As with every Christmas for the past couple of years, my family likes to make an event out of Christmas Dinner. This year, with Smooth Obturator and Triple T celebrating the remodel of their new home in Manhattan Beach, they were excited to play host for H.o.P.’s Christmas get together. This year marked the first LNH Fiesta gathering where Triple T’s brother and my in-laws joined us for the food-fest.
Over time, the menu has become more sophisticated and this year everything was definitely taken to a new level. Every component was basically made from scratch with all of us pitching in to execute the meal in its entirety. This year, Triple T and Overworked were the masterminds behind our extensive and somewhat elaborate meal, but the rest of H.o.P. served as sous chefs.
The prep for the meal was quite intensive, but with a whole team of sous chefs, it became a lot of fun. I think we started cooking some time after lunch with dinner eventually being served around 6pm. Obviously, we would have a tough time in a Top Chef Quickfire, but it was all in good fun.
My brother bought some smoked gouda spread for us to snack on throughout the afternoon up until before dinner. Even though I don’t like cheese, I really liked the gouda. It was mixed with some peppers and herbs and really tasted great! Along with the wasabi cashews and olives, we were able to nibble as we cooked.
Although arugula can be very bitter, my sister insisted that wild arugula wouldn’t be as strong. This was probably true, but the lemon vinaigrette, apples and prosciutto asked a mix of sourness, sweetness, and saltiness which did a relatively good job of masking the distinct taste of the arugula leaves.
The Butternut Squash soup turned out pretty good. Triple T was concerned it would taste too sweet, but I think the suggestion to add some crispy bacon on top really hit the spot.
The rest of the meal consisted of some braised short ribs, grilled tiger prawns and a variety of sides including Brussels sprouts, homemade mashed potatoes (not from a box), and grilled polenta cakes. Smooth Obturator commented on how he’s never prepared a meal with so many components, and although I agree it was quite a bit of food, it all turned out pretty delicious.
Triple T was hoping for some fresh strawberries for her panna cotta, but unfortunately, we couldn’t find any that looked good, so we ended up going with fresh berries. The berries were a little bit on the sour side, but aside from that, I liked the smooth creamy richness of the Italian-style pudding-like dessert.