Jan 04 2011
Every year on Christmas day, my sister and I wake up early in the same bed (it’s a Christmas Eve tradition). We still hobble downstairs in our pajamas, drink a cup of coffee and giddily open the presents that have been sitting under the tree with our names on them. Then my mom fixes us a Bloody Mary.
And around noon, my aunt, uncle and cousin come over for Christmas Brunch, the biggest, most Southern eating extravaganza you could dream of, complete with an excess of carbs, grits, meat, quiche and mimosas for dessert. And that’s the way we’ve celebrated Christmas for as long as I can remember.
This year was a little special, though, since my mother finally trusts me in the kitchen (I am a chef-to-be, after all). We made her Quiche Lorraine, but I caramelized the onions MY way. Taste them, and you’ll never go back. Instead of preparing her usual salad, I made one of my standbys, a baked goat cheese salad with croutons. We made Bloody Marys, but I accented them with a dramatic skewer of blue cheese olives, pickled okra, gouda cheese and spicy pickled green beans.
I even made the Walnut Bread we’ve practiced in class, adding in a few dried cranberries for a Christmas-y effect. It was second in beauty only to the Challah, and it lay in a basket directly next to my mom’s whole wheat banana nut bread.
And all the traditional favorites were left untouched. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Like her famous (within the family, at least) Gruyère grits.
Served topped with a healthy scoop of Grillades, a classic Southern stew of slow-cooked beef with vegetables that melts in your mouth.
I may be the one who’s in culinary school, but I still have a lot to learn from this lady.