the holidays with friends and family can be a fun and joyous
.but it can also be filled with stress and frustration.
After all families are family you just never know what
can happen and preparing a feast of all feasts can be a little
overwhelming at times
especially if you are the host.
My favorite memory of Christmas dinner was
last year at my mother-in-laws. My in-laws had just moved
into a beautiful home and were scrambling to unpack, get settled
and decorate the house (all within about a months time)
with a deadline of Christmas to have everything perfect. The
goal: a picture perfect Christmas with kids running around,
a feast unmatched by no other, holiday ornaments sparkling
in the background and cousins, nieces, uncles, aunts, sisters,
brothers, and of course the on-looking grandparents soaking
up the moment. Now dont get me wrong, it did end up
being picture perfect but it was a little messy along the
It all started off Christmas morning
received a call from my mother-in-law casually asking if I
would help her prepare the $100 beef tenderloin she purchased
for dinner. Of course I happily agreed to help. We arrived
at her house a couple hours early with a batch of homemade
eggnog to add to the festivities (remember the eggnog, it
plays an important roll in this story). The house was beautiful
something straight out of Southern Living the
tree was gorgeously decorated and donned with beautifully
wrapped presents, the table setting picture-perfect, the beginnings
of a bountiful buffet coming together rapidly as she put the
finishing touches on the Christmas ham and the sides. Everything
seemed well under control
.until the tenderloin emerged.
My dear mother-in-law graciously sets a very large hunk of
meat in front of me and says "here it is!". (Now
keep in mind I had thought that she had a plan for the tenderloin
and just needed help putting it together while she worked
on the other sides and so forth). I wish I had a picture
was an untrimmed tenderloin, complete with fat and all the
trimmings! I have to admit, I was caught off guard! I asked
her for a knife and was handed a serrated edge knife (ok
the true kitchen snob is going to emerge now
so be prepared)
that was less than sharp. I hacked away at that tenderloin
desperately trying to get it to resemble a nicely trimmed
piece of meat that it so richly deserved (especially considering
its high price tag!). I asked if she had some kitchen twine
she just looked at me with a funny look on her face.
Getting the hint, I asked if she had some dental floss. "Floss?
Oh yea, Ive got floss". She ran upstairs and returned
back with "mint" dental floss. I think it was at
this point that I started to get a little testy with her
that wont work we need unflavored dental floss",
I snapped back at her.
guests started to arrive. My sister in-law arrived with her
2 year old daughter and rushes in the door with pure panic
in her face. She accidentally locked the door to her car with
her daughter inside! My husband and father in-law rush outside
and do everything humanly possible to unlock the door but
to no avail. A call is placed to the fire department
and this is when the eggnog comes back into the picture. Out
comes the eggnog and my husband so kindly spikes it with another
few glugs of Jack Daniels and begins serving it to all to
calm the nerves that are now unraveling at the seams. Several
glasses were poured and everyone took a few sips, set their
cups down and returned to address the problems at hand
most importantly the small child locked in the car in the
middle of winter, and of course, lets not forget
the tenderloin! My mother-in-law did manage to dig up some
plain dental floss so I was now back on track. The fire department
had arrived and were checking my nieces legs to see
if they were starting to turn blue-ish due to the cold weather
my mother-in-law started consuming all the half full cups
her mood improving with every sip!
The tenderloin is now nicely tied with strips
of dental floss and now we hunt for a pan to brown it in.
Unfortunately, that box was not unpacked and cannot be found
we improvised. I say sure a paella pan will work. Why not?
I asked her for some olive oil. No olive oil. Ok "How
about some butter?" - "Oh its in the fridge".
I look and what do I see
but a miniature cube of "I
Cant Believe Its Not Butter" and eight more
cups of eggnog! Ok- I can do this, I say to myself. So, I
flame on the paella pan and dissolve the I Cant Believe
Its Not Butter (which I can believe, by the way), and
I begin to brown the beast. I transferred it to the oven and
roasted it to perfection. Now for the gravy or sauce
I scoured her cupboards for anything that would
make a nice sauce. We did have wine (and lots of it), no herbs,
no stock, no BUTTER, and very little of anything else that
would work. What I did find was garlic, onions, and some raspberry
jelly. That will work in a pinch! So, I deglazed the pan with
the wine, added the garlic and onions and sautéed until
tender and then whisked in the jelly and begrudgingly finished
it with I Cant Believe Its Not Butter". Dinner
Amazingly, the child was released from the
car, the tenderloin turned out beautifully and the dinner
ended up being the feasts of all feasts and definitely a Christmas
to remember! As you can see, Christmas disaster can strike
us all the trick is to improvise and imbibe in a lot
Below you will find two beautiful Christmas
dinner menus that will hopefully prevent a Christmas disaster
in your house. The first menu is more of a sit down, plated
menu and the second can be served quite easily as a buffet.
The key prior preparation, having a good game plan
and of course a freshly made batch of homemade eggnog!
Now, you dont think Id end this
without a recipe for the homemade eggnog, do you?
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 cups milk
- Scrapings from 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and
set over a double boiler or a pan of simmering water (being
careful not to touch the bottom of the bowl to the water).
Add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar and whisk over
low heat until the mixture is pale yellow and thickened, about
5 minutes. Whisk in the milk, vanilla bean scrapings, bourbon
and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with
the remaining sugar until very soft peaks form. Stir the egg
whites into the yolk mixture. In a medium bowl, beat the cream
until lightly thickened. Fold the cream into the eggnog. Season
with freshly grated nutmeg and chill thoroughly. Before serving
whisk to re-blend mixture.
Happy Holidays from Glutenfreeda.com!