Christmas 2014 Recap

Hey all! Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday full of warmth, happiness, and family. You probably noticed my absence all of last week. I took an unintentional blogging/baking break, by way of a stomach virus. I spent all of last week feeling absolutely terrible and nauseous at the sight of food. Not what you wanted to hear following Christmas wishes but it’s true! I had two more #CookieCraziness recipes planned, including one with a new gadget my plans were quickly brought down. I’m feeling much better, and have been slowly regaining my appetite for delicious things again. I’m glad too because as a food lover, not eating is blasphemous.

Christmas Tree

Anyway, let me tell you a bit about my holiday. In my house, we celebrate the 24th, not the 25th. It must be some Dominican tradition but that’s just always how it’s been. Back in the day, we used to have a full house but now it’s just us four plus our neighbors. I actually prefer it this way because there isn’t much pressure to be super social, and I can have more leftovers.

Besides the fact that there’s really only eight of us (plus/minus 1), my mom always cooks a lot. To be honest, Christmas Eve is basically a repetition of Thanksgiving in terms of food, except that the main protein changes. Instead of turkey, we have pork (or pernil for the Latin@ folks). I actually prefer the pernil to turkey but for tradition’s sake on Thanksgiving, we roll with it.

Christmas Dinner_1

From L to R: Pastelon, Pastelon de Verenjena, Moro de Gandules, Platanos Maduros, Cassava, Parker House Rolls, Pernil, Potato Salad, Basic Salad, Pastelitos.

On our menu this year:

  • Parker House Rolls: the same we had at Thanksgiving (from Bon Appetit), except that I doubled the recipe because of reasons. Still a winner!
  • Pernil (or pork): Star of the night. What Dominicans traditionally have on the table for Christmas Eve. Pray there’ll be leftovers.
  • Moro de Gandules: Rice with pigeon peas. Another holiday staple at my house. Super simple but delish dish, made with my mom’s secret sofrito (actually, almost everything has this stuff in it).
  • Pastelón: That starchy starch thing that has been at our table the past couple holidays. I still don’t eat it but there it is! (in depth description of it’s innards here and here)
  • Pastelón de Verenjena. Eggplant casserole, which is almost like a lasagna. This is my fave, and is always at the table specifically for me. Layers of tempura fried grafitti eggplant, ground beef, green beans, tomato sauce, and tons of mozzarella.
  • Potato Salad. Another holiday staple. I make the salad every time, this time was no different. (check out it’s ingredients here)
  • Basic green salad. About as basic as it looks/suggests. At the table for almost no reason as barely anyone eats this stuff.
  • Pastelitos or empanadas. “Appetizers” except not really. Two kinds: cheddar cheese, and ground beef mixed with hardboiled eggs.
  • Platanos Maduros. Last minute addition to the table of fried sweet plantains. Can’t no one say no to these.

As you can see, this is basically Thanksgiving part two. No one’s complaining, as basically everyone is all about that pernil (no turkey) (dang, couldn’t help that!). We had our littlest neighbor here, who’s eight and extremely hard to shop for. I don’t know but eight is such a weird age; not a teenager but not exactly a kid. That in between age is hard to gauge what they actually like. Strange, but we got her a password journal (which she LOVED), this super cute DIY jewelry box, and some trinkets from Claire’s. She and my sister decorated it in the kitchen. It was so fun to see her reactions to the gifts. One of the main reasons giving is the best!

Christmas Present_1

After all that, we had dessert. Since I was food adverse last week, I had nothing planned. Nothing, which is super unlike me. I asked my mom, which is moot as she never knows, what she wanted. Got nothing from her so I ran with my sister’s suggestion of making a tiramisu. I rolled with it for three reasons: my sister asked, easy to make, and was on my bucket list anyway. I made it the night before, which was awesome because that freed me up to bake bread the next day.

Christmas Dinner_3

It was super simple to make, and is actually super delicious too. I have to say, for such a simple dessert, it was really good. It’s also not very photogenic, if at all. I used this recipe and have a few suggestions. The main one is to mix the mascarpone with the yolks because this stuff is stiff and will never incorporate with the mix when folding. No one wants a lump of cheese in a supposed smooth dessert. Another is to only soak one side of the lady fingers. These things are literal sponges and they soaked up quite a lot. Do one side and hope there’s still some bite when serving. Finally, add booze to this. Every baker’s secret weapon should be in here. I threw a bit whisky in the cream and in the coffee but it could’ve used more.

All in all, it was actually a pretty nice Christmas Eve. There were a few minor setbacks that could’ve ruined things but others made up for it. If anything, this was a major upgrade from last year, and for that I’m most grateful. I hope everyone’s holiday was as uplifting as mine, and that this last week of the year is an awesome one!

Christmas (Eve) Wrap Up

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday, full of great times with family and plenty of gifts, drinks and good food. Per our family traditions, we celebrate Christmas Eve. Back in the D.R., they celebrate Christmas Eve and open presents on January 6th, also known as Epiphany or Three Kings Day. Here in the U.S, we do our gift opening on the 24th instead of the 25th. It’s always been that way since I was a kid, and it’s how it’s always going to be. Of course, as an adult, the amount of gifts dwindle to almost nothing. Unless you’re lucky, then things never really change.

Since I’m now an adult (depends on the day and who you ask, to be honest), the most important thing about Christmas Eve is the food. Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners are basically interchangeable in my house. The only thing that is a major change is the main protein.

On this year’s menu:

  • Pernil: Roasted pork shoulder. I look forward to this amazingness every year. It’s tender and juicy and just absolutely delicious. Don’t be fooled by it’s appearance!
  • Moro de gandules
  • Pastelón
  • Dinner rolls: these are my standby recipe (again). I did half AP and half whole wheat flour. I also doubled the recipe. Remind me not to do that again by hand.
  • Potato Salad
  • Macaroni Salad
  • Green Salad
  • Fruit Salad (not pictured): a giant can of fruit cocktail, mixed with blended sweetened condensed milk and plain Greek yogurt. My Mami also threw in a shot of brandy, for good measure.
  • Piña Colada (not pictured)
  • Random fruit bowl: grapes and apples, given to us by the folks at our local grocery store. They also threw in a bottle of cider. This is another one of those traditions, where they give loyal patrons a bag of this stuff for Christmas and again on New Year’s Eve.

The last thing on the table is the Bahamian Rum Cake. Purposely left for last because OMG it is amazing! I saw this recipe in David Lebovitz’s book Ready for Dessert. I knew I had to make it because it has all of the components my folks like; cake, coconut, and rum! It was so good! Words cannot express how delicious this cake is. I almost want to dedicate a post to it but a few pictures should suffice 😉

Our Christmas Eve meal was spectacular, as always. The holidays this year brought a weird feeling but I’m just going to take it as a sign that next year will be better. I hope you guys have a fabulous Christmas, and that you continue to enjoy the rest of the holidays; straight up into next year!

Note: for detailed descriptions of the menu, please check out my Thanksgiving post