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#1 Marlene

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 06:34 PM

It is that time of year again when our thoughts (and tables) turn festive. What is everyone planning? Although I am not Jewish, latkes are one of my very favourite things in life, and fortunately, I have a friend who is going to make some for me this year.

Our Christmas dinner varies between Christmas Day and Boxing Day (I think this is mostly a Canadian Holiday, which is the day after Christmas), depending on which year it's my turn to have my son for Christmas Day. I will have him for Christmas Eve. This year, the major dinner will happen on Boxing Day.

Christmas eve is always an open house sort of thing with neighbours popping in and out of each other's houses. I usually have some baked goods and mulled wine ready for the evening.

Our main dinner is always always always Prime Rib. I tried to make something else one year and my family almost killed me. :blink: My husband's family lives out West, and his mom joins us every other year or so, but not this year.

This Christmas will be the first year without my brother, and it doesn't look like my mom will be out of the hospital or well enough to join us, for the first time since I was born. That makes this one a tough one for me.

So far, I've got the usual Prime Rib, roast potatoes, and yorkies on the menu. I'm thinking about Chris' glazed carrots because we really really like them. I've ordered a Yule log from the bakery around the corner. I really wanted to try making one this year, but I don't think I'm going to get my kitchen back in time. Although they still swear they'll be finished by the 22nd.

Christmas Day breakfast is always peameal bacon and eggs for some reason. For those of you in the States and craving peameal bacon, you can order it online from here and they'll deliver it. I had some delivered to eG's Varmint for the pig pickin last year.

I need some Hors D'oeuvres to start. Any bright ideas folks?

I'm also hosting a New Year's Eve party this year, so I have to plan several things for that.

What are your traditions and meals this time of year?
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#2 Matthew Kayahara

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 07:54 PM

On Christmas day, my family always has a turkey dinner. It's predictable, but comforting. (Though prime rib sure sounds tasty!) We also usually spend Christmas Eve with a bunch of hors d'oeuvres; often they come in frozen form from a box labelled "PC".

Our biggest Christmas cooking traditions, though, are the cookies. My family and my husband's both have strong Christmas baking traditions, so when we started living together, it was difficult to triage. Add to that the fact that we like to try out new Christmas cookie recipes every year, and you see how it is we ended up making about 13 varieties one year. This year we scaled back and made only 5, so I'm hoping my own family makes some of my favourites that I had to skip!

Also, fruitcake. We both love it, and once we started making it, our friends fell in love with it too. Our recipe involves no nuts, which is great both for people with allergies and for one close friend of ours who simply can't stand the texture of nuts. It also doesn't require months of aging: just a 5-day soak of the dried fruit in alcohol, followed by baking and a 48-hour period for it to settle. (Those of you in Ontario can find the recipe reprinted on page 296 of this year's holiday issue of Food & Drink magazine, under "Creole Christmas Cake.")
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#3 Dana

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 09:42 PM

Our Christmas Dinner always starts with a seafood app. (Sorry, Marlene, that doesn't help you much). In the past, I've done shrimp balls and vol-au-vents, but usually just shrimp cocktail. This year, I'm going out on a limb with a seafood trio- tuna tartar, seared scallops with herb oil and the third, I'm still comtemplating. Maybe stuffed shrimp with ailoi. Next will be a salad with maybe some glazed walnuts and dried cranberries. I too, serve prime rib, although I think I'll have my husband smoke it this year. I'll need a wine or mushroom sauce for that. Boursin potatoes and probably broccoli with creme brulee and fruit for dessert. Maybe some cheese and port later. We have our dinner in the evening Christmas day, and have a nice brunch after opening presents. My daughter wants to try the brulee french toast that was in the recent Wm-Sonoma catalog. Applesmoked bacon and maybe some chunky applesauce.

We are a small family, living far away from any extended family, and many years ago, I decided I didn't want another turkey (and leftovers) to deal with so soon. I did a tenderloin once, but the prime rib was a much bigger hit!!! :)
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#4 Marlene

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 09:53 PM

Dana, it sounds lovely. Actually, I recently bid on and won, some shrimp cocktail serving dishes. Even though my husband is not a fan, the rest of us are, so maybe I'll make him something else and try that. I smoked a prime rib once, it was absolutely wonderful! How about a port wine reduction sauce for it?

I've love to hear more about the boursin potatoes and the brulee french toast!
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#5 Dana

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 02:16 AM

Here's l link to the French Toast http://www.williams-...FEEFC28D193B419. It sounds really good and very festive.

The boursin potatoes are something I've made for years, and I don't remember where I got the recipe.
Scrub 2 lbs of potatoes and slice thinly. Layer half in casserole dish, season with s&p and parsley, then top with remaining potatoes and season again. Melt a package (5.5oz??) of boursin cheese (much cheaper at Sam's Club that the regular grocery) and a cup of heavy cream until the cheese is melted. Pour over the potatoes and bake an hour at 350 degrees. These are greatly anticipated by every one around here.

A port reduction sounds great - Saute shallots in butter, deglaze with port and a little beef stock (or demi-glace) and finish with butter? Does that sound about right?

I think I'll probably make some rolls, too.
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#6 Marlene

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 07:18 AM

The potatoes sound good. I'll have to try those! The reduction sounds about right. Use a little veal demi glace if you have it, it really smooths the sauce out and gives it a nice velvety texture. If it isn't as thick as you want after reducing, add a tablespoon of flour and butter mixed thoroughly together. If you have drippings from the roast, you should add some of those too!
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#7 Marlene

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 07:25 AM

Matthew, I love making Christmas cookies and also rum balls. I don't know if I'll have a kitchen back in time to bake much this year. I do have that issue of the LCBO's Food and Drink. I looked the recipe up and it looks like something I might like to try. Candied orange peels though. Can you buy them? I've never actually candied orange peels before!
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#8 Matthew Kayahara

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 10:15 AM

Matthew, I love making Christmas cookies and also rum balls. I don't know if I'll have a kitchen back in time to bake much this year. I do have that issue of the LCBO's Food and Drink. I looked the recipe up and it looks like something I might like to try. Candied orange peels though. Can you buy them? I've never actually candied orange peels before!

We get the candied orange peel at Bulk Barn, though I'm sure that's not the only option.

Could you share your recipe for rum balls? I've never made them before, but I love eating them!
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#9 Dianne

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 12:40 PM

Christms Eve used to be a big dinner when our family was younger and everyone was at home. We started with clam chowder and then ham, sweet potatoes, salads and rolls. Trifle for dessert. Now that our children are grown and have families of their own, Alan and I settle for the chowder, salad and rolls.

Christmas day is spent at one or the other of our children's home for a turkey dinner.

Then on boxing day I cook a small turkey for the 2 of us. I can't get through the holiday without leftovers. I MUST have turkey sandwiches.

#10 Marlene

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 02:05 PM

We get the candied orange peel at Bulk Barn, though I'm sure that's not the only option.

Could you share your recipe for rum balls? I've never made them before, but I love eating them!



Just as soon as I dig out the cookbook it's in! I think that book has been packed. But I'll check.
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#11 Marlene

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 06:10 PM

Couldn't find the book, it must be packed.

I have a couple of family dinners to do this season, and at one of them I'll have a vegetarian guest. The main course is going to be either prime rib or roast pork, but what can I make for my guest? Preferably something I can make ahead and reheat would be nice.

Suggestions?
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#12 Jake

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 10:08 AM

A vegetable lasagne?
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#13 Marlene

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 01:28 PM

Too obvious! I want something a little different, though I couldn't tell you what!
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#14 Matthew Kayahara

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 02:51 PM

It seems to me that all the best vegetarian cuisines are Asian, whether East Asian (as in Buddhist-inflected Japanese and Chinese dishes) or South Asian (as in curries). If you want something really unusual, I'm sure you could find a good recipe that uses konnyaku, which would be a nice change from the tofu that vegetarian guests are frequently offered. :lol:

But since you specified that you want something you can make ahead and reheat, I think your best bet would be a curried dish of some sort. Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about Indian cuisine, so I can't provide you with any specific ideas. (Also, it depends on how nutritionally complete you want the dish to be, and on whether or not the guest in question eats dairy and eggs. I've developed an inexplicable fondness for paneer cheese over the past year.)

Personally, trying to find vegetarian dishes in a European or North American idiom gives me a headache, because it never feels "complete," if that makes any sense.

Sorry I can't be of more help!
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#15 James

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 11:03 PM

In Asian stores I have found aged tofu, somewhat cheeselike, and an Indonesian tofu called tempeh, which is fermented and has a grainy texture. If you are adventurous, I can look up recipes.
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#16 Dianne

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 02:46 PM

Marlene, have you settled on your veg dish for your vegetarian guest? We are having a dinner to celebrate our chidren's birthdays tonight. One b-day was last Wed. and one is today. I am making a kale and noodle torte for one of the dishes. It is in this year's Dec. Gourmet. It looks very good and I am sure it will warm up. It can be served hot or just warm.

#17 Marlene

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 04:28 PM

Marlene, have you settled on your veg dish for your vegetarian guest? We are having a dinner to celebrate our chidren's birthdays tonight. One b-day was last Wed. and one is today. I am making a kale and noodle torte for one of the dishes. It is in this year's Dec. Gourmet. It looks very good and I am sure it will warm up. It can be served hot or just warm.



Hmmm, that sounds good. I should be getting my issue of Gourmet soon. I can always go out and buy one of course. :D I've been thinking penne ala vodka, and making the penne in the morning and just reheating in the sauce.
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#18 Dianne

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 04:32 PM

Of course penne would work too, but this is a little different. It has mascarpone and lots of swiss cheese too. And I think it will cut nicely. I will let you know tomorrow.

#19 Dianne

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 12:34 PM

I made the noodle torte and it is just delicious. I strongly recommend it for your vegetarian guest, Marlene.

It is in the Dec/06 issue of Gourmet. I used kale instead of chard, but if neither is your thing, it would be great with spinach.

Posted Image

Don't use the spring form pan they call for. The filling is very runny before it is baked. I used a gratin dish and got neat slices for serving. It reheats well.

Edited by Dianne, 17 December 2006 - 12:35 PM.


#20 Dana

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 02:29 PM

That looks great, Dianne. I think I'll try that myself.
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