Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A holiday meal

We're having our oldest friends over for dinner tonight.  Even the kids don't argue about setting time aside for dinner with Steve and Gayle every year.

I don't like to make a typical holiday meal of ham or turkey for this family tradition. (I'm not actually making any traditional meals this year--we're having salmon for Christmas day.)  I should probably have made at least an attempt at a kosher meal in honor of the first day of hanukkah today, but I couldn't resist the dip (shell fish and cheese) or the cheesecake.

I love putting together meals like this, thinking through all the courses to make a balance, and to make every course interesting and different.

A good bit of the ingredients are local and seasonal, all of it (with the probable exception of the crab meat) is sustainable and whole:

Appetizer
Goat cheese dip with crab meat
Place in a food processor or mixing bowl: 4 oz crumbled goat cheese, 2 T yogurt, 4 T soft cream cheese, winter or indoor herbs: 2-3 sprigs each. I still had chives, parsley, and thyme outside, and rosemary inside. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix until smooth. Serve with homemade crackers.

Hot spiced cider
Mix in a large saucepan: 1 quart cider, 1 cup orange juice, 1 T each cinnamon (or 3-4 cinnamon sticks) orange zest, 1 teaspoon whole coriander, 1/4 each teaspoon nutmeg, allspice, a few black peppercorns. Heat to a simmer, cover and continue to barely simmer for a couple of hours. Strain through cheesecloth.  Add a little spiced cider liqueur (scroll down to "apple jail fail-redux").

Dinner
Chicken curry with fall vegetables I finally bought a dutch oven, which you really need to finish a dish like this properly, by letting it simmer in the dutch oven for a couple of hours. I served it with local(ish) wild rice and brussels sprouts.

Dessert
Chocolate raspberry cheesecake. I used this recipe from epicurious, but substituted semi-sweet chocolate and semi-sweet milk chocolate melting dots for the white chocolate. I had to add the melting dots when I discovered that you can't melt chocolate in the microwave because it makes it burn. Good news is that I didn't actually burn down the kitchen (scroll down to the photo that says "Ack").

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