Sunday, December 29, 2013

Catching Up


The last week or so has been full of holiday spirit and fun with family and friends and...of course...wonderful food. There has been so much fun that there has been little time to catch up here with what I made for the various occasions.

Let's start with the Friday before Christmas. Our dear friends from Healdsburg joined us and Sweetie grilled a boned leg of lamb. I had mixed up a marinade with good red wine, lots of garlic and fresh rosemary and some pepper. It marinated almost 24 hours, so you can well imagine how all of those strong flavors had melded with the tender lamb. A stellar main dish!

Starters included a nice veggie tray with hummus and a board with a couple of local cheeses and some baguette slices. Unfortunately when Sweetie bit down on one of those baguette slices he managed to crack a tooth, making a dental visit the next day necessary. To go with the lamb I made a Barefoot Contessa inspired dish of spiced couscous with zucchini slices (and I added toasted pine nuts which really adds to the dish),



as well as home grown butternut squash which I peeled, then coated with a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, sage and cayenne pepper. I also coated some slices of red onion. All of it was then roasted in a very hot oven until tender. Really good that night, but excellent the next day at lunch time, too. Sweetie really loved my rosemary foccacia bread, too.

Dessert was a mixed nut tart with a honey based filling, which was flavored with orange zest. Much less sweet than the standard pecan pie. You can find this Mosaic Nut Tart recipe here.



During the next few days cookies were baked and gifts bought and wrapped but otherwise we had fairly pedestrian meals. We can't feast all the time, right?

For Christmas Eve my sister and her hubby came and so did Grandma L. Grandma L provided a delicious smoked salmon and cream cheese spread with capers and water chestnuts for the appetizer. For dinner we had baked ham, Julia Child's Gratin of Potatoes with Yukon Gold potatoes, Swiss cheese and milk, steamed broccoli with pomegranate arils and green salad with grape tomatoes and Champagne dressing. Homemade Buttermilk Yeast Rolls were a big hit and so was the cheesecake with fresh strawberry sauce that my sister brought.

One of these recipes will be posted here, some on my next post, and a few have links to past posts.

Christmas morning will have to wait for another post. Bet you'll never guess what we had then.

Barefoot Contessa Inspired Spiced Couscous with Zucchini and Pine Nuts
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 zucchini, large dice
1 1/2 cups couscous (10 ounces)
1 cup chopped basil leaves
1 cup chopped parsley leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (dry toast in a hot cast iron skillet, stirring often, until lightly browned)

Directions
Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan, and turn off the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, and saffron threads and allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and melt the butter in a saute pan. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Bring the chicken stock just back to a boil. Place the couscous in a large bowl and add the cooked zucchini. Pour the hot chicken stock over them. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Add the basil and parsley. Toss the couscous and herbs with a fork, then scatter the toasted pine nuts on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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