Friday, December 25, 2009

On xmas eve

I am not Christian. My family doesn’t believe in religion. Xmas dinner does not entail hours spent in the kitchen slaving over roast turkey, potatoes and squash based meals. However, I am a believer in butter. The sweet warm scent of garlic and onions has a serious Pavlovian effect on me, my salivary glands activate, my mouth floods with drool, and open my craw waiting to be fed.

I jump at the chance to cook for friends. I can’t think of a better way to experiment that recipe I bookmarked eons ago. With the help of my kitchenaid, we cooked up a xmas dinner for his family. I was absolutely famished at the end of the night. But it was so worth it.

There was this roasted red pepper tart from the Chocolate and Zucchini book by Clotide. Candy-sweet peppers blended with the salty anchovies and spread atop buttery pate brisee.

There was this potato and leek with tarragon soup. Chunky cubes of russet potatoes laced with cream and yogurt in each spoonful, it was a playful combination of tangy and buttery richness.

Then came the bacon-wrapped maple pork loin. Surely the encasing of meat over meat was effective: everyone couldn't stop raving through each porkful how deliciously moist the meat was. Before roasting, the meat was rubbed generously with sage and I particularly loved its unmistakeable earthiness that shone through in each bite.

Vegetables were roasted sweet potatoes and parsnips plus rapini gratin. I particularly loved the gratin. I have previously shunned the green plant from my diet, cringing at its intense bitter taste.

But eureka! All it takes is a few minutes of boiling the vegetable and plunging it into ice water alleviates much of the harsh flavor. Of course, adding plenty of gruyere is like magic: it will taste like heaven.

Dessert was a slice of pear tatin (or upside down pear cake). The cake itself was moist and dense in texture. The pears, soft and yielding. But ooh the honey. How it sang! It was the star in this gateau.

I love cooking seasonally and I just happened to flip to this recipe from this book given to me for my birthday from my beloved friend, Naoko. I in a fitful of giggles upon unwrapping the gift, totally enraptured by the gorgeous photos in the cookbook. I also loved how Naoko had already done her homework: she had cleverly stuck in post-its on recipes for me to try! When I had the chance to take in the book, I fell in love with the way Guy Gedde describes the essence of Provencal cooking: fresh and localingredients, and understanding where food comes from. There's even a whole chapter on cheeses!

So how did you eat your way through xmas?
Recipe here!

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