Holidays still going strong here at the Levy Hacienda... Let's see, we've pretty much been celebrating since Sunday when my bro and sis David and Etta accidentally arrrived - flying from NYC to Billings, MT, through Minneapolis, they missed their connection and couldn't secure another flight until Wednesday morning. Woo hoo! Well, not for them, but for Stacey, John, Nathan, Sasha, and me, it was a sweet little present. I had planned latkes for dinner Sunday night anyhow, and since latkes are a bit labor-intensive for just four people, it worked out quite perfectly to double our group (Stacey, Cooper, plus David and Etta) and have ourselves a little latke feast. We garnished with sour cream, skipped the apple sauce, and enjoyed every greasy, crispy, salty, glorious bite. Happy Hanukkah!
Monday we set out for some late shopping and stopped for a lovely meatball sandwich lunch at Broder's. Monday night I made one of my very favorite soups - Gourmet Cookbook fish soup with croutes and rouille. I don't think there's a better soup on the planet - brothy, spicy, bright, hearty-yet-light, it hits just about every possible note. It's also simple and pretty. Pretty perfect.
Tuesday night we feasted on glorious take-out from Taste of India. Then Wednesday morning David and Etta were off for Billings, sniff, and I switched into Christmas Eve mode. Stacey, Cooper, Bowen, and Mom joined John, Nathan, and me for a simple dinner and lots of presents. I stuck to a loosely Greek theme, with grilled pita, eggplant spread, olive spread, and raw veggies for a pre-din snack. For dinner I made a simple shrimp and orzo dish, recipe via Bon Apetit. And for dessert, a warm lemon souffle, big hit. Perhaps my all-time favorite dessert.
Christmas Day John and I made what has become our annual drive out to my aunt Mary and uncle Bruce's farm, about two hours west of the Twin Cities. We enjoyed a gorgeous, snowy drive and arrived to find the usual merriment - Mary and Bruce, of course, plus their sons Craig and Michael, and Michael's wife Amanda. Also my aunt Marge and Uncle Jim and their daughters Kim and Kelly. Also wine and appetizers and a roaring fire and two pretty trees and all sorts of good smells and conversation. Dinner 'round the giant table (top pic) was prime rib of beef, sour cream mashed potatoes, Harvard beets, and green beans sauteed with red pepper and pine nuts. I contributed crusty no-knead bread. And Marge contributed her perfect cheese cake, with strawberries, on plates lit by little candles (LOVE those candles!). After dinner we opened gifts (I laughed until I ached at my cousin Kelly's gift from Craig - James Lilek's Gastronomalies book, beyond hilarious) and played team Trivial Pursuits and then John and I drove home. (Honestly, John drove home and I dozed - I'm such a good travel companion....)
And then today, to keep the merriment going, John and I dug into one of my many beautiful presents, a tin of ca-vi-ar, oh yeah. I flipped crepes, minced some onion, and boiled and sieved a few eggs. John popped a bottle of champagne, pried open the tin, and we dug into a little slice of post-Christmas heaven. Holy Roly Poly Moly. I'm digesting as I write, then we're off to our third movie of the weekend (opened with Frost/Nixon yesterday, then wandered home to watch The Counterfeiters, then this afternoon we're out the door to see Milk). A champagne-n-caviar-fueled movie marathon? Um, yes.
Hope you're relaxing and enjoying your guests and presents and treats and the end of 2008 as well!