Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Toss the festive fruitcake this year. For a tasty alternative to last year’s recipes, turn to these three Vaughan residents, who’ve shared their edible holiday traditions that are Santa Claus-approved!

Sabrina Cellupica’s Chocolate Candy Cane Dessert Smoothie
Don’t be fooled by the name of this smoothie — it’s totally healthy. Sabrina Cellupica is a registered holistic nutritionist working out of Nature’s Emporium in Vaughan, and when we asked her to share her favourite edible holiday tradition, she didn’t look to recipes of Christmas past, but rather dreamed up a brand-new tradition to share.

“Traditions are born every day,” says Cellupica. “This is something unique to bring home — something new to share with family and friends!”

1 cup frozen bananas
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
2 tbsp. organic raw cacao powder
¼ tsp. organic vanilla extract
¼ tsp. organic peppermint extract
1 ¼ cups unsweetened hemp milk
2–4 organic Medjool dates

1. Blend all ingredients in a blender on high speed until smooth, and enjoy!

Lori Napoli’s Fig- and Walnut-Stuffed Cookies
Lori Napoli’s kitchen is always bustling, but during the holidays her oven, stove and countertop are particularly alive. One of her family’s favourite baking traditions is her recipe for fig- and walnut-stuffed cookies, a crafty dessert worthy of the front cover of a Christmas cookbook.

“I love these cookies because they remind me of old, traditional festive baking and they taste wonderful,” she says. “My mother in-law, who is Sicilian, used to make cuccidati for Christmas — a Sicilian tradition — and
I switched up her recipe.”

4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 small envelope vanilla Bertolini
3 ½ cup flour
3 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt

1 cup white wine
½ cup water
2 cups dry figs (approx. 20 whole figs — remove hard stem at top)
¼ cup dry apricots
¼ cup dry cranberries
1 cup walnuts
½ cup roasted almonds
1 tsp. grated orange peel
½ tsp. cinnamon

2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
6 tsp. water or milk
3—4 drops fresh lemon juice

1. Begin by making the dough. Combine all dry ingredients and add butter cut into the flour so that the butter resembles small, pea-size pieces. Mix well.
2. Whisk eggs and sugar together and add to dry ingredients. Mix until it all comes together (dough should feel a bit sticky).
3. Put dough on a floured board and knead slightly. Set aside or wrap in cellophane and put in refrigerator until you’re ready to make the cookies.
4. Pour wine and water into a small pot and boil.
5. Add figs, apricots, white raisins and cranberries to pot and let boil for one more minute.
6. Drain in a strainer and let dry slightly on paper towels.
7. Chop up fruit, walnuts and almonds in food processor, blending everything together (if it’s too dry add a couple tbsp. of apricot jam to make it moist).
8. Pour mixture into a bowl and add grated orange peel and cinnamon (a little bit of brandy is optional).
9. Cut approx. ¼ piece of your dough and roll it into a flat circle.
10. Spread the filling over the dough.
11. Fold the dough from both sides to make a log. Turn it over so that folded part is at bottom.
12. Cut log into slices diagonally to make thick wedges. Put wedges on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
13. Repeat the above steps until dough and filling are finished.
14. Bake at 350 F for approx. 20—25 min. or until golden.
15. Stir icing ingredients together until creamy. Dip or brush the warm cookies with the icing.
16. Sprinkle the cookies with red, white and green sprinkles (optional).
17. Place on a wire rack and let cool until icing is hard.

Melissa Romano’s Nutella Brioche Snowflake
As a nutrition teacher at a high school in Vaughan, Melissa Romano knows how to whip up the odd crowd-pleasing dish. This year, just like every year, she’ll be creating her mom’s famous Nutella Brioche Snowflake — a Christmas tradition in her family.

“My mom got the recipe a long time ago from an aunt back home in Italy,” says Romano. “She used to
make this for my sisters and me every Christmas
morning when we were kids.”

3 ½ cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar
¾ cup lukewarm milk
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
¼ cup melted butter
Grated zest of a lemon
1 tsp. dried yeast

1 tbsp. milk + 1 tbsp. water for a glaze
Icing sugar (to dust on top)

1. Mix yeast, sugar and milk. Leave aside for 10 minutes to let the yeast activate.
2. Break eggs into a separate bowl and beat lightly.
3. Mix flour, salt and lemon zest in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add melted butter, eggs and yeast/milk/sugar mixture. Mix into a soft dough.
4. Knead dough for 10 minutes. Form into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place until dough has doubled in size (approximately one hour).
5. Once dough has risen, clean and flour your counter surface. Turn dough onto the surface and knead gently for five minutes. Divide dough into four pieces and shape each piece into a ball.
6. Roll one ball of dough out into a circle about 1/8” thick and measuring about 10” in diameter. Place onto parchment paper and spread a layer of Nutella on it, making sure to leave a small gap at the edge of the dough.
7. Roll out a second ball of dough, place it carefully on the first layer and spread Nutella over it. Repeat with third and fourth balls of dough, but do not spread Nutella on the final layer!
8. Cut the dough into 16 segments and leave a small circular 1½” area in the centre of the dough uncut (you can use a small glass or coffee cup to mark).
9. Lift two adjacent parts of the dough and twist them away from each other two times, both at 180 degrees. Twist them once more, another 90 degrees, so that the ends are vertical. Press the edges together firmly and repeat this process for all pairs. By the end, the dough should be in a “snowflake” shape.
10. Cover and leave in a warm place for one to two hours to prove.
11. Brush with the glaze, then bake at 350 F in a conventional oven for 20—25 minutes.
12. Place the bread on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, dust lightly with icing sugar. Add garnishes to decorate with a Christmas touch!

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Amanda Storey

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