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Christmas cooking: New West leaders share holiday recipe faves

What exactly is Christmas pizza, and why does it sound so good?

What's the holiday season without a little indulgence? In honour of the season of eating, drinking and being merry, we reached out to some community leaders and asked them to share their favourite holiday recipes.

Whether your taste runs to Christmas pizza (yes, we said pizza) or the perfect Christmas bark, these New Westminster folks have your back. 

Here is a selection of their holiday favourites, for 2022 and beyond.

FOR SNACKS AND STARTERS

Festive Cheese Ball

From New Westminster school trustee Maya Russell

"Memories of childhood holidays focus on feasts," writes school trustee Maya Russell. "Meals at the farm on the Fraser River — just upriver from here on Katzie territory — brought together kids, parents, aunties, uncles and grandparents. Grandpa John helming the stove. Grandma Susan bringing in spuds from the winter garden. Cousins catching up. The food that was ready to welcome the first guests was the cheese ball.

"It was my sister Anna who discovered, and first made, the cheese ball. The tradition continues, and at high holidays the cheese ball will be found on its round glass plate, nestled in a circle of savoury crackers, coated in its nutty goodness."

Cheese ball ingredients:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese (avoid pre-shredded cheese)
  • 2 green onion , chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • dash freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Mix these ingredients and form into a ball. Place on a plate, cover and press with 2/3 cup pecans, finely chopped.

Refrigerate for an hour, then take out 20 minutes before serving.

 

FOR DINNER

Christmas Pizza

recipe from New Westminster school board chair Gurveen Dhaliwal

Christmas pizza, anyone?

“Our annual Christmas Pizza is our favourite holiday tradition!” Gurveen writes. “Its inspiration comes from a pizza restaurant we went to in London back in November 2019. They were advertising their special Christmas pizza, but it wasn’t out yet, and I couldn’t take my mind off of it. So that year my husband and I decided to make our own, with all our favourite Christmas dinner eats. It’s quickly become the thing we look forward to most every year. And yes, it’s a ridiculous amount of effort for a pizza, but that’s half the charm.”

Pairs great with old-school Christmas tunes and your favourite red. 

Christmas pizza ingredients:

Homemade pizza dough

1 tsp olive oil

Mashed potatoes

  • 2-3 potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp cayenne 
  • salt & pepper

Cranberry sauce

  • ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

4-6 shredded brussels sprouts

Candied sweet potatoes

  • ½ large sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 

Your favourite boxed stuffing mix

¼ cup goat cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella 

Instant gravy mix

Instructions:

Prepare your homemade pizza dough and let it rise.

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a small saucepan combine your cranberries, orange juice, sugar and cinnamon. Set over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and sauce reduced slightly. Take off heat and allow mixture to cool and thicken. 

Peel and chop sweet potato into small cubes and place in a bowl, adding the melted butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir until coated and add to oven for 10 to 13 minutes until just tender. 

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, peel your potatoes and boil them in a small pot until soft (about 20 minutes). Once soft, add your butter, milk, garlic, cayenne and salt and pepper and mash until nice and creamy. You want it to be very smooth with next to no lumps. 

While the potatoes are boiling, make your favourite boxed stuffing mix according to package instructions 

Preheat oven to 475F.

Roll out the dough into a circle and brush with olive oil. Add shredded mozzarella along the border and pull over dough to create a stuffed crust.

Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the crust. Add your sweet potatoes and stuffing across the pizza and then sprinkle about ½ cup of your shredded mozzarella.

Add dollops of your cranberry sauce across the pizza and top with your shredded brussels sprouts. Finish it off by adding your goat cheese and the remainder of your mozzarella.

Place in oven on centre rack until edges are crispy and cheese is melted (about 10-15 mins).

While the pizza is baking, make your instant gravy as per the package instructions.

Remove your pizza from oven and drizzle with gravy. Enjoy!

 

Tourtière (meat pie)

Recipe from New Westminster city councillor Daniel Fontaine

Daniel shared a family recipe from his mom, Leona Fontaine.

“My mom will be so excited when I tell her that her tourtière [meat pie] recipe will be put in print," Daniel writes. "It’s oooh so yummy and definitely a Christmas staple for our French Canadian/Métis family home!”

Tourtière ingredients: 

  • 2 lbs ground beef and ground pork mix
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 clove chopped garlic (optional)
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • 1 large cooked potato (mashed)
  • 1 tsp salt (add more if required by taste)
  • 1/8 tsp cloves

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350C.

Mix all of the ingredients together — except the potato. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium-low heat and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 30 mins.

Add mashed potato and mix together.

Place ingredients in a pie shell (store bought or homemade are both OK). Cover with another pie shell. Bake until pie shell is gold in colour (approx. 30 to 45 mins).

 

Perfect roasted potatoes

From School District 40 superintendent Karim Hachlaf

“After you have had these, you won’t go back to mashed potatoes,” Karim promises.

This is a favourite recipe with the Hachlaf family, Karim says — it started  as their holiday recipe, and now they make them all the time.

His perfect potatoes are Jamie Oliver’s Roasted Potatoes.

Ingredients and instructions:

Use yellow potatoes — peeled and par-boiled in salted water for about 10 minutes.

Drain in colander and let them sit for a few minutes, letting potatoes go fluffy; give them a bit of a shake as this is what will get potatoes crispy on outside.

Add olive oil and/or melted butter to pan and then add potatoes on a single layer.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add potatoes to 375F oven for an hour.

While potatoes are cooking, mix olive oil, fresh chopped rosemary, minced or whole cloves garlic and a splash of red wine vinegar in a bowl.

After an hour, take potatoes out and use masher to squash potatoes creating a greater surface area. Now add oil/rosemary/garlic mixture on top of potatoes and cook for another 25 to 30 minutes until golden crispy.

 

FOR SWEETS AND TREATS

Old-fashioned Chewy Ginger Cookies

From Janet Kvammen, president, Royal City Literary Arts Society

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup shortening (Crisco butter-style is best)
  • I cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Granulated sugar, plain or coloured

Instructions:

Cream the shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time; add molasses. You can do this by hand or double up the recipe in a mixer.

Sift together the flour, soda and spices.

Mix the dry ingredients in three parts into the creamed mixture.

Knead the dough gently until smooth and refrigerate in a bowl for two hours. You can leave it overnight wrapped in plastic if you like and bake the next day.

Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper. (I find parchment works great.)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Form the dough into 1 ¼ balls. Roll them in granulated sugar. Add sprinkles of red and green sugar if you want them to look more festive.

Place on the prepared sheets and bake for around 10-12 minutes. This time is flexible. I usually underbake them to keep them soft inside.

You should get about five dozen. Store in airtight container to keep them moist and chewy. Yum!

 

Pavlova

From New Westminster school trustee Dee Beattie

“My family favourite over the Christmas holidays is the pavlova recipe from the Best of Bridge,” Dee writes. “The series of books was given to me over 30 years ago by my children, and the pavlova recipe is one I really enjoy at Christmas.  I have substituted using whole eggs for egg whites from a carton.”

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites (1/2 cup egg white) 
  • 1 cup (240 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 tsp (2 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vinegar
  • 2 cups (500 ml) whipping (35%) cream
  • Fresh fruit: kiwi, blueberries and strawberries are perfect
  • My family also loves bananas and a splash of caramel sauce
  • 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) toasted slivered almonds

Instructions:     

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue beating while adding sugar slowly, 1 tbsp (15 mL) at a time. Add vanilla and vinegar. Beat until very stiff. Place waxed or brown paper on a cookie sheet and spread mixture in a circle, slightly smaller than desired size. Bake for 1 hour at 275F (140C). Turn oven off and leave meringue in oven overnight to dry. Peel off paper. Top with whipped cream, fresh fruit and toasted almonds. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Christmas Bark

Recipe from New Westminster school trustee Cheryl Sluis

Cheryl’s favourite recipe for Christmas Bark comes from www.thekitchn.com.

“I chose to share this recipe for Christmas Bark because it is easy to prepare and people love it,” Cheryl writes. “And it makes a great gift — just place some parchment inside a holiday-themed gift tin and away you go.  Who knew that such basic ingredients could result in everyone’s favourite holiday treat!”

Christmas Bark ingredients:

  • 48 saltine crackers (about 1 sleeve; enough to line a rimmed baking sheet)
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (about 11 ounces)

Instructions:

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the saltine crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Place butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a two-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring just a few times, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be thickened slightly and homogeneous.

Pour the hot toffee mixture over the crackers, spreading so most of the crackers are completely covered — work quickly!

Bake about 15 minutes, until the toffee is bubbling and both the crackers and toffee are beginning to brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Let the chocolate melt for five minutes, then use a spatula to spread the chocolate into an even layer. Set aside to cool for at least two hours. Cut into 30 pieces.

 

­­­­­­­­­­­­­Chocha Elsie’s Orange Raisin Cookies

From New Westminster Record assistant editor Julie MacLellan

Well, these aren’t really from our assistant editor — since, fortunately for her guests, her husband, Steve Makuch, is the primary chef in their family.

Several years back, their household resurrected these treats from Steve’s family’s Rachkewich Reunion Cookbook, courtesy of his Chocha (Aunt) Elsie.

“We lost Chocha Elsie last October, and I thought Christmas would be the perfect time to share her memory by sharing this recipe with New West readers again,” Julie says.

Chocha Elsie's Orange Raisin Cookie ingredients

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 Tbsp finely grated orange rind
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins (dried cranberries can also be substituted)

Instructions:

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs and orange rind.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

Add to first mixture.

Stir in raisins, oats and coconut.

Form into one-inch balls and place two inches apart on greased baking sheets. Flatten lightly with floured fork.

Bake in 375 F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

Let cool on racks.

Makes about four dozen cookies.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
Email Julie, jmaclellan@newwestrecord.ca

 

 

 

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