Christmas Special

by Skip on December 28, 2010

in Dining,Recipes

Christmas 2010: Peeling Potatoes

Christmas 2010: Peeling Potatoes

Elizabeth and I headed to Williamsburg, Virginia for Christmas festivities with our mom and stepfather. Throughout the long weekend and near-blizzard we cooked up some perennial favorites, including swedish meatballs (above), shrimp “pate,” and broccoli strudel. Before any dishes were dirtied, we had some cocktails (of course). Liz’ favorite cocktail is something like a pared-down cosmo: equal parts vodka and cranberry juice, shaken and topped with sparkling wine.

Liz with Martini

Most of our family favorite comfort food recipes are yellowing magazine and newspaper clippings from the 1970s or from a vintage Calico Pantry Cookbook. A number of these recipes include margarine (gross).

Shrimp "Pate"

Shrimp "Pate"

The shrimp pate–really a jellied shrimp dip based on Cream of Mushroom soup, celery and onions–has evolved with the times. The story goes something like this: there was a time when lump crab meat was cheap and available (Oh the glory!). As time passed it became less and less so, and one day, without warning, the crab of yore was replaced altogether with pasteurized crap. The real thing disappeared from Eastern Long Island grocery shelves (and freezers). Instead of abandoning the recipe, we substituted shrimp for crab. Sometimes we still call it crab dip, even though it’s been nearly 20 years since it’s seen a crab. It isn’t too pleasing to the eyes but it is really delicious.

Swedish Meatballs

Last year’s broccoli strudel was a bit too spicy for mom with its’ wild and crazy 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper, so this year it was reduced to a paltry 1/16 teaspoon. Next year she vowed to return to the original proportion.

Broccoli Strudel

Makes 10 first-course servings
Source: Unknown

1/2 cup butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 1/4 cups milk
4 ounces Swiss or Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1/2 pound phyllo
1/4 cup bread crumbs, divided

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour, salt, and ground red pepper until blended. Gradually stir milk into mixture, and cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Stir in cheese and broccoli, and cook until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  2. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Make a 20-by-12-inch rectangle of phyllo on waxed paper, brushing each sheet with reserved butter. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon bread crumbs. Continue layering phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter and sprinkling bread crumbs on alternating layers.
  4. Spread broccoli mixture evenly onto one long side of phyllo, covering about half the rectangle. Roll from broccoli-covered side, in jellyroll fashion.
  5. Place roll, seam-side down, diagonally on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush with remaining butter. Bake 30 minutes or or until golden. Cool strudel 30 minutes on cookie sheet or wire rack before slicing.

The strudel can be made three or four ahead and refrigerated. Reheat at 375 degrees for 15 to 30 minutes.

Skip produces The Gourmetro. He’s mentioned broccoli in the last two posts but hardly ever eats it. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: