Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Christmas Cooking Disasters

I had the best intentions of taking a lot of food to my mother's house for dinner on Christmas Day. Fudge, some vegetable gratin, rosemary walnuts, deviled eggs, and a batch of sugar cookie  dough for my brother's Christmas present.

I suppose the cookie dough was the least of the challenges and really, by now I should be able to make it blindfolded in my sleep and with an arm tied behind my back. And jumping up and down on a pogo stick. But even so, the dough was a bit dry. I forced to submit to my will however, and eventually got it into 2 pretty decent looking rolls.

Divinity is one of those candies that I usually associate with Christmas but no one in my family has made it for a long time. Hence my decision to make a batch, which went horribly, horribly awry.With the first batch I overbeat the egg whites and I decided to pitch it and start over, since all l lost was 2 egg whites. With attempt #2 the egg whites refused to be whipped but I continued anyway. It tasted good but looked awful and consequently it did not make it to Mom's house. I made a third attempt the next day and it was closer but still a bit soft. At least I was able to form individual candies instead of one big ugly sugar blob.

And the fudge...Velveeta Fudge is now my go to fudge recipe. No cooking and it always comes out right. I also love the unexpected dairy quality that Velveeta gives the fudge. Only problem there was that I had forgotten to get a new bag of powdered sugar. I also got Velveeta slices individually wrapped because I didn't need a 2 pound block.

The deviled eggs...argh. I had fallen victim to a plastic device intended to cook hard boiled eggs so that you don't have to peel them. Instead you just slide the eggs out of these cups. Except that mine stuck to the plastic cups. Plus the eggs were flat on the top end. And the texture was just odd. I gave up on the deviled egg idea and instead used those 6 eggs in a batch of potato salad.

The most successful dish of the day was the same one to which I had given the least amount of thought. I had gotten some pre-made pie crusts (never did pick up my grandmother's knack with pastry). I rolled the dough out to fit a 9 x 13 pan, then covered with chopped deli ham, grated Swiss cheese and some chopped Italian parsley. Baked at 375 until the cheese was melted and bubbly. The cut chunks pretty much disappeared from the plate.

The rosemary walnuts were from The Gourmet Cook Book and went together easily enough. I didn't get much feedback on them at Mom's house though because the container was covered by wrapping paper or something and no one noticed them. I had a couple of bites though and I thought they were good.

But my most wonderful food memory from this Christmas will be Daniele. He and I have a tacit understanding that we won't be getting each other presents until our financial situation is a little more steady. But we were at a Trader Joe's looking at cheese and I remembered Daniele saying that he hasn't had any real Gorgonzola since he's been in the US. So I got him a chunk. It was runny and stinky – in short, exactly what he had in mind. And as he enjoyed his stinky cheese smeared on crostini he said “this isn't just a gift. It's my childhood on slices of toast.”