I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Holiday Food and Wine

Merry Christmas! When I was a little girl we said Merry Christmas all through the holidays until January 5th when supposedly and possibly erroneously the Magi arrived bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. These days were the Twelve Days of Christmas.
I always have loved the holidays, never was there a time when I was bored or uninterested, even in my obnoxious teen years. We'd start planning right after Thanksgiving, shopping, menu planning, silver polishing and so on. I loved coming home from college, being met at the airport [big bustling O'Hare!] and driving home through the dark snowy night, to a house filled with good scents, a house covered with twinkly lights. I never remember a Christmas in Illinois that wasn't white and snowy. My mom would have homemade cream of leek soup waiting, and a stack of tiny sandwiches--rare roast beef or paper thin ham, with pickles and hot horseradish, on miniature slices of rye and pumpernickel. My kitty would be waiting in the window, my doggy at the door! My dad would decant his plum liquor and have me taste it [summer in a bottle, joy!]
The next day we'd set up the tree, then my dad and I would bake cookies. There'd be a fire every day and  every night in both fireplaces. I didn't miss college cool times at all.
So this year, as I began my holiday wind-up, I was shocked and saddened to find that now, as my kids are a bit past Santa's Coming! age, my enthusiasm was met with sighs and yawns, eye rolls and a definite lack of interest. "You do too much, mom." /"Don't fuss, mom." / and the dreaded shrug or "whatever."
But I'm not putting on this show just for me! I simplified and scaled way down. No big real tree, no five hundred and fifty ornaments, each more special than the next. No wreath, no classic cookies. Gift cards, ugh. For Christmas Eve I did a small family dinner only.

Here's my table, I think I kept it Nordic and simple. A close friend joined us.

I did get out my cherished hand embroidered Swedish tablecloth, my [modern, inexpensive] Wedgwood Nordic plates, and  good silver forks and knives. It's what I had! I protested under silent disapproving stares and indifference.

I made my usual antipasto or as it is now supposed to be called, ''charcuterie''. We have drinks and open gifts.

Wine for the adults.  Whispering Angel rose`.

I made the lasagna the day before. I made two, one gluten and lactose free, the other classic. The ''free'' one was quite good! Cookies for dessert. With sugared orange slices and marzipan fruits. The store bought French cookies were not very good. I guess I like my own recipes the best!

Just for fun I made mince meat pies, using the jarred Crosse and Blackwell filling. Obviously a FAIL! The filling was so sugary it made my teeth hurt! And I love sweets. But no, into the bin.

On Christmas Day I didn't make a big festive dinner, with friends and extended family. No $125.oo rib roast! A good budget decision but a meal I so love and look forward to. I redid the antipasto and cookie trays and left them out with a selection of wines for friends who popped in to say Merry Christmas.

I was then invited to a late supper with friends, my friends of the tropical garden who both trained as chefs in their hospitality studies. The minimalist decor was lovely.

The food was fabulous. Charcuterie tray with Spanish cheeses, bruschetta, fig and goat cheese tiny  hot pizza wedges, hummus, lemon ricotta cake, cranberry goat cheese, tiny fruit studded crackers.  with Finca Wolffer rose`.

This is the crust of the pizzas, quite delicious, in an odd way:

 Then baby lettuce, light dressed with a classic dijon vinaigrette topped with crumbled goat cheese. The wine was Quill Cabernet Sauvignon [red] with that course.

Main course: braised beef short ribs with pan sauce; pureed whipped parsnips; roasted applewood bacon wrapped asparagus; large white mushroom caps stuffed with ricotta and, parm, and spinach.


The wine was this:

Dessert was warm homemade [gluten free] brownies topped with Peppermint chocolate chip ice cream.
All beautifully prepared and produced, like the finest restaurant.

It was a lovely and different Christmas dinner, I enjoyed it so much!

Mo and I waked home through the frigid starry night, deciding that letting go of tradition is hard but worth a try. This is time it certainly was delightful.

I hope you enjoyed your Christmas too!



gone to the beach...

ps I can add details on the wines if anyone wants to know more; some of them may not be available for purchase at the present time.