Wednesday, December 24

Holiday Foods, with an Asian influence

I was assigned Christmas Eve dinner at the Tarr household (my standby locale for the winter holiday season). Growing up, Christmas Eve meant going to church and then eating clam chowder, so my mind automatically went to the happy soup-and-salad place. I like light food the day before Christmas, and even when my night in the kitchen got bumped from Christmas Eve to the night before the night before Christmas, I stuck with that idea.

I meant to serve minted goat cheese (with a hint of lemon zest) on whole grain baguette with pomegranate seeds as an appetizer, but that ended up paired with the second/soup course (see below). It was delicious -- I highly recommend you start mashing fresh herbs into your goat cheese on a regular basis.

Instead, we started with the salad. I have no photos of this salad because I was too busy making a three-course meal for five to document the results, but I am going to tell you about it anyways. I've never told you about my obsession with poached eggs, have I? Pity. It is real and it is encompassing, and it is largely unsatisfied. I have yet to poach an egg well. Still the quest continues, and the interest has yet to wane. So as I was planning this Christmas Eve-Eve salad, I started with the idea of a perfectly poached egg resting on top of some lightly dressed bitter greens (in this case, frisée, watercress, and a bit of arugula). After considerable deliberation I also threw in some edamame, roasted shitaake mushrooms, kalamata olives, and fontina croutons.

The dressing was the real star but I can't exactly tell you what was in it. I'd like to pretend that's because it's top-secret, classified information, but in fact I put so many ingredients into it that I don't exactly remember all of them. I know there was sherry vinegar, olive oil, tahini, pumpkin butter, black sesame seeds, and tamari, and that I may start a new love affair with the humble whisk.

The soup was a pile of roasted tomatoes, garlic, red peppers, and sage, pureed and simmered with a bit of vegetable stock, a splash of almond milk, and plenty of cajun seasoning (cayenne, smoked paprika, lemon pepper, onion powder, and sea salt). I left a little surprise of roasted chickpeas in the bottom of each bowl, and finished it off with a few more fontina croutons and some parsley.

And finally, for dessert I made almond meringues, which were perfect for dipping in Mexican hot chocolate (a favorite) made with almond milk, lactose-free cocoa powder, cinnamon, cardamom, chipotle powder, and brandy.

And now I hang my metaphorical apron until Friday. I find it fortunate that although I despise Christmas, my ladyfriend's day of birth happens to be the day after the big day. As long as I can find crab and artichokes there should be a stellar post coming your way this weekend...


Ricki said...

What a feast! I could never poach eggs, either (my honey is still trying--or maybe, frying!!).

Hope you have a wonderful holiday and happy birthday LF! (Coincidentally, my best friend's b-day is also the 26th) :)

Anonymous said...

it is largely unsatisfied


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