Pretend It’s December 25: 7 Christmas in July Recipes

Breweries in Cleveland, Ohio, have released ales for it; cities like Jefferson, North Carolina, hold craft fairs and festivals for it; and in New Jersey, you can explore revolutionary history in a home decked out for the holiday. That’s right — it’s Christmas in July.

But if ales aren’t your thing and your city isn’t holding a craft fair or reenactment you can attend, you can always turn to your kitchen. There is no need to replicate the whole Christmas goose, but you could use this non-holiday to explore a traditional Christmas dish that never makes it to your table on December 25, or make a meal inspired by the holiday.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Kourambiedes

This Greek Christmas cookie is a powdered sugar delight that can easily be indulged in at any time of the year. You’ll have plenty (about 60) of these Greek butter cookies when you follow The New York Times’ recipe, so find a few friends to share with.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 pound flour, sifted
  • Additional confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. With an electric mixer, whip the butter until creamy. Add the egg, vanilla extract, baking powder, sugar, and nuts. Mix thoroughly. Add the flour until the dough becomes too stiff to beat with a mixer. By hand, add flour and knead until dough is smooth and rolls off your fingers without sticking.

Roll the dough out by hand into a cylinder roughly 1 inch in diameter and 8 inches long. Cut diagonally into 1.5-inch pieces. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are golden brown. Let the cookies cool and sprinkle them generously with confectioners’ sugar.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Grilled Prime Rib

For many, it is too cold in the winter months to think of firing up the grill when serving prime rib, but freezing temperatures aren’t a concern in July. Michael Chiarello gave his recipe for a great grilled prime rib to Cooking Channel; it yields 8 to 10 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3 USDA Prime rib-eye steaks, each about 2½ pounds and 1¾ to 2 inches thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heads garlic, cloves peeled
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 lemons

Directions: Preheat the grill. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature.  Season steaks generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Press the salt and pepper into the steaks. Set aside.

Next, make the garlic paste. Trim the stem ends off garlic cloves. Place a small skillet over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic cloves and bring the oil to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Strip the leaves off 2 sprigs rosemary and chop to make 2 tablespoons. Add the rosemary to the garlic and cook until the cloves are golden brown, about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally with tongs.  Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the garlic to cool in the oil. In a mortar or on a cutting board, mash the garlic into a paste. Mix the mashed garlic with the reserved oil and rosemary. You should have about ½ cup of paste.

Place the meat on a hot grill and cook until well browned on both sides, about 5 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side.

Cut 2 lemons in half and cut ends off. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the lemons on the grill with the steaks and serve with the steak. Smear 2 generous tablespoons of the paste over the first seared side of each steak. Place the steaks, paste side facing up, on the grill rack. Finish cooking on the cool side of the grill, with the lid on or in the oven until done to your preference, 10 to 12 minutes for rare (remove when an instant-read thermometer registers 120 degrees Fahrenheit).

Remove the steaks from the grill and allow the steaks to rest on the rack for about 10 minutes. Cover and keep warm while resting. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board. Cut between the bone and meat of each steak. Cut each steak crosswise into 1-inch slices.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Grilled Turkey and Ham Sandwiches

Grilling prime rib might be a bit much for you faux Christmas fare. Turkey and ham have their place at many a Christmas table, so use this as inspiration and an excuse to make Cooking Light‘s sandwiches with deli meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 8 (1-ounce) slices country white bread
  • 4 (1-ounce) slices deli, lower-salt turkey breast
  • 4 (½-ounce) slices deli, lower-salt ham
  • 4 (½-ounce) slices reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 8 (¼-inch-thick) slices tomato
  • Cooking spray

Directions:  Combine mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl. Spread about 1 teaspoon mayonnaise mixture over 1 side of each of 4 bread slices. Top each slice with 1 turkey slice, 1 ham slice, 1 cheese slice, and 2 tomato slices. Top with remaining bread slices.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sandwiches to pan; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn sandwiches over; cook 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Tamales

In Mexico, it isn’t Christmas without tamales. NPR explains that the tradition has crossed the border and is a part of the celebration for many Texans, as well. To make your own tamales, make the beef tamale recipe Tyler Florence provided to the Food Network, which makes 3 dozen tamales.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds beef shoulder roast
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 garlic bulb, cloves removed and peeled
  • 4 ounces dried New Mexico chiles
  • 2 ounces ancho chiles
  • 2 ounces pasilla chiles
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seed, toasted
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 2 bags dried corn husks, about 3 dozen
  • 4 cups masa mix
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups reserved beef broth, warm
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening

Directions: Season the beef shoulder all over with salt and pepper, then brown in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Once browned on all sides, add enough water to cover the roast along with the 1 sliced onion and about 6 cloves of garlic. Cook until the meat is fork tender and comes apart with no resistance, about 2 hours. When done, remove the roast to a platter to cool; reserve the beef broth. Hand shred the meat and set aside.

To prepare the sauce, remove the tops of the dried chiles and shake out most of the seeds. Place the chiles in a large stockpot and cover them with water. Add the cumin, remaining sliced onion, and garlic. Boil for 20 minutes until the chiles are very soft. Transfer the chiles to a blender using tongs and add a ladle full of the chile water (it is best to do this in batches). Puree the chiles until smooth. Pass the pureed chiles through a strainer to remove the remaining seeds and skins. Pour the chile sauce into a large bowl and add salt; stir to incorporate. Taste to check seasonings, and add more if necessary. Add the shredded beef to the bowl of chile sauce and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Go through the dried cornhusks: separate them and discard the silk, but be careful since the husks are fragile when dry. Soak them in a sink filled with warm water for 30 minutes to soften. In a deep bowl, combine the masa, baking powder, and salt. Pour the broth into the masa a little at a time, working it in with your fingers. In a small bowl, beat the vegetable shortening until fluffy. Add it to the masa and beat until the dough has a spongy texture.

Rinse, drain, and dry the corn husks. Set them out on a sheet pan covered by a damp towel along with the bowls of masa dough and beef in chili sauce. Start with the largest husks, because they are easier to roll. Lay the husk flat on a plate or in your hand with the smooth side up and the narrow end facing you. Spread a thin, even layer of masa over the surface of the husk with a tablespoon dipped in water. Do not use too much! Add about a tablespoon of the meat filling in the center of the masa. Fold the narrow end up to the center, then fold both sides together to enclose the filling. The sticky masa will form a seal. Pinch the wide top closed.

Stand the tamales up in a large steamer or colander with the pinched end up. Load the steamer into a large pot filled with 2 inches of water. The water should not touch the tamales. Lay a damp cloth over the tamales and cover with lid. Keep the water at a low boil, checking periodically to make sure the water doesn’t boil away. Steam the tamales for 2 hours.

The tamales are done when the inside pulls away from the husk. The tamale should be soft, firm, and not mushy. To serve, unfold the husk and spoon about a tablespoon of remaining beef filling on top.

Source: iStock

5. Sfincione (Sicilian Pizza)

Technically, this Sicilian pizza is served on Christmas Eve, or New Year’s Day. That shouldn’t stop you from using it to spread the Christmas spirit in July, though. Oregon Live will help you achieve that goal and make a delicious pizza, too. If you plan on making your own dough, it refrigerates overnight.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2¼ cups bread flour
  • ½ cup olive oil (divided)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 8 white anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • ¾ cup toasted bread crumbs
  • ¾ cup grated caciocavallo or aged provolone cheese

Directions: Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large bowl. Let stand until dissolved, about 5 minutes. Stir the cold water and salt into the yeast mixture and gradually stir in flour until the mixture pulls together into dough. Remove dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes, until a smooth, tight ball can be formed.

Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Add the ball of dough and turn to lightly coat in oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to three days. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a pizza stone inside and allow to preheat for 45 minutes.

Coat a 10½-by-15½ -inch rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Remove dough from the refrigerator and stretch it to fit the baking sheet. Use a fork to poke holes all over the dough to help it rise evenly.

Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, pine nuts, anchovies, and raisins. Spread the tomato sauce heavily over the entire crust. Sprinkle liberally with toasted bread crumbs and grated cheese. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Allow the dough to rise near the warm oven for about 30 minutes.

Place the baking sheet on the pizza stone and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the bottom of the crust is golden brown (lift up a corner to check). Cut into squares and serve.

Source: Thinkstock

6. Stollen

The Italians have panettone, but in Germany, stollen is the Christmas bread of choice. Full of dried fruits, stollen is a rich, yeasted bread that takes a bit of time to prepare. Betty Crocker’s recipe lets the dough rise overnight and yields 32 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package regular or quick active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg, separated
  • ½ cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • ¼ cup chopped candied citron
  • ¼ cup chopped candied cherries, if desired
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 tablespoon water

Glaze

  • 1⅓ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions: In large bowl, dissolve yeast in ¾ cup warm water. Beat in granulated sugar, salt, eggs, egg yolk, ½ cup butter, and 1¾ cups of the flour with electric mixer on medium speed for 10 minutes, scraping bowl constantly. Stir in remaining flour, almonds, citron, cherries, raisins, and lemon peel. Scrape batter from side of bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place 1½ to 2 hours or until double. (Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.) Cover and refrigerate egg white.

Stir down batter by beating about 25 strokes. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Grease cookie sheet. Place dough on well-floured surface; turn to coat with flour. Divide in half; press each half into 10-by-7-inch oval. Spread with 1 tablespoon butter. Fold ovals lengthwise in half; press only folded edge firmly. Place on cookie sheet. Beat egg white and 1 tablespoon water; brush over folded ovals. Cover and let rise in warm place 45 to 60 minutes or until double.

Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Spread glaze over warm stollen.

Source: Thinkstock

7. Gingerbread Loaf

For bakers who prefer quick to yeasted breads, Chow’s gingerbread loaf is just as festive as stollen, and as the name implies, takes less time to prepare. Instead of waiting overnight, you’ll only be a few hours away from a gingery bite of Christmas, served up in a 9-inch loaf pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup well-shaken, low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup dark molasses
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange a rack in middle. Coat a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter, dust with flour, and tap out excess. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, allspice, and cloves in a large bowl. Whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside. In a separate medium bowl, stir together buttermilk and vanilla until combined.

Combine butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in molasses until well combined, then add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until well incorporated. Stop mixer and scrape bowl and paddle (mixture will look separated and curdled). Add one-third flour mixture, beating on low speed just until flour is incorporated. Add half buttermilk mixture and once batter is smooth, add another third flour mixture. Add remaining buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Add remaining flour mixture, and beat until incorporated and smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and cake is pulling away from sides of pan, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

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