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Ilaine

Christmas Meal - What Are You Doing?

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We got back into town on Christmas Eve and had the traditional Jewish Chinese take-out for that dinner because we landed too late to attend a friend's Feast of the Seven Fishes.  For Christmas Day dinner, we used the leg of lamb I'd left thawing in the fridge during our absence to make a garlic crusted leg of lamb.  There is no precise recipe for this.  You toss all the garlic you can find (it needs to be near 1 lb of peeled garlic or there really isn't enough) into a Cuisinart with fresh rosemary, matzoh meal, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a thick paste.  Trim the external fat from the lamb, crust the lamb with the garlic paste and allow it to sit several hours, or overnight if possible.  Cook at 350 until it reaches your preferred "done" temperature.  That's about an hour.  This also works with fresh oregano instead of rosemary.  If you are using a boneless leg of lamb, unwrap it and include garlic paste on the interior. 

As a side benefit, your home will be vampire free and roasting garlic > air fresheners.

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The centerpiece of Christmas Eve this year was a chestnut bisque (from this Geoffrey Zakarian recipe). It came out extremely well, but I really should have bought frozen chestnuts, as the recipe indicates, rather than roasting and peeling my own. That was a lot of extra time and frustration I didn't need. The addition of the pumpkin pie spice in this is essential. I even bought a new jar of it, and it paid off.  This was really good. I also picked up a new and decent quality bottle of sherry for the recipe.

The rest of the meal was an herb and garlic baked Camembert from Smitten Kitchen Every Day; crudites; an assortment of breads and crackers (sourdough baguette, pumpernickel, whole wheat pita, Carr's rosemary crackers, and Triscuits); cold cuts (Virginia baked ham, mortadella, and Genoa salami); regular and spicy Cava hummus; various olives, pickles, and mustards. It was way too much food, but it was fun to graze and everything left can be used in future meals.

Christmas lunch was more of the bisque, plus grilled cheese (leftover Camembert plus Parmesan, pear, and leftover ham.)

Christmas dinner was a simple and delicious celery and Marcona almond salad I've made before (from Fine Cooking) to start. For the main course I made a sous vide boneless leg of lamb (rubbed with Maille whole grain mustard, black and red pepper, and olive oil, stuffed with thyme, rosemary, and nicoise olives).  Steamed green beans with evoo and toasted pine nuts and sage scalloped potatoes rounded out the meal. That makes two dishes over the holiday I added to the menu after seeing Food Network's "The Kitchen" on what seemed like endless repeat.  The potatoes were incredible but super rich. I will not be making them again for another year, because OMG...2 cups of heavy cream. They were GOOD. The sage and garlic infused cream made the flavor amazing, plus the salt and cayenne between the layers added a spark I don't usually associate with scalloped potatoes, and the heat cut through the richness. The only downside (other than our cholesterol levels) is that the 1 lb. amount given for potatoes in the recipe is too low. I used two medium potatoes (1 1/4 lbs.) sliced thin and couldn't even get three full layers. I should have added the third potato I had. This is the first time I can recall not parboiling potatoes for this kind of dish and having them cook through perfectly.

Both nights I planned to make ice cream sandwiches with the homemade toll house cookies I made (my only holiday baking this year) but they went by the wayside since we had plenty of food already. Maybe this weekend.

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Christmas Eve for us since we became officially Southern Californian has been beef and pork tamales with assorted salsas and guacamole, adobo black beans, salad, and a Christmas cookie assortment.  For Christmas Day, we meant to put on a few more dishes, but sick kids only allowed us to make the beef tenderloin with bourbon mushroom sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and carrots, cranberry slaw, rolls, and more cookies, which was still tons of food. 

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Our new Christmas tradition as I think I said in another thread has been... fajitas!  We have a lot of family that comes in and out, not a ton of time to prepare, and everyone likes tex-mex.  So we have done fajitas the past two years with great success.  The little boys do quesadillas.  Maybe I will be able to bring them over to the tamales eventually, as those are really make ahead.  

We used to do steamed shrimp and ham and assorted other things, but this was just easy and good.  I did though mention to my Aunt that she could bring back pastitsio (sp?) for Christmas Eve and I would really enjoy that.  I really miss the VERY good lasagna my Dad's first wife made at Christmas, to me that was a great dinner.

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