Christmas with Family, New Year’s Eve with Friends

December 23 – December 29, 2019

Smoke Trout Tartines

Christmas:           Smoked Trout Tartines, ,Spiced Bar Nuts, Standing Rib Roast, Carrot and Potato Purée, Green Beans Amandine, Ice Cream with Hot Fudge or Berry Sauce, Camembert with Apples and Pears

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Sunday:                     Spaghetti with Lemon and Ricotta

December 30, 2019 – January 5, 2020

New Year's Eve crowd

Part of the New Year’s Eve Gang:  Katie, Ceil, Annie and Dennis, Hilda

New Year’s Eve:       Winter Pork and Fruit Ragout, Parsleyed Rice, Salad

Kraut and ribs

Wednesday:            Sauerkraut with Chops, Ribs and Kielbasa, Mashed Potatoes

Friday:                       Sweet Corn Chowder with Cheese Toasts

(Pictures from David’s Party next week)

Saturday:                  David’s 40th Birthday Party (about which – more next week)

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken with Fried Rosemary

Sunday:                     Fried Chicken with Sautéed Kale


Note on the anachronism of this blog.  Remember, it’s called, What We Cooked Last Week.  This means that you get to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve over again with us just as they become fading memories.  But, you say, Christmas and New Year’s Eve don’t occur during the same week.

Well – it turns out that, during the rush of the holidays I forgot to post a blog last week.  I would apologize, but I’m too busy recovering from the wonderful parties we’ve been giving and attending.

One final note – we attended a great party last week to celebrate David (Kathleen’s husband.  More about this magnificent and unique party – thrown by Kathleen and David – next week.  And now, to a jumbled post containing dishes from last week and the week before.

New Year's Eve crows 2

Another part of the New Year’s Eve gang:  Rosie, JoJo, Tommy, Cyndi and John – Julie is picture below, Tim – that great man – eluded the photographer some how.

What to do when you have 15 people coming by for a fairly lengthy night of drinking, noshing and having a sit-down dinner so as to fortify your guests for the champagne toast, mass osculation and general mayhem of midnight on New Year’s Eve?

Well, buy a lot of booze, and find friends like ours who will bring you dozens of bottles themselves, as well as appetizers and dessert.  Now you’re down to a main course and a few sides.  Honestly, I think we could do this every week.  Beez is skeptical, but I will work on bringing her around.

About the New Year’s Eve party with our friends, it’s hard to know where to begin.  I could only be in one room or one conversation at a time, and I’m sure I missed thousands of brilliant comments, bon mots and rodomontades.  Then too,  while my spirits and my countenance brighten after a cocktail or two, my memory diminishes proportionately.  I remember everyone being extremely pleasant – some filled with resolve for the new year, others eschewing resolutions which experience had taught them would not last through the next morning.

Julie and galette

Julie with her Cranberry Gallettes and Whipped Cream

Hilda and JoJo brought spectacular appetizesr.   Ceil and Julie brought world-class desserts.  Dennis and Annie,  and Katie and Dave brought their fine wines.  John and Cindy brought themselves and the fruit of their garden, all the way from DC and Uniontown.  I have no doubt that I’m leaving out important contributions – but the point is, that it was a truly fine party and we had fun from beginning to end.

Beez, me

Beez with her ancient husband

Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners were wonderful – but, to describe them would make this a cookbook, not a post.  And I’m a bit tired, getting ready for another party and well behind schedule with the various other parts of my life.  So, I’m going to cut to the appetizer we made for both Christmas and New Year’s because it’s unusual, simple to make, and really packs a wallop of flavor.

Smoked Trout Tartines

Smoked Trout Tartines

(adapted from two recipes  on the internet – one by Ina Garten)

First, you don’t have to smoke the trout – that would not qualify as easy.  Second, you can put the whole thing together in fifteen minutes – give it another 15 minutes for the flavors to come together, while you toast bread, slice the avocado and chop the greens, and you are ready to frighten the seafood averse in the crowd with the best new appetizer we tried last year.

Timing:       15-20 minutes (can b


½ shallot, finely chopped

1 or 2 ripe avocados

3 tablespoons of crème fraiche

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice – plus more to season the avocado

1 cup of flaked, smoked trout (4 ounces) – Most supermarkets sell a vacuum pack of smoked trout containing two separate fillets (8 ounces).

Multigrain bread

Watercress (we used arugula)

Sliced Fresno Chiles


Flake the trout – in most supermarkets, you will find 8 ounces of smoked trout – 2 separate fillets.  Pull the skin off the back of one.  Now begin to break the smoked trout into flakes with your fingers.  Take a moment to do this thoroughly – you want the flaked trout to permeate the mixture.  Try to avoid large chunks of trout – though they are delicious, too.

Make the Smoked Trout Mixture:

Whisk the shallot, crème fraiche and lemon juice in a bowl.

Season with salt and pepper.

Gently fold in the trout.

Finish the Appetizer:

Squeeze lemon juice over fresh avocado and make sure the entire surface is coated so that it doesn’t brown.

NOTE:  I’m sure you know this (which, of course, means that I’m not at all sure or I wouldn’t be spending my precious time explaining it) but here’s how to handle that avocado.  Remove the little nub at the place where the avocado was attached to its stem.  Place the avocado on a cutting board and cut into the skin at the avocado’s equator with a large knife held parallel to the cutting board.  Now rotate the avocado so that you have cut through the skin to the pit on all sides.  Grab the top and bottom of the avocado and twist gently to pull them apart.  Whack the pit with that knife, twist and remove it.  Now take a spoon and, gently separate the whole halves of the avocado from the skin.  Squeeze lemon over them to coat.  You can now slice the avocado.

Toast one or a few slices of the multigrain bread, depending on its size – you’ll need enough to handle a generous slather of the trout mixture.

Top the toast with avocado slices.  Top the avocado with watercress, or arugula, or chopped lettuce.  Spoon the trout mixture over that.  Cut the bread into bit-sized appetizers.  Top with some slice fresno chiles (they’re the red ones).  Enjoy.

3 thoughts on “Christmas with Family, New Year’s Eve with Friends

  1. Happy New Year to all! We all did enjoyed a Delightful evening at Chez Stewart on NYE. Our history to gather together goes back many moons but suffice to say the PINKS got it going….well before we were THE PINKS! 💕.
    All was delicious and I agree with Bill, the smoked trout tartaine was superb, new and will be one of my keepers too. Thank you Bill for the recipe !
    Cheers to us!🐇


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