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The Pastry Queen Christmas

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Big-Hearted Holiday Entertaining, Texas Style

Written by Rebecca RatherAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Rebecca Rather and Alison OresmanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Alison Oresman
Photographed by Laurie SmithAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Laurie Smith

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List Price: $16.99

eBook

On Sale: November 23, 2011
Pages: | ISBN: 978-1-60774-240-1
Published by : Ten Speed Press Ten Speed Press
The Pastry Queen Christmas Cover

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Synopsis|Excerpt|Table of Contents

Synopsis

It's Christmastime at the Best Little Bakery in Texas

The annual Fredericksburg Christmas parade marks the beginning of the Texas Hill Country's holiday season, which means the Pastry Queen is kicking into high gear at her Rather Sweet Bakery and Café. As party invitations pile up in the mailbox, Rebecca Rather is up to her elbows in sticky meringue, creamy chocolate, and a sleigh full of savory treats to meet the entertaining needs of her neighbors.

In The Pastry Queen Christmas, Rebecca shares nearly 100 traditional recipes reflecting her made-with-love-from-scratch philosophy and the tastes of small-town Texas. Show-off desserts such as Chocolate Cookie Crusted Eggnog Cheesecake, Sticky Toffee Pudding with Brandy Butterscotch Sauce, and Warm Pear Ginger Upside-Down Cake with Amaretto Whipped Cream are the perfect toppers to a family-style feast of Texas Spice-Rubbed Roast Pork, Baked Apple Pear Chutney, Brown Sugar Bacon, and No-Peeking Popovers. Still hungry the next morning? No problem-this country girl does an impressive breakfast, too: Bite-Sized Sticky Buns, Sweet Potato Scones, Cast-Iron Skillet Potatoes, and Mexican Ranch Chilaquiles ought to fill you up.

And if you're still looking for excuses to entertain this season, you'll find ooey-gooey baked goods wrapped up as gifts, homemade craft and décor ideas to make your home sparkle, and holiday-worthy menus guaranteed to make your gathering a Texas-sized success. Tree-trimming, cookie decorating, and Santas running down Main Street . . . Christmastime is here.

Excerpt

Chapter one: Holiday Open House
 
The annual Christmas parade in early December signals the beginning of the holiday party season in Fredericksburg. Long before that, local hostesses and businesses begin calling to inquire about catering. Last season, I provided desserts for a party in a magnificent home with breathtaking views of the night sky and the valley below. (City lights that dim the starlit sky are foreign to us here.) I put together several platters of mini Key lime pies, a bakery favorite included in this chapter. (At the bakery, and in the recipe on page 35, the pie is king-sized, making it much faster to produce than the bite-sized versions.)
 
When customers ask for advice about giving holiday parties, an open house is always my first suggestion. Casual by definition, open houses work for groups of all sizes and ages. Serving the food buffet style frees you to move around and mingle with guests. Careful advance planning and do-ahead recipes are your keys to success. Many of the recipes in this chapter can be made at least one day before serving. (My Creamy Chicken Lasagna on page 24 can be made the day before and baked just before serving, and just about every dessert in this chapter can be made early.) When planning your menu, try to balance make-ahead recipes with those that need fixing the day of the party.
 
When testing and developing recipes for this book, my coauthor and I shared a running joke involving a fictional Aunt Susie. On particularly grueling days, after testing numerous recipes with many left to go, I'd say, "Just get Aunt Susie to do it." We'd crack up and soldier on. There was a kernel of wisdom in our jest. You may or may not have an Aunt Susie, but enlisting family and friends to help with preparty cooking is an ingenious way to make party prep as much fun as the event itself. Plan the menu, buy all of the groceries necessary, have all of your recipes on hand, and invite a couple of friends over to help. Some of my most rewarding conversations have taken place over the kitchen counter. This approach could even work with your teenage children, although you may have to offer financial incentives.
 
One of the best things about Christmas in Fredericksburg is that everyone seems to get into the holiday mood, including Beau, the bakery dog (above). It helps that we have our own little spirit of Christmas, Rosemary Estenson. The owner of the Fredericksburg Brewery next door to my Rather Sweet Bakery and Café, she's one of the town's chief Christmas organizers/enforcers. If Main Street merchants don't have their Christmas decorations up in time for the Christmas parade, they hear about it. This year, Rosemary paid a visit to Root, a clothing store on Main Street, to suggest that the window decorations needed beefing up. Owner Castle Heep complied and was glad she did. Her store looked extra festive for an open house held the night of the parade, and the place was packed.
 
 
Old-Fashioned Eggnog
 
Classic eggnog is not easy to make, but it is sure to dazzle your holiday guests. This version is cooked, to kill any bacteria in the eggs. And it can be made mostly in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Just before the guests arrive, whip the cream, fold it into the eggnog, and serve with a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg. One taste of this, and you'll happily give up grocery-store eggnog for good. Lucky for me, I don't have to go farther than my backyard henhouse for fresh eggs. I have Silkies, Rhode Island Reds, and Araucanas and I've named each hen after a first lady. (Unfortunately, Nancy Reagan ran off a while back, never to be seen again.) Each breed produces a characteristic egg. My favorites are the light blue-green Araucana eggs. Aside from standard chicken feed, my brood gets to feast on leftover bakery products, which I suspect gives their eggs a special Rather Sweet flavor.
 
{ Yield: Six 1-cup servings }
 
31⁄2 cups heavy cream
6 large eggs
11⁄2 cups sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1⁄4 cup Myers's dark rum
1⁄2 cup whiskey (preferably Crown Royal) or bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
 
In a large saucepan, heat 21/2 cups of the cream over medium-low heat until it begins to steam but not boil. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and salt. Using a heatproof measuring cup, measure out 1 cup of the hot cream. Gradually pour it into the egg mixture to temper, whisking constantly. In a slow, steady stream, pour the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan with the hot cream. Continue to cook, whisking constantly over medium-low heat, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl and let stand until cool, at least 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Stir in the rum, whiskey (or bourbon), vanilla, and the 1 teaspoon nutmeg. Finish preparing, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
 
To serve, use an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to beat the remaining 1 cup cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the eggnog mixture. Transfer the eggnog to a pitcher and serve immediately. Top each serving with a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg.
 
TIP: The difference between freshly grated nutmeg and the finely ground stuff you find on the spice rack is enormous. Fresh nutmegs are available in the whole-spice section of most grocery stores. Grating the hard, round spice is much easier with gadgets made especially for grating nutmeg. Microplane and Zyliss make good ones.
 
 

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments - xi
Introduction - 1
 
chapter one
Holiday Open House - 7
Old-Fashioned Eggnog -  9
Sweet Potato Scones - 10
Cranberry-Walnut Scones - 13
Savory Rice Balls - 16
Mustard Baked Ham - 19
Mamie's Marinated Green Bean and Artichoke Salad - 20
Split Pea Soup - 21
Green Chile and Cheddar Baking Powder Biscuits - 22
Creamy Chicken Lasagna - 24
Pear and Apricot Jam Bars - 26
Aunt Milbry's Fruitcake - 28
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Mascarpone Cream Cheese Icing - 30
King-Sized Key Lime Pie - 35
Tiny Whiskey-Glazed Eggnog Cakes - 37
Panna Cotta Parfaits with Hibiscus-Berry Compote - 38
Mr. Vallone's Italian Cookies - 40
 
Outdoor Tree Trimming - 43
In-the-Bag Chili Frito Pie - 44
Rather Minty Brownies - 46
Coconut Snowballs - 48
My Mistake Cookies - 49
 
chapter two
Ranch Barn Brunch - 51
Larry Doll's Famous Cranberry Margaritas - 52
Texas Antipasto Platter: Sea Salt Roasted
Almonds, Shrimp Rémoulade, Focaccia Bruschetta - 54
Seasonal Fruit Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing - 58
Brown Sugar Bacon - 61
Cherry Tomatoes with Tequila-Lime Vinaigrette - 62
Mexican Ranch Chilaquiles - 65
Pan de Campo (Mexican Camp Bread) - 68
Cast-Iron Skillet Potatoes - 71
Apple-Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Swirl Icing - 72
Earthquake Cake - 75
Cowboy Cookies - 78
Bite-Sized Sticky Buns - 79
Sopaipillas - 80
Cowboy Coffee Straight - 83
 
Making Gingerbread Houses - 85
Gingerbread house - 87
Sour Cream and Chicken Enchiladas - 92
Guacamole with Pico de Gallo - 93
Torched S'mores - 94
Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Sandwich Bites - 96
 
chapter three
Christmas Eve - 99
LBJ Ranch Crown Roast of Lamb with Rice
Stuffing and Jalapeño-Mint Sauce - 101
Zucchini Timbales - 104
Ensalada de Noche Buena (Christmas Eve Salad) - 105
Oysters Rockefeller Soup - 106
Blue Corn Blinis with Crab and Avocado Crema - 108
Mascarpone Grits Cakes - 111
Holiday Martinis: Prickly in Pink Martini, Texas Sunset - 112
Martha's Best-Ever Rolls - 114
Green Olive Beef Tenderloin - 117
Sticky Toffee Pudding with Brandy Butterscotch Sauce - 118
Apple Dumplings - 120
Christmas Coconut Cake - 123
Hot Mocha Cakes - 126
Warm Pear Ginger Upside-Down Cake with Amaretto Whipped Cream - 128
Mini Bourbon–Macadamia Nut Pies - 130
 
Cookie Decorating - 133
Rebecca's Homemade Lollipops - 134
Chicken and Egg Checkerboard Club Sandwiches - 135
Fresh Veggies with Rather Sweet Ranch Dressing - 138
Grandma's Sugar Cookies - 139
 
chapter four
Christmas Day - 143
Hot Spiced Citrus Claret - 145
Crab in Ramekins - 146
Green Bean Bundles - 147
Baked Apple Pear Chutney - 149
Texas Spice-Rubbed Roast Pork - 150
Fresh Pear and Candied-Walnut Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette - 152
Cajun Roast Turkey - 154
My Mother's Best Corn Bread Dressing - 156
Day-after-Christmas Cajun Turkey Gumbo - 158
My Sister-in-Law's Candied Sweet Potato Casserole - 160
Margie's Christmas Squash - 161
Grandma Wyche's Gingerbread - 162
Chocolate Cookie Crusted Eggnog Cheesecake - 165
Carlton's Chocolate Chewies - 166
 
Wrapping Up the Holidays with Edible Gifts - 169
Rosa's Tamales with Tomatillo Sauce - 172
Butter Meringue Nuts - 176
Cheese Crispies - 177
Denise's Vanilla Caramels - 178
Lola's Sunday Fudge - 179
Chocolate Sauce - 180
 
chapter five
New Year's Eve - 183
Alice Lon's Champagne Punch - 185
Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Cranberry-Pecan Salsa - 186
Paula's Scallop, Pancetta, and Radicchio Salad - 189
Mother's Lobster Bisque - 190
Black-Eyed Peas with Bacon, Onions, and Garlic - 191
Shrimp 'n' Grits - 193
Ken Hall's Standing Rib Roast - 195
No-Peeking Popovers - 197
Glazed Chocolate Pavé - 198
Frances's Bread and Jam Pudding - 200
Caramel Pie with Meringue Topping - 203
Good Luck Truffles -  206
 
Appendix: Gingerbread House Templates - 208
Index - 217
Rebecca Rather|Alison Oresman

About Rebecca Rather

Rebecca Rather - The Pastry Queen Christmas

Photo © Laurie Smith

IACP award-winning author Rebecca Rather is the chef-owner of the renowned Rather Sweet Bakery and Café in the Texas Hill Country town of Fredericksburg, where she cultivates the gracious life with plenty of parties. Formerly a caterer, she has planned and cooked for hundreds of events throughout Texas and across the country. Rebecca has been featured in Texas Monthly, Gourmet, Ladies’ Home Journal, Food & Wine, Southern Living, Saveur, and O, the Oprah Magazine. Her previous books include The Pastry Queen and The Pastry Queen Christmas.

About Alison Oresman

Alison Oresman - The Pastry Queen Christmas

Photo © Laurie Smith

Alison Oresman has been a journalist for more than twenty years, writing and editing for newspapers in Wyoming, Florida, and Washington State. Her weekly columns as a restaurant critic have been featured in Miami and Seattle. Alison coauthored the IACP award-winning The Pastry Queen Christmas with Rebecca; this is their third book together.
Praise | Awards

Praise

Winner of 2008 IACP Cookbook Award: American category

"[This] adds up to big fun in the kitchen. Rather neatly balances unpretentious style with some adventurous flavor combinations . . . Let your sweet tooth be your guide."
-Baltimore Sun

"The Pastry Queen Christmas is such a calling card for Fredericksburg that it ought to be required material for the town's real estate agents. Ms. Rather's stories about the residents are so engaging, the photography is so luscious, you'll feel you know the town when you're done. But the recipes, straightforward and accessible, are the reason to buy . . . Ms. Rather has updated and elevated classics just enough to be enticing but not unreachable."
-Dallas Morning News

"This feel-good cookbook is full of irresistible menus and recipes to help you build family traditions and make you the most talked-about party thrower in your circle. Rebecca Rather shows you how to do Christmas proud."
-Gale Gand, author of Chocolate and Vanilla

"Rebecca Rather is not my daughter, but with amazing food like this, we'd claim her as our own any day!"
-Dan Rather, former anchor of the CBS Evening News

"Rather Sweet Bakery is one of the most enchanted places in the Texas Hill Country; every confection oozes Rebecca Rather's love of excess. It makes sense that in her glorious second book Rebecca would apply her characteristic warmth and Texas-style flair to the holidays."
-Paula Disbrowe, author of Cowgirl Cuisine

"Rebecca Rather loves to bake and cook, and she does so, and writes about it, superbly. THE PASTRY QUEEN CHRISTMAS is a classic of great food, spectacular sweets, and truly heartfelt reminiscences of family and friends, all served up with a big dose of Texas holiday spirit."
-Nick Malgieri, author of How to Bake and A Baker's Tour

 

Awards

WINNER 2008 IACP Cookbook Award

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