Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas Dinner

This year marked the very first time that Hubband and I got to stay home in Florida and have our very own little Christmas. For the past several years we've been flying to New England to spend the holiday with family, and while it is always wonderful, this year we realized it was time to try to start our own traditions. 
We decorated more than we have in the past, as this year we would actually be home to enjoy it, and I got to plan a Christmas dinner! I have cooked Christmas dinners before, but never have I had the absolute freedom that our tiny guest list (Hubband, Mom, myself) allowed me. No preconceived notions about what Christmas dinner should be. No finicky eaters, no one who is afraid to try something different, and the only traditions to respect were the ones we made up. Sound wonderful? It was! It was also rather difficult. When I'm presented with such freedom, my mind immediately goes into overdrive and takes off in multiple directions at once. Eventually we were able to narrow it down, and a five-course meal was the result. 

Course #1: Homemade smoky bacon, sweet seared bay scallops, and earthy sauteed Chanterelle mushrooms, on a blanched brussels sprout leaf. Served with Charles Heidsieck Champagne, 1995 Blanc de Millenaires
Course #2: A salad that I'm currently in love with, fancied up a bit. Greens, roasted butternut squash, diced dried black mission figs, minced shallot, and sherry vinaigrette, topped with duck confit. Served with a 2005 Ramey Chardonnay, Hyde Vineyard, Carneros. (Yes, a white with duck. It was so nice with both the acidity of the dressing and the fat of the duck, I stand by our choice!)
Between courses: A little Christmas visitor! I guess that's your guarantee that the chives are organic. The little fellow warmed right up and we put him in our backyard. 
Course #3: A crab and sweet corn bisque of my own invention. I was very pleased with the result. It was rich and full-flavored, topped with king crab meat briefly sauteed in butter. Served with homemade caramelized onion focaccia and a 2005 Ramey, Hudson Vineyard.
Course #4: Seared duck breast over basmati rice. I used a fragrant brown basmati, and studded it with dried currants, apricots, pistachios, and chopped parsley. The duck was topped with a cherry-orange-red wine reduction, and served with sauteed broccolini and a 2004 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon, Pritchard Hill. 

Our last course was dessert: this ice cream, which has rapidly become a family favorite, and some simple and not-too-sweet almond financiers. 

It was a great night. 

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