Brie and Prosciutto Bread Pudding
This recipe is one of the new additions to the book. "It's easy. It's the kind of thing that's great for a brunch," whether for Christmas Day or anytime during the year you have overnight guests, Murray says.
Bread puddings were originally made by frugal cooks who wanted to avoid wasting stale bread, Murray writes. Popular still, they take on all sorts of delicious forms. One version is a breakfast dish, often called a strata because the bread is layered with a savoury custard, plus cheese and other ingredients such as ham or sausage.
Murray suggests using egg bread for this since it melds into the custard and melted cheese, even with the crust left on.
10 to 12 slices egg bread
50 ml (1/4 cup) butter, melted
125 g (4 oz) prosciutto, slivered
250 g (8 oz) brie, rind removed and cut into cubes
250 ml (1 cup) grated old cheddar cheese
750 ml (3 cups) milk
50 ml (1/4 cup) minced shallots
15 ml (1 tbsp) Dijon mustard
2 ml (1/2 tsp) each salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash each Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces
5 ml (1 tsp) paprika
Line a greased 3-l (13-by-9-inch) baking dish with half of the bread, cutting it to fit. Brush bread with half the butter. Sprinkle with half the prosciutto and half the brie and cheddar. Repeat layers.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, then whisk in milk, shallots, mustard, salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces. Pour egg mixture over bread, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Sprinkle top of pudding with paprika, then bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour or until puffed and crisp on top. Cut into squares to serve.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
"I love the pickled mushrooms recipe," says Murray. "That's a fun one."
Years ago in Ukrainian-Canadian homes, wild mushrooms were pickled for special winter meals, she writes. Today, although mushrooms are readily available, these delicacies are still enjoyed on Ukrainian Christmas Eve (Jan. 6), but also make a nice addition to any selection of appetizers throughout the year.
500 g (1 lb) small white button mushrooms
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) white vinegar
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) hot water
1 bay leaf
50 ml (1/4 cup) canola oil
2 cloves garlic, halved
10 ml (2 tsp) salt
5 ml (1 tsp) whole black peppercorns
2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground mace
1 ml (1/4 tsp) hot pepper flakes
150 ml (2/3 cup) white vinegar (approx)
Mushrooms: Clean and place in a non-reactive saucepan. Add white vinegar, hot water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Drain, discarding liquid and bay leaf. Let cool, then pack in a 1-l (4-cup) glass jar.
Pickling mixture: In a small bowl, mix together oil, garlic, salt, peppercorns, mace and hot pepper flakes, stirring until salt dissolves. Pour oil mixture over mushrooms, then add enough vinegar to cover mushrooms, but no more than 150 ml (2/3 cup). Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2 or 3 days before using. Serve cold and well drained.
Makes about 625 ml (2 1/2 cups).
It has become a tradition for Murray and her daughter-in-law Cherrie to make cookies together every year. Her son Allen chooses the ones he wants and Pecan Crescents are usually on the list.
"We end up making most of the cookies out of the book," said Murray. "Sometimes we use a recipe from a magazine but find ourselves returning to the 'tried and true' ones in the book."
1/4 vanilla bean
250 ml (1 cup) icing sugar
250 ml (1 cup) butter, softened
125 ml (1/2 cup) icing sugar
10 ml (2 tsp) vanilla
500 ml (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
500 ml (2 cups) finely chopped pecans
Vanilla sugar: Cut piece of vanilla bean into several pieces. Combine it with about 45 ml (3 tbsp) of the icing sugar in a mini-chopper or a blender and blend at high speed until well integrated. (Alternatively, pound ingredients together in a mortar and pestle.)
Add vanilla mixture to remaining icing sugar. Let vanilla sugar sit for a day or two so that the flavours can blend.
When you are ready to make the cookies, heat oven to 160 C (325 F).
In a large bowl, cream butter, gradually add 125 ml (1/2 cup) icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour and salt and add to creamed mixture. Fold in pecans. Using 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the dough for each cookie, shape into crescents. Place on ungreased baking sheets and bake for 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Gently sprinkle vanilla sugar over warm cookies until covered. Let cool completely on racks and store cookies in an airtight container.
Makes about 72 cookies.
Almond or Hazelnut Crescents
Follow the recipe for Pecan Crescents, substituting 500 ml (2 cups) finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts for the pecans.
Source: "Rose Murray's Christmas Cooking: The Classic Guide to Holiday Feasts" by Rose Murray (Whitecap Books, 2013).