Christmas Carol Inspired Food for the Holidays

By Suzanne Corbett

It’s not too late to get inspired to cook for the holidays. Just turn to the classics, as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with recipes and holidays menus; recently published by Puffin Plated Series from Random House, as one of its “A Book-To-Table-Classics. Recipes are contemporary,  easy and have just right touch of holiday flare such as Herb-Roasted Turkey, Virginia Ham , Smoky Candied Carrots,  and Fruitcake Cookies. Recipes that were contributed by  Giada De Laurentius, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart and Trisha Yearwood Recipes and table top ideas, each Beautifully photographed  that promised to make your gathering merrier.

As a holiday gift, Puffin Plates has served up few of the recipes from its Book-to-Table Classic, A Christmas Carol. Give one or two of them a try.  I’m sure you’ll find them reappearing on your holiday menus for Christmases yet to come.

Stuffed mushroomsStuffed Mushrooms (A Martha Stewart recipe)

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for baking dish and drizzling

24 large button mushrooms

6 ounces sweet Italian sausage (about 2 links)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large shallot, minced

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons finely chopped oregano, plus whole leaves for garnish

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons plain dry breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Clean mushrooms, then remove stems and finely chop (to yield about 1 cup) , reserve caps.  In a large skillet l heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook sausage , breaking it up with a fork, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, shallot, and chopped mushroom stems.; season with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to medium and cook until tender. Transfer to a bowl, stir in parsley and oregano, and let cool.

Add egg ,breadcrumbs, and cheese to cooled sausage mixture. Stir to combine. Place mushrooms caps in prepared baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Stuff caps with sausage mixture, packing tightly, drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Bake mushrooms until tender and tops are browned, 25 – 3o minutes. Serve hot, garnished with additional oregano leaves, if desired. Makes 24.

Cranberry Orange Relish  (A Trisha Yearwood Recipe)

1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

2 oranges, peeled

1 cup sugar

½ cup pecans, finely chopped

Using a food processor, pulse the cranberries and oranges. Transfer the chopped fruit to a 1-quart bowl and add 1/2 cup of sugar, stirring to mix. Add more sugar to taste, as the sweetness of the oranges will vary. Add the chopped pecans and serve.   Makes 2 cups

Smoky Candie Carrots (A Giada de Laurentius recipe)

2 bunches baby carrots, tops trimmed and carrots washed

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Place the carrots in a 10-inch sauté́ pan with the sugar and salt. Add 1 cup water. Place the pan over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-high and continue to simmer vigorously until the liquid has thickened to a syrup and the carrots are fork-tender, about 12 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow the carrots to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Toss the carrots to coat them in the smoky syrup and serve.  Serves 4.


christmas-carolers-youth.jpgSinging Christmas Carols-Inspired Recipes…

Here We come A Wassailing

Wassailing is an old tradition of house-visiting at Christmas. It’s the practice of people going door-to-door, singing and offering a drink from the wassail bowl in exchange for gifts; this practice still exists, in the form of Christmas Caroling –with no punch involved.

(Editors note: Suzanne Corbett, our Travel and Food Editor provided a delicious Wassail for the Book Launch Party last week at All-Star Performance—and it was a big conversation piece. The Wassail was both festive and delicious. From a previous article, here is her recipe.)

The recipe is surprisingly easy and can be served hot or cold. She served it cold and it was a big hit. For the party, she dumped a bunch of cranberries with the floating orange slices and it looked really festive.

Christmas WassailWassail

whole cloves
1 orange, sliced
stick cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon whole allspice

1quart apple cider
1 bottle red wine

Push cloves into the top, middle and bottom of orange. Cut orange into slices between clove lines. Place in a large saucepan. Add cinnamon stick, allspice, and cider. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add red wine and heat until warm. Serve in mugs or punch cups. Makes about 8 servings.

(Recipe by Suzanne Corbett for the historic holiday dinners served at Jefferson Barracks Historic Park)

Figgy Pudding

We Wish You A Merry Christmas, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, We Wish You A Merry Christmas We Wish You A Merry Christma , And A Happy New Year!

Now Bring us some Figgy Pudding…

What’s Figgy Pudding? Well, according to NPR, it’s “absolutely delicious,” said Debbie Waugh, who recently served the dish at a tea at the Historic Green Spring House in Alexandria, Va.” She said it’s also known as plum pudding or Christmas pudding — is a staple of the British Christmas table.

It actually resembles what we call fruit cake.

According to the NPR feature on Figgy Pudding it has 13 ingredients which symbolize the 12 apostles and Christ. It is also set on fire after a bit of brandy is poured over it and everyone applauds the flame.

Christmas is Coming, The Goose is Getting Fat, Please Put A Penny I the Old Man’s Hat

This Christmas song by Harry Belafonte talks about the tradition of roasting a bird for the holiday.  In the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, they called it the “Roast Beast” but it was obvious it was some sort of roasted poultry. There is an Irish tradition to serve duck or goose at Christmas. Many Americans serve a poultry dish for Christmas, whether it is turkey, chicken, goose, pheasant or duck.

Duck with Olives

(Editor’s note: Suzanne Corbett included a duck dish in her book, The Gilded Table; Recipes and Table History from the Campbell House, (shown above) called Duck with Olives. This is a dish that Virginia Campbell would have had her servants prepare for a Christmas Dinner for her husband Robert and family during the Gilded Age  (rouglhy the 1860’s –‘90’s)

Chestnuts Roasting on the Open Fire

Chestnuts roasting on the open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yultide carols being sung by the fire and folks dressed up like Eskimos…

How do you roast a chestnut on the open fire?

There is such a thing that you can use in your fire place in which to roast chestnuts—actually on the open fire. There is also a BBC Recipe that makes it easier in the oven,
Roasting chestnuts is simplicity itself, just follow these simple steps to make a delicious Christmas snack. ( note: “delicious” is in the taster. Not every palate might find them delicious, but we wanted to include them nevertheless)

 Roasted Chestnuts (BBC Recipe)

Cooking time

10 to 30 mins

Serves 6

Ingredients2¼ lb. chestnuts


Heat the oven to 400f

Using a small, sharp knife, cut a cross into the skin of each nut. Put in a roasting tin and bake until the skins open and the insides are tender, about 30 minutes.

Serve in paper bags, if you like. To eat, peel away the tough outer skin and the pithy white inner skin to get to the sweet kernel.







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