If there's one constant in newsrooms everywhere, it's that reporters and editors are big fans of good food - especially during the holidays.
Our staffers here at the NOW and sister paper, the New Westminster Record, put together some of our favourite recipes from our own kitchens, to share with our readers. Here they are:
From reporter Janaya Fuller-Evans
Norwegian fruit soup
Add 1/2 cup of pearl tapioca to 8 cups of boiling water. Keep at a boil.
Chop into small pieces:
1 cup dried prunes
and 1 cup dried apricots
Add the chopped fruit to the boiling mixture, along with:
1 cup Thompson raisins
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp lemon juice
and 1 (or 11/2, if needed) cups of fruit juice. Grape juice works, though I find cherry juice from our canned cherries is best.
Simmer over a low heat for 30 to 45 minutes, until the fruit softens and soup thickens.
Add sugar to taste (I use 1/4 cup, usually).
Serve warm with whipped cream on top. (Remove cinnamon sticks before serving.)
From reporter Christina Myers
This is my most-requested recipe. I got it from a friend in the U.S., who makes it every year as gifts for her children's teachers, as well as her co-workers and friends. It is so fast to make - and so yummy it's hard to stop at one piece. I've since seen it, and versions of it, popping up all over Facebook and Pinterest with names like Reindeer Treats, Elf Candy and more.
1 sleeve saltine crackers
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 package chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a large cookie sheet with foil or parchment (the kind of sheet that has raised edges!). Spray with Pam, or grease VERY lightly with butter. Cover the cookie sheet with a single layer of saltines. Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil. Boil for three minutes, stirring with a whisk. Pour over the saltines, and try to spread it as evenly as possible. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. When you remove it, the caramel mixture will be molten and boiling; allow to cool about three min, or until you can see the crackers distinctly, which will have shifted while baking. Push them back into order with a fork or knife.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee and let sit for about five minutes to melt. Once melted, spread chocolate evenly. If desired, sprinkle on pecans and press lightly into the chocolate. Let cool a bit and then transfer to fridge to harden.
Once hard (overnight is best!) break the candy into small pieces and place in containers to give as gifts.
Tip: follow timely exactly for boiling and baking portions to avoid burning or overcooking!
From reporter Jennifer Moreau
I used to make these cookies for my students at Christmas, when I was
teaching English in Italy, and they loved them. Do not wimp out and use
margarine. Go for butter. Please note that these cookies are Tom
Berridge-approved. Tom, our sports editor, also makes some pretty mean
shortbread, and at Christmas, baking can get a bit competitive around here,
but these have passed the newsroom test.
Shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of softened butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup of cornstarch
One large chocolate bar - dark, light, organic - your preference, but
nothing with nuts or raisins.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream together butter, icing sugar, flour and
cornstarch. Flatten the dough out on a floured surface and cut it into
rectangular fingers. Bake in the oven, usually 10 to 15 minutes. Times can
vary depending on your oven, the rack and tray positioning, so keep a very
close eye on these because they can burn quickly. If they are browning too
fast on the bottom but are still raw on top, put an empty cookie tray on the
rack below to shield them from the heat.
Once golden around the edges, remove and let cool while you prepare the
Set up a double boiler so you can melt the chocolate without burning it.
Spread the chocolate on the top of each cookie. (I usually only do
three-quarters so they look like they've been dipped and I can handle them,
because things can get messy at this point.)
Put the chocolate covered cookies on baking sheet with wax paper and let the
whole batch cool in the freezer till the chocolate sets.
From editor Pat Tracy
Nothing fancy-dancy about my family's favourite Sunday dinner (although the ever-dry roast beef smothered in gravy dinner comes in as a close second). It's called, 'Tracy's roaster full of ribs recipe'.
All amounts are approximate and subject to personal tastes:
A big mess of short ribs - two packages is good for a feast.
Four big carrots sliced in thumb-size pieces
One small onion chopped up in pieces
One bunch of fresh cilantro (about one third of the bunch)
One large can of crushed tomatoes
One-cup of water
A teaspoonful of garlic paste
Lay ribs on bottom of medium sized roaster, pour crushed tomatoes, carrots, onions and cilantro on top - mix a bit. Put in 300 degree oven, covered for at least an hour - turn down to 250 degrees for another hour - or until everything is one big mushy, great smelling mess. Midway through cooking, check moisture level - if it's starting to look a bit dry, add some more water, put the lid back on and return it to the oven. Meat should dissolve off of bones.
The above recipe is the diet one; for the extreme comfort food version, add potatoes.
Note: This could be made in a crockpot - but it just isn't the same.
From reporter Marelle Reid
Pumpkin pie bread
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1.5 cups granulated white sugar (or 2/3 cup honey)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
1/3 cup water
Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, oil and apple sauce. Mix wet and dry ingredients together. Add pumpkin and water and mix until smooth. Pour batter into greased loaf tin and bake at 350 F for 55 to 65 min. Test with a dry knife - pushed through the top of the loaf, it will come out clean when done.
From reporter Alfie Lau
Reporter Alfie Lau won't often be found in a kitchen, but he does like good food. When he's off on Vancouver Island to visit, this is one of his Christmas favourites, prepared by friends using this recipe from an Island institution, Thrifty Foods, which has expanded to the Lower Mainland, including a store in New Westminster.
Cocktail Meatballs in Sweet and Sour Cranberry Sauce
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: About 30 minutes
Makes: 4 dozen meatballs
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 (384ml) can jellied cranberry sauce
2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2-3 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Moisten your hands with water, roll the meat into 1 1/2" balls, and set on the baking sheet. Roast 20 minutes. Drain excess fat from the meatballs.
Place the remaining ingredients in a wide skillet. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, whisking to melt the cranberry sauce. Add the meatballs to the sauce, simmer a few minutes, and then serve.
What to serve alongside:
Instead of serving these meatballs as an appetizer, serve them as an Asian-style main-course, accompanied with a rice dish you create from a recipe in our website collection, such as Mixed Vegetable Fried Rice, or Vegetable Fried Rice with Curry.
Instead of beef, use ground pork, veal or turkey to make the meatballs. For hot, sweet and sour meatballs, add Asian-style hot chili sauce, to taste, to the cranberry sauce mixture. For added texture, after spooning the meatballs into your serving dish, sprinkle them with one teaspoon or so of toasted sesame seeds.
From reporter Niki Hope
This isn't a dish that I make only for the holidays. In fact, it's a
year-round favourite at my house. But I think it's a good fit for the season
because it's something you can whip up for an afternoon visit with friends.
Or, it's a treat to make after the presents have been unwrapped.
This is a banana bread recipe that always gets rave reviews - even my
sister, an amazing cook, asked me for this one. I found this online,
Sour Cream Banana bread (by Tim D. Culey from Baton Rouge, according to the
website I grabbed it from so many years ago)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup mashed bananas (2 medium)
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat over to 350F. Grease and flour bottom only of a 9 x 5 loaf pan. In
large bowl, beat together sugar and oil. Add eggs, bananas, sour cream and
vanilla, blend well. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, level off. Add
flour, baking soda and salt, stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake at 350F for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre
comes out clean. Cool five minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely. Wrap
tightly and store in refrigerator, Makes one loaf.
From sports editor Tom Berridge
Mother's Christmas pudding
1/4 pound currants
1/4 pound raisins
1/4 pound suet
3 ounces bread crumbs
2 ounces flour
2 small eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
142 millilitres milk = 1/4 of a pint
2 ounces sugar
1/8 pound candied peel
1/4 teaspoon mixed spices
Makes one medium-sized pudding
Recipe can be doubled or quadrupled
Beat eggs and spices together. Add milk slowly. Add the rest of the ingredients. Grease pudding bowl. Fill bowl to about one inch from top. Cover bowl lid with grease proof (wax) paper. Cover bowl with cloth (can use clean bed sheet cut in 18 inch square) makes for easy lifting bowl out of boiling water.
Put bowl in pot of boiling water up to level of pudding and let boil for four hours. Make sure pot does not boil dry by keep adding boiling water.
Goes particularly well with hard sauce: mix icing sugar, butter and a slurp of your favourite spirit together well per desired quantity. Refrigerate until hardened.
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