Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I am using the kitchen laptop to write this post. The kitchen laptop has seen better days. The kitchen laptop has been a victim too many times to count of having had some kind of liquid spilled on the keyboard. Because of this, the shift key no longer works. And the speakers. And the number pad. For punctuation, I rely on the keyboard character map tool. It's tricky.
Right now, because I've been on my feet since 10 am this morning and it's now 8 pm, I don't think I could manage to get off this chair and make it upstairs to the home office without my legs collapsing. I'm actually afraid to get off the chair after I write about my cooking/baking marathon for fear of stiffening up completely.

I'm hosting Christmas dinner this year and put together a rather ambitious menu.

Originally, I had Poutine râpée on the menu, in honor of my Acadian father, but the dumplings - a mixture of cooked and raw potatoes filled with pork and boiled in water, fell apart. I had never made them before. I watched dozens of videos and read numerous blogs with tips and instructions and yet, they didn't work out. So when life hands you failed dumplings, make potato pancakes instead.  I strained the potatoes from the water, dried them out and used them for the pancakes. My dad is still getting his Acadian meat pie so at least there's one traditional dish on the menu.

I was feeling really positive as I watched the dumplings spin around in the boiling water.

They rolled out perfectly. They held together just fine and were dry and coated with flour prior to me gently lowering them into the water. It just wasn't meant to be and with no grandmother around to call... I wish I had paid more attention to her cooking when she was alive, but I was a teenager spending summers in New Brunswick and the last place I wanted to be was in mamere's kitchen.

I have a sister who is a bit of a health nut so for her, I made a bean salad medley.

 I suspect she will manage a cabbage roll, or two...

How can you resist these beauties? My Ukrainian mother has been making these for Christmas dinner forever. My mom is tired. It's my turn to carry on the tradition.

The filling is stupidly easy. Raw beef is combined with cooked rice and seasoned with tomato juice, ketchup, Worchestire sauce, diced onion, minced garlic and salt and pepper - email me if you would like complete instructions.

Boiling the cabbage stunk up the whole house. It also took almost an hour to soften this beast.

Of course, I had to try one. Just to make sure I had cooked them thoroughly.

Continuing to pay homage to my eastern European roots, I whipped up some Kapusta. This dish has many names. Polish people call it Bigos. Most Slovaks have a variation of the dish which is essentially cooked cabbage, sauerkraut, sauteed onion, pork or bacon fat and chopped cured pork - all combined in a sauce pan, or cooked in the oven. It's not the most attractive looking dish but hot damn, is it ever tasty.

And since lobster is so cheap right now, I decided to do a lobster bake with toasted bread crumbs, herbed garlic butter seasoning and shredded cheese.

I kid you not. I shredded the skin off several fingers getting the meat out of three lobsters.

My roasted chicken is prepped for the oven. I am leaving the pumpkin meringue pie to be made and assembled on Christmas day as well as the caramel cheesecake. I am exhausted but I managed to bake cookies for my husband, who is diabetic. This is a tough time of year for him. There are many goodies he can't have so I adapt my baking and use sugar substitutes. I made 'easy on the chips' chocolate chip cookies and almond cranberry cookies.

And lastly, let's not forget Santa and his reindeer. My daughter put out cookies, milk and carrots. She decided to keep it classy and put the milk in a wine glass.

I'm off until January 2nd. Have a lovely holiday everyone!


Bicky said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, CJ! I just finished hosting Christmas Eve dinner. Everyone went home stuffed, so I consider the night a success. See you in the new year!

Jackie McGuinness said...

A friend told me last year to put my cabbage in the freezer for making cabbage rolls. When you take it out it is limp and doesn't need boiling.

Kelly said...

Delicious! I've taken over the cabbage roll making from my Ukranian grandmother and I love making them. Lots of work, but worth it! Ours are filled with rice, onion and bacon and we use Campbell's tomato soup.

Al said...

I second Jackie/jake's suggestion

freeze that cabbage.

TomW said...

Slice up the cabbage into quarters or eighths. It will cook more quickly and more evenly.

Em said...

My Husband is from Blacks Harbour NB, most of our friends are from Blacks, as are most of his Family..
It was an amazing Christmas, spent near St Stephen NB.. TONS of food!

I am also Diabetic, hate christmas usually, espicially miss shortbread! My mum is british as is all of my side of the family..

I hope you guys had a great one..

btw I'm going to email you for your cabbage roll recipe, my close friend's Oma used to make them, but she died 8 yrs ago, my friend who was a TTC driver is gone now too, I feel crappy for not getting her recipe..