Festive Foods

Impress your guests with a new holiday recipe this season. Whether you want something sweet, savory, or unique, these reader-shared recipes from Evansville Living‘s feature "Our Winter Traditions" are sure to delight.


For Jeffrey Berger and his family, December is a time to celebrate Hanukkah, and there’s no better way than whipping up a batch of latkes.

• 2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, shredded
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1/3 cup sour cream
• 2 tablespoons flour
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Vegetable oil for frying
*Optional — add shredded onion

Drain or squeeze out moisture from the shredded potatoes, then mix in other ingredients. Bring 1/4" of oil to a medium heat. Drop heaping spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and flatten. Cook until 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove to paper towels to soak up excess oil, then serve with applesauce and sour cream.

Chinese Hot Pot

Rupei Watkins moved to Evansville six years ago and is originally from Taiwan. She prepares a Chinese hot pot every winter for the Chinese New Year.

• 10 cups chicken stock (add more if needed)
• 1/2 turnip (peeled and cubed)
• 5 slices ginger
• 1/2 head Chinese (napa) cabbage (washed and torn into large pieces)
• 8 ounces mushrooms (washed and cut into halves)
• 1 package beef meatballs (15 pieces)
• 1 pound thinly sliced pork, beef, or lamb
• 1 package soy puffs (20 pieces)
• 2 package egg, fish, squid, or shrimp dumplings (about 24-36 pieces)  
• 1 pound whole cooked mussels or uncooked shrimp (or 1/2 pound of each)

Dipping sauce:
• ½ cup Chinese BBQ sauce (also known as Sha Cha sauce)
• 1 tablespoon soy paste or oyster sauce

Warm chicken stock in a wok or a deep pot over high heat. Add turnip and ginger. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook for three minutes. Add remaining ingredients except mussels (or shrimp). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for three minutes. Uncover. Stir in mussels (or shrimp) and bring to another boil. Hot pot usually is served with steamed rice or bean thread noodles. For bean thread noodles, cook in the hot pot for one minute as the last ingredient. Combine Chinese BBQ sauce and soy paste in separate dish. Remove from pot and serve hot with dipping sauce.

Figgy Pudding

A large part of the Christmas tea at Lindsay Compitello’s is figgy pudding, a British dessert she makes for Christmas each year.

• 1 cup white breadcrumbs (Tip: Lindsay uses stale homemade bread.)
• 1/2 cup self-rising flour
• 1/2 cup chopped suet (Tip: Lindsay purchases this from the Butcher Shoppe. You also can use lard in a pinch.)
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 cup dark brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons mixed peel or finely chopped dried apricots
• 3 tablespoons sliced almonds
• 1/4 cup toffee bits
• 1 small apple, coarsely grated
• Zest of one lemon
• Zest of one orange
• 2 eggs
• 2/3 cup Guinness or stout
• 2 tablespoons brandy
• Butter for greasing

Place all dry ingredients, dried fruit, almonds, apple, and citrus zest in a large mixing bowl; stir well. Combine the eggs, Guinness, and two tablespoons of the brandy in a separate bowl and whisk together, then pour into the mixing bowl and fold in until well combined. Mixture should have a dropping consistency; add a little stout if necessary. Cover and leave overnight to allow the flavors to mingle and the mixture to thicken.

Butter a pudding basin or a bundt pan. Use the basin to trace and cut out two circles of parchment paper — one the size of the bottom and one the size of the top. Line the bottom of the bowl with the small circle of paper. Fill the basin with the mixture to about 1/2 inch from the top and pat down with a wooden spoon. Cover the pudding with the larger circle of parchment paper. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top, doming it slightly to allow the pudding to swell. Tie a piece of string around the bowl, under the rim, to secure the foil.

Place a pastry cutter or muffin ring in the base of a large pan, and set the pudding on the ring in the bottom of the pan. If the basin is a tight fit, you can tie an additional loop of string over the top of the pudding, to help you lift it out later. Add boiling water to halfway up the side of the bowl. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer steadily for eight hours, adding boiling water from time to time as needed. (Tip: Lindsay’s grandmother-in-law Eddie Compitello passes along this tip — wearing oven gloves, carefully remove the bowl from the pan and leave it to cool.)

When the pudding is cold, wrap in foil, and store in a cool, dark place. One large pudding serves 8 to 10. Pudding should be prepared up to three months in advance.

Before serving, the pudding should be steamed once again for two hours. To serve on Christmas Day or your preferred holiday, turn out onto a flat dish and stick a sprig of holly in the center or other decorations. Tip: Warm a ladleful of brandy, pour it over the pudding, and set alight just before carrying to the table to wow friends and family. 

Brandy Butter Hard Sauce:
• 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 6 tablespoons brandy

Place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk until pale and smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract; beat until incorporated. Add the brandy gradually, to taste, and stir well.

Spoon the brandy butter into a small serving dish, cover, and store in the refrigerator until needed. Serve very cold with the pudding. (Tip: Lindsay also uses fresh whipped cream for her children instead of the brandy sauce.)

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