Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas Edibles

Each year we have the same breakfast menu on Christmas morning. As far as I know my mom started this tradition before I was born, and now I'm continuing it with my family.

Breakfast Menu
Belgian waffles
Fresh strawberries
Freshly whipped cream

As I mentioned before, I wanted to keep things pretty simple on Christmas Day this year. But since we had a few extra guests at our house, I also wanted things to be nice. Planning a dinner menu was a bit of a challenge since we were a mix of vegetarians and carnivores.

Even though the menu would surely be all-vegetarian, I didn't want the meat-eaters to miss the meat too much! Plus, one person is diabetic, and needs to be able to control her carb intake. I was also feeding both adults and toddlers, so I needed at least one dish that was simple enough for a toddler's palette. I ended up making two dishes that could be considered main courses ~ a pasta and a substantial gratin.

Here's the menu in full:

Dinner Menu
Simple hors d'oeuvres ~ Almonds with sea salt / Aged cheddar and crackers / Cream cheese with pepper jelly
Main courses ~ Campanelle with chestnut cream / Gratin of eggplant, zucchini, and chickpeas
Sides ~ Spinach gratin / Green Salad / Rolls with butter
Dessert ~ Chocolate raspberry tart

We devoured the tart, can you tell?

The most interesting thing I made was the chestnut cream because I don't think I've ever even tasted chestnuts before. (Much less cooked with them!) In the end, my favorite dish was the spinach. It tastes rich enough to eat as a spinach dip, but it's also (reasonably) healthy enough for an everyday meal.

Spinach Gratin
Adapted from a spinach tart recipe in Vegetarian, edited by Nicola Graimes
  • 1 pound frozen spinach
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 8 ounces cottage cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2/3 half-and-half or cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan or similar-sized casserole dish. Put the spinach and onion in a pan, cover and cook slowly until the onions are translucent and the mixture is moist but not watery, approximately 15-20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Turn the spinach out into a bowl and cool slightly. Add the remaining ingredients and place in the prepared pan. Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes, or until bubbly and golden around the edges.

I'm happy to share additional recipes ~ just email me!

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