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Happy Holidays from Culinary Hopscotch

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I’ve been backed-up with holiday functions for the last five days. And being that I’ll be out of town for Christmas and recently moved into a new place, I decided to have the girls over this evening for a home-cooked meal and a holiday gift exchange. 

The weather in California is dreary at best right now, and while looking out the window and thinking about what to make tonight, I’m realizing that this is the first break in the rain that we’ve had in a few days. What to make? Something cozy. Something comforting. Done.

On the Menu: 

  • Mache Salad with Citrus Spring Onion Vinaigrette & Avocado
  • Cornbread
  • Goat Cheese & Chive Smashed Potatoes
  • Mini Turkey Meatloaves 
  • Homemade Chocolate Lollipops with Slivered Almonds, Peppermint-White Chocolate Dust & Fleur de Sel 

Salad

Mache is a tender lettuce also known as lamb’s ear. I first used this in Bordeaux during my cooking class, and have been wishing for it ever since. Perhaps I didn’t search well enough because I found it today at Trader Joe’s in the bagged salad section. It’s grown hydroponically so sometimes you’ll find it in plastic cartons with the sponge still attached. Just snip it off. 

For the dressing, combine the juice of a lemon, 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup of spring onion, one small clove of garlic, minced, and season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and pour over the mache topped with slices of avocado. 


Cornbread


I cheated and used boxed cornbread mix. It’s just as good and makes things simple, freeing up my time and attention for the rest of the meal.


Goat Cheese & Chive Smashed Potatoes

Before you get jumpy about how fattening these sound, just know that these potatoes are surprisingly figure-friendly. Goat cheese is lower in fat than you think, and I opted to use Yukon Gold potatoes that are a good source of Vitamin C. You can peel the potatoes, or leave the skin-on, which is what I did because I like the variation in texture. The goat cheese helps the milk and butter make the potatoes creamy, and the chives give it a punch of color and a punch on your tongue. 


Cover the potatoes with cold water and boil until fork tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. Drain and return to pan. Add in 5 ounces of goat cheese, 4 Tbsp of butter, and start with a 1/2 cup of milk. Season with salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher, or you can mash them with a fork. Add more milk if necessary, and stir in the chives when you achieve the desired consistency.


Mini Turkey Meatloaves


One of the challenges of cooking for a group is that not everyone likes the same things. This person doesn’t eat red meat, this person doesn’t like mushrooms, and so forth. It’s an ongoing challenge. Tonight, I’m making meatloaf work for everyone by using ground turkey. And I’m livening it up by making the mini meatloaves in a muffin tin. Charming, quicker, and a good way to portion the meatloaf: winner.


My meatloaf recipe is a combination of ground meat (turkey this time), garlic, shallot, onion, Panko breadcrumbs, egg, ground sage or poultry seasoning, and salt and pepper. Using your hands, combine it in a bowl until just mixed. Over-mixing will cause the meat to become tough. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, making sure to coat it well. Drop the meatloaf mixture into each cup, taking care not to pack it down too much. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife emerges clean from the center. 

Chocolate Lollipops

This recipe came from Ina Garten as part of her ‘Barefoot in London’ episode on The Food Network. For people who hate to bake (myself included), this should be your new go-to dessert. It’s incredibly simple. 

Take 12 ounces of semi-sweet or white chocolate chips and place in a microwave-safe bowl. In 30-second intervals, microwave the chocolate, stirring in between. Repeat three times, and add 4 more ounces of chocolate. Allow it to melt, and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth and completely melted. Spoon the chocolate onto a parchment-, wax- or Silpat-lined baking sheet, and insert a lollipop stick. Give it a little turn to make sure it’s covered in chocolate. Decorate with nuts, dried fruit, or additional candy, and allow to harden for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. I chose slivered almonds, a sprinkle of fleur de sel, and I used a microplane to shave white chocolate-peppermint flakes over mine. They look like they sat out in the snow.
 
Bon appetit! 

I hope these recipes give you ideas for one of your remaining meals of 2010. And if you run out of time, give them a try in 2011. Happy holidays from Culinary Hopscotch! 




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