My friend Amy wrote, “Ah, December 26, my favorite holiday of the year.” It made me chuckle, but also confirmed a truth about what many of us feel after the holidays: a sense of relief and a return to normalcy.
The day after Christmas 2016 would also be marked by my first Boxing Day party, which I somehow always get mixed up with Guy Fawkes Day celebrations. (One is about the box, and one is about the boom. Forgive my ignorance dear British friends.) When I received the invitation, I did my best tilted-head, raised-eyebrow, and unknowing-puppy look. What the heck is boxing day? Oh sure I’d heard of it before, but the only thing that came to mine was some Dickens carolers in the ring dispensing fisticuffs. Or perhaps a cadre of UPS drivers tossing down a few while boxing up after-Christmas returns and scanning barcodes with wild abandon. Hmm, not even close Tom, better ask the magic answer machine, Google.
For the most part, boxing day is a British Commonwealth tradition that centers around boxing up gifts or alms, and distributing them to friends, tradespeople, or the needy the day after Christmas (or so that is just part of the history behind the holiday). In the case of my Vashon Island Boxing Day party, the hosts suggested invitees box up holiday leftovers from cookies to Courvoisier (my suggestion) and share the wealth with fellow partygoers. Not a bad idea; no muss, no fuss, just rid the fridge of its holiday payload. And for me, the Christmas cargo was leftover pie dough, from the pies that were never to be made. (Oh the humanity.)
As I opened the fridge, a fresh round of leftover pie dough stared me down. I was “pied out” for the time being and didn’t want to make a pie, as that was not the spirit of the invitation. Instead, I thought I’ll make little pastry wafers or cookies out of the leftover dough, maybe top each with jam and/or cinnamon sugar. And so I did.
Step One: Simply roll out the dough and use a favorite cookie cutter to cut shapes from the dough.
Another fun thing to do is to bake the remaining dough as a sheet of cutouts. Here I outlined the border with an upside down tart pan.
Then, I turned over the tart pan to trim away dough so it would fit on the tart pan bottom for baking, like a cookie sheet of sorts.
Sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar over the sheet and bake. I recommend putting parchment paper under the dough sheet for easy cleanup. (Live and learn.)
Step Two: Back to the cookie cutouts, place on a cookie sheet and add a dab of your favorite jam or marmalade (“orange caviar” used here) or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
The cookies fluff up nicely and are crisp, delectable and not overly sweet.
The orange marmalade dollops add a little somethin’ somethin’ to the equation.
Let them cool and then “box” them up for an unexpected treat.
Then again, if you have time and inclination, you could always bake a pie. (Shown: Shaker Lemon Tart)
I’m happy to report the crusty hearts were a hit and quickly dispatched by guests. And may I say, I quite like this boxing day party idea. It surely helps that party goers were a fun, relaxed group enjoying their own return to normalcy, but not without bingeing on Stollen, Buche de Noel, mince tartlets, Christmas cookies (of all shapes, sizes, ilks and skill levels), salmon dip, cheese boards, meatballs, curious vegan salads, fudge, Chex mix, and the list goes on. Needless to say, Vashon Island likes to eat and our leftovers ain’t too shabby. As for the boxing day drink table, while there was no Courvoisier, God Bless the soul who brought the St Germain. Happy New Year, Friends!