Sunday, December 25, 2005

My Christmas Dinner 2005

Thanks to my friends and blog friends all over the world, my Christmas 2005 was a very calm, warm and fulfilling one. Especially the dinner was very fulfilling -- cholesterol-wise!

Many of you might pity me for having Christmas dinner alone every year, but the good thing about it is that I can make/eat whatever I want without being branded a deviant. To me Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner are the best opportunities to give myself a permission to try the food I’ve always wanted to try “someday.” But it was surprising that picking “my favorites” for the menu ended up in such a “cholesterol-rich” dinner! ;P (I’m seriously thinking about somehow getting trans-fat free margarine or shortening by next year’s Christmas to substitute butter with.)

* If you are living in Japan now and looking for a way to buy trans-fat-free shortening, here’s a news. I finally, FINALLY! found an online shopping site (Japanese) where you can order “Crisco 0 Gram Trans Fat Shortening.” They just added the product to their catalogue on Dec 22, 2005. At this point, this could be the only way to have the trans-fat-free shortening delivered to your address in Japan (unless, of course, you have friends/family in the U.S. to buy the shortening and send it to you), because other sites including Foreign Buyers Club and Super@mart do not seem to have this product. The price?.... Oh, well…. It

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Anyway, these are what I enjoyed on Christmas Eve this year after my work at the izakaya. (Click to enlarge the photos with "*" mark.

*Appetizers: Chicken liver paste is my favorite, but it's a hard-to-find item around here, so I made it myself. And I learned a lesson in a hard way: My cheap electric blender is not suitable for making chicken liver paste! I’m 100% sure that I was the only person in the entire world who was making chicken liver paste using a mortar and a pestle on Christmas Eve. :( Salmon roe tasted better with cream cheese than garlic cream cheese.

*Main dish: Baked Orange Rum Chicken Drumsticks. The recipe was from an old, small booklet, “Bacardi Party Book” which has been at the bottom of my recipe box for more than 10 years. Though not called for in the recipe, I added a little balsamic vinegar and brown sugar as hidden ingredients, and sprinkled a pinch of ground cardamom all over before baking.

*Veggies: Veggie sticks and Tofu-Avocado Dip. This was a relatively guilt-free part on the table. ;) The cherry tomatoes were stuffed with chicken liver paste, garlic cream cheese and tofu-avocado dip. (To ripen the rock-hard, unripe avocados that I bought at a supermarket, I placed them next to an apple and kept them in kotatsu heater. I know. Call me crazy… but you know what? It worked!!)


I started with a small (187 mL) bottle of Freixenet Cordon Negro. This dry, not-too-expensive sparkling wine became my favorite this year. How I loved watching the tiny bubbles rising in the glass near the candle light!

After that, I tried Moscow mule, because I had one lime left from making lime shortbread and vodka left from the memorable nashi-infused vodka attempt ;)

*This year I fully appreciated the recipe contributions by fellow foodbloggers all over the world! I tried out three cookie recipes from the Holiday Cookie Swap: Coconut Cranberry Cookies (to use up the dried cranberries left from Thanksgiving dinner), Browned Butter Crisps and Lime Shortbread Cookies (from Cookie Swap 2004). They were all so delicious! Thanks Jillian, Emily and Linda for sharing these great recipes.

*Another big hit was a Soft Ginger Cookies recipe I found on the net. Since my last year’s not-so-successful attempts, I had been obsessed with the idea of “big, soft, chewy ginger cookies with cracked tops.” After a frantic net search, I finally found this recipe, and the moment I saw these photos, I knew it was exactly the one I wanted. Yes, this recipe truly deserves a five-star rating! :D

I made matcha (ground green tea) cookies again because their green color and a little bitter matcha taste were something I didn't want to miss. Gingerbread people’s recipe was the same one as last year, but the mistake I made this year was using full-flavored molasses for the amount that the recipe called for. I loved the dark brown color which contrasted well with the icing, but the taste was too strong for me. Next year I’ll definitely substitute half of the molasses amount with honey.

*Now, what about my Christmas fruitcake?!! When I took it out from fridge and unwrapped it in the morning, I was kind of horrified with its dark color. Then I tasted it, and really hated myself again for using the full-flavored molasses. Its strong flavor just ruined everything, I thought at that moment. OMG, after all those preparations which actually started a couple of months back, did I make a garbage? But when I tasted another slice at the dinner, after leaving the cake on the table all day, I was surprised!! The annoying molasses flavor was gone, and the moist – almost creamy – texture of the cake with a nice liquor flavor coming from fruit bits was just so heavenly. And the cake went so well with the drinks!!

*I was crazy. I tried out another cake recipe, because when I picked up the soft ginger cookie recipe mentioned above, this cake recipe was also on the same site (something like “special Christmas features”) and I just couldn’t resist the temptation. My big mistake was downsizing the recipe to half, not 1/3 or 1/4. For my small bundform mold, the batter was still too much. It rose and flooded while baking, filling up the center hole of the mold, too. Maybe the mold couldn’t get hot enough because of that…? The side of the cake didn’t turn brown no matter how long I baked, and I finally gave up. The taste was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo great, though. The refreshing maraschino cherries in cream cheese poundcake. Ahhh….!!

So, as you can see, my Christmas 2005 was full of sweetness (sugar), richness (fat) and love. :) My email inbox was flooded with kind wishes from friends in and outside Japan, and my heart was certainly filled with warmth all the time, even when I was working at the izakaya on the nights of 24th and 25th.

I hope everyone -- literally everyone on the face of the earth -- had a heart-warming and joyous Christmas this year.


Farmgirl Susan said...

Gorgeous! Thank you for the kind Christmas wishes. And thank you for helping to make Farmgirl Fare one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done. All the best to you today and every day!

Anonymous said...

Have a lovely christmas and new year, Obachan - look forward to seeing your gorgeous christmas dinner.

rokh said...

blessed christmas!

FooDcrazEE said...

merry xmas

Fish Fish said...

Such a pretty candle

Anonymous said...

Hope your Christmas was a happy and healthy one, Obachan! :) Can't wait to see your Christmas dinner snaps!

Anonymous said...

Hi obachan, it's a little late, but hope your Christmas was all that you wished for and have a Happy New Year ahead.

Evangeline said...

hope u had a blessed christmas!~

p.s, to quicky riped advocado, the filipinos put a bit of salt on the bit of the advocado which joins up to the stem of the tree. make sure u remove all of the stalk. it should ripen overnight...

Anonymous said...

Hi Obachan,
Well, Christmas was over, but Happy Boxing Day! Anyhow, what happened to the first photograph? Was it meant to be like that due to some special effect of your camera? Or, rather, were you drunk?

Anonymous said...

Wow! All these, Obachan? I'd love to join you on your lone feast! I take my hats off to you for being so diligent in preparing and making all these :)

obachan said...

Thank YOU for always comforting me with those farm photos!

Wish you a lovely new year, too. Well, my dinner was not so gorgeous but definitely a fat-laden one. ;)

Same to you.

Hope you had a great one, too.

fish fish
Thanks. Maybe you have seen the same candles at Daiso 100-yen shop. My candle looks yellow in the photo, but actually it was light green.

Thank you. It was definitely a happy one, but unfortunately not a healthy one ;P

Thanks. Best wishes for the new year to you.

Yes, I did. Thanks for the avocado tip. Wish I had this comment earlier :D But I’ll know better from now. You know what? Your comment made me realize that I have never seen avocados on trees.

Or maybe YOU were drunk? Kidding. ;P
I didn’t think anyone saw that photo, but lucky you! That miraculous experience will bring you a special luck in the new year. Actually I just changed my mind because I liked this one on top now better. Just remember.. obachan’s site is quite spooky sometimes, and it’ll be the same in 2006, too :D

Amber Amethryne
Thanks, but I was not “diligent.” I was “obsessed and driven.” OK? Of course! I’m Energizer Bunny! (BTW, I think the bunny on that site looks meaner… I thought the bunny character was cuter when I saw it about 10 years ago…No???)

Anne said...

Wow- this all looks so lovely. I, too, love any sort of chicken liver pate, paste, spread, etc. It's great to have such nice variety in a meal, and your's certainly looks delicious. How did your brown butter crisps turn out? I have made them twice, and I LOVE them but they never spread out as thinly as the photo on the original cookie swap blog. They also seem to take a bit more baking time than the recipe says. Anyway, happy holidays and iyo iyo toshi o! Any plans for a great oshougatsu spread? My mom will make shimesaba, chawan mushi and various other delights.

Anonymous said...

OK Obachan

Can I be your husband?

You are one hell of a cook!!!!!!!

Annie said...

Belated Merry Christmas, Obachan. I hope your new year brings much of what you are hoping for.

For a health tip - I know you are concerned with cholesterol but I advise against using trans-fat free margarine. The ingredients in margarine, while lower in fat, are actually closer to plastic than to food! I use butter mostly for baking, anyway, so it's not that I'm eating very much of it. So that's my advice for the new year. :)

obachan said...

Hi! I liked my chicken liver paste, but I think I like it better on rusks rather than ritz crackers.
BTW, I saw your Christmas cookie boxes. Great work! :D My brown butter crisps spread almost too much and I don’t know why…Maybe because of the type and the amount of flour I used? See, our “1-cup” is 200 mL in Japan, so to measure 240 mL (1 cup in U.S.), I have to depend on eye-measurement to some extent. I do think I baked them longer than the recipe called for, but I have to do so with almost any recipe actually. I guess my oven is not very powerful.
Yep, I’ll be making special New Year’s Day feast at my parent’s with my mom and younger sister.
Yoi otoshi wo. : )

Wow, congrat on your kotatsu purchase. But be careful! You’ll soon find out its hidden danger…
You’ll find yourself being lazy to get out of it. Soon you’ll find yourself throwing tangerine orange peels into a garbage basket from where you’re sitting to avoid getting out of the kotatsu, and missing it. Soon you’ll bring everything close to the kotatsu so that you can reach everything without getting your feet out of the comfortable heat…

OK Joanna,

If you’re good at cleaning, PLEASE marry me! :D

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, too.
I thought what that Dr. called “plastic” was the trans fatty acids in the margarine, and significantly reducing TFA would reduce the problem of “being close to plastic.” But I’m fully aware that fully-hydrogenated product is not completely problem-free. What I’m thinking is using no-trans fat shortening/margarine and butter in a good balance.

boo_licious said...

A very belated Christmas wish and Happy New Year.

obachan said...

Thanks. I wish you a Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha,
Obachan as a matter of fact I am a very good cleaner. Not so neat, but really clean. Hygenic. I could probably be the housekeeper for Howard Hughes who was a known germaphobe.

obachan said...

Joanna, you're a heaven-sent! :D