Winter Holiday Menu, 1999

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly a Christmas meal. It was more Christmas Eve, and December 27, and whatever other days we felt like cooking on. To me it isn’t the specific holiday or day that’s important anyway: it’s the chance to be with family and friends and to let them know how much they mean to me. It’s also an excuse to cook!

It was several meals in all. You may notice the seafood theme this year. You see, mom said that all she wanted for Christmas and her birthday was for us to cook for her. We decided she wasn’t going to get away without getting something special (we would happily have cooked for her anyway), so we visited the Alaskan Harvest website. We picked out some Dungeness crab, halibut fillets, a rockfish fillet, and king salmon fillets, and arranged to have them delivered.

Through no fault of Alaskan Harvest’s (delivery companies sometimes don’t behave well), the seafood did not arrive in time. (Their customer service is exemplary. Despite the fact that it was clearly the delivery company’s fault, they immediately and without question arranged to ship me a fresh shipment of seafood to replace the first one – and they were even pleasant and happy about it. The second shipment arrived in short order and will be used later.) So, we turned to our trusty grocery delivery company and ordered salmon, red snapper, swordfish, and frozen king crab legs.

Meal 1

Buttermilk biscuits – the recipe came from an episode of “Good Eats” on the Food Network, and can be found on the Food TV website. Try searching the database for “southern biscuits.” There are some tricks that were mentioned on the show in order to achieve a fluffy biscuit (it’s an amazingly helpful show – well worth watching and a lot of fun!). If you don’t live in the south, your flour is probably too “hard.” It probably has more gluten and protein in it than soft wheat flour, which is what you’ll find in the south. So we substituted 3/4 cup cake flour and 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour for the 2 cups flour called for in the recipe. Cake flour has less gluten and protein in it than the King Arthur all-purpose flour we usually use. Also use a sharp biscuit cutter. Be gentle when folding the dough over 5 or 6 times; don’t press it out thinner than about 1 inch. And when mixing the dough, mix it no more than necessary to make the dough hold together. After you’re done, slice the biscuits open, butter them and drizzle with maple syrup, and eat them while watching the next hilarious and informative episode of Good Eats.

Next we made a delightful crab bisque. The side dish was baked acorn squash a’ l’orange from The New Vegetarian Cookbook with the addition of a spoonful or two of brown sugar.

We also made creme brulee from the Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection: Desserts. We used a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar rather than a broiler. It helps to ask for the blowtorch for Christmas with promises of making creme brulee in return!

Meals 2, 3 and 4

We of course made the biscuits again–how can you go wrong?

There were three fish dishes in here. First was Cook Inlet Salmon (a simple and delicious teriyaki salmon recipe) from Best Recipes of Alaska’s Fishing Lodges. The second was a Pacific Coast Red Snapper Sambal (the original recipe specified Halibut), from the Timberline Lodge cookbook. The final one was Herb Pesto Rubbed Swordfish (well it didn’t specify swordfish, but that’s what we used) from Marinades.

Side dishes includes a “mushroom surprise,” again from the New Vegetarian Cookbook. It wasn’t bad, but if I had it to do over again I’d probably pick something different. We also made a pineapple salsa to serve with the fish.

Dessert was a coconut maple custard, once again from the New Vegetarian Cookbook.

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