Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas and 2014


It's been a good five months since I've been here(!!!). I've been bad, I know. Since I last updated, I wrote a dissertation, threw a lot of dinner parties (my first Thanksgiving!), and ate a lot more junk food. After a short two week visit to Minnesota where I caught up with my adorable and goofy niece and her effortlessly cool mom, Kanlaya, I'm back in Scotland and I can't wait to talk about food again.

Celebrations began with chile hot chocolate, a delicious combination I picked up in the UK that I was pretty skeptical of at first. My low fuss method involves spiking hot chocolate with a few generous dashes of ground cayenne pepper and topping it with fat marshmallows. We didn't have powdered hot chocolate mix on hand so we did it the old fashioned way - with real chocolate. That literally has never occurred to me. I am dumb.


Christmas dinner was a huge affair this year! I was super excited and honored to be in charge of it. 

Growing up I didn't even realize that Christmas dinner is a strong tradition in America, Britain, and loads of other countries. It was a really awesome secret that I was surprised to have never noticed or been informed of. My sister made ham and turkey many years ago, but I didn't know that dinner on Christmas was Christmas dinner (i.e. Thanksgiving part 2). With this revelation I was so excited to be in charge of Christmas dinner like a grown ass adult. I imagined elaborate courses, researched the Italians' Feast of Seven Fishes, and, like usual, spent a lot of time on the internet. Although I'm normally indecisive about menu planning, my first brainstorm and the finished project didn't differ too much: 

Shrimp ceviche
Spicy salmon cucumber bites
Bacon wrapped scallops
Truffled deviled eggs with creme fraiche
Arugala and fennel citrus salad
Lobster tail
Crab cakes
Gingerbread cookies

Although my parents are pretty indifferent about Christmas - they're just along for the ride - my big sis and I love love love the holidays. In fact, she likes eating the food and I like making it, but I somehow got her to cook half of it with me. ;)

Prep for this meal should really begin a week before serving. She and I cooked all day on Christmas Eve and Christmas day - big mistake. It was exhausting. The thing with this menu is that most of the ingredients need to be very fresh, which means that there's not much you can do preparation wise. For future years I don't think I'd take on this much again if it comes at the cost of chilling out with homemade eggnog or Hendricks g+t's with my brother in law.

So here's how it started...


Chained to the stove, pony tail, sleeves rolled up, yoga pants. Our Christmas dinner didn't involve any difficult techniques, but TONS of steps and ingredients! I would NOT recommend tackling it all in just two days - even with two cooks. We made everything for the crab cakes but we just ran out of time! The ingredients eventually spoiled and were thrown out because we were too tired to cook again. For me, elaborate dinner parties are great for my guests (I hope), but just so so so draining that I'm usually too tired and frazzled to enjoy the food. Clearly my menu planning needs to improve in 2014. My first SWUG resolution of the year perhaps.

By the end of it all the yoga pants changed to red velvet leggings (courtesy of my stylish sis), I swiped some lipstick on, and my hair flowed free. 

I just wanted to curl up to my laptop and continue my Desperate Housewives marathon.

Anyway, it doesn't look like a lot of food but this fed our family of six with leftovers. And it was amazing

Check out the tender, buttery lobster tail. Perfectly cooked. Beautifully red.


Rich, aromatic truffled deviled eggs sprinkled with paprika and s+p. 

Juicy seared scallops wrapped in fatty bacon.


Fresh cucumber and spicy salmon topped with tomato and a sprig of chive. Note the fallen tomato and imperfect assembly, which I think of as charmingly homemade...

Zesty, juicy, fragrant shrimp ceviche. So flavorful it was intense. This was the star of the night.

Juicy citrus salad with a sweet and tangy honey mustard dressing.


And to finish, an old school classic: spicy gingerbread cookies.

The Big Schedule:

1 to 4 weeks before Christmas
- Cookies: Prepare gingerbread cookies, freeze, and bake as early as 3 days before Christmas.

5 days before
- Check your pantry and go shopping for non-perishable items, vegetables, and condiments (basically everything that isn't seafood) like hot sauce, fresh herbs, avocado, etc.
- Salad: Prepare dressing and refrigerate.

3 days before
- Cookies: bake, set aside, and try not to eat them all.
- Salad: Peel and separate slices of grapefruit and oranges. Chop and refrigerate fennel in ice water.
- Go shopping for the best seafood in your budget: scallops, shrimp, salmon, lobster! Stuff it in the freezer the second you get home.

1-2 days before
- Prepare ingredients for ceviche: juice the limes; chop the red onion, chiles, and tomatoes. Mix with shrimp and refrigerate.

1 day before
- Scallops, salmon, and lobster: set in refrigerator to defrost.
- Deviled eggs: hard boil eggs, peel, and slice. Prepare the truffle mixture. Refrigerate both.
- Set the table and make sure you have enough clean cutlery and dishes so you don't have to wash them right before the meal!

Christmas morning
- Deviled eggs: Assemble. Chill until serving.
- Salmon: Poach salmon. Prepare the salmon and spicy mayo mixture. Peel and chop cucumber, chives, and cherry tomatoes. Assemble them all together. Chill until serving.
- Ceviche: Chop cucumber, avocado, and cilantro. Mix before serving. Chill until serving.

Right before dinner
- Salad: Mix salad ingredients together. Place on dining table. Dress right before serving.
- Scallops: Wrap with bacon and bake right before serving.
- Lobster: Boil lobster tails timing it so that it finishes at the same time as the scallops.
- *Note: I recommending setting out the salad, deviled eggs, salmon bites, and ceviche before doing the scallops and lobster so once you're done with those two you can just eat!

See Eloise smile when she ate her first Christmas cookie:

Isn't she the cutest, most perfect baby? My mom describes her belly-deep, bubbling baby laugh as delicious. It is.

Follow the cut for recipes. xo




Sudacakes Seafood Christmas Dinner for 6
  • Shrimp ceviche
  • Spicy salmon cucumber bites
  • Bacon wrapped scallops
  • Truffled deviled eggs with creme fraiche
  • Rocket/arugala and fennel citrus salad with honey mustard dressing
  • Lobster tail
  • Gingerbread cookies (No recipe - I adapted heavily from The Kitchn due to a shortage of molasses. It wasn't the best)
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Recipe: Shrimp Ceviche
by Kanlaya of Champagne Sunday

Serving size: 6 people

Ingredients:
  • 450 grams or 1 pound of fresh, deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 3-4 lemons and limes, juiced
  • A bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 habanero pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 firm avocado, finely chopped
Instructions:
  1. Mix shrimp, citrus juice, cilantro, habanero pepper, tomatoes, and seasoning together 1-2 days before serving. Stir and refrigerate.
  2. Mix cucumber and avocado before serving. Season to taste. 
Note: If your shrimp is not very fresh, we recommend boiling it for 30 seconds prior to marinading it. We didn't do this, however, and no one got food poisoning! :)

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Recipe: Spicy Salmon Cucumber Bites
Adapted from Nom Nom Paleo

Serving size: 16 bites

Ingredients:
  • 40 grams or 1/8 cup mayonnaise, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce or Tabasco
  • 225 grams or 1/2 cup cooked salmon
  • 1 tablespoon shallots or red onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch thick slices
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Chive sprigs, cut into 1 1/2 inch sections
Instructions:
  1. Combine mayo, paprika, and hot sauce of choice. Add mayo gradually to taste. I found the original recipe to be far too creamy. Use a fork and mix gently so it doesn't become mush. Season to taste.
  2. Add salmon, shallots/red onion, and chives. Season to taste with salt, pepper, paprika, or hot sauce. Mix gently.
  3. Use half teaspoon to scoop the cucumbers. Add salmon mixture into each cup and top with cherry tomato and chive.
Note: I've halved the mayo and doubled the hot sauce. I really recommend this for the most texture and flavor. 

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Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Serving size: 16 portions

Ingredients:
  • 16 fresh or frozen scallops
  • Good quality butter or oil
  • 16 slices of bacon
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 230 Celsius or 450 Fahrenheit.
  2. Set hob/burner to medium high heat. Dollop a generous amount of butter or your oil of choice. We used a high quality salted butter. Cook very quickly - just sear the top and bottom.
  3. Wrap a slice of bacon around each scallop. Bake for 20 minutes.
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Recipe: Truffled Deviled Eggs with Creme Fraiche
See Local Milk

Note: I made no alterations! :)

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Recipe: Rocket/Arugala Citrus Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Serving size: 6 people

Ingredients
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented
  • 2 oranges, peeled and segmented
  • 1 large heap of rocket/arugala
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, sliced and refrigerated in ice water
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together. Easy.
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Recipe: Honey Mustard Dressing
Adapted from Alton Brown

Serving size: 4-6 people

Ingredients:
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions:
  1. Whisk all ingredients thoroughly. Serve.
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Recipe: Lobster Tail

Serves: 6 people (1 per person)

Ingredients:
  • 6 lobster tails
  • Optional:
    Cocktail sauce
    Melted butter
    Hot sauce
Instructions:
  1. Boil lobster tails being careful not to overcook. Ours took approximately 5 minutes.

3 comments :

  1. I just drooled on my laptop. This looks incredible, Ketsuda...Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much girl! I'll serve you up something tasty next weekend. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Holy crap I am so very impressed with all this! You're an absolute queen, reigning over the kitchen with awe-inspiring powers of preparation and presentation. The photos are gorgeous and everything looks so delicious. But it must have taken so much work!

    I need to have a tea party or something this spring so I can make those cucumber bites. Yummmm.

    ReplyDelete