|'Twas the Night Before Xmas, not a creature was stirring, only my rumbling tummy - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
Probably not the most graceful way to start the new year, but let's be honest, it's the one period out of all the months where advertising goes from encouraging luscious cuts of ham, rich chocolate desserts and pure holiday indulgence, straight to the unceremonious guilt-ridden Special K diet and the weirdly adorable orange muppet that Weight Watchers uses to anthropomorphize one's insatiable food cravings. Why do you confuse my mindgrape, Madison Avenue? You tell me I should eat with abandon, and then riddle my conscience with shame?? Just for that, I'm crawling into my Snuggie and eating a cheesecake while watching The Housewives of... marathon, and I'm not coming out till next Christmas!!
I'll likely do my usual holiday detox of soup to give my insides a break from all the rich foods we've been having. It'll be kinda nice not to finish each meal with a Tums chaser because I clearly have lack of impulse control. Stop me before I om-nom-nom again! But there's no harm in enjoying the memories of the holiday food that took the vacation from my gaping maw to my stomach.
Over the Christmas break, we mostly ate at home, but had a steady stream of friends to join us for meals -- best gift of all, good company. On the Eve of the Eve, we had a little group luncheon. I was craving Vietnamese style bahn mi sandwiches along with barbecue, so the two cravings became one with a braised pork shoulder shredded and mixed with a spicy black bean sauce, spread into a split baguette smeared with a lime and chili mayonnaise and topped with pickled vegetables. Our friends clearly have great minds that think alike, bringing two bags of the Thai-spiced potato chips, which went super-duper with the sandwiches. We brought holiday/back by enjoying sweets like mini cupcakes and peppermint chocolate whoopie pies for dessert. It was a drawstring pants kind of day, for shizzle.
|Nothing says holiday like Asian bbq sandwich... right? - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
For just Mr. Wasabi and I, we kept things un-fussy on Christmas Eve with a meatloaf of turkey, beef and chopped porcini mushrooms. Big slabs of the loaf de meat were served with a porcini gravy and a side salad of pears dotted with winter fruits like pomegranate and dried cranberries. Have to keep it simple if we're to be in bed before Santa's arrival!
The porcini sauce and pear salad did double-duty on Christmas night, when we had a friend over, and we served up mini Beef Wellingtons -- Baby Wellies, as I annoying like to call them. I didn't go the traditional route; I used flattened cuts of tri-tip versus tenderloin, which were seared lightly and then topped with sliced morels tossed with salt, pepper and mustard. Not the typical mushroom duxelle, but whatever -- this holiday was laid-back with friends and I wanted to work with what I had versus fretting over having exact ingredients. I always buy those packages of dried wild mushrooms, and it felt like the right occasion to bust it all out. And puff-pastry hides all sins after you wrap everything up in a little bundle and bake it off. I prefer doing the miniature version of Beef Wellington, especially for a small group because it's cute on the plate and when you do it with a whole tenderloin, it never cuts perfectly and the puff pastry always slides off, resulting in Hot Mess City. I don't care what the chefs on TV say or do, it never looks as perfect as how they make it. You serve a little individual parcel of steak-stuffed puff pastry with a porcini sauce drizzle, along with some puree of roasted cauliflower and broiled broccoli -- shazam, it's holiday dinner. Eat, drink, enjoy. Especialy with a giant wheel of brie in a star-shaped brioche -- much thanks to Ms. J for bringing that delicious bomb of om-nom-nom over!
|We ate, we drank, we drank some more, and were super-effing merry! - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
The food party rocked Christmas morning as well -- I skipped making breakfast because we were blessed with a delicious tin of homemade cookies by my favorite Angry Peanut, Miss Annie, who sent that, along with a funny Christmas card of a surly looking cat, all from the lands of Nevada. Cookies for breakfast? shhh... don't tell my mother! At this point, we considered the concept healthy eating a wash, so indulge now and pay the dire consequences later when they discover your arteries look like a giant Payday bar. I also gave Mr. Wasabi a box of his favorites, straight outta our homeskillet Washington State, Aplets and Cotlets, yo!! They're basically fruit jellies with nuts, which is kind of holiday-appropriate, and they go real nice with a big glass of thick eggnog, to wash it all down in slow motion.
|Surly Christmas cat asks, can you handle this (fruit) jelly? - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
The food theme spread into our gifts this year from loving friends and family. It was a lot of homemade thihngs, which I love extra-so. Knitted potholders, homemade vanilla extract, and goodies picked up from farmers markets and craft fairs like lavender sugar, soap made from goats milk and artisanal chocolate of all kinds. My Auntie S gave me a copy of Roger Ebert's The Pot and How to Use It, his cookbook full of wise and witty observations, and a ton of easy recipes using only a rice cooker. Where the heck was this book when I was in college?! I'm eager to try some of those out, so keep an eye on future posts! And Mr. Wasabi got a new bottle of rye, appropriately named Redemption. This made an appearance in some recent cocktails, and made our holiday incredibly merry and bright.
Crazy enough, this doesn't even cover the post-Christmas meals cooked by friends or New Years Eve. Makes you want to throw on a pair of sweatpants right now, doesn't it? Call this blog post aversion therapy, but I'm off to go run a mile or count my daily intake of almonds so I can save room for next Christmas season.
|Merry Christmas... to my gut - Photos by Wasabi Prime|