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Ghosts of Christmases Past

One of my Christmas Traditions every year is to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I love the book, love the story, and love the many movie incarnations.

Growing up, we had the  30 volume Complete Works of Dickens and I read A Christmas Carol as a young tyke but the defining Scrooge Moment was Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol in 1962. I think that probably came before the reading, but I was such a bookworm back in those days, it’s hard to tell. Suffice to say, it made an impression on me.

This year – besides reading it and watching the 1938 movie with Reginald Owen – I listened to the 1939 Campbell Playhouse radio broadcast with Lionel Barrymore and narrated by Orson Welles. You can follow the link and download it for free! It was broadcast on Christmas Eve 1939 – a mere 78 years ago. The story was written 174 years ago and, sadly, could be written today with any number of our current politicians being cast in the lead role.

We really never do learn, do we?!?

My original intent with this post was to wax poetically about Christmases Past – but I’ve already done that! I have a long post with pictures and everything, so there’s no sense in redoing it. We’ll just fast-forward to 2018.

It’s quiet.

With Nonna no longer traveling, there are no more Seven Fishes on our Christmas Eve plates. We’re home while the rest of the family gorges on Tom’s excellent cooking. There was a moment when we were going to have everyone over for Christmas dinner, but my work schedule leading up to Christmas and going back to work at 6am the day after really wasn’t conducive to quality entertainment. This year.

Next year I will have been retired for 6 months and will have plenty of time and energy to face the frantic shoppers and put together a Christmas Feast for everyone. I’m really looking forward to having the time to shop when and where I want – something I haven’t been able to do in a long time.

This year, it was a Christmas Eve Feast for two. Nonna had turkey and gravy, cranberry sauce and the rest of the trimmings in her favorite place in the world – her room watching Law and Order reruns. We had steak and lobster.

They were pretty basic. The potatoes were different – and fun.

Chantilly Potatoes with a Parmesan Crust

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup cold milk
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Salt the water and bring to a boil, then simmer the potatoes over moderate heat until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the potatoes, return to the saucepan and shake over high heat for 1 minute to dry. Pass the potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl. Beat in the milk and 6 tablespoons of the butter and season with salt and pepper.

Step 2

In a large stainless steel bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Beat one-third of the cream into the potatoes, then fold in the remaining cream. Scrape the potatoes into the prepared dish. Dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle the Parmesan over the top. Bake the potatoes for 25 minutes. Preheat the broiler and broil the potatoes for 2 minutes, or until browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Really rich and creamy. I made about half the recipe and still had too much. But they really were good.

I also made homemade rolls… I didn’t take a picture of them on their own, so here’s a fuzzy picture from the main photo – along with a glass of prosecco. It’s Christmas!!

Honey Corn Rolls

adapted from The Bread Monk

  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 ½ cups unbleached bread flour (I used Italian “00”)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

In a medium size bowl, dissolve yeast in milk and allow to proof for about 5 minutes.

Stir in egg, honey, salt, and cornmeal and mis well. Add the flour and mix until smooth.

Add the oil and beat until it is fully incorporated. Continue kneading with the mixer for about 6 to 8 minutes, or as needed to make a smooth and elastic dough that is only slightly sticky.

Sightly oil the surface of the dough and place in a clean, dry bowl. Cover with a dry cloth and let rise about an hour or until doubled. Punch the dough down and briefly knead.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape into balls. Place balls into the cups of a lightly greased muffin tin.

Cover and let rise for about an hour until nearly doubled.

Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 15-16 minutes or until browned.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving warm.

So… Off to watch old TV Christmas Specials and eat cookies.

Santa’s on his way…..

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