Thursday, December 25, 2008

Splendid Table: Christmas Eve

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
People were wrapping, not presents but tortellini
Tortellini that were truly and maddeningly teeny. . . 

Ok, forget it. On Christmas Eve we hosted a lovely family dinner with all the usual suspects (Justine, Michael & Stella, my mother) plus Marina and Philippe. The fire was poked, wine drunk, holiday traditions in France and Guatemala discussed, marzipan fish exchanged, and everyone eventually enlisted in the laborious tortellini-making project. Approximately 140 rounds of very thin pasta had to be wrapped around the most petite dabs of meat paste, a process that tested the patience of even skilled pasta artisans like my mother. But the resulting tortellini in brodo -- made, like everything else, out of Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Splendid Table -- was worth it.

Sadly, the rest of the meal was kind of bad. I have no explanation for this, since Kasper's book has never let me down before. The January roast pork was dry yet damp. Yes, this is possible. Just imagine a dry piece of meat covered in a thin, watery sauce. It was almost as if the pork steamed in the oven rather than roasted. A mystery.
The green beans Bolognese were overcooked and soggy, the mashed potatoes with Parmesan and basil a heavy, exceedingly rich mistake. 

I sound crabby, but I'm not. The desserts were fascinating so I'm leaving them for a subsequent post. And, really, the only thing wrong with the evening was the food. It was otherwise a very sweet and merry Christmas celebration.


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