Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Worth Saving: Christmas Day

This Christmas, Lynn had the great idea to serve prime rib (2 pork and 2 beef--there was plenty left over.) Our sides were ranch potatoes, gratin of cauliflower, green bean casserole and spinach salad.
A decision was also made to discontinue the sibling gift exchange (unless we hear feedback :)) and try a gift exchange that includes everyone who brings a gift. We did a trial exchange this year, using Mr and Mrs Wright.

Nigella Lawson's Poinsettia Punch
Makes: 5 2/3 cups (1.4 L) for 8 to 9 glasses
(for approximately 16 drinkers we used 3 batches of ingredients in bold)
(2 bottles of Cava) 750-mL bottle Prosecco or other fizzy dry wine, chilled
(1 cup of Triple Sec) 1/2 cup (125 mL) Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec, chilled
(4 cups of cranberry juice) 2 cups (500 mL) cranberry juice, chilled
Mix the Prosecco or other fizzy wine with the Cointreau (or Grand Marnier or Triple Sec) and cranberry juice in a large pitcher.
Pour into wineglasses or champagne flutes.

Spinach Salad with Bosc Pears, Cranberries, Red Onion, and Toasted Hazelnuts Epicurious 
November 2009
by Diane Morgan
The New Thanksgiving Table
This spinach salad speaks to all the wonderful autumnal flavors of the Pacific Northwest. The new crop of bronzed Bosc pears is piled high at the farmers' market; the hazelnuts have been harvested, shelled, and bagged for sale; and the cranberries arrive from the Long Beach, Washington, coastal bogs. I buy sweetened dried cranberries from a local producer, but they are readily available at the grocery store (Ocean Spray is a good-quality packager), found alongside raisins and other dried fruits. This salad is a snap to assemble if you buy the packaged prewashed and trimmed baby spinach.
Yield: Serves 8

Dressing ( Sara tweaked this. Lemon juice is all I can remember)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
8 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves, stemmed if needed (or big container from Costco)
2 firm but ripe Bosc pears (do not peel), quartered lengthwise, cored, and cut into long, thin slices
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook's Notes) and chopped

To make the dressing, in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover tightly and shake vigorously to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
Place the onions in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let stand for 30 minutes. This crisps the onion and takes away the raw onion taste. Drain well and pat dry on paper towels.
In a small bowl, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of the dressing to soften them. Set aside for at least 20 minutes or until ready to serve the salad.
To assemble the salad, place the spinach, onions, and pears in a large bowl. Give the remaining dressing a last-minute shake and pour over the salad. Toss to coat evenly. Arrange the salad in a large serving bowl or divide it evenly among 8 salad plates. Scatter the cranberries and hazelnuts over the top(s). Serve immediately.

Cook's Notes
(use boiling water/baking water method to remove hazelnut skins)
Try to buy shelled hazelnuts (also called filberts) with the brown, papery skins removed as well. To toast, spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a preheated 375°F oven. Toast for about 12 minutes until lightly browned. If the nuts still have the skins on, transfer them while they’re hot to a clean kitchen towel. (Use a clean towel that is old or you don’t mind washing with bleach, because the skins tend to discolor the fabric.) Rub the nuts to remove most of the skins (they never come completely off).
You can substitute unsalted cashews for the hazelnuts. Toast cashews, as directed above for hazelnuts, for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned.

Do Ahead
(add cranberries and sliced onion when making dressing ahead)
The dressing can be made up to 1 day in advance, covered tightly, and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving. The nuts can be toasted up to 1 day in advance; store at room temperature in an airtight container. The onions and cranberries can be prepared up to up to 4 hours in advance. Set aside at room temperature.

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