Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange Party

My Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange Party
December 20, 2009
12:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M.
This Year's Party Theme: Greek Food
My Hero, Jackie Lee, had the drive and sidewalks cleared of snow.
Even that little bit you see in the first photo.
Then the sun emerged and shown on the new fallen snow and made everything sparkle
against the white snow and blue skies.

The Wreath On The Front Door Was Even Sporting A Snowy Look

The Christmas Wreath On The Opposite Side Of The Door
Held My Oldest Little Raggedy Ann and Andy Dolls. The Two Smallest Dolls Were On
The Bassinet When We Brought Jennifer Home From The Hospital in 1976. The One In The Middle Jeanine Gave To Me One Year For Christmas
With Message: "Mom, You Need A Doll."

The Green Scarf Attached To The Wreath Neighbor Dickie Made For Me.
Thank You, Dickie.
My Collection Of Christmas Stockings Were On The Stairs
As Dickie Played Head House Butler And Ran Coats and Scarves Up The Stairs.
(I Created A Boot Depot In My Laundry Room For Drying All The Boots.)

Here Joan and Daughter Plus Bev and Haelie Are Sitting
And Sampling the Appetizers: Eggplant Caponata, Hummus on Belgian Endive And
Assorted Cheeses.

These Two Are Hanging Out By My Little German Christmas Tree.
Note the stocking feet--the dress code for the day plus ski wear.

Would You Like To Sample The Fruited Stilton Cheeses Along With The Irish Cheddar and
French Brie?

Greek Stuffed Grape Leave, Carrot and Celery Salad, Red Beet Salad
And Seven Layer Salad To Go With The Two Main Dishes:
Greek Moussaka and The Baked Mediterranean Frittata.

Finally The Big Moment Arrived:
The Cookie Exchange Romp Around My Dining Room Table.
Ready Your Cookie Bag Ladies And One, Two, Three, Takeoff!

Stop A Moment.
Say Cheese.
I'm Taking Your Picture While You Do The Cookie Romp.

Below Are My Recipes For My Greek Moussaka, Eggplant Caponata Dip,
The Baked Mediterranean Frittata and Easy Marinated Orange Dessert.

(Baked Meat and Eggplant in Bechamel Sauce)
Recipes Courtesy of Anne Theoharous's Cookbook: Cooking and Baking The Greek Way
and Recipe From St. Sophias Greek Orthodox Church Cookbook With
My Adaptations

Yield: 12 servings
Time: First day: 3 hours
Second day: 50 minutes
Third day: 2 hours

First day, Frying The 3 Medium Eggplants
1. Wash unpeeled Eggplants and slice into 1/4 inch thick slices.
2. Sprinkle slices with kosher salt and put in colanders to drain with a plate on top that is weighted down with something heavy. Set aside for 2 hours.
3. Rinse eggplant slices under cool water and dry with dish towels.
4. Heat good olive oil and butter in large skillet. I start with 3 T. olive oil and 3 T. butter for a skillet full of eggplant slices. Repeat these amount for each additional batch of eggplant slices to brown. Place fried eggplant slices in a 13 x 11 baking dish and cover and place in fridge overnight.
5. Place 6-8 slices of bread on cookie sheet to dry out over night.
Second day, Preparing the Meat Mixture
(It can be all ground lamb or all ground beef or a combination of both.)
1. Chop up three sweet Vidalia style onions and 10 stalks of flat Italian parsley and one clove of garlic.
2. Heat a stick of butter in large skillet and saute the chopped veggies.
3. Saute 2 1/2 pounds of meat in separate skillet till brown. Drain off the fat by removing meat and adding it to veggie saute skillet.
4. Add one can of well drained chopped tomatoes plus 3 tablespoons of tomato paste.
5. Add seasonings: 1 cup dry red wine
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
6. Allow meat to simmer uncovered until all liquid is absorbed (about 30 minutes).
7. Make bread crumbs with the 6-8 slices of bread that have dried out over night. Use food processor to turn bread into bread crumbs.
8. Remove meat mixture from heat and allow to cool down a bit. Then stir in 1 cup of bread crumbs.
9. Then add 1 cup of grated Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese to meat mixture.
10. Then add 4 slightly beaten egg whites which will thicken meat mixture when baking. Save egg yolks for tomorrow Bechamel Sauce.
11. Lastly place meat mixture over the eggplant slices in baking dish. Cover dish and refrigerate.
Relax, tomorrow it will be easy to make topping and bake dish.
Third day: Making Bechamel Sauce and Baking Dish
1. Scald 3 cups milk in saucepan and remove from heat.
2. Melt 6 tablespoons butter over low heat and then slowly stir in 6 tablespoons flour. Blend.
Keep stirring to about 2 - 3 minutes to allow roux to bubble gently. Then remove from heat
and add the 3 cups of scalded milk.
3. Return saucepan to stove to cook over medium heat to thicken the sauce. Then add 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
4. Cool sauce a bit. Beat egg yolks and add a little sauce to beaten yolks. Then slowly add yolk mixture to the sauce.
5. Lastly add 1/2 cup grated Kefalottyri or Parmesan cheese to Bechamel Sauce.
6. Pour Bechamel Sauce over meat/eggplant mixture in baking dish.
7. Can refrigerate moussaka now or bake it
now in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or until top is golden brown and crusty.
8. Remove Moussaka from oven and allow to sit undisturbed for 15 minutes before cutting into squares. This wait is very important. It allows the mixture to coalesce.
Homemade Eggplant Caponata Dip For Pita Bread
1. Place 1 eggplant with skin cut in half in roasting pan with 1 red onion, 1 red pepper, 1/2 a head of mild elephant garlic. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil over veggies and roast for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until veggies are done.
2. Meantime chop into a bowl 10 sprigs of Italian parsley, 1/2 cup of stuffed olives, 1/2 cup of fresh chives and 1/2 cup of chopped basil leaves..
3. When roasted veggies are done, let cool a bit and then chop up the roasted veggies and add to other chopped veggies in bowl.
4. Add 1 can of drained diced tomatoes.
5. Add 1/2 can of tomato paste.
6. Stir thoroughly this mixture and then add 1 slight pinch of sugar to balance flavors.
7. Lastly add 1 cup of dry red wine and stir to blend.
8. Place dip in covered glass container and chill in fridge. Serve with assorted breads and chips.
This even makes a great spread for bagels.
Baked Mediterranean Frittata
1. Saute 2 sweet vidalia onions in about 3 tablespoons of good olive oil. Remove from stove.
2. Add 1 can of drained diced tomatoes to onions.
3. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh Italian parsley and 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves to onion mixture.
4. Tear up some Italian bread to make 4 cups of bread pieces. Add to mixture.
5. Season to taste with salt, pepper---about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
6. Lastly take 6 eggs and beat them with a fork. Add 1/2 cup of half and half to egg mixture and add all of this to the veggies in mixing bowl.
7. Butter a 13" x 11" baking dish and pour frittata mixture into pan. refrigerate over night for flavors to meld. Next day bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until done.
8. Frittata can be served hot, at room temperature or cold. To serve, cut into wedges.
Marinated Orange Slices ala Marcella Hazan ala Joann Shipley
(This Simple But Delicious Dessert Is Great Now That Folks Are Selling Oranges By
The Box For The Holidays.)
1. Four oranges. Use one orange to create fresh orange zest by zesting the skin. Set aside zest for garnish. Use this orange to create orange juice.
2. Take other three oranges and peel them. Then slice off both ends to pitch. Then slice each orange into four nice slices. Place slices in a quiche style dish.
3. Create a simple sugar syrup by heating 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water in saucepan. Heat to boil and boil one minute. Remove from heat to add 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier into sugar syrup. Add fresh squeezed orange juice from first orange. Return pan to heat to boil off alcohol. About 1 minute.
4. Pour this sugar syrup over the orange slices and garnish with the orange zest.
5. Refrigerate over night covered to allow flavors to meld.
This is a very simple but great dessert to serve with rich food because it is so refreshing.


Denise said...

A lovely post Joann, a great get-together and lovely yummy recipes. You've given us a great gift.

Melinda said...

what a wonderful post and cookie exchange! You sure did make a lot of food and everyone made a lot of cookies and I am glad you still got to have it considering all the snow! ALL those recipes look pretty detailed and complicated! I imagine the food was really good!

Hope you and yours have a BLESSED Christmas and New Year!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Joann: What a great look your place has with the snow and Christmas everywhere. Your food spread looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing your home.

moe lauher said...

looks like it was a great party and a lot of work :)