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Wednesday, December 17, 2014


While Christmas is truly my favorite time of the year, with being thankful, spending time with treasured family and friends, giving and receiving special gifts etc., one of the most important aspects of the day is - - - the food!  We've honed it over the years to something that we love and look forward to the other 364 days of the year.  Here's what our intimate family gathering will enjoy on the big day:



Assorted Cheeses
Oyster Sampler (from Island Creek)

EASY FETA DIP (with baguette)



Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
I've been making this coffee cake for about 20 years!  It was clipped from an old magazine years ago, and I have no idea which magazine it was.  It's easy and delicious and smells like Christmas!

2 pkgs refrigerated crescent rolls
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 3 oz. block of cream cheese, room temperature

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Cut a 24" piece of wax paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Unroll crescent rolls and place on wax paper, pressing the seams, to create one long rectangle. In a medium bowl stir cinnamon into brown sugar.  Add walnuts and raisins.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Dot cream cheese evenly over the crescent rolls.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the cream cheese.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Starting with long side, roll crescent roll up jelly roll fashion using wax paper to lift and roll.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
 Transfer to large greased baking sheet. Form dough into circle and pinch seams to seal.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
 With scissors, cut in 1" intervals along the circle.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Bake 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake 10-15 minutes more until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
(Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
It gets no easier than this recipe!  And it's a colorful and light start to a delicious beef dinner.
Photo Credit: thegirlwhoateeverything
about 1/3 cup olive oil
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
4-5 green onions, sliced thinly
8 ounces fresh feta cheese, crumbled
2-3 teaspoons Cavender's Greek seasoning
fresh baguette, sliced thinly
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
On a large platter drizzle olive oil until you have a thin layer on the entire platter. You may use more or less here depending on your preference.
Add the tomatoes, green onions, and feta on top of the olive oil. Sprinkle with the Greek seasoning to taste. With a spoon carefully combine the ingredients. Serve with warm sliced baguettes.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
(Adapted from
Photo Credit:
1 cup good balsamic vinegar
cherry or grape tomatoes
mini mozzarella cheese balls (could use regular sized ball, and cut into bite-sized pieces)
fresh basil leaves, cut in half if large
salt & pepper
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Bring balsamic vinegar up to a boil in a saucepan, then lower heat to medium and simmer until it’s the consistency of very thin maple syrup, about 10 minutes.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Pour into a bowl and let cool.
Cut tomatoes in half. Thread a mini mozzarella cheese ball, basil leaf and a tomato half onto a tooth pick. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Sprinkle with salt & pepper, then drizzle cooled balsamic reduction on top.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Adventuresinthtekitchen
This beef tenderloin is to die for!  And yes, it's rich (served with the gorgonzola sauce), but it's once a year, and IT'S WORTH IT!
1 whole filet of beef (4 to 5 pounds), trimmed and tied
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper

Heat oven to 500 degrees F. Place beef on a baking sheet; pat the outside dry with a paper towel. Spread butter on with your hands.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Roast for exactly 22 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium rare.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Remove from oven; cover tightly with foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Remove the strings and slice the filet thickly. Serve with Gorgonzola Sauce.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Gorgonzola Sauce

Photo Credit: adventuresinthekitchen
4 cups heavy cream
3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola
3 TBSP freshly grated Parmesan
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 TBSP minced fresh parsley
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then continue to boil rapidly for 45 to 50 minutes, until thickened like a white sauce, stirring occasionally.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Off the heat, add the Gorgonzola, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and parsley. Whisk rapidly until the cheeses melt and serve warm.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Rachel Ray
This recipe is so fun for Christmas since the colors are RED AND GREEN.  It looks great on your plate with the neutral filet of beef and potatoes.
4 Beefsteak tomatoes
2 pkgs frozen chopped spinach
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
2 TBSP snipped fresh chives
1 tsp garlic salt
panko crumbs
shredded cheddar cheese
Scoop out the insides of the tomatoes and turn upside down to drain and dry.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Thaw the spinach and squeeze out excess moisture.  Mix the spinach with the softened cream cheese and chives and garlic salt and pepper (can add a bit of milk to the mixture if it's too stiff).  Stuff the tomatoes with the spinach mixture, and top each with panko crumbs and then with the cheese.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Bake at 350 degrees F until heated through, about 20 minutes.  Can be made a day in advance and then heated in the oven.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
(Adapted from Closet Cooking)
Photo Credit: Closet Cooking
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 cup boiling water
1 TBSP oil
6 oz pancetta, diced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp thyme, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1 pinch nutmeg
2 pounds potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thin (on a mandolin)
2 cups gruyere, grated
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in the water for 20 minutes.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Remove the mushrooms from the water, reserving the water, squeeze the excess water from them and coarsely chop them.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until it starts to turn golden brown, about 4-6 minutes.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Add the mushrooms, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and saute for a minute and remove from heat.

Bring the cream, milk, reserved mushroom water and nutmeg to a simmer and remove from heat.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Pour a bit of the cream over the bottom of an 8x8x2 inch baking pan and layer 1/2 of the sliced potatoes on top followed by half of the pancetta and mushroom mixture and cheese.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Followed with the remaining potatoes, the cream and the remaining pancetta and mushroom mixture and cheese and cover in foil.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until fork tender, about 55-60 minutes. Note: At the end of this step you can let the gratin sit at room temperature for up two 2 hours before continuing.
Remove the foil and continue to cook until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Epicurious
I absolutely insist on having something crunchy on my plate at every meal.  The thought of just eating mushy food (the creamed spinach and the soft potatoes) just doesn't agree with me unless there is something there to break up the monotony.  I this this simple salad does the trick!
4 heads Bibb lettuce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 TBSP minced shallots
2 TBSP minced chives
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup tarragon leaves
1/4 cup chervil leaves
1/2 cup House Vinaigrette (see below)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Mix the house vinaigrette with the lemon juice. Plate the lettuce on individual plates. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the shallots and chives, and 1 tablespoon each of the parsley, tarragon, and chervil on each. Then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette/lemon mix.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups canola oil

Combine the mustard and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 15 seconds. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the oil. Don't be tempted to add all the oil to the blender or the vinaigrette will become too thick. It should be very creamy.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Transfer the vinaigrette to a small bowl and, whisking constantly, slowly stream in the remaining 1 cup oil. (The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Should the vinaigrette separate, use a blender or immersion blender to re-emulsify it.)

Photo Credit:
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 pound mascarpone cheese, room temperature
7 oz lady fingers
1 cup cold brewed coffee
cocoa powder
chocolate shaves
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and milk in a medium saucepan until combined.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Cook over medium heat, whisking all the time, until it reaches boil point. Continue cooking for one more minute.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Leave to cool for about 30 minutes at room temperature followed by 1 hour in the fridge.
Once the egg yolk mixture is cold, whisk in 1 pound of room temperature mascarpone cheese.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Line a 9X5 loaf pan with plastic wrap.
Moving as quick as possible dip one third of the lady fingers in the cold coffee, one at a time, and place them on the bottom of the pan in a single layer. You might need to break a few to fit perfectly into the pan. Spread almost one third of the mascarpone filling over the lady fingers.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Place a second layer of coffee dipped lady fingers and spread some more mascarpone cheese on top.
Dip the remaining lady fingers in coffee and arrange them over the mascarpone cheese.Spread the remaining mascarpone cheese.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night. Gently flip the tiramisu onto a serving plate, and sprinkle with cocoa powder and grated chocolate on top.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

I hope all enjoy peaceful, joyous holidays!  

The upcoming Bowl Games await....

A Christmas Eve brunch pic:

3 different types of oysters to sample pre-Christmas dinner:

The wine we enjoyed with dinner - a 2006 Brunello Montalcino my son got in Tuscany when we were there in 2011.

2 of our 3 pups:
And it was a "bracelet Christmas" for my daughter this year! Ha! And that's not even all of the ones she received!

Now....on to New Year's Eve planning!

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