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Christmas Cooking 2013


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Unlike Thanksgiving, which is always a foodie ordeal, Christmas is generally relatively low key.  Younger son Nick's birthday is on the 23rd, we always have a feast Christmas eve, so by the time Christmas Day rolls around we are kind of partied out.

This year, even more so, because younger son is dating a woman whose family is in Charlottesville, so they will celebrate Christmas here on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day in C'ville.

Today, Christmas Eve, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, gravy, and braised little onions, the family version of old reliable.  Some kind of green vegetable, I am leaning toward escarole, others are suggesting broccoli.  Might compromise on broccolini/asparation.  Will attempt gluten free brioche again, this time with Thomas Keller's recipe and his Cup4cup flour.

Tomorrow, older son can have leftovers and I will roast a duck.  Nobody but me and my husband like duck, but what the heck, it's a three rib roast beef, 8 pounds of beef, there will be lots of leftover roast beef, etc.

What are your family traditions?  Or, are you doing something different this year?

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Azami and I alternate staying home in Maryland and traveling home to New Mexico to spend Christmas with one of our families. I always make dinner when we stay home, and this year decided to make a turkey dinner -- turkey; mashed potatoes; sweet potatoes; gravy; green bean casserole (from scratch); Parker House rolls; cranberry sauce with ginger and Bosc pear; romaine salad with orange, cranberry, and walnuts; Ann Amernick's Maryland strudel with Stilton and grapes. Dinner will still get a little bit of New Mexico -- the red chile sauce is thawing in the fridge.

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K drove up from NC this morning, and she and J. went Christmas shopping together, a long-standing tradition, since J. has a great dislike of shopping, but looks forward to having a day out together with our daughter, helping him find gifts to give to me. I decided that we would eat our Christmas meal tonight--we don't really have any traditions as far as Christmas Eve-Christmas day meals go. I bought a two-rib dry-aged small end beef rib roast at Whole Foods. Roasted at 500f. for 30 minutes, then turned off the heat and let it sit in the unopened oven until the internal temp of the roast registered 125, around another half hour, then rested for half an hour. I made a puree of potatoes, carrots, celery root, rutabaga, shallot and garlic with egg yolk, parmesan cheese and dijon mustard (pommes de terre montrouge), which went into the oven when the meat came out, and sauteed some chard with garlic, sherry vinegar and fig saba, and a horseradish-creme fraiche and moscarpone sauce for the beef. We started with cold cooked shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce and Boodles gin/Dolin dry martinis. With the beef we drank a 2005 Pierre Usseglio CNdP. We had warm ginger cake and vanilla whipped cream for dessert. J has decreed that this is to be our tradition from now on.

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What are your family traditions?  Or, are you doing something different this year?

My family tradition is to make my mother's somewhat non-traditional version of cappelletti in brodo, with popovers, on Christmas Eve.  Last night's dinner for ten, the first time I've departed from that tradition by serving other courses:

assorted cheeses, salumi, marinated olives, crackers

cappelletti in brodo, popovers

pot roast of beef, broccoli with garlic, carrots with Parmesan, baked stuffed mushrooms

Meyer lemon panna cotta with blood orange caramel sauce, gingerbread cookies, pine nut cookies, apricot pastry cookies, baci di cioccolato, pizelles

The broccoli and carrot dishes were from Marcella Hazan recipes.  I was amused to find that my pot roast recipe, which is a variation on how my mother always made it, is shockingly similar to Marcella's.

...and now that Mr P has finished cleaning the last bit of the kitchen and I've had a pot of coffee, it's time to bake a coconut cake for the in-laws.

Merry Christmas, all.

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In the years I can remember, we usually had rib roast with roasted potatoes and green beans for Christmas dinner when I was growing up, though sometimes it would be turkey. In recent years, I've tended to make the roast/potato/beans for my husband and me on Christmas day and vary what I make for Christmas Eve.  We don't really have a particular Christmas Eve tradition.

Last night's meal came out somewhat differently than I had originally planned but worked out very well.  That was a salad (red and green lettuce, with cucumber slices, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and crumbled feta cheese) with sherry vinaigrette; carrot soup (Food 52 recipe that had problems and required a time-consuming bit of salvaging) and sesame crackers/flatbreads; bacon-wrapped sea scallops (a blogger recipe that was a little bumpy going); and pappardelle with lamb sauce (Rachael Ray recipe that came off without a hitch...).

For dessert I had planned to do something simple with totally out-of-season mixed berries and yogurt.  Yesterday afternoon, a friend gave me some homemade pizzelle, so that changed my dessert plans.  And they changed to include the blackberry Port sauce that was supposed to go with the scallops.  (As I finished making the sauce earlier in the day, it occurred to me to ask myself why on earth i would want to serve this sauce with the scallops.)  So, dessert was raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries in blackberry Port wine sauce, with a scoop of chocolate ice cream (vanilla would have been better, but all we had was chocolate) and pizzelle.  Great dessert.  The sauce worked beautifully with the berries, especially with the double blackberry punch.

Today started off with me forgetting to serve the fresh-squeezed orange juice I had laboriously squeezed by hand yesterday.  Among other things that have so far run off course:  I only needed 1/2 pound of portobello mushrooms for dinner, not 1 1/2 lbs., as I had written on my list.  Eh. So long as everything keeps turning out okay in the end, it's no big deal.  There are a lot of portobellos in our future, though <_< .

In any case, dinner plans have changed multiple times, but I believe this is what we are having:  No-knead bread with porcini and pecan paté; leftover bacon-wrapped sea scallops; rib roast (2 ribs); roasted potatoes; roasted pearl onions; and, creamed spinach.  Dessert  is gingerbread cake with blueberries and whipped cream, and the last bit of the blackberry Port sauce.  I think I have just enough sauce to brush the plates, all fancy-like :P .

The spinach was supposed to be part of breakfast, but I couldn't find the recipe I was going to make (until after I'd given up on it, of course) and reverted to the original breakfast plans of oatmeal with diced dried apricots.  I had decided not to make green beans this year, since we've been eating lots and lots of them lately; ditto for cauliflower, which originally had been planned to sub for potatoes.  Before I changed plans this last time, I was going to serve frozen peas with the fresh pearl onions, which would be fine, but I felt like there should be a fresh green vegetable on the table for dinner if there was going to be a green vegetable.  Due to the change in breakfast plans, spinach was suddenly available.  So, creamed spinach it is.  Leftover carrot soup is for lunch.

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When we're in town we host various friends who are in town without their families, and that is the case this year.  I'm not sure what the hors d'oeuvres are going to be, as they are being brought by a guest, but we are going comfort food that's a little lighter for an afternoon dinner.  Butternut squash Provení§ale served over millet cakes pan fried in rosemary olive oil, and a salad of romaine with manchego and apple in a tarragon vinaigrette (minus the cheese for a vegan option).  There are loads of sweets in the house right now: Meyer lemon sorbet, satsuma sorbet, pistachio fudge, peanut butter fudge, chocolate sea salt caramels, and butter caramels.  I'll probably slip in a baking sheet of hazelnut shortbread in a bit, and the sorbets will also be scooped into flutes and topped with cava or prosecco.  I've got Côes du Rhí´ne and Falanghina if anyone wants wine, and lemons, limes, and satsumas at the ready for cocktails.

There's a fire starting in the fireplace, Vince Guaraldi and Tchaikovsky are in the CD player, and the Grinch, Charlie Brown, and Ralphie are at the ready.  I wish everyone a peaceful day.

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Well, we did the Christmas thing last night because Nick and Sheena were going to Cville this AM, and we partied until 3:00 a.m., ending with heavily spiked eggnog, brandy Alexanders, and watching the Hogfather on Youtube (Terry Pratchett science fiction version of Santa Claus, a family tradition).

Just got up with a mild hangover.  All the Christmas presents were unwrapped last night and the Christmas dinner was eaten.  Husband and older son are still asleep.  Nick and Sheena are headed to Cville for round two.

I am going to make Marcella Hazen's roast duck later.  She really is a treasure.  Dried with a hair dryer?  OK, why not?  Zora's root vegetable recipe looks good, think we'll try that, too.

One thing I observed last night.  Plain old Whole Foods rib roast on sale for $11.99 a pound, normally $14.99 a pound, was incredibly tender and flavorful, much more so than the fancier and pricier roasts we have been getting from the Springfield Butcher and Let's Meat on the Avenue.  We do rib roast for every major holiday, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, and that was the best meat we've had in years.  Six pounds of meat is almost gone.

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I'm doing Roseda farms filet mignons wrapped in matignon and prosciutto, eggplant puree, a potato galette, and shaved Brussels sprouts sauteed with mirepoix and pancetta. But that's for tonight. God knows what I'll be doing in 2014; given climate change, probably BBQ and gin and tonics.

We really don't have any traditional Christmas dinner dishes, except for Raclette (or fondue) on Christmas eve.

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My sister-in-law overcooked a beautiful fresh turkey. The gravy was super-salty. The salad had canned mandarin orange sections (when there was a bowl of plump satsumas sitting right on the counter, which I would have gladly peeled and sectioned). My mom contributed a casserole using canned green beans and canned artichokes. The sweet potatoes, made using a recipe foisted upon me by my Mom, who insisted I follow it, were way too sweet.

We had a blast. Everyone talked at once, everyone got ribbed about something, the parents told old stories, the grandkids got yelled at for flying the remote-controlled helicipter over the stove, my nephew did a spot-on and hilarious impersonation of his dad (my brother) and the little kids stomped the rest of us at the post-meal games. If the food brings people together, it has served its purpose well.

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I had a similar experience at Thanksgiving this year. I usually cook, but we were invited by relatives to join their celebration. For people who cook well, the ability to hold your tongue, an expression especially apt in the type of circumstance described above, is so important. It's especially difficult when asked directly what your opinion of the food is, by the cook or by someone who may report your words back to them. "I enjoyed it very much. That was certainly a lot of hard work. Thank you so much for inviting me," isn't that hard to say.

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I won't go into Christmas Eve dinner with the in-laws.  But our Christmas Day meal with friends was delicious and soul-satisfying.  There was a Latin theme, and the hosts cooked empanadas, Panamanian carimanolas (my absolute favorite dish of the night), black beans, Spanish rice, and slow-roasted pork.  Absolutely delicious.  The wine flowed very freely, which made for a very rowdy game of Cards Against Humanity after dinner.  :P

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Cards Against Humanity sounds like something we need to try ourselves.  Seriously.

I am not responsible for the 2014 in the thread title, my own title was edited, not by me, and I don't seem to be able to edit it again.  I guess we can resurrect the thread next year, when it fits.

Nice that everybody seems to have gotten into the spirit of the season.  Why is Thanksgiving dinner so much more pressure to perform heroic acts of foodie-ism than Christmas dinner?  Dunno, but it is.

I did not roast the duck on Christmas day.  I was feeling under the weather, so older son and husband went to 100 Degrees Farenheit for Chinese and brought me some roasted duck.  Spell-check says I mis-spelled farenheit, but I did not.  On the other hand, the real name of the restaurant is 100 Degrees Celsius.  Which spell-check thinks I spelled right, and I did.

The roast duck was good.  I don't really want to roast another duck now.  Duck soup?  Duck gumbo?

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I've been sick with pneumonia since Thanksgiving, making an insanely slow recovery, so we threw money at the problem of Christmas dinner.

Unfortunately we didn't make great choices.  The Harris-Teeter prepackaged Prime Rib was salty and flabby.  The broccoli cheddar rice casserole had no flavor and the sweet potatoes were so sweet my teeth hurt.  The mashed potatoes were edible.

Most importantly though, BL-1st Grader felt like he was having a special Christmas meal and that was enough.  (He also gasped in horror when I said I wasn't making a special Christmas Eve meal but he was appeased by a grass-fed ribeye from Trader Joe's.)

For baking we used the Immaculate Baking Company products.  The gingerbread spice and chocolate chip cookies based in no time and were a hit with Santa and everyone else in the house.  The crescent rolls were the only good part of the dinner last night.

Now back to bone broth, kefir and all the other healing foods I can force down so I can finally shake this thing...

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I've been sick with pneumonia since Thanksgiving, making an insanely slow recovery, so we threw money at the problem of Christmas dinner.

Unfortunately we didn't make great choices.  The Harris-Teeter prepackaged Prime Rib was salty and flabby.  The broccoli cheddar rice casserole had no flavor and the sweet potatoes were so sweet my teeth hurt.  The mashed potatoes were edible.

Most importantly though, BL-1st Grader felt like he was having a special Christmas meal and that was enough.  (He also gasped in horror when I said I wasn't making a special Christmas Eve meal but he was appeased by a grass-fed ribeye from Trader Joe's.)

For baking we used the Immaculate Baking Company products.  The gingerbread spice and chocolate chip cookies based in no time and were a hit with Santa and everyone else in the house.  The crescent rolls were the only good part of the dinner last night.

Now back to bone broth, kefir and all the other healing foods I can force down so I can finally shake this thing...

I'm sorry to hear you've been feeling so bad.  I've been sick more often (and worse) in 2013 than since I was a teenager, which means multiple decades ago. I'm glad you were able to salvage the holidays and best wishes for 2014.  (I know it's an arbitrary date on a calendar, but yeah...)

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I It's especially difficult when asked directly what your opinion of the food is, by the cook or by someone who may report your words back to them. "I enjoyed it very much. That was certainly a lot of hard work. Thank you so much for inviting me," isn't that hard to say.

Exactly. I have known my sister-in-law long enough to know the meal was her best effort. She's not a great cook but she hosts every year, which is a lot of work on Christmas day. She spent a lot of time shopping and prepping, she washed multiple loads of dishes before anyone arrived, and she never stopped smiling (except during thr helicopter incident...the little drone almost went into the gravy pot). Even though everyone pitches in to help, the most work falls to her. So it's very easy to sincerely say, "Thanks for all the effort. It's a pleasure to walk in to the smells of a holiday meal! Thanks for doing it. We love being here."

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I didn't grow up with a Thanksgiving tradition, so I'm not sure I'm aware of a difference! We spent both Christmas and Thanksgiving with my in-laws (as we do often--my parents are on the other side of the world). My mother-in-law made Thanksgiving dinner so my husband and I cooked for Christmas. We've adopted beef wellington as a Christmas tradition; this was our third (?) year, I think.

Appetizer was a salad of julienned beets, fennel and ruby red grapefruit, served with fresh parker house rolls. This was the course in which I broke my MIL's veggie slicing device (one of those "as seen on tv" numbers).

Next course was the beef wellington with bourdelaise sauce, roast potatoes with mint butter, roasted carrots and parsnips, roasted brussel sprouts and steamed broccoli. In this course, I broke the corkscrew and also part of my hand.

Finished with traditional Christmas pudding with brandy butter and whipped cream. I was more careful with this, cognizant of the fact that last year, I had dropped a half cup of flaming brandy on the hardwood kitchen floors, lovingly hand-finished by my in-laws.

I'm just lucky I've already produced a grandkid, I guess.

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Christmas dinner take two, back home like I had growing up. The spread: A deep-fried turkey, cranberry from a can, a pork roast, deviled eggs, potato salad, sweet potato soufflé, corn pudding, butter beans, collards, cooked carrots, and some kind of dinner rolls. Desserts: Sweet potato pie, persimmon cake, fruit salad, pumpkin roll, coconut chocolate candy, toffee peanuts (homemade), and some other homemade candy. All washed down with sweet tea. In deference to the people diagnosed with diabetes this year, unsweetened tea was also available, and I think that's why the pork was a roast instead of a ham. Come to think of it, the three bean salad (with a cup of sugar in the dressing) was also AWOL. Nonetheless, happiness incarnate. :)

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