Christmas, Boxing Day and More

Oh, holy snack tray! We kicked off noshing at casa de Amherst with a tray of goodies – olives, crackers, some kind of armenian flat bread, cheeses, and stuffed peppers.
There was also hummus. With pine nuts. Creamy. Yum.

And guac, too! Do you know how hard it is not to fill up on these things before dinner?

That was for Xmas eve snacks, for Christmas dinner we had prime rib. Cooked perfectly, might I add – and seasoned with fresh dill! Like gravlox! (kind of) We got leftovers to bring home, and we ate prime rib for breakfast for the next 2 days. How extravagant, no?
I also brought over a loaf of bread. I made the Jim Lahey no-knead bread, and good gravy, it is everything everyone says about it and more. Fucking GO-OOOD! Papa Amherst made french toast with it on Christmas morning. Fan-flipping-tastic, too.
After Christmas we had Boxing day for my family in the area over here. Albany John and I settled on pork for the main meat dish, and omg, y’all do you know how hard it is to find a non-Smithfield ham or pork product around here? All of Hannaford’s pork products are, and Cook’s is a Smithfield branch as well (I used The Google for that one when I was trying to source Cook’s). Good gravy, I just wanted a non-commercial pork something to eat, and wow, it was hard to find around here. Seriously, I spent like 3 days looking around for one. We went to the Niskayuna Co-Op, which is really far for me, but I’d called up and was told there was absolutely no Smithfield,etc. type pork there, and we saw dozens of Cook’s brand hams. >_
Albany John cooked the roast perfectly, everyone really liked it, but for some reason I just thought it was ‘ok’, not “dear goodness, I love, love, love pork. I think I need to rub this all over my body” like I used to with pork. Aw man, I think my taste buds are changing! Maybe my 2009 resolution will be to not make a big deal about eating pork.

I have no problem replacing pork roasts with chickpea cutlets though! I pan fried these babies after smashing them as thinly as possible in my hands and didn’t have any puffing issues with them. If you haven’t tried the Veganomicon’s chickpea cutlets, do. Do.

Then I plopped some ragu in a pan and slathered the cutlets with it accordingly to make a couple of layers. Then it baked, covered, for something like 20-30 minutes, just to heat through. My sister seemed to enjoy it (woo hoo!) as did the other omnivores. Actually, I was planning on it just feeding her and being leftovers for someone who couldn’t make it, but there was only about 1 serving left at the end of the night! Sweet! I’m glad it was such a hit. Then again, chickpeas are magical.

Albany John also made some fabulous german potato salad (which tastes even better as leftovers since the onions pickle a bit) and I made another loaf of the no-knead bread, which also went really well.

Since I was doing this with my side of the family, I wanted to give a nod to my Nana, and so we had sunshine salad and grasshoppers. Sunshine salad is a jello salad, which I ate in mass quantities as a child growing up, fully believing that it was a vegetable. Hello, it’s got salad right there in the name! I also distinctly remember my Nana and mom going on a hunt for a grasshopper and taking us to this one bar/dark restaurant. We sat in a booth and they each ordered a grasshopper, which came in a huge round glass. A goblet, I suppose you could call it. They oohed and aahed over it, and I remember really wanting to try some since part of the description contained ‘ice cream’. Our grasshoppers were made with equal parts clear crème de cacao, green crème de menthe, and vodka over ice with a splash of milk and blended until it was a frosty beverage. Don’t worry – I have heat in my current abode so I can be all lavish and drink frozen cocktails in December.
My mom brought a coconut cake for dessert – sweet. How can you go wrong with coconut? You can’t. Coconut can’t ever do wrong. I’m glad she brought it since my dessert was pretty small.
I made some dark chocolate pudding with silken tofu (so everyone could eat the dessert). Holy crap, I love this stuff. There might be a hint of chalkiness, but really, I couldn’t taste it. This is my new favorite way to make pudding – so easy, and such amazing results. I don’t even care for dark chocolate, or chocolate in general, but I couldn’t get enough of this.
My mom and sister went home, leaving us with my brother, sister-in-law and their roomie/friend from Tennessee to sit around drinking ourselves silly on grasshoppers. Ok, so that was just my sister-in-law and me, but hey, we like girly drinks. My mom had gotten me a fryer (woo hoo, fryer!) so we decided we should use it and have a seafood party the next day. Whoo, after a few of those grasshoppers you’ll say just about anything. They’re a pretty stiff drink!

Thankfully seafood prices (especially lobster) have been lowering lately, so we got 2 lobsters from the Asian Food Market the next day, along with some mussels and shrimp. I begged Albany John to make the lobsters Cantonese-style, since my sister-in-law never had lobster, and I think that way of cooking them really enhances their flavor. Plus it helps to stretch 2 lobsters between 5 people while still feeling sated.

We made the shrimp cornstarch battered and fried, but I think I must have messed something up, as these weren’t as crisp as they have been in the past. But still freaking tasty, because they’re shrimp – as long as you don’t cook them into rubber, they will taste good. My sister-in-law says she makes them with adobo and stuff, and oh, I will have to ask to try that too.

These mussels were only $2.99 for a 2 lb bag! What a good deal! These I just steamed with a bit of water. They could have used a touch of seasonings, but I like my seafood just plain and plump to really taste it. The next day I made orzo pasta and cooked some onion and garlic with a bit of the mussel broth and added in extra mussels – it was a good quick dish!

And then I made more bread. For real. In 5 days I made the no-knead bread 3 times. And you know what? You can double the yeast and have the same loaf ready in half the time if you forget to start making it the night before.

No Knead Bread Recipe:

3 C AP Flour

1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

1.5 C water, or just a T or 2 more.

Mix dry ingredients, add water. Cover bowl and let sit 12-18 hours (1/2 time if you double the yeast).

Flour a surface, plop bread out. Fold over 1-2 times. Let sit 15 minutes.

Flour a cotton towel (not terry cloth!) very well, and then put bread seam side down on it. Flour well on top and cover with another cotton towel. Let sit 2 hours.

After 1.5 hours, preheat oven to 450F with a dutch oven/covered baking dish in as well.

At 2 hours, plop bread into it seam side up, cover and bake 30 minutes. Take top off, bake 15 more minutes.

  1. jmp said:

    I’ve been OD-ing on seafood lately and it’s been glorious. Dan and I found lobsters for $6.99 a lb. at Price Chopper recently and had ourselves a mini feast.

  2. Now I now I know how a fridge feels. FULL! Esp. on X-mas ’cause SexyBeast and I had a gigantic brekkie at his parents’ place. She made spinach strata, which I love love love and home made babka, a Polish sweet bread. Then SB decided to pig out on all the apps, he had 2 King Crab legs by himself and then couldn’t finish linner. His fam went all out and made prime rib and ham. Then we went to my mom’s and had 30 desserts.Word up on the coconut! Almond Joys are the best ever!

  3. Elizabeth said:

    Just wanted to suggest Cardona’s on Delaware Ave for pork next time, in addition to their many other amazing accomplishments they do some nice butchering there.

  4. jmp – don’t you just love it?! Continue feasting, amiga, continue.phairhead – oh, my tummy is filling with your words! Sounds like a blast! Elizabeth – Cardona’s was another pretty sure thing, but they were essentially on the opposite side of town, and this was a late night porking. I really like them for chicken. Mmm, chicken.

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