Holiday Recipe Roundup: Beyond Grape Salad

Saffron and Raisin Buns, known fondly in Sweden as Lussekatter buns.


This post is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Press.

With the holidays comes the usual flurry of cooking and baking: delicious casseroles and breads, tasty cookies, pies, and other sweets, and grape salad. Okay, maybe not grape salad. (#GrapeGate anyone?) But in any event, we all have our favorite dishes that we love to prepare and bring to our holiday get-togethers.

In the spirit of all things bound to contribute to our waistline this holiday season, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite recipes from several University of Minnesota Press cookbooks that we hope you’ll give a try. Enjoy and we’ll see you in the New Year!

ojakangas-holiday-baking-cover-centeredChocolate-Pistachio Cookie Sticks
from The Great Holiday Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

These cookies are utterly irresistible, and you don’t need any fancy tools to make them look pretty. The dough molds easily into smooth, fat sticks, and after they’re baked they’re dipped into chocolate and chopped pistachios.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2¼ cups all-purpose flour

For Decoration:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon corn oil
½ cup finely chopped pistachios

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the flour a little at a time, beating at high speed until the dough is smooth.

Press the dough through a pastry tube with a #5 star tip or through a cookie press with a star tip directly onto the prepared cookie sheet to make 2½-inch sticks, spaced about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes, until the cookies feel firm and are just beginning to brown. Slide the cookies on the paper onto a countertop to cool.

While the cookies bake, combine the chocolate chips and oil in a small glass bowl. Heat in the microwave, for about 2 minutes, stirring every 10 seconds until the chocolate is smooth and shiny. Or place the bowl over hot water and stir until melted. Place the chopped pistachios in a small bowl.

To decorate the cookies, dip one end of each stick into the melted chocolate, then into the pistachios. Place on the parchment paper and let sit until the chocolate is firm.

Makes about 48 cookies.


Cranberry Pork Tenderloin
from Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook by Beth Dooley

Pork tenderloins are delicate, tender cuts that cook in no time; in fact, the danger is that they’ll quickly overcook. Cranberries bump up the flavor and color when added toward the end of the sauté.

2 pork tenderloins, about 1½ pounds each
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup cranberries
¼ cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins and sear, rolling them from side to side, until all sides are browned. Remove the pork from the pan and set it aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions and cranberries to the pan. Cook until the onions are wilted and the cranberries pop, about 3 minutes. Stir in the white wine, and scrape to loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the tenderloins to the pan, and baste them with the sauce. Put the pan in the oven, and bake until the pork registers 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 to 10 minutes. Allow the pork to stand 5 minutes before slicing the tenderloins into medallions. Serve with the pan juices and cranberries.

Serves 4-6.


Maple-Ginger Red Beans
from The Spoonriver Cookbook by Brenda Langton and Margaret Stuart

Better than any baked beans, these red beans are sweet and savory. If you want to add some diced carrots, onions, and celery, simply saute ½ cup of each in a tablespoon of olive oil for 5 minutes and add the sauté to the beans when you add the rest of the ingredients.

1 cup dried small red beans (3 cups cooked) or 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons grated ginger root
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt

Soak dried beans for at least two hours, or longer. Drain and rinse the beans.

Put the beans and 3 cups of water in a pot. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer the beans for 1 hour or until tender. If there is excess liquid, drain off all but ½ cup.

If you are using canned beans or beans cooked earlier, place the beans in a pot and warm them over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Add the maple syrup, ginger, soy sauce, and salt to the beans. Cook for a couple of minutes longer and serve.

Serves 4-6.


Saffron and Raisin Buns (Santa Lucia Buns or Lussekatter Buns)
from The Swedish Table by Helene Henderson

These delicious golden buns begin the magical time of Christmas, a glorious celebration of lights, family, and home. Bake a tray full for an early morning breakfast treat for your own Santa Lucia celebration.

1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 package dry yeast (¼ ounce or 2¼ teaspoons)
½ cup salted butter
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon saffron threads, chopped fine and soaked in a few drops of water
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (to grease bowl)
2 egg yolks, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons raisins

Preheat oven to 400°F. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine 1 tablespoon sugar, warm water, and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes or until yeast begins to bubble and foam.

In a small saucepan combine butter, milk, and saffron. Heat until warm and butter is melted, but do not let boil. Let sit for 8 minutes or until temperature falls below 110 degrees. Add milk mixture to yeast in the mixer bowl. Add flour and 1/2 cup sugar and beat with a dough hook until combined and the dough is smooth and workable; if necessary, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 3 tablespoons. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled (or buttered) bowl, cover loosely with plastic food wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. The dough will be dense and will not rise much.

Divide dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into 1-inch-wide, 6-inch-long strips. Coil ends in opposite directions, forming a tightly curled S-shape. Place on baking sheet covered with Silpat liner (or parchment paper) and let rise for 1 hour more. Brush buns with beaten egg yolk and place 1 raisin in the center of each curl, 2 per bun. Bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Makes 16 rolls.

And if you are curious about that grape salad recipe, here it is, or another version here that includes cream cheese. A UMP colleague made it and claims it’s actually good. I guess you’ll have to make it and see (or taste) for yourself.