December 23, 2016
Christmas week is always a mix of calm and chaos - there are extra lazy mornings with time to bake scones to nibble with your coffee (and when Meyer lemons are in, I use them as much as possible), and still more traveling, family gatherings and ringing in the New Year.
There’s the lull between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when we mostly subsist on cheese, chocolate and leftovers, with mandarin oranges to prevent scurvy. The family will get together to play games at some point this week, and I’m thinking I’ll roast a duck or two - they’re easy to find these days, and a bit different from the usual roast chicken. (And I’m a sucker for the little jar of duck fat you wind up with during the roasting process, which makes the very best roasted potatoes imaginable!)
On the eve of December 31, we’ll gather with friends at someone’s house, and I like bringing something savoury, after all the sweet - chunks of steak in a salty, gingery, garlicky marinade are always popular. And because dipping is the very best kind of party food, a garlicky aioli fits the bill. This one sounds fancy, but it’s easy - you cube your steak and pop it into the marinade, then crank up the heat under a skillet and sear the pieces in butter - it only takes a few minutes, and you can bring them to the table warm.
During the first weeks of January, we always simmer pots of bean soup - a great way to use up any leftover ham (and ham bones) from the holidays, but also hearty, healthy and comforting - and economical, whether you use canned or dried beans. I like using dried black beans in a pot of Brazilian feijoada, a traditional black bean stew that’s traditionally made using whatever meaty bits you have around – generally a combination of fresh and cured meats. Feel free to use whatever you have – pork ribs, bacon, fresh or cured sausages – and add some chiles or other spices to suit your taste – certain cured meats and sausages will also add some kick. This is exactly how I tend to cook early in the new year: using up what I have in a healthy, economical way. In with the new!
Happy new year, everyone!
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