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It wouldn't Christmastime without.

It wouldn't be Christmastime without . . .

It may be unorthodox, but it's tradition: the families shown on these pages have their own way of doing things, their own favorite holiday foods to savor. Because of the rich ethnic diversity out part of the country enjoys, there are lots of traditions to call on. For instance, you may not have thought of serving homemade tamales on Christmas morning, but the Salinases have been doing it for generations (however, this generation pops them in the microwave for quick reheating).

We've interviewed a number of Western families and asked them to share the special traditions of their holiday tables.

Many people who have moved here from other places said they tried, nostalgically, to duplicate certain foods their grandmothers had prepared, recipes treasured from childhood. But what often happened was that the new environment, newly available ingredients, and a new life style tended to transform the old favorites in subtle ways--creating a composite cuisine unique and interesting in its own way.

The examples on the next 6 pages may inspire you to try another family's favorite holiday recipes. Perhaps you'll also want to reclaim--and adapt--food traditions from your own family's past.

San Francisco: a Chinese turkey celebration

A savory stuffing of Oriental rice with cured pork and dried shiitake mushrooms flavors the Chinn family's holiday turkey.

Roast Turkey with Sweet Rice Stuffing

Green Salad with Tomato Wedges

Cranberry Relish Baked Sweet Potatoes

Warm Dinner Rolls Butter

Sparkling Chardonnay or Champagne

Sweet glutinous rice is the secret ingredient of this unusual stuffing. It's flavored with Chinese sausages (lop cheong), dried shiitake mushrooms, and Chinese cured pork (lop yuk). You can buy these ingredients in Asian markets and some supermarkets. For a less authentic but still delicious version, use the readily available alternatives we suggest.

Roast Turkey with Sweet Rice Stuffing

12 medium-size (1 oz.) dry shiitake mushrooms; or 1/2 pound fresh button mushrooms, diced


1/2 pound Chinese sausages (lop cheong), thinly sliced, or 1/2 pound cooked ham, cut in thin slivers (about 2 cups)

1/2 pound Chinese cured pork (lop yuk) or thick sliced bacon, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

8 green onions (ends trimmed), sliced

2 cups glutinous (sweet) rice, or short- or medium-grain rice

1 cup short- or medium-grain rice

5 cups water

1 can (5 oz. drained weight) whole water chestnuts, drained and cut in halves

2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 turkey (12 to 14 lb.), rinsed, patted dry, and fat lumps discarded

1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine, melted

In a bowl, cover dry mushrooms with warm water and soak until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain; cut off and discard stems. Dice caps and set aside. (Do not soak fresh mushrooms.) In a 12- to 14-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, cook sausage and pork, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon fat; add onions and mushrooms, and stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

Place glutinous and short-grain rice in a 3- to 4-quart pan; rinse and drain until water runs clear. Add enough water (about 5 cups) to pan so it is 1 inch above rice. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, uncovered, until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until rice is tender to bite, about 25 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture, water chestnuts, and soy sauce to taste. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to overnight.)

Fill turkey body and neck cavity with stuffing; close with skewers. Put extra rice mixture in a 3- to 4-cup baking dish.

Set turkey, breast up, on a V-shaped rack in a 12- by 15-inch roasting pan. Brush turkey with butter. Bake in a 325| oven until thermometer in center of thickest part of breast reads 170| (175| if you want thigh to have little or no pink color), 2 3/4 to 3 1/4 hours. About 1/2 hour before turkey is done, cover dish of stuffing and put in the oven with turkey (or another oven at 325|); bake until hot, about 30 minutes.

When turkey is done, remove from oven and let rest about 15 minutes. Transfer turkey to platter. Scoop out stuffing and slice bird. Offer extra stuffing along-side. --Brenda Chinn, San Francisco.

Portland: smorg sbord the whole family prepares

In Oregon, members of the Pearson family enjoy sharing their Swedish heritage with friends and West Coast family at Christmas time. They put on a big smorg asbord buffet--and the whole family gets involved with the preparation.

Potato sausage is the star of this feast and takes the most time and effort to prepare. But with everyone helping, several pounds of sausage are made in a couple of hours.

Potato Sausage

Sweet Brown Beans

Parsley Potatoes Pickled Herring

Limpa Bread Fontina Cheese

Red Apples

Swedish Rice Porridge (page 148)

You'll need a food chopper (electric or manual). A sausage stuffing attachment is handy, but if you don't have one, improvise: use a plastic-lined pastry bag fitted with plastic tube of a gravy baster (tip and part of end sawed off to make a 5-in. nozzle). Slide tube into pastry bag; leave 1 inch of the tube in bag; wrap bag snugly against neck of tube with sturdy tape.

Swedish Potato Sausage (Korv)

About 1/2 pound natural sausage casings, 1 1/4 inch diameter


5 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder

2 pounds boneless beef chuck

2 pounds cooked potatoes (about 3 large), cooled

1 large onion, cut into chunks

4 cups milk

2 tablespoons potato starch flour or cornstarch

1 teaspoon pepper

2 to 3 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon whole allspice, crushed About 3 yards thin cotton string

Cut casings into 12- to 16-inch-long sections and soak in warm water for 10 minutes. Slide 1 end of a length of casing onto a smooth-tipped faucet. Run warm water through the casing to rinse out salt and check for holes; repeat with each section. Let casings stand in cool water until you're ready to use them.

Trim surface fat from pork and beef. Cut meat in 1-inch cubes, trimming off gristle and tough membrane. Place a large bowl under the opening of an electric or manual food chopper fitted with the fine blade. Push pork and beef through chopper to finely grind them together.

Place another large bowl under the food chopper and grind meat mixture a second time, alternating with potatoes and onion to thoroughly blend. Add milk, potato starch flour, pepper, 2 teaspoons salt, and allspice. Mix well; mixture will be soft. To avoid spoilage, keep mixture cold when you are not working with it. (If made ahead, cover and chill mixture as long as overnight.) Pan-fry a spoonful and taste to check salt.

Fit sausage-stuffing attachment to food chopper according to manufacturer's directions. (Or improvise with a pastry bag as suggested, preceding.) Drain a soaked piece of casing and strip off excess water with your fingers. Ease the piece of casing onto the stuffing tube, then push it completely onto the tube, allowing only the last 1 inch to hang free. (Or ease casing onto the plastic baster tip fitted into the pastry bag.)

From this point on, a second pair of hands helps a lot.

Force meat and potato mixture through the food chopper, using chopper plunger to keep flow even. (If you're using a pastry bag, fill bag with mixture, fold bag shut, and roll or twist to force mixture into casings.) For the first few inches, hold casing closed at tip as mixture fills it; let out air, then tie casing tightly with string to close. Fill casings so they feel plump; if air bubbles form, pierce casing with a needle to release air.

If casings tear (they're tougher than they look), force meat away from tear, cut casing, twist, and set sausage aside. Continue with remaining casing. As each section of casing is stuffed, tie ends securely with string; set aside. Repeat until all the meat is used. Keep sausages cold.

In an 8- to 10-quart pan, bring 5 quarts water to a rapid boil over high heat. Meanwhile, prick sausages with needle in several places to prevent bursting. Add 1/2 the sausages to water; set a wire rack or smaller pan on top to keep meat submerged. Turn heat to low, cover, and cook until sausages feel firm to touch, about 1 hour. Lift sausages out, draining. Repeat procedure to cook remaining sausages.

To serve hot, keep sausages warm, covered, until all are cooked. If made ahead, let cool, cover, and chill up to 3 days. (Freeze to store longer; thaw in refrigerator.) To reheat, immerse in gently simmering water, cover, and cook over low heat until hot, about 6 minutes. Makes about 11 pounds, or 20 to 24 servings.-- Marilyn and Nick Pearson, Portland.

Idaho: a slow-simmering snowy-day Polish soup

It took all day for Christine Brady--now of Carmen, Idaho--to learn how to make this very special dried mushroom soup as her Polish grandmother demonstrated the process. "But it was worth it! The soup itself is simple, but grandma's directions were complicated.' It's only soaking the mushrooms that takes time.

Polish Mushroom Soup

Barbecued Steelhead

Whipped Potatoes Steamed Broccoli

Apple, Caraway, and Sauerkraut Salad

Walnut-Rum Layered Cake

Traditionally, dried mushrooms from Poland are used in the soup, but dried porcini (cepes, boletes) also work well. Look for them in specialty food shops and fancy foods or deli section of supermarkets.

The soup and cake and be made ahead.

Polish Mushroom Soup

1/4 pound dried Polish or porcini mushrooms


3 quarts regular-strength beef or chicken broth

1 cup pearl barley, rinsed

2 cups sour cream

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 cup minced parsley, optional

Salt and pepper

Combine mushrooms and 3 1/2 cups hot water in a bowl; let stand 1 hour. With your hands, work mushrooms to release any grit, then let stand until very pliable, about 1 hour longer. Lift mushrooms from liquid. Cut mushrooms in 1/2-inch pieces, discarding woody parts; set mushrooms aside. Save bowl of soaking liquid.

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine broth and mushrooms. Carefully pour soaking liquid into pan, taking care not to disturb grit in bowl. Add barley; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until barley is tender to bite, about 1 hour. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to overnight. Reheat to simmercing.)

Mix 1 1/2 cups sour cream with flour and stir into soup. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring.

Ladle into bowls and add a spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkling of parsley to each. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 8 to 10 servings, about 1 1/4 cups each.-- Christine Niedzwiecki Brady, Carmen, Idaho.

Walnut-Rum Layered Cake

2 3/4 cups walnuts or almonds

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 large eggs, separated

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

About 1/2 cup rum, optional

About 1 cup raspberry jam

Coffee frosting (recipe follows)

About 2 dozen perfect walnut halves or blanched almonds

With a blender or food processor, grind the 2 3/4 cups walnuts with pulse action just until finely ground; be careful not to overgrind. Set aside 3/4 cup ground nuts. Mix remaining 2 cups of ground nuts with flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In large bowl of an electric mixer, whip egg whites on high speed until foamy. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and beat just until moist, distinct peaks form, about 2 minutes.

In another large bowl, beat egg yolks on high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until the mixture will hold soft peaks, about 8 minutes.

Sprinkle nut mixture over beaten yolks, fold to blend, then gently fold whites into the nut mixture.

Divide batter between 2 buttered and floured 9-inch cheesecake pans (at least 3 in. deep) with removable bottoms. Bake in a 350| oven until cakes spring back when gently pressed in center and begin to pull slightly from pan sides, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool thoroughly in pans on racks.

Run a knife along pan rims and then carefully remove rims. With a sharp serrated knife, trim off uneven and rough edges. Cut layers in half horizontally. In a bowl, whip cream with 1/3 cup sugar until it holds stiff peaks; set aside.

Cut a 9-inch cardboard round and cover with foil. Place 1 of the layers, cut side up, on the foil-covered round. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of rum evenly over cake layer; spread about 1/3 cup of raspberry jam over the layer, then levelly spread 1/3 of whipped cream over jam.

Place a second layer of cake on top of the whipped cream. Repeat layering with rum, jam, and whipped cream. Top with another layer of cake. Continue until layers are all stacked, placing top cake layer cut side down.

Spread coffee frosting over cake sides and on top of cake. Press reserved 3/4 cup ground walnuts onto cake sides. Garnish top with perfect walnut halves and a dollop of raspberry jam. (If made ahead, cover and chill up to overnight.) Cut in wedges to serve. Makes 12 to 16 servings. Coffee frosting. Dissolve 5 teaspoons instant coffee granules or powder in 2 teaspoons hot water; set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, mix 1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature; 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar; 1 large egg; 1 teaspoon rum flavoring or rum; and dissolved coffee. Beat on high speed until smooth and blended, about 10 minutes.

Sacramento: holiday gumbo with spicy Creole roots

Originally from Louisiana, Kathryn Lee's mother brought this prized family recipe with her when she moved to California. Her family looks forward to spicy Creole soup-stew every holiday season.

Spicy Chicken-and-Shrimp Gumbo

Lettuce Salad with Oranges and Onions

French Bread Butter

Vanilla Ice Cream Caramel Topping

Gumbo traditionally starts with a roux of flour cooked in oil until darkly toasted. Then you add chopped vegetables and cook them until soft. Along with the shrimp, you add okra--its curious mucilaginous juices give body to the gumbo. Finally, file--ground dried sassafras leaves--is stirred in to give more body and that authentic Creole flavor.

Spicy Chicken-and-Shrimp Gumbo

1/2 cup olive or salad oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 medium-size onions, chopped

2 medium-size green bell peppers (or 1 green and 1 red bell pepper), stemmed, seeded, and chopped

1 1/2 cups chopped celery

1 cup chopped green onions

3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

2 teaspoons ground thyme

1 teaspoon pepper

1 quart water

3 cans (28 oz. each) tomatoes

4 pounds chicken drumsticks, skinned

4 or 5 small dried hot red chilies, or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

2 bay leaves

3/4 pound andouille or Polish sausage

1 pound fresh okra, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices (or 1 lb. frozen sliced okra, thawed)

1 pound medium-size shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 tablespoons file powder, optional

12 to 16 cups hot cooked rice

In an 8- to 10-quart pan, mix oil and flour until smoothly blended. Set over medium-high heat and stir constantly with a long-handled spoon (wooden or with heat-resistant handle) until mixture turns dark red-brown and smells toasted, about 12 minutes (if it begins to smell burned, remove pan at once from heat, let cool, discard roux, and begin again).

Remove pan from heat and stir in onion, bell pepper, celery, green onion, garlic, thyme, and pepper. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft when pierced, about 15 minutes.

To pan, add water, tomatoes (including juices), chicken, chilies, and bay; stir, breaking up tomatoes. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until chicken is no longer pink in thickest part (cut to test), about 30 minutes.

Slice andouille or Polish sausage diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices; add to pan. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until the sausage is hot, about 10 minutes. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, over low heat until simmering; stir the mixture often.)

Add okra and shrimp, and cook, uncovered, over medium heat until shrimp turn pink, about 4 minutes. Remove gumbo from heat and stir in file powder. Skim off fat and discard. Spoon about 1 cup cooked rice into each wide soup bowl and generously ladle gumbo over rice. Makes 7 quarts, 12 to 16 main-dish servings.-- Kathryn Lee, Sacramento.

Pasadena: December tamales loaded with extras . . . for breakfast or anytime

The Salinas family carries on the tradition of Mr. Salinas's mother by producing at least a hundred tamales every December. These are special tamales, loaded with extras. Inside the corn husk, a thin layer of masa surrounds seasoned pork filling, diced green chilies, sliced black ripe olives, a piece of jack cheese, and a slice of potato. To eat, embellish the steaming tamales with your choice of toppings-- soft fried eggs, avocado slices, sour cream, and salsa.

Tamales are great for a large party because you can make lots of them several weeks ahead and pull them out of the freezer as you need them. They heat quickly in a steamer (or a microwave) for an easy meal for family and friends.

The Salinases have them for breakfast Christmas morning or share them with relatives and friends the night before.

Holiday Tamales with Soft Fried Eggs

Refried Beans Salsa Jicama Sticks

Papaya Halves with Lime Wedges

Mexican Sweet Breads

Orange Juice Coffee

This recipe makes about 40 tamales, depending on the size of the corn husks (ojas); the husks are available at supermarkets and Mexican shops. Husks typically come in 8-ounce bags, enough for about 80 tamales; they keep indefinitely.

Preparing all the ingredients for the tamales takes a lot of time, but once you are set up, the actual assembly goes quickly, especially with a second set of hands. You can buy prepared masa mixed with lard and salt for tamales where fresh tortillas are made, or order it at some Mexican markets.

Holiday Tamales with Soft-fried Eggs

About 5 pounds prepared masa, purchased or homemade (recipe follows)

1 cup pork broth (from pork filling, recipe follows) or water

About 4 ounces dried corn husks, cleaned and soaked (directions follow)

Pork filling (recipe follows)

1 can (7 oz.) diced green chilies, drained

2 cans (about 2 oz.) sliced black ripe olives, drained

1 medium-size russet potato, peeled and thinly sliced into water

3/4 pound jack cheese, thinly sliced into 1- by 2-inch rectangles


Soft fried eggs, optional

1 cup sour cream

Slices of firm-ripe avocado

Homemade or prepared salsa

Beat purchased masa with pork broth until smooth and easy to spread. Omit this step with homemade masa. (If made ahead, cover and chill up to overnight).

For each tamale, select a wide, pliable, drained corn husk. Lay flat on work surface. Evenly spread 3 tablespoons masa dough in the center of the husk, making a rectangle that is flush with one side of husk, at least 1 inch from the opposite side, and about 1 inch from the cut end and 3 inches from the tip (see step 1 above). If the husk is not wide enough, use some masa to paste another piece of husk onto the back of the first one.

Spoon 2 rounded tablespoons pork filling in the center of the masa. Add about 1/2 teaspoon diced green chilies, 2 olive slices, 1 potato slice, and 1 cheese slice. Fold husk so masa on 1 side meets masa opposite to enclose filling, wrapping plain part of husk around the tamale's exterior. Fold the tip of the husk over the body of the tamale; lightly press tamale to seal masa around filling and pinch open ends shut (see step 2, page 90). Set tamales, seam down, on a tray as shaped; keep covered with a damp towel. Stack remaining tamales, as shaped, on top of the first layer.

You need a 12- to 14-quart pan with rack for steaming. If needed, cover rack with foil to make a steady platform to hold tamales above water (or, like Mrs. Salinas, make troughs of foil to hold tamales on rack); pierce foil in several places so steam can circulate. Pour 1 inch of water under rack. Stand tamales, pinched ends up, on rack (step 3); stack so steam can circulate. Cover pan; bring water to boil on high heat. Reduce heat but keep water boiling (replenish with boiling water as it evaporates) until masa is firm and does not stick to husk (take 1 from center to test), about 1 hour.

Serve tamales hot, or keep warm in steamer over very low heat up to 1 hour. Pile hot tamales on a plate or in a basket, or serve from steamer. Peel off husks and serve each 1 or 2 tamales with an egg, sour cream, avocado, and salsa.

If made ahead, remove tamales from steamer, let cool, wrap, and chill up to 3 days. To freeze, lay tamales in a single layer on pans. Freeze solid, then store in freezer bags; remove as many tamales from freezer as you want at a time. To reheat, steam tamales as directed, preceding, until hot, about 20 minutes if refrigerated, about 30 minutes if frozen. Or warm 1 or 2 tamales at a time in a microwave oven on full power (100%); heat uncovered until hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn tamale over halfway through heating. Makes about 40 tamales.--Marilyn Salinas, Pasadena.

Dried corn husks. Sort through dried corn husks, discarding silk and other extraneous material. In a 10- by 15-inch roasting pan, cover husks with warm water and let stand until pliable, at least 20 minutes or as long as overnight. Lift husks from water, as ready to use, and pat dry.

Prepared homemade masa. Whip 2 cups lard or solid shortening with an electric mixer until fluffy. Blend in 7 cups dehydrated masa flour (corn tortilla flour), 2 teaspoons salt (optional), 1 cup pork broth (from pork filling recipe), and 4 cups warm water or regular-strength chicken or beef broth until dough holds together well. Use the masa at room temperature; if made ahead, cover and chill up to 3 days. Makes 8 cups (about 5 lb.), enough for 40 tamales.

Pork filling. Cut 4 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Put meat in an 8- to 10-quart pan. Cover and cook over medium heat to draw out juices, about 10 minutes. Uncover and cook on high heat until liquid evaporates and meat browns well in drippings; stir often.

Add 4 cups water and 1 medium-size onion, chopped; stir to free browned particles from pan. Cover and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Uncover and remove 1 cup pork broth for prepared masa.

Over high heat, boil meat uncovered until about 1/4 cup liquid is left, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed; 1 can (28 oz.) red chili sauce; and 2 teaspoons cayenne.

Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes to blend flavors; stir often. Remove from heat, cool, and set aside until ready to use. Makes 7 cups. (If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up to overnight.)

Photo: Christine Brady

Photo: Marilyn and Gil Salinas

Photo: Mick and Rosemary Laurita

Photo: Hank Chinn

Photo: Marilyn Pearson

Photo: Larry Lee

Photo: Oriental ingredients give rice stuffing unique flavor and texture. Brenda Chinn chops Chinese sausage for the dressing; Hank Chinn carves roasted bird

Photo: The youngest traditionalist helps grind meat and potatoes together for the Pearsons' homemade Swedish sausage. It's served smorg sbord style, with parsley potatoes, pickled herring, sweet brown beans, cheese, apples

Photo: Polish soup is part of wee Fiona's Christmas heritage

Photo: Everyone loves the Lee family's special gumbo. But Grandma's approval is still required

Photo: 1. Fold edge of masa-coated husk over filling; then fold other edge on top

Photo: 2. Flip up tapered end of husk to seal; pinch open end of tamale shut

Photo: 3. Stand tamales upright, pinched ends up, in large pan, then steam

Photo: Soft-fried egg, sour cream, and salsa top warm tamales. Offer with refried beans, papaya, and avocado slices. The Salinas family adds assorted Mexican sweet breads
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Dec 1, 1986
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