Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Dinner at Home

“Rule a kingdom as though you were cooking a small fish - don't overdo it”
-Lao Tzu
I usually write about restaurants and bars. But today, I thought I'd do something different.

We eat out a lot, but we also cook at home quite a bit. So, for just this one-time special occasion, I'll write about our Christmas dinner.

For reasons I'd have a hard time explaining, we have developed a tradition of cooking a Thai meal at home.

We started with a tangy Thai chicken salad. This is made with garlic soy-marinated chicken, cashews, water chestnuts, chopped galangal, and shallots. The dressing is made with coconut cream, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar.It is all served over lettuce. Cilantro is thrown on top. I'd call it crunchy explosion of flavors, with a strong taste of the salty fish sauce in the sweet, creamy dressing.We had hot-and-sour soup, Tom Yam Goong. It is made with kaffir lime leaves, mint leaves, lemon grass, cilantro, galangal, scallions, red chilies, lime juice, mushrooms, and nice shrimp from Thai's Asian Food shop. It is sour, spicy, with the flavor or lime dominating.For a main course, we had monkfish marinated in soy, garlic, and fresh ginger that was then lightly fried in rice noodles. There is a dipping sauce of soy, rice wine vinegar, chopped red chilies, and scallions. The key here is to get the noodles crispy without overcooking the delicate fish.We put regular mashed potatoes on the side. I thought about adding some wasabi powder to them, but decided not to in the end.

These recipes all came from The Ultimate Chinese & Asian Cookbook, published by Hermes House in 1997. We've never seen it in a book store since we bought it, but it is still available on Amazon. It's a great book, very large and heavy, with wonderful pictures. We use it all the time.

For dessert, we made warm molten chocolate cakes flavored with orange zest. It was served with a fresh raspberry coulis and a scoop of Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream on the side.Raspberry's were pretty hard to find, but I got a box from the Asian green market on Ujezd for 99 CZK. I later saw a same-size box at Fruit de France for 200 CZK.

The recipe for the cakes came from Dessert by Williams-Sonoma.

We also had a bottle of Robertson Winery Ruby Cabernet 2006 from South Africa. It was very dry, a little on the sour side. We didn't love it. About 200 CZK from Delvita City market.After we were completely stuffed, I observed one final Christmas tradition by falling asleep on the couch. Hope you all had a good one.

Happy New Year!!!