Sunday, December 12, 2010

I've been getting requests for an entire Christmas Eve dinner menu....I guess they must be looking for some new traditions. In my family, Christmas Eve is the big family get together. We have been through several menu changes in my lifetime....the best was Mom"s and Dad's turkey dinner with cornbread dressing. After we moved the celebration to my brother's and sister-in-laws house, we changed the menu to beef stew and biscuits....wonderful stuff!  That menu gradually changed to everyone bringing appetizers and desserts and Tom and Vicki prepared Lasagna....always a huge hit!
Now that Tom and Vicki are retired and travel more, they have decided to turn over the Christmas Eve festivities to the 3rd generation. This year we will be celebrating at Betsy's and Ben's. We are still working on the menu.
Anyway, my family is not the only one making changes. So, here is an idea for a new menu.
Hope you enjoy it.
Christmas Eve Short Rib Dinner 

Appetizer: Crab Stuffed Mushrooms....something warm and savory as your guests arrive!
1 cup cooked flaked crab

8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 green onions, minced
1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper
24 large mushrooms
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Wash mushrooms well, remove stems, and set caps aside. Finely chop about 1/2 the mushroom stems. (Use the remainder in another recipe or freeze for later use.)

Mix cream cheese, crab, chopped stems, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, basil, garlic powder, onions, and lemon pepper. Fill mushroom caps with the crab mixture and place in a large, lightly greased baking dish. Top with the grated Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. (Recipe may be prepared to this point and refrigerated, covered, overnight.) Bake at 450ºF for 15-20 minutes and serve warm.

Salad: Mesclun Salad with Roasted Pears and Walnuts
3 medium pear, halved and cored

9 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1cup broken walnuts
9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 shallot or green onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
18 cups mesclun (assorted baby greens) or three 6-ounce packages ready-to-eat spring mix lettuces

 Place pear halves, cut side down, in an 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Add the 3 tablespoons vinegar and 2 tablespoons water. Cover and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 15 to 25 minutes or until tender (baking time depends on ripeness of pears). Remove from oven; set pan on wire rack and uncover; let pears cool in liquid. When cool, lift pears from liquid; discard liquid. Place pears on a cutting board. Slice pears lengthwise from bottom up to, but not through, stem end; set aside.

Meanwhile, place walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until light golden. Cool.
Stir together olive oil, the 1 tablespoon vinegar, shallot or green onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add greens; toss to coat. Arrange greens on two salad plates. Sprinkle with nuts. Fan a pear half atop each salad. Makes 6 servings.

Main Course....Christmas Eve Shortribs...It's a winner!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup flour for dredging
6 pounds individual beef short ribs, 3" long, trimmed of excess fat
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, plus 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bottle Somerset Ridge Vineyard Ruby Red wine
4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/4 cup minced parsley for garnish
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups water, as needed
1 1/2 pounds small white boiling onions
1 pound baby carrots
1 pound button mushroom
1/4 cup Somerset Ridge Vineyard Ruby Port
2 tablespoons brandy

In a large heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot with a lid, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Place flour in pie tin and working in batches, roll the short ribs in the flour, tapping off the excess. Add ribs to the pot, in batces, being careful to not over-crowd the pan. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. As they are browned, move ribs to rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the remaining fat in pot. Place pan over medium-low heat, and add the garlic, tomato paste and minced thyme and saute for 1 minute. Add the Ruby Red Wine and using a spatula, stir to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer. While wine is heating, make a bouquet garni by tying the sprigs of thyme and parsley and the bay leaf in a bundle with cheesecloth and string. Add bundle to the pot.
Return the browned ribs to the pot along with any accumulated juices from the baking sheet. Pour in the water, adding just enough to barely cover the ribs. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover with lid and transfer to the oven. Braise for 2 hours. After the first hour, remove from the oven and stir, then cover and return to oven for the 2nd hour.
After the 2 hours, add the onions and carrots, stirring to submerge them in liquid. Cook about 30 minutes, then add mushrooms. Return to oven for the last 15 to 20 minutes. You can now cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
To continue cooking for today, remove the pot from the oven and place on stovetop over medium-low heat. Skim off any fat from the surface and discard the bouquet garni. Add the Ruby Port and simmer for 5 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer the ribs to a warm platter. Spoon the sauce along with the vegetables and mushrooms, over the meat. Garnish with minced parsley and serve immediately with warm soft polenta. Serves 6

And a little something for you to snuggle those wonderful spareribs down into....

Parmesan Polenta
6 cups water

1 1/2 cups instant polenta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (1 oz)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Gradually whisk in the polenta. Cook, whisking frequently, until thickened.

Stir in the Parmesan, butter, cream, salt and pepper.

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans....must have a veggie. Luckily, this one is wrapped in bacon and baked in brown sugar! It is Christmas Eve!

1 12 oz package bacon, strips cut in half,
1 (16 ounce) package frozen cut green beans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a casserole dish.

Set out the bacon, green beans and casserole dish in a little assembly line. Lay out a half strip of bacon. place a small bunch of green beans (6 or 7) onto the strip of bacon and roll up into a bundle. Place the bundle into the casserole dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining bacon strips and green beans. You can pack these pretty tight in the pan, just know that if the bacon is touching another bundle they take some prying to get apart. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and salt and pepper.
Bake in the preheated oven until browned and heated through, about 20 minutes.

For Dessert....Ruby Red Chocolate Cake

Nonstick vegetable cooking spray
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup Somerset Ridge Vineyard Ruby Red Wine
1/3 cup whole milk
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter (10 2/3 tablespoons) at room temperature
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 box sugar-free black cherry gelatin (.3 ounce)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup Somerset Ridge Vineyard Ruby Red Wine
1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Prepare the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-cup  Bundt Pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
Melt chocolate in a small bowl placed over a small saucepan of simmering water. Let cool 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine wine and milk; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and the granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat for 2 minutes. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, gelatin, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine. Add to mixer bowl, along with the wine mixture, and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Using a plastic knife, carefully loosen cake from the pan; invert onto a wire cooling rack. Let cool completely.
Prepare the glaze: Combine the butter, wine, and confectioners' sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Set aside until ready to serve.
Dust cake lightly with confectioners' sugar. Slice cake and drizzle with glaze. Oh...and a little whipped cream never hurt anyone!

One more thing....I get requests for recipes all the time. If there is something you are looking for, send a request by clicking on comment section below. I'll get it and see what I can do. Hope I can help.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker