‘Twas the week ago Christmas…

After a wildly busy December doing a recipe every day during Advent, I did a day long adventure for Christmas dinner. After that, I barely looked at food, let alone blogging, so the posts attached to my Christmas dinner has waited until today. I’m going to separate it into a series of posts to keep each recipe on its own.

I started my Christmas Day with roasting chicken legs to make a chicken stock for later in the day. Nestled in a pot with onions, celery, carrots, parsnips, bay leaves and whole peppercorns, it simmered through half of the morning.

While my stock simmered, I prepared a simple cranberry sauce along with a cranberry purée that would be a part of the evening’s dessert, Cranberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream. I also bought a Christmas-y cake from one of my neighbourhood bakeries to add to the decadence.

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(Yes, the ice cream didn’t set as firmly as I would’ve liked for dinner, but that’s how it goes on a busy food day. Plus, soft serve style made for the perfect accompaniment to the moist vanilla cake)

Next on my Christmas dinner list was focusing on the vegetable side dish. I thought (daydreamed? 😉 ) of the idea of sugarplums and found that the traditional confection sugarplum has many ingredients or flavour elements in common with hoisin sauce, so I made a Sugarplum Hoisin Sauce that would be quickly stir-fried into some mixed vegetables at the last minute while my meat rested.

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Next, I thought of the meat. Since I was cooking for only me and my lady, I didn’t want to do a turkey and eat leftovers until February, so I opted for a nice roasting chicken. One of the flavours of Christmas that triggers the most nostalgia is mandarin oranges. Sweet little guys with a punch of flavour. And since orange and ginger are one of the best pairings out there, I went with a Mandarin Orange Ginger Roast Chicken. With the accompanying gravy made from the drippings and puréed roasting vegetables, it was the perfect pair.

As for stuffing, I’ve never been a “stuff the bird” kinda guy. Besides being a danger from a health standpoint, you can flavour a stuffing beautifully without using the bird’s drippings. Save the drippings for the gravy and douse your stuffing afterwards if you must! Early in the day, I thought it’d be a great idea to put small spoonfuls of prepared dressing into mini-muffin pans. It worked great! I used my Basic Stuffing recipe that I use for most holiday gatherings, be it Christmas or Thanksgiving.

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Finally, instead of mashed potatoes, I made my rustic Sour Cream Root Vegetable Mash that I’ve taken quite a liking to lately. I made it recently with a gingery steak, so I knew it would be perfect with the chicken I’d be preparing.

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When it was all said and done, it was one of the best meals I’ve prepared, if I do say so myself. I took my time with every detail, thinking it through completely and in the end, I could feel all the care and attention that was put into it. Sometimes, I disconnect myself from the food I cook. The perils of too many years in food service. But this meal brought me directly to the moment. The plate before me was a celebration of all the wonderful food that is grown and raised around me. It was the perfect representation of my appreciation for all the farmers and ranchers who work so hard every day to provide such a bounty. I’m fortunate every day to have that relationship with such wonderful people and I appreciate everyone who takes the time to have interest in anything I write. Every like, every comment, every interaction on this blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram mean a lot. Thanks for the moments that lead to my own growth as a cook and human being.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, a holiday season filled with family and good food and may the New Year bring greater joy, greater growth and greater food moments!! 🙂

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