We’ve bid the lights, carols and Santa goodbye for now, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about the holiday flavors the rest of the year. By trading several ingredients here and there, every meal can still bring that Christmas spirit in a single pan flip.
For Breakfast: Gingerbread Pancakes and Peppermint Coffee
My favorite part of the holidays is waking up to cozy Christmas mornings. And because I don’t want to let go of that just yet, I’ve been starting my days with the same high by infusing gingerbread to my pancakes. You can do the same in four easy steps!
Images Courtesy of Cookie and Kate
Start by preheating your oven to 200˚ and place an oven-safe plate inside for keeping pancakes warm. In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients: 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, ¼ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. ginger, and ¼ tsp. cloves, and give a good stir. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: 1 tbsp. molasses, 1 egg, 1 tbsp. sunflower oil, and 1 cup milk, and pour over dry ingredients. Stir just until combined. Heat a skillet over medium heat. When skillet is hot, take about ¼ cup of batter and pour onto skillet. Let cook for 1-2 minutes (until the pancakes begins to bubble slightly. Flip and let cook for another 1-2 minutes until pancake is cooked through. Place in oven and continue with remaining batter.
While you’re at it, add a dash of Christmas to your morning coffee simply by adding a pump of peppermint syrup for a truly festive pairing that would make Santa proud.
For Lunch: Christmas Ham Pasta
Most groceries and delis sell holiday ham before Christmastime comes ringing in. But for a the sweet, tangy and zesty taste of the yuletide all year-round, upgrade your pasta sauces with dices of Christmas ham.
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Boil salted water and drop 500 g. pasta cook for designated time shown on the pack. In a sauté pan, add 25 ml. oil and sauté roasted shallots, 50 g. garlic and 5 g. chili flakes, then Sautee for 2 minutes. Cut 250 g. holiday ham into chunks and sauté for 3 minutes 50 g., and then add 250 g. of your pasta sauce—whether cream or tomato-based. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then toss in cooked pasta and 50 g. grated queso de bola.
For Merienda: Puto Bumbong Cheese Rolls and Tsokolate
The holiday season is always about tradition. And in the Philippines, what could herald the coming of Christmas better than the much-loved purple rice cake? Dotting the metro on the sides of the streets or outside of churches, puto bumbong, along with its partner bibingka, is a favorite because of its distinct flavor enhanced by niyog and panutsa, or muscovado sugar. Thankfully, a few manongs and manangs still make this holiday the rest of the eleven months. For a dash of yuletide to your afternoon, take a trip to the nearest puto bumbong stall or make your own following this link:
Now, here comes the part where we give this purple delicacy a twist in four easy steps. First, cut the puto bumbong pieces into halves. Then, place grated quick-melt cheese in the middle of lumpia wrappers then top with the puto bumbong pieces. Roll, seal, then fry these in oil until slightly brown. Set your rolls aside and in a separate pan, caramelize a cup of brown sugar. Drizzle this on top of your puto bumbong rolls.
To take things even further, go ahead and accompany this dish by whipping up a drink using tsokolate. The aroma of tablea is an instant giveaway that the holiday season is already sneaking around the corner. So for a full yuletide blast, trade your usual hot chocolate for a cup of tsokolate, then voila—a small meal that’s big on the Christmas spirit even when Santa is on vacation!
Dinner: Beef Casserole with Queso de Bola
Can you imagine a Nocha Buena table without that red ball of cheese? Queso de Bola, also known as Edam cheese to the rest of the world, is tangy, nutty, and has been a staple in the homes of Filipinos during the holiday season for generations. If you want a taste of its piquant flavor even when it’s not Christmas Eve, you can do so by simply adding it to your bowl of casserole. Here is a quick and easy recipe that you can follow to turn this humdrum dish into a holiday-infused meal.
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In a skillet, cook ¼ cup chopped onions in butter until golden, and 1lb sliced sirloin steak, 2 chopped tomatoes, 1 chopped red bell pepper, ½ cup sliced green bell pepper until soft. Add 1 chopped hard-boiled egg, ¼ cup raisins. ¼ cup sliced black olives, ¼ cup chopped sweet pickles, and ¼ cup sliced mushrooms. Cook for 1 minute, then add 2 tbsp. brandy. Shake the skillet gently until the flames go out. Stir in 1 tbsp. flour, ½ cup beef broth, ¼ tsp. chili powder and salt, ½ tsp. chili sauce, ketchup, and liquid hot pepper sauce, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Simmer and stir occasionally for 5 minutes. Line the sides of a 9-inch baking dish with part of the 7oz. sliced Edam cheese, and then pour the beef mixture into the casserole. Cover with the remaining Edam cheese. Place in a large pan of water to 1″ deep, cover and bake at 325˚ for 15 minutes and then serve.
Don’t limit yourself to adding this ingredient to cooked meals. Serve with fruits such as pears, apples and peaches, or even to your usual crackers for quick flavorful hints of Christmas meals all year round.