Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Too Many Cooks Aren't Necessarily Bad

What a wonderful feast we had on New Years’ eve! My brother in- law and his wife along with my niece spent the last couple of days with us. And on 31st night, we all (along with parents in law) ushered in 2008 with champagne, shrimp, caramel coated popcorn, paper horns and clandestine tequila shots! (yep- clandestine! This deserves a separate post altogether.)

I always have fun cooking with my sis-in law. She is the kind who will follow a recipe to the tee, is an excellent baker and will make macaroni or waffles from scratch. Not the typical out-of-the box, corner cutting cook, like me.

For the New Years eve dinner, we wanted to keep it simple yet hearty. So we decided that the main entree will be Cornish hens roasted with savory herbs. And we conveniently delegated this task to my brother-in-law, who also enjoys cooking, especially grilling and roasting. It is indeed a treat to watch him in the kitchen as he is quite meticulous and methodical just as he is with everything else.
As for the sides, I have a book featuring casseroles that was bought quite a while ago. But just like any other recipe book, it got stowed away never to be used until now. It is an inspiring book with beautiful mouth watering pictures of dishes and as I was sifting through the pages, I stumbled upon the one that I knew would be perfect for the meal we were planning. Baked Risotto with Spinach and Asparagus. One look at the photo and I knew this was IT. I just hoped that it would taste as good as it looked.
For the second side, we decided to play it safe and go with a recipe that has become a family favorite during the holidays - mashed potatoes with mushroom topping.

So armed with recipes and ingredients, we all set out to cook. Three self designated chefs out to impress and make the best possible dish. The kitchen looked like a market place that just got raided with meat, vegetables, containers, spices covering every bit of counter space. The sound of the utensils, aromas from the spices and herbs filling up the house and reminding us of the essence of family, laughter, togetherness and of course food!

Wine and beer started flowing along with baked crab rangoon and spinach artichoke dip as appetizers. The champagne happily sitting in ice waiting for its turn to be popped.

The kids as usual were hyperactive having each other to play with, chasing each other, playing hide and seek. Although A was a little under the weather, she too joined in the frolic by playfully trotting around the house and occasionally, opening up her favorite cabinet in the kitchen to play with the plastic containers, only to be picked up and taken elsewhere, away from the hot oven and stove.

Soon it was dinner time. The birds looked and smelled absolutely divine, the risotto and the mashed potato – simply delectable. The Chef (the brother-in –law, somewhere along the way, became the Chef and I, the Sous Chef) also made sure he presented the birds beautifully on a tray, cutting them into portions that were just right and garnishing them with thyme. K, my sis- in law pulled the hot and fluffy croissants out of the oven as we settled into our chairs. A, my pretty little niece said grace in the cutest possible way and we all just dove right into the food.

Needless to say, everything turned out just perfect. Even the kids ate well, who normally are picky eaters just like most 3 year olds. And they kept us entertained by wishing us ‘happy new year’ every other minute.

It was indeed a feast and what could be a better way to end it but with warm apple crisp and vanilla ice-cream. Thanks to K once again, who whipped this classic dessert in no time and left us savoring it and craving for more.

A very satisfying meal with the people who matter the most. Couldn't be better!

Happy New Year!!

(S and K: thanks for your 'surprise' visit. Your presence made the day even more special! But you definitely missed out on a great meal.)

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