life is too short to not eat well

the above package from Eataly tempted us til Christmas

A bit of a belated post about our very relaxing Christmas dinner... While it was no match for last year's Russian feast, it was too tasty not to mention, ya know?  

Chef is so easy to please

We'd had our family celebration with Carson's brothers and dad on Christmas Eve... and most everyone we knew was out of town for the holidays.  So Christmas Day was just Carson and I, leisurely opening presents and lounging around the house.  I was wondering if we should just do something totally decadent and snacky... like giant soft pretzels and fondue...but nooooo. That would be way too easy.  :)  Instead, we decided on Hanukkah for Christmas!  I figured I'd try my hand at latkes again, using Adam Rapoport's family recipe and served with applesauce and sour cream.  Then we whipped up a tasty winter greens gratin from the same issue of Bon Appetit (my version to follow).  And then we roasted a choice cut of juicy prime rib with horseradish sauce



I must say, I was a little disappointed in Rapoport's latkes, which didn't turn out nearly as crispy as promised, despite my following his instructions every step of the way.  I remember making similar hash browns once, using a recipe that required you grate the potatoes the night before and let them sit in the fridge to expel excess water.  I feel like that would have been a better choice, because I squeezed the daylights out of these latkes and they were still a tad too waterlogged. 

the prime rib was perfect, especially with the addition of horseradish sauce

Winter Greens Gratin
This is my variation on the Bon Appetit recipe found here.  The one thing I would've done differently, however, is toast the breadcrumbs some more ahead of time-- or perhaps add an egg wash to the top of the gratin before baking? 

Ingredients
1 baguette to make 3 c breadcrumbs (there will be leftover bread)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter plus more for dish
2 lb kale (center ribs and stems removed) and 2.5 lbs mustard greens torns into large pieces (but I used less- maybe about 3 lb total- and found that to be plenty!)
1/4 cup EVOO
sea salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves plus 7 sprigs thyme
3 shallots, sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 whole head garlic, smashed
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmet
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Mozzarella and Romano (I'm sure Gruyere would've been great, but this is what I already had!)

Preparation
 
Cut baguette into cubes (size of your choosing) until you have 3 cups worth of breadcrumbs.  Lightly butter a 3-qt. baking dish. Working in batches, blanch kale in a pot of boiling lightly salted water until just softened, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer kale to a large bowl of ice water; let cool, then drain. Squeeze out as much excess water as possible by hand and transfer kale to a work surface.
 
Repeat with mustard greens, blanching for 2 minutes per batch. Coarsely chop all greens and combine in a large bowl (you should have 6 cups tightly packed greens). Separate clumps and loosen chopped leaves by hand.
 
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and crispy, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in Parmesan and 1 teaspoon thyme leaves.
 
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots; cook, stirring often, until slightly softened and light golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer shallots to bowl with greens. Add cream, milk, garlic, and thyme sprigs to same saucepan; bring to a simmer. Cook until mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 10-12 minutes. Discard thyme sprigs and garlic; stir in nutmeg. Season mixture with salt and pepper.
 
Pour cream mixture over greens in bowl and toss to evenly coat in sauce; season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer greens mixture to prepared baking dish; sprinkle other cheeses on top. Top with breadcrumbs. Cover dish with foil.
 
Preheat oven to 400°. Bake until filling is hot, about 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is melted, edges are bubbling, and breadcrumbs are golden brown, 10-20 minutes longer. Garnish with remaining 1 teaspoon thyme leaves.

Bon Appetit's version is prettier.  Ah well.

Later on at night, wassail steamed on the stovetop and we invited over some orphans for a Christmas bonfire.  They came bearing tamales, queso, and EJ even walked in with a still-warm loaf of sourdough bread!

the brewer tries his hand at baking

And the night ended, as many great nights do, with games!  I guess my Foodie Fight game is a bit too...foodie-focused...for most.  And I haven't gotten Cards Aganst Humanity yet, though it's on my list.  But, luckily, Apples to Apples never gets old...