As the holidays approach this year families may be celebrating a bit differently than in years past. Smaller, more intimate gatherings are in order and as such, it could be the perfect opportunity to incorporate new ideas, start new traditions or bring back a taste from the past that had long been forgotten. If you’re looking at safer celebrations this year, spend some time digging through familiar recipes and giving them new life. If you’re looking to add something new to your holiday menus, but want to include recipes that are still tried-and-true, we’ve got just the ticket! Two of our esteemed Chef Instructors share their favorite family holiday recipes along with heart-warming stories that help bring these heirlooms to life.
“This was my grandmother’s recipe and they are delicious. These traditional molasses cookies are not rolled in sugar as some recipes call for and we prefer them this way in side by side taste tests. My grandmother was born in 1910 — she saw two world wars and a complete change in our nation during her 90 years. She baked and sewed and could make a meal from the most meager ingredients. I am sure this talent came from the hard life she had growing up and raising my mother and uncle during the Great Depression. She was such a wonderful person and I named her “Grammer” when we were kids. Every single person who knew our family called her that as well.”
Escoffier Austin Chef Instructor Tammie Barnhill
“Grammer’s” Molasses Ice Box Cookies
Makes approximately 2-3 dozen depending on thickness of cookies
1/2 cup Molasses
1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (11.25 oz)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Put molasses and shortening in a large saucepan.
- Stir over low heat until the shortening has melted.
- Remove from the stove and stir in both sugars. Cool
- Stir in egg
- Sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, baking soda, cloves, ginger and cinnamon. Add to above.
- Form dough into rolls about 2″ in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
- Slice and bake on a well greased sheet pan (or use a parchment lined sheet pan)
- Bake at 350º for 10-15 minutes. (Convection oven: 325º for 10 mins)
- Nuts may be added if desired.
“Growing up on a farm the holidays were a very special occasion when all the family got together and cooked up all types of traditional Mexican dishes. This fruit punch was one of my favorite drinks, it brings back beautiful memories of my childhood before moving to the states. It’s a family recipe that we prepared every year during the holidays.”
Escoffier Online Chef Instructor Cesar Herrera
Mexican Christmas Punch
Makes approximately 2 gallons
1 lb tejocotes (Mexican Hawthorn)
10 guavas, cut in half
3 apples, peeled and cut into large pieces
¼ cup hibiscus flowers
3 whole cloves
3 tamarind pods
1/2 cup raisins
6 pieces of sugar cane, peeled and cut into sticks
2 sticks cinnamon
1 large piloncillo cone
2 cups of sugar
5 quarts of water
3 pears, cut into large dice
1 pineapple, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 cup pitted prunes
In a large pot add the water, sugar, cinnamon, and piloncillo. As soon as it starts boiling, add the sugar cane and tejocotes. After simmering for 15 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients. Remember to simmer at low for about 1 1/2 hours.
Serve hot in mugs, ladling some fruit and adding rum, tequila, or brandy if you desire.