XMAS EVE DINNER
I titled this post clear tomato soup because Mr.’s soup stole the show. It was a hard show to steal, I tell you. The main course consisted of lamb two ways simply dressed fresh baby greens and beautiful confit potatoes. This may sound like quite the meal to take on, but it was Christmas Eve after all. Mr. and I have taken on the annual Christmas Eve dinner in our family. We begin the planning after the last bite of Thanksgiving. The Mrs., moi, takes on the tablescape and decorations while Mr. spends hours scouring cookbooks and the internet for awesome culinary inspiration. Last Easter Mr. Cook did an anchovy rubbed leg of lamb that has been praised ad nauseum, so we knew that was going to make up a part of the meal. The original Mrs. Cook had gifted us a cookbook of one of our favorite restaurants in New York, Eleven Madison Park, which was to bring the ever so complicated recipe for the potatoes. The clear tomato soup was inspired by a dinner we had in Vietnam of all places. It really is something that everyone should experience in life. The soup appears as plain chicken broth, very slightly pink or orange. Upon the first sniff one realizes that it is not chicken broth at all! And then the first bite, oh the first bite… tomato and basil fill every corner of your mouth. What you are expecting to be savory and chickeny is instead bright, slightly tangy and all together amazing. Mr. added prosciutto, ricotta and spinach stuffed homemade raviolis to his surprising soup. We finished the meal with some runny custard (Floating Island) as an homage to the great ladies that came before us and molasses cookies. All in all the company was intelligent and humorous, the food was outstanding, the wine was perfectly paired and the evening was one to remember.
These recipes fed 10 people easily.
Clear Tomato Soup, Proscuitto Raviolis
Soup – Do this the day before you serve.
About 6 lbs Tomatoes on the Vine
1 Bunch of Basil
4 Tbsp Confectioners’ Sugar
4 T Kosher Salt
Quarter the tomatoes and rough chop the Basil. In batches, blend in a blender with a bit of sugar and salt. If you have great tomatoes, the sugar is unnecessary. I did 6 lbs in 4 batches, so each batch got around 1 T Salt and 1 Tbsp Sugar.
Get a big wire colander and some cheesecloth. Place the colander over a big soup pot and line with cheesecloth. I used duct tape to attach the cloth so it wouldn’t move around when I poured in the tomatoes. Place the tomato mixture in the strainer and move to your refrigerator. Let sit overnight. The tomato essence will drip slowly out and leave you with a delicious clear soup. I strained mine once more afterwards for super clear soup.
This soup would be great cold, but I warmed it and served it with the ravioli below.
I pulled this recipe from Giada’s and made my own Raviolis instead of those silly wonton wrappers.
recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/ prosciutto-ravioli-recipe/ index.html
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
2 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk the ricotta, spinach, prosciutto, egg yolks, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.
Place mixture in the fridge while you make some pasta
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Semolina Flour
2 T Olive Oil
1 T Water
Pasta is simple, but tough to perfect – I came pretty close on this round. The mixture above worked very well for me – we’re at altitude, so things dry out quickly. If you happen to be in a place like New Orleans, I’d cut back on some of the liquid ingredients.
Sift the Flour together on a wooden cutting board.
Make a “well” for your liquid
Whisk Eggs, Oil, Water, and Salt together.
Slowly incorporate the liquid into your well, stirring with your fingers.
Don’t go too fast, as you will spill eggs everywhere.
Incorporate all the liquid. It should look a bit craggy. Start kneading. If it’s really dry, add some oil or water. If it’s too sticky, add a bit of flour.
Knead for about 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and shiny.
Pop it in the fridge, covered for around 45 minutes.
Roll out your dough, then send through the pasta machine until you hit #8 thickness.
Insert filling (not too much!), and stamp them with a ravioli stamp.
Boil for about 3 minutes and serve in a bowl topped with clear tomato soup.
Roast Leg Of Lamb with Anchovy Paste
1 Boneless (or Bone in) Leg of Lamb, around 5-7 lbs
7 Cloves Garlic
2 big sprigs Rosemary
Salt and Pepper
Let the Lamb come to room temp – this takes around 3-4 hours.
Meanwhile, make a paste out of the anchovies, garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Rub the lamb and let sit in a rack in a roasting pan, covered with foil until it’s cooking time.
Heat oven to 400
Put lamb in. Pull when it hits around 125 at it’s thickest part. You’ll end up with a wide range of temps with this cut of meat, which is nice for a big group.
2 C Red Wine (I used a Zin – anything will work, as long as it’s good wine).
4 C Beef or Veal Stock
Nob of Butter
2 T Flour
Once you pull your lamb out of the oven, take some of the grease and add to another pan with half a nob of butter and the flour. Make a quick roux, add the wine and reduce by half. Then add the Stock and let that reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. You can add any herbs you like. I kept mine simple.
Seared Lamb Tenderloins with Lemon Zest
10 Lamb Tenderloins
Zest of 2 Lemons
Salt and Pepper
Combine Zest, some Olive Oil, Vinegar, Salt and Pepper to make a vinaigrette. Marinate Lamb in the vinaigrette for a couple hours.
Quickly sear in a very hot pan. Cook to Medium rare for best results. I served with the reduction mentioned above.
Potato Confit With Mustard and Pickled Pearl Onions
This was adapted from Eleven Madison Park’s Marble Potato Confit with Vacherin recipe. I skipped the cheese in the original recipe as we had some non-cheese lovers in the mix on Christmas Eve. It’s a 2 day recipe, so plan accordingly.
2 lbs Small White Potatoes
8 C Olive Oil
2 Sprigs Thyme
3 Cloves Garlic
Fleur De Sel for finishing
1 Gallon Chicken Stock
1/2 C White Balsamic Vinegar
3 T Whole Grain Mustard
1 package fresh White Pearl Onions
1 C White Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 C Sugar
2 T Salt
I used Baby Chard, Tat Soi, Baby Arugula, and Baby Spinach. Simply dressed with olive oil, lemon and salt. Mine became a bit more of a salad than an accoutrement as EMP does it..
Reduce Chicken Stock down to 1 1/2 Cups. This takes about 4 hours. Once it’s reduced, add Vinegar and Mustard. Let cool to room temp.
Heat oven to 275
Place potatoes in roasting pan with olive oil, thyme, garlic and salt
Cook potatoes for 1 hour 40 minutes. Let come to room temp
Peel potatoes and place in marinade. Marinate overnight.
Blanche and peel pearl onions.
Heat up Vinegar, Salt and Sugar till dissolved.
Pour over Onions and leave in fridge overnight.
When ready to serve, heat up potatoes and strained onions in a sauce pan and serve with some fresh greens and some fleur de sel.