My father-in-law and his wife own a gorgeous property in Summerland called Catbird Ridge. It is a boutique hotel and very luxurious. Normally we stop by in July and sleep on the floor in the den. But this week, they had no guests, and we had the run of the place. High thread count sheets and towels, satellite tv, roaring fireplace…pure luxury.
I cooked another Christmas dinner on the 28th. I love planning menus. This time we had:
- half a turkey (organic, courtesy of our hosts)
- Giada’s mashed potatoes
- dressing with dried cranberries, apples and pork sausage
- maple carrots
- dessert from the Bench Artisan Food Market in Penticton – decadent flourless chocolate cakes with caramel sauce and softly whipped cream
We love the Okanagan. It is even beautiful with a light dusting of snow in the winter.
This was our Christmas dinner menu. It was mostly an Ina Garten Christmas:
- Salad with warm goat cheese
- Prime rib
- Blue cheese sauce (I didn’t have gorgonzola as it calls for, but it turned out very well with the blue cheese)
- Popovers (#fail)
- Garlic mashed potatoes (add minced garlic, 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup butter to mashed potatoes)
- Roasted beets
- Brussel sprouts with pancetta
- Rustic maple pecan pie
- Gingerbread upside down cake
I botched the popovers and they ended up as burned hockey pucks.
BUT! The blue cheese sauce with the prime rib was outta this world delicious. I was the only one who ate the brussel sprouts, but I thought they were definitely the not-mushy version. And I adored the Rustic maple pecan pie (thanks, Aimee)…mmmmm, all crunchy and sweet and nutty. (Ella thankfully and skillfully made the desserts).
This feast took about five hours to prep and cook, but my kids did all the clean up afterwards while I napped on the couch, and also happily consumed their meal, so it was all worth it.
And just when you thought you could never eat again, we are going for dim sum with our neighbours this morning, as is our Boxing Day tradition…
I love reading about other bloggers’ holiday traditions. My kids keep me honest, tradition-wise.
Here’s what they tell me:
- Christmas Eve, everybody gets Santa jammies. Santa stops at our house early to drop them off.
- We can open one present each on Christmas Eve, but not the big one from you guys.
- No waking Mom and Mike up before 7 am on Christmas morning. They say we can open our stocking before that, but stay in our damn bedrooms!
- At the bottom of our stocking is a mandarin orange. There are also usually Purdy Chocolates, socks, underwear, bath stuff, DVDs and books.
- Nothing happens as far as gift opening until Mom has her coffee.
- We open Christmas presents one at a time, starting with the youngest kid.
- Mom restrains herself and does not lift a finger to clean up the disaster that is the living room when we are opening presents. She does, however, bark at us not to lose cheques or gift cards, and keeps track of who gave what in her scribbler so we can write thank you cards.
- We always phone Grandma and Grandpa in Parksville.
- Mom makes these weird cinnamon buns for breakfast.
- Then we snack all day on cheese and chocolates until the feast is served. We also have pop, ripple chips and dip, which are rare treats.
- We can have ham, roast beef, lamb or turkey. It just depends.
- There are always mashed potatoes.
- Ella does all the dessert baking because she’s our pastry chef.
- Mom always burns at least one pot.
- The dishwasher gets filled and started at least three times.
- Mike is in charge of cooking the meat.
- Mom makes us wait to eat so she can take pictures of the food. Sometimes she takes pictures of raw food, because the lighting is better in the afternoon.
- We watch movies, play Wii, put together puzzles and play board games with Aaron. If the weather is nice, we play hockey outside on the backyard rink.
- Boxing Day is all about dim sum with our neighbours, and then a movie.
- We love helping Mom and Mike with Santa stuff for our little brother. He keeps the magic alive for everybody.
My husband has this very disturbing Christmas tradition that stems from his childhood. He buys a jar of mincemeat. He buys a box of frozen tarts. He opens the mincemeat. He opens the tart box. He scoops the mincemeat into the tarts. He cooks in the oven for twenty minutes. Then he eats these things he calls mincemeat tarts.
This year I tried something different. Aimee from Under the High Chair had a brilliant recipe for Aimee’s Canadian Mincemeat. It was dead easy and consisted of throwing things in a pot and simmering until my entire house smelled just like Christmas. Somehow this magic combination of ingredients tastes like mincemeat too, but really yummy, un-jarred mincemeat. Without the lard.
Look at how pretty it is! Ella filled puff pastry cups with this new mincemeat. And then we ate one with a knife and fork. Perhaps not as ‘traditional’ as Mike’s concoction, but a great deal more pleasing.
Happy Christmas Eve to you!
My husband is getting more and more sophisticated with his wine obsession. Now he’s all about wine pairings, so I have to adjust my cooking as to what type of wine is uncorked.
Today there was a bottle of Syrah hanging out on the counter, so I knew I had to do something spicy to match. I had some Moroccan Lamb Sausages from Sunterra in the freezer, so I made two accompaniments: Saffron-Cardamom Rice, and Moroccan Raw Carrot Salad – both from Epicurious. Click through for recipes. My half-ass food blogging philosophy does not allow for retyping of recipes that are easily accessible online.
Now while neither of these dishes are particularly visually attractive (you should see the lamb sausage – even worse. And all my photos in the evening are yellow because we have cedar ceilings and yellow Mexican chandeliers – but I’m NOT apologizing for this), they were chock full of interesting complex flavours, including pine nuts browned in butter and cardamom (I only had pods that I use for chai, so I spent a few cursing minutes cracking the dried pods to get at the seeds).
And yes, all the dishes went with the spicy wine. I dodged the bullet and kept the peace in my house once again.