It's been two days since Christmas day, but the little scratches on my fingers were proofs that the holidays were my days.
In my large family of farmers, educationalists, engineers, military people and artists, there wasn't anyone inclined into cooking. Tatay Inggo, a cousin of my grandfather's and the family's official chef, passed away many years ago of old age, and I think it was me who caught the apron :) So it was my turn to prepare the Christmas menu.
There were about thirty children and more than thirty adults who came and went to Mama Rosa's big house. So theoretically, a few things to remember about my menu include consideration to the people who will eat, the resources, time, etcetra, etcetera. Understanding my clan's appetite and various personalities, I decided to prepare something that will appeal to all: a little innovation of the familiar, a little introduction of the new but are sure to fill them, simple but elegant, and delicious but not too intimidating.
It took me more than two trips to the local grocery and the wet market. I also included ingredients we bought along the road while travelling from Manila to the province, but that being too special, I reckon that it would be much better to write about it on a separate post.
Here's the menu for a mixture of people -
Christmas Eve Dinner:
(Small, open-faced sandwiches that guests, specially children, can pick conveniently)
Christmas Chicken Roast
(Pre- ordered by my mother from a group of students who wanted to get their MBA'S one day)
(A Chinese dish; pork leg marinated in pineapple sauce. This is a classic feast entree)
(Mostly received as gifts)
(Mama Rosa - the one who owns the house- is very particular with nutrition)
(Not only for the weight- watchers, but greens are good in cleansing the palate)
Spaghetti in red sauce
(The children, the children!)
(Oh... we can't miss this out)
Mango Panna cotta
(this one has its own story- see bottom page)
Bottles of beer, cheap wine, grape juice
Breakfast was the most challenging because after cooking the whole afternoon and sleeping at 4am (me and my siblings went crazy over the videoke) , I had to get up again at 7 to cook breakfast. So grabbing my apron and rolling up the white sleeves, I was out again in the kitchen.
(Our province is a fishing community. We had guests who went all the way from the farms so I believed a warm rich soup would be suitable for them)
Yang Chow Fried Rice
(An improved version of the classic Filipino breakfast staple, besides, we had ham leftovers from the night before)
(A non- traditional part of the Filipino breakfast, so it feels good to serve this once in a while)
(You can't miss the eggs)
Fresh fruit platter
(Nutrition, aesthetic beauty, and common sense)
(Made from the local ground coffee)
Then when the breakfast dishes were kept, (and the rest of the family w out in the living room - I was at the kitchen!! Goodness.) Time to prepare the lunch!
(seafood, pork belly - for beer- drinkers, this is a classic favorite)
(Planning this dish, I said we need to have something that would taste a little too different from the rest. Fish steaks marinated in ginger, peppers, lemon, and freshly- ground black pepper then dotted with butter 5 mins before taking out of the oven)
(Beef tripe in peanut saucen and loads of succulent vegetables. My two sisters brought this up when we were planning the menu so... it's for them)
Citrus Salad in Honey- Vinaigrette Dressing
(This, too, has its own story)
Spaghetti, Red Sauce
(The kids will always tug at my apron if this is not available)
(My aunt's specialty dish)
(Christmas or not, we are a rice- eating population)
(My other aunt's special dessert)
Bottles of Beer, Soda, Cheap Wine
There. I never knew who picked what. Nevertheless, I am satisfied. Was I tired! Good thing the whole family helped in preparation, and I was just there to do my job. But what was really noticeable was, the serving platters seemed ravaged most of the time, and the children went back for more dessert.
I didn't bother warning them that the panna cotta had red wine sauce- nor did their parents ask what was in there. I didn't ask if they liked it or not, just got the theory - why it was so appealing to the kids - from what my uncle said: that molded dessert looked like a woman's breasts :P