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Christmas cooking: new favorites

Christmas Eve

credit: Jenny Turknett

Our Christmas Eve meal is eclectic.

You may have read my blog post last week about preparing my Christmas Eve meal, which we refer to as our “brunch.” We call it a brunch because it started out as a mid-morning meal when we first began hosting in 1998.

Since then, we have played around with both the time of the meal and the menu. Some favorites are kept on the menu no matter the time of day the meal is served. But each year is also an opportunity to audition new items. Last year, we even held a “mostly dessert party” on Christmas Eve where we identified our favorite desserts.

This year, we served our “brunch” at 2:30 and had a scattering of favorites. Our more traditional holiday meal is served on Christmas Day at my Mom’s house.

Here’s what we had at my “brunch” this year:

Returning menu items:

  • Sausage balls – my parents have made these every year since I can remember
  • Ambrosia – from my grandmother’s recipe – mostly fruit, no sour cream or marshmallows
  • Almond-sour-cream pound cake
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Muesli – from a Ritz Carlton recipe I tracked down in an out-of-print book
  • Bacon and goat cheese quiche
  • Tomato-olive tartlets with Emmentaler
  • Leek and Gruyère bread pudding
  • Sausage Boursin stuffed mushrooms – made with Pine Street Market chorizo
  • White cookies – Santa’s cookie of choice
  • Salted cranberry-pistachio Icebox cookies
  • Chocolate walnut fudge (made by my husband’s aunt)
  • Pineapple upside down cake
  • Chocolate fondue
  • Mulled Wine

New menu items:

  • Cranberry-mustard-cheddar Ball
  • Roquefort-shallot-walnut ball
  • Pimento cheese deviled eggs (from Kevin Gillespie’s recipe)
  • Boiled peanut hummus – inspired by Empire State South’s hummus
  • Prosciutto-parmesan asparagus straws
  • Cherry tomatoes stuffed with garlic-white-bean purée
  • Spinach-mushroom-strawberry salad (made by my sister)
  • Grits spoon bread – made with heirloom grits from My Southern Pantry by Virginia Willis
  • Short ribs with a cranberry glaze, served with cranberry-grapefruit-cherry chutney
  • Steamed shrimp (brought by my mother-in-law)
  • Lime custard tart
  • Hot buttered rum cider

So, as you can see, our meal was an eclectic mix of favorites and new recipes. Each person had their favorites of the new menu items, but the short ribs were declared the winning new dish. It will likely reappear next year.

How did your holiday meals turn out? Any new favorites?

Jenny-Turknett-Tagline–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog

– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.

22 comments Add your comment

Mark

December 28th, 2010
7:39 am

Wow—that’s quite a spread! How many people was this for and did you really do this all in one day (per your other post). It sounds like some items were brought. I’m an ambitious cook, too, but couldn’t imagine cooking 27 items in one day.

Jenny Turknett

December 28th, 2010
7:58 am

Hi Mark. It was great fun to do all that cooking! I had about 20 people here and I did the cooking in about a day and a half (but that day lasted into the night!). I had about 5 other dishes I wanted to prepare but didn’t have time for! Three of the dishes were brought by guests – the salad, steamed shrimp, and fudge. I can’t wait to do it again next year!

[...] Cooking News : Christmas cooking: new favorites [...]

ATLien

December 28th, 2010
9:01 am

We come to my home city each Christmas – Albuquerque – and our holiday meals are New Mexican fare. We devour green chile chicken enchiladas, posole, tamales, red chile, homemade tortillas. It’s wonderful. This year my native Atlantan husband wanted to fry a turkey southern style on Christmas day. We’ve fried turkey’s for years on Thanksgiving but not Christmas. It went well with all the New Mexican food. It was our new New Mexican Christmas favorite!

Wendy

December 28th, 2010
9:27 am

Jenny, This year we tried a Food and Wine recipe that was Baked Butternut Squash and Cheese Polenta. It was very good. ;-)

Kirk

December 28th, 2010
9:33 am

I had the same deviled eggs for Christmas and between 2 people, we finished ‘em off in two days!

Jenny Turknett

December 28th, 2010
9:50 am

Kirk- did you make the bacon jam with them? Yum. We have extra jam and I’m thinking of all the ways to use it!

Wendy – the butternut squash and cheese polenta recipe sounds great. Very hearty for these cold Atlanta days.

ATLien – love the New Mexican menu! It’s nice to hear about traditions in other families.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Simply Trini Cooking, John Kessler. John Kessler said: Christmas cooking: new favorites http://bit.ly/ea9Phe [...]

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eva Miranda, CookNMorecom and Jenny Turknett. Jenny Turknett said: Christmas cooking: new favorites http://t.co/1CkdLlF [...]

SP

December 28th, 2010
2:54 pm

OMG! That is a TON of food! I got exhausted just reaching the end of the returning menu items. I am impressed. So, how much leftovers did you end up with?

jim

December 28th, 2010
3:58 pm

you people are way to fancy for some of us in South Ga, but it sounds great.

Annmarie

December 28th, 2010
4:32 pm

Jenny, can you please share the recipe for the Muesli sometime? Thanks !

Jenny Turknett

December 28th, 2010
4:53 pm

SP – we didn’t have as much left as I thought we might. But, we’ve been eating on it each day since. We still have a little left, but it will all be gone in the next day or so.

Annmarie – yes. Let me see if I can get permission to share it and I will do so – it is decadent and lovely!

Jenny Turknett

December 28th, 2010
6:32 pm

Jim, let us know what you had for your holiday meal. I’d bet it was every bit as delicious!

CT

December 29th, 2010
9:09 am

As someone who got to enjoy this food I have only one complaint – no matter how little you eat earlier in the day there is no way to try everything that’s prepared. I said when I left that this was likely the best meal I’d ever had in my life. It’s tough to pick a favorite dish, although Jenny is right that the short ribs were a huge hit. They were better than Pura Vida’s, and that’s saying a lot. Other favorites for me were that sausage stuffed mushrooms, the bean-puree stuffed tomatoes, the bread pudding, the bacon and goat cheese quiche, and the lime tart. But there were so many things that I couldn’t try :(

Jenny really does cook all this in a little over a day – by dint of incredible organizational skills, extreme speed, and lots of practice. (And she has an equally industrious mother who serves as dishwasher for a day!) The table is as gorgeous as the food is good – and she gets everything except the deserts on one large dining room table. It’s an experience to be a guest!!

CT

December 29th, 2010
9:11 am

As someone who got to enjoy this food I have only one complaint – no matter how little you eat earlier in the day there is no way to try everything that’s prepared. I said when I left that this was likely the best meal I’d ever had in my life. It’s tough to pick a favorite dish, although Jenny is right that the short ribs were a huge hit. I could eat them for every meal. They were better than Pura Vida’s, and that’s saying a lot. Other favorites for me were the sausage stuffed mushrooms, the bean-puree stuffed tomatoes, the bread pudding, the bacon and goat cheese quiche, and the lime tart. But there were so many things that I couldn’t try :(

Jenny really does cook all this in a little over a day – by dint of incredible organizational skills, extreme speed, and lots of practice. (And she has an equally industrious mother who serves as dishwasher for a day!) The table is as gorgeous as the food is good – and she gets everything except the deserts on one large dining room table. It’s an experience to be a guest!!

jim

December 29th, 2010
9:30 am

Jenny this is a small list , turkey, ham ,shrimp, greens,corn, butter beans ,peas, squash, sweet potatoes,and old fashioned turkey and dressing,fried green tomatoes,fried okra,cabbage,pickles,sweet potato pie pecan pie, blueberry pie,pound cake,fruit cake and sweet potato ice cream and many sugar free dishes. my typing is slow these days arthur you know, HAPPY NEW YEAR.+

John Kessler

December 29th, 2010
1:43 pm

Wowza. How did the boiled peanut hummus turn out? Love it at ESS.

The Happy Cooker

December 29th, 2010
10:24 pm

Hi Jenny, enjoyed your blog, you have a new subscriber!

Jenny Turknett

December 30th, 2010
4:21 am

John, the boiled peanut hummus was good but not as smooth as that at ESS. I learned that your peanuts have to be VERY soft – boiled a bit past the point where you’d normally eat them to achieve the smooth texture of the hummus.

Jenny Turknett

December 30th, 2010
8:24 am

Jim, that sounds fabulous — some good Southern favorites. I’ve never made sweet potato ice cream- I’ll have to give that a try!

babyboomergranny5

January 4th, 2011
6:45 am

I too sampled, ate, and enjoyed the Christmas Eve Brunch Jenny prepared and it was all very delicious. Many of these wonderful dishes are things I probably wouldn’t have tried in any other setting. (Except for this brunch and when Jenny cooks, I usually still try only the “traditional” southern dishes at most meals since that’s how I grew up eating and we always ate at home–I’m not adventuresome about food.)

I had to try all these prepared dishes after watching the precise preparation of many of the dishes in her marathon cooking session. Just seeing all the fresh ingredients that went into the items made me want to try everything. (Shopping for and searching for all the right ingredients for the recipes looked challenging and exhausting to me.) Organization and multi-tasking seemed to be a must–I could never have so many “from scratch” recipes going on at one time (and many of them new recipes too). The special presentation of the food and the dining room setting are always beautifully done as well.

Family and friends getting together to share both time and a special meal prepared with love is a holiday treasure and provides fond memories for us all.