Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmas to Me!

I invited my parents to come to our house for Christmas Eve this year.  I can't remember the last time I had them come over for dinner, much less dinner for a special occasion.  I contemplated various menus and ideas.  One thing I knew was that I wanted to go all out and make it a special dinner. After all, we're talking about Christmas.

As most of you are aware, I truly love to cook.  More than cooking for the sake of cooking, I really love to cook for others.  I'm fortunate that I have Neil and Vivian who are very appreciative and adventurous eaters here at my disposal. But, when other people get in the mix, it really gets me going.  Having mom and dad coming for dinner got my heart pumping, my brain whirring and my cookbooks flying.  This, for me, was the ultimate Christmas present.  To cook for my family and to cook something special.

After much deliberation, I came up with this menu:
  • She-crab soup (no roe, you know, since we can't get it anymore)
  • Prime rib (I've never cooked this before; maiden voyage)
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Syracuse salt potatoes 
  • Creme brulee 
She-crab is one of my favorite foods on Earth. I've never made it at home, so I was super excited about this.  I used a recipe that I found here. The one change I made was that I finely diced celery and sauteed that with the onion.  Some of my favorite she-crabs I've ever had have that little bit of veggie texture.  I know, I know.  I am a life-long hater of celery.  But, I know enough to know its place when cooked to softness. This is the real deal she-crab.  Since it was Christmas, I made it as written.  In the future, on regular days, I'll be lightening it up for sure.  But, Dave, whoever you are, I salute you!  My parents thought this soup was better than any restaurant version they've ever had.

Seasoned & ready for the oven
The prime rib was ridiculously easy.  I followed a basic "recipe" mainly just to know temperatures and times.  I got the oven up to 475, put the roast in then immediately reduced the heat to 325.  Cooked for about 2.5 hours.  Then, rested for about 20 minutes.  I did this without a meat thermometer, seein' as how I didn't have one. (Next day, I got a fancy electronic, remote control one from my parents!)  Regardless, the steak was perfect.  When Neil sliced it up, we all exclaimed that it looked like a restaurant prime rib.  Cooked perfectly, if I do say so myself! I accompanied this with simple roasted asparagus and Syracuse salt potatoes

My dad isn't a big sweet eater, like myself.  However, we both can appreciate subtle sweetness like a simple creme brulee.  And, the Vivver likes it too.  So, again, super easy. I served this for dessert with coffee, Kahlua, champagne or whatever stuck each person's fancy. 

My family was generous with the compliments, which is always great to hear, of course.  However, for me, the real pleasure was simply having them here and creating a special meal for us to enjoy together.  Cooking for people you care about is one of the most special activites in which a cook can engage.  And the fact that all my dishes worked was certainly a big plus! Now, I must apologize for not having any final result photos for you.  We pretty much hit the table with full steam and didn't stop for a photo shoot. 

**I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!**

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