Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

If you haven't heard it once already today, Merry Christmas!

This round of holiday cooking was not so hectic, and was less disastrous in terms of burns and injuries.

This year, my brother, mom, and I split up a few simple, seasonal, fresh, and mostly healthy dishes, while my dad manned the kitchen sink, sponge, and wine bottle.

First up was the Spiced Carrot-Apple Soup with Fresh Mint, made entirely by my mom. The soup had a really smooth texture, and the ginger, nutmeg, and allspice made this a really seasonal start to the meal. The mint really brightened things up, and the finely diced apples added some light sweetness to the soup. The soup was also a perfect way to counteract the onslaught of rain over the past week.

My mom also had some frozen Pão de Queijo from a Brazilian friend who made them for her. That was some legit Pão de Queijo, and made me wish I were back in Brazil.

The main plate was a trio of meat and veggies.

I made the Roasted Red and Golden Beets with Sauteed Beet Greens, which ended up being very satisfying. The beets also added some nice holiday colors to the dish. What I love about roasted golden beets is the way they take on some of the flavors and textures of a sweet potato. I would recommend substituting sweet potatoes with roasted golden beets, but sweet potatoes are too delicious, and healthy, to justify substitution.

The Cauliflower Mash with Roasted Garlic, Pan-Roasted Chanterelles, and Crispy Rosemary was a little bit rough this time around. The cauliflower from Thanksgiving was great, but what I found out this time around is that you can over-blend a cauliflower mash, to the point where the texture takes on a very excessively puréed texture. I think my mom and I also got a little too excited with the roasted garlic this time around, which was unfortunate. The chanterelles were good, and the crispy rosemary was great. The mash wasn't horrible, but a day for redemption is definitely in the works.

My brother is, among other things, the resident steak expert. And his Grilled Tri-Tip Steak did not disappoint. The outside was perfectly charred, and the inside was tender and juicy. He's like a jedi steakmaster when it comes to getting a piece of steak to a nice medium-rare. He just waves hand in front of the steak, mutters something along the lines of, "You will be medium-rare," and then the steak turns medium-rare.

His dog, Fuji, got a little bit of the leftover steak, and I think Fuji agreed that the steak was a great piece of meat.

The last thing my mom was in charge of was the Mixed Fruit & Greens Salad. My mom has always been pretty talented at making salads that bring vegetables and fruits together really well. This time around, the kiwi and Asian pear were a great way to complement the refreshing cucumbers and radishes. The salad was actually the last thing most of us ate before dessert because it was so refreshing and helped to balance out all that delicious meat.

Dessert was a Trio of Pan-Seared Pears and Persimmons with Honey Lavender, Mascarpone-Stuffed Dates, and Sugar-Free Vanilla Ice Cream. The Pan-Seared Pears and Persimmons with Honey Lavender was surprisingly simple and delicious. The honey had a good amount of citrus to balance out the sweetness of the honey and fruits, while the lavender added a nice, subtle floral aftertaste that also helped to lighten the dessert. I decided to go with slightly unripened hachiya persimmons, instead of fuyu persimmons (yes, I had to look those up) because I wanted the softness of the hachiya variety to contrast the firmer pears. I also felt like the hachiya persimmons have more depth and would stand up well against the honey and citrus better. The Mascarpone-Stuffed Dates were also simple and delicious. The sweetness of the dates balanced really well with the creaminess of the mascarpone, and the unsweetened cocoa powder added a good bitterness to the dates, which was sweetened up with just a eighth-pinch of stevia. The last component of the dessert was a Sugar-Free Vanilla Ice Cream, which was store-bought because my ice cream maker was at home, and my mom really wanted me to try this ice cream. The ice cream was by Good Karma Organic Rice Divine's Very Vanilla. I know, it's kind of a ridiculous name, but it ended up being really creamy and substantial for a sugar-free ice cream. Also, what's a dessert without some ice cream anyways?

Overall, I had a great time cooking and teaming up with my family to enjoy a small, simple, healthy, and seasonal meal on Christmas Eve. So the brussel sprouts and the fig jam didn't make it onto the menu last night, but they'll make an appearance at some point, and the soup was a great last-minute addition. In the meantime, with Christmas over, it looks like the next holiday meal might not be for a while. But keep an eye out for a New Year's Eve post about my inevitably overambitious goals and resolutions.

Spiced Carrot-Apple Soup with Fresh Mint
Bon Appétit

Roasted Red and Golden Beets with Sauteed Beet Greens
Inspired by

Cauliflower Mash with Roasted Garlic, Pan-Roasted Chanterelles, and Crispy Rosemary

Grilled Tri-Tip Steak

Mixed Fruit & Greens Salad

Trio of Pan-Seared Pears and Persimmons with Honey Lavender, Mascarpone-Stuffed Dates, and Sugar-Free Vanilla Ice Cream
Inspired by Food & Wine Magazine


  1. That looks delicious, seriously. You are way too ambitious for me. Although I recently acquired the two volumes of Julia Child cookbooks and am contemplating the croissant recipe (takes 11-12 hours)...we shall see. Merry belated Christmas!!

  2. so awesome fuji made it on T&B! your mom's salad looks so awesome. i love radishes and pears in salads!

  3. Everything looks delicious, except for Fuji, who I would never eat. I'd like to try making those beets and beet greens just on a normal day.


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