Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas is special.  It's the time of year where diets go out the window, and most of us choose to expand our taste buds. Whether it's trying a new cookie recipe, eating out at a new restaurant, or just enjoying what we have always enjoyed around Christmas.  This year I'm choosing the later.

This past year has been tough on our family.  We are fortunate to have escaped, to this point, any real huge loss of income, but this year has been a roller coaster of another manner.  My Mom has been very sick since April of this year.  She's been given death sentences from her chronic illnesses twice.  She has been in hospice twice, and made it out twice.  We don't know if there is another dip in the track around the next curve.  So we've decided to do culinarily what we've done in the past that have been our favorites.  Here's the menu, it's a classic for us.

Roasted Ham prepared with cloves, dried mustard, dark brown sugar, pineapple and orange juices, and spiked with sherry.  It's my Grandmother's recipe, and we haven't changed it.  It's wonderful.  We baste it every half hour with the pan juices, and when it reaches 140 I pull it from the oven and let it carry over while it's resting.

Cheese Souffle made classically.  Sauce Béchamel mixed with several cheeses then mixed with some of the stiff peaks of egg whites, then the remainder folded in, and then baked until it's light and airy.  It's my favorite part of the holidays.  My Mom has fixed it for years.  I'm doing it this year.  My first cheese souffle... I'm excited.

Steamed Broccoli with caramelized onions.  There isn't anything special about this dish.  We usually use brussel sprouts, but I love them, so we've eaten them once a week since Thanksgiving.   Broccoli is a fan favorite around here so we'll go with that.  The caramelized onions just add a richness to the broccoli that really completes the trip across your palate.

Mincemeat and Pumpkin pies will be the dessert tomorrow night.  I've purchased the mincemeat from the meat department of a local grocery store.  I don't think I could make it better... I could, but I'd need some venison and I don't have any hanging around this year.  The pumpkin is coming straight out of a can.  I've never tried to procure the flesh of a sweet pumpkin, but this year is not the year for that either.  We'll use my Grandmother's recipe for that too.

Tonight I made chocolate bark with dried fruit, inspired by this recipe.  I did a few things differently, namely the nuts and dried fruit that I swapped with  varieties that I had on hand here in the house.  It's setting up.  It should be great tomorrow.  I made more Chewy Noels, and I might make another candy or cookie.  There are these apricot pastries that my Dad used to make...  I'll see how industrious I feel in the morning.

Tomorrow I'll be sure to take pictures as I'm going along and post them here.  I'm really looking forward to that souffle.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

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