Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Visiting my parents turns me into a bit of house wife. They have a huge kitchen full of irresistible contraptions all calling me to play with them. In the summer they have a garden full of the kind of produce that I can only dream about in the city. In the winter they have a freezer and pantry full of preserved ingredients (seriously, mom cans or freezes everything -- if the apocalypse comes there will be no better fed family of refugees). And year round they have empty tummies that I'm eager to fill. Holidays also provide a perfect opportunity for making food that I would not normally feel able to justify -- OF COURSE we should spend $40 on crab legs, IT'S CHRISTMAS! ABSOLUTELY I should make 5 desserts -- WE NEED TO BUILD UP OUR ENERGY FOR PRESENT OPENING. This year's vacation menu affords me not only an extra 5lbs (the Christmas miracle of the year is that I somehow still fit into my clothing) but also an easy blog post, it is the season of blessings.


For Christmas Eve dinner I made this fish stew for the second year in a row and like the first act the encore was a hit. I used this epicurious recipe which knows enough not to mess too much with a pot full of amazing ingredients, if you (or, you know, your dad...) feel like splurging on insane amounts of seafood this should impress the guests.

Chicken and Dumplings

I served this Smitten Kitchen recipe on Christmas evening (go check out her pictures, they make mine look like slop) and because I am incredibly lazy I didn't bother with the whole removing the chicken from the bone step which grossed out my sister-in-law to be but didn't seem to adversely effect the dish itself. This was the perfect comfort food and I found myself wishing for a blizzard while eating it. (Who am I kidding? I'm pretty much wishing for a blizzard every waking moment from November through March).

Pasta With Brussel Sprouts and Peas

This recipe is a Brianna original and my current favorite fast and easy winter dinner plan. If I may be so bold as to call myself a chef then I can also call this dish a lighter riff on the classic pasta carbonara. It starts with sauteing some cured pig (when I'm feeling fancy I use pancetta but at mom and dad's only bacon was available.) and garlic and mushrooms then add roasted brussel sprouts, peas and parmesan cheese. The recipe is a very forgiving refrigerator cleaner and I've replaced the peas with spinach and done without the mushrooms on many occasions never with any ill efects.

Fisherman's Pie

Last summer my parents shipped me 26 pounds of halibut from Alaska and since I am one person with one average sized freezer I was forced to share the bounty with friends. Because I am incredibly lucky my friends Alia and Owen shared the bounty back at me by inviting me over for dinner when they cooked their halibut ration. Owen got this recipe from his mother and I have dubbed it Fisherman's Pie since it's basically Shepard's Pie with fish instead of lamb and a cream sauce instead of a tomato base. I made this one evening when my parents had invited friends over and while there were many raised eyebrows upon hearing that I would be serving "Fish Pie" when we finally sat down to dinner there was a tableful of surprisingly happy tongues and many seconds served.

Eggnog Ice Cream

This was an ode to my love of the Starbucks Eggnog Latte which was as good an excuse as I needed to play with mom's ice cream maker. This is another epicurious recipe (I am their biggest fan and advertiser, they should pay me.) and while I was (obviously) tempted to up the rum portion I resisted out of fear that adding alcohol could adversely affect the freezing process which could lead to me being forced to eat a bowl of boozey liquid ice cream mix and while this sounds like the perfect way to celebrate the season I didn't think my parents would appreciate the image of me covered in custard and passed out on their kitchen floor. They have no idea how much I sacrifice for them. I am like the best daughter ever.


Gillian said...

Next year come to Canada for Christmas! The picture of the eggnog ice cream is AWESOME.

alia said...

my plan with ice cream that should have more alcohol in it: serve a scoop of it in a glass large enough to hold the right amount of alcohol. a rum float instead of a rootbeer float... (or, in my case, a bailey's float...)

not that i'm drinking for the next 3 months.


i am like the best mother ever.


Stephanie said...

Yum, yum, yum, yum and YUM.

I also get an incredible urge to cook and bake when I go home. Then I get an incredible urge to run 12 miles when I return to my own apartment.

wolf said...

As an Alaskan with about 15 pounds of halibut in the freezer, I'm going to try to figure out how to do that fish pie. It looks excellent. Wish me luck!

Brianna said...

Gillian: thanks for recognizing my awesome photography skills I felt like i rocked that close up.

Alia: This is BRILLIANT. You are officially my smartest friend.

Stephanie: An urge to what? running? I'm sorry, I'm not familiar...

Wolf: enjoy the recipe!

kp said...

agree with gillian and alia. make me some ice cream.

Sky said...

Horrid post. The only thing I could eat is the ice cream, at least you put the redeeming quality at the end :)!

alia said...


i live to serve ... yummyness...

(am amused at which of your posts get the most comments...gluttony, air travel...)

me, again