We hosted Christmas Even dinner at our house this year. For dinner I wanted to do a yummy, hot appetizer and then big pot of something hot and steamy.
For our appetizer I chose the Warm Piquillo and Crab Dip that Food and Wine listed in their "Best Fast Recipes Ever" issue earlier this year. I had actually clipped this recipe years ago when it was first published in F&W, but I'd never made it because good crab meat (and piquillo peppers for that matter) is so rarely avaliable here in Mississippi. Well, I found some good quality crab meat at the new Kroger and gave this recipe a shot. Unfortunately, I didn't think it was that great. Certainly not good enough to make a "Best Ever" list. It was just bland to me. I might give it one more try and add some salt or more lemon juice.
For our main course I decided to try to make Hoppin' John Martin Taylor's Easy Shrimp Gumbo from his book The New Southern Cook. I know Ina and Martha always say never to try out a new dish on company, but I did it anyway. Hey, my guests were family, and I figured that as long as I got the roux right, it would be pretty hard to screw up shrimp, okra, sausage, and rice. I made a baked roux (as Hoppin' John suggested), and it was really pretty easy. The homemade seafood stock smelled heavenly as it simmered. The only change I made to this recipe was to add a few pounds of turkey sausage. The gumbo turned out fabulous! I highly recommend Hoppin' John's recipe (scroll down about 3/4 to bottom to find it). I'm not sure if I would call it "easy", but then again I'd never made gumbo before. It was certainly time consuming (peeling shrimp, stirring the roux, chopping the veggies, etc) but worth it in the end.
Of course it wouldn't be Christmas Eve without a little bubbly. Somehow we managed to drink three regular bottles and a magnum. Oh! And a bottle of white wine. We were on cloud nine when this photo was taken:
Quite a Merry Christmas!
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