What do you do on Christmas Day?

Simply put, we eat Chinese! Wow, I just went to my friend Google to see how this question is answered … I won’t quote from the numerous articles posted – even several in the past twenty-four hours. Aside: Remember long ago when some of us did research, we went to the library, to the card catalog, etc. to find sources. It’s at our fingertips now …

I had always heard that Jews ate Chinese on Christmas day because they were the only restaurants open that day. Many Chinese also do not celebrate this holiday. Lots of people speaking lots of languages also made the pilgrimage to Kon Chau yesterday morning. We were at the front of the line with two Vietnamese (I think) men.

Constant Companion timed the drive to enable us to get across town in time for opening and get a table. Did we ever get one – we were number one! It was written on our order form! And the waitress reminded us of this fact as she brought out our freshly made dim sum. This restaurant makes these treats and everything else they serve to order, no cart wheeled through the closely fit tables.

A sampling of our selections, including the Chinese latkes

I snapped only one photo – the deep fried taro dumpling. Is this a Chinese latke (with shrimp)? We had a variety of steamed dumplings – fluffy buns, taro cakes (for Constant Companion), and chicken feet. Daughter who is versed in dim sum tasted and enjoyed some new things, including the taro dumplings and the chicken feet. I usually start with the roast duck noodle soup. Tip: If you order a soup like this which is so brimming with noodles that it’s often short of broth, you can ask for more broth after you’ve served the first round.

To say the least, we were satisfied, so satisfied that we enjoyed leftovers from the first two Hanukah meals. The second night, I cooked some favorites – roast chicken and onion pie, with leftover chocolate-peanut butter pie.

Roast chicken is something I learned from my mother. I thawed the frozen bird. My method is quite simple. Wash the bird and pat it dry. Cut slits in the thick meat parts and insert nice slivers of garlic. squeeze half a lemon over the bird (throw the lemon half into the cavity) and sprinkle liberally with oregano (this is Greek style, you can use basil or rosemary – or all three as well). Place in the roasting pan thigh side down (Mom’s instructions were that this allowed the cooking juices to run through the breasts, keeping them moist). Place in a moderate oven – 350 F – for about 45 minutes. At that time, if the bird has nicely browned, turn over the the final 15 minutes. Squeeze the rest of the lemon on the exposed breasts and sprinkle oregano generously. Tip: I do the lemon first; if you do the herbs first, the lemon will wash them off!

Delicata squash

I had a small delicata squash in the pantry that was begging to join the meal. I cleaned the seeds out, sliced it in rings and put them in the roasting pan with the chicken. Very nice.

Into the oven!

Onion pie … I have no idea where I got this inspiration, but it’s become a favorite. Choose 2 or 3 large nice onions (white or yellow, I’ve never used red for this recipe). Slice in rings as thin as you can (frankly, I’m too lazy to bring out the mandolin for this and do it carefully by hand). Saute in a pan with maybe 2 tablespoons of olive oil for about 15-20 minutes, til nicely browned and translucent. After about 10 minutes, add about 1/2 of a small can of anchovies (maybe 5-6 if yours come from a jar). Note: You can store the remainders in a glass, not plastic, container with the oil from the can in your fridge for another recipe).

Stir carefully til the salty little fish are completely broken down and disappear into the onions. They impart a nice flavor and I use no other seasonings. Note: I was visiting with my neighbor who is a novice, adventuresome cook. She used a recipe for sauteing onions which included water and covering the cooking onions. This method will steam your vegetables and the end result is different. I do not recommend either of these if you are sauteing.

Anchovies added

Open one pie crust. I use ready-made from the store. You can make your own crust if you prefer. Pile the cooked onion-anchovy mixture toward the center of the crust, leaving about a 2 inch border. Carefully fold in the border creating a round. Pop in the oven with the chicken for about 30 minutes. If the crust looks nice and crispy along the edges, it should be done.

Straight out of the oven
Almost ready for the oven

You need something green to balance out the richness of this meal. A salad is always good. We had steamed broccoli and had salad, too.

Chocolate-peanut butter pie. Oh my, this recipe is from about 1996, when a co-worker brought it in for Halloween. And it lives on! (See July 30 post for a web link). In short the recipe calls for 12 ounces of good chocolate (I used my last, precious one piece of Vahlrona from the freezer), 3/4 cup of peanut butter (I am quite picky and choose a brand with no sugar and no salt, it’s crazy what is added to peanut butter), 1/3 cup of powdered sugar, 3 cups of crisp rice cereal (the measurements vary according to the recipe).

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, add the peanut butter, stir til smooth. Take off the fire and carefully mix in the sugar, work out all the lumps. Add about 2/3 of the mixture to the cereal – mix until it’s all covered, no cereal color showing. Carefully line a pie pan with the cereal mixture (bottom and sides in an even layer). Add the remaining chocolate-peanut butter mixture and refrigerate. You can decorate as you’d like – the original recipe called for a spider web – Halloween after all. Daughter drew a dreidel. This was the sweet we took to a Hanukah lunch with friends.

Special for Hanukah, so very good

This year Hanukah and Christmas overlap … we are enjoying some our family traditions at the same time. I hope you are doing the same!

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