i was going to try to write about my christmas cooking before new year's eve rolled around, but it didn't happen. so will write about christmas today, january 1st, and try to get to new year's eve in a couple of days.
for christmas cooking inspiration i looked through my december cooking magazines from present and past and again martha stewart provided me with many of my dishes. in defense of martha i will say this: her recipes are well written, easy to follow, and produce delicious food. and what is so wrong with that?
for christmas even we went to sandy's house, who is seth's dad's girlfriend. this is our second year in a row so i guess it's becoming a bit of a tradition. its kind of a riot because the guests include sandy's daughter and partner, her daughter's father and his wife, and her two sons. its like this huge extended family that by all cliches shouldn't get along, but do. and lobster is always served. who can beat lobster for christmas eve dinner? the one thing i realized though is that i rush through my lobster. as much as i love that sweet lobster meat, it drives me crazy to have my hands so dirty. i think i prefer a lobster roll, cuz i can take my time to enjoy the lobster without getting messy.
let me talk about what i brought. i have been quite literally obsessed with pepperdews recently. pepperdews are these amazingly sweet and hot little peppers from south africa. i find them in the antipasti bar at the supermarket. i must have had this dish at some point, but i decided that i had to make pepperdews stuffed with goat cheese as an appetizer. they were as wonderful as i imagined they would be. the creamy, salty, tangy, goat cheese was the perfect complement to the sweet spicy crunch of the marinated pepperdews. seth and i also picked up some fresh maine shrimp, which i blanched and served with cocktail sauce. everyone loved their unique flavor and texture.
as it is christmas i had to make some cookies and for christmas eve i made banana chocolate chunk cookies. i have made them before and they are so so so good. the banana improves on something i didn't think could be improved on, the chocolate chip cookie. the recipe calls for walnuts which i leave out and part whole wheat flour. if i had whole wheat flour i would use it but i just sub white flour for the whole wheat.
for christmas dinner we went over to the manach's. just before christmas the patriarch of the family, greg manach, passed away. as christmas is always at the manach's this was in some ways a informal memorial to greg. it was wonderful to be with family and friends and the food was wonderful. greg was an amazing cook himself and he made his living as a butcher so holidays with him were always guaranteed to be delicious. the main course on christmas is always bbq'd beef tenderloin and this year ethan did an amazing job. i contributed to the meal with a wild rice salad and almond-orange cookies.
the almond-orange cookies are just a variation on italian christmas cookies, which is really just the same cookie as mexican wedding balls or russian tea cookies. other than chocolate chip cookies, this is probably my favorite cookie in the world and is so full of memories for me. growing up my dad spent a lot of time hanging out at the fairfax bakery, the local bakery in my hometown of fairfax, ca. he would bring my brother and me in there a lot and sometimes if i was passing by on my own, i just might be lucky enough to spot my dad in the bakery. he would always buy us a treat and my stand-by were two russian tea cookies and a carton of milk. yum-yum.
in addition, i made potato latkes twice in two days to celebrate hanukkah. as a variation on the traditional, i love to mix sweet potatoes in with the regular potatoes. they are super labor intensive and result in a cook that smells like chinese food (as my friend emily frawley pointed out when we met her for drinks later that night) but they are worth it!