‘Tis the season for festive flavours

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It’s the holiday countdown, when last-minute shopping is being crammed into meal planning. It’s a given times have been challenging, but this special season is one of hope, of gathering family and friends – or perhaps hosting an adult orphan Christmas party – and presenting dishes that are destined to become family favourites.

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Here’s a selection of recipes perfect for the holiday season and good to carry you well into New Year’s celebrations.

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Candycane cream cheese dip – Tre Stelle
Candycane cream cheese dip – Tre Stelle Photo by supplied /Tre Stelle

Candy Cane Cheesecake Dip

Start the party right with this delicious, easy to make treat, courtesy of @Basicfood_girl for Tre Stelle (trestelle.ca).

1 container cream cheese

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/4 tsp. peppermint extract

2 cups whipped cream

1/4 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup crushed candy cane, divided

Chocolate covered pretzels, for serving

Whisk cream cheese with a hand-held mixer. Add icing sugar and peppermint extract and blend thoroughly. Fold in whipped cream, chocolate chips and half of crushed candy cane. Garnish with remaining candy cane and serve with chocolate covered pretzels.

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Note: You can add slivered almonds for extra crunch

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Christmas Tree Bread

This bread is not only festive looking but delicious, and easy to make. Courtesy of bakegood.ca. Makes 12 rolls.

2 to 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3-1/2 tsp. bread booster (Fleischmann’s suggested)

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 (2-1/4 tsp.) packet quick rise yeast

1 egg

1/2 tsp. jumped

1/2 cup milk (whole, 2%, 1% or skim)

1/4 cup water

2 Tbsp. butter

In a medium bowl mix flour and bread booster together. Combine 3/4 cup flour, sugar, dry yeast and salt in a large mixer bowl and stir until blended. Combine milk, water and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH in 15 second increments until very warm but not hot to the touch (120 to 130F. Butter won’t melt completely).

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Add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg and 1/4 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in just enough of remaining flour (1 to 1-1/4 cups) so that dough will form into a ball.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic and springs back when lightly pressed with 2 fingers, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover with a towel; let rest for 10 minutes.

Cut dough into 12 equal pieces; shape into balls using your hands. Place in greased 8-inch round or square pan. Cover with towel; Let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Bake in preheated 375F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan by running a knife around edges and invert onto wire rack; brush with additional melted butter, if desired. Serve warm.

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Veal Roast with Sage and Apple Stuffing – Ontariovealappeal.ca
Veal Roast with Sage and Apple Stuffing – Ontariovealappeal.ca Photo by supplied /Ontario Veal Appeal

Veal Roast with Sage and Apple Stuffing

A colorful bread stuffing in a spiral roast makes an elegant presentation and a festive flavor combination. Serves 10-12. Recipe courtesy of ontariovealappeal.ca.

2 Tbsp. butter

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. dried sage

1/2 tsp. celery seeds

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

2 apples, diced (unpeeled)

8 cups cubed day-old bread

3/4 cup dried cranberries

5 lbs. boneless veal breast, trimmed*

1-1/2 cups (approx.) chicken stock

In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; Cook celery, onion, sage, celery seeds and salt and pepper, stirring, for about 8 minutes or until very soft. Stir in apples; cook for 1 minute. Transfer to bowl; let cool. Add bread and cranberries and toss to combine.

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Lay veal breast on work surface, fat side-down; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread stuffing over veal, pressing firmly and leaving about 2 inches at wide end bare. Starting at narrow end, tightly roll up roast jelly-roll style. Tie with kitchen string. Press any stuffing that falls out back into roast; Sprinkle outside of roast with salt and pepper. Place in roasting pan and pour in 1 cup of stock. Cover with foil and roast in 375F oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325F and roast for about 2-1/2 hours longer or until fork tender, adding more stock as necessary to keep liquid in bottom of pan and basting roast occasionally. Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil. Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing. Make gravy with bread juices if desired.

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*Have your butcher trim and roll meat when you purchase it to make stuffing and rolling easier.

Double Cheese Zucchini Linguini with Broiled Lobster Tail – Tre Stelle
Double Cheese Zucchini Linguini with Broiled Lobster Tail – Tre Stelle Photo by supplied

Double Cheese Zucchini Linguini with Broiled Lobster Tail

A show-stopper that’s also easy to create. Courtesy of Tre Stelle (trestelle.ca). Serves 4

240 grams linguine (about 4 servings)

1/4 cup butter

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 shallot, finely diced

1 cup mascarpone

1/2 cup bocconcini cheese, grated or very finely chopped (pat dry before grating, season with salt)

1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

2 zucchinis, spiraled into noodle shape

4 cooked lobster tails (pulled above shell, saddleback)

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning or paprika (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook linguini in a pot of salted boiling water until slightly firm. (Pasta will finish cooking in cheese sauce mixture.)

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While pasta is boiling, heat butter in large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot, and saute until softened, about three minutes. Be careful not to burn ingredients.

Add mascarpone to bread and stir until melted. Slowly add bocconcini to pan while stirring to avoid clumping. Add chopped basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add linguini to cheese mixture, along with spiraled zucchinis to pan. Toss evenly in the sauce over low/medium heat. Add a small amount of pasta water if mixture is too thick.

Brush lobster tails with melted butter, and season lightly with salt. In a pre-heated 350F oven, broil lobster tails for about 12-15 minutes (depending on size of lobster tails). Sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning (or paprika) if desired.

Plate with pasta spiraled in a vertical pile and place lobster tail on top of pasta mound.

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