'Tis the season for gathering . . .
We've been to five gatherings in the past couple of weeks; I love being with friends during these holiday times.
Tomorrow the gathering is being held at our house: our First Annual Christmas Eve Open House.
I have worked feverishly over the past two days to prepare for this gathering. In place of our normal dinner party fare of "fancy" and "refined" Italian foods, I have decided to make it a down home Christmas. There will be no selection of olives and cheeses (even though I stood in line at a cheese shop for an hour today), not one bread stick, no Tuscan-style crostini, no salmon and scarmozza on toasted Neapolitan bread, no bruschetta, no salami, no special ricotta with fresh herbs & olive oil that I learned to make at a cooking class in Tuscany, no black olive spread, no pastachio's from Turkey (even though we received a care package of them yesterday) . . . none of it. And absolutely, positively. . . no pasta!
Instead, I will serve a shrimp mold, cocktail meatballs with Jack Miller's bar-b-que sauce, cream cheese with Pikapeppa sauce, Rotel and Velveeta dip, spinach artichoke dip, and deviled eggs with Tony's as the secret ingredient. I think some friends will be in shock! It's American, with a twist . . . honestly the twist is still a bit of a mystery to me, but these are among (the simpler) things I remember being served as appetizers around the holidays.
And on the stove, you'll find a big pot of chicken and andouille gumbo made with love with the andouille my parents send each year at this time.
For dessert. . . well, there's that panettone, you know. . . I did buy FOUR of the darn things. . . but there is also a pecan pie in the oven as I type and pieces of pralines from a batch my Dad made (people will eat the pieces, you will see). My success rate with pralines is too low to attempt them after all the preparations I've made in the last few days. I did make a batch of peanut butter fudge, though.
To drink. . . I draw the line here. There will be some beer available, but Richard also just headed to a local beverage supplier for a case of San Pellegrino & a case of a newly-discovered wine from the Abruzzo region. The only wine that would have been served at a true down home Christmas would have come in a box. And for coffee we'll serve Community dark roast, of course.
Richard hasn't said much and just nods in agreement with each dish I select. When I casually asked him to pick up a can of Rotel at the commissary, he grew confused as he had never even hear of it. I think his understanding of my need to do this overrides even his picky foodie tendencies.
There's the timer! The pie is done and now so am I.