As a child, and being of German ancestry, my family opened Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve. As children, we loved this. Santa Claus would visit our house before ANY one else’s and leave gifts under the tree while my grandparents took us out in their car to look at Christmas light displays. It was a well known fact we could not be home to see Santa, no one is supposed to see Santa, and since we were not going to be slumbering in our beds when he came, as all the rest of the kids would be, we had to be out of the house. Mom and Dad would stay behind, to let Santa in, because we also had no chimney. Then after our traditional Christmas Eve fondue, we would sit around the tree and open gifts, taking our time, one gift at a time, opening and admiring. Passing it around for all to see. Candies were tasted, colognes were opened and smelt.
Opening presents on Christmas Eve. had another advantage, for us kids and my parents. We all could sleep at night. No anxiousness. No hurry for Christmas morning. Christmas morning was a time to play with our gifts, and eat. My mother would spend weeks and weeks prior to Christmas cooking. German traditional cookies, Cinnamon Stars – Zimtsterne, Coconut Macaroons and of course, the cut out sugar cookies. And for Christmas morning, homemade Croissants and Apple Strudel.
Back in the day, most all butter was salted. To make the croissants, mom had to purify the butter. This was accomplished by taking the butter and squishing it through her fingers, in a bowl of ice water. I remember her standing, with her fingers blue, as she squeezed squeezed squeezed this yellow waxy ball of butter through that icy cold water. I don’t believe that was her favorite part of Christmas. But she did it, every year.
To be light and crunchy the Strudel demanded a very thin dough. So thin you could read a newspaper through it. Plus it had to rise, and then be pounded, a recommended 100 times, against the counter top.
My son Chris (age 4) helping Oma with the strudel dough.
It was a lot of work, and mom would get a little stressed, trying to get all the packages wrapped, get all the cooking done, get the house ready for the in-laws, Santa, and mayhem. But it was so worth it to us, when on Christmas morning we would wake up to the smell of baking strudel and buttery croissants.
Since most of us open our gifts on Christmas morning, and we don’t have the time to make a really good homemade strudel, even mom went to buying phyllo for her strudel as time marched on and she went to work, I thought I would share some of my easier, make ahead, still special, still smell good cooking Christmas Morning – Let’s Eat food.
Christmas morning in the Baker house is still a leisurely affair. Trevor was never one to jump up early to open gifts, there was many a year that Brian and I actually had to go in to wake him up. “Come one” we would say, “Santa has been here”. We go through our stocking gifts while the coffee is brewing, and then we start to open gifts, still one at a time, still watching and sharing the joy as each gift is reveled. Coffee morphs into sparkling wine, and breakfast is put into the oven. What is best about these recipes is, they are all easily made in advance, then just put together when you want to cook them.
Christmas Morning – Let’s Eat Recipes
Our number one choice on Christmas morning is:
This is an oldie, but a goodie from way back. You can use canned chiles but I’ve found the recipe to be far improved by roasting my own poblano chiles and using them. The whole casserole can be prepared the day before, shredding the cheese, layering the casserole and mixing the milk and eggs. Just pour the milk and eggs over the top on Christmas morning and bake, for about an hour. Plenty of time to finish opening those gifts.
Or any quiche for that matter. You can prepare everything in advance. Have the crust filled with delicious cheese, bacon and zucchini, mix the milk and eggs and again, on the morning of, simply pour the custard over and into the oven. Forty-five minutes later, breakfast is ready.
Not quite hands free but easy enough
Only about 10 minutes in the kitchen, and this goes so nicely with a glass of sparkling or champagne.
Make the waffle batter the day before, make the compote up to a week before. This recipe can be gluten-free if you use a gluten-free flour along with the polenta. No instant polenta? No problem. Just use cornmeal. And how pretty does that look?
And if you just want to sit and play with your new toys
The name says it all. Super simple and super good.
So here’s to wishing you all a stress free, happy happy, merry merry. Whatever you celebrate, and however you celebrate, Peace be with you and yours. See you in 2015!