Laura’s Favorite: Take a sip of wassail and Scrooge yourself
There always is a need for an anti-hero, otherwise you wouldn’t recognize the good people in this world. Christmas is not Christmas without Scrooge. He just happens to embody the good and the bad, just like me. For this reason, I always have to watch Scrooged during the holidays. It puts me in the festive spirit. Bill Murray portrays the best version of Scrooge. His quips are flawless and you fall in love with him just like Karen Allen who also happens to be the love interest of Indiana Jones in my favorite of the series (Raiders of the Lost Ark, not that horrible skull crystal one). The best part is the ending as he relays a speech about love and the spirit of Christmas. It always gets me going “Niagara Falls.”
For my holiday treat, I chose wassail. I grew up in a historic small town. Every Christmas, my mom and I would go on a tour to look at the old Victorian houses that were decorated inside and out. Certain houses had snacks for their guests, and I always looked forward to getting steaming hot wassail in a fancy teacup. Now I believe traditional wassail has eggs and alcohol in it, but kids showed up for these events so I doubt there were any of those things in it. Therefore, I tweaked a traditional recipe to make it more kid-friendly and closer to what I think they used during my childhood.
- 4 cups Apple Cider
- 1 cup of Orange Juice
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of ginger
- Combine all ingredients into a pot.
- Bring to simmer over medium low heat. Reduce heat and continue simmering for 45 min.
- Ladle into your favorite teacup and enjoy.
Rina’s Favorite: Martinis and Miracles
As Mimi has said in the While You Were Sleeping post, I’ve been in the Christmas spirit watching as many holiday movies and tv shows as I can before the month ends. I’m like this every year, so you can imagine how hard it is for me to pick just one movie as my absolute favorite. If I really had to choose, the one that I can never get tired of is Miracle on 34th Street (1947). First off, Edmund Gwenn plays the best Santa of all Christmas films, and secondly it has a smart script masterfully performed by Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn and Natalie Wood. The film’s reference to Macy’s and Gimbels department stores rivalry takes me back to my own childhood, staring in wonderment at all the holiday window displays and having a conversation with the Talking Christmas Tree at the Gimbel’s department store in downtown Pittsburgh.
I don’t really have a family favorite holiday recipe to share as our Christmases mainly consisted of staying up all night on Christmas Eve, eating Archway cookies and Whitman’s Chocolates. So I decided to try out a recipe inspired from one of my favorite scenes in the movie when everyone is having dinner at Doris (O’Hara) and Suzie (Wood) Walker’s apartment, and Mr. Gailey (John Payne) is wearing a makeshift apron and is actually doing the cooking (how modern!) Here is proof at how majorly attractive he is just holding a glass of milk:
Anyway, also in this scene, Doris gets a call from Mr. Shellhammer who has just “convinced” his wife, by plying her with martinis, to let Kris Kringle live with them. Because I’ve been working like a dog, I’ve decided that this year I could use a reliably good, strong drink (to go with the cookies and candy) just like Mrs. Shellhammer does to celebrate the holidays!
My Version of the Triple Strength Martini
- 3 oz Vodka
- 1.5 oz Dry Vermouth
- 1-2 Candy Canes
- Ice cubes
Pour some of the vermouth into a chilled martini glass and swirl it around to coat the inside of the glass, then throw the vermouth out. Place a candy cane or three into a ziplock bag, crush into small pieces with a rolling pin or a pan, and then pour onto a saucer. Place the rim of the martini glass (that you just swirled with vermouth) onto the crushed candy cane pieces and rotate to coat the rim. You may need to wet the rim to keep the pieces in place. Add the vodka, 1 ounce of vermouth, ice and (to be festive) half of a candy cane or a hard candy peppermint into a cocktail shaker. Stir well and pour the drink into the martini glass. And that’s it! Sip it slowly, and gradually you’ll start singing this song. Happy Holidays!
Mimi’s Favorite: Smile, there’s an Elf in the kitchen.
Like Laura, when it comes to Christmas movies, I go for the comedies. And nothing makes me laugh more than Elf (2003). While there is no denying that this charming tale about a six foot three elf, who discovers that he’s really a human and sets out to find his “true” family, is the kind of heart-warming fare we come to expect at Christmastime, Elf deftly uses humor to appeal to our humanity. Will Ferrell’s Buddy engages everyone and everything with such genuine childlike enthusiasm that you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of his situation–such as when he gets his first taste of Manhattan.
In fact, some of the best moments in Elf play upon the juxtaposition of Buddy’s innocent “elf” perspective against that of the often more jaded New Yorker’s. One of my favorites is the famous department store Santa debacle, which starts off with Buddy excitedly awaiting Santa’s arrival at Gimbel’s and ends with him accusing the “fake” Santa of sitting on a “throne of lies” and smelling not at all like the real Santa, but rather like “beef and cheese.” Another funny scene is when Buddy goes to work with his father (James Caan) and accidentally gets drunk off of a co-worker’s whiskey which he mistakenly takes for syrup.
So, in the spirit of playful juxtaposition (and also because I have a somewhat twisted sense of humor), I give you my culinary take on Elf:
The Plush Lush Elf
- 1 oz. Premium Vodka
- 2 oz. White Chocolate Creme*
- 1 oz. Peppermint Schnapps
- 1/2 oz. Creme de Cacao
- Candy Cane for Garnish
Pour all the liquor into a shaker with 2-3 ice cubes. Shake and strain into a martini glass, garnish with a candy cane. *For the white chocolate creme, bring to a simmer 1-1/2 cups half and half with 1/2 vanilla bean scraped. Pour the hot liquid over 5 oz. chopped premium white chocolate; let the hot liquid melt the white chocolate for a few minutes before whisking smooth. Stir in 3 oz. vodka. Transfer the mixture into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
After a few of these cocktails…
Of course, nothing is better for a hangover than some munchies…
Like some (Pastry) Thrones of Cheesy Beef…
The filling is essentially a variation on the one I made for the beef and mushroom pot pie in the previous Love Actually post, substituting ground beef for steak and adding a little heavy cream and shredded Swiss Gruyere cheese to finish. Cream Cheese Dough will work fine although I did use a Pate Brisee dough this time. Follow the same basic steps as for mini chicken pot pies, omitting the top pastry.
And finally, because I love this duet…