Sunday, January 03, 2010

Trio of Holiday Meals

The holidays are a time for family gatherings, reflection, but most importantly, planting oneself at a table to nosh with those closest to you. I put together a trio of meals for my family and friends on the day after Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.....these are their stories.


November 27th

- Roasted Vegetable Soup
- Stuffed Tomato Provincal
- Whole Snapper with Sausage and Clams
- Mini Cranberry Tarts
- Assorted Cheeses

The soup included a tremendous dish from the day before actually - a combination of oven roasted squash, parsnip, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and maybe some others. The base for the Veg Version 2.0 was onion, garlic and mixed dried herbs followed by the leftover veggies. I added chicken stock, simmered, then blended until smooth. Amazing results if I do say so myself.

The tomato recipe was lifted from Jacque Pepin and Julia Child, but altered with a hefty bit of Manchego cheese and crispy pancetta in addition to the bread crumb and herb mixture. The sweet yet acidic tomato was the perfect vessel for the salty, cheesy topping. And luckily it kept it's structure and didn't turn into mush.....a holiday miracle!

The snapper course was cooked using a technique that I am becoming growingly fond of. All of the ingredients were thrown into a large foil packet and steamed. With all of the different ingredients involved (blanched fennel and fingerling potatoes, gigantic clams, browned kilbasa, olives, lemon, herbs to name a few), the fish absorbed a ton of flavor and the initial splash of white wine transformed into a sauce that left me pining for more.

A final cover of fresh orange zest pumped the flavor up even more. As you can tell, the fish fell apart into beautiful filets and made for easy clean up.

The dessert was again from leftover department....more from the forgotten side dish department to be honest. The tarts were made with cranberry sauce that never left the fridge on Thanksgiving Day. Oops. No worries, as they made a great bite size cap to the meal.

Everyone was stuffed, but there's always room for cheese and dessert beverages.

For Christmas Eve, I had my parents and brother traveling in from Buffalo to spend the extended Holiday weekend with me in Boston. With a monster meal in the works for Christmas Day, I thought it would be best to make a simple dinner that would warm everyone up and make sure we would eat on time (i'm slowly gaining a reputation for making meals that start too late and last too long - frowned upon in some circumstances). With a little assistance from my Dad's hunting buddies, I had a gorgeous venison backstrap to play the lead part in a Guinness Stew.

Mikey liked it.

Pretty basic prep - parsnips, carrots, bacon, Bambi, and Brew. Simple, but effective.

For dessert, instead of stuffing down more sweets (the afternoon was filled with multiple leftover trays of Christmas confections) I dropped by Cambridge's new specialty shop for some local cheeses.

Ewes Jersey - Cow's and Sheep's Milk
Townsend, VT

Humbolt Pie - Cow's Milk
Westin, VT

Lakes Edge Blue - Goat's Milk
Leister, VT

All Vermont, all delicious, and all a great variation of texture and taste. Just as we planned, a filling but not gut busting way to set up what turned out to be a long week of over consumption.

Christmas Dinner

- Smoked Salmon Rilletes
- Seafood Soup with Shrimp and Andouille
- Roast Pork Tenderloin with Red Wine-Black Cherry Sauce
- Parmesan Pave, Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms
- Mint Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake

The starter was a pulled from a previous dish I made for Thursday Club (recipe), but like all replays it needed to be tweaked. Fresh dill replaced the parsley and this added a classic, but welcomed taste combo of salmon, lemon and dill.

The soup was made using my first homemade seafood stock. This included a few bags of Maine's finest from Cape Cod. The smell from the lobster stock alone was enough to rip off a hunk of bread and start dipping, but I held off long enough to finish off the tomato-based broth with sweet shrimp and spicy andouille. Strange as it sounds, the green onion garnish really added a necessary crunch and onion flavor to the shrimp and sausage studded broth.

We Johnson's agreed that this was truly a great soup.....good thing, being alone with these three all day could have ended up in a minor riot if I didn't deliver the goods.

The main course was also a standby of mine - pork tenderloin. It's no secret that I enjoy a bit of four-legged protein on my plate when I can (see blog posts - A Man and His Meats, The New Steak King, etc.), and a nice lean tenderloin fit the menu perfect for me. Simply coupled with a cheesy parmesan potato side and some greenage to make sure we were getting our daily vegetable intake and we were all set.

It didn't take too long to dispose of the lot. Clean plate bonuses all around!

Clearly, no day of gluttony is complete without a decadent dessert. In this case, a homemade (not by me thank goodness) cheesecake.

A mug of black coffee, a silky sliver of pie and a sink full of dishes was the perfect end to Christmas Day 2009.....and to all a good night.


Jason said...

Damn Son! You weren't messing around!!!

The Johnsons said...

That's our Son !...

Melanie said...

Nice menu and photos and I bet the food tasted as good as it looks.

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