by Tara Davis

I suppose it’s time we have the talk. You know. The talk about holiday season food. Thanksgiving is usually more straight forward. We know what to expect and how to get there. The rest of the season can be a complicated, deep, diverse and sometimes awkward conversation. But have it we must.

From Hanukah to Christmas, Kwanzaa to Winter Solstice, we all connect with the stories and history of the season. This is also a deeply personal season for food- whether your traditions lean more classic with turkey and potatoes, your family (like mine) makes gumbo or ettoufee every year, or you visit the local Chinese restaurant and hit the movies, we all have deep seated emotional ties to the ways in which we celebrate.

The Recipes:

The Yule Log, or Buche de Noel may not in name sound terribly appetizing But it is, in truth, merely a sweets stuffed sponge cake of sorts. French in origin, it is traditionally served during the meal following Christmas Eve Mass, and used to be decorated to resemble a tree log. Here’s an easy, modern take:

Whisk together 4 egg yolks and 1/3 c sugar until they have doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Fold in 1/2 c all purpose flour, 3 tbsp melted, cooled butter and 3 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks.

Place mixture in a butter cake pan and bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Invert pan onto cutting board to cool completely. Place the cake on a clean, damp towel. Spread a mixture of your favorite cooked fruit and buttercream frosting over the cake and use the towel to gently roll the cake into a cylinder. Allow to rest, refrigerated, 30 minutes. Top with powdered sugar or cocoa powder and slice to serve.

If you have ever taken part in an annual cookie exchange, you may find it interesting that the first evidence of the practice’s popularity comes from World War 1 fundraisers, rather than even trades. However, we have turned the concept into a modern, fun way to share the fruits of our December labors. I enjoy throwing in something more savory to break through the sugar, by way of cheese puff balls:

Combine 1/2 c breadcrumbs, 2 c shredded cheddar, 2 egg yolks, 1 tsp mustard and 1 tsp worchestershire sauce. Best 2 egg white until stiff peaks form, and fold into cheese mixture. Form 1 inch balls, and fry in vegetable oil small batches 2 minutes, or until golden.

The 1825 Oxford English Dictionary defined eggnog as “A drink in which the whites and yolks of eggs are stirred with hot beer, wine or spirits.” I don’t know about all that, but this beverage has been traced as far back as the 1600s in rudimentary forms, and certainly deserves a place at our parties and tables. An old, tried and true recipe:

Thoroughly beat 10 eggs with 2 cups sugar. Stir in 1.25 at brandy, 1 c rum, 1,25 gallons milk and 2 tbsp each nutmeg and cinnamon.

Whatever your traditions may be, enjoy them to the fullest this year, and happy holidays to you and yours.

Please contact me if you have any questions at (228)224-6781 or