Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Well, I finally got around to making Christmas Cookies this week! No, I didn't make all of the cookies displayed here, you see I have a source in Vancouver that sells my favourite German baked goods imported directly from my old stomping grounds.

I couldn't resist the Rumkugeln (rum balls), chocolate covered Lebkuchen Herzen (gingerbread hearts filled with apricot preserve) and large round Lebkuchen - both chocolate and sugar coated - YUM!!

I always get so nostalgic when I visit this store, because it brings me back to a very special time I spent with my family living in Munich, Germany. At least I can get a taste of those times each time I sink my teeth into one of those delicious cookies!

I love to bake for the Holidays - I crank Christmas music into my kitchen don my favourite apron and get to it! Soon I am lost in another world, as the sweet scents of cinnamon and nutmeg, cloves and brown sugar waft through the house. My baking repertoire includes Pecan Linzer Cookies (an Austrian Tradition), Vanille Kipferl (vanilla crescents) and Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars). The Linzer Cookies are layered with a raspberry jam filling and literally melt in your mouth, while the crescents (half dusted with powdered sugar and half rolled in vanilla sugar) just seem to go 'poof' as you bite into them - so light and fluffy. The cinnamon stars are the answer to a hazelnut macaroon, made with nuts that have been toasted golden brown, egg whites meringue and laced with both cinnamon and nutmeg. As an added treat I top them with a dark rum glaze! My son Mr. S is in his last year of high school and also in his 5th year of taking Foods at school. His Ginger Snap Cookies are also featured in the photo above - so delicious!!
This year I hosted a party for some of my foodie girlfriends and my friend Miriam gave me a jar of her special mincemeat. I was so thrilled to be able to turn that delightful treat into mince tarts and I must say these are some of the best I have tried - Thanks so much Miriam!!

The house is ready to receive our family tonight for our traditional Christmas Eve celebration - the tree is trimmed, the baking is done, and presents are wrapped. Aaah - might I actually start relaxing early today? The food prep is still ahead of me, but nothing too complicated for this evening: beet salad and cucumber salad, Gravelax ( salmon which has been salt-brining for 3 days), a cheese plate, and a variety of warm appetizers including pork and sauerkraut!

I can't think of a more wonderful time to receive guests into the house with the crackling of a wood burning fire, some Christmas Cheer, good conversation and great food to enjoy - we are doing a German Style Buffet tonight - check out this link here to view my Brotzeit Menu, which exemplifies a traditional German Feast!

 An army of nut crackers stands guard on the mantle and even Buddha is dressed for the occasion!

I wish you and yours a fabulous and magical Christmas!

May there be Peace in your part of the Earth!

~ Marlies

***Cookies on upper plate: from top - Lebkuchen Rounds, Mince Tarts, Ginger Snaps, Linzer Cookies; cookies on lower plate: from top - Rumballs, Cinnamon Stars, Lebkuchen Hearts, Vanilla Crescents.