by Blake Stilwell
There are many wonderful, renowned holiday movies out there. Everyone has their favorite. Some people grew up watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” every Christmas season. There are those who love the later classics, such as “A Christmas Story.” And a new generation is growing up loving more recent Christmas takes, like Will Ferrell’s “Elf.” For me, whenever someone talks about the perennial Christmas movie, “Die Hard” always comes to mind first. Not just because it is, in fact, a great Christmas movie (which is a post for another pop-culture themed blog), but my love for Reginald VelJohnson is well-documented.
Today, I’m taking a recipe from none of those, though I could really go for some Chinese food right now. No, this holiday, we’re taking a page from Judy Davis’ character Caroline Chasseur in the underrated 1994 Christmas comedy “The Ref,” with Denis Leary, Kevin Spacey and I was surprised to see John Scurti when I went back and watched it again for this post.
… some of you may better remember Scurti from his role as the beloved Lt. Shea on “Rescue Me.” Some others of you have seven seasons of great television to watch. Good thing binge watching on a snowy day is what the holiday season is all about nowadays. Go, loyal readers, and enjoy the butterscotch pudding that comes with it.
Denis Leary plays Gus, a burglar who has to lay low while he’s waiting for his partner to fix up an escape route away from the small New England town he just terrorized with break-ins. In order to dodge the road blocks and the local curfew, Gus takes the aforementioned Caroline and her husband Lloyd (Kevin Spacey) hostage in their home, but forces the family to play it cool while Caroline’s in-laws come over for Christmas dinner. The problem with the plan is that Gus has hijacked the most dysfunctional family in New England and is forced to rely on the discretion of his hostages and compliance of their a-hole relatives (including the mother-in-law, played beautifully by Glynis Johns), who find a lot of fault with Caroline’s flaws.
Everything almost reaches a breaking point at the Christmas dinner, which has a very Scandinavian theme (one of Caroline’s flaws is that she never finished anything she ever started, including a Scandinavian cooking class). The meal includes roast suckling pig, fresh baked Kringlors in a honey-pecan dipping sauce, seven-day old lutefisk, and lamb gookins.
The reason we’re making Kringlors today, despite the fact they sound more like an intergalactic space lord who is coming to enslave humanity than a baked treat, is because the holidays are the season of baked treats. Everyone has a different opinion on the main course at dinner, be it a ham, turkey or a giant fish stuffed with poison and left out for a week. Lamb
Coozins Gookins seem to be so extremely rare, that even the Internet has never heard of them. What I think everyone can agree on, however, is that baked goods of all kinds are welcome at any holiday party anywhere and the more, the merrier. We know you’ll make room for the Kringlors in your pop culture buffet line.
Or you can jump a little forward in “The Ref” and see the Orange Marzipan Cake with Creme de Menthe and Lime Zest.
Kringlors are dessert in three parts. This recipe comes from “The Superbly Swedish Cookbook.”
½ cup butter
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon water
Mix together (like pie crust) cutting the butter in with 2 butter knives. Then finish mixing with your hands. Pat out very thick (1/4”) on an ungreased cookie sheet. Set aside.
½ cup butter
1 cup water
1 cup flour
3 eggs beaten (see note on this)
1 teaspoon almond extract
In a saucepan heat butter and water to the boiling point. Remove from heat, add flour and add 1 beaten egg at a time, stirring after each (The texture will be unique). Add almond extract and stir well. Spread the mixture on the dough on cookie sheet, fairly close to the edges. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes.
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Mix together all ingredients until smooth, and spread on pastry as icing. Serve warm or cold, cutting in half the long way and then diagonally to make pretty strips. In the film, Caroline made them into pretzel shapes, which is my personal specialty, having worked two summers at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels as a teenager.
The Honey-Pecan Sauce is much easier to make, and where better to get the recipe than the American National Honey Board?
- 1-1/2 cups – vanilla flavored Greek style yogurt
- 1/4 cup – chopped pecans, lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup – Sage honey
- 1 teaspoon – ground cinnamon
Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender or processor and blend until smooth. Reserve chilled. Also, I recommend real honey, and maybe throw in some of the almond extract for a nuttier flavor.
And now you can have something to talk about at the family holiday party, where most of us end up looking somewhat frazzled if we don’t.