December 29, 2011
Santa brought me a gnocchi board, a scone pan, and a food mill, all kitchen items I asked for and hope to try out in the coming weeks. I also got lots of ornaments for my kitchen tree. No cookbooks this year, but I didn’t ask for any.
I asked for an apron, because so many of my clothes have gotten ruined with all the cooking I did in the past year, but I asked for one that was just for the top only. Apparently such a thing does not exist and I got what is called a cobbler’s apron – which looks to me like the top to medical scrubs and was pretty hideous. That went back and I am thinking I am going to have to buy a traditional apron, or remember to change into junk clothes before cooking each day.
I got a few nice pieces of cranberry and caprice glass for my collection and a gorgeous vase I saw when we were in NM and which I should have bought, but did not (my mom calls this the museum in her mind – all the things she should have bought, but didn’t).
I got a tree topper to add to my collection. I also got a giant fortune cookie which will be super fun once I break into it!
We have family parties tonight and tomorrow, then New Year’s Eve is our traditional fondue party. Then it will be time to work on taking all the decorations down and trying to resume normal life and get back to work!
What toys did Santa bring you?
December 23, 2011
I love hearing about people’s holiday food traditions. In my family, the Christmas menu is pretty much set in stone. First, sometime before Christmas, I make Hal Linden’s Hanukah bread. Christmas Eve we always have a ham and potato latkes (recipe from The New Basics Cookbook by the same gals who wrote the Silver Palate Cookbook), which we started making when TeenMartha was tiny and watched a Sherry Lewis and Lamb Chop special where they sang a song called “Everybody Loves Potato Latkes.” It aired on a Christmas Eve when we were snowed in and we whipped them up and it became a tradition. We serve them with sour cream and homemade applesauce. We usually round out the meal with some grapes, and then have cookies while we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Christmas morning we always have baked donuts. I got the recipe from one of Dianne Mott Davidson’s Goldie’s Catering mysteries (they are called Galaxy Donuts). They’re made with different grains, baked and dipped in cinnamon sugar. We always have hot chocolate with them.
For lunch, we have a fun buffet. The ham from Christmas Eve comes out, along with marble rye bread and rye bread dip. Mr. MarthaAndMe always gets a summer sausage in his stocking, so we eat that with cheese and crackers and an assortment of mustards. Grapes and tangerines round out the meal. The kids usually get candy in their stockings and eat some of that.
Christmas dinner is at my parents’ house. During the afternoon when we are opening gifts, my mom makes gougere, which is a cheese puff pastry. Dinner is always beef tenderloin. She makes a broccoli wreath (cooked broccoli dotted with cherry tomatoes surrounding a bowl of hollandaise sauce). We also have a salad and potatoes (usually roasted potatoes, but this year it will be twice baked for something different). We have cookies for dessert. This year I bought a tray from an Italian bakery and we are going to try that, along with some I made and some that were given to her. My mom doesn’t make cookies anymore and we like to have something different when we go over there, rather than eating our own cookies again.
When we see my in-laws, they always insist on taking us out to dinner although I would be happy to cook for them. Then we have two other family parties which are usually overloaded with tons of wonderful food. One aunt always makes sticky buns. My mom usually makes a pork roast or some kind of chicken breast dish for one of them. I like getting to sample family members’ cookies!
What are your holiday food traditions?
December 19, 2011
This week was my pick and I chose Chocolate Mint Crackles from December Living (I am in love with the cover of this issue by the way). I was excited about these cookies. Every year I make cut out, gingerbread cookies, chocolate chip and then one or two other types, one of them usually something new. I was hoping this one would become a favorite.
The cookies were easy to make. I hated them though. The recipe calls for “mint extract.” I had mint extract and peppermint extract in my cupboard. I went with the mint. Yucky. I thought they tasted like spearmint chewing gum. If I make them again, I will use the peppermint extract, which I think will taste right. I just could not get past the mint taste. The cookies were pretty. The only one in the house who likes them is Dude Martha, so they’re all his. Did you try these? What did you think?
This is our last Martha Mondays until January 9, however, I do have some posts coming up between now and then, so be sure to pop back in. I’m looking forward to trying some great new projects with all of you in the New Year. I’m so happy to have all of you to cook with – thank you for joining me as we try new things! Happy Holidays to my Martha Mondays players, and to all my readers.
December 16, 2011
This is one of things where I find myself asking “what took them so long?” My fridge has long been a wasteland of tomato paste cans with one tablespoon scooped out, the rest left to die. I never use an entire can and it seems every time I need some, I have to open a new can since the old one has become an alien life form. These great new squeeze tubes let you use just as much as you want without creating waste. I paid $2.99 for a tube. And they contain only tomato paste and salt – no nasty preservatives! Love ’em.
December 14, 2011
This is a recipe I make very often because it’s just so easy, but it also tastes really complex like you spent a lot of time on it!
I start with making the sauce. In a saucepan combine 1/2 tbsp butter, 1 cup orange juice, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium and cook until it is reduced to a syrupy sauce, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
I use about 12 sea scallops for this one. In the summer I like to grill scallops, but in the winter, I pan fry them. When you cook scallops you want to first make sure you rinse them well to get rid of grit. Then you want to peel off the little muscle on the side. Then it’s very important to completely dry them so they will caramelize.
For this recipe, I get the pan very hot and melt 1/2 tbsp butter and 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Then I drop in the scallops (which have been seasoned with salt and pepper). Be sure you have a big enough pan, so there is about an inch or so between the scallops. If you don’t, they will boil in their juices instead of caramelizing. Cook about 2-3 minutes, then flip. Cook until cooked through, another 2-3 minutes.
Remove the scallops and pour the sauce into the scallop pan. Heat the sauce, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Serve with the scallops. This is good served over rice too.
December 12, 2011
Next week will be our last project of the year (how did the year go so quickly?). We’ll start back up again on 1/9 (schedule below). It’s my turn to pick and I’m going with Chocolate Mint Crackles (page 203 of December Living). If you need the recipe, let me know.
Martha Mondays schedule:
1-9 Elizabeth March Designs
1-16 Megan’s Cookin’
1-23 Sassy Suppers
1-30 Perfecting Pru
2-6 Tiny Skillet
2-13 Sweet Almond Tree
2-20 I need to skip this week