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Holiday recipes for brunch bread pudding, pickled mushrooms and pecan crescents

12/04/2013 01:58 EST | Updated 02/03/2014 05:59 EST
Here are some recipes from "Rose Murray's Christmas Cooking: The Classic Guide to Holiday Feasts."

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Bread puddings were originally made by frugal cooks who wanted to avoid wasting stale bread, Murray writes.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

6 eggs

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.

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Pickled Mushrooms

"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.

Mushrooms

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

Pickling Mixture

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).

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Pecan Crescents

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."

Vanilla Sugar

1/4 vanilla bean

250 ml (1 cup) icing sugar

Cookies

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).

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