Thursday, December 20, 2007

Portuguese French Toast or Brazilian Rabanadas

Many countries celebrate a white Christmas but, since it is Summer time in Brazil, many places have Christmas lights on palm trees. However, we also exchange gifts, decorate our houses with lights, put up trees and have large family reunions. Turkey and roasted pork are traditional dishes during Christmas supper. 

Another Christmas tradition here is the Portuguese French toast or "rabanadas" that were brought from Portugal and consist of french bread, milk, eggs, and cinnamon sugar on top. It is a part of my husband's family memories on Christmas day. My father-in-law usually orders the bread in advance and keeps this tradition going. It is like a magic moment, an opportunity to spend time with the family members during breakfast or the afternoon snack. As this year we are celebrating Christmas with my parents, I already asked my mother-in-law to make "rabanadas" on New Year's day!

Rabanadas - From the kitchen of my mother-in-law

About 20 1-inch-thick (2.5 cm) slices french bread
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk (reserve other half for topping)
2 cups of milk
3 eggs, separated

About 3 tablespoons oil for pan-frying
Sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle, condensed milk or syrup to pour over fried bread

1) If possible, buy the bread the day before, slice it and let it sit overnight in an open container.

2) Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add egg yolks and beat again until thick.

3) In a medium bowl, combine half can of condensed milk with the milk.

4) Soak lightly each slice of bread with the dissolved condensed milk, drain the excess and coat the slice with eggs whites.

5) Fry in hot oil until golden brown on each side. Place on paper towel to drain and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, condensed milk, or syrup. Serve warm.

Does your family have any Christmas traditions?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fruity Pastel Cookies - Christmas cookies from around the world

Baking cookies at Christmas is an old tradition that so many people treasure. I did some research and found out that the tradition of leaving Christmas cookies and milk for Santa isn’t a very old one. It is believed to have started around the 1930s during the time of the Great Depression. So, if you were nice, you thank Santa for the hard work on Christmas Eve, and if you were naughty you can still try to bribe him with some cookies!

I gave these cookies to our children's preschool teachers as a Christmas gift, placed them in clear boxes and attached a bow to the lid.

This is another contribution for Susan at Food Blogga who is hosting the Eat Christmas cookies event until December 24th. To join the fun and share your recipes, please click the red logo on the right for instructions.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 package (3 ounces) lime gelatin or flavor of your choice
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Red and green colored sugar and/or sprinkles

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and gelatin powder. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Using a cookie press fitted with the disk of your choice, press dough 2 inches (5 cm) apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Decorate as desired with colored sugar and/or sprinkles. Bake at 400°F (200 °C) for 6-8 minutes or until set (do not brown). Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool.

6 dozen

From our home to yours:
I used two flavors of gelatin powder and created red and green cookies.
- Remove cookies while they are still hot so they don't stick to the pan.

Adapted from magazine Taste of Home, Dec/Jan 2003

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Holiday Cheese Spread - Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style

Every year my family throws a big Christmas dinner and we invite some friends. My friend Walkiria showed up a few years ago with a tasty snowman cheese spread that was too cute to eat. It "melted away" quickly as everyone wanted to get a taste of it.

This is my entry for the Annual Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style recipe exchange. If you would like to participate, please visit Overwhelmed with Joy for the guidelines. And happy cooking!

3 slices bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1 pkg. (8oz - 240 g) cream cheese softened
2 cups finely shredded Cheddar cheese (I used smoked ricotta)
Garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper to taste.

1) Place bacon on roasting rack, cover with paper towel and microwave at High for 3 to 6 minutes or until brown and crisp. Cool and crumble.

2) Mix butter, cheese, cream cheese, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper in medium bowl until well blended. Add bacon and combine well. Divide mixture in half.

For the snowman:
2 pretzel sticks
black peppercorns
1 whole pimiento
1 pimiento-stuffed green olive
1 baby carrot

1) Divide one half of them mixture into 2 or 3 portions (depending on the type of snowman you want to make). Shape each portion into ball , making balls for head and upper body slightly smaller than base. Stack balls on serving tray.
2) Make snowman's arms by inserting pretzel sticks into cheese. Decorate with peppercorns for the eyes and buttons. Add carrot for the nose. Cut small piece of pimiento for mouth. Cut 1/2 inch-wide strip of pimiento to make scarf. Trim top and bottom of olive and use wooden pick to secure olive to cracker for the hat. Place on head.

For Santa's boot:
Sliced almonds
Black peppercorns
pimiento strips

Shape remaining half of cheese mixture into boot shape. Trim top of boot with sliced almonds to resemble fur. Use peppercorns and pimiento for laces and bow.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Congo Bars and Christmas Cookies around the world

I am so far behind with the Thanksgiving recipes I promised to post here that I decided to switch to Holiday cooking! Last year my old small group organized a Christmas party and there was a gift exchange. It was a lot of fun, the hostess gave away Congo Bars baked in small bundt pans and wrapped in clear cellophane to each of us. I asked for the recipe and she was kind enough to share her secret with us. These make a great gift.

Susan at Food Blogga is hosting an event called Eat Christmas cookies from now through December 24th, and I wanted to share this recipe that tastes so much like cookies and it is so easy to make. To see all the wonderful Christmas cookies recipes from around the world, you just need to click the red logo!

5 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup chopped Brazilian nuts or walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1) Preheat oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Grease 10 x 15 inch pan. (You can use small bundt pans or 12 muffin cups).

2) Combine butter and sugar in bowl. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt; blend well. Fold in chips and nuts. Turn in pan, spread evenly.

3) Bake until top is lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack; let cool. Cut into bars and sprinkle confectioner's sugar on top. Congo bars will freeze.