Merry Christmas

Hope yours was merry and bright, too.  My palate and interest have already moved on from mistletoe, but to aid memory next year- here are some notes from the Christmas (just) past.  We started with amazing gingerbread pancakes and cherries on the deck.  The pancakes?  From a mix; and I could eat a stack as high as a chimney. My sister asked that one batch be embedded with bacon pieces.

In a potluck pinch, I often throw together an edamame salad– a very quick boil to frozen shelled edamame, which are then dried and cooled thoroughly before a splash in lemon, EVOO, salt and black pepper.  Goat cheese crumbles and dried cranberries round out the colors and flavors.  For the holiday, I traded pomegranate arils for the cranberries and for Pantry Detox I threw in some avocado that was aging in the fridge.

Frank smoked a turkey for Christmas dinner.  The juiciest, best bird yet.  Somehow its flesh grew even more moist during refrigeration and has provided excellent leftovers.

A summery potato salad that won “Editor’s Pick” in the NYT/Food52 potluck extravaganza.  Shallots and dijon mustard, and capers.  I served it on a bed of rosemary branches to punch up its holiday character.  The steamed fingerlings really are amazing.

Father’s Day

Grandpa had been a month in Panama, Pia was in from Shanghai on a rare visit, and for a long and light-filled Sunday evening, we could forget that life sometimes scatters us all over the world.  Instead it was just seven around a table, in the old neighborhood, on Rocky Hill above the sea where we’ve always lived– our plates piled with Aunty Fenny’s sourdough rolls, grilled salmon, and roasted vegetables for a celebration of fathers and family.

My mother allows potato salad on the dinner table but three days a year: Father’s Day, 4th of July, and Dad’s birthday.  These three occasions span just six weeks of summer, exactly when cool potatoes robed in mayonnaise belong in the court of grilled foods.

Salmon is a staple food for my nearest of kin, who fetishize the different provenances and seasons of wild-caught and farm-raised and smoked, and salted, and cured, and even thaw frozen salmon patties for weeknight dinners. If there’s any disease for salmon overeaters, we’ll all die of it–but Aunty Fenny, licking her fingers like a grizzly bear mid-stream, will still proclaim it with her last breath to be “Food of the Gods.”

Rounding out our plates: grilled and roasted stowaways from the crisper. Eggplant, onion, cauliflower, turnips, radishes, beets, and more.  A touch of curry powder, a turn of olive oil and balsamic, a shake of salt and cracked black pepper.

The lone departure from classic family fare was this dessert– little lava cakes.  Fenny’s summer standard and signature after-dinner treat is lilikoi  cheesecake, an ever-evolving recipe that over decades has been engineered to hold previously unthinkable concentrations of supertart, fresh-squeezed passionfruit juice.  Lilikoi vines usually hang heavy from our railings and trellises, but in the wake of fumigation have been slow to take hold again.  Until we see another summer of passionfruit, these will have to do.  Happy Father’s Day!