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What's for Dinner #261 - It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Edition [through 12/18/2013]

Here in the northeast, we had the most fabulous snow day yesterday -- the kids got the day off, and the snow was just enough to beautifully frost the boughs and branches of the trees, but not enough to disrupt anything. Now, that's my kind of snowstorm!

We are promised worse for this weekend -- and bitingly frigid temperatures -- so it's time to bring out all the warmingly delicious seasonal foods you can think of!

What will be on your table as we get ever-nearer to Christmas?

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  1. I'm NOT looking forward to the snow this weekend. But I do hope to get out a few more decorations - no tree, except my Charlie Brown Tree I bought for both work and home.

    http://www.target.com/p/18-unlit-char...

    That and my CVS Island of Misfit Toy characters, along with a few sets of lights, will have to do. What better time to decorate than during a snowstorm? :-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      Snow ruined my weekend! I wanted to desperately go see some friends at their housewarming Christmas DUMPLING party but alas the roads were a tad too dangerous. My husband is taking the Series 7 as I type so he was worried about being stranded overnight and missing some last minute study type.

      So in the interest of being festive alone, I make pasta dough from scratch for homemade lasagne. He made a sauce out of some hot Italian sausages, spinach, dried herbs, and various tomato products (paste, juice, and raw cherry). Then after boiling the noodles, I layers the sauce with ricotta, mozzarella, parm/salt/pepper. Sauce was a tad thick so I splashed a little half and half over a couple layers. I made it in a loaf pan since there were only two of us. It was divine! Although it didn't quite make up for the dumplings and merrymaking that we missed (seriously, that was the way the invitation was worded).

      1. re: melpy

        Sounds like you had a pretty damn good dinner anyway!

    2. Wiener, wiener, wieners!! I bought some nice European wieners in Canada last week. Cooked them up with cabbage, red onion and chopped celery. Brought out every condiment in the fridge from mustards to hot sauces and HP. Added some quick pickled cuc's and a boule of bread and butter and we had ...."wiener, wiener..... Terrific dinner" ...oooohhhh...bad, I know. :)

      Very nice dinner though.

      1. Had a weiner here, too! Actually I came home from work craving mac and cheese, thought about doing it with the sodium citrate that my sister gave me, but opted for a standard white sauce with Manchego and sharp cheddar. With a Hebrew National low fat hot dog on the side.

        7 Replies
        1. re: kitchengardengal

          I have not tried the sodium citrate yet. I have only read about it.
          On my "to do" list!

          1. re: sedimental

            It's very cheesy with the sodium citrate, and almost feels like the squeeze cheese that comes in the Kraft Deluxe or Velveeta and shells boxes. It's pretty cool to watch it turn into cheese sauce by mixing it into water!

            My sister made it with water and milk. I think the recipe called for just water. She wanted it a little creamier. I'd make it again, but for leftovers, I'd have the regular mac and cheese. It reheats a lot better than the sodium citrate recipe.

            1. re: kitchengardengal

              How much sodium citrate do you use per cup milk?

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                http://modernistcuisine.com/recipes/s...

                This is the recipe my sister and I used. Well, she mixed up the solution, I grated the cheese. She used about half water and half milk, and she used the proportions that the recipe calls for.
                If you're using a tablet or phone to read the blog, the recipe is about halfway down the page, as a chart.

                Sis was kind enough to leave me a supply of the sodium citrate so I can experiment. I think I'd like to try it with Manchego or gruyere.

                1. re: kitchengardengal

                  Great that's the one I have bookmarked. Seems like a fun experiment and really no effect on taste?

          2. re: kitchengardengal

            I really want to try the sodium citrate method. Please report back if you try it.

            1. re: kitchengardengal

              Those Hebrew National low fat hot dogs are highly underrated. One of my faves!

            2. Upcoming - a beef pie. And one we bought, rather than made. But it's a posh beef pie - bought from the farm shop owned by the Duchess of Devonshire.

              It'll just need warming through in the oven. Simple accompaniments coming from opening a couple of tins - probably butter beans and artichoke hearts. Red Leicester cheese for afters.

              It's a wet autumn day here, but not cold - temperature around 10. The sort of day where you want a good book, a comfy chair, strong coffee and a good view of the birds (and squirrels) feeding in the garden. So, that's this afternoon planned.

              12 Replies
              1. re: Harters

                Now, that's something we never get here: a beef pie from a shop owned by the Duchess of Devonshire. Actually, we never get any kind of beef pies! What's in one, exactly? Stew in a crust?

                1. re: roxlet

                  The meat pie is a stalwart of British cuisine - beef being a favourite meat. Folk from Wigan, one of the towns that make up my metro area, are often called "pie-heads" because of their alleged love of anything in pastry. Which leads to a very old joke. What's a Wigan kebab? Three pies on a stick!

                  A "proper" pie has top, bottom & sides of shortcrust pastry, although you do regularly come across offerings in, say, pubs, where there's just a pastry topping, often puff pastry. And, as you say, basically a stew in pastry. Usually has quite a lot of liquid, as you'd expect. But can also be quite solid, as this one is, with most of the liquid drained off.

                  Here's the shop: http://www.chatsworth.org/farmshop

                  1. re: Harters

                    Our local Pub used to make a chicken boxtie- a four sided potato crusted chicken pie. Sadly they stopped when the Irish cooks left and now offer a puff pastry crusted chicken pot pie. We do the puff pastry pie with leftover beef stew. "Somebody" should open a savory pie shop in New England.

                    1. re: Berheenia

                      Hot pies are always available at fish & chips shops in the UK. Unfortunately, the quality is usually very poor.

                      On the other hand, there are now a small number of pasty "fast food" outlets - usually in touristy towns or at major railway stations. I shall now ruin any street cred I have on this board by saying I like them :-)

                      A chicken boxtie sounds fab. I want it!

                    2. re: Harters

                      I think that chicken (or turkey, post Thanksgiving) are the meat pies most widely available here. I suppose you can do a beef pot pie too. When my husband makes chicken pot pie, he puts biscuit on top instead of shortcrust or puff pastry.

                      1. re: roxlet

                        Am I right in thinking that most American savoury pies are pot pies, with the pastry just being a topping, as opposed to Brit pies which fully encase the filling with pastry?

                        1. re: Harters

                          Not entirely. It completely depends on the individual. As a kid, I considered it a real treat to have a frozen pot pie for dinner (something only done when my father was working late -- he would have gagged, lol), and I remember the pies having top and bottom crusts. I particularly loved eating the slightly mushy bottom crust, which was covered in sauce. These days, most people will only do a top crust since it's clearly less calorific. Not that it matters once you've decided to eat a pot pie!

                          1. re: roxlet

                            Twins from different mothers, roxlet. I *loved* those little pot pies growing up, including the mushy bottom crust! LOL

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Me too Linda; I ate them on Saturdays growing up as Saturdays were usually no cooking day (I carry on that tradition). I haven't had one in years as I stopped buying them before my kids left home. Every now and then while shopping, I'll spy them in the frozen foods case and be tempted to get one for old times sake but I KNOW they don't taste the same.

                            2. re: roxlet

                              TOTALLY loved those pot pies. Swanson's, here on the Right Coast. My Oldster now loves them for his lunches, tho they're typically Marie Callenders', for him.

                    3. re: Harters

                      Unless I'm making my own, the only kind of beef pie I can get is Marie Calendars

                    4. I can hardly contain my excitement that in less than 12 hours my last law final will be finished and I will be halfway through law school and through the worst of it! Now to just keep the stamina up until 5pm.

                      How shall I celebrate? I think this evening calls for red wine (heck, maybe champagne after the 2 weeks I've had) and maybe Chinese takeout and tree-trimming. The house has hardly the slightest look of Christmas. By 5pm Scrooge will have met with the three ghosts and have Christmas spirit again!

                      5 Replies