To all my blogging friends, Merry Christmas!! From my table to yours, I’d like to share a little of my holiday spirit with you.
Last night, I cooked Christmas eve dinner for six. I started brainstorming for ideas for this dinner about a week ago and here is what we had:
Braised Chicken Soup
Pistachio-Scallion-Crusted Rack of Lamb
Molten Chocolate Cake
Selection of Home-Made Ice Creams
The pièce de résistance was the dessert: molten chocolate cake from The Essence of Chocolate cookbook by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg. The editors at Hyperion Publishing sent me a complimentary copy of the cookbook earlier in the month hoping I would blog about the recipes. Conveniently, I was searching for a chocolate dessert idea and the molten chocolate cake on page 59 was perfect. (Recipe to follow in a subsequent post). Ever since I had the original at Jean Georges, I’ve always wanted to try making it.
My Christmas eve started early in the wee hours of the morn when I slugged myself out of bed to make three different ice creams (the only thing I could really slug myself out of bed that early to make): caramel-cinnamon-black pepper, banana rum raisin, and peppermint with chocolate cookie chunks. (Recipes to follow in a subsequent post).
While the ice cream bases chilled, off to church I went for service and then a simple luncheon with the church-folk.
The afternoon was a blissfully quiet time in the kitchen buttering ramekins for the dessert, churning ice cream, braising chicken, pulsing pistachios with scallions and garlic for the crust on the rack of lamb, and mashing potatoes with butter, cream, garlic and lots of Parmesan. Lots of licking and tasting…
The arrival of the guests heralded a flurry of activity to bring everything together: escarole on the grill for a quick few seconds before tossing with creamy blue cheese, toasted pecans, dried cherries and a hot scallion oil vinaigrette. The green beans went into a wok for a nice dirty stir-fry and I seared and crusted the chops: into the oven they went, etc…
But, once the candle was lit, the wine opened, and soups ladled, everything slowed down to a charming and almost too-wonderful a pace. It was Christmas eve and I was surrounded by my closest and dearest.
Despite the stellar company, the food last night really came together wonderfully on its own. The soup was hot and the chicken fork tender and moist. The salad was a hit, the sturdy bitter greens were nicely countered by creamy salty blue cheese, sweet dried cherries and a silky scallion vinaigrette with crunchy interludes of toasted pecans.
The lamb was *perfect* – medium rare, succulent and juicy beneath a savory pistachio crust. The malbec worked wonderfully. The mashed potatoes were heady with garlic and Parmesan, and had a nice golden crust from twice-baking. The green beans were nice and dirty – soft and full of flavor.
Lastly, with the coffee brewing, the chocolate cakes went in for a quick 8-minute bake. Unmolding them was *magic* (of course, when you use that much butter, nothing ever sticks!) – they popped right out onto the dessert plates like eager little babes. The outside of the cakes were just set, moist and cakey. The insides were like the eighth wonder – molten and gooey without being runny. Magnificent!! While most everyone wanted the banana-rum raisin, I enjoyed mine with the caramel-cinnamon-black pepper ice cream.
… boy did I sleep well. I have truly been blessed this past year! Cheers to you, baby Jesus!!
Merry Christmas everyone!