Last night, I cooked Christmas Eve dinner for the family. Typical of my eclectic style, we had an Asian/Californian style first course, an Italian/Mediterranean main course, and a nice Scandinavian dessert. Here are the pictures and the recipes (everything serves 4):
Shrimp and Avocado Salad
- Half a pound of cooked, peeled shrimp
- 1 avocado, cut into bite sized cubes
- 1 sweet bell pepper, diced
- 3 green onions, finely sliced
- a handful of cilantro, chopped
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of good quality, all natural soy sauce
- Black pepper to taste
- Mixed salad greens
This recipe is super simple: just mix together everything but the salad greens in a bowl, toss gently to avoid mashing up the avocados, and serve on a bed of mixed greens.
Ligurian Duck Legs with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Fennel
- Olive oil
- 4 duck legs
- 1 bag (about 2 pounds) of fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
- 2 small bulbs of fennel, green tops removed and cut in half-inch slices
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 sprigs each of thyme and rosemary
- 1 and 1/2 cups of white wine
- 1 tablespoon of capers
- 1 handful of niçoise olives
- 3 oil-cured anchovy fillets
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley (for garnish)
This recipe requires 1 large oven with 2 racks, or 2 ovens. The duck cooks on the top rack while the roast potatoes and fennel cook on the bottom rack. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coat a paella pan with a thin layer of olive oil, and sear the duck legs on both sides, skin side first for about 5 minutes each side on a medium heat. Remove the duck legs from the pan and set aside. Pour off the rendered duck fat, and reserve. On a baking pan, mix the potatoes and fennel with some of the reserved duck fat to coat lightly, season well with salt and pepper.
Return the pan to a medium heat, add garlic and the thyme and rosemary. Cook until garlic just starts to brown. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan. Return the duck legs to the pan along with all of the other remaining ingredients (except for the parsley). Simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Cover the pan and place in the oven with the potato and fennel mixture for about 40 minutes. Remove the thyme and rosemary stalks before serving and garnish with parsley.
Baked Apples with Vanilla and Lingonberry
- 4 baking apples, peeled and cored
- 1 vanilla bean
- Vanilla sugar to sprinkle on top
- Lingonberry preserves
- Crème fraîche
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice open the vanilla bean lengthwise and rub the little black seeds on the apples. Place a piece of the vanilla bean in the cavity of each of the apples. Fill the apple cavities with lingonberry preserves and top off with a pat of butter. Sprinkle some vanilla sugar on top and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until tender. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche.
We had some brut Italian prosecco with the savory courses and some Canadian icewine with dessert.