Christmas Food, Part I

Well, we are flying by the seat of our pants tonight! I had a big menu planned for us and we got everything made, but after we’d had mulled wine, a cocktail, an appetizer, salad, soup, and rolls, we were full. We took a walk through the snow and by the time we got back, decided to save the rest of the meal for tomorrow so as not to just eat until we felt sick.

So. We started with Pomegranate and Peach Punch and Caprese Turnovers:

Next up was an Ugly Duckling Salad (don’t let the title fool you – there’s no duck here!), Thai Pumpkin Butternut Squash Soup, and Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Rolls:

At which point we took our walk and then finished up with more mulled wine and Petite Orange and Raspberry Pochettes:

Everything’s been good enough, but so far I’m a little disappointed that we haven’t had a huge success – nothing’s made us go ‘OMG, this is AMAZING!’ There are more dishes to come tomorrow, so hopefully it’s just yet to come.

Hope you’re all having a happy holiday wherever you are this year!

Guest post! The 1960s called…

[I relinquished control of the kitchen last night to my sous chef and mother, Laurie, so she could make us a lovely cozy dinner while I was still frantically putting together as many dishes as I could ahead of time for tonight’s big dinner.]

Our Xmas Eve Eve dinner was my responsibility this year and I made an Apple-Scented Fondue, after seeing Rachael Ray make it recently.  I prefer to think of this meal as a visit to Switzerland, rather than a visit to my past (actually I never had fondue in the 60’s).  I was amazed at the price of the Gruyere cheese (I don’t usually pay that much for meat!), so when I make it again, I may try to substitute something for that, or do a little price comparing before I just buy the first one that comes to hand.  (For a market in a small town, we have a pretty good cheese case, but you have to pay what they are asking, as there’s no other option.)  The liquid base into which the cheese is melted is white wine and calvados (apple brandy) and that adds a nice tanginess to to the melted cheese. Anyway, it turned out great and we scarfed it down pretty quickly!

For dipping we used toasted pieces of baguette bread, Bosc pears, and crispy apples.  Anne’s dad and I also had sauteed pieces of Polish sausages.  All in all, I thought it was pretty yummy and I’d make it again.  Maybe it will become our Xmas Eve Eve tradition!

Today I’m resuming my position as sous chef to Anne’s head chef, and have practiced saying “Yes, Chef,” “Right away, Chef.”  She has another amazing menu planned for our traditional Xmas Eve dinner.  Our cooking marathons are the highlight of the Rumery family’s Xmas holiday.  To paraphrase Paula Deen,  “Happy Holidays and Season’s Eatings from our house to yers!”

[Wondering what to do with the rest of that calvados? How about a tasty, tasty Applejack rabbit cocktail (also, appropriately enough, from the 60s)? You’ll have to trust me on this one – I made it at Thanksgiving and when I offered my mom one, she looked disgusted. Until she tried mine. I’ve since added bartender to my role in the kitchen here.]

 

I’m not sure what was happening, but it sure *looked* cool…

I haven’t seen the original Tron and, having seen Tron: Legacy, I think it might have helped if I had. I also think it might have helped if they’d assumed everyone had. As it was we got very little in the way of character development and chemistry between the characters and very much in the way of astounding visuals and backstory. Also a lot of fake young!Jeff Bridges. I don’t know why movie studios keep giving us things like this when they clearly haven’t perfected the technology for it. I mean, it’s come a long way from The Polar Express, but it’s not out of the Uncanny Valley yet. The mouth eludes them still…

Visually, it was pretty amazing and Daft Punk have absolutely killed with a perfect soundtrack. Mostly I was excited to see Olivia Wilde and her prey eyes (seriously, they’re practically on the sides of her head!) outside of her Thirteen role – and I thought she was really good. It was so weird to hear her giggle since Thirteen’s always so serious. I hope we get to see more of her onscreen (and I know we will at least once more she’s in Cowboys and Aliens)!

So, I’d say this movie was on the level of a movie that I’d ordinarily say ‘Rent it’ but in this case, you really need to see it in the theater to get the full effect. If you rent it, it’ll just be a mildly disappointing sci-fi flick. You’ll like it, it’s fun, but there’s not a whole lot of substance or subtlety. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 😉

I already have leftovers from Christmas dinner…

No, I’m not a time traveller (Bet you thought I was!) – after making lime curd for one of my hopefully upcoming Christmas desserts, I found myself with 6 egg whites. And what do you make with egg whites? Blurry angel food cake! (Also known as Holiday Angel Cake.)

Richard was just desperate to show you my Christmas tree instead…

I made cupcakes because I halved the recipe – I still got 18 cupcakes out of the batter and probably could have gotten a couple more, but I didn’t feel like digging around for another muffin tin. I was sad that I couldn’t find green maraschino cherries to go with the red, but that’s what you get for living in a small town. I also left out the toasted macadamia nuts – I’m not a big fan of crunchy things in my cakes. But I really liked the extra sweetness of the maraschino cherries, even if it wasn’t as festive as it could have been.

And then I saw…

SO GOOD! A strong yet believable heroine (much like Belle), a dashing yet vulnerable hero, a SUPERcute chameleon, and the most awesome horse since…no, there has never been a horse this awesome – what’s not to like?!

Also, the animation is gorgeous, the songs are fun (they don’t tell you that in the ads for it, but yes, it’s a musical), the script is witty, and did I mention the animation is gorgeous? I saw it in 3D and, though I didn’t hate it nearly as much as I was afraid I would, I think it’s probably better seen in 2D – I’ve heard that the 3D process or whatever often tends to dull the colors of a film and this is one where you definitely want the full force of the vibrancy of the colors.

So, yeah, awesome, awesome movie – you really should go see it as soon as you can! Also, can anyone tell me for sure? Does she not count as an official Disney Princess because she’s computer animated? If she doesn’t, that’s a shame because she may be my favorite one now…

I know it’s a couple weeks past Thanksgiving, but bear with me.

And once again, it was my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving! I was fortunate to have a whole day before to be in the kitchen which really paid off workload-wise. My mom and I were able to go to the market on Tuesday night and then I had Wednesday and Thursday to be cooking and baking – usually we go to the market Wednesday night and then try to cram everything into one day of cooking and inevitably we end up eating at about 10:00 instead of 4:00.

This year we ate at 5:15. SO CLOSE!

We had mostly old favorites – hot rolls from the box mix (DON’T YOU JUDGE ME!), deviled eggs (we almost didn’t make this until Thursday because we weren’t sure we had the will power as a family to resist their siren song from the fridge for a whole day), mashed sweet potatoes with chipotle and maple syrup (whose recipe seems to have disappeared from the internet…), green beans with ginger and garlic, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and cranberry-orange relish – and a couple of newbies – a corn pudding, Brussels sprouts gratin, and a cider basted turkey.

We also made mulled wine – which was really good (and OMG strong despite having only wine and spices in it), but we left the spice bag in too long and it started to have a bitter aftertaste. I was determined to keep drinking it, but had to throw in the towel after three days…

And, of course, there were two new desserts! The first was a three-tier cake from Sky High Cakes, a sweet potato cake with orange filling and chocolate frosting decorated with Oreo and candy turkeys and marzipan pumpkins (both of which were my dad’s assignments):

It was a really good cake – sort of a spice cake, though it still paired well with the chocolate, but we all wished there had been more of the orange filling. The real star of the dinner, though, was the Vanilla-Spiced Caramel and Pear Tart:

Perfect fall flavors and surprisingly light and easy to eat even after a big meal. One tip, though, when reheating leftovers, don’t confuse the caramel sauce with the gravy. 😉

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving…

…and I’d been in the kitchen for hours. What should I make for dinner the day before we eat and eat and eat some more?

If you answered Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes, and Pasta with a White Wine and Goat Cheese Sauce, you’re correct! And it was delicious. Quite light but also very creamy (even though there’s no cream in the sauce, it’s really basically just white wine and goat cheese [and parmesan] melted together. So very quick, very easy, and very tasty!