The first dish of the month was one that I had bookmarked on 101 Cookbooks in November and was saving for our usual Christmas trip to MI. I figured it would be relatively easy to find the necessary ingredients for it at Horrocks or even Meijer. But since we ended up deciding to stay in San Francisco for the holidays this year, that meant that we had no more reason to wait.
This winter pasta recipe uses kale rather than the more predictable spinach in an almost pesto-like sauce. The combination of garlic, shallots, goat cheese, and lemon with pasta was one that I knew I'd like. And because of the dark green kale, it felt like it was relatively healthy. The one thing that Steve forgot to get at the store was some thyme to go on top. The exclusion certainly didn't make our lunch inedible, but I was a little disappointed that we had to leave it out. I'm eager to try it again as it was meant to be, since I really like thyme.
Next, a fennel, leek and arugula risotto from the blog Cannelle et Vanille.
|fennel, leek and arugula risotto|
Steve had sent me this particular link—he got to it first in his feed reader—earlier that week, and it looked good to me. I wouldn't expect fennel, leeks, and arugula to go in a risotto together, but it worked quite nicely with the help of parmesan cheese and some lemon to tie it together. The recipe didn't include lemon juice—just zest—but the juice we added gave it a nice zing.
On December 18, Steve and I finally got around to tracking down some colored carrots for the winter Roast Carrot & Avocado Salad with Orange and Lemon Dressing that we had been wanting to try from Jamie at Home. That involved a trip to the Ferry Building farmers market on a drizzly Saturday morning, but we found our pretty carrots.
|roast carrot & avocado salad|
They were the obvious star of this dish, too. Besides being multicolored and pretty, those carrots were delicious, coated with a mixture of cumin seeds, chilies, garlic, thyme, oil, and vinegar while they roasted. To round out the salad, there were pieces of avocado, some croutons, various greens including some little gem lettuce and carrot tops, a dollop of sour cream, and toasted seeds. I didn't really find the avocado to be a vital part of the salad, but it didn't detract from the whole either.
While we were at the farmers market, Steve and I also noticed some small Lady Apples, which had been featured in a coconut rice pudding recipe on Cannelle et Vanille in November. We got some, on a whim, and Steve made the rice pudding as a dessert/snack on Sunday.
|coconut rice pudding|
The rice pudding itself was rather rich and not as subtle as the Indian version with cardamom that Steve makes occasionally. This one really needed the apples to provide a little acid for contrast to the pudding. Good thing they were so cute.
You might notice that I used the same dish towel as a prop in the last three photos... I was getting tired of using only our white napkins and found the dish towel in our cupboard—one of the few that's not stained beyond belief. I have since claimed it for my own use, but clearly, I need to branch out to others soon. A trip to IKEA for cheap dish towels may be in our future.
The last official dish of the calendar year was a side dish from our Christmas feast: Roast Vegetable Mega Mix from a Jamie Oliver Christmas series that we caught on the Cooking Channel.
|roast veg mega mix|
The centerpiece of our Christmas dinner was a roast of prime rib, since it's become traditional for us to have "roast beast" for Christmas. However, that meant it was not new and therefore did not qualify for inclusion in the 52 Weeks of Food project. Luckily, I was pretty excited about the roast veg recipe, so it was a good candidate for the weekend's new dish. We had just had the roast carrot salad the week before, and this promised to be good (and pretty) as well.
Our sheet pan was loaded with rows of colorful beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and fennel, each with their own herbs and dressings. Although the carrots with rosemary and clementine juice sounded good, Steve and I decided that he would make the carrots from the salad instead, with cumin and thyme instead of rosemary. It was a good move; they still rocked. My other favorites were the fennel and the parsnips, but the beets were tasty too. I'd leave out the turnips next time, though. We concluded that maybe we just don't like turnips all that much.
In addition to the prime rib and roast veg, Steve made roast potatoes (with olive oil and rosemary), garlic butter roasted mushrooms (with thyme instead of parsley), the macaroni gratin (fancy mac & cheese) from the Bouchon Cookbook, and chicken & pork roulade for Rob and Traci, since they don't eat red meat. I ended up with a little bit of everything and a nice full plate. For dessert, we had Indian rice pudding and lots of the cookies that I had made in the week leading up to the big event.