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Perhaps your ham deserves a champagne bath.

Perhaps your ham deserves a champagne bath

It's just possible during the holidays that you may have an extra bottle, or fraction thereof, of champagne. Assuming that it's not a noble vintage that could add luster to your cellar, consider using it to bake a festive ham.

Bathing in champagne has rightfully been scorned as the very summit of wasteful luxury. Moreover, if would very likely leave the bather sticky. These negatives, though, are pluses when you treat your ham to a champagne ablution while it bakes. As the vapors evaporate, they will leave behind a hint of grape, adding complexity to the glaze.

Warren Stevens of Boise sends us this favorite recipe fof a ham basted with champagne and served with a delightful sweet mustard glaze.

Champagne Ham with Mustard Glaze

1 fully cooked shank half ham (6 to 8 lb.)

Whole cloves

3/4 cup (1 split, 187.5 ml) champagne

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons brandy

Cut off and discard the tough, leather-like skin from ham. Score fat and stud with cloves. Place ham in a 10- by 15-inch roasting pan; pour the champagne over the ham.

Bake, uncovered, in a 325| oven, basting frequently with pan drippings, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion (not touching bone) registers 140|; allow 20 to 22 minutes per pound, 2 to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, combine mustard, sugar, and brandy. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Brush ham with mustard mixture several times during the last 30 minutes of baking. Offer remaining mustard sauce to spoon over individual portions. Makes about 12 servings.

Warren Stevens


Fruitcake is the ideal emergency dessert. Well made and properly stored, it is nearly immortal, and you can unwrap and slice it any day of the year for unexpected lunch, tea, or dinner guests. Many people feel that it improves with age, not only through a more thorough blending of flavors, but also through a firming and mellowing in texture.

Don Kleinmaier calls his version of this dessert California Fruitcake because many of the ingredients are produced in California. It is lavish with fruit but not too sweet. Keeping the cake moist with orange-flavored liqueur instead of the traditional brandy lends added fruitiness.

Packaged as directed (following) and stored in the refrigerator, this cake will last for several months. However, if your family makes midnight food forays, you should keep it in a wall safe.

California Fruitcake

1 pound (2 1/2 cups) mixed diced candied (glace) fruit

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans

1/2 cup each raisins and candied (glace) whole red cherries

1/2 cup each coarsely chopped pitted dates, dried figs, and dried apricots

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup honey

6 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground mace

1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl, combine mixed candied fruit, walnuts, raisins, cherries, dates, figs, apricots, orange juice, honey, 2 tablespoons of the liqueur, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace; set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until well blended; then beat in eggs, one at a time, beatine well after each addition. Stir together the flour and soda; by hand, stir flour mixture into creamed mixture. Add fruit mixture and stir until well distributed.

Evenly spoon batter into 2 well-greased 4 1/2- by 8 1/2-inch loaf pans. Bake in a 300| oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 35 minutes. Let cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Cut 4 pieces of cheesecloth, each 15 inches square. Set each cake on 2 layers of cheesecloth and wrap to enclose. Drizzle each cake with about 2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur, then wrap cakes individually in foil.

Store in the refrigerator at least 2 weeks before sampling, or as long as 2 months. Makes 2 cakes, each about 2 pounds.

D. E. Kleinmaier

Sebastopol, Calif.

Many national cuisines have special dishes that are served on New Year's Day, often in the hope that they will bring good luck in the year ahead. Our own melting-pot cuisine has not yet developed such a dish, but many recipes have become traditions within families.

One such is William Rose's Chicken Livers and Mushrooms, a substantial accompaniment to the New Year's morning scrambled eggs.

It may not bring luck during the coming year, but it should help keep you contented until supper.

Chicken Livers and Mushrooms

1 1/2 pounds chicken livers

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon dry marjoram leaves

2 medium-size carrots, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 can (14 1/2 oz.) regular-strength chicken broth

Salt and pepper

Scrambled eggs, split and toasted English muffins, or hot cooked rice

Rinse chicken livers, pat dry, and cut into bite-size pieces. Melt butter in a 10-to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Add livers, about 1/3 at a time, and cook, uncovered, until browned on all sides but still pink in the center (cut to test), about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, lift out livers as they are cooked; set aside.

Add onion and mushrooms to pan and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until onion is limp. Stir flour into onion and mushrooms along with thyme, marjoram, carrots, and celery. Stir in broth, then cover and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, 10 to 12 minutes. Return livers to pan and stir until heated, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon chicken liver sauce over individual portions of scrambled eggs, toasted English muffins, or hot cooked rice. Serves 6.

William F. Rose

La Puente, Calif.

For an accompaniment to any breakfast this month, lavish or not, consider B.J. Nichols' Cranberry Gems, a pleasing variation on that old favorite, blueberry muffins. The bright crimson color and tart taste are surprises; the cinnamon-sugar topping is a fragrant finish. Enjoy the muffins warm or cool.

Cranberry Gems

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup cranberries, chopped

2 eggs

1 cup milk

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted and cooled

1 tablespoon granulated sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, powdered sugar, salt, and cranberries.

In a small bowl, beat eggs to blend with milk and butter. Stir into dry ingredients just until they're moistened. Spoon batter into 16 to 18 greased 2 1/2-inch muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Sprinkle with sugarcinnamon mixture.

Bake in a 400| oven until tops are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Turn out onto a rack. Serve warm or cooled. Makes 16 to 18 muffins.

B. J. Nichols

Eugene, Ore.
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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Dec 1, 1984
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