A few years ago my father announced to his now very grown kids that he would no longer be participating in Christmas gift exchanges and encouraged us to follow his lead. As Scrooge-like as this may sound, it has turned out to be quite the blessing. Instead of racing around the week before Christmas stressing over buying presents for our grown family members, who quite frankly are in no need of additional material possessions, we focus on holiday meal planning instead. We love prime rib for Christmas dinner and seafood for Christmas eve. All the sides are open for discussion, as well as the desserts.
It takes a bit of hubris to describe a recipe as “perfect”, especially for a recipe such as cheesecake, for which so many have their own personal favorite. But, this is simply the best, most wonderful cheesecake I have ever had, and have ever made. It is based on a master recipe, from the master of baking herself, Dorie Greenspan.
Here’s a quick and easy dip for anyone who loves the taste of red bell peppers. It’s a double-duty red bell pepper dip with both roasted and fresh bell peppers, mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, and a little garlic. Plenty of zing, and so bright and festive!
Cream of mushroom soup has been a favorite of mine as long as I can remember. Of course when we were growing up it was Campbell’s and it came in a can. But even as an 8 year old I took great pride in heating my own soup, and discovered for myself how much better it was if you added milk instead of water, and how important it was to slowly add the milk while stirring so it wouldn’t form clumps.
Now here’s a fun way to prepare shrimp that’s also quick and easy. The shrimp are sautéed in olive oil with finely diced red and green bell pepper, along with garlic and grated ginger, and then tossed with angel hair pasta. So festive!
“I’ll make cioppino,” my brother John announced as the family discussed what to make one Christmas eve a few years back. “Great!” said my father and I, relieved that someone else would do the cooking that night. “Have you ever made cioppino before?” Dad wisely asked. “Uh, no, but it can’t be that hard, just make a tomato base and throw in some fish, clams and crab.” Okay. Relief short lived.