Perhaps your ham deserves a champagne bath Essay

Perhaps your ham deserves a champagne bath It’s just possible during the holidays that you may have anextra bottle, or fraction thereof, of champagne. Assuming thatit’s not a noble vintage that could add luster to your cellar,consider using it to bake a festive ham. Bathing in champagne has rightfully been scorned as the very summitof wasteful luxury. Moreover, if would very likely leave the bathersticky.

These negatives, though, are pluses when you treat your ham toa champagne ablution while it bakes. As the vapors evaporate, they willleave behind a hint of grape, adding complexity to the glaze. Warren Stevens of Boise sends us this favorite recipe fof a hambasted with champagne and served with a delightful sweet mustard glaze. Champagne Ham with Mustard Glaze 1 fully cooked shank half ham (6 to 8 lb.) Whole cloves 3/4 cup (1 split, 187.5 ml) champagne 1/3 cup Dijon mustard 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar 3 tablespoons brandy Cut off and discard the tough, leather-like skin from ham. Scorefat and stud with cloves. Place ham in a 10- by 15-inch roasting pan;pour the champagne over the ham.

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Bake, uncovered, in a 325| oven, basting frequently with pandrippings, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion(not touching bone) registers 140|; allow 20 to 22 minutes per pound, 2to 3 hours. Meanwhile, in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, combine mustard, sugar, andbrandy. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves.Brush ham with mustard mixture several times during the last 30 minutesof baking. Offer remaining mustard sauce to spoon over individualportions. Makes about 12 servings. Warren Stevens Boise Fruitcake is the ideal emergency dessert.

Well made and properlystored, it is nearly immortal, and you can unwrap and slice it any dayof the year for unexpected lunch, tea, or dinner guests. Many peoplefeel that it improves with age, not only through a more thoroughblending of flavors, but also through a firming and mellowing intexture. Don Kleinmaier calls his version of this dessert CaliforniaFruitcake because many of the ingredients are produced in California.It is lavish with fruit but not too sweet. Keeping the cake moist withorange-flavored liqueur instead of the traditional brandy lends addedfruitiness. Packaged as directed (following) and stored in the refrigerator,this cake will last for several months.

However, if your family makesmidnight food forays, you should keep it in a wall safe. California Fruitcake 1 pound (2 1/2 cups) mixed diced candied (glace) fruit 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans 1/2 cup each raisins and candied (glace) whole red cherries 1/2 cup each coarsely chopped pitted dates, dried figs, and driedapricots 1/2 cup orange juice 1/4 cup honey 6 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground mace 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar 3 eggs 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking soda In a large bowl, combine mixed candied fruit, walnuts, raisins,cherries, dates, figs, apricots, orange juice, honey, 2 tablespoons ofthe liqueur, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace; set aside. With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar untilwell blended; then beat in eggs, one at a time, beatine well after eachaddition. Stir together the flour and soda; by hand, stir flour mixtureinto creamed mixture. Add fruit mixture and stir until welldistributed. Evenly spoon batter into 2 well-greased 4 1/2- by 8 1/2-inch loafpans.

Bake in a 300| oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comesout clean, about 1 hour and 35 minutes. Let cool in pans on a rack for10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely. Cut 4 pieces of cheesecloth, each 15 inches square.

Set each cakeon 2 layers of cheesecloth and wrap to enclose. Drizzle each cake withabout 2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur, then wrap cakesindividually in foil. Store in the refrigerator at least 2 weeks before sampling, or aslong as 2 months. Makes 2 cakes, each about 2 pounds. D. E.

Kleinmaier Sebastopol, Calif. Many national cuisines have special dishes that are served on NewYear’s Day, often in the hope that they will bring good luck in theyear ahead. Our own melting-pot cuisine has not yet developed such adish, but many recipes have become traditions within families. One such is William Rose’s Chicken Livers and Mushrooms, asubstantial accompaniment to the New Year’s morning scrambled eggs. It may not bring luck during the coming year, but it should helpkeep you contented until supper.

Chicken Livers and Mushrooms 1 1/2 pounds chicken livers 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 small onion, chopped 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves 1/4 teaspoon dry marjoram leaves 2 medium-size carrots, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick 1/2 cup chopped celery 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) regular-strength chicken broth Salt and pepper Scrambled eggs, split and toasted English muffins, or hot cookedrice Rinse chicken livers, pat dry, and cut into bite-size pieces. Meltbutter in a 10-to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Add livers,about 1/3 at a time, and cook, uncovered, until browned on all sides butstill pink in the center (cut to test), about 4 minutes. With a slottedspoon, lift out livers as they are cooked; set aside. Add onion and mushrooms to pan and cook, uncovered, stirring often,until onion is limp.

Stir flour into onion and mushrooms along withthyme, marjoram, carrots, and celery. Stir in broth, then cover andsimmer until carrots are tender when pierced, 10 to 12 minutes. Returnlivers to pan and stir until heated, about 2 minutes. Season with saltand pepper. Spoon chicken liver sauce over individual portions of scrambledeggs, toasted English muffins, or hot cooked rice.

Serves 6. William F. Rose La Puente, Calif. For an accompaniment to any breakfast this month, lavish or not,consider B.J. Nichols’ Cranberry Gems, a pleasing variation onthat old favorite, blueberry muffins.

The bright crimson color and tarttaste are surprises; the cinnamon-sugar topping is a fragrant finish.Enjoy the muffins warm or cool. Cranberry Gems 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 cup powdered sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup cranberries, chopped 2 eggs 1 cup milk 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted and cooled 1 tablespoon granulated sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon groundcinnamon In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder,powdered sugar, salt, and cranberries. In a small bowl, beat eggs to blend with milk and butter. Stirinto dry ingredients just until they’re moistened.

Spoon batterinto 16 to 18 greased 2 1/2-inch muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Sprinklewith sugarcinnamon mixture. Bake in a 400| oven until tops are golden brown and a wooden pickinserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Turn out ontoa rack. Serve warm or cooled. Makes 16 to 18 muffins.

B. J. Nichols Eugene, Ore.


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