Christmas fills me with dread. There, I said it. Right around November 1, I start getting a little knot in my belly that grows and grows until Christmas Eve, at which point I’m practically ill.
I don’t care for obligatory present giving/receiving; I detest cold weather; and holiday travel renders me impatient and fussy like a toddler. So, I guess I qualify as a grinch, and to be sure, I look forward to the promise of NEVER HAVING TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS AGAIN thanks to my similarly-minded new boo. This time next year, I hope to be still enjoying my trip to somewhere warm (Hey Florida, I’m looking at you) whilst blogging about the seafood tower I’ve just conquered.
But if this was the last Christmas ever, it was certainly a great one. I rented a car (it’s so easy – who knew?) and made my way to south central PA to my Dad and step mom, Ginger’s, house, where I was very warmly received by D, G, and their pups. I had agreed to take on Christmas dinner for them and the 10 guests they would be entertaining…
A massive food prep party ensued, with Dad looking over my shoulder and providing play-by-play commentary along they way. We kept Food Network on in the background, which is the way I assume people in suburbs do things. I’m not sure, but it feels right.
As I started chopping, and mise-en-placing, Dad asked questions about the ingredients and procedures I’d be using – “What could I use in the gratin instead of leeks?” “What kind of chocolate is that?” “Do you have to blanch the brussels before you roast them?” etc. I quickly started to feel like I was actually on Food Network, hosting a show like the old Molto Mario or Bobby Flay’s weird old show with the female cohost (Do you remember that?) or one of the other shows they had before all anyone cared about was cakes and competitions and cake competitions.
The menu for our Christmas feast was as follows:
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Potato Leek Gratin
Roast Beef w/ Horseradish Sauce
Pork Roulade w/ Parsley and Pine Nuts
and le kit kat
Plus, of course, a delicious cheese and fruit spread to get everyone in the eatin’ mood.
This week, I’m going to share the recipes for each of our holiday offerings, so keep checking back. Today, Potato Leek Gratin; Tomorrow, Oyster Stew!
Potato Leek Gratin
5-6 yukon gold potatoes, sliced thin on a mandoline
1 pt. heavy cream
2 leeks, whites only, diced and thoroughly rinsed
1 sprig of thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. shredded parmesan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, over medium high heat, combine heavy cream, leeks, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of a casserole pan and top with about 1/8 of the cream mixture, making sure to get some of the leek pieces. Repeat this process, alternating potatoes and cream until you are out of both.
Cover with parmesan cheese and some cracked pepper, and bake in the preheated oven for about an hour.
It’s even better if you let it cool completely and serve it the next day, so try to hold for that if you can, or better yet, make two. It will be delicious either way. This recipe also freezes and thaws extremely well, so consider keeping a pan of it in the freezer for unexpected company. The disposable aluminum baking pans work great for that.
What was your favorite holiday menu item this year? Were any of you inspired to cook something you’d seen in a food blog? Do tell!