Christmas Mulled Wine

Zest of 1 large orange

12 whole cloves

4 cinnamon sticks

1 whole nutmeg

6 whole allspice

2 large bottles dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon

4 to 6 ounces brandy

1 cup pomegranate or apple juice

1 cup sugar

12 cup brown sugar

12 cup honey

1 whole vanilla bean

Orange slices (optional)

Tie orange zest and all spices except vanilla bean in a cheesecloth. Pour wine, brandy, fruit juice, sugars and honey into a large Dutch oven; stir gently then add vanilla bean and spice bag. Bring to a simmer. Do not allow to boil. Heat for approximately 30 minutes. Garnish with orange slices, if desired, and serve.

Oyster Stew

14 cup all purpose flour

14 cup water

4 teaspoons salt

3 to 4 tablespoons minced green onions

Dash of garlic powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, thyme, celery salt, rosemary, paprika and white pepper

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 (8-ounce) containers of shucked oysters

8 cups half-and-half

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In 4-quart saucepan combine flour, water, salt, onions, herbs and Worcestershire: add oysters and their liquid. Over medium-low heat, cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until oyster edges curl and centers are firm.

Add half-and-half and butter and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let stand 10 minutes to blend flavor. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Makes 10 cups..

Buche de Noel (Yule Log)

Cake

6 egg whites, room temperature

34 cup sugar, divided

6 egg yolks

13 cup cocoa powder

112 teaspoons vanilla extract

14 cup Kahlua

Dash salt

Confectioners' sugar

Filling

112 cups heavy cream, chilled

12 cup confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing

1 box confectioner's sugar

1 stick butter, softened

12 cup cocoa powder

Kahlua

Grease the bottom of a 15x10x1-inch jellyroll pan; line with waxed paper; grease slightly. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large electric mixer bowl, at high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form when beaters are slowly lifted. Add 1⁄4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form when beaters are slowly lifted.

With the same beaters, beat yolks at high speed, adding remaining 1⁄2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time; beat until mixture is very thick, about 4 minutes. At low speed, beat in cocoa, vanilla, Kahlua and salt, just until smooth.

With rubber spatula, gently fold cocoa mixture into egg whites just until blended (no egg whites should show).

Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake 15 minutes, just until surface springs back when gently pressed with a fingertip.

Sift confectioner's sugar in a 15x10-inch rectangle on a clean linen towel. Turn cake out on sugar; lift off pan; peel paper off cake. Roll up cake jellyroll-fashion, starting with the short end, towel and all.

Cool completely on rack, seam side down.

For the filling, whip heavy cream and sugar in a medium bowl until peaks form; add vanilla. Beat with electric mixer until thick; chill.

For the icing, in a large bowl mix confectioner's sugar, cocoa and butter until well blended. Add Kahlua by tablespoons until icing is easy to spread.

To assemble, unroll cake; spread with filling to 1-inch from edge; re-roll.

Place, seam side down, on plate.

Cut off ends of roll at angle and place on top of log to simulate knotholes.

Spread icing over log, covering ends but leaving the knothole ends free of icing, allowing the swirl of the roll to show. Use a fork to trace lines in icing to imitate the bark of a tree.

The log may be decorated with holly leaves and berries cut from fondant. Meringue mushrooms may also be placed along the sides of the log.

Fresh Broccoli Salad

2 large bunches of broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces

1 large purple onion peeled, chopped and sliced thin

12 container of grape tomatoes sliced in half

13 head of cauliflower florets, cut into small bite-size pieces

12 cup high quality light olive oil

14 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon white sugar

23 cup candied pecans

Mix broccoli, onion, tomatoes, and cauliflower in a large bowl and chill. Combine olive oil, vinegar and sugar in a bottle and shake. Pour dressing over salad just prior to serving. Add pecans and toss once again.

Party Potato Casserole

6 to 8 red or Yukon gold potatoes peeled and cut up

2 bags of fresh baby spinach

2 purple onions, peeled and sliced, and divided

Olive oil

6 to 8 yellow squash, sliced thick

112 sticks of butter, divided

1 teaspoon white sugar

Dash of salt

1 8-ounce) container sour cream

1 can evaporated milk

1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until tender.

While potatoes cook, sauté spinach and 1 onion in a small amount of olive oil until spinach is wilted and tender. Cook squash and the other onion in 1⁄2 stick melted butter; add a teaspoon of sugar and dash of salt, cook until squash and onion are tender.

Drain potatoes well; add sour cream, remaining 1 stick of butter and whip with electric mixer, adding evaporated milk until potatoes are lump-free and creamy. Add salt to taste.

Drain spinach and set aside, keeping warm; drain squash, keeping warm, and set aside.

In an ovenproof trifle bowl or large clear glass baking dish, gently layer a third of the potatoes, all of the squash, another layer of potatoes, then a spinach layer. Finish with the remaining potatoes, sealing edges. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese melts.

Serve immediately.

NEMS Daily Journal

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