Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve Dinner

Mom, SP, and I did a lot of cooking on Thursday & Friday (Christmas Eve). My family's 'tradition' when I was growing up and through my college years was that we hosted on Christmas Eve and Grandma hosted on Christmas Day. Of course things have changed. Grandma passed away several years ago, Grandpa passed away in 2009, my parents moved away from Pittsburgh, my brother moved away from Pittsburgh, I moved back to Pittsburgh. When my family is in town for Christmas, I host. Probably because they always stay with me when they come into town! This was the first time in 5 years that my whole family was together at Christmas on Christmas. So mom and I wanted to do it right. Some might say we went overboard, but we also like leftovers for easy lunches and dinners after the holidays.

In those growing up years, mom and dad always made BBQ spare ribs and lasagna for Christmas Eve. The BBQ spare rib sauce was from a Williamsburg cookbook. Dad was the one who made it. He got up early on Christmas Eve, made his sauce, and let it simmer away all morning and afternoon, filling the house with tangy BBQ smells. Competing with the BBQ smell was mom's pasta sauce smell. It was heavenly, warming, comforting. It was Christmas Eve.

Sometime during my college years, the menu changed to an appetizer/snack type dinner. We make a lot of different dishes and put them on a table, like a buffet, and everyone eats a little bit of everything. This year, we invited SP's still-in-town family to join us, and his dad and Googer did. I hope they enjoyed our appetizer/snack buffet!

Here are the goodies we made for Christmas Eve 2010:

Cheese Tray (smoked gouda, havarti, cheddar, mozzarella-prosciutto roll, and pimiento cheese dip):

There were Ritz crackers and Carrs crackers and tiny bruschetta-ish cracker rounds:Vegetable Tray (green & red pepper, carrots, celery, and mom's parsley dip, which is cream cheese, mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice, & grated onion):Olive Dish (spicy chipotle, regular green, kalamata, and regular black):Turkey Salad (with finely chopped celery & egg; a turkey breast roasted in the oven and ground in the food processor):SP bought smoked salmon at Costco and made a smoked salmon platter with cream cheese & capers:And for with the smoked salmon, regular baguette and multi-grain baguette:Breaded chicken tenders (some breaded with panko, some with Progresso Italian bread crumbs for the kids):The chafing dish my grandma gave my mom many, many years ago:We made Pork Balls, one of my dad's favorites, and kept them warm in the chafing dish. They're ground ham and ground pork with bread crumbs and dry mustard, covered with a brown sugar-cider vinegar glaze and baked. Yum! Ours were a little larger than grandma used to make. Hers were maybe 1/3~1/4 the size of ours, which explains how dad and grandpa each managed to eat 32 pork balls one year in their pork ball eating challenge. I remember sitting at the table at grandma's house when dad & grandpa faced off. That was way back when everyone had large appetites, weighed a lot, and always ate a lot. Since those days in the 1970's/80's, everyone has cut back and lost a lot of weight. But we still enjoy the pork balls!A platter of shrimp:I almost forgot to photograph the shrimp, so you'll notice that one side of the platter is empty because people started eating! They were served with a homemade cocktail sauce (ketchup & horseradish):SP's fondue pot:Smokey German Fondue (smoked gouda, jarlsberg, lite ale, dry mustard, and I forget what else):It took a long time for it to come together. It was very lumpy. SP and Googer took turns whisking. It was very tasty, but never did smooth out the way it should have, and we think it's because we didn't start making it early enough and then everything else was ready, so SP rushed the fondue and added the cheese too quickly (too much at a time) and it just never melted/smoothed out. In spite of it's somewhat clumpy texture, it tasted good and all of got eaten. For dipping in the cheese fondue we had pumpernickel bread:Apples (which Googer sliced and sprinkled with lemon to keep them from browning):And kielbasa:Whew! After all of that food you'd think we wouldn't want dessert... but of course we did! In addition to trays filled with all 13 kinds of cookies, mom made another family tradition, Cherries On Snow:Actually, it's not really a tradition anymore. It's been years since we made it. Maybe even 20 years. So it's more of a nostalgic thing. We used to have it every year. It's a very old recipe from a Hallmark holiday craft & cookbook that my mom got back in the 1970's. The cookbook is now missing, but we found the recipe handwritten on a piece of paper in one of my first recipe collection binders. Cherries On Snow is like a cheesecake, but it doesn't require baking and there's not as much cream cheese.It's 8 ounces of cream cheese, some gelatin, dream whip, milk, powdered sugar, lemon juice, all mixed together and poured on top of a graham cracker crust in a spring form pan. Set it in the refrigerator to firm up, them dump a can of cherries on top, let it sit overnight, release from pan and serve.My dad loves this dessert. Most of us had a wee wedge on Christmas Eve. So there was a bit less than half left. Dad finished it!!!! I'm glad he enjoyed his dessert so much.

Everything was yummy and I ate a lot of food! We've been enjoying the leftovers for lunches and dinners -- but there wasn't as much leftover as we expected! I'm glad my family is only all together every few years because all that cookie baking plus the Christmas Eve buffet is a lot of work. The results are worth it, but SP and I are still quite tired! And our tummies are still quite full (in a good way).

1 comment:

  1. I loved this story - and the reminiscing! And the paisley chafing dish! Looks like you had a wonderful holiday with your family!