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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 11/26/15

Thursday, November 26, 2015

THE YULE LOG, A TRADITION EVERYONE CAN ENJOY!



   Burning Yule logs is a tradition dating back long before the birth of Jesus. In pre-Christian times, the Yule log was burned in the home hearth on the winter solstice in honor of the pagan sun god Odin, known also as the Yule Father or Oak King.
The winter solstice, known amongst pagans as Yule or Gwyl Canol Gaeaf, falls on December 21 or 22, whichever is the shortest day and longest night of the current year. The Yule festival symbolizes a battle between the powers of light (Oak King) and powers of darkness (Holly King). A Yule log, typically a thick branch taken from a oak tree, would be burned in the hearth beginning on this night as a celebration of the Oak King's triumphant defeat over the Holly King.



Burning the Yule log

    The traditional Yule celebration would begin at dawn with the cutting of the oak branch, which was then ceremoniously carried into the house. Lit by the father or oldest member of the family, the Yule log would be left to burn for the next 12 days. When evening arrived the family would gather for dinner, which would typically included mutton, goose, pork, beef, special Yule breads, porridge, apples, sweets, nut and Yule ale.
As Christianity spread throughout Europe the traditional Yule celebration became associated with the celebration of Christmas and the birth of Jesus, the Yule
Father being replaced with Father Christmas. In Serbia, the Yule log, or badnjak as it is called there, is cut and burned in the hearth as part of its Christmas festivities. In years past, the head of the family would go into the forest on Christmas Eve morning to cut down the badnjak. Before bringing it home he would take the log to the church for a special blessing. In more recent years, the badnjak ins usually gotten at marketplaces or form the churches.

Oak King

    The Yule log is a part of French tradition as well, especially it's Yule Log Cake or Buche de Noel. This traditional Christmas dessert is made from a sponge cake that has been baked in a shallow pan. After baking, the cake is filled with a creamy frosting, rolled up into a cylinder, and frosted with the remaining frosting along the top and sides so as to resemble a tree log. A small portion of the cake is usually cut off and placed alongside or on top of the larger piece in order to reveal the bark-like appearance of its insides. For some bakers, adding meringue mushrooms for that extra woodsy look not only enhances the realism of their Yule log but also is a lot of fun. "The Bouche de Noel" is a very favorite, traditional French cake during the holidays.
The creation of this culinary Yule Log, now baked throughout the world, dates back to Napoleon I. A stern believer that cold air caused medical problems, Napoleon issued a proclamation requiring households in Paris to keep their chimneys closed during the winter month, preventing resident from burning the Yule log.



Yuel log cake or Buche de Noel

    French bakers invented the Buche de Noel as a symbolic replacement. In England, according to the Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Program, On Christmas Eve, members of the household ventured into the woods to find and cut a great tree, preferably an oak. Size was important, because the Yule log had to burn throughout the twelve days of Christmas. Once cut, the log was dragged home with much celebration. As many people as possible grabbed onto the ropes to help pull, because doing so was believed to bring good luck in the new year. Even passersby raised their hat in tribute.
The Yule log was dragged to the hearth of the great open fireplace, a common household feature in old England. The log was lit with a scrap of burned log carefully preserved from the previous year, a practice that ensured the continuity of good fortune not only from year to year, but also from generation to generation.



    As a Christmas tradition, burning the Yule log eventually spread from England to America. It's more popular fame as a tradition in the U.S., especially in New York, comes in the form of a televised Yule log broadcasted first in 1966 at the WPIX television station in New York when Fred Thrower, the then General Manager for the television station, brought the tradition of burning the Yule log into viewers homes. Inspired b a Coke commercial he had seen depicting Santa Claus in front of a fireplace the previous year. Thrower, and then WPIX-FM programming director Charlie Whittaker, created the Yule Log, a Christmas program featuring an actual Yule log burning in a fireplace. The crackling wood fire, accompanied by the music of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis and others, played non stop for two hours on Christmas Eve. Filmed at Gracie Mansion, the Yule Log was Thrower's Christmas gift to New Yorkers who hadn't a home hearth. The program aired continuously from 1966-1989.


Buche de Noel Recipe

Picture of Buche de Noel Recipe



Total Time:

        9 hr 23 min


Prep:

     1 hr 0 min



Inactive:

          8 hr 0 min


Cook:

       23 min

Yield:
       12 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients

Walnut Biscuit:

  • 5 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 25 grams granulated maple sugar
  • 125 grams cake flour, sifted
  • 3 ounces toasted walnuts, finely chopped

    Directions

    Pastry Cream
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 55 grams cornstarch
    • 40 grams sugar, plus 75 grams sugar
    • 75 grams maple syrup
    • 2 tablespoons whiskey (recommended: Jack Daniels)
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
    • 2 cups milk
    • 28 grams butter
    • 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
    • 1 cup heavy cream

    Buttercream:

    • 113 grams sugar
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 1 whole egg
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons whisky (recommended: Jack Daniels)
    • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
    • 12 ounces butter, room temperature

    Sugared Cranberries:

    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 2 cups cranberries (cannot have been frozen)
    • Candied walnuts, store-bought
    • Candied orange peel, store-bought
    Maple Tuiles
    • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
    • 350 grams maple syrup
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 240 grams egg whites
    • 225 grams all-purpose flour
    • Luster dust, optional

    For the walnut biscuit:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a half sheet pan, line with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust with flour.
    Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Beat in both sugars and whip to a stiff, glossy meringue.

    Alternately fold the cake flour and egg yolks into the meringue in 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the nuts.

    Spread the batter evenly in the pan, and bake until the cake is pale gold, the center springs back when you press it lightly with your finger, and the edges start to pull from the sides of the pan, 10 to 12 minutes.

    For the pastry cream:

    Whisk the yolks, cornstarch, and the 40 grams sugar in a medium bowl; the mixture will be very thick, but try to whisk enough to remove most of the lumps.
    Put the 75 grams sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until dark brown; don't worry if it crystallizes a bit. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the maple syrup, then whisk in the whisky, turn up the heat, and let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to boil off the alcohol.

    Whisk the milk and vanilla bean scrapings into the caramel mixture and bring to simmer. Slowly whisk about half of the hot mixture into the yolks, then whisk that mixture back into the pot, bring to a boil, whisking, and cook, still whisking, until thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, salt and maple extract. Pour into a shallow dish, press plastic wrap onto the surface, and chill until set and very cold, about 4 hours.

    Beat the cold pastry cream in a standing mixer until smooth. When ready to use, whip the cream until it is very stiff, then beat into the pastry cream. Chill until ready to use.

    For the buttercream:

    Put the sugar in a medium pot and add enough water just to moisten; use your fingers to wet the sugar evenly. Bring to a boil. While the sugar is heating, start beating the yolks and egg in a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.
    When the syrup reaches about 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer (softball stage), pour it into the yolks with the mixer still running, taking care not to pour it onto the whisk.
    Beat until cooled to room temperature. Beat in the whisky and the maple extract.

    Cream the butter in another mixing bowl using the paddle attachment. Beat in the cooled egg mixture until smooth. You can use it right away, or chill it overnight; if you chill it, rebeat when you are ready to assemble the cake.

    For the sugared cranberries:

    Have a cookie sheet or shallow dish and a slotted spoon next to the stove.
    Put the sugar in a medium pot and add enough water just to moisten; use your fingers to wet the sugar evenly. Add the cinnamon stick.

    Bring to a boil, add the cranberries, and immediately pull from the heat. Transfer the cranberries to the cookie sheet with the slotted spoon. Cool.

    For the maple tuiles:

    Cream the butter, maple syrup, vanilla bean scrapings and salt until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in egg whites until smooth. Beat in the flour. Let the batter rest and hour or so at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before baking.
    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with a silpat. Using a stencil, smear the batter thinly on the silpat and bake until dark golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the pan while still warm. If you want to shape the cookies, put them over a bottle or rolling pin while warm; let cool. If desired, brush lightly with luster dust.

    Assembly:

    Turn the cooled cake onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper with a long side near you. Spread the chilled pastry cream evenly over the surface, leaving a 2-inch border across from you. Using the parchment paper to lift, roll the cake as tightly as possible. Set seam side down on a platter or large pan, and chill for an hour or so.
    Frost the cake with the buttercream, smoothing the surface so it looks like bark.

    Decorate with candied cranberries, walnuts, orange peel, and tuiles.

    Ingredients

    Walnut Biscuit:

    • eggs, separated, room temperature
    • 100 grams granulated sugar
    • 25 grams granulated maple sugar
    • 125 grams cake flour, sifted
    • 3 ounces toasted walnuts, finely chopped

    Directions

    Pastry Cream
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 55 grams cornstarch
    • 40 grams sugar, plus 75 grams sugar
    • 75 grams maple syrup
    • 2 tablespoons whiskey (recommended: Jack Daniels)
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
    • 2 cups milk
    • 28 grams butter
    • 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
    • 1 cup heavy cream

    Buttercream:

    • 113 grams sugar
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 1 whole egg
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons whisky (recommended: Jack Daniels)
    • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
    • 12 ounces butter, room temperature

    Sugared Cranberries:

    • 1 cup sugar
    • cinnamon stick
    • 2 cups cranberries (cannot have been frozen)
    • Candied walnuts, store-bought
    • Candied orange peel, store-bought
    Maple Tuiles
    • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
    • 350 grams maple syrup
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 240 grams egg whites
    • 225 grams all-purpose flour
    • Luster dust, optional

    For the walnut biscuit:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a half sheet pan, line with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust with flour.
    Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Beat in both sugars and whip to a stiff, glossy meringue.
    Alternately fold the cake flour and egg yolks into the meringue in 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the nuts.
    Spread the batter evenly in the pan, and bake until the cake is pale gold, the center springs back when you press it lightly with your finger, and the edges start to pull from the sides of the pan, 10 to 12 minutes.

    For the pastry cream:

    Whisk the yolks, cornstarch, and the 40 grams sugar in a medium bowl; the mixture will be very thick, but try to whisk enough to remove most of the lumps.
    Put the 75 grams sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until dark brown; don't worry if it crystallizes a bit. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the maple syrup, then whisk in the whisky, turn up the heat, and let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to boil off the alcohol.
    Whisk the milk and vanilla bean scrapings into the caramel mixture and bring to simmer. Slowly whisk about half of the hot mixture into the yolks, then whisk that mixture back into the pot, bring to a boil, whisking, and cook, still whisking, until thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, salt and maple extract. Pour into a shallow dish, press plastic wrap onto the surface, and chill until set and very cold, about 4 hours.
    Beat the cold pastry cream in a standing mixer until smooth. When ready to use, whip the cream until it is very stiff, then beat into the pastry cream. Chill until ready to use.

    For the buttercream:

    Put the sugar in a medium pot and add enough water just to moisten; use your fingers to wet the sugar evenly. Bring to a boil. While the sugar is heating, start beating the yolks and egg in a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.
    When the syrup reaches about 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer (softball stage), pour it into the yolks with the mixer still running, taking care not to pour it onto the whisk. Beat until cooled to room temperature. Beat in the whisky and the maple extract.
    Cream the butter in another mixing bowl using the paddle attachment. Beat in the cooled egg mixture until smooth. You can use it right away, or chill it overnight; if you chill it, rebeat when you are ready to assemble the cake.

    For the sugared cranberries:

    Have a cookie sheet or shallow dish and a slotted spoon next to the stove.
    Put the sugar in a medium pot and add enough water just to moisten; use your fingers to wet the sugar evenly. Add the cinnamon stick.
    Bring to a boil, add the cranberries, and immediately pull from the heat. Transfer the cranberries to the cookie sheet with the slotted spoon. Cool.

    For the maple tuiles:

    Cream the butter, maple syrup, vanilla bean scrapings and salt until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in egg whites until smooth. Beat in the flour. Let the batter rest and hour or so at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before baking.
    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with a silpat. Using a stencil, smear the batter thinly on the silpat and bake until dark golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the pan while still warm. If you want to shape the cookies, put them over a bottle or rolling pin while warm; let cool. If desired, brush lightly with luster dust.

    Assembly:

    Turn the cooled cake onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper with a long side near you. Spread the chilled pastry cream evenly over the surface, leaving a 2-inch border across from you. Using the parchment paper to lift, roll the cake as tightly as possible. Set seam side down on a platter or large pan, and chill for an hour or so.
    Frost the cake with the buttercream, smoothing the surface so it looks like bark. Decorate with candied cranberries, walnuts, orange peel, and tuiles.

    THANKGIVING FACT OR FICTION????



    Image result for thanksgiving




    “The reason that we have so many myths associated with Thanksgiving is that it is an invented tradition. It doesn’t originate in any one event. It is based on the New England puritan Thanksgiving, which is a religious Thanksgiving, and the traditional harvest celebrations of England and New England and maybe other ideas like commemorating the pilgrims. All of these have been gathered together and transformed into something different from the original parts.”–James W. Baker, Senior Historian at Plimoth Plantation



    Image result for cornucopia


    Fiction. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. However, in 1939, after a request from the National Retail Dry Goods Association, President Franklin Roosevelt decreed that the holiday should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month(and never the occasional fifth, as occurred in 1939) in order to extend the holiday shopping season by a week. The decision sparked great controversy, and was still unresolved two years later, when the House of Representatives passed a resolution making the last Thursday in November a legal national holiday. The Senate amended the resolution, setting the date as the fourth Thursday, and the House eventually agreed.





    Image result for benjamin franklin thanksgiving
     
     
     
     
    Fact. In a letter to his daughter sent in 1784, Benjamin Franklin suggested that the wild turkey would be a more appropriate national symbol for the newly independent United States than the bald eagle (which had earlier been chosen by the Continental Congress). He argued that the turkey was “a much more respectable Bird,” “a true original Native of America,” and “though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage.”




    Image result for abe lincoln thanksgiving proclamation
     
     

    Fiction. George Washington, John Adams and James Madison all issued proclamations urging Americans to observe days of thanksgiving, both for general good fortune and for particularly momentous events (the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, in Washington’s case; the end of the War of 1812, in Madison’s).
     
     
     
    Fiction. The Philadelphia department store Gimbel’s had sponsored a parade in 1920, but the Macy’s parade, launched four years later, soon became a Thanksgiving tradition and the standard kickoff to the holiday shopping season. The parade became ever more well-known after it featured prominently in the hit film Miracle on 34th Street (1947), which shows actual footage of the 1946 parade. In addition to its famous giant balloons and floats, the Macy’s parade features live music and other performances, including by the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes and cast members of well-known Broadway shows.





    Image result for turkey


     
    Fiction (kind of). Domesticated turkeys (the type eaten on Thanksgiving) cannot fly, and their pace is limited to a slow walk. Female domestic turkeys, which are typically smaller and lighter than males, can move somewhat faster. Wild turkeys, on the other hand, are much smaller and more agile. They can reach speeds of up to 20-25 miles per hour on the ground and fly for short distances at speeds approaching 55 miles per hour. They also have better eyesight and hearing than their domestic counterparts.



    Image result for NATIVE AMERICANS AND CRANBERRIES
     
     
     
    Fact. According to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, one of the country’s oldest farmers’ organizations, Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, including “pemmican” (a nourishing, high-protein combination of crushed berries, dried deer meat and melted fat). They also used it as a medicine to treat arrow punctures and other wounds and as a dye for fabric. The Pilgrims adopted these uses for the fruit and gave it a name—”craneberry”—because its drooping pink blossoms in the spring reminded them of a crane.


    Image result for A TURKEY AND BALLROOM DANCING
     
    Fact. The turkey trot, modeled on that bird’s characteristic short, jerky steps, was one of a number of popular dance styles that emerged during the late 19th and early 20th century in the United States. The two-step, a simple dance that required little to no instruction, was quickly followed by such dances as the one-step, the turkey trot, the fox trot and the bunny hug, which could all be performed to the ragtime and jazz music popular at the time. The popularity of such dances spread like wildfire, helped along by the teachings and performances of exhibition dancers like the famous husband-and-wife team Vernon and Irene Castle.



     
    Image result for THANKSGIVING 2007 TURKEY AND DISNEYLAND
     
     
     
    Fact. On November 20, 2007, President George W. Bush granted a “pardon” to two turkeys, named May and Flower, at the 60th annual National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, held in the Rose Garden at the White House. The two turkeys were flown to Orlando, Florida, where they served as honorary grand marshals for the Disney World Thanksgiving Parade. The current tradition of presidential turkey pardons began in 1947, under Harry Truman, but the practice is said to have informally begun with Abraham Lincoln, who granted a pardon to his son Tad’s pet turkey.





    Image result for turkey and sleep


     
    Fact. Turkey does contain the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is a natural sedative, but so do a lot of other foods, including chicken, beef, pork, beans and cheese. Though many people believe turkey’s tryptophan content is what makes many people feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal, it is more likely the combination of fats and carbohydrates most people eat with the turkey, as well as the large amount of food (not to mention alcohol, in some cases) consumed, that makes most people feel like following their meal up with a nap.




    Image result for thanksgiving football


     
    Fiction. The American tradition of college football on Thanksgiving is pretty much as old as the sport itself. The newly formed American Intercollegiate Football Association held its first championship game on Thanksgiving Day in 1876. At the time, the sport resembled something between rugby and what we think of as football today. By the 1890s, more than 5,000 club, college and high school football games were taking place on Thanksgiving, and championship match-ups between schools like Princeton and Yale could draw up to 40,000 fans. The NFL took up the tradition in 1934, when the Detroit Lions (recently arrived in the city and renamed) played the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit stadium in front of 26,000 fans. Since then, the Lions game on Thanksgiving has become an annual event, taking place every year except during the World War II years (1939–1944).