5 things Calgarians are making this holiday season

CBC Calgary's food and nutrition columnist Julie Van Rosendaal asked Calgarians which recipe makes their holiday complete and got some interesting responses.

What one recipe makes your holiday complete?

CBC Calgary's food and nutrition columnist Julie Van Rosendaal posed the question on Twitter, and got some interesting responses.

Have a favourite recipe of your own? Share the details in the comment section.

1) Gwendolyn Richard’s Warm Goat Cheese in Herbed Olive Oil

Gwendolyn at Patent and the Pantry eats this while drinking bubbly with her family on Christmas Eve.

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil.
  • 1 small bay leaf.
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced.
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary.
  • ½ tsp. coriander seeds, crushed lightly.
  • ½ tsp. fennel seeds, crushed lightly.
  • 10 whole black peppercorns.
  • 1 large log of soft goat cheese.
  • baguette and/or crackers for serving.

Put the olive oil in a small saucepan and warm it up as you add the garlic, rosemary, coriander, fennel and peppercorns. Let it heat for three to four minutes, then remove from the heat and pour over the log of goat cheese in a shallow dish. Serve warm, with crusty baguette or crackers.

Serves eight people.

2) The Hofer Family's Vínarterta 

Anita Hofer and her three daughters make this traditional six-layer Icelandic Christmas cake, passed down from her grandmother, every year for a holiday treat. (Sometimes, a leftover wedge gets frozen for spring birthday celebrations.)

Cake/cookie layers:

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature.
  • 1 ½ cups sugar .
  • 2 large eggs.
  • 2 Tbsp. half and half cream.
  • 1 tsp. almond extract or vanilla.
  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour.
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom.
  • 1 tsp. baking powder.
  • pinch salt.
  • 1 ½ cups ground almonds (optional).


  • 1 lb. pitted prunes.
  • 1 cup sugar.
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon.
  • 1 tsp. vanilla.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy; gradually beat in the sugar, then the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the cream and vanilla.

Stir together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the butter mixture, along with the ground almonds — if you’re using them. Mix until you have a stiff dough; turn out onto the counter and knead a few times, until smooth.

Divide the dough into six portions. Press each onto the bottom of an inverted eight- or nine-inch round cake pan, covering the bottom all the way to the edges. Place the pans, still inverted, into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden. Let cool for a few minutes on the pans, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the prunes with water, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until very soft. Cool slightly and blend in a blender (or mash with a potato masher), stir in the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and cook until thick enough to spread. 

Spread roughly ½ cup filling on each cookie layers, stacking them as you go. Leave the top cookie plain (don’t cover it with filling). Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a day or two. Frost with your favourite buttercream frosting, spiked with a little almond extract. Let sit for another day or freeze, well-wrapped, for up to six months. To serve, cut in thin wedges.

Serves 12 people.

3) Willem’s Spiced Orange Gingerbread Cookies

Seven-year-old Willem Van Rosendaal had a cookie-baking party with his friends and cousins last weekend; they mixed, rolled, baked and decorated spiced gingerbread cookies spiked with orange. The house smelled fantastic.

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened.
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar.
  • ¾ cup dark molasses.
  • 1/3 cup cold water or orange juice.
  • grated zest of half an orange (optional).
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour.
  • 1 tsp. baking soda.
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon.
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger.
  • ½ tsp. allspice.
  • ½ tsp. salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, molasses, water and orange zest with an electric mixer or by hand until smooth. In another large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, salt and cloves.

Add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture, stirring by hand just until you have a soft dough. Divide the dough in half, shape each piece into a disc, wrap in plastic and let sit for half an hour, refrigerate for a few days, or freeze.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out about 1/8" thick. Cut out with cookie cutters and place about an inch apart on a parchment-lined sheet.

Bake for 12–15 minutes, until set and slightly darker golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about three dozen cookies, or a house or two.

4) Earl Grey Scones

Tea importer Nicole Schon from TNik loves not only drinking tea, but cooking with it. She infuses dry fruit with Earl Grey tea to give scones, biscuits, fruitcake and shortbread an extra layer of flavour.

  • 2 tsp. loose leaf earl grey tea.
  • ½ cup dried saskatoon berries or other dried fruit (such as currants).
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour.
  • ¼ cup sugar.
  • 1 tsp. baking powder.
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda.
  • ½ tsp. salt.
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, frozen.
  • ½ cup sour cream.
  • 1 large egg.
  • coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional).

Steep the earl grey tea for three to five minutes in two cups of water that has been boiled and cooled for one minute. Place the saskatoons in a bowl and pour the tea overtop; allow the berries to sit for the entire time you are prepping the other ingredients.

Preheat oven to 400˚F. In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture using the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in saskatoons.

In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball using your hands.

Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a seven- to eight-inch circle about ¾-inch thick. If you like, sprinkle with coarse sugar. Using a sharp knife, cut into eight wedges; place on a cookie sheet about one inch apart. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden.

5) Tourtière

Jill from the Apothecary in Inglewood will be serving up Quebec-style tourtière, a savoury meat pie with onions and spices, on Christmas Eve. The recipe comes from Pascal Desjardin, who lives in Acadia (in south Calgary), but got the recipe from his mom in Quebec.

  • Pastry for a double crust pie
  • Filling:
    • canola oil, for cooking.
    • 1 small onion, finely chopped.
    • 2 celery sticks, chopped.
    • 1 ½ pounds ground pork or beef.
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed.
    • ¼ tsp. nutmeg.
    • ¼ tsp. cinnamon.
    • ¼ tsp. ground cloves.
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley.
    • salt and pepper to taste.

In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of oil and sauté the onion and celery until soft.

Add the meat and the rest of the ingredients, add a half cup of water and simmer for a half hour.

Place in a partly cooked pie crust, brush top of crust with egg if you like, and bake at 350˚F for 45 minutes, until golden.

Serves six people.

Julie van Rosendaal is CBC Calgary's food and nutrition columnist. For all of her recipes click here.

Recipes courtesy of Julie Van Rosendaal