Christmas Eats 2013

What do you do Christmas week, but eat? We ate some strange and wonderful things, so I thought I’d write about it.

It started the week before at a neighborhood holiday party. Folks bring stuff and rather than making a casserole or something, we took a cheese plate.

from 12 o’clock, mixed olives, St. Agur, Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam, Mousse Pate over various candied and dried fruits and nuts.

Yummy. Last year we just took a fat piece of St. Agur, a double cream blue cheese from France and a piece of country pate. This year, we opted to have our favorite cheese store — Wedge — make up a cheese platter. Good choice. AND, believe it or not, there were leftovers (not many) and we got to take those home.

Christmas eve, we went to Brian and Natasza for dinner. Brian is often messing around with something interesting to cook. He finds “Manager’s Special” stuff at the supermarket (nobody else wants it) and he figures out something to do with it. On this occasion, it was pork belly, which is basically uncured bacon. He found a recipe in a food blog for Grilled Korean Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps (Daeji Bulgogi).

marinated pork belly

Marinate your “Manager’s Special” pork belly in a spicy marinade/dipping sauce.
Grill on direct medium heat flipping every two minutes, until the pork is browned and crispy. Brian’s pork took 3 or 4 flips.

the grilling is easy but demands attention and makes a lot of smoke

off the grill and onto the table — oh my, that is good

pork belly served with cabbage wrap and rice

Natasza made brown rice with mushrooms and a shredded beet salad with nuts and raisins. I kibitzed and took some pictures.

Brian and Natasza came to our house the next day for Christmas and dinner. A while back, we bought some mail order Maine Lobster Tails for this very occasion. Brian promised to make pasta and a caviar sauce. Carol found this marvelous recipe on Food 52 for Radicchio Salad with Manchego Vinaigrette. She made mashed sweet potatoes as well. Sounds like dinner.

Maine Lobster Tails

for the four of us

Put a little under 1/2 inch of water in black saute pan. Added bay leaf, some peppercorns, some salt… brought to boil, added four 6 ounce Maine Lobster tails. Covered and steamed about 6 minutes to 145°F. Drained and put onna plate and stuck in the countertop oven at 130°F to hold while Brian’s homemade pasta cooked (not long).
It was not easy to harvest the meat. Should have cut off the “bottom” membrane.

brown paper is spread on the table to catch the noodles and save the table


When I got out the pasta machine, it was still taped from our move to Reno. Guess I haven’t made pasta since then. Time flies. I remembered that I wrote my recipe and method for pasta making before we left and posted it on eats. Called it My pasta for we two. On this occasion, Brian is making the pasta, but I needed to verify the set-up.

Caviar Pasta Sauce.

Melt six ounces [3/4 stick] butter, stir in an equal amount of sour cream and yogurt and keep warm. Just before serving, stir in one small jar of caviar (50g, 1.76 ounces).

radicchio salad, pasta with caviar sauce, lobster tail, lemon butter for dipping

The day after Christmas, we had some errands to do and we got the car washed. It was so dirty after snow and wet roads, but I was waiting for a time of a good weather forecast. That time arrived. Our car is now so beautiful and clean and red.

Carol bought a ham right before Christmas when they were on sale. At the same time, she bought a package of nine baby artichokes. I love those things. Those massive Globe artichokes are all that are sold at our Farmers Market. We found the babies at Raley’s a month or so ago so we’re on our second or third batch. When the subject of “What’s for dinner?” came up, C said, “Well, we had a big lunch at Burger Me, what about just some ham slices?” (I don’t want to get off track here, but it was our first time at Burger Me, a real fine burger joint.)
I said I would do the artichokes and found a way-simple Mark Bittman recipe I hadn’t done since 2010 — Artichokes Provencal.

artichokes bubbling away

Little Artichokes, Provençal Style
The New York Times    Mark Bittman
June 4, 2008    Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 2 to 4 servings.

Prep artichokes: remove hard leaves, trim bottom and rub with lemon juice. Pop into lemon water.
Pit and roughly chop 1/2 cup oil cured black olives

In a large skillet (cast iron is good), over low heat add 1/4 cup XV olive oil and add 4 cloves garlic, crushed, then peeled.. When garlic sizzles, add fresh thyme or rosemary, olives and a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, one at a time, cut off spiky end of artichoke about an inch down from top; cut artichoke in half, and add to the skillet as they are ready, cut side down. When about half of them are in pan, raise heat so they brown a bit; move them around as you add remaining artichokes so that they brown evenly.

When artichokes brown, add 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved or left whole (or about 1 1/2 cup any other tomatoes, chopped and a splash of water. [I used diced canned tomatoes with their juice.]) Cook until chokes are tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Add water if needed. Adjust seasoning, garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot or at room temperature.

artichokes served over sliced ham

Good. Quick. Easy. That’s what I like about making dinner.

The other thing that I like is a bit of good leftovers to have for breakfast with a poached egg over.


2 thoughts on “Christmas Eats 2013

  1. There was ~1 tsp. dried tarragon in the pasta sauce. Would’ve been better with fresh and would’ve made a nice Xmas-y garnish of green leaves over the bright pink sauce spangled with red fish eggs. Too bad you used the Instamatic for that shot.


  2. Each presentation looks fantastic. It’s almost like The “Twelve Days of Christmas” only with food.

    Happy New Year.


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