Thursday, December 17, 2015

Food for Thought : Holidays dinners provide memories that last for years

       Cherished memories are the ties that bind us to our families and  friends. A holiday dinner party is a time for rekindling fond memories, for reuniting with dear friends and neighbors. There are also delicious recollections of classic evenings that we reserve for special days and special people.
       For a delicious hos d'oeuvre, serve guests our favoriate  slow cooker crab party dip, along with perhaps a tray of canapés which will satisfy appetites until dinner is ready. An over abundance of appetizers is not recommended for a sit-down dinner. The last thing you want are overstuffed guests that merely pick at their meal. 
      Our eye-catching zucchini salad was created  by my daughter's brother  Chris had a knack for preparing not only scrumptious dishes (you should have tasted his salmon!) but beautifully presented ones as well. This delicious salad is definitely not run-of-the-mill!
       At Thanksgiving we always have turkey because it is tradition, but at Christmas, we have either Crown Pork Roast with stuffing or standing rib roast each year. Today, to give you a choice, I feature both the Crown Pork Roast and the standing rib roast , we had  both roasts and the turkey  Thanksgiving , lot of out-of town  close relatives  was here  and still is (laughing my butt off). 
      My daughter said  she discovered the treasured Crown Pork Roast in a Southern Living cookbook many years ago and, after some adjusting on her  part, she  adopted it into our Christmas menu. The stuffing, which can be made a day ahead, is divine. If you’re planning on serving this cut of roast, call your butcher and order it at least a week ahead. He can advise you on the size of roast you will need to accommodate your guests. Garnished with spiced fruit, this elegant entree is guaranteed to take first prize.
        Another perfect entrée for a sit-down dinner is my  daughter's  Standing Rib Roast, which is not only a delectable entrée, but a beautifully presented one as well served on a large  platter. The simple preparation, as well as the lovely presentation, is what makes this roast so special for a dinner party.
        The preparation of this standing rib roast is very simple. It is removed from the refrigerator two hours before cooking, then seasoned and placed in a very hot oven. My husband Ed believes that good quality beef doesn’t require gravy or sauces that disguise the luscious, bold flavor of the meat. She serve it with plain horseradish or a sour cream-horseradish sauce on the side.
       When you taste our asparagus with tarragon lemon sauce, you'll think you're in heaven! This gourmet dish lends itself beautifully to both the crown pork roast and the standing rib roast. 
      Who doesn't love carrot cake? This delicious version is yet another family favorite of the family , especially my son  who do not slice  a piece , he cuts  at least  a hunk of cake .
In closing, I'd like to offer a reminder that the giving of Christmas, the happiness of Christmas, and the hope for peace on earth for Christmas is not just about one day. The spirit of Christmas is about gratitude, warmth, kindness, love, and most of all, peace. The spirit of Christmas is every day of the year. Merry Christmas!
                    Slow Cooker Crab Party Dip:
3    (8-ounces) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
2    (6-ounces) cans lump crab meat, drained
1    (6-ounces) can broken shrimp, drained
6    tablespoons  chopped onion
1    teaspoon horseradishcchin
1/2  cup toasted almonds (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker; cover. Cook on low for 2 hours. Serve with toast points or melba toast.
                                                                      Zucchini                   Salad :
2    medium zucchinis
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1    young leek, white and light green parts only,
well washed and sliced into paper-thin rings
1/4   cup each chopped dill and chives
1      cup Ricotta cheese

Fresh mint leaves for garnish
Slice zucchini into paper thin rounds; place on a platter in a single overlapping layer. Dust with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Place in refrigerator for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to penetrate zucchini. When ready to serve, sprinkle leeks on top of zucchini, then sprinkle with the herbs. Garnish top with the Ricotta cheese and mint leaves.
                 Crown Pork Roast With Stuffing :
1     crown pork roast
Salt and pepper to taste
2     (8 ounces) packages  seasoned bread stuffing
2     tablespoons grated lemon rind
½    cup finely chopped onion
2     tablespoons dried parsley
2     sticks melted butter
3     tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½   cups chicken broth
½     cup sauterne wine
Gravy   :                (see recipe below)
Trim excess fat from roast and season with salt and pepper. Place in a greased open roasting pan. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Place stuffing in center of roast. To remaining stuffing, add about 3 tablespoons chicken broth and place in a greased baking dish; set aside. Bake roast in a 350-degree oven about 20 minutes per pound or until meat is tender. After one hour of cooking, place foil loosely over stuffing to prevent drying. Baste with dry white wine several times during cooking to prevent dryness. Forty-five minutes before serving, place reserved stuffing in oven and bake until hot and bubbly.
For gravy: 
Drain off fat and add 1 cup chicken broth to drippings; simmer 5 minutes. To thicken, stir in cornstarch that has been mixed with cool water. Serve with meat.
Garnish roast with spiced apples or peaches. Top the rib crowns with boots or cherry tomatoes.
                                                                                                   Standing Rib Roast :
1        (5-6 pound) standing rib roast
Salt and pepper, to taste
4-5    squirts of Worcestershire


Remove roast from refrigerator 2 hours before cooking. When ready to bake, salt and pepper roast heavily and squirt with Worcestershire. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and place uncovered in a preheated 500-degree oven. Immediately turn oven down to 325-degrees and bake roast 20 minutes per pound. Serve with horseradish.
Yield: 12 servings




Asparagus with Tarragon Lemon Sauce :
2      pounds medium asparagus trimmed and peeled
½    cup mayonnaise
½    cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1     tablespoon minced fresh tarragon or ½ teaspoon dried
2     teaspoons  fresh lemon juice
1     teaspoons  finely grated lemon zest
½    teaspoon  Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and return to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook until tender (about 3 minutes). Drain, cool under cold running water and drain again thoroughly. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt, tarragon, lemon juice, lemon zest and mustard. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a small serving bowl. This recipe can be prepared to this point up to 3 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate the sauce and set aside the asparagus at room temperature. Arrange the asparagus on a platter and serve with lemon sauce for dipping.
                                                                                                           Carrot Cake :
2     cups flour
2     teaspoons baking powder
1 ½   teaspoons baking soda
2 ½   teaspoons  cinnamon
1     teaspoon  salt
4     eggs, beaten
1 ½   cups canola oil
2    cups sugar
1     (12 ounces) can crushed pineapple, drained
2     cups grated carrots, packed
Frosting:
1     (8 ounces) pkg. cream cheese
½    cup butter
1     box powdered sugar
1    teaspoon  vanilla
Pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs and mix in oil, sugar, pineapple and carrots. Add flour mixture and mix well. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9”cake pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely, then frost as a 3-layer cake. Frosting: Beat together cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar and vanilla slowly to cream cheese mixture and beat until well blended.
TIP : If desired, 1 cup of chopped nuts can be added to the frosting.




I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas  and a happy New Year .
Taking  a few weeks off to enjoy  the holidays  with family and  friends .  A proud grand-poppa          G.

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