Holiday memories are linked with food


By Leslie Lippincott
COA Culinary ARts

Sunday, December 24, 2017

When I was a little girl, we would often go on a ski vacation for Christmas. We left early in the morning, well before the sun came up. Papa would gather me out of bed, wrap me in his great big “Puddy Cat” coat and tuck me in the back seat where I’d sleep while Mama drove us up and around the mountains.

It wasn’t the sun that would wake me up from the sleep of the gently rocking car, but peanut butter sandwiches on freshly baked bread. You see, the night before Papa would prepare the dough and get up in the wee hours of the night, bake it and make the sandwiches. My car alarm was the AROMA those sandwiches released when he unwrapped them. The car became infused with the promise of homemade bread. The bread was still warm and the peanut butter gooey from the warmth of the bread. Although we were excited to get on the mountain and ski, we always had to stop so Mama could have one too!

I have a bunch of food memories linked to the holidays … or do I have a bunch of holiday memories linked to food? Not sure, but I am sure I am not the only one person with strong food memories. One of the basic building blocks of tradition is food and some of our most intense holiday memories are of aroma and flavor. With that in mind, I thought I’d share 2 recipes from our family’s Holiday traditions.

You know how you sometimes mull over a problem? Take my advice and mull apple cider instead! In the culinary sense, to mull is to infuse flavor by adding spices and herbs to a warm beverage. This recipe can be made in a slow cooker/crock pot or right on the stove top. It will infuse your home with the lovely aromas of apples, oranges and spices.

Next, how about starting a new cheese tradition this Christmas? You’ve probably had creamy Brie cheese, maybe on a cheese board, or warmed in the oven, but have you had Brie en Croute? That is Brie wrapped in fluffy puff pastry.

In 2017 America, we tend to serve cheese within the framework of the appetizer course. In Old World formal dining, the cheese course was near the end, if not the final course, of a 10 course, or more, repast.

This holiday season, be a little adventurous and add a glorious Brie en Croute to your Christmas repast. Whether you begin with it or end with it, it is a delicious addition to any celebration. The delicate flaky crust is the perfect foil for the creamy as velvet Brie.

Let us, please, not forget the accompaniments that add a variety of flavors. Whether you prefer raspberries, raspberry preserves and gingersnaps, walnuts and honey, almonds, cranberries, mushrooms, fresh herbs, apricots, crackers, baguette, apples, pears … well I think you get the picture! A Brie en Croute can be sweet or savory. The delicious “extras” can be baked under the crust or served on the side. This recipe is about the technique of wrapping the Brie. I leave the flavor combinations to your palette. See the recipe to add ingredients under the crust.

Leslie Lippincott is assistant professor and program coordinator for the Culinary Arts program at College of the Albemarle’s Edenton Campus.