Cranberry Eggnog Tart – A Holiday Favorite

We’ve made this cranberry eggnog tart during the holidays because it’s really yummy and looks really festive. Last year, we used a graham cracker cookie crust and baked it in a spring-form like a cheesecake. This year, I had some leftover pie dough which I rolled out into a 9 1/2 in tart pan and baked at 350 for about 15 min. lined with foil and filled with pie weights. Then I removed the foil and weights and baked it uncovered for another 15 min. After letting it cool completely, I spread a layer of cranberry jam on the bottom of the crust.

Cranberry Jam

In a medium saucepan bring to a boil, 12 oz (1 bag) fresh cranberry, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1 in long orange peel, 1 cup water, and 3/4 cup sugar. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 min or until thickened. Cool, then force through a sieve to remove skins and seeds. If you make the jam ahead of time, melt the jam with a tiny bit of water over low heat until it is smooth and spreadable.

I let the jam set for about 5 min., then I carefully poured the eggnog mixture into the crust.

Eggnog Filling

  • 12 oz (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese softened
  • 2 tbsp of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Blend together cream cheese, heavy cream and sugar until creamy, about one minute. Add whole eggs, egg yolks, brandy, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt, and mix until smooth.

Bake the tart for about 40 min until the filling is set but still trembles slightly in the center. Cool tart completely in the pan on a rack. Spread another layer of jam evenly on the top. Chill tart, uncovered until cold, at least 2 hours. Remove from pan just before serving.

Christmas Eve Revelry

Happy Holidays! Yuan joined us for Christmas for the second year in a row and we had a lovely and rather active holiday. I got to go home early, Yuan took the train to Davis, and we had a lovely time drinking eggnog and planning our Christmas Eve feast. Our friends Heather and Wes joined us for Christmas Eve and we had a holiday meal gleaned from our Norwegian and Japanese heritages.

Heather brought over yummy mushroom appetizers.

As per Bjorn’s family tradition, we made Norwegian meatballs the night before Christmas. Yuan took over meatball making this year and I had to keep reassuring him that the meatballs needed to be browner. They were really delicious.

Christmas Eve Norwegian Meatballs
(made by Asians)

Meatball Accompaniments:
Roasted Carrots, Brussel Sprouts & Mashed Potatoes

Heather also brought a delightfully light pear salad with pancetta.

Yuan wanted fried pork, so I made pork katsu…then I fried a bit of pancetta wrapped shrimp while I was at it.

Sauteed Matsutake with Ginger

Christmas day we drove into San Francisco for some prime rib and eggplant parm at a friend’s house. Yum! The next day, we spent the afternoon on Clement Street eating dim sum and buying tiny dishes. If you live in the Bay Area, I highly recommend Kamei – an Asian kitchen supply store. The aisle after aisle of dishware makes me so excited I feel like I want EVERYTHING! I find it exhilarating and overwhelming. But that’s just me, and I love tiny dishes. Kamei has more than just tiny dishes though, they have an assortment of every kind of kitchen and food serving and preparing equipment. It’s awesome!

We had a great holiday eating well and hanging out with new and old friends.

Duck, Duck, Not Goose…

Alas, the holidays are over and our food binge has at least slowed down. I spent Christmas with Princess (girls, do I really have to call you by these names?) and I guess that would make him Prince. All we did was eat, drink, cook, read food porn and watched a whole lot of TV.

So we decided to do a two meat Christmas dinner with duck and Princess’ specialty, tenderloin. I found a lovely duck with clementine recipe which promised crispy skin and not a lot of fat. The trick is to braise the duck first to render out the fat and then dry the duck in the fridge for a while, much like how my peeps make Peking duck.

The only duck I could find the day before Christmas was at the local Chinese market which was really the WHOLE duck, head and all. No big deal but turn your head away if you are squeamish.


For those of you interested in making the duck, do read the comments in the recipe on Epicurious and start checking the duck after the first hour during the braising process. I braised it for 2 hours and it was definitely too much, the skin had a few holes and the wings were falling apart. The legs were also spread at an rather obscene angle.

The duck went into the fridge to dry out after the braise and we proceeded onto the rest of our meal.

Tenderloin before and after

We also made a shaved fennel and citrus salad

Potato Dauphinoise

Meanwhile we also made a stock with the leftover duck part (ahem, head and feet) and made the clementine glaze for it. I brushed on a little of the glaze right before roast the duck to give it a slightly deeper color and voila! The duck ended up tasting amazing, not much fat and crispy skinned. Although next time I think can streamline the process a lot.

We also made some sauteed broccolini done my usual way (another post). Now that was a Christmas dinner!

And let’s not forget, the eggnog tart and home made cranberry ice cream.

Man, I think I’m hungry again…

Night Before Christmas

While Little Miss braved the holiday crowds and chilly weather in Chicago, Yuan came to our house in Davis for a low-key but food focused holiday. Yuan and I, having come from predominantly non-Christian Asian nations, never had strong family traditions around Christmas. For me, Christmas meant Bond marathon, TNT’s Christmas Story marathon, and a giant Christmas tree my dad usually got on Christmas eve when the big trees were on sale. Yuan arrived on the afternoon of Christmas eve after battling holiday traffic with a holiday duck in tow. We did some last minute holiday shopping at the grocery store and cooked our Christmas Eve meal.

Although my Christmas traditions revolved around the cable tv schedule, Bjorn, having descended from Vikings, actually has family Christmas traditions. As far as I can tell, Norwegians celebrate most of Christmas on Christmas Eve – at least the fun parts that involve food and presents. Christmas Eve dinner feature Norwegian meatballs (NOT to be confused with Swedish meatballs which have cream….oh the horror) and lefse, a thin potato pancake that is rolled up and usually slathered in butter and sugar. There are always mashed potatoes and sometimes herring salad which is actually quite good (although not if you don’t like pickled fish). Since lefse apparently requires some special equipment (lefse roller, lefse flipper, lefse skillet), we skipped the lefse and focused on the meatballs. I make a lot of meatballs, but mine are usually Italian style meatballs so there was some anxiety to be a good Norwegian wife and make some Norwegian meatballs. Norwegian meatballs contains ground beef and onion, held together with fresh breadcrumbs and milk, and then crowded in the pan where they are cooked until very very brown. The meatballs simmer and then a dark gravy is made from the pan drippings.

While I was fretting about overcrowding the meatballs, Yuan wrapped some prawns in pancetta.

Yuan also made some brussels sprouts cooked with hickory smoked bacon and Bjorn made some garlic mashed potatoes to complete our Christmas Eve meal.

For dessert, I made some sour cream cookies that I’ve been making forever. They are always as delicious as I remember them being…maybe a little too delicious because I promptly ate five of them in succession.


Aunt Annie’s Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks of unsalted sweet butter
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla (be generous)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (1/4 pint)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add baking powder, vanilla, eggs, flour and sour cream and mix together until blended. Drop spoonfulls of dough onto cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 20 min. Make icing with powdered sugar mixed with milk and brush onto cookie when they come out of oven.

Our Christmas meal featured 3 lbs of protein, 2 lbs of potatoes and an entire stalk of brussels sprouts. We ate almost all of it, oh and half a carton of egg nog. Holidays are great because somehow it’s okay to drink an absurd amount of spiked liquified custard.