It’s been a long time since I’ve posted…2022’s tail end slammed me with an unprecedented and slightly unanticipated busyness. With good things though…work projects, WIC breakthrough weekend…I’m so glad things are settling down and I have time to breathe again.
Our festive season kicked off rather early this year as we took the last 2 weeks of the year to go away as a family, which meant that our giant family Christmas dinner and miscellaneous other celebratory events all happened in early December. This year I only made roast Turkey once; I’m so glad the Christmas dinner I hosted was early enough because the turkeys ran out this year because of the drop in supply from the US because of bird flu. Turkey and ham are my must-haves for Christmas dinner and this year I also had a heart stopping moment when I tried out a new supplier for the ham – the day before the ham delivery they emailed me that they were giving me a smaller 4 kg ham (I had booked a rather pricey half ham that was supposed to be more than 5 kg). Then on the day of delivery the delivery guy sent the wrong order. The butcher did do good service recovery with a voucher and was very supportive in trying to find solutions, which I was really appreciative of though. It could have been much worse.
So most Christmas dinners I tend to cook a couple of regular staples like turkey, stuffing, Brussels sprouts and ham, but vary the sides and appetizers so that I don’t get bored doing the same thing year on year. I try to cook low carb for myself and my relatives who are diabetic or pre-diabetic; at least we all can enjoy a happy and healthy feast! One of the easy crowd pleasers is a charcuterie board. It needs minimal effort other than buying cheeses and deli meats and miscellaneous bits like olives and nuts for textural contrast. I do make a little effort in making the dips that can be part of the board. This year I made a couple of dips – chicken liver pate, roasted red pepper dip and smoked salmon dip. All were really yummy and I confess I had more fun eating leftovers.
The other thing I do find fun to add to charcuterie boards are small pastries. Some years ago I made a spinach twister pastry that you can pull apart that was a great hit with my guests. I was also inspired when I saw a post in Delish about Christmas tree pastries and so converted the concept into a low carb/keto bake. As always, fathead dough was my friend and it was quite an easy bake but needed some very careful molding of the tree shape. What took a surprising amount of time was making the Christmas tree stars – the regular cheese slices are too thin to be inserted on a toothpick or cocktail stick. I had to buy a block of cheese to cut thicker slices for making the star cut-outs. Ah well, this is the season to make everything look pretty…
So here’s the Christmas tree pastry recipe. The trees looked wonderful in my new round charcuterie platter. I would probably do this again for next year’s big celebration!
Christmas Tree Spinach Pastries
- 1 3/4 cup and 2 tbsp of almond flour
- 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- 2 tbsp cream cheese
- 1 beaten egg
- 200g frozen spinach
- 4 tbsp roasted red pepper (or equivalent 1/2 red pepper that had been roasted with olive oil)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red peppers
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 block of cheddar cheese
- 6 bamboo skewers
- small star shaped cookie mould
- Microwave the shredded mozzarella and cream cheese for about a minute, stopping in between to stir the cheese and making sure the cheese does not get overcooked.
- Add the almond flour to the cheese and mix well. Add an egg to the dough and mix really well. Depending on how sticky the dough is, you may need to add 1-2 tbsp almond flour to make sure that the dough is not too sticky and is easy to roll out.
- Divide the dough into 2 portions. Take the first portion and shape into a log, then place between 2 sheets of baking paper and carefully roll into a rectangular shape about 5 mm thick. Use a knife or pizza cutter to trim off the edges to make sure the rolled out dough is a perfect rectangular shape. Do the same for the other piece of dough.
- Spread the spinach filling evenly over one rectangle of dough, then place the other rectangular piece over it. With the pizza cutter, slice long strips of this sandwich dough; each strip should be 1 cm width and the length based on the long length of the rectangle.
- On a prepated lined baking tray, fold the long strip of sandwich dough, starting with the widest base of the tree shape and folding in incrementally smaller lengths till you have a tree shaped triangle. Use a bamboo skewer to pierce the tree, leaving about 2-3 cm at the top for the star.
- Bake in 180 deg oven for 20 min. Allow the pastry to cool in the pan.
- Slice the cheese into 7-8 mm thick pieces (try to slice along the length of the block of cheese). Cut out star shapes with the star mould. Carefully thread each skewer with a star. If you have difficulty with this, you can remove the bamboo skewer, then pierce the cheese star with a tooth pick and insert the other end of the toothpick into the top of the tree, using the same hole left by the skewer.
- The Christmas tree pastries can be served hot or cooled.