Holiday Recipes

This is a mixed bag of recipes. From traditional French Canadian fare, to interesting seafood recipes for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, to our favourite Christmas dinner (Danish!), along with Mom's Christmas Cake, there is much to enjoy here, even if it's only once a year.

Table of Contents

  1. Traditional French Canadian Fare
  2. Other Holiday Fare
  3. For Christmas Eve or New Years Eve
  4. Our Favourite Christmas Dinner
  5. Turkey Recipes
  6. Leftovers

1.   Traditional French Canadian Fare

Ragoût de Pattes (Pork Hock Stew)

2 - 3 lbs pork hocks, cut in pieces, skin removed
1-2 pork trotters
1 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp fat (Crisco oil)
4 - 6 cups lukewarm water (or light broth)
1 cup onions, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
4 - 6 tbsp browned flour
1/2 cup water

1.   Remove skin from hocks and de-bone them. Roll the pieces of hock meat in a mixture of the salt, pepper and flour. Do not flour trotters, pork skin.

2.   Melt the fat in a heavy saucepan. Brown the hocks and add pork hock skin, bones and trotters, (there lies the secret for successful ragoût.) When the meat is well browned, add the onions and garlic and stir around until light brown, then add the tepid water (or light broth). Add bay leaves, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender, approximately 2 hours. Remove skin, trotters and bones, cloves, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.

3.   Shake together in a glass jar, the flour and 1/2 cup water. Pour into the broth and cook while stirring, until a good thick consistency. (Remember that it takes a bit more flour to thicken gravy than it takes white flour.)

Ragoût de Boulettes (Meat Ball Stew)

1 lb fresh lean pork
1/2 lb minced beef
1/4 lb ground veal or beef
1 small onion minced
2 tbsp parsley
1/4 tsp ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper
3 tbsp fat (or Crisco oil)
3 cups water (light broth or broth form pork hocks)
4 tbsp browned flour
1/2 cup water

1.   Put through the meat chopper 3 times, the fresh pork, minced beef and veal. Add the onion, parsley, ginger, and dry mustard. Add the beaten egg. Salt and pepper, make into balls. Flour them (with white flour).

2.   Fry the meat balls in a fat of your choice. Pour 3 cups of water (broth) over the meat balls. Add bay leaves, cinnamon stick and cloves. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and cloves.

3.   Shake together in a jar the flour and 1/2 cup water. Pour into the broth and continue cooking, stirring until it thickens to a good consistency.


1 lb minced pork (or 50% pork, 25% beef or game, 25% veal)
1 small onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp savory
1/4 tsp celery pepper
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup water (or broth)
1/4 - 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

1.    Place all the ingredients in a saucepan except the bread crumbs. Bring to a boil and cook 20 minutes, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring often to break up the meat. Remove from heat.

2.    Add a few spoonfuls bread crumbs, let stand 10 minutes. If the fat is sufficiently absorbed by the bread crumbs, do not add more. If not, continue in the same manner. Cool and pour into a pastry-lined pie pan. Cover with pastry. Bake in a 500 F. oven until the top is well browned. Serve hot. With special chile relish.

Other Holiday Fare

Mom's Christmas Cake

12 eggs
5 cups flour
1 lb butter
1 lb sultana raisins
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 lb currants
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 lb glazed cherries
2 lbs seeded dark raisins
1/2 lb mixed pineapple
1/2 lb almonds
1/4 lb pecans
1/2 lb mixed fruit
juice and rind of 1 lemon
1 lb dates (pitted)
1 tsp soda
1 tsp mace
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1.    Prepare the fruit by cutting finely the dates, peel, cherries, almonds and pecans. Add the raisins and currants and dredge with 1 cup of the flour.

2.    Beat the eggs. Cream the butter and add the sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla and juice and rind of the lemon. Sift in the balance of the flour with the spices, soda and cream of tartar and add half of this mixture to the previous mixture. 3.   Add the prepared fruit, then the remainder of the flour mixture. Bake in oiled and lined tins for three (3) hours in a slow oven of 225 F. degrees.

Madame Benoit's Butter Tarts

3 tbsp. butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup dried raisins, seedless
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
½ tsp vanilla [pastry for tarts, pressed into tart tins or muffin tins]
  1. Cream the butter, and gradually add the brown sugar, until similar to a light cream. Beat the egg. Add this to the sugar/butter cream a little at a time, stirring all the while. Sprinkle the salt over the mixture. Add the raisins, continuing to stir while you add the walnuts and the vanilla. Add a generous tablespoon of this mixture to each tart.

  2. Bake the tarts for 8 minutes in a 400 F. oven, reduce the temperature to 375 F. and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes until the filling sets and the pastry begins to colour.

For Christmas Eve or New Years Eve


(Ingredients given are for a Paella for 4 or for 6 and a large paella pan)

8 or 12 large shrimp, de-veined
12 or 18 clams, cleaned
12 or 18 mussels, cleaned
1/2 cup or 3/4 cup squid, cleaned
8 or 10 chicken drumsticks or thighs, skinned
salt and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium or large pork chop, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 green pepper chopped
1 1/2 or 2 cups of rice
3 or 4 cups stock
1/4 tsp saffron, ground
1 or 2 dry chorizo sausages, cut in 1/4 inch rounds
1/2 - 1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips
1/3 or 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen peas

1.   Clean all the seafood as required.

2.   Salt and pepper the chicken pieces and brown them in olive oil in a skillet. Remove them to a plate.

3.   Now prepare the sofrito. Add the pork to the skillet and brown it over medium heat, then add the onions, garlic, chopped peppers and tomato. Stir constantly and cook the mixture briskly until the liquid in the pan has evaporated and the mixture is thick and holds its shape. Set aside.

4.   Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a 12 or 15 inch paella pan, combine the sofrito, the rice, a pinch of salt and the saffron. Pour in the stock and stir constantly, bringing the mixture to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and arrange the chicken, seafood, chorizo, red pepper strips on top of the rice, and scatter some peas over it. Set it on the bottom rack of the oven and bake it for 25-30 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. When it is done, remove from the oven, cover with a towel for 8 minutes, garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

Pasta and Oysters

1 16 ounce container of oysters
clam nectar
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp.. of flour
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup parsley
1 tbsp.. Worcestershire sauce

1.   Drain the liquor from a 16 ounce container of oysters and place in a cup measuring cup. Add enough clam nectar to make about 12 ounces of liquid. Then add enough water to the oyster liquor and the clam nectar to make a total of 16 ounces of liquid.

2.   Transfer the liquid to a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Add oysters and cook them for 3 minutes or until the edges curl. Transfer the edges with a slotted spoon to a hot platter and cover them with a piece of buttered wax paper. Reserve the oyster broth.

3.   In a heavy saucepan, melt 1/4 cup of butter. Add the 2 tbsp.. of flour and cook the roux over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the reserved oyster broth in a stream, whisking, and cook the sauce over moderately high heat stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate, add 1/2 cup chopped scallion, 1/4 cup minced parsley, 1 tbsp.. Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.

4.   Prepare the pasta until just 'al dente'. Add the reserved oysters and simmer them for one minute, or just until they are heated through. Drain the pasta and put into a serving dish, and serve the sauce and oysters over the pasta. Serves 2.

Pasta with Caviar

pasta for two (or four), preferably thin spaghetti
1/4 lb. butter, soft
4 ounces of caviar
juice of 1/2 lemon
heated bowl for serving

1.   Cook the pasta 'al dente'. Put the soft butter into the heated bowl. Lift the pasta from the boiling pot into the bowl, draining it into the pot first.

2.   Mix the caviar into the pasta in its bowl tossing it well with wooden forks. Add the lemon juice and toss again. Serve immediately in hot pasta bowls.

Oyster and Ham Pie

1 batch basic pie crust, rolled out into two 9 inch circles
3 cups coarsely ground ham (use real ham!)
2 tbsp Grey Poupon mustard
2 cups shelled and drained oysters
2 tbsp. peeled and finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup whipping cream

1.   Line a shallow 9 inch pie plate with one of the crust circles. Mix the ham with the mustard and spread over the bottom crust. Put in a layer of oysters, and sprinkle with the chopped onion. Add salt and pepper and dot with butter. Pour the cream over all and cover with the other crust half. Prick the top of the dough with a fork and bake in a 400 oven until flaky and brown, about 30 minutes. Serve hot or cold. Serves 6.

Risotto con le Ostriche (Risotto with Oysters)


1 tbsp. unsalted butter
8 oysters, shucked and chopped
2 tbsp. minced green onion, white part only
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup light cream
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley


5 1/2 cups Basic Fish broth (we use canned clam nectar as a substitute)


2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. finely minced onion


1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1.   Condimenti:

Heat the butter in a small skillet over moderate heat. When it begins to foam, add the oysters and green onion and cook gently for 1 to 2 minutes, until the oysters begin to give up their juices. Add the wine, turn the heat to high, and boil vigorously until the liquid in the pan has been reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and set aside.

2.   Brodo:

Bring the brother to a steady simmer in a saucepan on top of the stove.

3.   Soffritto:

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy 4-quart casserole over moderate heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until it begins to soften, being careful not to brown it.

4.   Riso:

Add the rice to the soffritto; using a wooden spoon, stir for 1 minute, making sure all the grains are well coated. Begin to add the simmering broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

5.   After approximately 18 minutes, when the rice is tender but still firm, add the condimenti (oysters, cream and parsley) and stir vigorously to combine with the rice. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Our Favourite Christmas Dinner

This one comes right out of the Time-Life Cookbooks: The Cooking of Scandinavia. I've been to Sweden, but regrettably not to Denmark, and this is apparently a traditional Danish Christmas dinner which quite marvellous.

It consists of four dishes:
Gaasesteg mid Aebler og Svedsker (Roast Goose Stuffed with Apples and Prunes),
Halve Aebler med Svedsker (Poached Apple Halves Stuffed with Prunes in Port Wine),
Brunede Kartofler (Caramelized Potatoes), and
Rødkaal (Braised RedCabbage).

Gaasesteg mid Aebler og Svedsker (Roast Goose Stuffed with Apples and Prunes)

8- to 10-pound young goose
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
2 cups pre-soaked dried prunes, pitted and chopped
1 large onion, peeled and quartered

1.   Preheat the oven to 325. To prepare this classic Danish Christmas dish, first wash the goose under cold running water. Pat it thoroughly dry with paper towels, then rub the bird inside and out with the cut side of a half a lemon. Lightly salt and pepper the inside, and stuff the cavity with the coarsely chopped apples and prunes and the onion quarters. Close the opening by lacing it with skewers or by sewing it with heavy white thread. Fasten the neck skin to the back of the goose with a skewer and truss the bird securely so that it will keep its shape while cooking.

2.   Roast the goose on a rack set in a shallow open pan for 3 to 3 hours (about 20 to 25 minutes to the pound). As the goose fat accumulates in the pan, draw it off with a bulb baster or large kitchen spoon. Basting the goose itself is unnecessary.

3.   To test whether the bird is done, pierce the thigh with the tip of a small, sharp knife. if the juice that runs out is still somewhat pink, roast another 5 to 10 minutes. If the juice is a pale yellow, set the finished bird in the turned-off oven with the door ajar for about 15 minutes to make it easier to carve.

4.   Transfer the goose to a large heated platter and remove the string and skewers. Scoop out the stuffing and discard it. The fruits and onion will have imparted their flavour to the goose but will be too fatty to serve. Accompany with other traditional dishes below. Serves 4 to 6.

Halve Aebler med Svedsker (Poached Apple Halves Stuffed with Prunes in Port Wine)

16 medium prunes
2 tsp sugar
2/3 cup port wine
8 baking apples
1 cup sugar
1 quart cold water

1.   In an enameled, stainless-steel or ovenproof glass bowl, combine the wine, sugar and prunes. marinate the prunes in this mixture for at least 6 hours, then preheat the oven to 350 . Bake the prunes in their bowl, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until they are tender but not falling apart.

2.   Meanwhile, prepare the poached apples. Pare the apples and cut them in half vertically. Scoop out the cores as neatly as possible with a small, sharp knife. In a 2- to 3-quart enameled or stainless-steel saucepan, combine the sugar and water, bring to a boil, and boil steadily for 2 or 3 minutes. Then lower the heat and add the apple halves, 8 at a time. Simmer for 10 minutes, until they are tender but not too soft. Transfer the poached apples to a heated platter with a slotted spoon and poach the remaining apples. Drain the baked prunes of all of their liquid and place 1 prune in each apple half.

Note: To prepare these in advance, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Just before serving, place the prune-filled apples on a lightly buttered cookie sheet, cover with foil and bake 10 minutes in a preheated 400 oven. Serves 8.

Brunede Kartofler (Caramelized Potatoes)

24 small new potatoes
cup sugar
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1.   Drop the un-peeled potatoes into a pan of boiling water and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until they offer no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Let them cool slightly; then peel them.

2.   Melt the cup of sugar in a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet over low heat. Cook slowly for 3 to 5 minutes, until the sugar turns to a light-brown caramel. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon and watch the sugar closely; the syrup changes colour very rapidly and burns easily. It must not become too dark or it will be bitter. Stir in the melted butter, and add as many potatoes as possible without crowding the pan. Shake the pan almost constantly to roll the potatoes and coat them on all sides with the caramel. Remove the hot, caramelized potatoes to a heated serving bowl and repeat the procedure until all the potatoes are coates. Serves 8.

Rødkaal (Braised Red Cabbage)

1 medium head red cabbage (2 to 2 pounds)
4 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup red currant jelly
2 tbsp grated apple

1.   Wash the head of cabbage under cold running water, remove the rough outer leaves, and cut the cabbage in half from top to bottom. Lay the flat sides down on the chopping board, cut away the core and slice the cabbage very finely. There should be approximately 9 cups of shredded cabbage when you finish.

2.   Preheat the oven to 325. Combine the butter, sugar, salt, water and vinegar in a heavy stainless-steel or enameled 4- to 5-quart casserole. When it comes to a boil and the butter has melted, add the shredded cabbage and toss thoroughly with two wooden spoons or forks. Bring to a boil again, cover tightly and place in the centre of the oven to braise for 2 hours. There is little danger that the cabbage will dry out during the cooking, but it is a good idea to check on the liquid level occasionally. Add a little water if it seems necessary.

3.   About 10 minutes before the cabbage is finished, stir in the jelly and grated apple, replace the cover and complete the cooking. Serves 6.

Note: The piquant taste of red cabbage will improve if, after it has cooled, it is allowed to rest for a day in the refrigerator and then reheated either on top of the stove or in a 325 oven.

Turkey Recipes

Roast Turkey with Oyster Stuffing and Giblet Gravy

7 - 9 lb Turkey
1 tsp sage
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 tsp thyme
4 oz (1/2 cup) butter
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
oyster liquor or chicken stock
1/2 cup chopped parsley
softened butter
1/2 pint shucked oysters
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 cup velouté sauce
1 cup chopped walnuts
cheese cloth

1.   Pat dry a 7-9 lb. turkey and reserve the liver for other uses.

2.   Make 2 - 3 cups turkey giblet stock from remaining giblets, reserving the giblets.

3.   In a skillet, cook 1 cup chopped onion in 4 oz. butter over moderate heat for 5 minutes, or until softened, and add 1 1/2 cups chopped celery and 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Cook mixture for 5 minutes, or until celery is softened. Let cool.

4.   Drain 1/2 pint shucked oysters, reserving the liquor. Chop them coarsely and in a large bowl, combine them with onion mixture, bread crumbs, walnuts, sage, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Moisten stuffing with oyster liquor or chicken stock.

5.   Sprinkle the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper and pack the neck cavity loosely with the stuffing. Fold the neck skin under the body and fasten it with a skewer. Pack the body cavity loosely with the stuffing, cover it with a crumpled piece of foil, and truss the turkey. Transfer the remaining stuffing to a buttered 1 1/2 quart baking dish and reserve it, covered with foil, and chill. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

6.   Spread softened butter on turkey.

7.   On the rack of a roasting pan, roast the turkey on one side in a preheated hot oven for 15 minutes. Turn the turkey to the other side and roast it for 15 minutes more. Reduce the heat to 325 F., turn the turkey breast side up, and arrange a piece of cheesecloth soaked in 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled, over it.

8.   Roast the turkey, basting it every 20 minutes, for 1 3/4 hours, until juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork. (Inserted meat thermometer in thigh should register 185 F.)

9.   During the last hour of roasting, bake the reserved stuffing, covered for 40 minutes, and uncovered for 20 minutes more.

10.   Remove and discard the cheesecloth and trussing strings. Transfer the turkey to a platter and keep it warm, covered with foil.

11.   Pour most of the fat from the pan, add 1/2 cup dry white wine and de-glaze the pan over high heat scraping up the brown bits clinging to the bottom and sides. Reduce the liquid by half, stir in 1 cup veloute sauce, made with giblet stock, and the reserved giblets, minced and simmer the gravy, stirring for 5 minutes. Stir in enough chicken broth to thin the gravy to the desired consistency, simmer the gravy until hot, and strain it into a heated sauce-boat.

Turkey Giblet Stock

1.   Put all the giblets (except livers) into a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup chicken stock, one small onion stuck with a clove, 1 small carrot halved. Bring to a boil, and skim the froth from the surface.

2.   Add a cheesecloth bag, containing the 3 sprigs of parsley, 1/2 tsp thyme, and 1/2 bay leaf and cook mixture over moderate heat for an hour.

3.   Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a bowl and let it cool. Chill the stock and remove the fat. Makes about 3 cups.

Stuffed Turkey, Brittany-Style

9 lb turkey, with the liver reserved
salt and pepper
thin slices of fat pork
2 tbsp tbsp butter, melted


3/4 cup seedless raisins
1 cup port
1 lb pork sausage meat
1/2 tbsp butter
24 dried prunes, simmered for 10 minutes in tea,
drained and the pits removed
1 turkey liver, finely chopped
5 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper

1.   To make the stuffing, cover the raisins with the port and let them macerate for 5 to 6 hours. Lightly cook the sausage meat in butter. Add the raisins and port, the prunes, liver, thyme, salt and pepper to the sausage meat and mix well.

2.   Stuff the turkey with this mixture and season the bird with salt and pepper. Truss the bird, set it in a large roasting pan and cover the breast with slices of fat pork. Pour melted butter over the turkey, place it in a moderate oven preheated to 180 and cook for about 3 hours. Baste frequently with the pan juices; from time to time moisten with a spoonful of water.

3.   Serve when the turkey is done and a golden colour, steaming all over. Serve the juices separately, but -- above all -- do not add stock or any other liquid to them.

Notes: You can decrease the number of prunes, if you wish, and add other dried fruits, such as dried apricots, or dried cherries.


Turkey or Chicken Cannelloni with Cheese

Use up your leftover chicken or turkey. It's assembled the night before (or early in the day) and heated right before serving. The longer it sits, the better I like it; it gives the flavors time to meld.

1-3/4 cups turkey or chicken, cooked and diced or coarsely ground
1 lb Lasagne noodles
2 tbsp butter or margarine
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
4-8 oz. Mushrooms, chopped
1 large egg, beaten
2 tbsp heavy cream or half and half
1/4 tsp thyme
tsp salt
1 bunch spinach, cooked until wilted

The night before (or early in the day):

1.   Cook lasagna noodles in 6 qts. boiling water for 5-7 minutes or until tender; drain, wipe noodles dry with a clean/dry cloth, lay flat on waxed paper. While noodles are cooking, melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet. Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms until they're tender; add remove from heat; set aside.

2.   Place cooked chicken in food processor and pulse until chicken resembles a tuna salad mixture. Combine chicken with the onions, garlic, mushrooms and the fat in which they were sauteed; add egg, cream and seasonings. Add spinach (cooked) and mix well.

3.   Cut each lasagna noodle into 2 or 3 pieces--each piece should be 3 to 4 inches long; place a tablespoonful of the chicken filling on each piece and roll into a tubular shape. If you don't want to make cannelloni, just layer the ingredients like you would for lasagna. Arrange rolls next to each other, one layer deep, in a buttered baking dish; set aside while you prepare the cheese sauce.

Cheese sauce

3 tbsp butter or margarine
4 tbsp flour
1 cups chicken--broth (not bouillon!)
3 cups half and half
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup parmesan cheese to 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated (optional), sprinkled on top
spaghetti sauce (homemade or store-bought, optional)

1.   Melt butter then add the flour and cook for a few minutes to get rid of the floury taste. Gradually add the chicken broth, whisking constantly to prevent lumps; add cream, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth; remove from heat. Stir in 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and mix well.

2.   I like to use, both, red and white sauce on this one. I spoon over a strip of the white sauce, next to it I spoon on some red; keep doing that across the dish until the sauce covers the noodles. The red/white pattern makes it look pretty and gives the dish a little more flavor. It also cuts back on some of the fat. Spoon sauce over cannelloni in baking dish; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and Mozzarella cheese, if used; refrigerate until you're ready to bake it.

Before serving

1.   Preheat broiler; place cannelloni 4-5 inches from heat and broil for 10 minutes or until sauce bubbles and top browns. If you'll be making lasagna, bake in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until it's bubbly and the top is browned a bit.