christmas is almost here! i’m back in home in cold and snowy timmins to finish the last of my christmas shopping and to sit around my nona’s living room and drink espresso and eat cookies as i blog. i love the anticipation of christmas; wrapping gifts, starting dinner prep, spending time making my family laugh with my antics.
the night i look forward to most for the entire year, even when i was young, is christmas eve. we always have a traditional italian christmas eve, la vigilia, which is the feast of 7 fishes. we always have 13 dishes on the table, 7 being fish. we all eat courses upon courses of a long, drawn out dinner with lots of wine, and zambuca for dessert. i remember when i was young, i would have contests with my dad and nonno to see who could eat the most shrimp – i obviously always won 😉. now that i’m older, i love being able to help nona prep and cook all day, making fish, setting the tables (one for sitting and one for food), and then sitting back and watching everyone eat and laugh around the giant table.
i’m also cooking christmas dinner for my family this year, and i couldn’t be more excited. i started menu planning back in november, along with my grocery list that’s organized by store, and in order of where you would find it in the store in chronological order because i am a crazy person…i’m headed to pick up everything this afternoon in the snow, and start prepping tomorrow, i can’t wait! there’s no better way i’d rather spend my holiday than feeding the people i love.
and since i can’t help myself, this is what i’m cooking!
gift unwrapping: gingerbread cinnamon buns
brunch: baked sausage, potato and leek frittata (i might dabble in some peanut butter pancakes too)
dinner: small brined roast turkey, marmalade roast ham, potatoes two ways: roast garlic mash, and crispy pork fat roasted with sage, brussels sprouts with pancetta, glazed carrots and parsnips, salad and charcuterie
which leads me to dessert! i couldn’t decide what i wanted to make for and i played around in the kitchen until i found a winner: poached pears. they’re easy to make ahead, light after a heavy meal, and they look so pretty and impressive. the pears cooked gently in almond milk, spices and sugar, then dipped in chocolate and served with greek yogurt and pistachios. i think for christmas dessert i’ll serve with vanilla bean ice cream – i can’t wait!
chocolate covered poached pears
2 cups almond milk
2 cinnamon sticks
palm full of star anise
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
scant 3/4 cup of melting chocolate discs + 5 pieces
for serving: vanilla greek yogurt, crushed pistachios
carefully peel pears from stem to bottom. add to a pot with the almond milk, spices and sugar, and bring to a boil. lower to a simmer and cover with a lid partially off to let out some steam.
simmer for about 30 minutes then remove from liquid and let cool completely. you can store pears for up to two days with a little bit of the poaching liquid.
melt the 3/4 cup of chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring thoroughly each time until fully melted. add the remaining 5 pieces and stir until melted. dip pears in chocolate and let excess drip off. place on wire rack to set.
leave whole or cut in half and serve with greek yogurt and pistachios.