Tis’ the season to decorate the Christmas tree, wrap and unwrap presents, be jolly and spend time with friends and family, but let’s not forget it is also a time to eat amazing food. And with the holiday season upon us, who better to ask about holiday cooking, than some spectacular local chefs.
For Janice Robillard, owner/operator of Sage Catering in Sicamous, Christmas is the one time of year she takes off her chef’s hat, but if she’s going to make anything, it’s her Sticky Toffee Pudding.
She says she took a dessert she loved, experimented and added her own twist for a great holiday treat.
“I just liked it and thought I’d experiment because I love dates and I love coffee,” laughs Robillard. “All the original recipes I ever found were made with dried cranberries soaked in water, so I changed it to dates soaked in hot coffee. The coffee and dates combined just make this amazing flavour. It seems to be my standard Christmas dessert and people love it.”
On top of the tasty benefits, Robillard says this recipe is both simple and convenient.
“It can be made weeks ahead of time then frozen,” she says. “If someone drops in and there’s nothing for dessert, you can pull one out, put it in the microwave and pour toffee sauce over it and you’re done.”
Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe, (serves 8-10 people):
¼ cup of hot strong coffee,
½ tsp vanilla,
½ tsp baking soda,
1 cup of finely cut dates,
¾ cup of butter,
2/3 cup of sugar,
2 eggs lightly beaten,
1 cup of all-purpose flour,
¼ tsp baking powder.
1 cup of brown sugar,
½ cup of butter,
½ cup of 35 per cent whipping cream.
Bring coffee to boil. Add vanilla, baking soda and finely chopped dates. Let cool in fridge.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8 (1/2 cup) ramekins or muffin tins.
To make puddings with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add eggs and beat until combined.
Sift flour and baking powder together, fold into batter. Fold in wet date mixture.
Divide mixture evenly among ramekins/ muffin tins.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the toffee sauce. Combine sauce ingredients in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and sauce thickens.
Run a knife around edge of ramekins and insert puddings on to plate.
Serve warm drizzled with toffee sauce.
Rob Bowie, executive chef of Table 24, says his family alternates their Christmas between homes, so he does cook every other year.
“This year it’s our turn so I will be cooking,” he says. “I like to see everyone’s expressions at mealtime; I don’t get to see that very much because I’m usually in the back working, so that is what I enjoy.”
Bowie says an apple chutney is a fantastic holiday recipe as it’s not only unique, but fairly easy to make.
“I find it extremely tasty. I enjoy it because it’s really simple and it’s different. A lot of chutneys are either very spicy or extremely fruity and this is more sweet and bold because of the balsamic,” he says.
Bowie says the chutney can be used as a spread or a dip and pairs well with brie cheese, as well as chicken.
“You can play around with it,” he adds. “You could switch up the apple and do a pare substitute, or any kind of fruit you would like.”
Apple Chutney recipe, (serves 10-15 people):
One pound of apples roughly chop,
6 0z red onion small diced,
2 gloves of garlic,
¼ cup of lemon juice,
1 tbsp of cumin powder,
1 tbsp of ginger,
1 tsp cinnamon,
1 tsp salt,
Cup of honey,
Half cup balsamic vinegar,
Half cup water,
1/8 tbsp chili power.
Mix ingredients together. Add ingredients to pot and cook down on low until desired thickness is achieved (generally about 20 minutes).