Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Treats and Leftovers


In these days after Christmas, my family is left with a refrigerator full of leftovers and fond memories of another Christmas past. The wrapping paper is in the trash and boxes and bags have been stashed back in the attic. Presents have finally been put up after much nagging. But although the Christmas cheer is out of the air, at least until New Year’s Eve, I want to reflect on some festive and delicious food I have made/eaten. I will just give the highlights. Others include an ugly sweater and dessert party with my friends (and red velvet cupcakes), a Dirty Santa party with homemade white chocolate covered pretzels, cup after cup of hot chocolate, and family Christmas get togethers.

A few days before Christmas I went to the Lexington Tea House with my grandmother. Our love of tea and my friend’s suggestion to try the Christmas Tea Service, drove us there for lunch. I ordered the Christmas Tea Service upon my friend’s suggestion and because I had always wanted to try a tea service (it seems so British and sophisticated). I was not disappointed. My lunch came with wassail. It was a hearty and festive mug of cider and spices with only a faint hint of tea. It was served piping hot just like I like it and I drank two large mugs of it. I don’t generally eat meat so I had to special order the tea service  without chicken salad or ham but I did get extra quiche. The platter consisted of fresh fruit, mini spinach quiches, sweet potato biscuits, a coconut macaroon, small pieces of possibly pound cake and spice cake, and  a chocolate chip scone with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam. Everything was very well made. I especially enjoyed the sweet potato biscuits and was glad to finally try clotted cream. (I can’t really make a judgment on the macaroon because I will not touch anything coconut with a ten-foot pole.) Overall, the wassail really made it a Christmas-y experience for me but one in which I will not forget, especially since I shared a wonderful lunch with my grandmother.


Christmas Tea at the Lexington Tea House

Another festive memory revolving around food would have to be the chocolate cake that I made for Christmas day. I made it on Christmas Eve morning at my mother’s very strong suggestion since last minute baking isn’t normally a good idea. I baked the cake and was thinking that everything would be great and that I was out of the woods. The top was cracked like it described in the book and the edges were puffed. But after fifteen minutes of cooling when I turned the cake out of the pan, some of it stuck to the bottom. After a small freak out moment, I received reassurance from my mom that no one would see that side anyway, I just flipped it right side up and decided to make the best of it. My mom really is my saving grace in the kitchen, always there with a solution to a problem or a way to salvage a dish or at least a reminder that one cooking/baking failure isn’t the end of the world.

I evaluated the problem to be that the cake hadn’t completely cooked and set in the middle. But, at least I knew that the cake it wouldn’t be overcooked and dry. After lots of fun Christmas activities, including seeing family, a Christmas Eve candlelight service, and opening presents, it was time to take the cake to my family’s Christmas lunch. And, everyone loved it! Just kidding…. actually I forgot to take the cake. Sadly enough, our lunch was cakeless. I boycotted dessert because I knew that nothing could satisfy the longing that I had for that chocolate cake. So, I waited until the next get together that night and was glad I did. The cake turned out very rich and moist but was definitely an appropriate dessert for chocolate lovers. I was especially glad to share it with people I love after a long day that was just as satisfying and rich (with memories made and laughter shared) as the cake.


Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake, courtesy of A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenburg, in front of our Christmas tree

So, as my family continues to incorporate leftovers into every meal, I can look back fondly on some of the festive Christmas food I ate this season. I hope that you all had a great Christmas (or just holiday season) too! And if you are looking for something to spend Christmas money on, Alton Brown’s book I’m Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking is a great investment. It combines baking with science and I just love it! It is a wonderful read if you are interested in learning how to be a better baker.

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