Christmas is certainly the time for heartwarming holiday classic movies--heck, the Hallmark Channel devotes weeks and weeks to them. But, if you were hoping for a sweet, classic holiday movie for this month's Food 'n Flix pick, you will be disappointed as December's pick Krampus is more campy horror than cozy Christmas. Our Food 'n Flix founder, Heather of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen is the host for this month's holiday fright fest and you can see her announcement post here.
I first became familiar with the Krampus legend after hearing Austrian actor Christoph Waltz (I find him a bit intense and scary anyway, even before he starts talking about Krampus) explain it to Jimmy Fallon a couple of years ago. Krampus is a traveling companion for Father Christmas in Central European folklore, a horned, half-goat/half demon who takes care of the bad children by punishing them. Watch the video clip below for Waltz's description of Krampus.
Krampus, the 2015 movie is what happens when the legend comes to life. In short, the Engel family (mom, dad, two kids & grandma) are already having Christmas spirit issues when their relatives (sister, brother-in-law, four kids + tag-along grumpy aunt) arrive to celebrate the holidays. Because of their bad behavior and lack of the holiday spirit, Krampus arrives to terrorize them. (You can read a full summary here.)
Although there are a few parts that I would call mildly scary (or more than mildly scary if you have a fear of clowns, dolls and/or giant toys come to life), Krampus is more dark, campy humor than truly frightening. I am a fan of both Adam Scott and Toni Collette who play the Engel parents, so although I doubt I will make it an annual Christmas tradition, Krampus made for an entertaining evening with some popcorn and hot cocoa.
There is not a ton of food to be found in Krampus but there is some--like the Christmas Eve (or is it Christmas Eve, Eve?) dinner which includes salmon gravlax, crême brulée, and some sort of mac-n-cheese and hot dog casserole. There are candy canes, a variety of cookies--including gingerbread men made by Omi (grandma), and hot chocolate (which Omi says "makes everything better" (although I don't think she was talking about a visit from Krampus), eggnog, bread, and more hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (that might make everything at least a little better!).
For my movie-inspired dish I decided to veer from the food shown in the film and make a German comfort food dish in honor of Omi and the Krampus legend, because if Krampus decides to visit on Christmas Eve you are going to want comfort food. To me, rice pudding, called Reisbrei (Rice Porridge) in some parts of Germany, is the epitome of comfort food.
Creamy, sweet and homey, it is often eaten with fresh or canned fruit, fruit compote or apple sauce. I decided to make a Cinnamon-Apple Compote for my reisbrei and to include dried cherries in the pudding and compote for color and toasted sliced almonds for texture.
Reisbrei (Rice Pudding) with Cinnamon-Apple Compote
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(6 Generous Servings)
1 cup medium grain rice
1 quart coconut milk + about 1 cup extra coconut milk or creamer
1/4 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
dried cherries (optional)
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon-Apple Compote (recipe below)
In a medium-large saucepan, place rice, 1 quart coconut milk, honey, and salt. Cook slowly over medium-low heat until rice grains are tender but have not lost their shape (about 45 minutes), stirring occasionally and adding more coconut milk or creamer as needed if mixture gets too dry/solid. Mixture should be thick and very creamy. If using raisins, stir them in for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time. Add almond and vanilla extract and taste for sweetness--adding more honey if needed.
To serve, place in individual dessert glasses or a bowl. Place the Cinnamon-Apple Compote in the center of the bowl to top the pudding.
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Cups)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 Honeycrisp apples, cored and chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch sea salt
Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat, add the butter, apples, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon. Reduce heat and simmer medium until the apples are tender and the juices thicken to a thin syrup, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt
Notes/Results: I will admit to having a lot of rice pudding recipes on the blog (this one makes 10) which is kind of strange because I always thought rice pudding was pretty icky until just a few years ago when I discovered how much I actually like it. This one, with the flavorful cinnamon-apple topping in the sweet and cinnamony pudding, is particularly good. Lots of flavor with the tart dried cherries and the tart/sweet Honeycrisp apples, along with the almonds that add a nice toasty crunch. Enjoyed warm, it's definitely a comforting and satisfying dessert or breakfast.
The deadline for this round of Food 'n Flix is today, December 23rd and Heather will be rounding up all the dishes on her blog for Christmas. If you missed this round and like food, films and foodie films, join us for January when the film pick is the rom-com French Kiss starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline.