I've been making a lot of special foods for the first time this Christmas season. Some I've remembered to take pictures of; others, not so much.
Breadsticks -- Nov 30 (church-wide Advent dinner)
They didn't rise as much as I would have liked, and they were a little too sour for my taste -- definitely could have used some dipping sauce. But all 30 or so were gone by the time I went through the line, so they at least looked tasty.
Butternut Squash -- Dec 14 (Advent dinner)
Prepared the only way I knew how -- like sweet potatoes. Sliced, put in a casserole dish with lots of butter, cinnamon, and a little maple syrup. It was delicious.
Ratatouille -- Dec 22 (Advent dinner)
I actually managed to take pictures of the process here. Whoa.
Pealing my first eggplant. Skin is surprisingly thin.
Cutting into my first eggplant. It's almost spongy. And see all those little things in there? Seeds. There's really no way to remove them. They were entrenched. So I just left them.
Chopped up and ready to be salted. Apparently eggplants contain a bitter juice that is removed by tossing the pieces with a whole lot of salt, letting them sit for an hour, then rinsing them off.
Ratatouille also contains zucchini, tomato, onion, and bell pepper. Please excuse the mess and the lack of counter space.
All done! Well, kinda. I let it keep cooking at the dinner before we ate, and it got all roasty up on top. Mmmm... It turned out very salty, but everyone seemed to like it. It was an educational experience for all involved.
Cornish Game Hens --
Wow. Those suckers are a lot bigger than they look. We bought two, but one would have fed us just fine. I stuffed them with fresh basil leaves and garlic and poured olive oil on top of them. They turned out very, very tasty. I'm making broth out of the carcasses later. :-)
I made gravy with the pan drippings. I just added some flour. This turned out to be not exactly awesome, because all the olive oil rose to the top and we had to keep stirring it and/or pouring off oil. But it was also very, very tasty.
Mashed potatoes --
Believe it or not, I had never mashed potatoes before. Wow. They're not hard to make, and they're so much better than the ones that come out of a box. Of course, that could be due to the half stick of butter I put in them. Or the heavy whipping cream. Or the whole milk. Or the cheddar cheese. Or the crumbled bacon. Yeah.
[Salad, with basil leaves and climbing spinach -- Norman made the salad. It was awesome! Thanks, Jenny, for the spinach!]
Well, of course, I didn't make it, but we'd never bought wine for ourselves before. Turned out pretty well. Oh, but we don't have wine glasses. But we do have little off-white, ceramic Chinese tea cups with no handles and a bamboo motif. Very festive. :-)
Pumpkin Pie --
I made a pumpkin pie! Also not that hard. Interesting... All these "from scratch" things that I thought were so horrible, back-breaking, and time-consuming... Not so much. Photos!
(There's only a hole in the middle because I had to stick a knife in so it could come out clean.)
Mmmmm.... Oh yeah, and I whipped up some heavy whipping cream for the top. Again, not hard. Five minutes and 3 extra pieces to wash. And oh so tasty.