Sunday, January 6, 2013

post-holiday musings

well, december was a month of shopping, planning, cooking and eating. this was a mellow, loving and joyful christmas, no angst.good family vibes. a beloved niece spent a couple of weeks with me and we talked a lot, laughed a lot and shared some delicious food. on christmas day son number two (that's birth order) arrived  with scottish salmon, fresh bagels and herbed cream cheese. I'd prepared a refreshing bowl of cut-up clementines, red grapes,cantaloupe and a few deglet nour dates and a budapest coffee cake, a favorite, filled with layers of  a cinnamon, cocoa and walnut streusel. The three of us  had  a leisurely brunch, and my niece, sam, and I relaxed and read and listened to music till later in the day, when we prepared for dinner for  seven. The table was set with white flowers, silver candle holders, pewter water goblets and cobalt salad plates. the meal  commenced with a  salad of  belgain endive,  fennel, sliced pear and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.the main course was capon and lobster in madeira sauce accompanied by saffron rice and snow peas with water chestnuts. dessert was a frozen gran marnier torte in a chocolate crust,topped with a glaze of whole cranberries cooked in port with a hit of cinnamon and orange zest - rich yet refreshing. and white wine through the meal. this was followed by the opening of gifts, all of them big hits.

the following saturday night I'd planned a party, twelve in all,and I'd decided on a mediterranean menu. the preceding day sam and I had made baklava. our assembly line cut prep time in half and gave birth to several jokes centering on butter oozing from  our pores. I'd chosen a recipe from  a favorite chef, Michael Symon which included both pistachios and walnuts in the filling. how would I describe the finished product? fantastic!~!~~!   we started the party with the kitchen island laden with appetizers. a feta spread seasoned with aleppo pepper and sweet hungarian paprika; tsatziki served with thin pita crisps; stuffed grape leaves and an assortment of olives and a garlicy lima bean spread. lastly a caponata made  not with eggplant but with fresh fennel and green olives - so tasty. lots of  wine, both red and white. the main course was a vegetarian pastitsio accompanied by a big salad with fig dressing and warm greek bread. dessert was the aforementioned baklave. the evening was punctuated by heated political discussion balanced by so much love and laughter -perfect. the next couple of  days I didn't have to cook anything and I energy!!