Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

Danish Pastry With Lemon and Cream Cheese

by Danica Waters

Danish Pastry With Lemon and Cream Cheese remains one of my family’s Christmas morning standards, just as it has been for the last ten years.  It is not only a recipe  that is deceptively easy to make, it also happens  to be one that is easy to make ahead of the big day, which is very, very mportant.

Indeed,  I have far better things to do with my time and energy on Christmas Eve  than worry about what I’m going to feed everybody the next morning.

Like figuring out where I put all the gifts I’d tucked out of sight (and mind) during the previous year.  And then gift wrapping them all.  Every last one.

Eeeeesh.

So here it is, folks.  The most dee-licious cheese-filled danish, with a crisp-tender, yeast-based crust and a yummy lemony-cream cheese center.

Make it now.  Freeze it for Christmas.  Love your inner procrastinator.

Enjoy!

Danish Pastry With Lemon and Cream Cheese

(Colorado Cache Cookbook)

1 package dry yeast

1/4 C lukewarm water

1 tsp sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 C all-purpose flour, sifted

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 C butter

2 – 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, softened

1 C sugar

1 tsp fresh lemon juice + 1/2 tsp zest of lemon

Powdered sugar, to dust danishes

 

Mix yeast, water, and sugar.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Add egg.  Cut butter into flour and salt and mix well.  Add yeast mixture.  Divide into two balls and roll each out into 8×10 inch rectangles.

Make filling by combining cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice and zest.

Spread 1/2 of the filling on each rectangle in the center, and fold each long side in towards the middle, trying to make sure the sides overlap a little bit at first (they will spread).

Fold the short ends up about 1-1/2 inches.

Bake immediately at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.

Cool danishes on racks and dust with powdered sugar.

To serve, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into wedges.

Serves 10-15

 

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Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows

by Danica Waters

Tomorrow brings the United States of America’s cherished annual Thanksgiving celebration.  A kickoff to our winter holiday season, Thanksgiving is a special day hopefully spent with family and close friends in shared celebration of each other and with a grateful spirit for all that we have.  In an ideal world, Thanksgiving inspires warm and beautiful visions of bounty and togetherness, laughter and shared memories, hopes and dreams for the future, and lots and lots of “Kodak Moments”.  And food.  Lots of food.

Indeed, across Facebook, American friends of the Allspice Chronicles are conversing about how their kettles are steaming, their pie crusts are filled with lovely, tempting deliciousness, their tables are set and ready for wonderful celebrations nationwide.  As most cooks will confess:  on this holiday, there is no place we’d rather be than creating art in the kitchen by stirring spices, magic and love into a feast for those we love the most, for new friends and old.

But Thanksgiving can quickly turn into a daunting and disheartening experience for those who have fallen on hard times, and in our great country and around the world, that number is rising.  I am reminded of a young mother of two whose husband had lost his job last year when his company closed its doors.  She was one of the best employees at this place of work- always on time, always one to give 110 percent.  Although she never complained about her situation, just before Thanksgiving she became rather withdrawn.  We all vaguely knew she must have been under some serious financial stress, given that there were medical problems within the family and she had no medical benefits, but no one knew the extent of it, and everyone felt uncomfortable about inquiring into the particulars.

In a moment of work stress and desperation, she finally confided in one of her peers about her financial situation, about how she didn’t know how she was even going to afford groceries, let alone a celebratory dinner for her husband and her precious little girls.

(Now here, folks, is where the human spirit shines.)

The news went around the workplace like wildfire, and within 24 hours a plan was developed to provide her family all the ingredients for a generous Thanksgiving dinner.  Employees who really didn’t have the extra cash to give found a way to pitch in, and what started as a Thanksgiving rescue plan morphed into an offering of food and enough cash and grocery gift cards to take care of the distressed employee and her family for a good while.

This Thanksgiving, the Allspice Chronicles would like to offer its first toast to the human spirit.  May we always remain aware of and sensitive to the plight of others, and may we diligently work together to alleviate suffering in our own backyard, if not worldwide.

It is, after all, a very small world.

To that point, after posting Camille Glenn’s recipe for Alabama Yams with Oranges, one of our readers from Africa submitted a request for the Allspice Chronicles to expand on the traditional American preparation for Sweet Potatoes/Yams with Toasted Marshmallows.  Given that the sweet potato is a staple of the African diet, and given the horrible state of drought and famine that certain portions of Africa are experiencing, it was humbling,  endearing and enlightening to receive such a request.

We at the Allspice Chronicles hope more than anything to see the eradication of world hunger, poverty, suffering.  It is the least we can do to provide a recipe, extracted from the sentimental foundation of our cherished common American experiences, and we look forward to the day when our little blog will feature personal stories and heirloom recipes from around the world.  Diversity makes us rich, stories show us how much we are the same.

After all, food, like music,  is an international language.   We all may express it differently, but in the end it contains the same basic ingredients which serve to nourish and inspire, comfort and console our weary spirits.  And for this, may we all be thankful.

Here’s the recipe for Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows.

Enjoy!

 

Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows

4-5 medium sweet potatoes

1/4 C butter

1/4 C milk

2-3 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Marshmallows

 

Bake sweet potatoes until soft.  Scoop out the soft flesh from the skins into a large bowl; discard the skins.  Add butter, milk, salt, and brown sugar; mix with hand mixer or potato masher until light and fluffy.  Taste mixture and adjust seasonings to suit your preference; mix thoroughly.

Spoon sweet potato mixture into buttered 9 x 9″ baking dish.

Top with miniature marshmallows, or with whole marshmallows cut in half.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes;  switch heat to “Broil – High Heat” and allow to cook until marshmallows bubble and turn dark brown on top.  (This will give it the perfect flavor)

Allow to rest 5 minutes prior to serving.

Serves 4 – 6

 

 

 

 

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Alabama Yams With Oranges

by Danica Waters / image courtesy of www.unwinnable.com

Traditionally, any yam served in my childhood home during the month of November was baked, mashed with butter, cream, a wee bit of salt and brown sugar, and covered with mounds of fluffy marshmallows that were subsequently broiled until nearly black and gooey on top.  Come to think of it, the only time we actually ate yams back then was during the month of November.

Upon having children of my own and deciding early on there was no way I was going to feed my babies processed baby nasty-food,  I did some research into the nutritional merits of these terrific tubers.  It seems they have a far lower glycemic index than regular potatoes.  They also happen to be packed with potassium, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin B3 while registering low on the sodium counter.  Best of all, kids actually like to eat them with little or no negotiation, marshmallows or no marshmallows.   I started serving them regularly to the whole family as a tasty side that could double as homemade baby food.  Two birds with one stone?  That’s how I roll!  Baked in their skins with a dash of butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, or cut up and oven-roasted, yams are delicious and appear on my household menus at least once a week.

However tasty the good old fashioned yam might happen to be all by itself, the holidays call for something a bit more elegant, more celebratory.  This is it.  From the Heritage of Southern Cooking, author (and southern cooking guru) Camille Glenn has this to say:

 

” This is the Deep South way with yams or sweet potatoes.  It seems to always show up with the Thanksgiving turkey, but it is just as compatible with a good ham or chicken.  Do not peel either the potatoes or the orange.  If you don’t have a luscious rich sauce, you have been too cautious with the butter.”

 

Amen.  Be sure to slice the oranges as thin as possible – if you have a mandoline slicer, use it, but if not, just be sure to cut the slices super-thin.  Use real butter, and for heaven’s sake, listen to Ms. Glenn!  Don’t be shy!  It’s the holidays, after all.  This dish is excellent served with Green Beans Sauteed With Olive Oil; the citrus overtones keep the palate fresh and thoroughly entertained.

Enjoy!

 

Alabama Yams With Oranges

(Heritage of Southern Cooking, by Camille Glenn)

6 yams or sweet potatoes, fully cooked and cooled (I bake mine for approximately 30 minutes at 400 degrees – the yam shouldn’t be too mushy, but it should be cooked to the point that it can be easily sliced)

3 navel oranges, thinly sliced

1/2 to 3/4 C (1 to –1/2 sticks) butter

3/4 C sugar

1 C fresh orange juice

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Peel and slice the cooked sweet potatoes very thin and place one layer in a shallow buttered baking dish.  Top with a layer of orange slices.  Dot generously with butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Continue layering.  You should have 3 layers, ending with a layer of potatoes, butter, and topping it off with sugar.

Mix the orange juice with the lemon juice and pour it over the potatoes.

Bake until a pleasant syrup has formed and the top is tinged with brown.

Serves 6 – 8

 

 

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