1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 packages (1/4 ounce) or 4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
8 ounces almond paste
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
To Make the Dough:
Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in the electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the water and eggs and beat until well combined.
Mix in the flour until the dough comes to a ball or comes away from the sides of the mixer bowl.
Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough.
Remove the dough to a floured surface. Grease the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).
To Make the Filling:
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese and the almond paste together until smooth. Chill until ready to use.
Cover a large baking pan with parchment paper. I use a pizza pan.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle, about 20 x 14 inches.
Spread the filling on the dough, leaving a half-inch border all around the dough.
Roll the dough up from the long side (jelly-roll style). Seal the edge tightly. Form the roll into a circle and pinch the ends together to form a ring.
Place the cake on the prepared pan. Using kitchen scissors, cut two-thirds through the dough from the outer rim of the circle at 1-inch intervals.
Allow the ring to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel for 1 hour until almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.
Bake the ring for 35 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Wrap well and freeze until the day before Christmas. Defrost the cake at room temperature overnight.
On Christmas Morning
To make the glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, almond extract, and enough milk to make a frosting that can be poured over the cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds or red cherries, if desired. Allow the glaze to set before serving.
Most people know Rick Bayless from Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, his Public Television series, Mexico–One Plate at a Time and his many cookbooks. He is also the owner of multiple restaurants, including the outstanding Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, where my family ate numerous times when we lived in Chicago. I recently discovered that he developed a line of Mexican cooking sauces that are sold in most supermarkets. While the sauces have been available for a while, I just recently discovered them and find them to be delicious, authentic and so very convenient. I especially like these sauces because they are made from fresh ingredients with no preservatives, are gluten-free, and low in carbohydrates. They also come in convenient, easy to use pouches.
These sauces are so convenient when you are busy and want a good tasting dinner fast. I used one of the taco sauces for my recipe below. There are quite a few made by his company, Frontera Foods, and you can check out the rest with this link.
Serves 4. Since I only wanted two servings, I made half the recipe. I also used half of the sauce and froze the unused portion for another occasion. I also changed the directions from the one listed on the package in making this dish.
Serve this entree with a salad and ranch dressing.
1 tablespoon avocado or vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 Poblano pepper, diced
1 pound peeled, deveined medium shrimp;
1 pouch Frontera Key Lime Shrimp Taco Skillet Sauce
8 tortillas (crispy or soft), warmed
Toppings: cheese, jalapenos, shredded cabbage or lettuce, tomato, avocado, etc
Heat the oil in a nonstick 10 or 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add the onion and poblano pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce and let it sizzle for a minute or two and then add the shrimp. Cook and stir over medium heat until the shrimp turn pink and are just cooked through about 4 minutes.
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, very soft
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash hot pepper sauce
2 pounds skinless halibut fillets
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking dish.
In a bowl, mix the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, green onions, salt, and hot pepper sauce.
Arrange the halibut fillets in the prepared baking dish. Spread with the sauce.
Bake the halibut fillets 15-20 minutes or until easily flaked with a fork.
For a brown topping broil for 2-3 minutes. Place the fillets on individual plates and pour any sauce left in the pan over the fish. Serve immediately.
Simple Roasted Carrots
The carrots and the fish can be baked at the same temperature.
6 carrots, cut into 2-inch diagonal lengths
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
On a baking sheet lined with foil, toss carrots with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Roast until tender and lightly caramelized, 45 minutes. Serve with the fish.
Onions and Swiss Chard
2 large bunches green Swiss chard
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, diced (about 2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
Wash the chard in several changes of water. Cut the stems and center ribs from the chard leaves and reserve them for soup. Stack the chard leaves and roll them lengthwise into cylinders. Cut the cylinders crosswise to make 1-inch-wide strips.
Heat oil and butter in a large heavy skillet with a cover over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook onions and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add chard leaves in batches, stirring until wilted before adding the next batch, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.