Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Ham

This ham came from Schubert's in Millstadt Il. It takes a little sleuthing to find a good ham-most super market hams will not measure up to this beauty. I removed any excess rind, panited the entire exterior with Dijon mustard and sprinkled it with brown sugar. I decorated it with the ubiquitous pineapple, cherries, and cloves. Eating celebratory pork is one of those traditions which date back to the pagan practices of the Hessians and Norsemen (like the wreath and the Christmas tree)-where the pineapple comes in I do not know and I'm too busy right now to research it, but it probably has something to do with the Dole Corporation. I baked it in a 300 degree oven, covered with aluminum foil for 4 hours. Increase the temperature to 450 degrees and brush the ham with a syrup of pineapple juice and brown sugar every 8 to ten minutes until glazed and shiny about 25 minutes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fruitcake-The Sarah Palin of Christmas Treats

Sarah Palin is much like a Christmas Fruitcake. They are both attractive packages-Sarah with her big hair and beauty contest looks, the fruit cake filled with jewel like colors of candied and dried fruits. And, of course there is also that old cliche "nutty as a fruitcake". Many people adore Sarah, many people adore fruitcake-many people detest both. Here is an easy recipe that I sort of like. The recipe came from another controversial person, chef Jeff Smith-who went down in disgrace after a brilliant career-it is from his "The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas"-although I've altered the recipe so much you wouldn't recognize it.

2 cups mixed candied fruit-chopped I used pineapple, orange and lemon peel-no citron

1 cup candied cherries, halved

4 cups dried fruitsI cleaned out the pantry of little bits of leftovers-plums, pineapple, craisins, apricots, golden raisins, and mango

1/2 cup brandy

1 cup butter-room temperature

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

6 eggs-room temperature

1/2 ounce of melted unsweetened chocolate

3 cups coppped nuts-I used half pecans and half walnuts

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brandy

In a large bowl, combine the candied and dried fruits with the brandy. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for at least 3 hours.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Add the chocolate, add the flour, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and baking soda. Mix until all is incorporated.

Fold in the fruits and nuts. Spread into greased 10 by 4 inch tube pan-I used mini-loaf pans. Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 2 hours and 10 minutes-less for the mini pans. Remove to a rack, and when cool enough to handle, remove from the pan and cool completely.

Brush the cake with half the brandy, cover and store for one week. Brush the cake with brandy every week and re-wrap and store until Christmas.