Christmas 2013 is a wrap!

Now that Christmas is all said and done, I can say it was a wonderful holiday. The party kicked off on Christmas Eve at my parents’ house and carried into Christmas Day at Cassie’s parents’ house. Our doggies were with us the whole time.

Penelope and Emma
Penelope and Emma

Because I never was big on eating a bunch of seafood preparations back to back, I’ve always done things a little differently for Christmas Eve dinner. Dad always brings me a small Boars Head ham, and I warm it in the oven. This year, I just packed a little brown sugar onto it before I baked it.

Brown sugar ham
Brown sugar ham

I’ve been building a few new traditions into the meal, thanks to some of our local purveyors, and the family has been loving those. Last year, I made some simple olive oil crostini and topped those with Maplebrook ricotta and Trader Joe’s fig butter. This year, I brought the same ingredients, but also made up a few with Dalmatia fig spread, found at Adventure in Food Trading.

Fig and ricotta
Maplebrook Ricotta and fig spreads
Olive Oil Crostini
Olive Oil Crostini
Crostini, ricotta, fig jam
Crostini, ricotta, fig jam

I also made sure to get a big plate of greens. For this, I just tossed baby kale with good olive oil and this really amazing red wine vinegar that my dad had in his house. Yes, it was an odd addition, but I needed some kind of vegetable.

Baby kale salad
Baby kale salad

Mom did lots of frying. You can see a little of the seafood here, but my favorite are her classic Napolitana style zeppole, which have some potato in the dough. So damn good!

Mom's zeppole
Mom’s zeppole

My brother always looks forward to the duck proscuitto that I bring from Adventures in Food, but, this year, I build on the charcuterie by bringing ‘Nduja from La Quercia that my buddy, The Cheese Traveler, carries. ‘Nduja is a Calabrian cured meat, usually made from some of the lesser desired cuts and plenty of spicy peppers. La Quercia makes theirs with proscuitto and speck, and it’s incredible. Traditionally, it’s used to spice up sauces, but I just let it sit at room temperature and spread it all over my favorite crackers; it’s like spicy, salty, meaty butter. (Unfortunately, it’s not terribly photogenic stuff, but so what.)

'Nduja on crackers
‘Nduja on crackers

When dad saw the stuff on the table, he knew exactly what it was, and I shouldn’t have been so surprised considering he was born in Calabria and makes his own cured meats. I didn’t know, but he’s actually been recently making his own ‘nduja, which I can’t wait to try some time. He taught me that the pronunciation is not “en-doo-ha”, like I thought, but is “an-doo-ya”. Damn, Calabrese! I should have known, Manaya!

After dinner, we exchanged gifts.

derryX Nintendo 3DS

Mom and Dad gave me a Nintendo 3DS. My brother and sister-in-law gave me The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds as well as a Mattel DDP action figure. Totally sweet!

Christmas Day was awesome too!

Cassie’s mom got me hooked on Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer, which she bought a case of after trying some at The Ruck.

Crabbies Ginger Beer
Crabbie’s Ginger Beer

And for dinner, she prepared a beautiful prime rib, an insane potato concoction topped with Corn Flakes unofficially known as “heart attack potatoes”, and a corn casserole that was assembled by Cassie’s aunt. Dessert was chocolate cream pie and cherry pie made from cherries from the backyard, which were carefully picked and frozen at the peak of freshness. Everything was delicious.

Cassie’s parents gave me spices (Za’tar, Sumac, and Ras el hanout) from The Spice Professors. I can’t wait to experiment with those.

After dinner, Cassie and I went home and exchanged our gifts. She really came through with some great stuff!

Gifts from Cassie
Gifts from Cassie

The rest of the night was spent relaxing.

I’m very thankful and fortunate that my holiday was able to be enjoyed so much.


2 thoughts on “Christmas 2013 is a wrap!

  • Woodrow

    Looks like a great spread. I’ll have to get some of that TJ’s fig jam. And that Boar’s Head ham looks like a fine one. As for the brown sugar, may I suggest it would be better to wait until the ham is about 45 min. to an hour from being done before doing the BS. I’m sure the inside of the ham was great, but the appearance is not good, and means the brown sugar was seriously burned.

    • derryX

      The flash and me scurrying to get a picture while getting everything on the table screwed up my picture! I only baked it 35 minutes at 350, and the sugar didn’t burn, it just looks that way because the outside was black and the flash saturated the image. Next time, I’m not even going to bother with the Brown sugar any way since it didn’t really add much that wasn’t already there (it was a Brown sugar ham to begin with, haha)


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