Happy Holidays everyone! First, let me confess and be cliche for a moment; I feel so weird that I have only uploaded a post once this semester. I am a senior in college and I thought that somewhere between my questioning my crisis of consciousness and wondering about what the fuck I will be doing after I have to face the fact that moving back in with your parents after college is pretty normal, that I would be able to post more frequently. I was wrong. Sorry. (P.S. New blog format, I hope you enjoy this more, the other one was for nO0bs)
Now let’s begin. To those of you reading who are amongst the tribe [Jewish], you understand how awkward Christmas can be. While the entire country [‘Murica] is celebrating Christmas because it’s not really a religious holiday as it is an excuse to spend a ridiculous amount of money on “things” nobody would buy otherwise. Here is where my family likes to shake it up. So This year, rather than doing nothing for Christmas, my family did something; a Christmas Eve party. I’m not sure why this was decided, especially because we are Jewish, and the friends we had over were Jewish, and nobody in the house was Christian, but whatever, if my Mom wants it, it usually happens. So this is a guide to understanding how we made it happen
Step #1: Plan your event. No literally just think about it. BOOM! it’s been planned! Congrats!
Step #2: Allow your dad to offer to make something for dessert; he likes to help, what a good guy.
Step #3: Order fancy food things from William-Sonoma like Beggar’s Purses which of course you want so people to think you cooked. [“oooooh how beautiful! You made these?” -your friend] And of course you were gonna say “yes”, but you felt too cheeky and said “NO! William Sanoma! FANCY, RIGHT?” and laugh.
Step #4: Ask your dad to make Gravlax (aka “lox” which cured salmon, not smoked salmon, post pending completion). He agrees. What a good guy.
Step #5: Start planning your Menu. The following is based off real events.
I began the day before (Dec 23rd) which required a trip to the cheesemonger. I picked 5 Cheeses; Funky, Creamy, Salty, Buttery a Fresh one.
Funky: Humboldt Fog
. Humboldt Fog is a mold-ripened cheese with a central line of edible white ash. The bloomy mold and ash rind are edible but fairly tasteless. The cheese is creamy, light, and mildly acidic with a stronger flavor near the rind It is not as intense as Blue Cheese and is similar in smell and taste to truffles.
Creamy: Saint-André. Saint-André is a brand of French triple crème cow’s milk cheese with a powdery white, bloomy skin of mold. It has a soft buttery texture, tangy edible rind, and tastes like an intense version of Brie, which it also looks like.
Salty: Aged Gouda. Aged Gouda has the quintessential yellow-orange hue. Try to find one aged for 18 months, it is a very pronounced flavor speckled with crystallized salt which gives the cheese a great crunch. This is a good staple for pretty much any cheese plate.
Buttery: Manchego. Manchego is made in Spain from the milk of sheep. It has a firm and compact consistency and a buttery texture, has a distinctive flavor, well developed but not too strong, creamy with a slight piquancy, and leaves an aftertaste that is characteristic of sheep’s milk.
Fresh: Farmer Cheese. Honestly, some people just like Farmer Cheese, you can expect everyone to be a cheese person like you. You can find this on the same shelf as cream cheese. I also picked this because My mom asked me if it was possible to make Blinis. I said yes and that’s what I set out to make next.
To plate the cheese, just make it look like a Pinterest page with some fruits and weird layering and you will be fine. For more help see my earlier post here.
Remember, this party of Jews, all of whom are from Europe, most are Eastern European, so even though we were forced to leave about 70 years ago, sometimes we need the food from the mother country.
Blinis are a thin pancake that lacks a leavening agent. They are normally made a normal sized, but when they are tiny, they are a great way to eat caviar and gravlax. I mean, we are fancy in my house and shit, so obviously I need something equally fancy to caviar in which to eat my caviar on. So I made some tiny Buttermilk Blinis.
Buttermilk Blinis: Fancy Pancake Mix, Buttermilk, Skim Milk, Butter, Egg, Squeeze bottle.
Use fancy pancake mix because the flour quality is generally much better than that Nesquick shit. This batter will require about equal parts diary to flour. I chose buttermilk because the can suggested it would be delish. Add an egg and melted butter a per instructions. Because you are making tiny pancakes, it needs to be a but thinner, but not watery. Add a small dash of Skim Milk to thin. Mix until smooth.
Use a funnel to pour into a squeeze bottle. Turn a burner to low and let a non-stick pan. Squeeze small circles (smaller than a silver dollar, larger than a quarter) onto the pan. Let cook as long as possible, but do not let them turn golden. These are small enough that anything browned will make these crunchy, and you want smooth, not crunchy, think peanut butter. (JK, fuck smooth peanut butter). DO NOT LET THE BLINIS BROWN AT ALL! Flip, let cook long enough to set and remove.
What you are left with is a plate that is stacked with tiny fucking pancakes. Now, this is a party, and you fancy AF so you bought 6 jars of caviar because you are the king and shit so you make like 150 of these tiny bastards. So what do you do with them? I’ll tell you.In the meantime. Make the sauce.
Buttermilk Dill Sauce: Buttermilk, Sour Cream, Dill, Purple Onion.
Mix 1 part buttermilk to 2 parts sour cream. Chop some dill (not stems, leafs only) and add. Mix in some purple onion. Add a small amount at a minimum, but if you like onion (like in ze old country), maybe you add a little more. Mix everything together until it is not lumpy. Serve in a bowl garnished with dill. Keep to the side.
Stack the Blinis in an overlapping circular formation. Place the Sauce in the center.
Plating the Gravlax. Unless you made it at home, it will already be cut. Take individual slices and roll them. Roll them off center to create a flowering effect and overlap them on a tray plated with some Dill. Serve alongside your fancy caviar.
Serve alongside a plate of Crudites. Crudites are great for any time you are drinking or pre-eating. Its ok, we all do it sometimes. It is a plate of vegetables than can be eaten with a dip and fancy carbs like crackers or Pumpernickel-Raisin Onion Rye Bread. For tonight, I forget to get extra veggies because I knew it wasn’t going to be the focus of the food being eaten.
Crudite Plate: Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Carrots, Green Onion, Babaganoush.
Plate this by arranging the cauliflower to only show the nice outside parts, not the stem. Fill a small bowl with Babaganoush. garnish with black sesame seeds or some poppy seeds. Arrange some cucumbers around the bowl. Will a smaller second bowl with some green onions to use as garnish. Fill the remaining space with quartered carrots.
At this point, your counter will begin to fill up. Your final step is to grab a bottle of Prosecco, open it, and pour glasses for everyone. Even though everyone with us that night was Jewish, we recognize that this time of year is for spending with family. Even those not blood, are part of our family.
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