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'Tis the Season! (December 19, 2001)

The Holidays are here and full of memories and traditions that cover everything from decorations and presents to family get-togethers with special and much loved meals! This season, we've pulled together some favourite recipes from both friends and fabulous cookbooks. They just may become a tradition in your family they certainly have in ours.

For years, our family Christmas dinner featured a goose that always seemed straight out of Charles Dickens classic Christmas Carol: ""Never was there such a goose." We never minded that the meal was more appropriate to a damp, cold English climate than the sun and warmth of Florida where we grew up, my mother cooked a roast goose dinner with all the trimmings from a starter relish tray to the inevitable fruit cake at the end. We had eggnog, too, about which my Uncle David would say, "Forget the Christmas goose, where's the Wild Turkey?"

Ah, traditions.

We'd like to wish you and your family happy holidays and best wishes for a great New Year. May your holiday season be merry and bright, and full of the best things in life. Like food and wine.

Let's eat!

On today's menu:

Goose with Chestnut Stuffing and Port Sauce

From Saveur Cooks Authentic American comes this wickedly rich goose and stuffing recipe. While thoroughly traditional, geese these days are different from those our grandparents ate. Gone are the fatty, hard-to-digest honkers of yesteryear; today they are skinnier and meatier and, happily, still full of flavour.

If you've never tried one, you're in for a treat! Another treat is this magnificent cookbook from Saveur magazine; it's full of wonderful photographs, recipes and food lore from across North America. A great present for anyone passionate about food.

Serves 6

1 10-pound fresh or fully thawed frozen goose
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For stuffing:
3 Tbsp. butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 stalks celery, sliced
10 mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 cups roasted chestnuts, peeled and chopped
5 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
cup chicken stock

For sauce:
goose neck and giblets, minus liver
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 springs fresh parsley
5 black peppercorns
1 cup ruby port
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450F.

Wash, drain and dry goose with paper towels, then rub inside and out with salt and pepper.

For stuffing, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until soft, about 15 minutes. Add celery and cook 5 minutes more, then transfer to a bowl. Melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in the same pan, add mushroom and thyme, and cook 7-8 minutes more. Combine mushrooms with onion mixture, then add chestnuts, breadcrumbs, egg and stock, and mix well. Set stuffing aside.

For sauce, put neck, giblets, celery, garlic, onions, parsley, peppercorns and 6 cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low, skim off foam, and simmer for 2 hours. Strain, reserving stock and giblets. Discard remaining solids. Peel and finely chop giblets and set aside.

Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

I prefer to have both a medium-bodied dry white and a medium-bodied dry red with good fruit with goose. Try an oak-aged Chardonnay with good acidity white Burgundy or Ontario Chardonnay or BC Pinot Gris. Reds Pinot Noir from Oregon or New Zealand or a named village wine from Beaujolais (Morgon, Fleurie, etc.). N.B if your stuffing has sweetness in it (apricots, raisins) go for an off-dry Riesling.

While stock cooks, loosely pack body and neck cavity of goose with stuffing. Tie legs closed with kitchen string. Prick legs and thighs with a fork. Roast on a rack in a roasting pan for hour. Lower heat to 325F and cook for 1-2 hours more or until thigh juices run clear. Transfer goose to a platter and allow to rest for 15 minutes, then remove stuffing and carve.

While goose rests, put roasting pan with drippings on top of stove (use two burners if necessary) over medium heat. Skim and discard fat from juices. Add port and deglaze, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. Add giblets and stock and reduce liquid by half, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sauce with goose and stuffing.

Therese Taylor's Apple Hazelnut Stuffing

Hey, it's the holidays, so who says you can't have more than one stuffing? Good friends in New York City once had an ultimate holiday meal with champagne, four stuffings, three desserts, and not a bird in sight.! We say the more stuffing the better, and here's a terrific version that will go beautifully with the roast goose. Therese Taylor and her husband Dan own Dan T's line of sauces, love food and wine and, it follows, are excellent cooks. You'll love their version with apples and hazelnuts!

5 cups multi-grain bread, torn into bite-size pieces
cup butter
1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 apples, coarsely chopped
cup minced fresh tarragon leaves or 4 tsp. dried
cup Dan T's Inferno Spiced Cayenne Sauce (or cup melted butter spiced with red hot sauce)

Preheat oven to 325F. In a shallow baking pan, arrange bread pieces in one layer. Bake in oven, stirring occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden, then transfer to a large bowl. In a large skillet, melt butter and brown nuts, then cook onions, apples, tarragon and Spiced Cayenne Sauce over moderately low heat, stirring until onions are cooked. Add onion mixture to bread, tossing well. Let stuffing cool completely.

It may be made one day in advance and kept covered and chilled.

Makes about 8 cups, enough for a 10-lb. bird.

Carrot Slaw with Mango Chutney Dressing

Somewhere in this meal the palate needs a break, and we've got just the recipe. We always celebrate Christmas Eve over a large family dinner with our good friends, Patty and Brooks Hoyt, and one of the favourite side dishes in the huge, wonderful meal is cole slaw. Here's a delightful variation on the theme, from The New Vegan Cookbook by Lorna Sass, and we can tell you it's a perfect match with the goose.

This book is a must have for the New Year... it's full of flavourful vegetarian recipes free of dairy, eggs and cholesterol. Not a moment too soon!

Serves 6-8

6 Tbsp. sweet mango chutney (Patak's brand is excellent for this)
5-6 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
4 Tbsp. peanut butter
4-6 Tbsp. water
1-2 tsp. salt

Carrot slaw
2 lbs. carrots, peeled and shredded (about 8 cups)
1 cup chopped cilantro
2/3 cup thinly sliced scallion greens
additional lime juice, if needed
additional salt if needed
cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts for garnish (optional)

In a blender, puree the dressing ingredients using 4 Tbsp. of water until very smooth. Blend in additional water if the dressing is too thick to coat the carrots.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots, cilantro and and scallions with the dressing. Add more lime juice and salt if needed. Garnish with peanuts if you wish.

Ultimate Maple Syrup Pie

Surely the perfect finish, oh, come on of course you've still got room for dessert. It's from Anita Stewart's magnificent book Flavours of Canada, and we promise that you'll make many more of these pies long after the holidays are over! This historical French-Canadian dessert was part of the food culture of les colons, or settlers, and was known as sugar pie, tarte au sucre. We also know it as truly sinful.

More than a gorgeous cookbook, Flavours of Canada shows the beauty of the land and the wealth of Canada's diverse culinary heritage. It's a glorious journey!

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar (250mL)
1 cup whipping cream (35%) (250mL)
cup maple syrup (125mL)
tsp. vanilla (2mL)
1 9-inch (23cm) pie shell, baked and cooled
lightly sweetened whipped cream and toasted walnuts for garnish

Accompanying wine?
Tony Recommends...

something as sweet as the dessert Samos Muscat (Greece), Muscat de Beaume de Venise (Rhone) or Pineau des Charentes (Cognac region).

In a medium bowl, beat eggs lightly. Whisk in brown sugar, cream, maple syrup and vanilla. Beat long enough to dissolve the sugar crystals. Pour filling into pie shell and bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven 40 to 45 minutes or until center is just becoming firm. Let cool before serving. Serve topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with toasted walnuts.

Chez Piggy's Ultimate Eggnog

The eponymous cookbook from the celebrated Chez Piggy restaurant and bakery in Kingston, Ontario, features this thick and utterly decadent, rich boozy eggnog that is really more dessert than drink, and a great end to a festive feast. Uncle David would have loved it. Go on.Christmas comes but once a year!

Another perfect cookbook for the food lovers you know, this one is full of recipes from Chez Piggy's fascinating international menu with delightful candid photographs of the staff and patrons in action as well as glorious shots of the meals they serve. Yum!

Serves 6.
Note: be sure to serve the eggnog soon after making it, or it will separate.

7 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
2 cups 35% B.F. cream, chilled
2 cups milk, chilled
2 cups bourbon, chilled
1 cup amber rum, chilled
1/3 cup freshly ground nutmeg for garnish

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites to soft peaks while slowly adding cup sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with remaining cup sugar until creamy. Fold egg whites into egg-yolk mixture. Set aside.

Whip cream in a small bowl, and fold into egg mixture. Whisk in milk, bourbon and rum. Ladle into glasses and garnish with nutmeg.

(And, we add, now call 911!)

And a little something extra for the Holidays...

The Grange Gingerbread House

Helen Stubbs is the most artistic baker we've met in a long time, and, true to form, works at AGORA, the restaurant at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Not content to do just any old gingerbread house for the holidays, Helen looked out the back door of the AGO and re-created in cake The Grange, Toronto's oldest remaining brick house, which today is part of the Gallery. Stubbs' version is a masterpiece, down to the classic portico and pebbled walkway on the front of this gorgeous old 1817 Georgian home.

Talented Helen Stubbs is owner of Marmalade Cake Company and hopes to specialize in wedding cake design. But right now, let Stubbs do your home in gingerbread while you make up a batch of her delicious gingerbread cookies for the munchkins and elves in your family!

Helen Stubbs' Gingerbread Cookies

Makes 24-30 cookies

2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cups brown sugar, packed
cup molasses
zest of two oranges, finely grated (a rasp works best!)
5 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
Tbsp. ground clove
1 tsp. salt

Cream soft butter, brown sugar, molasses and orange zest together until fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients and add slowly to creamed butter mixture. Chill dough for one hour. Roll out onto floured surface, about cm (") thick and cut with cutters. Cover your baking sheet with parchment paper (not waxed paper!) or use a SilPat baking sheet. Use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to your baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes. The time will vary according to the size of your cookies. Cool for about an hour before removing from baking sheet and decorating, if desired.

We wish to thank the following for their help and permission to use recipes and photographs:

Marmalade Cake Company
Helen Stubbs (416) 537-5216

Dan T's Inferno Sauces
Dan Taylor (905-564-3226)
Therese Taylor's Stuffing photograph by Dan Taylor.

Firefly Books, Ltd.
The Chez Piggy Cookbook, photography by Garfield Peters

Raincoast Books
The Flavours of Canada, by Anita Stewart,
photography by Robert Wigington

The New Vegan Cookbook, by Lorna Sass,
photography by Jonelle Weaver (Chronicle Books, SF CA)

Saveur Cooks Authentic American, by the editors of Saveur Magazine,
Goose photograph by Christopher Hirsheimer (Chronicle Books, SF CA)

Gingerbread Grange photo by Margherita Videla.

Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.




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