Sunday, January 14, 2018

Holiday Retrospective for December 2017

December was a busy month in my kitchen, with three holidays to observe: Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year. I got too caught up with family, house guests, entertaining, and holiday celebrations to do much blogging. So now it's time to catch up!

Here's a look back at December--and a preview of upcoming posts:

I've already written about my first-ever attempt at yeast-raised kifli or rogljički. That's how the month started. I dubbed them Potica Babies and took them to a couple of parties, including the annual Christmas gathering at the Slovenian Hall in San Francisco:

Soon it was Hanukkah week. It is usually a low-key time, with adult children who live far away. But on the first night my husband and I always light the menorah and he makes the traditional potato pancakes or latkes. This year, he suggested I contribute something new: sauerkraut quiche, an odd but tasty dish I'd created earlier in the year. It was a tangy if non-traditional addition to the holiday meal. One of these days, I vowed, I would get around to making my own sauerkraut, just as my grandma did.

The opportunity came a week later, when I attended a wonderful pickling and fermenting workshop sponsored by an organization called Slow Food-East Bay. I came home with a collection of beautiful jewel-like jars of pickled and fermenting vegetables. It was a wonderful assortment, but the two in the middle were of special interest: sauerkraut (of course!) but also those turnips to the left, which are similar to an unusual Slovenian specialty called kisla repa.

Next, I had a breakthrough on the potica front. Just before Christmas, I finally baked a loaf in the traditional round shape!

At around the same time, I made a slightly different version of those Potica Babies: dairy-free, and with the same walnut-honey filling we use in our family potica recipe. This batch was even better!  

After Christmas, I had a problem: We'd had a full house for almost two weeks (our sons, their partners, and another young family member) and supplies were low. No more cookies and two more annual holiday gatherings on the calendar: A friend's Boxing Day party, and then our own New Year's Day open house. It seemed like the perfect time to try out an unusual-sounding bar cookie recipe I'd known about for years but had never tasted: Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies. They were a surprising success!

Meanwhile, the sauerkraut had fermented in our cool kitchen and was now in the fridge. It tasted really good! I used it to make another sauerkraut quiche. This time, I added one more touch to make it Slovenian: a buckwheat crust!

We are still working on the last of the Christmas potica. Fortunately, it makes great toast!

Happy New Year! Recipes to follow!