Christmas Eve, 2009 – Bouillabaisse

December 27, 2009
I recently learned about the feast of the seven fishes, the Italian tradition for Christmas Eve.  Generally seven different dishes or courses are prepared, each with a different fish or type of seafood.  The variety of dishes is dizzying.  I plan to find specific recipes and try them out throughout the year, probably not seven at a time.

For Christmas Eve I always prepare bouillabaisse, a fish soup made with fish stock, tomato, garlic, onion, herbs and fish.  I don’t make it any other day of the year so it seems very special when served on Christmas Eve.  I didn’t have seven fishes in my soup, but almost.  I included six seafood varieties.  This year I used cod, king crab, shrimp, scallops, lobster and little neck clams.  It depends on what looks good at the fish monger’s shop. 

I served the soup with a festive looking bread wreath which almost turned into a disaster.  About an hour before dinner I checked the package instructions for the frozen dinner roll dough and it said to thaw overnight.  Yikes!  An hour to go and I was supposed to thaw this out yesterday.   Thank goodness they had instructions for emergency quick thaw.

 

My daughter, Barbara is home from McGill University in Montreal.  She is a freshman and we haven’t seen her since we dropped her off in August.  It has been wonderful to have her here.  So, for both Christmas Eve and Christmas it was just the four of us, David, Mum, Barbara and I.  Nothing very exciting, just relaxing with the people we love, listening to Christmas music, admiring the tree and the piles of gifts.

 

 Menu:

  • Bread Wreath with Fresh Herbs
  • Bread Pudding with Brandied Fruit and Lemon Sauce

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Sunday, December 20th – Pork Wellington

December 21, 2009

The shopping is just about finished.  Everything that has been purchased has been wrapped.  It looks a lot like Christmas now.  I made Dad’s famous egg nog yesterday.  I had a little today while I was wrapping gifts.  You need to be VERY carefull with that egg nog.  It is so delicious, but it packs a punch!  I always use half as much alcohol as indicated in the recipe.  Man, those folks must have had a high tolerance back in the day.       

Today, I put up the red tablecloth, which means we begin using the white and gold china.  It is so pretty and festive.      

Pork Tenderloin Wellington Stuffed with Apricots and Cranberries served with Grilled Polenta with Tomato Basil Drizzle

     Menu:  

    


Saturday, December 19th – Seafood Bisque

December 19, 2009

Seafood Bisque with Shrimp, Crab Claw and Little Necks

David and I spent most of the day shopping for and wrapping Christmas gifts.  The tree looks fabulous.  I made a batch of Dad’s famous egg nog and David and I both had some while wrapping gifts.  I had seconds – yikes!  That stuff is potent.      

Yesterday I had made Shrimp Scampi for David.  I had some left over, so I added some crab claw meat and fresh little neck clams and made it all into a bisque.  Wow, it was fantastic.  I don’t normally post on Saturday meals, but this was so outstanding, I thought I must share the picture and recipe.  Click Here For Recipe – Seafood Bisque.


Sunday, November 29, 2009 – Turkey Pot Pies

December 3, 2009

My Grandmother Pearl's Home Town

Even though I like every Sunday dinner to be a Queen’s meal, once in a while I back off a bit.  I served Turkey Pot Pie this Sunday.  Well, a little left over turkey, extra pie crust, some vegetables and a huge hankering for homemade Polish egg noodles did me in.      

I have been reading two new cookbooks (new to me); “The German Cookbook, A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking”, by Mimi Sheraton and “The Art of Polish Cooking”, by Alina Zeranska.  Ever since my Dad came to visit a few weeks ago, I’ve been craving Eastern European food. Dad’s mother swore up and down there wasn’t a drop of Polish in the family.  I always wondered how it came up so often, and why was she always saying that?  Then, I became interested in genealogy and voila, I found out my grandmother’s mother was 100% Polish!  The town my grandmother grew up in, Bronson, Michigan has a welcoming sign that reads, “Bronson City Limit, Sister City to Moryn, Poland”      

So, who makes the best noodles in the world?  There are lots of contenders, I’m sure, but I’ll go with the Polish.  Sadly, there isn’t a single noodle recipe in the Polish cook book I’m reading, but there are plenty in “The German Cookbook”.  Using a recipe from that, I made an easy egg noodle for the pot pies and they were heavenly.     

MENU:     

Cheese Plate with Fruit & Olives   

Individual Pot Pie

Smoked Turkey Dip with Crackers

Individual Turkey Pot Pies    

Warm Wheat Rolls

Chocolate Cream Cake with Hot Fudge Drizzle

     

     

Definitely time to get back to leaner menus before we all blow up like blimps!


Thanksgiving – November 26, 2009

December 3, 2009

All my planning, scouring magazines and cookbooks.  All the internet searches and cooking shows.  All my creative juices flowing and my Thanksgiving menu is remarkably traditional.  I did scale things way back in size because there was just the three of us; Mum, David and me.  I fixed a bone in turkey breast instead of the whole turkey even though David and I both prefer the dark meat.  I was so afraid of the meat being dry, that I brined it over one night and did a wet rub/marinade the second night.  It wasn’t dry but it was still white meat, if you know what I mean.

Other new things I tried included; adding dried cranberries to my usual dressing, mixing hubbard and butternut squash, and I tried an interesting recipe for gravy made from smoked turkey wings, carrots, onion, garlic, celery and herbs.  Since I only did the turkey breast, there wasn’t much in the way of drippings, so I tried this new gravy recipe from Tyler Florence of Food Network TV.  I will tell you, it smelled fantastic while roasting in the oven and it looked fantastic when complete.  However, it tasted AWFUL!  The carrots made it taste oddly sweet and overly starchy.  Thank goodness I had a few drippings from the breast pan.  I scooped those up, made a small batch of gravy and mixed in a little of the roasted gravy.  It tasted pretty good and no one was the wiser.  I will try that gravy again with NO carrots.

You must try my cranberry relish recipe.  I add a little Chambord to it (black raspberry liquor).  It’s your basic relish with cranberries, apples, oranges, walnuts and sugar, but the splash of Chambord has everyone wondering why they’re having seconds when normally they hide the first serving under the uneaten green beans!

MENU:

  • Roast Turkey Breast
  • Baked Sausage Dressing with Cranberries
  • Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Gravy from Roasted Smoked Turkey Wings & Aromatics
  • Puree of Mixed Squashes (Hubbard & Butternut)
  • Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots & Crispy Bacon
  • Cranberry Relish with Chambord (black raspberry liquor)
  • Warm Wheat Rolls
  • Traditional Pumpkin Pie, Warmed From the Oven with Melty Whipped Cream

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