Recently my daughter Hannah invited several women she knew from a vendor relationship and their significant others to her home for a holiday dinner party. I leapt at the chance to prepare some (OK, almost all, of the menu items), which allowed me to flex my culinary muscles. Over lunch, Hannah and I planned what would be offered, using recipes from Bon Appetit, Magnolia Journal and online.
Appetizers included baked mini crab cakes coated in toasted panko, Edam cheese triangles crowned by a date or apricot and wrapped in thinly slice proscuitto, and a baked Brie, served with bubbly Prosecco.
While Hannah greeted her guests, Reagan and I prepared plated salads: spring mix crowned with pomegranate seeds and slivered apples and a tasty homemade balsamic dressing. Guests sat down to a beautiful table, using my mother's gorgeous Haviland china and my beloved silverplate flatware. Candles glowed, and each place setting sported a festive napkin ring.
Then, to the main event. Sliced rare tenderloin, Ina Garten's garlic mashed potatoes enriched with goat cheese and topped with Parmesan and a lovely rice dish, topped with toasted almonds and pistachios, golden raisins and cranberries sauteed in butter, carrot slices and thinly sliced scallions.
Now came my favorite part. Using a new recipe, I had made a classic Buche de Noel. This is a complex recipe, but fun to make. First came a genoise, rolled up warm with a cocoa-dusted kitchen towel. Then a rich vanilla buttercream was spread on the unrolled cake and re-rolled. A small slice of the cake was placed on top of the log, and another diagonal slice was placed on the side. Chocolate buttercream coated the log, with a fork drawn through the buttercream to suggest the striations of bark. Meringue mushrooms decorated the finished log. Cranberry shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate and mini pecan tarts topped with caramel were passed.
Great conversation, lots of wine and laughs made for a very pleasant evening. A crazy gift exchange involving Lena and Noah (who had just returned from parent's night out) capped off a great time for all.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.