By Brack Johnson


All over the Triangle, people are getting together with friends and family to celebrate the food-centric holidays of December.


Three generations sit down to a glazed ham in Garner. Pals gather around a slow-roasted brisket in Raleigh. Neighbors savor a spicy gumbo in Durham.


What to serve with these main dishes? Chew on delicious ideas from recent cookbooks.



Best of Bridge Holiday Classics
225 Recipes for Special Occasions
Robert Rose









Eggnog Supreme
12 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
7/8 cup brandy (Okay – use the whole cup!)
1-1/3 cups rye or rum
2 cups half-and-half cream
12 egg whites
3 cups heavy or whipping cream
Nutmeg for garnish


In a large bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar together until lemon-colored and thick. Add brandy, rye and half-and-half. Blend well. Chill for several hours. Beat egg whites until stiff. Beat whipping cream in large bowl and fold in egg whites. Fold into egg yolk mixture. Pour into a large punch bowl. Sprinkle with grated nutmeg. Enjoy!


Makes 24 servings



Pumpkin Soup
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups ready-to-use chicken broth
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 cup light cream
2 tablespoons liquid honey
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg


In a large pot, sauté onion and mushrooms in butter for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in flour. Add chicken broth and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in cream, honey and nutmeg. Serve with croutons sprinkled on top.


Makes 4 servings




Food, Family and Tradition

Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances
Lynn Kirsche Shapiro
The Cherry Press









Potato Latkes
4 medium russet potatoes
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper, optional
Vegetable oil, as needed for frying


Grate the potatoes into a medium bowl using the second-finest side of a box grater. Or use the food processor fitted with the metal blade: Chop potatoes into chunks; grate finely by pulsing, but do not purée.


Transfer potatoes and their juices to a medium bowl. Add the eggs and salt. Mix very well. Add pepper if using.


In a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 1/4 inch of oil. When a drop of water sizzles and evaporates immediately, the pan is hot.


Drop latke batter by 1/4-cup ladles or large spoon carefully into the frying pan. Fry on one side until edges are crispy and golden, about 3 minutes. Turn once and fry until cooked through and crispy on the other side. Transfer latkes to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat using remaining batter, adding more oil if necessary.


Makes 8 to 10 latkes




Cooked Applesauce
3 pounds apples, cored and peeled
1/3 cup water, or as needed to cover the bottom of the pan
1/3 cup sugar, or to taste
1/2 cup raisins, optional
2 cinnamon sticks, optional
A few drops of fresh lemon juice, optional


Cut the apples into slices or chunks.


In a heavy 3-quart pot or Dutch oven, pour the water. Add the apples, the sugar, raisins, cinnamon and lemon juice (if using).


Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Decrease heat and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the apples do not burn, for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the apples have reduced to a thick sauce. If it is too watery, uncover and cook, for another 5 minutes, stirring to make sure the apples do not burn. Remove cinnamon sticks and discard. Let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.


Makes 4 cups



Scandinavian Christmas

Trine Hahnemann









Kale Salad With Pomegranate
14 ounces kale leaves
3 pomegranates
For the dressing
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper


Rinse the kale in cold water, then squeeze to remove the water. Shred the leaves finely. Cut the pomegranates in half and release the kernels and juice, discarding any white, pithy membrane. Mix the kale into the pomegranate kernels and juice. Mix the ingredients for the dressing and toss with the salad, seasoning to taste.


Makes 8 servings




Brussels Sprouts With Clementines
2-1/4 pounds Brussels sprouts
6 clementines (hybrid between a
mandarin and a sweet orange)
1 teaspoon salted butter
1 red chile, minced
Freshly ground black pepper


Remove the outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts and cut off the bases. Cut them into very thin slices. Rinse and let drain in a colander.


Peel the clementines, slice them and cut the slices in half. Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the sprouts for two minutes. Add the chile and clementines and sauté for another two minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and serve.


Makes 8 servings



Holiday Cookies

Prize-winning Family Recipes From the Chicago Tribune for Cookies and Brownies and More

Surrey Books








Great Grandma's Gingerbread Cookies
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cold water
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup sorghum or molasses
5-6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt


Cream shortening and sugar in a mixing bowl, beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix water and baking soda in a small bowl until dissolved. Add baking soda mixture and sorghum to butter mixture. Sift 5-1/2 cups of the flour, the spices and salt together. Blend into dough. Divide dough into 4 balls. Wrap in plastic wrap. Flatten and refrigerate overnight.


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll 1 portion of dough out at a time on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes. Bake on a greased cookie sheet until puffed, 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake.


When cool, decorate with buttercream frosting and/or candies as desired.


Makes 3 dozen 5-inch cookies



Coffee Toffee
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup slivered almonds, roughly chopped
8 ounces good-quality dark chocolate
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds or walnuts, optional


Combine butter, sugars, coffee, corn syrup and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Insert a candy thermometer into the syrup; boil without stirring until mixture turns a caramel color and reaches 280 degrees, about 30 minutes.


Remove from heat; stir in slivered almonds. Spread mixture onto buttered cookie sheet with sides, working quickly; allow to cool, about 30 minutes.


Melt chocolate in a saucepan. Pour melted chocolate over cooled toffee; spread evenly. Sprinkle with nuts; cool completely. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.


Makes 60 pieces