dough

4½ cups bread flour, divided 
2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) Red Star active dry yeast 
¾ cup warm water (about 110 degrees F) 
¾ cup pumpkin puree 
¼ cup maple syrup 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon salt 
¼ teaspoon allspice 
¼ teaspoon cinnamon 
¼ teaspoon ground ginger 
1 egg, room temperature
½ cup dried cranberries 
½ cup chopped pecans 
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash) 

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, stir 1 cup flour, yeast and warm water until combined. 
In a separate bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, maple syrup, oil, salt, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and egg until combined. 
Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir to combine. 

Using a wooden spoon or dough hook attachment, stir in remaining flour 1 cup at a time until a dough forms. Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface 7-10 minutes 
until smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed OR knead on medium speed with dough hook attachment 5-6 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed. (My dough took a lot more flour than indicated)

Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl; turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise 1 hour in a warm place until doubled. 

When dough is doubled, punch down and knead in cranberries and pecans evenly. 

Preheat oven to 425.
Divide dough into 16 equal pieces. On a lightly floured board, roll each piece of dough into a 12-inch log. Fold each log in half, then twist both ends once, pinching seams to seal. Place twists on parchment lined baking sheets. 
Cover baking sheets with tea towels. Let twists rise until puffed, about 45 minutes. 
Brush the twists with beaten egg. Bake 15 minutes until golden brown and baked through. Cool slightly before serving. Makes 16 rolls.


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