Yes, I am too old to have never been head chef for Christmas dinner, but I've been spoiled by a talented mother. This year when she gently wondered if we should all go out for dinner Christmas Day, I made my move.
I knew it would be tough, as I am not a carnivore so I'd be bypassing the traditional turkey and instantly placing myself as the "unpopular" new chef. Mom helped out by saying she'd take care of the turkey portion by getting a simple-to-prepare turkey breast. Meat, check. I was now free to plan as I liked. But could I create a menu that satisfied the traditional palate AND my urge for culinary experimentation? Yes, I could, and I did.
We started with a yummy appetizer (alas, forgot to photograph) by baking halves of red peppers and filling them with a simple greek rice --we did not use carrot and added quite a bit of feta cheese. It was good and looked very Christmas-y.
Thanks to this very blog, I found the PERFECT stuffing (thanks Thomas and Orianne!) and enjoyed eating the leftovers all week. Man, that stuff is serious delicious.
Mom's colleague had given her a fresh spaghetti squash from her own garden, so of course I couldn't resist throwing that into the mix...cutting it in half, gutting it, baking it face-down in the oven for an hour, then adding butter and salt. Easy.
Also featured was one of my favourites--bocconcini and tomato salad. For those who need the basics on this one, the ingredients are:
-- 15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
--Bocconcini mozzarella balls
--arugula or spring mix
--fresh basil to taste
--balsamic and olive oil vinagrette (just mix these two together and add a bit of salt and pepper)
...and this salad has the added bonus of the red, green and white colours.
The "main course" was a creative veggie pot pie I found on epicurious.com. The roasted vegetables made it quite delicious. The polenta crust meant it was pretty easy. I had to leave out the mushrooms (replaced with broccoli instead) because my brother would have sung an aria of utter disgust if I had included them. We aim to please.
My Mom prepared dessert...a family favourite "Log" which is chocolate wafers layered with whipped cream. This gem needs to spend the night in the fridge to unleash all the soft yummyness.
That said, I of course have to give brother Dave kudos as my "voluntold" assistant for dinner. That man has fun slicing, dicing and the compulsory drinking wine during preparations, which made it fun for me too. Doesn't he look thrilled?!
Merry Christmas everyone!