Christmas Eve dinner: simple roast coho salmon with a hollandaise/dill sauce, spicy rice of some sort, white asparagus from Ecuador, pumpkin pie for dessert. I make meals cobbled together with things I know my dad will eat. As we shopped yesterday my husband kept running up to the cart enthusiastically with various vegetables or treats in hand (like an excited little kid) and I'd have to say, "Well, we could get that, but Dad won't eat it", and he'd trudge away to put it back. We don't know how many more Christmasses there will be with Dad, so I try to cook things I know he loves and that he wouldn't cook himself.
Yes, I don't think the white asparagus is as good as green either, but my husband has never tried it, and it brings back memories for my dad and me of when we lived in south Germany. The speciality of the region was spargel and all the fields outside the village were hilled for its cultivation. We loved to ride our bikes over those fields at breakneck speed - like the worst ski moguls in the world.
My great culinary challenge for tomorrow is to figure out how to cook a six pound prime rib rare for my husband and me and well-done for my father. (My father grew up eating only meat that was hunted, and I guess you cook that well or you could catch some nasty diseases.)
Those tortas look amazing, Don. Is that custard I see?
lizzy, it's a very rich custard that is actually cooked twice. I had doubts that it would succeed. It's just egg yolks (5!), milk, sugar, flour, vanilla bean and lemon zest. It's cooked until thick, then strained. When cool, it's put into uncooked tart shells of pasta frolla, a sweet rich, cookie like short doughh. Then it's baked. After it cools a bit, I dusted each torta with confectioner's sugar and sprinled them with lightly toasted pine nuts. It would have been nice to have had the pine nuts baked onto the egg washed top crust, but I was certain that they would burn in the approximately 40 minute baking time.
At any rate, they came out well, and I took a tiny sample for Quality Control. Wow, is it ever rich!
Now I am baking the Queso Panela con Ajo, which should be served with totopos, or tortilla chips, but tostadas or even crackers would work, too. We didn't buy any, but we think our hostess will have something appropriate.
Sounds lovely Lizzy, hope that your dad enjoyed it.
Your desserts look absolutely scrummy Don.
We are having our very traditional Christmas dinner -Roast turkey (I have bought a Norfolk Black this year.) Serving this with roast potatoes, spiced red cabbage, parsnips and stir fried sprouts. Of course together with lashing of bread sauce on the side and a mound of chestnut stuffing.
Desserts - Xmas pudding , rum sauce and (half successful but the best I have managed to make yet) chocolate macarons.
The torta looks & sounds wonderful, DonC. Is this something you knew from growing up in the US northeast, or something you came across & had to try?
To be nosy, Lizzy, how was it your dad grew up eating only hunted meat? That's pretty rare for his generation, isn't it?
Lugg, I wish I'd been at your table! That must have been a wonderful meal. I wish you'd tell me how to make bread sauce, please.
Re: Christmas dinner in Europe -- each traditional dinner shows evidence of what was available in the region at that time of winter. It's very likely that the big calorie charge was welcome & necessary back in the old days. I can't imagine that the "unhealthy" Christmas day feasts will be abandoned in droves after the publication of that article, either. Christmas comes but once a year.
The fact that I never heard of the 13 desserts means little, but it's interesting that no one here seems to have heard of it. Something I never heard about until I was grown was the (southern?) Italian tradition of seven fishes for Christmas eve. I now know several people of Sicilian heritage across the United States whose families observed it. God knows, my family ate very well, but that fish feast was either unknown or had been abandoned. www.ediblemanhattan.com/z/topics/history/the-feast-of-the-seven-fishes/
I ate so well on both Christmas day & the following day that I only crave salad now. Christmas day was hosted by a wonderful & culinarily talented couple, she from the Philippines & he from England. We were greeted with glasses of dry sack, although beer was also offered. The appetizers were coconut shrimp & delicate but meaty spring rolls, accompanied by a mango/corn salsa. The meal began with a light Philippine chicken soup. We then had roast pork, beef bourguignon, steamed jasmine rice, and salad. Dessert was Philippine flan (like the Spanish version) and a cheese board. Our host is known for his knowledge of wine, so that selection was wonderful, as were the port and cognac he offered. We adjourned to the terrace for dessert, and the beautiful view there in the foothills of San Felipe del Agua enhanced the lovely meal and great company:
On the 26th I was invited to a late supper with appetizers of red bell pepper/harissa dip and fabulous paté. The meal was roast pork, creamed spinach, peas, mashed sweet potatoes, & salad. I'd volunteered to bring something sweet, so made a ton of rum balls.
So you all can see why it's time for, as my sister says, just a bowl of steam, please.
The torta looks & sounds wonderful, DonC. Is this something you knew from growing up in the US northeast, or something you came across & had to try?"
I can't recall if I ever had it when a child in Brooklyn, although it's very reminiscent of Italian pastries I have had. A lot of it is the subtle flavor of the filling. What prompted me to make it was my recently finding it, and other Italian desserts, at Café Santina, in Zihuatanejo. Same place I got that great pizza. Mine was richer, but I enjoyed Santina's very much also. tinyurl.com/lm2mgcl
This experience has inspired me to make more Italian pastries. In the past we were limited pretty much to cannoli and the very occasional Cassata alla Siciliana.
Last Edit: Dec 28, 2013 20:17:22 GMT by Don Cuevas
I always like hearing from Don because he, like so many of us, does eat leftovers! Somehow they can even taste far better
Well, we have eaten the leftover crayfish and steaks we had on Christmas day, and tomorrow I go shopping again for something to serve on old year's eve. I am really keeping it simple by BBQ-ing some farmers sausage(boerewors) for hotdog rolls, and presenting the family and friends with pork spare ribs so they can nibble and lick their fingers until it's time to light the first rocket, sparkler and so forth. The firework display is for my grandsons mainly but I think there are some pretty awesome fountains of gushing colours that will entertain us too!
That looks very nice, mich. I made a rice with smoked turkey leg slices and several vegetables (leek, onion, celery etc). It is delicious but a bit of a failure, as although I reduced the amount of liquid called for in the recipe (yes, I know vegetables are full of water, unlike the recipe writer), still, the rice was overdone and a bit porridgey. Delicious anyway, but I'll have to work on it, and perhaps use short-grained rice such as rice for risotto or paella (I didn't have any on hand; just basmati).
Lizzy - what a wonderful thing and agree, that's what it's about.
Don - that tart looks amazing !!!
Kerouac - I have to read the article now I have never heard of 13 desserts…. at least to don't remember.
It's so funny that you both (Lizzy/Don) like the green asparagus better than the white. Growing up in Germany I of course only knew the white and still like it much better as to me it has a more delicate texture and flavor (but is a pain to prepare because it has to be peeled).
Traditionally my late mom would actually just make potato salad and frankfurter/Knackwurst and a deviled or just hardboiled egg. The roasts/dumplings etc. would be served growing up on Christmas Day. My sister makes duck, dumplings and red cabbage usually and 2 years ago we spent Christmas Eve with her after my mom passed away.
For my hubby and I it was a very simple dinner this year as we were in Paris and ate at our apartment…. 3 cheeses, jambon, cornichons, baguette, creme brûlée and champagne
In France, I think the white asparagus are a bit more expensive than the green. I only buy them frozen now and ready to parboil, so I don't have to worry about peeling them or anything -- or even if they are in season. They are always in season at the frozen food store.
Before I moved to the US…. and my mom was still alive…. I would use her freezer as my go to for not having to peel them LOL.
She would get them from the local farmers in season, peel, freeze for when they were hard to come by. She always complained that I "stole" them from her but I know she was also pleased at the same time LOL….
I bought a cut up mangrove crab from Madagascar for my "special" dinner, even though I don't really require a special meal now that no family is within reach. But it does elicit a certain amount of nostalgia in me for years gone by. It was one of my mother's last items of gluttony.
I'm sure that it was mentioned earlier in this thread, but the "big" meal in France occurs on Christmas eve. In second place would be lunch on the 25th which is divided into two possibilities. 1) a slightly less elaborate meal but to which the second tier relatives and friends are invited or 2) a considerably lighter meal to recover from the excess of the previous evening, including the first leftovers.
Oh, I could easily be invited elsewhere if the idea appealed to me, but you are the one who labelled me a curmudgeon, so you certainly understand that I am quite happy on my own. The crab was wonderful and also very messy, so it's not the sort of thing that I could ever eat except in the presence of the extremely close family.
Oddly enough, though, apart from family gatherings at various times, one of the very nicest Christmases that I ever spent was with people whom I hardly knew at all in Lenzburg, Switzerland. I was invited by the parents of the friends of a friend to a Christmas lunch. The father was a baker but also quite a chef, so there was an incredible spread. And the Christmas spirit was definitely there, not just formal politeness. But let me tell you, the Swiss eat far too much chocolate.
We had the traditional meal. Zakouskis. Including sushis. Oysters. Champagne. Bisque de homard. Jambon (in lieu of the turkey) with apples and airelles. Plus pommes dauphines. Fresh. With aubergines (eggplants). Rully 1er cru 2012. Then la traditionnelle bûche. 2 of them In the middle we opened some gifts. My wife got socks with the pics of marie and Chloe and another pair with eragon. She said earlier that they compare socks when they do surgery. She'll be a winner. I got a nice shirt and a pajama Walt Disney. Merry Xmas to all.
Oh, I could easily be invited elsewhere if the idea appealed to me, but you are the one who labelled me a curmudgeon, so you certainly understand that I am quite happy on my own. .
Perhaps you give off that vibe via your online persona from time to time, but curmudgeon is not a word I’d use to describe you, Kerouac.
Here, we are having to manage our holidays around everyone’s schedules: work, unplanned surgeries, various family complications. My two older granddaughters have made it in from California, and my youngest daughter is here from NYC, plus there’s my son, his new girlfriend and her children, and my former son in-law. We spent much of today cooking for Christmas Day, then had jambalaya for our Christmas Eve dinner. Tomorrow, if all goes as planned, we’ll have some sort of fancy waffles and fruit for breakfast, then a lasagne and various vegetables late in the afternoon for dinner. Pecan pie, brownies, and cookies have been made for dessert.
I’ve purchased a nice bottle of high-end bourbon as a Christmas present for myself. I’m guessing it will be nice to sip on tomorrow in the middle of the expected chaos.
My husband will be working his scheduled 24 hr. shift tomorrow and his sister is working the next 2 nightshifts at her job so the family decided to have our Christmas meal today. It was quite enjoyable, traditional with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, a cauliflower and squash dish, cranberry sauce. Caramel apple cheesecake for dessert along with trays of Christmas fruit cake, chocolate peanut butter bars, fudge, apple date squares and shortbread cookies! I will not need to eat tomorrow!