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We share some favourite Christmas recipes

by Alain Bossé
photography Steve Smith

The holidays may be about different things to different people but I think we can all agree that friends, family, and food are a major component of any special day.

As hard as it is to believe, this will be my 10th year celebrating Christmas with Saltscapes magazine. I feel so very fortunate because this group of people who were virtual strangers to me 10 short years ago are now a very important part of my life; they went from folks who I didn’t know to folks that I thought of as friends. And then, without consciously realizing it, this amazing group of individuals slipped seamlessly into the family category.

We Saltscapers all share a love of good food. Since they now fit so nicely into my “favourite things about Christmas” category I decided to ask
some of the staffers around the Saltscapes office and about their favourite foods and how they factor into their cherished Christmas memories and activities.

From our homes to yours, we offer a few Christmas recipes, and we wish you joy, rest, and time to read...and eat and drink!

Linda and Jim Gourlay

The Gourlay boys (including ‘Papa Dim’) have been known to drink the following adult beverage in beer mugs during the Gourlay family Christmas sleepovers.

Moose Milk
Jim’s Favourite Moose Milk.

Jim’s Favourite Moose Milk

Makes 4 quarts

2          6 oz (750 mL) favourite blended whisky
            (buy local if you can!)
2          12-oz (354 mL) cans low-fat condensed milk
2          cups 500 mL egg whites       
8          cups (2 litres) whole milk or blend
1          whole fresh egg
½         cup (125 mL) chocolate syrup

Combine whisky, canned milk, egg whites, egg and chocolate syrup in blender. Blend on high speed and pour half of mixture into a mixing bowl.

Add half of milk or blend cream to bowl and remainder to blender and mix each container well. Pour into thoroughly cleaned liqueur bottles and refrigerate. This will easily keep for a month—if it lasts that long!

Shake well before consumption.

The Gourlay Family’s Nuts & Bolts Snack Mix

Makes 30 cups

1                  cup (250mL) salted butter

½                 cup (125 mL) extra virgin olive oil

3                  tbsp (45 mL) Worcestershire sauce

2                  tsp (10 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 ½              tsp (7 mL) steak spice

2                  550g boxes of Crispix or Shreddies cereal

I                   350 g box of Cheerios

I                   large bag of pretzel sticks

3                   cups (750 mL) of nuts

1                   bag (180g) cheddar fish crackers (optional)

Linda Gourlay says, “For the month of December while in grade school, our kids and their friends loved this snack mix for recess and as an after-school treat. It makes a ton as
I make it in an old enamel turkey roaster.“

Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C) and spray large roasting pan with vegetable oil.

In microwave, melt salted butter and extra virgin olive oil in large glass measuring cup. Add Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, steak spice to melted mixture and stir well.

Pour dry ingredients into turkey roaster in no particular order.

Pour liquid mixture over turkey roaster dry mix and mix well with wooden spoon.

Bake in slow oven for 2 hours or more until toasted, mixing well every 20 minutes. Let cool completely and store in airtight containers. Enjoy!

Shawn Dalton

When we asked Shawn Dalton to provide us with the recipe for the peas pudding that he loves so much he was quick to say “sure” and then he called his “mudder”! She told us, “Our Newfie dinners consist of salt beef with all the vegetables, with steamed plum pudding, peas pudding and bread or blueberry pudding. Everything was cooked in the same pot and what a delicious flavour it had.” 

Mudder’s Peas Pudding

Serves 4-6

1                              lb (454g) bag yellow split peas

¼                            cup (50 mL) butter

1                              tsp (5 mL) salt

¼                             tsp (1 mL) pepper 

Rinse peas and place loosely in a cloth bag. Place the bag into a pot along with salted beef and cook for 90 minutes. Remove bag and turn out the peas pudding into bowl and add butter, salt and pepper. Serve alongside your salt-beef dinner. 

Pam Hancock

Pam tells us, “Christmas Eve meant going to church in the early evening, followed by lots of family and friends coming to our house to share in family stories and lots of love and laughter; with a HUGE pot of chowder!“

Big Pot Seafood Chowder

Serves 6 to 8

2                          lbs (1000 g) mussels

2                         142g tins of clams

1                         lb (500 g) scallops

1                         lb (500 g) shrimp

2                         lb (500 g) cod

1                         lb (500 g) cooked lobster meat

2                         stalks celery, diced

2                        onions, diced

6                        medium potatoes, diced

2                        carrots, grated

4                        cups (1 L) chicken broth

1                        can (354mL) cream of bacon soup

1                        can (354 mL) evaporated milk or 500 mL whipping
                          cream (your preference)

1                        cup (250 mL) regular milk

1                        tbsp (15 mL) butter

Pinch                  salt and pepper

Pinch                  crushed chili flakes

Fresh rosemary, parsley and thyme to taste

Cook mussels separately and discard shells. In the meantime, bring potatoes, onions, celery and carrots to a boil in chicken broth and juice from cans of clams, and add all spices. Boil 8 to 10 minutes until vegetables start to get tender. Add uncooked seafood along with cream of bacon soup, evaporated milk or whipping cream and milk. Bring mixture to slow boil, turn down to low and simmer 10 minutes. Add butter and mussels, stir and serve.

Jodi DeLong

Often families have one meal in the early or mid-morning and then snack on various treats until turkey time. This combination of foods makes a delicious and filling meal to get you through the present-unwrapping, cleanup and dinner preparation. Family members can serve themselves and add salsa or other toppings.

Rainbow breakfast bowls

Serves 4 to 6 

2                     cups (500 mL) fresh blueberries

2                     fresh apples or pears, cut in wedges

8                     oz (225 gm) cold-smoked salmon

4-6                  eggs, scrambled

1                     avocado, sliced

2                     medium sweet potatoes, baked or grilled, sliced

1                     cup (250 mL) black bean salsa

 Bake or grill sweet potatoes and prepare eggs for scrambling. Assemble fruit, salmon, avocado and salsa in serving dishes. Scramble eggs and arrange bowls with salmon in the middle, topped with egg, and add remaining ingredients surrounding the egg/salmon mixture. Top eggs with black bean salsa. Serve with toast if desired.


Serves 8 to 10

1                     cup (250 mL) whipping cream (35%)

2                     cups (500 mL) mascarpone cheese

¼                   cup (50-75 mL) white sugar

1 ½                 tsp (7 mL) vanilla extract

1                     tbsp (15 mL) amaretto (optional)

2                     cups (500 mL) strong coffee, cold

¼                    cup (50 ml) coffee liqueur

¼                    cup (50 mL) crème de cacao liqueur

2                      packages lady fingers

3                      oz (50 gm) good dark or semi-sweet chunk 
                        chocolate (not chocolate chips)

Fresh berries for garnish (option).

It’s always good to learn to do new things, and sometimes they’re not nearly as hard as you think they might be. Jodi DeLong learned to make tiramisu last year and it’s become a requested dessert at gatherings. Jodi says, “I read a dozen or more recipes and watched several videos before trying it for the first time. Naturally, I made my own little adjustment by adding more liqueurs. It’s so much easier to make than it looks—but don’t tell anyone, and they’ll think you slaved over it.” Your secret is safe with us!

Use a deep non-stick or glass 9x9 inch square pan/serving dish for this recipe. With electric mixer, beat together whipping cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Slowly add in mascarpone and amaretto (if using) and continue to beat until well incorporated.

In a shallow dish, mix together cold coffee and remaining liqueurs. Quickly dip ladyfingers (one at a time) into coffee mixture and add in a single layer to serving dish. Do not soak the ladyfingers or they will fall apart. A quick dip is all that is needed.

Once you have filled the bottom of dish with ladyfingers, spread one-half of cream mixture on top. Repeat with second layer of lady fingers, then spread remaining cream.

Carefully grate chocolate all over top of dessert. I use a rasp grater for a fine powder-like finish.

Chill for at least an hour or overnight to allow flavours to meld. Cut and serve in squares with garnish of fresh raspberries or strawberries if desired. 

Sylvia Ernest

Sylvia says, “I’m always asked to bring trifle and no one in the family knows how easy it is to make (my secret!). After a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings, you would think that no one would want anything more. Surprisingly, by the time the dish goes around the table, there isn’t much (if any) left.“ 

Lazy/Easy Christmas Trifle

Serves 6 to 8

For the custard sauce

3                      tbsp (45 mL) Bird’s custard powder

3                      tbsp (45 mL) white sugar

2 ½                  cups (625 mL) milk

1                      tsp (5 mL) vanilla

1-2                   tbsp (15-30 mL) dark rum (optional)

For the trifle

1                      plain pound cake (store-bought)

1                      cup (250 mL) whipping cream

1                      kiwi, peeled & cut into slices or chunks

1-2                   cups fresh raspberries

Vanilla and dark rum (optional)                                                                               

To make custard, combine custard powder and sugar in a saucepan; stir in 3-4 tbsp (45-60 mL) milk from measured milk to make a smooth paste. Heat remaining milk to near boiling (may use microwave), then add to custard mix, stirring well. Bring mixture to a boil over gentle heat, stirring continuously, until sauce is thickened. Set aside to cool.

Beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Slice pound cake and further cut to fit in bottom of decorative glass bowl. Drizzle rum over cake and cover with a layer of custard sauce. Drop raspberries and kiwi over cake/custard mix and continue to build layers. Save some raspberries & kiwi to decorate top of trifle.

Cover trifle with a thin layer of whipped cream, then sprinkle raspberries and kiwi over top, either randomly or in any desired pattern. Refrigerate until time to serve. By serving time, the custard & rum will have worked their magic on the pound cake! Red & green: what could be more Christmassy or easy?

Lisa Sampson

“Our mom would wake Christmas morning between 3-4 am and start the process and whoever woke to the sound of her (hand held) beaters would be ‘allowed’ to wake the rest of the house and the Christmas morning festivities would begin,“ says Lisa. “We were up and had presents open usually before the rest of the neighbourhood even thought of getting up.“

My Mom’s Eggnog

Makes 4 cups 

3                         eggs, separated

2                         cups (500 mL) cold milk

½                       cup (125 mL) sugar

2                         cups (500 mL) heavy (35%,) cream, whipped

1                         tsp (5 mL) vanilla

Dash of nutmeg

Beat egg yolks until thick. With mixer running add milk and slowly incorporate egg whites, beat until foamy then slowly add sugar and continue to beat until peaks begin to form. Fold in the vanilla and the whipped cream, pour into serving glasses and top with a dash of nutmeg.

If so inclined, add ½ ounce spiced rum to each glass for a little extra cheer.

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