Holiday Entertaining Roundup

We are a a few days away from the end of the holiday season, but I have already hung my apron. For our January 6th family lunch, my sister and I decided to buy lechón, the famous Puerto Rican style roast pork and morcillas (blood and rice sausage) from a nearby stand. I am slacking off in the kitchen and bringing a salad with a homemade vinaigrette.

From the well-documented Thanksgiving turkey to the various gatherings of friends in our home, I’ve had a great time entertaining during the 2010-2011 holidays.  Here is a brief recap of those dishes that DH and I have especially loved this time around, in addition to the sweets featured all through December:
  • Mama’s Spinach Dip
This appetizer recipe was one of my mother’s contributions to our school’s fundraising cookbook back in the day.  For the fifth edition of the Medtrullo, one of the unofficial office holiday parties, I put together this quick dip of equal parts of room temperature cream cheese and mayonnaise, 2 cloves of garlic, crumbled bacon, wilted spinach, and freshly ground black pepper.  We served it with pita chips but would make an excellent crudité dip as well.  It’s very easy to make and a great alternative to the commercially available spinach dips.

  • Betty Crocker’s Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
I made these to rave reviews to the compadres dinner, after photocopying the recipe off of my Mom’s decades old cookbook.  Although the recipe shares a name with the boxed variety found at supermarkets, we’re talking about the real deal here: Yukon golds sliced on a mandolin layered with a half-and-half based béchamel sauce (taking it a step up in the richness scale) and finely chopped onions, baked for about an hour fifteen minutes.  We served them with beef tenderloin with a cremini mushroom steak sauce, and a simple salad.

  • Rustic Italian Bread

One of my FoodBuzz fellow foodies, Tony T, posted this recipe for an Italian loaf.  I decided to bake my own bread to a later dinner party.  The simple recipe, paired with these guidelines, resulted in a loaf with a chewy crust and soft middle.  There will be a lot more bread baking in 2011!

  • Pork Tenderloin en Croute

For the dinner with our Parisian friends, we really wanted to pull out all the stops because they went out of their way to help us enjoy our brief stay in the city during September.  We had also stuck to classics for our previous hosted dinner in, so we broke out of the mold by making an alternative to the Beef Wellington – Pork Tenderloin en Croute.  This recipe takes from the traditional Beef Wellington the puff pastry crust and a ‘paté’ made out of white button and rehydrated wild dried mushrooms, parmesan cheese, herbs, and breadcrumbs. The pork is also generously slathered with whole grain mustard.  My creole mustard supply is running dangerously low now! We served the tenderloin with a wild mushroom risotto, a green salad with homemade vinaigrette, and Tony T’s bread.

  • Warm Chocolate Mousse
I’ll get you my pretty… sometime in 2011!
This one’s the dishonorable mention, the one that didn’t work out, the one that made me forget I had made caramel sauce to draw squiggly garnish lines earlier in the morning. What were meant to be cute little flour-less chocolate cakes, thanks to the resourcefulness of my friend Olivier, became delicious warm chocolate mousses. I should have let them in the oven for a little longer than what the recipe called for, but hey – now I know better. We served them with a small scoop of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream and laughed the kitchen faux pas off.

I’m really happy when I cook and I have especially loved seeing my family and friends enjoy some of these meals. I am already working on the list of places to visit and dishes to cook during 2011, so stick around!

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Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

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