The Gleeful Gourmand: Christmas Eats All Winter Long

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Eats All Winter Long

Christmastime is over. Isn't that just about the saddest thing you can say this time of year? Okay, you could probably say some other things that are significantly more tragic, but still. It's pretty sad. January looms bleakly. And here in Virginia it gets bitterly cold, but we rarely see snow. Mostly we see bare branches and despair for spring, and complain to anyone who's listening about having to bundle three small children, then unbundle three small children. But wait! January can be fun too, can't it? You could throw an annual potluck or dinner party, and call it the "There's Absolutely Nothing Going On, So For God's Sake, Let's Do Something" dinner. Or something even more witty.

Take some cues from our Christmas dinner. When we gather for that festive meal, we don't make it a Thanksgiving redux. We choose one really good, show-stopping main entrée and work from there. This year, Buck made a Spicy Fruit-Stuffed Pork Loin with Roasted Pears and Onions from Southern Living Magazine that was truly excellent. This would be a perfect main course for any winter dinner party, and it wasn't that hard to do. To round it out my mom made her annual Potato-Fennel Gratin which was superb (it makes for a very cozy, filling side dish you'd really only want in the wintertime), plus her Cranberry Bread, and my sister-in-law Heather made a spinach salad.

But wait, I need to back up a minute because Heather also made off-the-hook appetizers of a cheese plate with fresh strawberries and blackberries, and these Stuffed Baby Peppers. They were the perfect little bites, and she relates that they're so easy to make, she's made them several times since, except she's used regular-sized bell peppers and stuffed them with the filling for a side dish.

For dessert I made, for the first time ever, a real honest-to-goodness Bouche De Noel. I researched it quite a bit, and finally landed on a recipe that you can find here. The others were passed up because a lot of them required things like almond paste, and we have nut allergies in our family. I decorated it with rosemary sprigs and cranberries, and purchased meringue mushrooms from William-Sonoma because there was no way I was going to try making my own mushroom meringues when I could just buy them for $9. I also dusted it right before serving with powdered sugar to make it look like snow, but I forgot to take a picture of that so you'll just have to imagine it. As a side note, the recipe for this yule log says to frost it with buttercream, and I just happen to love Ina Garten's buttercream recipe that goes with this spectacular cake: Beatty's Chocolate Cake. And yes, the yule log has a lot of steps, and it took the better part of the morning, and yes I ended up completely covered in powdered sugar, but it was worth it. And if you decide to make it for your next dinner party but are worried that guests will balk that it's a Christmas dessert, just ask them if logs dusted in snow exist anytime after Christmas. Or fill their glasses (and yours) to the very top with wine and pretend you didn't hear them. Once they start eating it, I guarantee they won't mind.

P.S. - The pictures are of Buck's Spicy Fruit-Filled Pork Tenderloin, and my Bouche De Noel.


Gina M said...

You are so funny, I love the way you write! :)

Kirsten Oliphant said...

Looks great! Also, once for french class my friend and I made the bouce de noel and it looked like a giant turd. Way to make a much prettier version! Ours was tasty but our whole class referred to it as the poop log. :)

Jenna said...

Nice, Kiki. Real nice.

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