|Parmesan Tuile with Paprika|
Whenever I hear the saying "Soup to Nuts", I think of D's mom. Actually, I only heard the saying for the first time a few years ago when I moved to Vancouver. It's the dining and less morbid equivalent of cradle to grave. That said, her meals are more aptly described as "Nuts to Cheese". There are always a selection of nuts. She spiced some Walnuts, Pecans, Cashews, Almonds and Hazelnuts with Cumin, Paprika, Brown Sugar and Cayenne. As well, she had plain. The day before, she made some Parmesan Tuiles. Simple melted piles of Parmesan Cheese that look fantastic, and taste insanely addictive. A crown Jumbo Prawn cocktail and Roulade of Soft Cheese and Proscuitto made the rounds. This was all accompanied with some Pommery Champagne. This was all planned before appetisers.
Cooking preparations had to start fairly early because D's mom ended up with quite a change in plans with her Dinde (Turkey). Every year she orders a fresh one weeks ahead. She ordered a 15 pounder for the 8 adults and 2 kids, allowing for some leftovers. Well, there was some sort of growth problem in the flock because she ended up with a 22 pounder. She was also not all too impressed that the bird had ice inside. She's now convinced that they ran out and they actually provided her with a frozen and thawed bird. Anyhoo, they had to borrow a larger roasting pan from next door. It was a nice old vintage one with a lid. That said. It was a tight squeeze. Mom usually just uses the disposable aluminum ones, doubled up. They're quite large. D was convinced that for a bird that large, it would take 7 hours so after some gentle arguing and internet searches this is what we did:
Dinner starts at 8pm. Turkey will hit the table at 9pm. Want the Turkey to brown after roasting and rest for at least 20 minutes. So the Turkey, stuffed and slathered in Sage Butter went into a 450F for 30 minutes with the cover on. The oven was then reduced to 325F. It was basted every 30 minutes for 4 1/2 hours. We then took the lid off. Put some foil on the legs and wing tips and continued for another hour with the lid off. The result was an incredibly moist bird. Even skeptical D who wasn't sure about the covering, had to admit that.
For the salads on the table, we had a Black Tomato and Fresh Basil with Olive Oil Salad. They were lovely for winter Tomatoes! That was fairly expected as a salad for me. What was less so was the traditional family table accoutrement of Celery and Black Olives. They're not oil cured or salt cured. That is not to say that they do not like other Olives. D loves good olives. These are tinned pitted Olives. The dish was something D's Grand Mere used to make and it has appeared on the Christmas table for decades. It's not dressed as a salad but it is served this way year in and year out. The celery needs to be cut a very specific way though I didn't catch how.
Starters were a Ceviche of Scallops in fresh Lime and Grapefruit Juice with peeled Grapefruit segments. For the less brave, there was a cooked Shrimp version. Yum! Surprisingly, D's young nieces lapped it up. I don't know if I was adventurous at their age.
D's family serves the Turkey carved. Out our house, mom goes for the theatrics which can be tiresome especially when she makes a 20lb Turkey when only 4 people actually eat Turkey. Oh did I mention mom won't eat leftovers. Anyhoo. The Turkey tonight was visibily tender and moist. D loves the dark meat for the very reason I can't eat Turkey, the turkeyiness in the fat. Not pour moi!
On the side was Mashed Potatoes with 1/3 Orange Sweet Potato. D's family always tops with Green Onions. D's Oncle F doesn't like Onions. I can't imagine a life without Onions but many others couldn't imagine life without Turkey so to each their own. So they're used to having to setting a side a dollop of Mash without Onions for F. There was also Sage and Mushroom stuffing that was made in the bird. Stuffing doesn't photograph well so there isn't one.
There was a bit of a kaffufle about the Stuffing actually. I hadn't encountered this misunderstanding in almost a decade so I was a bit suprised and probably responded slightly more forcefully than necessary but it was because it was THE most common and aggravating lack of understanding about my dietary choices. I do not like the taste of meat. So, there is not Turkey Meat in the Stuffing but it was certainly soused in it and cooked for 5 hours in it so therefore IT IS NOT VEGETARIAN. In fact, since most of the flavour of meat comes from the fat, it smelled more of Turkey than the Turkey breast. Blech. Even if I were a moral vegetarian, the argument that there was no Turkey meat in the Stuffing fall over. Grrrrrr. I had said I'd be happy with the sides and I meant it. With the Nuts to Cheese, I had more than enough food.
For first dessert was an assortment of Cheeses and Dried Nuts and Fruit. We served it with a nice Buller Fortified Wine.
For real dessert was the Bouche de Noël / Birthday cake. D and his Niece G share birthdays around Christmas so Christmas Dinner always has a birthday cake for them. Poor little D had several birthdays a child completely forgotten. He'd grown quite accustomed to combined birthday presents or nothing at all. He never minded. So now the tradition of the Chrismas Birthday cake is a great way of making sure he's celebrated.
And of course my mom will INSIST he has a cake at ours. He comes back to ours on Christmas Even, the same night as my sisters. Yay!