We had a truly beautiful Christmas this year. After travel and busy schedules (including The Gorilla being gone all the week before), I was surprised that it all came together, as that's not always the way.
We hosted friends and family on Christmas Eve and I served this menu. The night before, my mom sent me an email admonishing that this menu was TOO COMPLICATED. You'll spend all day in the kitchen and then be exhausted by dinner, she said. I learned from the best, I replied. (Which is true, my mom's holiday meals are pretty legendary, and they're not exactly warm-and-serve.)
I cooked all day on Christmas Eve, stopping only to eat a bit of lunch. But it was fun! I wouldn't want to do it more than a few days a year, but I am finally starting to see what people mean when they drone on about therapeutic cooking or how food can be an expression of love. I'm really only starting to get that.
Everything tasted great (if I do say so myself), but the real star of the show was the Wolfgang Puck Mac N Cheese. (I mean, the meat was delicious, but it feels harder to take credit for that.) This side dish was meant to be a little on the heavy side since one of our guests was vegetarian, but it was creamy and delicious! It would be the perfect kind of thing to bring to a potluck or something. I did the breadcrumbs differently than the recipe. I mixed up panko and regular herb breadcrumbs with some parmesan and melted butter, then sprinkled generously across the top before baking. That bit of crunchy made a real difference.
If I did the shrimp skewers again, I would cook the bacon by itself about halfway first. The flavors were good, but the bacon never got crispy enough (and if I'd left it in much longer, the shrimp would have been rubbery). I think if it were cooked a little in advance, it would still wrap around the skewer fine and the overall texture would be better. (Also: note that you can't prepare the skewers in advance because of the pinapple enzymes, something I didn't know until the night before.)
Delicious and darling custom cookies from Kelley Hart
After dinner we opened gifts from our guests and sat around the kitchen eating various desserts and talking pop culture. Everyone dispersed into the warm LA night with full bellies.
After such an eventful evening, the kids slept a little later on Christmas morning and we had a family snuggle in our bed before we all descended the stairs in jammies. We spent the day opening gifts, eating waffles, taking naps, and in the late afternoon taking a swim.
This was only my second Christmas in California, my second not in my parents home in Oklahoma. If we hadn't just been there, I would have been deeply sad. As it was, I felt like a real grown up cooking and hosting and letting the sun warm my face on this holy holiday. I hope yours was beautiful.