Yes, I know Christmas isn’t coming for another ten months, but I want to share the wonderful sweets and savory traditions from my family. Food is really the highlight of the holiday season around my house, mainly because my mother is the most amazing baker and every Christmas Eve my stepdad makes Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun shrimp. My stepdad lived in New Orleans for a long time and has perfected Paul Prudhomme’s recipe, the key being tons of butter and spice. We also usually have a bush de noel. So here is a sampling of deliciousness from Christmases past.
Above: Pistachio and Cranberry Cookies and Chocolate Truffles, Below: Snowflake Gingersnaps. Both made by my mother. How she decorates those snowflakes so well, I will never know. She is an artist, so I guess that helps.
Below: Two examples of the Cajun Shrimp with rice. Also notice the table settings- I polish the silver 🙂
Above: Bush de Noel from Balthazar’s!! Sooooo incredible (visually and taste-wise). See http://www.balthazarbakery.com/home.php
Okay, here’s another throwback. I thought I had exhausted all my old food photos but then I remembered about an amazing dinner party I hosted with a couple friends this fall. The genius of the party was its inspiration: I was at Peppercorn in Boulder www.peppercorn.comshopping for a birthday present for my grandmother when I came across this “Gin and Titonic” ice cube tray from Fred & Friends:
I fell in love with the ice cube tray so I decided to throw a nautical themed party serving gin and tonics with the ice titanics and bergs in them. I ended up having almost twenty guests show up for dinner, but thankfully my heroes, Grant and Dre, stepped in to help me chef it up. Our surf-and-turf menu was as follows: Olives, crostinni with tapenade, and smoked mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto for appetizers. Lamb kebabs, bacon-wrapped shrimp, salad with goat cheese, cheddar and chipotle biscuits from the BAKED cookbook, and parmesan mashed potatoes for the main course, and a “White-Out” cake from the BAKED cookbook for dessert. (Baked is an amazing bakery in Brooklyn, NYC. bakednyc.com I had their chocolate malt cake at a baby shower in NYC once and was immediately addicted. See photo from the shower below.)
I handled the baking, while the boys did most of the grilling. I got the cake out of the way early in the day, although it was a challenge and took forever. I picked the “White-Out” cake because I thought it resembled an iceberg. For some crazy reason I decided to be fancy and whip the egg whites for the frosting by hand instead of using an electric beater. Worst decision of my life (or of that day). It took me almost an hour and my forearms were sore for weeks. Another difficulty was stacking the layers of the cake. My mother taught me to always shave cake flat, but I hate wasting cake so I stacked it without alterations. The cake had two layers and turned out magnificently. The chipotle cheddar biscuits had a wonderful kick and were pretty easy to make.
Now for the alcohol. Usually gin and tonics are my nightcap, but for this party I drank them all night long. I bought my favorite gin, Hendricks, to start the night off right, and ended up breaking out the Tangueray by the end (and sadly running out of it). I only had one ice cube tray so I had the foresight to start making the cubes the day before, and it worked out really well. Of course we also had plenty of wine on hand as well.
Last April I turned twenty-three, and to celebrate I prepared an afternoon tea at my house for my friends. My boyfriend at the time, who is a bartender, made delicious cocktails that he modeled after the “Parade of Roses” champagne cocktail from The Modern in NYC. www.themodernnyc.com All I can remember about this delicious drink is that it involves raspberry rum, sparkling wine, rosewater, limes, rose petals, and some red liqueur. He also made the shots pictured below while working at Suite 200 in Denver. They are Washington Apples – so girly, and so delicious! Shooters can be wonderful but Champagne cocktails are my absolute favorite!! The “Roses on Parade” were a great birthday treat!
I made four different kinds of tea sandwiches (smoked salmon and cream cheese on rye, egg salad, tuna salad, and cucumber and dill) and purchased scones from a local bakery in Boulder, Spruce Confections. I also found lemon curd from World Market and my wonderful mother had an amazing, to-die-for red velvet cake delivered from Kim and Jake’s Cakes. http://www.kimandjakescakes.com/ It was out of this world. My wonderful father had the center floral arrangement delivered. It was a great day!
My tea turned out really well, but it wasn’t on par with the professionals. Below is an example of a casual afternoon tea done by people who really know their scones and cake – Tea & Sympathy in New York City. www.teaandsympathynewyork.com. (see photo below). Tea & Sympathy gives you entire full-sized pieces of cake and/or cupcakes with your tea set that are heavenly, but not as delicate as tea at The Ritz Carlton, The Plaza Hotel, etc. My favorite place to have afternoon tea in the entire world is in the birthplace of the hallowed tradition – England. Specifically, the best tea I ever had was in London at the Berkely Hotel in the Caramel Room. http://www.the-berkeley.co.uk/