Christmas in Knoxville (Otherwise known as Foodfest)
On Christmas Eve we went to my Aunt Marie's place. She lives one block over from my parents in my grandmother's old house. She put together a beautiful spread that included beef on crusty bread with two sauces, swedish meatballs, a spiral cut ham, shrimp, little quiches, crab rangoons, and a chicken stew that you ladled over a big biscuit. It was all wonderful and everyone had a good time. Especially one of her three dogs. The little thief was able to get his nose at table level and stole several pieces of beef off the platter before we caught him. Jim and I wanted to drive around and look at the Christmas lights but were too pooped so we just went back to my parents house and crashed.
On Christmas day we had a nice breakfast then had some snacks during the afternoon as we waited for everyone to gather at my parent's house to open gifts. After we unwrapped our gifts, mom started to get dinner on the table. And some of you may already know what my family's traditional Christmas dinner is......Lasagna. Let me just say that it was better than I ever made. Mom's the pro, I am the apprentice. One day I will make lasagna as good as hers.....one day......
And if that wasn't enough, a couple of hours later she brought out dessert. A dark chocolate pie topped with homemade whipped cream. Oh.....my..... It was rich, creamy, and absolutely delicious. Needless to say, everyone waddled home that night. And yet, we still had two more family dinners to go through!
The next night we gathered at my brother's house for dinner. He had some snacks for everyone to nibble on before dinner. On the menu a pork roast with pepper and cranberries and risotto. My brother made the roast and I did the risotto. Add in a salad, some homemade bread and we had some good eats. And for dessert, creme brulee. *burp*
For lunch on Wednesday we took my nephew Steven for his much anticipated sushi. My brother met us at the restaurant and I think we all had gills by the time we were done.
Finally on Wednesday night we ended the foodfest with one of my favorite dishes, sauerbraten and kartoffelkloesse (potato dumplings). YUM! Mom only makes this once every few years because it's such so labor intensive. You basically have to brine the meat in a water and vinegar solution for a few days. Then on the day you're going to prepare dinner you remove the meat from the brine and brown it on all sides. Then you stew it for several hours. In the meantime you make the potato dumplings. You have to boil the peeled potatoes the put them through a ricer......don't just mash them. Then you add some egg and some flour to the mix. Mom also adds a little surprise in the center....homemade croutons cooked with some onion and butter. Now this is the tricky part. You get a big pot of salted water to a rolling boil then add the dumplings, cover the pot and DO NOT open it for 20 minutes......otherwise you wind up with mush which is what happened to mom. The first batch never came together so we had to start all over again. After several frustrating hours, I took over forming the dumplings and gave her a glass of wine. And we held our breath as we waited for the second batch to cook. Thankfully they held together. It was only later that night that she realized that she didn't rice the potatoes which was why the first batch of dumplings just fall apart. This was the one meal we forgot to get pictures of but let me tell you, it was so good!
We followed it up with a dessert that started out as some cookies that flopped. Mom tried to make a black and white cookie recipe from Food TV but they were too flat and not cakey enough. She was prepared to toss them but I said we could salvage them by making a trifle with them. I broke up the cookies and layered them with some vanilla pudding and frozen strawberries. It was actually a very nice light dessert. And a refreshing way to end to feeding frenzy.
We all had a great time although it seemed to go by too fast. And we were all full.