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What are some unique ideas to make Christmas Special?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I am planning to cook some special dishes this Christmas by experimenting something new. Apart from the traditional one's, give some ideas about some unique Christmas dishes to cook at home.

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post #2 of 25

It depends on what you mean by traditional, your question is pretty vague since we don't know what you do for Christmas usually.

 

I've been making Christmas special the past couple of years by incorporating new traditions like Elf on a Shelf, making a gingerbread house and making gingerbread cookies, and crafting a yule log.  This year I'd like to make wassail.  Traditionally we usually cook pork for Christmas, but I'm not tied to that tradition.  This year I'd like to make Thanksgiving dinner as Christmas dinner.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #3 of 25

This morning I picked some tangerines from the tree and grated some of their zest into my pancake batter. Made for a special Xmas-y smell in the kitchen and taste!! :)

post #4 of 25

Bought some chestnuts today, I'll roast them in the oven... sure to fill the house with a Xmas smell! :)

post #5 of 25
Well French Fries you're certainly in the spirit. My mother baked some vegan cinammon cookies and it smells awesome in here.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #6 of 25

Pavlova  with fresh fruit  I discovered this while I was living in New Zealand    cant have Christmas without it

post #7 of 25

I'm planning to do exactly the same - I'm planning to surprise my family (who as far as I can tell prefers the traditional dishes like mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, green bean casserole ... wait, is green bean casserole traditional?) with some dishes I'm absolutely positive they'll adore, even if they don't know it yet.

 

Mashed cauliflower, purple sweet potatoes instead of yams, and maybe even a lentil gravy (in addition to gravy made from turkey drippings).  Probably some carmelized roasted butternut squash or even maple cinnamon roasted butternut squash?  I've had all bad experiences trying to make quinoa taste good, so I won't go there, but a nice quinoa stuffing for squash or a quinoa salad would fit perfectly, the way I see it.

post #8 of 25

See I would never ever serve quinoa for a holiday dinner.  I consider quinoa every day diet food, something you have to eat to be healthy.  Holidays for me are for splurging, using a little extra butter, and staying away from every day foods.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #9 of 25

I don't know what's special, traditional or new for you, but the main dish (& interesting appetizers) are usually the stars for me, i.e.

 

Stuffed Beef tenderloin (Rosa di Parma)

 

http://relish.com/recipes/rosa-di-parma-filled-beef-tenderloin/

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUQ49SoteE0

 

Stuff some endive leaves with goat cheese, cranberries & chopped walnuts, with a drizzle of honey.

post #10 of 25

What makes Christmas special for me is a whole smoked and aged country ham. We've been getting one every Christmas for well over 30 years, formerly from a family-run smokehouse in Cape Girardeau, MO.  They take the leg of a hog, bury it in salt for two weeks, then coat with pepper, smoke over hickory for 2-3 days, then hang it to dry for a year. These are done throughout the South. Smithfield is the best known and widely-marketed brand, but it's pretty industrial (but not at all bad.)  They are located in the peanut-farming area inland from Norfolk- it's known as The Great Dismal Swamp. (Where Chloe got lost.)

 

To finish the hogs, they are turned into the fields where peanuts have just been harvested and they root out and eat all the peanuts which the harvesters missed. The hogs are then converted to hams.

 

I like to stick to small, craft smokehouses.  We're currently getting one from a Kentucky shop

 

http://www.bing.com/search?q=colonel+newsome+ham&pc=MOZI&form=MOZSBR

 

which we have used for four or five years. They promise that their hams have been hung for a year. They are, in the words of another purveyor of these  delicacies, "tough as a Drill Sargeant's boot."  Well, they are similar to prosciutto and jamon Serrano. A 17-or-so-pound country ham will set you back about $130, delivered. A good Jamon Serrano goes for, what, $1200?

 

The leftover (unless you've had 20 or so people for Christmas dinner) I slice, vac-pack and freeze; it keeps forever. The chunks that weren't sliceable will make the best ham salad you've ever had in your life. It also makes wonderful deviled egg filling.

 

If you don't have a pot big enough to completely submerge the entire ham, you should have them cook it for you.

Mine will be on the way within the week, and life will be good!:bounce:

 

I will be happy to offer suggestions and answer questions - I've been doing these hams for well over 30 years. Just PM me.

 

Mike

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post #11 of 25

The hubs usually takes one of the SILs and picks a sack or two of live oysters to enjoy fried as well as on the shell....if iced down and covered with burlap and hay MOST of them make it to Christmas Eve :level:   :beer:.

Says this will be his last year as it is back breaking work in horrible conditions....

We have been asking around the oyster/crab processing houses and they say the pickings are pretty slim since the state (Texas) so generously allowed the other Gulf oyster dredges to help themselves after the BP blowout.

I guess what I am asking (have googled but was not impressed) is if anyone knows where I can score a sack or two of nice sized premium Texas/Louisiana bivalves for Santa to leave in the walk in for the best dad, papa,son, and friend I know.

 

mimi

post #12 of 25

MikeLM you just brought up some good memories of home.  I haven't had one of those salty hams in a few years.  I should order one!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks all for your wonderful suggestions about a variety of dishes to cook at home this Christmas. I will definitely try those dishes one by one in the whole month. Especially the MikeLM's whole smoked and aged country ham. MikeLM you have jotted down such great dishes ideas that I also love to eat.

Also, I agreed with Koukouvagia that the "Holidays for me are for splurging, using a little extra butter, and staying away from every day foods."

I wish this Christmas would works great with such a wonderful dishes to cook at home.

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post #14 of 25

Go international and see what people in Brazil or Phillipines do.  You could do a Christmas from evey nation the rest of your life and not run out of ideas!  :)  Wow how I'd love to have a gathering of traditional Christmas dishes.

post #15 of 25

...you just brought up some good memories of home.

 

Glad to be helpful, koukou' - as a matter of interest, you're talking about Greece, I suppose? Didn't know about cured hams in Greece: I missed them while I was there. Could you tell us a little about that tradition? Not that we weren't paying attention - ever since our first

vacation there, we have purchased our olive oil by the gallon.

 

Speaking of ham tradition, I have read that country hams in Vermont are cured with... corn cob smoke!  :suprise:   Somehow I have never been motivated to investigate this.    Could some of you Yankees here tell us a little about it?

 

Always interested in edible traditions!

 

Mike

travelling gourmand
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post #16 of 25
Haha no not Greece. I used to live in Virginia as well.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #17 of 25

Not food related, but I thought I'd share a tradition from way back.

 

The Sunday before Christmas we'd go out to rural southwest Michigan and cut a Christmas tree from one of the farms offering such.  The tree came home and sat, unadorned, in the living room.  We kids would go to bed Christmas eve, the bare tree just sitting there.  In the morning the tree was magically transformed into a glittering wonder.

 

Very nice.  I understand it is somewhat of a German tradition.  Must have been rough on my parents!

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #18 of 25

We won't be cooking again this year. Instead, we'll be at our favorite sushi restaurant eating up a storm! It's just too damn hot to cook here in Australia. Due to the weather here, seafood is quite popular during Xmas.

 

When we're still in the US and used to cook, I tend to stay away from turkey. I prefer either chicken or pork. One year I made coq au vin. Another favorite is roasted pork loin. I cover mine with a generous layer of compound butter (minced onion, garlic, green herb of choice) before roasting. For sides, my mushroom was always a hit. Pan fried with marsala and cream.

post #19 of 25
whole roasted cornish hen, roasted fingerlings, petite peas and roasted carrots, shallot and garlic stuffing, pan gravy. Tiny entire roasted dinner for one, looks like the whole feast on a plate.
post #20 of 25

We were talking about the Xmas menu today. Looks like it's going to be a Guinea fowl with prunes and chestnuts. I've never cooked a guinea fowl, so I'm excited! 

post #21 of 25

"...I used to live in Virginia as well"

 

Well, KouKou', I guess that's why we didn't notice any country hams in Greece. In  Virginia... you must be familiar with the Smithfield product then. Not bad, but I like to explore the artisanal producers. My ham will be here next week, unless we get snowed in, and I'm ready to start carving!

 

Hope you have an exciting culinary Christmas!

 

Mike

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post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by teamfat View Post
 

Not food related, but I thought I'd share a tradition from way back.

 

The Sunday before Christmas we'd go out to rural southwest Michigan and cut a Christmas tree from one of the farms offering such.  The tree came home and sat, unadorned, in the living room.  We kids would go to bed Christmas eve, the bare tree just sitting there.  In the morning the tree was magically transformed into a glittering wonder.

 

Very nice.  I understand it is somewhat of a German tradition.  Must have been rough on my parents!

 

mjb.

 

Thanks mjb, for sharing !

I showed your post to the DH and he thought it was a great idea to provide the youngest grand with this memory opportunity.

She is just the right age (3 on the 27th).

Last year it was more about using garland as feather boas(as well as hanging ornaments from her ears) while parading around like Miss America in her Snow White costume.

Last pm her mom (my DD) read the story of Jesus birth from an age appropriate story book as mimi (that's me!)  acted out this most beautiful of stories... using not only our Nativity but the Lalaloopsies and Bubble Guppies and Santa (not to worry...the sleigh and all the reindeer were present and accounted for).

We have always tried to be careful to separate the fact from fiction and stress what this time of year means to us.... but she has them so intertwined that there was no convincing her.

Have you ever tried to reason with a two year old?

Pretty sure by next year (if everyone does their jobs) she will be able to start unwinding what's what and start to "get it".

 

 

mimi

post #23 of 25
Thread Starter 

Well, it's good to hear such a wonderful excitements in all of you about this most awaiting Christmas festival.

Recently, I am much influenced towards the freshly baked cookies for Christmas, one of the tastiest desserts that never ends from everyone's heart. That's why my eyes got stuck on such great gimmick shared: http://bit.ly/1bBQ9pB 

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post #24 of 25

FlipFlopGirl, I'm glad you enjoyed the tale of the tree.  I hope you start such a tradition, and I would love to be there to see her face on that magical morning.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by teamfat View Post
 

FlipFlopGirl, I'm glad you enjoyed the tale of the tree.  I hope you start such a tradition, and I would love to be there to see her face on that magical morning.

 

mjb

 

:)

 

m.

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