12.13 – Yuletide Feast

We decided to host one last Sunday Dinner before 2009 winds down. A small dinner for the few nearest and dearest friends who’ve attended loyally the whole year through, in order to ensure plenty of good food and comfortable seating for all.

My plan was to create a traditional and comforting meal for a rainy late-fall evening in NYC, and to keep things simple so I could spend more time with my friends and less time in my currently dishwasher-less kitchen. (Hint Hint Santa)

~The Menu~

To begin…
> Mom’s Sweet Pepper Jelly over Creamed Cheese
> Bacon wrapped dates, stuffed with Manchego (the crowd-pleaser)
> Venison Meatballs in Brown Gravy

To Feast…
> Roast Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cider Vinegar
> Company Potatoes
> Chestnut Dressing
> Cranberry sauce
> Roast Pork Shoulder (Prochetta-Style)
> Pork Gravy

To finish…
> Ginger Snaps, Boobie Cookies and White Chocolate Chip Cookies
> Peppermint Bark
> Irish Coffee with Real Whipped Cream

Venison Meatballs
———————–
Meatballs
1 lb ground venison (beef or lamb are fine if you can’t find Deer)
1 1/2 cups dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Dry Sherry (not cooking Sherry)
1/4 cup cream
1/2 tsp mace
Salt and Pepper to taste

Gravy
1 can double-strength beef broth (Campbell’s)
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup cream
1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
3 tbsp flour
Salt & Pepper to taste

To make meatballs, combine all ingredients in a bowl and roll into bite-sized balls.  Bake on a lined cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until browned.

To make gravy, add broth and bay leaf to a medium sauce pan.  Do not turn on the heat or you will get little balls of dough in your gravy. Combine remaining ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well to mix.

Whisk milk/flour mixture into broth until combined. Turn heat on medium and continue to whisk until gravy comes to a boil and thickens. After bubbles appear, turn off heat and whisk one minute more as gravy cools slightly.

Combine baked meatballs and hot gravy in a serving bowl or chaffing dish.

Serve hot with toothpicks.

Company Potatoes
———————–
2-3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (I leave the skins on, but you can peel if prefer)
1 8 oz package of cream cheese softened to room temperature
1 16 oz container of sour cream
4 tbsp diced fresh chives
Salt & Pepper to taste
Paprika and Cayenne to garnish
1 tbsp room-temperature butter

Dice potatoes into roughly 1 inch cubes. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water and 2-3 tbsp salt. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and poke with a fork to confirm potatoes are cooked through.

Drain potatoes and move back to the pot, or to the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer if you’re lucky enough to have one.

Add cream cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper to the potatoes and mash to desired consistency. Taste and adjust salt as needed.

Stir in chives and pour into an oven-safe casserole dish.

Distress the top of the casserole with a fork to create uneven peaks and valleys. This will help to brown the top of the casserole as it bakes.

Sprinkle paprika and a pinch of Cayenne (if you like a kick) over the top of the potatoes and dot with small pieces of butter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (1 hour if you’ve refrigerated over night) and serve.

White Chocolate Chip Cookies
———————–
Wanting a simple sweet and salty compliment to the ginger and peanut butter cookies I already had baked, I made these up.

1 cup margarine (2 sticks) at room temperature
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup roasted, salted macadamia nuts, chopped into pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

In a food processor, pulse margarine and 2 sugars until creamed. Add eggs and vanilla and pulse till combined. Add salt and baking soda and pulse to combine. Finally, add flour and pulse until just combined.

Turn dough out into a large mixing bowl and stir in white chocolate chips, nuts and berries.

Drop 1 1/2 tbsp scoops of dough on to cookie sheets lined with parchment  (2 1/2 inches apart) and bake 8-10 minutes until puffed but still a little moist.

Set on racks to cool before serving.

The Results
———————–

Carlos, our one new attendee, has been watching his carbs lately.  This was obviously a night to cheat as he polished off 3 helpings of stuffing, and at least 15 cookies before we lost count.  Sadly I can not report on the winning cookie, as he made sure to eat them in full cycles of all three each time he got more.

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