Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A panoply of wonderment!

photos, Diane Carnevale

This Christmas, instead of our usual appetizers and formal sit down dinner, our family decided to do "just appetizers." Elegant appetizers. We still used the good plates, silverware, and linen napkins, but we really shook up the food style. Being in a family of creative cooks, we'd never just serve up a bowl of chips, so there was quite an amazing variety of homemade culinary delights! Pictured from top row, left to right, are:

Row 1: mac + cheese (ok, this was just for the kids— read on, it gets better), Italian-style pancetta-topped Clams Casino, chicken- and meat-filled Dominican-style empenadas (I forget the name of them), and a spectacular platter of lobster tails, king crab legs and shrimp, the latter of which was blanched in white wine and garlic. Warm butter was nearby!

Row 2: a platter of various fruits, cheeses and crackers, a baked brie, several magnums of prosecco, and endless platters of littleneck clams and  4 different kinds of oysters. Insane! The tradition is that we all do oyster "shooters," either straight up or with any combination of cocktail or hot sauce, and... vodka!

Row 3: dried apricot and pistachio white chocolate bark, crab-stuffed cucumber (lump crab, of course!), Greek baklava, and an old-school-retro-family tradition: asparagus rollups. A party isn't a party without them in our family.

Row 4: crab- and parmesan-stuffed mushrooms, prosciutto-wrapped mango and avocado, salad of baby greens, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, blue cheese and candied pecans, and Oysters Rockerfeller in phyllo cups.

Thing is, the above photos don't even show all of what was on the table! Not shown here were stuffed Greek grape leaves, the tenderest beef tenderloin sandwiches ever (with a blue cheese horseradish spread), mushroom ravioli, various spring rolls (including a southwest one), grilled lamb chops and mahi-mahi, meatballs in a San Marzano tomato sauce, and lots of other desserts, including mom's chocolate cake. Bravo everyone, well done. It truly was a panoply of wonderment. Maybe a little too much wonderment. So will we do "just appies" again next year? Hmm... time for a family vote. Harry doesn't care either way, as long as he gets some scraps.

Harry (my brother's dog), waiting patiently for handouts.

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