Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

Christmas ‘Julekage’ Bread

Posted in Breads,Thanksgiving and Christmas Recipes by Paul Gauche on December 29, 2009

Christmas Bread

You’d better have a day off and a lot of time to create this wonderful Christmas Bread. Three risings at 2 hours each means you’re committed. But when you slice into this on Christmas Eve, or toast it on Christmas morning, you’ll be glad you took the time. This is Joyce Gauche’s family recipe and I have no idea where she found the time to make this; it’s truly a labor of love.

Ingredients ~

  • 2 packages yeast
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups milk, scalded
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup candied fruit (or ½ cup citron and ½ cup cherries)
  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 egg white, beaten until foamy
  • 1 Tablespoon cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Method ~

Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm water. Beat butter and sugar 10 minutes. Add the eggs, milk, yeast mixture, salt and 4 cups flour and combine well. Put into a bowl and let it rise for 2 hours. Punch down, add and combine well to following:

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup candied fruit (or ½ cup citron and ½ cup cherries)
  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cardamom

Add more flour to make a soft dough. Add flour slowly and carefully—don’t use too much. This is a soft dough, not sticky. Let this rise another 2 hours.

Punch down and shape into 3 or 4 round loaves. Brush the tops of each loaf with an egg wash:

  • 1 egg white, beaten until foamy
  • 1 Tablespoon cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Let this rise another 2 hours.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

When the bread has cooled a bit, top with glaze and a few pieces of candied fruit

  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • Cream, enough to make a thick glaze
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • Pieces of candied fruit

Oyster Stew

Posted in Seafood & Fish,Soups, Stews & Gumbos by Paul Gauche on December 29, 2009

Nothing says “Christmas Eve Dinner” quite like oyster stew. At least in our home.  Well, okay, at least in the home in which I grew up. Oh, all right… probably just for my parents.

While certainly not for everyone, and certainly not for the faint of heart, the aroma of oyster stew wafting through the house, together with the fragrance of Christmas candles and a live Christmas tree, conjours up images and memories of Christmas past for many. This recipe and many like it are simply part of “The Story” of Christmas that many people share each year. Always use the freshest oysters you can find. And always use—what else: oyster crackers.


  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced
  • Oyster juice and milk to equal one cup
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 1 – 2 pints small or extra small oysters
  • Oyster Crackers
  • Fresh chives, minced
  • Paprika


Sauté onion in the butter until the onion is tender. Stir in the flour, salt, white pepper, celery salt and parsley. Cook until smooth–even bubbly and hot being very careful not to boil. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in the 1 cup mixture of oyster juice and milk. Stir in the remaining 2 cups hot milk. Return to heat and bring up to temperature stirring constantly. Blend in 1 – 2 pints small or extra small oysters. Heat through until oysters curl around the edges. Garnish with fresh chives and paprika. Serve hot with oyster crackers.

Curried Chicken and Lentil Soup

Posted in Soups, Stews & Gumbos by Paul Gauche on December 18, 2009

Lucky Pantry… I had a couple hours of free time this morning and like so often happens, I’m crusin’ the cupboards. Now, I knew I had a package of chicken breasts in the fridge and I needed to use them somehow, but was tired of chicken tacos and wasn’t up for marinating and grilling on this winter day. So when I opened the spice cupboard and saw some Penzey’s Hot Curry, something clicked. Lentils. Do I have lentils? Of course, they’re in a bag next to the corn meal and flax seed.  So here we go… just happned to have a carton of stock and some plum toms. Lucky me.  The only things I didn’t have but would add were the coconu milk (which I improvised here–just happened to have some shredded coconut; and the mint.  Next time I make this, I’ll buy mint.  This will be great with some fresh bread and a salad.  Happy Friday night…

Ingredients ~

  • 2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 package (3 – 4) boneless chicken breasts
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (tip: substitute with ¼ cup milk, or soak ¼ cup coconut flakes in ¼ cup milk for 15 minutes. Strain coconut before adding milk.)
  • 2 cups diced plum tomatoes, or 16 ounces of diced, canned tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint, optional

Method ~

Place the lentils in a large saucepan and cover with cold water about two inches over the top. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the lentils until tender, about 25 minutes. Set aside.

Bring the chicken stock up to a boil in a sauté pan. Reduce the heat and poach the chicken breasts until done, about 6-8 minutes. Remove chicken from the stock and set aside. Reserve the stock for the soup. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred or cut into small pieces.

Heat the oil in a medium size saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté the onions until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the curry, ginger, and garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes longer.  Add the reserved chicken stock and coconut milk to the onion mixture. Simmer about 10 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and lentils and bring to a boil. Add lemon juice and salt and fresh ground cracked pepper to taste. Add the chicken and heat through and serve. Garnish with mint.

Serves 6

Dark Pfeffernüsse

Posted in Cookies by Paul Gauche on December 5, 2009

Photo Credit: Paul Gauche, Dark Pfefferneusse

My grandmother used to bake these and give them to her grandchildren.  I remember Christmas after Christmas as she would hand me a small coffee can, lined with foil and filled with Pfeffernüsse. The mild anise aroma and flavor was mystical to a 7 year old boy.

Her recipe–and this one is straight out of the 1963 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, page 45.

Ingredients ~

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup Dark Molasses
  • 3 drops of pure anise extract mixed with 1 Tablespoon hot water
  • 3⅓ cup white flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves

Method ~

Heat oven to 350°. Mix shortening, sugar, egg, molasses and anise mixture. Blend dry ingredients. Mix in gradually with hands. Knead dough until right consistency for molding. If dough seems too soft, refrigerate until firm. Mold into ¾ inch balls, place on greased baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.

Cookies harden on standing. When firm but still warm, roll in confectioner’s sugar. A handy method is to place about a cup of confectioner’s sugar in a gallon size zip lock bag. Add 8 – 10 cookies and gently roll them around to coat.  Take them out and place in and airtight container with slice of apple to mellow them.


Sage and Cranberry Stuffing

Posted in Casseroles, Gratins & Hotdishes,Thanksgiving and Christmas Recipes by Paul Gauche on December 3, 2009


Ingredients ~ 

  • Turkey giblets (heart, liver, gizzard, and neck)
  • 1 quart (4 cups) water
  • 1 pound Italian sausage with sage
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 14 ounce bag Organic Stuffing Mix with Cranberries (I prefer 365 Everyday Value Organic Stuffing Mix with Cranberries and Organic Chicken Flavor from Whole Foods)
  • Sage to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


Method ~

Place the turkey giblets (heart, liver, gizzard, and neck) in a medium saucepan and cover with 4 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a sauté pan, brown the sausage, stirring frequently and draining the grease. Cook sausage until it is browned and begins to crisp. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened.

When the giblets have finished cooking, remove them from the broth—reserving the broth, and set the giblets aside to cool. When cooled to the touch, take the meat off the neck. You’ll have to use your fingers to accomplish this rather tedious task.

Once the meat has been removed from the neck bones, add the neck meat along with the other giblets to a food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times until the meat is the texture of oatmeal.

Combine this meat mixture with the stuffing mix and combine well. Using the broth from the giblets, pour one cup at a time over the stuffing mix, stirring well to incorporate until the mixture is just moist. The stuffing should not be mushy. It should have a good texture.

Season with to taste with salt, pepper and sage.

Place the stuffing in a casserole and bake at 350 for 30 to 45 minutes.