This year, most of our friends are staying here for the holidays and not travelling their other homes--be it Tel Aviva, Beirut, Berlin, Los Angeles or London--to see their extended families and friends. We will remain in New York, even though as academics, artists, independent business people and freelancers, in year's past we would have traveled through December and January, escaping the cold dreary winter months of New York City. But this year many of the freelancers, including me, have been hurt by the economy and work everywhere is slow... even full-time folks have had pay freezes and no year-end bonuses. So in New York City, we stay. On the bright side, our Christmas dinner, or winter feast, will be very full.
In a series of emails and cell phone calls, we divided up the tasks among four families. Steve and I are in charge of hosting, supplying the pig, the mac-n-cheese and my quinoa and roasted butternut squash.
My butternut squash is roasting for my Quinoa and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad and soon I will put the ham in, which was procured from our favorite butcher, Pino, and opera music playing Sicilian man who greats everyone at his Sullivan Street shop with a loud "buongiornoa!" and a bloodied white apron. Then I'll tackle one of my favorite recipes from the New Basic Cookbook Baked Pasta and Cheese recipe. In it, rich with a creamy bechamel sauce is tossed with pasta (I like penne), topped with Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano and baked until golden brown. Towards the end, I like to add some homemade bread crumbs made from Blue Ribbon Bakery's crutons.
The other families are bringing wine, cheese, appetizers, winter salads like farro with roasted fennel and braised endives. There are deserts, more kid food, baguettes, mini-carrots. We will eat until exhausted, pass out and wake up at 5am to the sound of our children screaming through the house.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!