November 22, 2009

Only One Month, 27 Days and 775 Hours Until the Open House...

My niece Helina loves Christmas. Just about this time of year, she starts signing off emails with the exact Christmas countdown. Around here, Christmas always comes early: it’s called Liz and Rich’s Annual Holiday Open House. This year will be especially exciting - our first OH with the new kitchen!   

Invitations have been sent; menu planned; servers booked, even the wine is bought, stored and ready to pop open. The cooking marathon officially began this weekend. A bit of prep work done earlier in the week: filling for mini tortiere pies made, dough chilling in the fridge; caramelized onions for baked Brie done and frozen. It’s the only way that a couple of dozen or more hors d’ouevres make it to the sagging buffet table the day of.

This weekend the cooking started in earnest. We tackled the tortiere assembly and make dozens of mini beef wellingtons, a favourite recipe from Food & Wine magazine that first made an appearance at the Open House in 2000.

Mini tortieres are a variation this year - normally made without a "top" and baked in advance, this year I thought I'd try to truly make them like mini pies and freeze them without baking.

Of course it starts with the fabulous Julia dough!

All in all, a great start to the annual cooking countdown.  Dinner was delish too - Asian chicken noodle soup made with frozen homemade stock and chicken; freshly baked pizza and a mini tarte tatin  - the one I made two weeks ago and froze as a bit of an experiment.  It works! The crust isn't nearly as flaky and light but the taste still can't be beat...