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Had a wonderful evening this Christmas Eve with family.

I made a spectacular Italian-inspired menu, with only one miscue (and it was something that we had to make three days early and messed up only in two ways).

Antipasto
I made an LCBO recipe called savoury palmiers[1] (puff pastry cookies filled with asiago, olive tapenade, and sun-dried tomato tapenade). I also made a baked ricotta[2] (with eggs, chives, chili flakes, and a mixed Italian seasoning grind) and served that with warmed seasoned black and Kalamata olives.

[1] http://www.lcboholiday.com/entertaining_ideas_recipes.php?recipe_id=17498&category_id=15247&subcategory_id=15248#.TvawhZHDpNc.twitter
[2] http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/2296/baked+ricotta

Insalata
Served with the appetizers when people sat down for the main meal—and probably the only real concession to being in North America—we served an insalata caprese con bufala over arugula, made with a balsamic glaze and pomegranate arils as garnish (that beautifully complemented the sweet-sour of the balsamic glaze).

Zuppa
A vegan Italian wedding soup (from a 2008 Vegetarian Times recipe[3]) was well-received. I will be making this soup again just for Anne-Marie and myself it was so good.

[3] http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/10738

Primo e Secondo
For primo, my wife and I hand-made mushroom-leek ravioli served in a butter-sage sauce. We erred on the thickness of the pasta sheets and how soon I put it in the freezer; it did not cook as well or as thoroughly as I would have liked, but the flavour was fairly good. This was the one mistake of the night. I knew as I was doing final preparation it that it was not going to be to my liking, so I had the next course ready around the same time.

Secondo was a risotto al radicchio rosso with a touch (about 75g) of gorgonzola and crotonese instead of parmesan or romano. For the meat-eaters (my wife, my brother-in-law, and I are vegetarian), I baked some flounder in parchment with butter, lemon juice, capers, and rosemary—I'm told it was very good (I was the only person who did not try it at all; even my wife and brother-in-law tried it)


One of our guests also brought a cheesed thyme focaccia which we enjoyed during this course.
Dolce
We had two desserts available, as my wife's aunt brought a Grand Marnier chocolate cream cake (made by Pfalzgraf Pâtisserie) and I had made a Perugian-style Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake[4].

[4] http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Perugian-Style-Chocolate-Hazelnut-Cheesecake-242036

It was a fabulous meal and a fun time shared by everyone who came. It was what I consider Christmas to be about—family and friends.
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