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Festive foods for the holiday meal

Apps, sides, entree and dessert...all the components for a great festive meal from Atco Blue Flame Kitchen.
glazedham
Ideas for a festive meal, from Atco Blue Flame Kitchen. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Our Maple Glazed Ham is a crowd-pleasing sweet and savoury main course. The impressive bone-in ham glistens in a maple glaze seasoned with apple, cloves, and raisins.

MAPLE GLAZED HAM

7 1/2 lb (3.5 kg) bone-in ham or smoked pork picnic shoulder

1/4 cup (50 mL) maple syrup

1 cup (250 mL) packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup (50 mL) apple juice

2 Tbsp (25 mL) maple syrup

1 tsp (5 mL) dry mustard

1/4 tsp (1 mL) cloves

2 cups (500 mL) raisins

Place ham in a large stockpot. Cover ham with cold water. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Drain; add 6 cups (1.5 L) fresh cold water and 1/4 cup (50 mL) syrup. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Remove ham from cooking liquid and place on a cutting board. Reserve 1 cup (250 mL) cooking liquid and discard remainder. Leaving a thin layer of fat, trim rind and excess fat from ham. Score fat in a criss-cross pattern, if desired. Place ham in a roasting pan. Stir together next 5 ingredients (brown sugar through cloves) and spoon over ham. Add raisins and reserved cooking liquid to roasting pan. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 40 - 45 minutes, basting occasionally, until ham is glazed and pan sauce is bubbling. Let ham stand 15 minutes before carving. Serve with pan sauce. Serves 8 - 10.

ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOM STRATA

Our Asparagus and Mushroom Strata features fresh spring asparagus, mushrooms, and two types of cheese. No one will miss the meat in this vegetarian casserole.

3 cups (750 mL) asparagus pieces (2 inch/5 cm)

1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter

4 cups (1 L) sliced fresh mushrooms

1/4 cup (50 mL) sliced green onion

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground pepper

6 cups (1.5 L) French bread cubes

2 cups (500 mL) shredded Swiss cheese

1/3 cup (75 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

6 eggs

1 tsp (5 mL) dill weed

1/2 tsp (2 mL) dry mustard

1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) nutmeg

2 cups (500 mL) homo milk

Cook asparagus in boiling salted water for 2 minutes; drain. Cool immediately in ice water; drain. Pat asparagus dry with paper towels; set aside. Melt butter in a large frypan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and light golden brown. Cool completely. Place half of bread cubes in a greased shallow 3 quart (3 L) baking dish. Spoon mushroom mixture over bread. Top with asparagus. Combine Swiss cheese and Parmesan cheese; sprinkle half of cheese mixture over asparagus. Top with remaining bread cubes and cheese mixture. Whisk together eggs, dill weed, dry mustard and nutmeg. Whisk in milk. Pour egg mixture evenly over top of cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator and let stand for 20 - 30 minutes. Bake, uncovered, at 350°F (180°C) for 50 - 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in centre comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

ENTERTAINING:  MAKE-AHEADS

SPANAKOPITA ROLLS

Our Spanakopita Rolls transform a Greek favourite into a bite-sized snack. Crisp phyllo pastry encloses a warm, cheesy spinach filling, featuring ricotta, feta, and cream cheese.

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 pkg (10 oz / 300 g) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

8 oz (250 g) ricotta cheese

4 oz (125 g) cream cheese, softened

4 oz (125 g) feta cheese, crumbled

1 egg, beaten

1/4 tsp (1 mL) dill weed

Dash nutmeg

Dash freshly ground pepper

15 sheets phyllo pastry

1 cup butter, melted

In a large frypan over medium heat, sauté onion in oil until tender. Reduce heat to low and add next 4 ingredients (spinach through feta cheese). Remove from heat and blend in egg and seasonings. Brush 1 sheet of phyllo pastry with butter. Top with 2 additional sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter. Spoon about 1/2 cup (125 mL) spinach filling into a 1 1/2 inch (3.75 cm) wide strip down long edge of pastry. Roll up pastry, jelly-roll fashion, to enclose filling. Place roll, seam side down, on a greased cookie sheet. Brush with butter. Repeat procedure with remaining filling, pastry and butter to make 4 more rolls. Freeze rolls for 30 - 40 minutes. Using a sharp knife, slice rolls into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Place pieces, seam side down, on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Baked rolls may be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator before reheating. Makes 6 dozen rolls.

GINGERED PEAR TARTS

Pear and ginger are a classic flavour pairing. Together with vanilla and brown sugar, they form the sweet and spicy filling in our buttery Gingered Pear Tarts.

5 cups sliced quartered peeled pears

½ cup packed golden brown sugar

3 Tbsp finely chopped candied ginger, divided

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp salted butter, melted

2 tsp vanilla

4 tsp cornstarch

24 frozen unbaked tart shells (3 inch)

2 cups sweetened whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine pears, brown sugar, 2 tbsp candied ginger, lemon juice, butter and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add cornstarch and toss to coat.

Place tart shells on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spoon about 3 tbsp pear mixture into each tart shell.

Bake, switching position of pans halfway through baking for evening browning, until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 30 – 35 minutes. Cool tarts completely on a rack. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp candied ginger, dividing evenly. May be frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 24.

Cook’s Note: Whipping cream doubles in volume when whipped. To get 2 cups sweetened whipped cream, place 1 cup whipping cream, 2 tbsp icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla in a chilled stand mixer. Beat until stiff peaks form.

TURKEY MEATBALLS WITH APPLE CIDER GLAZE

1½ lb (0.75 kg) lean ground turkey

½ cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup packed golden brown sugar

3 tbsp Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine turkey, panko, garlic, eggs, parsley, fennel seeds, salt, pepper and nutmeg in an electric mixer bowl. Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed. Alternatively, mix by hand in a bowl until well-combined.

Shape mixture into 1½ inch balls. Place meatballs on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake until completely cooked through, about 18 – 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, to prepare glaze, whisk together vinegar, brown sugar and Dijon mustard in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 16 – 18 minutes. Remove from heat.

Toss meatballs in glaze and serve warm. Makes 32.