Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Karina Goes Home for the Holidays...

I just returned from a beautiful and snowy week in Durango, Colorado with the Wolfe clan for the holidays. If there is one thing my family knows how to do well, it’s eat, drink and be Merry. Just like on any Christmas I can remember growing up, my mother immediately put us, her culinary army, to work in the kitchen. As always, she had stocked up and prepared to make feast after feast of jaw-dropping, belly-splitting splendor.

Night one: Christmas eve.

Dad’s assigned to take the reigns and prepare dinner for us while the girls work on Christmas Day dishes. He decides to spice things up and do something completely different- Cajun Boil!

I know we typically only post vegetarian recipes here, but I do eat seafood occasionally and this way too good not to share!

  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 5 tablespoons Creole or Cajun seasoning
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cayenne, divided
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 8 small boiling potatoes (about 2 inches)
  • 4 ears of corn, shucked and halved
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp in shell
  • However many crab legs
6 small lobster tails

After cutting, washing and preparing all of his glorious seafood, he squeezed lemon juice into 4 qt water in a large pot. He added the lemon quarters, Creole seasoning, 2 teaspoon cayenne, bay leaves, garlic, the potatoes, and 2 tablespoons salt (omit salt if it is the first ingredient in seasoning).

He brought this to a boil, then simmered, partially covered, until potatoes were almost tender, 10 to 12 minutes..

He then increased heat to high, added corn, crab legs and lobster tails and simmered, partially covered, 4 minutes. He stirred in shrimp and cooked until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

After he drained the water he placed all of his ingredients in a larger turkey roasting pan and tossed it with hot oil and more spices (cajun, cayenne, garlic pepper, & salt).

Clearly we were all very impressed...

Day Two: Christmas morning!

I’m the only vegetarian in the family. (Or pescatarian if you want to be specific). My folks have been know to give me a hard time about it, but mom went above and beyond to accommodate me this year and even bought veggie sausage to try and new egg dish!

1 package of ground breakfast veggie sausage

1 cup chopped onion

1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained and chopped, divided

1 package (10 ounces) frozen organic chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 eggs

2 cups milk

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded provolone cheese

In a skillet she cooked the veggie sausage and onion and transferred it to a greased baking dish. She sprinkled half of the red peppers and all of the spinach.

In a bowl, she combined the flour, Parmesan cheese, basil and salt. Then she combine eggs and milk, added it to dry ingredients and mixed well. She poured this mix over the spinach and Baked at 425° for 20-25 minutes.

She sprinkled it with provolone cheese and remaining red peppers and baked for 2 minutes longer to melt the cheese.


My parent’s friends invited us to their place in Telluride, so we all had to pitch in to get all the prep work done prior to the 2-hour road trip.

The meal was to include a delicious salad, twice-baked potatoes (as seen above), asparagus, and bread.

The family was most excited about their prime rib, but to make me feel not so left out, mom found a recipe for an amazing butternut squash lasagna made with crumbled amaretto cookies. I am adding a link to it because it was that good:

Last, but never least, was the cake. Mom found a great coconut cake recipe that she wanted to make, and I took on the task of making a frosting and decorating it (obviously my favorite part!)

This is the cake she made:

We added lemon curd in between each of our three layers!

I was hesitant to use the recipe they gave for the frosting but since mom had printed it out and gotten the ingredients, I gave it a shot. No surprise when I ended up veering off course as soon as I started.

First of all, if this was going to be white cake with coconut, I wanted something beautiful and green to incorporate to make it really festive. I loved the natural look and taste of when I candied Thyme so much for one of my previous cakes, so I decided to try it with Rosemary.

In a small saucepan I simmered some organic maple syrup and agave and mixed in a bunch of powdered sugar. I squeezed some lemon and cinnamon in, and once I got a small boil, I dropped in my fresh rosemary and simmered each piece for a few minutes. Like before, I took out the sprigs and placed them in a small dish of sugar, dipping on each side and let them dry. I took this rosemary flavored syrup mix and saved it for the frosting.

This is the original recipe:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup water

2 egg whites

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

So instead of corn syrup, I added my rosemary mix. I was seeing that even after mixing for a long time, it was way too thin for what I wanted. I added a lot of powdered sugar to thicken it and it helped somewhat, but still was not a great consistency. I transferred it into my mom’s kitchen mixer and added some earth balance and left over amaretto cookies. After experimenting and adding this and that for what felt like a lifetime, it tasted great, but still was a little thin. We figured the only solution was just using it as a icing glaze to stick a whole lot of coconut to the cake!

Then I garnished with the rosemary, blueberries, and sugar-rolled cranberries...

It's what one might call a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night...

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic time we all had! I love that our girls enjoy the culinary experience that we so enjoy. A bottle of wine, fresh ingredients and good company with lots of laughs makes cooking in out house a great experience. Love ya, Mom & Dad