Food: Holiday wishes from Lee Mathis of Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes |

Food: Holiday wishes from Lee Mathis of Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes

Lee Mathis
Free Press Food Columnist
Lee Mathis
Staff Photo |


Now keeping with the holiday theme, our ‘Website of the Week’ is from our friends at It’s a great site with recipes from all over the world." target="_blank">Text">

Our ‘Recipe of The Week’ is from them, and you must love the way baking bread just fills the place up with some great aromas — Pan de Jamon’, a Venezuelan Ham, Raisin and Olive Bread.

As we head towards the end of the year, I would like to take this time to wish everyone a happy holiday and a great 2014!

Looking back, this was not a bad year for us. We expanded into Virginia, started a series of pop-up/flash restaurants and expanded our flavor profiles. For that and more, we have you — our friends and fans — to thank!

The end of the year is always a time for reflection for Decadence Cheesecakes — what we did, where we could have improved, and ways to expand. Looking back at this year — not bad.

But you ain’t seen nothing yet! And we hope you do the same in 2014.

The holidays are also a great time to reach out and make contacts with folks you have not been in touch with for a while. So invite them over, sit down and break bread; what better way to reconnect than with tasty food!

Check with your favorite restaurants, breweries and other culinary establishments; see what they are doing for the holidays and the new year. If you do not feel like cooking, get yourselves out there!

Pan de Jamón


Pan de jamón is a traditional Venezuelan Christmas bread, but you can enjoy it any time of the year. A sweet, soft dough is rolled up around savory ham, sweet raisins and pimento-stuffed olives. The result is like a gift from heaven. One loaf is enough for 4 to 6 people.


• Warm milk — 3/4 cup

• Butter — 4 tablespoons

• Sugar — 2 tablespoons

• Salt — 1 teaspoon

• Active dry yeast ­— 1 (1/4-ounce) package

• Lukewarm (110°F) water ­— 1/4 cup

• All purpose flour — 3 1/2 cups

• Egg, beaten — 1

• Butter, melted — 2 tablespoons

• Ham, thinly sliced — 1/2 pound

• Raisins — 1/2 cup

• Pimento-stuffed olives — 1/2 cup

• Egg yolks — 2

1. Add the milk, 4 tablespoons butter, sugar and salt to a saucepan and heat, stirring until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm.

2. Mix the warm water and yeast together in a small bowl and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to activate the yeast.

3. Add 3 cups of the flour to large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture, warm milk and beaten egg. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients and bring the dough together.

4. Remove the dough to a floured work surface and knead, adding extra flour as needed, until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands and is silky and elastic. Remove the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm corner until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and punch it down with your fists to deflate it. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 15 inches long.

6. Brush the top surface of the dough with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Spread the ham, raisins and olives evenly over the dough, leaving a margin of about 1 inch around the edges. Starting from the bottom, roll the dough up into a loaf. Pinch the seam and fold under the ends to seal.

7. Place the loaf seam-side down on a baking sheet and cover it lightly with a clean towel. Set aside to rise for another 30 to 45 minutes.

8. Beat the egg yolks with a tablespoon of water. Brush the top of the loaf all over with the egg yolk wash. Place the bread in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown on top and has a hollow sound when you tap on it. Remove and cool before serving.


• Plump the raisins by first soaking them in a little warm water or sherry if you like.

• Some recipes include bacon in the filling.

• It’s not traditional, but try adding some sliced Cheddar or Swiss cheese to the filling.

GJ Free Press food columnist Lee Mathis is the founder and owner of Decadence Gourmet Cheesecakes and Catering. He can be reached via email at, on the web at, or by calling 970-256-4688. Also, find him on the web by searching Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

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