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Ilaine

Christmas Meal - What Are You Doing?

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Sitting around a wrecked kitchen swilling cheap wine on Christmas Eve and wondering a) what to serve as a first course for Christmas dinner and :P what to do with all the leftover truffles, when fate guided my hand to Madeleine Kamman's "When French Women Cook" and (further evidence of divine intervention) flipped the book open to the recipe "Traditional Christmas Sausages with Truffles."

That took care of that.

Did you know that six eggs and pound-and-a-half of pureed chicken breast can actually absorb a half-pound of butter and two cups of cream?

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We're going traditional this year, almost reactionary: Roast tenderloin of beef stuffed with matignon and wrapped in caul fat (served with a heady veal demi-glace flavored with Port that I spent a week making about a month ago). Sides are Brussels Sprouts with roasted pecans, shallots, and balsamico (recipe courtesy of Drew at Sonoma) and roast garlic mashed potatoes. Philipponnat Royal Reserve starts off the festivities (I don't know of a more luscious and quaffable Champagne at that price level) then a 1989 Sociando Mallet to take us through the meal. Burp.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and best wishes for the New Year to everyone.

Not to focus on the details rather than the big picture, but where'd you score the caul fat?

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Not to focus on the details rather than the big picture, but where'd you score the caul fat?

They appear not to have it in stock right now, but I ordered it from Niman Ranch a few years ago and it's been in my freezer ever since.

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I barely escaped the holiday alive. The food situation was alarming. A contingent of relatives-in-law whom I barely know was there in large number. I honestly can’t imagine what they must eat on a regular non-celebratory weekday night given what they were eating on an arguably special occasion. The oven was working overtime heating up various frozen appetizers. One of the treats included that most exotic of ingredients: krab. There was a jell-o mold with mysterious, presumably edible, blobs floating in the red gelatin ether. There was a slab of cream cheese mocking my feeble attempts at holiday cheer with its festive green and red jellies. Canned vegetable and Campbell soup-based casseroles were coming at me from every direction. I could go on. And on. But my already taxed gastrointestinal system is reeling at the mere recollection of those trans-fat, preservative laden, colors-not-found-in-nature, and pesticidal/fungicidal/herbicidal/spermicidal/genocidal filled nightmares.

We never got to that Hickory Farms cheese and sausage sampler. I was looking forward to enjoying it with a nice tall glass of Miracle Whip.

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I could go on. And on.
Well, awrighty, then. My SIL has lived in Maryland for 14--count 'em--14 years and has NEVER MADE CRABCAKES. :P Her parents have visited from time to time for the same 14 years, without ever EATING a crabcake. What's up with that? So, SIL bought an expensive pound of Jumbo Lump crabmeat and a pound of backfin. She found a couple of recipes. She waited until I arrived (Thank God) for assistance. I talked her out of using a container of dried breadcrumbs with parmesan (!) cheese added and told her she needed FRESH breadcrumbs. So she chopped up a piece of baguette which she had lying around. The lemon juice was NOT from a fresh lemon, oh no. She used Safeway's plastic bottle of lemon "Made from Concentrate." Both recipes called for eggs, but I talked her out of that. Let's not forget that she also used "Fat Free" Mayonnaise. I don't even wanna know what's in that stuff. For an accompaniment, there was a squeeze-bottle of Kraft's Tartar Sauce. Surprisingly, these things weren't too bad, although they didn't hold together very well. I think she didn't use quite enough bread cubes, much less turn it into bread crumbs.

What we go through to make nice with our families . . .

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Well, awrighty, then. My SIL has lived in Maryland for 14--count 'em--14 years and has NEVER MADE CRABCAKES. :P Her parents have visited from time to time for the same 14 years, without ever EATING a crabcake. What's up with that?
I received, for Christmas, the John Folse Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine, which I really, really craved.

It's a great book but the crabcake recipe calls for 1 cup of crumbs to one pound of crabmeat. Not to mention bell pepper, celery, and onions.

Ewwww.

No, no, no, no. Mustn't do it.

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Had to share one success from my Christmas dinner with the in-laws. I tried using a larding needle to work fruit into the breast and legs of my chicken (as shown on the Today show by Chef Jamie). I plumped up some dried cherries in Amaretto and also used apples. I worked the needle through each breast about six to eight times, and also went once (lengthwise) through each leg.

Visually, it was wonderful. You'd cut through the breast and it would be dotted with bits of fruit. The cherries especially looked nice against the white turkey meat.

From a flavour point of view, it was stunning. The apples, admittedly, were blah. But the cherries were PERFECT!! You'd be eating your turkey and every now and then there would be this little blast of sweet cherry/almond. I absolutely loved it. Worth the $10 for the larding needle and the 15 minutes it took me to do it. It teamed up quite nicely with the cherry/port reduction I made as a side sauce.

I also brined the turkey so it came out incredibly juicy on top of all of it. I couldn't gauge my mother-in-law's reaction. Either she didn't like what I had done, or wasn't pleased that my turkey was much juicier than hers. :P But we'll just keep that in our little community, shall we??

Oh, and dinner disasters? Roasted potatoes in duck fat. The one thing I thought would be a no-brainer. Ugh. Tasted like crap. Need to figure out how I f'd that one up so bad.

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I received, for Christmas, the John Folse Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine, which I really, really craved.

. . . bell pepper, celery, and onions.

The Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking. Congrats on scoring the book.

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Al Dente, I feel your pain. My Christmas dinner options were lasagna with turkey sausage and fat free cheese (my mother's contribution in keeping with my father's cardiac diet) or waaaaaay overcooked salmon with plain white rice and steamed broccoli (my aunt's contribution in keeping with her son's refusal to eat any fat). Major suckage. I opted to get drunk on cheap, room temperature pinot grigio. My aunt's funny that way: she puts ice in red wine, but never remembers to chill the white. :P

Otherwise, cream cheese was available in abundance from a sweet onion dip to a cranberry spread to a jello mold...all at the same Christmas Eve meal. Double :D

No one believes me when I tell them I lose weight during the holidays. Hmph. Will one of you wonderful cooks please adopt me prior to next Christmas?

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We have a 5-pound beef tenderloin and we're belatedly trying to figure out what to do with it. My stepdaughter found this recipe:

"Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream" by Tom Perini on epicurious.com

and it sounds great (I love horseradish!) except that we don't have the called for roasting pan with a rack. I'm not interested in going out to buy one in this weather with the inevitable crowds. Should we find a different recipe, or is there hope? (We have a large disposable roasting pan that we could potentially use (?) if the rack isn't essential.)

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We have a 5-pound beef tenderloin and we're belatedly trying to figure out what to do with it. My stepdaughter found this recipe:

"Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream" by Tom Perini on epicurious.com

and it sounds great (I love horseradish!) except that we don't have the called for roasting pan with a rack. I'm not interested in going out to buy one in this weather with the inevitable crowds. Should we find a different recipe, or is there hope? (We have a large disposable roasting pan that we could potentially use (?) if the rack isn't essential.)

I have improvised a rack using chopsticks stacked on the bottom of a pan in a sort of tic-tac-toe configuration. If you have a bunch of chopsticks (cheap wooden ones) you might give it a try.

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Twisted aluminum foil can make a rack as well.   And there's always a bed of potato wedges 

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Thank you both for the ideas! My husband had the idea to use potatoes and I was about to ask if that seemed advisable.

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I have a 4.5 lb boneless leg 'o lamb, which will be served with spaghetti squash garnished with sundried tomato pesto, a medley of white, brown, wild and red Texmati rice, and green beans almondine. The lamb will be covered with a mixture of Dijon mustard, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, olive oil and rosemary.

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We had a Christmas Eve feast for extended family (17 adults, 2 children).  It was the first time in 50 years that I have not had cappelletti in brodo on Christmas Eve.

assorted cheeses, salumi, spiced pecans, marinated olives, caponata, crackers

sauerbraten

ham

biscuits

spaetzle

haricots vert with garlic and almond

(lightly) candied carrots

tiny new potatoes

asparagus with smoked salmon and lemon creme fraiche

lots of wine and beer

dessert:

angel food cake (nephews' favorite)

chocolate cake with caramel icing (for my brother, belated birthday)

jam tarts

apricot/cheese pastries

brown sugar ginger crisps

bee stings

chocolate-dipped cardamom pistachio cookies

pine nut cookies

forgot to make coffee but no one seemed to miss it

Inspired by tales of the Icelandic "Christmas book flood", we did a book-exchange in the form of a white elephant game, a fun choice since most of us are (avid) readers.

Breakfast today: coffee.

Merry Christmas, all.

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Azami and I decorated the tree last night while grazing on:

Godfathers (Johnnie Walker Red and Amaretto)

Crackers and English cheeses: Stilton, Farmhouse Cheddar, Sharpham Rustic

Oil-cured olives

Pepperoni

Carrot sticks

TJ's shrimp and grits tartlets

Tonight will be filets, corn pudding, and roasted brussels sprouts. Cocktails TBD. Hokushika, our beloved rescued Akita, got turkey and yams for his special Christmas treat. Santa brought him a box of chicken and cheese Zillabonez from Baked and Wired, too.

Merry Christmas, all!

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For Christmas Eve:

Hot Crab and Oyster Dip

Green Chile Whipped Goat Cheese
Assorted Crackers, Cheeses, and Olives
Green Salad
Old-Fashioned Beef Pot Pie
Pinot Grigio to drink
 
Planned for tonight:
Green Salad
Crown Roast of Pork with Pear and Chestnut Stuffing
Homemade applesauce
Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Braised Greens
To drink: the rest of the Pinot Grigio
Creme de Menthe Brownies for dessert
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It's just two of us, so we're keeping it simple. Last night we had Imperial Crab (reputed to be O'Donnell's recipe), brown rice cooked in mushroom broth (stems of shiitakes and onion tops), with sauteed shiitakes & chopped green onions, and a green salad.

Tonight we have a rack of pork, which I'll probably cut down and save half for another meal, roasted butternut squash, and sauteed radishes and radish greens. We might start off with some Surryano ham and Surry smoked lamb slices, and maybe some bubbly.

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We were traditional here! Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean and artichoke casserole, carrots, rice, gravy and a salad with pears and walnuts on butter lettuce. And as it is our tradition to play games after lunch, the kids (now some are grown men!) insulted the "adults" by beating us at multiple rounds of Bananagram.

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We actually have a family tradition for both breakfast and dinner on Christmas Day. Breakfast is unsmoked polish sausage from Zup's grocery in Ely, MN, scrambled eggs, apple potica and walnut potica. This year we also had apricot potica. The apple potica is pastry style (think apple strudel) and the walnut and apricot are "bread" style. For dinner we always have bone in rib roast. This year sides included Parmesan risotto, popovers and roasted Brussels sprouts.

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It was just my immediate family, and I kept it simple this year.

For our snacking pleasure, I purchased some incredible charcuterie from Red Apron, and it shared the table with a fig and almond from Whole Foods. Both were wonderful.

I combined a couple of porchetta-style pork roast recipes, using this recipe from the NY times, as well as one by Anne Burrell. ( I placed the roast on a bed of potatoes, root vegetables, and inspired by the second recipe)

For a vegetable side dish, I made roasted brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds and vanilla pecan butter. (Courtesy of Bobby Flay).

The porchetta-style roast was incredibly delicious, and I already look forward to making it again. It's important to find a pork shoulder with the skin on, since the cracklings are so, so good.

I've made a brussels sprouts previously, and they provided a sweet and tangy counter to the pork.

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It was just my immediate family, and I kept it simple this year.

For our snacking pleasure, I purchased some incredible charcuterie from Red Apron, and it shared the table with a fig and almond from Whole Foods. Both were wonderful.

I combined a couple of porchetta-style pork roast recipes, using this recipe from the NY times, as well as one by Anne Burrell. ( I placed the roast on a bed of potatoes, root vegetables, and inspired by the second recipe)

For a vegetable side dish, I made roasted brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds and vanilla pecan butter. (Courtesy of Bobby Flay).

The porchetta-style roast was incredibly delicious, and I already look forward to making it again. It's important to find a pork shoulder with the skin on, since the cracklings are so, so good.

I've made a brussels sprouts previously, and they provided a sweet and tangy counter to the pork.

Is there a word missing on the fig and almond?  Your meal sounds great.

I also used a Burrell recipe for my crown roast of pork.  It came out spectacularly well, though I deviated a little bit to cut down on time.  It was very time intensive recipe.  Since my oven is once again balky, I relied on the convection setting, which automatically meant changing temperature and time.  I was happy I got it right.  My husband is thinking sous vide will be the best way to heat up the remaining pork chops from the roast, since we don't want them cooked any further past the perfection achieved last night.

The part I omitted was the veggies for the pan sauce.  It would have been good to have them, but I just needed to get the roast in the oven.  I made the stuffing in reverse order, putting the roast in first and then making the stuffing and pulling the roast out at an hour to put stuffing into the center.  It made a ridiculous amount of stuffing.

This here is the recipe. I used about 4 - 5 oz. fresh cranberries instead of dried in the stuffing and bought a roast that had already been pre made into the crown.

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Is there a word missing on the fig and almond?  Your meal sounds great.

I also used a Burrell recipe for my crown roast of pork.  It came out spectacularly well, though I deviated a little bit to cut down on time.  It was very time intensive recipe.  Since my oven is once again balky, I relied on the convection setting, which automatically meant changing temperature and time.  I was happy I got it right.  My husband is thinking sous vide will be the best way to heat up the remaining pork chops from the roast, since we don't want them cooked any further past the perfection achieved last night.

The part I omitted was the veggies for the pan sauce.  It would have been good to have them, but I just needed to get the roast in the oven.  I made the stuffing in reverse order, putting the roast in first and then making the stuffing and pulling the roast out at an hour to put stuffing into the center.  It made a ridiculous amount of stuffing.

This here is the recipe. I used about 4 - 5 oz. fresh cranberries instead of dried in the stuffing and bought a roast that had already been pre made into the crown.

Good catch. In retrospect, I should have provide more detail, and I may do that tomorrow.

I meant to type brie en croute with fig jam and marcona almonda. So delicious...

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We have a 5-pound beef tenderloin and we're belatedly trying to figure out what to do with it. My stepdaughter found this recipe:

"Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream" by Tom Perini on epicurious.com

and it sounds great (I love horseradish!) except that we don't have the called for roasting pan with a rack. I'm not interested in going out to buy one in this weather with the inevitable crowds. Should we find a different recipe, or is there hope? (We have a large disposable roasting pan that we could potentially use (?) if the rack isn't essential.)

We ended up roasting on a bed of potatoes and carrots and it was great! The roast was tender and cooked to the right temperature, and the horseradish cream sauce was amazing.

Thanks for the suggestions on how to get around not having a roasting pan with a rack!

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