Christmas Eve dinner
My boyfriend and I just moved to New York City from North Carolina and we are spending Christmas just the two of us. We're excited about going to see the tree in Rockefeller Center and exchanging stockings and presents, but it's also kind of sad to be away from our families for the first time. We will probably see them in early January, but for the actual holiday, we're on our own. It will also be the first Christmas Eve and Day that we've been physically together, so it's special.
As such, I want to make something special for us for dinner, but I don't want to do the traditional turkey and stuffing thing. I just did that for Thanksgiving, and we really enjoyed it, but my family always had a repeat of Thanksgiving for Christmas, and I want something a little different. I'd like to start a new tradition, or at least try something different, and I thought you guys might have some ideas.
So here's the deal. I am a pretty experienced cook, so I'm not afraid of very much. I will probably have to work on Christmas Eve, and we'd like to go to Rockefeller Center in the evening, so I need something that i don't need to cook all day. I was thinking maybe seafood. I could do something whose parts can be made ahead of time, though, I might also switch our big meal to Christmas Day instead of Eve, which would change the scheduling, so all ideas are welcome. I want something that says "intimate special occasion." And I can get lots of types of ingredients fairly easily, so that's not a problem.
Whatcha got, folks? I am so excited to hear your ideas! Thanks!
Fish would be great and cooks so readily... [i'm on a ceviche kick myself, but that's not so Xmas-y]
a few seared scallops atop pan toasted black lentils with a drizzle of a sauce made from deglazing the scallop pan with orange juice and a little parsley oil
a light pureed tomato veggie soup around a single seared scallop or with a parmesan toasted crouton or single frico
a hearty white fish broiled with salt, pepper, and olive oil, then served atop some spaghetti squash w/ a pumpkin, roasted red pepper, caramelized onion and sage pureed sauce
roasted caramelized brussel sprouts
tarte tatin, bread pudding or panna cotta for dessert
We always do the traditional Italian fish feast on Christmas Eve; the seven fishes vary except for the lobster. And always shrimp cocktail. Just the two of those signify special to me!
Making Christmas Eve dinner is an excellent "tradition" to establish now. I did it when my kids were little to free up Christmas day so I could play with the toys too! Consequently I cooked large quantities to allow for "grazing" all day on Christmas.
If you want to do the Christmas leftovers thing, then a magnificent roast goose would be good for the two of you. For smaller birds, there are all sorts of critters available beside chickens and game hens. Quail is nice, or partridge. Even though quail look like they're designed for Christmas dinner in a doll house, you *can* stuff them. I like something fairly exotic like apricot/bulgur stuffing spiked with Grand Marnier or Curacao. Duck is good too. Lots of fabulous recipes for duck! Just Google to your heart's content! But my personal fave is Christmas goose!
For traditional desserts (sorry, can't reisist), for Christmas Eve, I'm especially fond of the traditional French classic, "Floating Island." And for Christmas Day, I do a mock plum pudding. At least it looks like plum pudding when I bring it to the table flaming, but it's really a shell of date bar mix (Yes! Mix!) with candied fruit, a bit of mince meat (the mixture has to be pretty stiff to hold up the sides of the mold, so you can always add some instant oatmeal to do that). Bake in a mold with a bunch of aluminum foil holding it in place and reserving room for the ice cream. I do the ice cream filling like a bombe, with a layer of vanilla, then pistachio, then strawberry or some other Christmas red ice cream or sorbet a the center You have to freeze it after each ice cream layer.. Keep it in the freezer until about a half hour before serving, then spread holly sprigs around the base and top it with a generous slurp of booze (rum or brandy work fine), set it afire, turn out the lights in the dining room, and bring it on in! Whether for two people or a mob, you can find molds to fit your needs, and it is always a bedazzler! If you like gilding lilies, serve a liqueur glass of Danziger goldwasser (with real gold flakes floating in it) for a Christmas toast. After all, Christmas dinner is about "over the top." Set a place for Ebenezer! '-)
I had a very similar situation with my boyfriend, now husband, several years ago. We went to the butcher and picked up two really good (and really expensive!) filets and made filet mignons with a mushroom wine sauce, scalloped potatoes and asparagus. We now make those steaks almost every time it's a special occasion with just the two of us, although the sides often change. We'll start with shrimp or a nice salad or soup. It's probably become our favorite meal.
Our tradition is just nibblies on Christmas Eve - crackers, cheese, dips (some I make myself), veg crudites etc. And champagne or mulled wine. All can be gotten ahead of time and takes little effort, but is a special "splurge" for the season. (Then there's a proper dinner on Christmas Day.)