The stat counter for this blog (huh, say the nonbloggers - it's the device that lets you know how many readers you have and where they're coming from) indicates that I receive a large number of hits on my food-related posts. Big surprise. Not.
Thus I feel compelled to relate the traditional Christmas Eve menu at our house, which has evolved, might I add, from the earliest days of our children's youth when the big desire was for a meal we never ate (oh, what a good mom I was): hot dogs and beans.
Well, somewhere along the way, we evolved, turning toward a meal designed to skyrocket cholesterol and lead to dining accompanied by one repeated phrase: "This is so good."
Christmas Eve Dinner Chez Lipnack-Stamps
Artichokes (steamed in broth of carrots, celery, onions, and garlic)
**Vegans, see below
Rather than include recipes, which are available everywhere from The Joy of Cooking to, need I add, The Internetz, let me just add these notes:
For the Fondue Bourguignonne, I use a mix of peanut oil, canola oil, and butter, but mainly the fats that are terrible for you. I always feel guilty so that's why I throw in the canola oil. The main tip here is to heat the oil sufficiently on the stove before transferring to the sterno-heated fondue pot on the table. Test a piece of meat while the oil is still on the stove. If it sizzles, you're good to go. I use strip steak for this and assign the task of cutting it to a family member with less vegetarian tendencies than myself. Don't have the butcher cut it; it usually turns out to be too dry by the time you cook it. NB: We almost always forget to get sterno and there's usually a mad dash to the store.
We serve it with several sauces. I've been using the Bearnaise Sauce recipe in the original Cuisinart cookbook, the one that came with the first machines many years ago, combining the directions with the Hollandaise recipe right before it. One recipe calls for the butter to be cold, the other for it to be bubbling hot. I like it hot. Remember to use enough tarragon. Honestly, in my experience, the dry tarragon provides better flavor than the fresh. I also make a mushroom and scallion sour-cream sauce and a very pedestrian ketchup-and-mayo sauce, which I attempt to make fancy by adding chives, basil and oregano. My lovely daughter Miranda has added a curry sauce of late and Jeff always likes a mustard-mayo sauce.
For the Cheese Fondue, I use a white Bordeaux wine and, important point, about a quarter-cup less than the recipes call for. If you've made Cheese Fondue, you know how easy it is for the mixture not to be thick enough. Yes, I flour the cheese, except if we've got a gluten-free guest (which was me for a number of unhappy years). For the cheese selection, I've settled on this mix: gruyere, emmenthaler, appenzell, and, most important, Italian fontina, which gives a smooth texture. I add a splash of Kirsch (cherry brandy, have had the same bottle for years) and a pinch, very small, of nutmeg, at the end, along with some ground pepper. Oh, I also rub the pot with garlic before I begin.
**Vegan alert: you too can enjoy this meal in the Japanese tradition of Shabu-shabu, only without the beef. A rich veggie broth (remember the kombu and garlic for that incomparable flavor) bubbles in the pot; a beautiful array of veggies and tofu, artfully sliced, are then cooked to perfection. You can even enjoy it with a vegan tempura batter (again recipes all over the net).
Caesar salad - once more, The Joy of Cooking has a great recipe. Very easy, very showy salad. We skip the anchovies, much to my disappointment, as certain family members don't like them.
My hubby adores Chocolate Mousse, which means I've tried many, many recipes over the years. The best, in his opinion (incredibly, I am not much of a sweet lover except for Apple Pie and creme brulee and Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt and chocolate turtles and... - what a prevaricator I am!), is also from that stained Cuisinart spiral-bound cookbook with the back cover finally having ripped itself away. Write to me if you want that recipe. It's ridiculously easy and takes about ten minutes.
Now I've made myself terribly hungry.