Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Midweek Food Musings: The Warm Up

When there's so much focus on the main dish, the lead up can get lost. Well, that is, unless you are--as I am--fixated on dinner warm-up. Getting your guests palates ready for dinner should be part of the game plan. So here's what I've learned: as in the case of so many aspects of life--and meals--balance is key.

But, hmmm, let me step back for a moment.

This time of year is huge in my family; it's really the only time that ALL (siblings, cousins, nieces/nephews--and more!). AND, this year, we had FOUR generations of family. Those of you know me/my family know that so much of getting together  is about the food. Still, it's not about just one meal, but a series of meals. It's hard to plan everything all it once, and though here are some staples in our family (a main dish with fish on Christmas Eve, bagels and more fish Christmas morning, and some kind of pasta--used to be lasagna but now we're changing to accommodate different preferences/restrictions--with a meat sauce--as well as a veggie sauce), there's certainly lots of wiggle room. The important thing is that there always be food ready to make--and enjoy!

We had the pre-Christmas Eve dinner (which starred quinoa and roasted veggies), then Christmas Eve diner, Christmas Breakfast, and Christmas Day dinner...and it continues. Christmas Eve we had 32 people here (cozy--but fun!) and, because of crazy work schedules and more, we (thanks to by brother Peter's brilliant thinking and driving!) ordered several side dishes which, thankfully, made the multi-day meal planning so much easier.

Sofia, getting ready (and sporting her new Christmas scarf and earrings!). 

Wes,  doing the same (while donning his new Gargaglianos--the next generation T!)! 
So, on Christmas Eve, when the dinner was essentially focused on poached salmon, a big leafy green salad, broccoli-rabe, grilled vegetables,  and other lighter, veggie-ish fare, I decided to go a bit heftier on the warm up: my mom's 70s-style onion meatballs (recipe to come sooooooon!), some made with bread crumbs and cheese, others without, and Brazilian Cheese Puffs, Mango-Cilantro Salsa (will be making that one LIVE on Telemundo--on Buenos Días New York on Friday morning!).

On Christmas Day we enjoyed a variation on our traditional theme of lasagna: We made one batch of gluten-free pasta, one of tortellini, one sausage cooked in red wine with onions and assorted peppers sauce, and a vegetarian version of that as well. Both had a kiss of cumin and cinnamon (thanks to Steve's welcome influence, and after tasting his brownies, I will never ever not follow his suggestions!).

Tonight, it's up to cousins to cook...they're making carnitas (Mexican-style shredded pork tacos) with black beans, quinoa, and a big salad. Can't wait!

So, my friends, recipes will come! In the meantime--enjoy, and I will post some great New Year's Eve treat ideas on my Lo Hud blog,  Latin Twist  after showing them on TELEMUNDO on Friday!

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