Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Past

This year we will be going to Vermont to celebrate Christmas with my husband's family. Rumors are of an Italian-themed Christmas Eve and a Beef Wellington centerred Christmas.

Here is a look back at some of the goodies from last year's two days of eating:

Antipasto featuring roasted garlic, olives, marinated artichoke hearts, mushrooms, roasted peppers and prosciutto. Served with crusty bread and cheese (buffalo mozzerella and provolone) from the Fresh Cheese Shop in Boston's North End.
Toasted, sliced french baguette spread with garlic aoli, arugula, braised beef, braise reduction and caramelized onion. The braising liquid included: beef broth, chipotle peppers, pale ale, molasses, bourbon,... MMM...
Sicilian-style Eggplant Caponata
Sage-Butternut Squash Risotto. For a deeper squash flavor I roasted the squash in the oven with olive oil, salt, pepper and sage. I also reserved half the squash and mixed it into the risotto towards the end of cooking. This gave the risotto a mix of creamy squash infused rice with chunks of roasted squash. I finished the dish with fresh ground nutmeg.
Vanilla-Bean Bread Pudding with Golden Raisins. I used Challah bread...the egginess of the bread creates a dense and rich dessert. Also, for plump raisins, I soaked the raisins in Grand Marnier for 15 minutes prior to adding them to the bread pudding mix.Orange-Pistachio Florentines. I remembered cooking these vividly - I was out of almonds, and used pistachios on a whim. I knew I was either going to love them or hate them. Fortunately, they were LOVED...especially by my sister who couldn't eat gluten.

Italian Macaroons with Pignoli Nuts. Light, crisp and delicious!

Stella Doro Cream Puffs... Growing up my great aunt used to make these every Christmas. My siblings and I thought she was a cooking genius. Now I know that the shells were store-bought ANGINETTI cookies and the filling has kool-whip, cream cheese and crushed pineapple... but they are still genius, and in her honor I make them every Christmas.

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