So Christmas Eve dinner was a cavalcade of wonderful highs and hilarious lows. I have to express a huge amount of gratitude to my sister and her boyfriend who were staying with me. They did a lot of help put the meal together.
I thought I had things well in hand for the meal. The morning of Christmas Eve: The turkey roulade was trussed and tied. All the desserts were done. The cauliflower puree was made and needed to be heated. The blinis needed to be reheated in the oven and assembled. The green beans were blanched and just needed to be sautéed. My sister would make her soup and the only things that needed to be made from scratch were the roast potatoes.
After going on a hike with Kaya the Wonder Dog, sis made her soup and we would veg out for an hour or so. And then my family came an hour and a half early from the appointed 6:30 pm start time. My uncle’s wife brought her mother who is elderly and needed to eat early. Things went into high gear then and there. I had Sis’ boyfriend assemble the blinis while I pour the soup into shot glasses. Sis poured wine for everyone so everyone could be kept occupied while dinner was getting ready. Because of time constraints, the potatoes were just cut into large pieces and tossed with salt and pepper. There was no room in the oven to roast them so I put them in the cast iron and sautéed them on high heat and then lowered the heat and covered the pan to cook them through. Sis and I were plating up the sides while Sis’ boyfriend was refilling the appetizers.
In the midst of all of the commotion, Kaya gave the elderly grandma a scare. My aunt put her mother to bed in the guest room without letting me know. Thinking to get Kaya out of everyone’s hair during dinner, I had Sis’ boyfriend put her in the guest room (grandma is a small woman and looked like a pile of pillows). I heard a commotion from the guest room as my aunt was calming her mother and Sis’ boyfriend and luring Kaya to the backyard with treats. Good times people. We nearly gave grandma a heart attack.
My brother arrived at the appropriate time and we sat down to dinner at 6:30 pm sharp with all the sides laid out on the table. And then disaster struck again. The roulade was pretty undercooked (uncooked even). This was despite cooking for two hours (the recipe said an hour and a half to two hours). Sis’ boyfriend saw the sad pink pieces of turkey and inquired hesistantly about whether I would serve them. I told him “Hells no!” and put exactly 10 slices of the roulade into the cast iron with some chicken stock to cook them through. People were already starting in on the sides so no one was desperate for food. In ten minutes there were ten perfectly cooked slices of roulade on the table. My father graciously asked if I would give a toast and we all relaxed into a fun dinner with everyone on the best behavior.
Here’s how the food went:
Blinis with gravlax: While not a hit with everyone. I adored it. I think I’ve master the art of gravlax because the slices of salmon were silky smooth and full of flavor without being fishy. My cousin D ate 10 of them.
Carrot Soup: A winner from the sister. Very easy to make and was perfectly creamy and delicious.
Arugula salad: Would have tasted better with pears. It definitely needed the sweetness to balance the acidity of the vinaigrette and the bitterness of the arugula.
Green beans: Quite tasty but nothing earthshattering.
Potatoes: Ok this was the happiest of happy accidents. The sautee and cover method produced potatoes that were crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. They were flavorful throughout. No more roasting for me. Especially when oven space is at a premium.
Cauliflower puree: This is better than mashed potatoes. My brother’s favorite from the meal.
The Turkey: Fine but I can’t fully papreciate it because it gave me so much grief.
The Stuffing: THE star of the meal. The older relatives who normally don’t like stuffing LOVED it. When I came back from slicing and cooking the turkey, there were only two spoonfuls left of a LARGE casserole pan.
Apple Gallette: The old standby. Especially good with the bourbon whipped cream.
Sugar free pumpkin cake: The flavor was right on but the texture was dry, dry, dry.
Chocolate ganache tart: Pure food porn. T he chocolate layer was glossy and smooth. Beautiful! It looked EXACTLY like the picture on the recipe.