I’m in Houston, Texas visiting my aunt and uncle and two cousins in a food-filled, happy house, on a street lined with some of the trees of which Houston must be famous. Tale after tale of our childhood; my cousin Ryan’s amazing ability to file information away and if asked to recall a conversation in 1984 he can quote us verbatim; stories of my precocious ways—once being told to tell the flight attendant that I was two so that I could fly for free and insisting that I could not do that for I was “three”—an honesty I must have inherited, but much to my mother’s dismay; and fable of my now very svelte cousin Lauren’s inability to control her eating habits as a child resulted in pockets of cookies, doughnuts, and pies gathering around her midriff.
This year I was invited to join in on a tradition that was developed 10 years ago in this family; a progressive dinner with friends.
It’s really a great concept—it not only gather’s friends together, but it also takes the pressure off of each family, as it is much easier to cook one course rather than three! The idea is that three families decided who will cook what: course one, appetizers; course two, main; course three, dessert. Each course is to happen at each family’s house. This results in more food and drink than should be consumed by one human being—but that results in much happiness.
This year they were disappointed to inform me that one of their beloved has moved away from Houston and so now there were only two houses, which complicated things a bit.
I found the tradition most brilliant, and intend on starting a progressive meal as soon as I arrive back on dry land (this humidity is doing wonders for my hair by the way).
I will leave you today with the menu of our Christmas; I hope yours was as happy and full as mine.
First course prepared by Patty (with cocktails provided by Neal, her husband):
Champagne with a splash of Cranberry Juice for color
Emeril Lagasse’s Crab Dip
Southwestern Cheese Dip
Second Course prepared by my aunt, Andrea (wine chosen by my uncle, Bill—a.k.a. “Billy-the-Kid” :
2003 Pavillion Rouge du Chateau Margaux
Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Crème Fraiche
Jalapeno Potatoes au Gratin
Ina Garten’s Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots
Green Salad with Candied Pecans, Blue Cheese, Green Onions and Champagne Vinaigrette
Dessert Course also prepared by Patty and her daughter Virginia: