Christmas Duck!

For the 4th year, in what is becoming a holiday tradition, we celebrated Christmas with Yuan and duck.  As usual, for Christmas Eve, we had Norwegian meatballs, mashed potatoes and lefse.  Bjorn’s parents were also in town this year and our meatballs were made by his mom, a person of actual Norwegian descent.  You know, as opposed to me and Yuan who try to put soy sauce in the gravy.  They were delicious!  We were also gifted with a lefse stick, a fancy stick with Scandinavian designs painted onto the side of it used to flip the Norwegian potato crepe.  Even though Bjorn made lefse last year with a spatula, rolling pin and pancake griddle, according to any proud Norwegian American, making lefse requires special equipment.  Now all we need is the lefse rolling pin and lefse griddle.

For Christmas day dinner, Yuan, a.k.a. Chinese Santa, brought up two ducks to smoke.  I love Chinese Santa.  He brings the best presents and stuffs my stocking with Asian gummies.  That’s not supposed to sound dirty.

Bjorn’s parents and some Davis friends rounded out our Christmas day dinner. In addition to the duck, we made fried scallops, mustard greens, roasted root vegetables, shrimp fried rice, and cranberry eggnog tart. Perhaps a bit of an eclectic Christmas menu but when Yuan and I are in charge of holiday menu planning, you always get shrimp fried rice.

Fried scallops and Mustard Greens

Shellfish Holiday

We three squabbling asians have a different idea of celebrating Independence Day.  This year, in celebration of Yuan’s new real job, he decided to blow his paycheck on shellfish and he, along with Little Miss, showed up to Davis with a giant cooler full of blue crab, spot prawn, lobsters, clams, and oysters.  Then we cooked it all and ate ourselves into a shellfish stupor.   First, Little Miss and Bjorn had the brilliant idea of conducting a spot prawn race on a papertowel track.  Turns out tiny legs and large bodies do not allow them to travel very far – or really at all outside of water.  Next time, they should try the friskier blue crab.

We made a decadent paella with the spot prawn, crabs, and clams.  Here, one of the blue crab is attempting an escape.

We split the lobsters, then grilled them with herb butter.  The oysters were eaten on the half-shell by everyone but me due to my gestational state.  I’m bitter about it so I am not including any pictures.

A shellfish feast!

Shrimp Salad

Now that picnic and BBQ season is here, I wanted to share this scrumptious summer shrimp salad recipe with our loyal readers!  I make this quite often and it’s always a great hit.  This is another recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook.  I’m partial to her easy, yummy recipes although I do think that she tends to be heavy handed with the butter and mayo.  Here is my modified version of Ina’s recipe.

Summer Shrimp Salad

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 lb of medium shrimp (peeled, tail removed and de-veined)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup of mayo
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp of white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 a medium red onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup of chopped celery (about 3 stalks)

Bring water to a boil with about 1 1/2 tsp of salt and a quarter of a lemon.  Add the shrimp, reduce heat to medium and cook until just cooked and no longer translucent, about 3 min.  Remove shrimp and transfer to a bowl of cold water to chill.  In the alternative, you can toss the shrimp with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Then arranged in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast the shrimp in the oven at 450 degrees for about 5-10 min depending on the size of the shrimp.  Remove from oven and cool shrimp (but not in water).  Once the shrimp are cooled,  you can leave the shrimp whole if they are small or you can cut into smaller pieces if you’re using larger shrimp.

Whisk together mayo, mustard, vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, dill, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp lemon zest in a bowl.  Add red onion, celery and shrimp and toss together.  Check seasonings and adjust as necessary. Serve or cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

A tip for the onion – I really do not like the onion breath I am often left with after eating raw onion.  To prevent this, after chopping the onion, soak the onion in a bowl of cold water for 10-15 min.  Rinse and thoroughly drain onion before putting it in your salad.

Serves about 6 as a side dish.

Baked Shrimp Scampi

I went to the grocery store the other day and gulf shrimp were on sale! I had recently seen the Ina Garten make this shrimp scampi casserole on her show and decided to try it out.  I really like her recipes.  They are simple, delicious and look great.  The shrimpies were succulent and sustainable!  Next time I would use half the amount of butter and more breadcrumbs.  Accompanied by some pasta and a salad with walnuts, pears and gorgonzola, this shrimp dish took no time to prepare and was a perfect weekday dinner.

Christmas Eve Revelry

Happy Holidays! Yuan joined us for Christmas for the second year in a row and we had a lovely and rather active holiday. I got to go home early, Yuan took the train to Davis, and we had a lovely time drinking eggnog and planning our Christmas Eve feast. Our friends Heather and Wes joined us for Christmas Eve and we had a holiday meal gleaned from our Norwegian and Japanese heritages.

Heather brought over yummy mushroom appetizers.

As per Bjorn’s family tradition, we made Norwegian meatballs the night before Christmas. Yuan took over meatball making this year and I had to keep reassuring him that the meatballs needed to be browner. They were really delicious.

Christmas Eve Norwegian Meatballs
(made by Asians)

Meatball Accompaniments:
Roasted Carrots, Brussel Sprouts & Mashed Potatoes

Heather also brought a delightfully light pear salad with pancetta.

Yuan wanted fried pork, so I made pork katsu…then I fried a bit of pancetta wrapped shrimp while I was at it.

Sauteed Matsutake with Ginger

Christmas day we drove into San Francisco for some prime rib and eggplant parm at a friend’s house. Yum! The next day, we spent the afternoon on Clement Street eating dim sum and buying tiny dishes. If you live in the Bay Area, I highly recommend Kamei – an Asian kitchen supply store. The aisle after aisle of dishware makes me so excited I feel like I want EVERYTHING! I find it exhilarating and overwhelming. But that’s just me, and I love tiny dishes. Kamei has more than just tiny dishes though, they have an assortment of every kind of kitchen and food serving and preparing equipment. It’s awesome!

We had a great holiday eating well and hanging out with new and old friends.