Good Morning, Culinary Sundays followers, and Merry Christmas Eve!!! Hopefully you are all resting, with shopping completed, menus for the big meal prepared, and all the presents wrapped and ready to distribute. (For the record, I haven't even started my shopping... so you know I'm flying out the door as soon as I'm done posting.) We created a fabulous menu that is appropriate for any holiday or special occasion. And yes, we are re-doing a beef wellington, which we have done before - but we are trying a new recipe and jazzing it up! Enjoy!
Cocktail - Cucumber Martini
Cucumber vodka, cucumber puree, and a little agave syrup for sweetness. Fantastic! Light, refreshing, and a perfect summer drink. But it's winter, Christie, why the hell are you guys making a summer cocktail? Well... we decided to stick with cocktails for the appetizer. Originally, we were thinking to make some classic Manhattans. So we march into Harry's Wine Shop this weekend and not only do we find Greg (yay!) but Christelle as well (yay!). So when we mention Manhattans, they kind of give us a funny look, and Christelle starts giving us some other cocktail options to match our appetizer. I mean... Bloody Mary Shrimp... with bourbon? No. So then she thought up the cucumber martini because of the light fresh flavors with the appetizer and voila! So speaking of the appetizer...
Appetizer - Bloody Mary Shrimp
You know what happens when you don't read through a recipe before starting? You screw up. And, well, we screwed up. This recipe was supposed to be served with the shrimp cut into smaller pieces, mixed with celery and green onions, and then mixed into the sauce and served shot-style. Well... we got over-eager, and just started mixing and cooking without thinking. And to be honest - the sauce seemed really thick to be sucked down like a shot. So we turned it into a cocktail sauce instead for shrimp cocktail. (We added a few splashes of tres chiles liqueur as well.) And it was a lovely cocktail sauce! If you're that person that doesn't want to buy store bought, then this is your sauce!
Entree - Beef Wellington with Blue Cheese and Watercress
Individual wrapped beef wellingtons! Perfect for any holiday party! And a great alternative for the non-mushroom or non-pate eater in the crowd! (That would be myself.) This recipe was fantastic! The tangy blue cheese with the crisp watercress didn't overpower the meat but just added a delicious layer of flavor. (And haven't we already discussed my thing with puff pastry?) We did make a sauce, which you'll see momentarily, out of reduced red wine, demi-glace, garlic, shallots and herbs de provence. Oh, and instead of searing in oil, we went ahead and seared in some bacon drippings left over from one of the side dishes. (It's a holiday, we're allowed.) Superb!
Side Dish - Pan Fried Potato Cake with Onions and Bacon
This was great! A fantastic potato side dish that no one will see coming! We then just cut it into slices, like a pizza, and everyone got a piece. It was great alone, as well as with the sauce. And the caramelized onions and bacon - delish! My only recommendation would be to pan fry once you flip the cake instead of putting in the oven. Seems like just too much extra work.
Side Dish - Sauteed Broccolini
So we went with Rachael Ray, and decided upon the broccolini but didn't use her recipe. (After all, just boiling some broccolini seems really boring.) So we quickly blanched and then added to a saute pan with some minced garlic, lemon zest, and a a juiced lemon. Lovely! None of us have ever had broccolini and we weren't sure what to expect, so this was a pleasant surprise. For those that are curious - broccolini is a hybrid between broccoli and Chinese kale.
Wine - 2009 Chateau Lilian Ladouys
Wine Spectator - 92/100 points
This French red was exploding with black currants and cherries. It was medium-bodied with light tannins and a slight earthiness and spice to it. While this was a delicious wine to drink, we think it will be even better a few years from now. A fantastic pairing with our meal.
Dessert - Grand Marnier Souffle with Creme Anglaise
Yes, yes, yes! First off, I will admit we thought there was 1 too many eggs in this. And it didn't rise as much as we wanted. But who cares - the flavor was there! The Grand Marnier wasn't overwhelming but a delicious addition to the sweet souffle. However, let's talk sauce. You cannot make this recipe without making the creme anglaise. And don't even think about buying it in a store. Suck it up and make it. It was decadent, rich, and positively delicious! You'll be topping your pancakes with this the next morning.
So overall, a fantastic meal, yet again! We revisited an old favorite and then explored some new sides and a new dessert. You will not go wrong with this menu. Next week, we're celebrating New Year's Eve, so please join us for a hodge-podge of finger foods, done gourmet style.
And lastly, Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays, depending on what you follow) to everyone and their friends and families. We hope that you are surrounded by good people, good food, lots of love, and that your holiday be joyous and memorable!
Next Week - New Year's Eve