The month of December is a busy one! Hanukkah runs December 20-28, Christmas is on Sunday, December 25 and Kwanzaa begins December 26 and ends January 1.
Here are three delicious recipes to help celebrate the season.
First up, Matzo Ball Soup. If you have not made this soup, you are missing out on a different, tasty and easy soup the whole family will love. The matzo balls are light as a feather and filling on a cold day. If you have your own home-made chicken soup, why not add some matzo balls to it for a nice change of pace.
Making Matzo Balls:
Makes about 10
1/2 cup of matzo meal (or use 1 packet from the Manischewitz box)
2 T vegetable oil
In a small bowl, mix the matzo meal, eggs and oil well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring about 4 quarts of salted water to a boil.
Wet your hands lightly with water and roll the matzo mixture into about 10 small balls.
Drop the balls into the boiling water, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes. They will grow in size so make sure you have a big enough pot and lots of water.
Serve in home-made chicken soup or other type of clear-broth soup.
Swedish Pancakes for Christmas Morning Breakfast
Swedish pancakes, similar to a crepe, are much lighter than traditional pancakes. For your Christmas breakfast, serve them with lingonberry jam (available at IKEA or specialty food stores), bacon or sausage, and fresh fruit. Maybe you will start a new tradition in your family!
Makes about 10
You can make the batter the night before and refrigerate it.
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees and place a cookie sheet in the oven.
2 cups milk
1 cup flour
3 T sugar
3 T butter, melted
1/8 tsp. salt
pinch of nutmeg
vegetable oil for the pan
Lingonberry jam, for serving
Dusting of powdered sugar, if desired
In medium bowl beat eggs, then add milk and flour alternately and mix. Add sugar, butter, salt and nutmeg and stir. (You can cover and refrigerate this batter and use the next day.)
In a crepe pan or shallow non-stick skillet, add a drop or two of vegetable oil and heat the pan. Pour in about ¼ cup of batter and twirl the pan to spread the batter to the edges. Let cook until just lightly browned on the underside. Flip to other side with a wide spatula. Cook for about 1-2 minutes and while in pan, flip one side into the middle and repeat (like a letter going into an envelope) and place on heated cookie sheet in oven. Repeat until all the batter is used.
To serve, the traditional Swedish way is to "open up" the pancake with your knife and fork and spread a little lingonberry jam in the inside and close it back up. This way, the jam gets all nice and warm. Or spread a little jam on the top of the pancake, as pictured.
No need for maple syrup.
Groundnut Stew – traditionally served during Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is a seven-day holiday that begins Dec. 26 and runs through Jan. 1. It is a cultural, not religious holiday whose goal is to reinforce African traditions and culture for African-Americans. As in many other holidays, Kwanzaa is based on ancient African harvest celebrations. The word comes from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza which means "first fruits."
This fragrant dish fits perfectly with the Kwanzaa tradition of serving a heart-warming, home-prepared, and delicious dish. Its unique combination of ingredients will surprise you in the end!
2 T vegetable oil
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 to 1 ½ T chili powder, depending upon level of desired spiciness
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. coarse ground black pepper
2 lbs. boneless lean pork, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes (I used a boneless pork loin rib end roast)
1 Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 ½ cups all-natural vegetable broth
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, and diced into ½ inch pieces
¼ cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky
In large Dutch oven, heat oil on low to medium heat. In a plastic bag combine flour, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add meat; close bag and shake to coat with flour mixture.
Add half of meat to Dutch oven and brown for five minutes, stirring to brown all sides. Remove to a platter and repeat with remaining meat.
Add additional 1 tablespoon of oil if necessary to pot. Add onions to Dutch oven and sauté for five minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Don't let the garlic burn.
Return the browned meat and any juices to the pot and add tomatoes with their juice and the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for one hour stirring occasionally. Stir in sweet potatoes and cover and cook an additional half hour. Thoroughly stir in peanut butter. Remove cover and simmer on low for another 5-10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and sauce thickens.
Serve over hot cooked egg noodles or rice. Makes six servings.
Editor's note: This article, part of Fay Abrahamsson's "In the Kitchen with Fay" column, originally was published by Clinton Patch.