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Simple recipe for a happy face

December 26th, 2003 · No Comments

I’ve been having fun cooking some special meals this week…

Crab, one of Ted’s favorites, was on sale recently so I made cioppino on Tuesday night. Cioppino has been in my holiday repertoire since we moved to the San Francisco area, where we had friends who liked to make it for Christmas Eve dinner. They thought it was a good San Francisco dish. I thought the idea of making a local dish that speaks of your home’s heritage was a good one. So I learned to make cioppino while we lived in the Bay Area. And I kept on making it if crab was on sale in December, even after we moved up here. Last year though I think I felt too tired to try to cook with crab. It seems too messy to me, all that excavation to do, shells to crack and break, just to get some meat!

But this year I spied crab on sale and decided to make it again. The sauce I created was simple but tasty, mostly simmering diced Italian tomatoes with wine and spices, then adding the crab (cleaned at the store!), some scallops and bits of salmon. Served over pasta – very yummy! – and the girls had fun learning how to eat crab with Daddy. Garlic bread and gingerbread were tasty too.

Wednesday night for Christmas Eve with my family, we continued a new tradition. Last year we had salmon for dinner. Ted offered to help and ended up cooking most of the recipe: salmon served with a fancy blackberry gastrique, a Sunset magazine award winner I’d clipped from an old issue. This year I was thinking about cioppino but decided to splurge on Copper River Salmon instead. It’s a good choice to fit my family’s palate, and like the cioppino, a nice local dish. I had thought I might make another Sunset salmon recipe, this one with garlic and mustard, but on Christmas Eve I discovered my cupboard didn’t have the right kind of Dijon. So I decided to broil it, rubbed with a few spices. Again, yummy, despite my simple improvisation. Uncle John made his famous mashed potatoes, a version for Ted’s lactose-intolerant tummy, and we had romaine salad and bread, fresh pineapple too, with cookie creations and peppermint ice cream for dessert.

For our family’s Christmas dinner, I had bought a prime rib. I panicked a bit , debated, waited a while, watching the news, and then decided to cook it after all. The risk seemed low – even Dr. ‘Noch thought it was okay 🙂 – and I didn’t want to waste it or eat hot dogs for the holiday. It had been a while and I had forgotten how to cook it, but I was able to get some tips from Ted’s brother. Again I did a simple spice rub, mostly pepper, salt, garlic and a little lemon juice, then roasted it in the oven. It came out nice. This time we had baked potatoes and stir-fried green beans, along with a raspberry/cranberry jello salad (yep, I confess, the last of those cranberries I mentioned a while ago…).

We’ve had a couple good wines to enjoy with our meals. My sister brought a bottle of South African Beobab Pinotage 2001 on Christmas Eve – and she gave us some new red wine glasses too – to help us with our new hobby! The Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio 2002 I bought for the salmon dinner was also tasty.

Christmas morning though was my favorite meal, I think. I’d never made cinnamon rolls, and on an impulse, I decided to try. I love feeling the bread dough in my hands, shaping it. And the taste of the warm rolls, just out of the oven, with a little frosting on top! A day later, they’re totally different, not as great. But I savor the memory of that morning, my experimental and surprising sweet rolls, along with scrambled eggs, some organic dark turkey strips (bacon alternative) that I liked (not exactly bacon but more like jerky, very dark turkey taste) and hot chocolate galore for the girls and me.

Michaela kept saying how much she liked the breakfast. She was happy.
Ted said, “A simple recipe for a happy face.”
I think though that it wasn’t just the food but the fun we were having as a family through all these meals that made the happiness.

Tags: food