Thursday, December 21, 2006

Menu for Hope III - Sharing is Caring . . .


"Maison Kase Wine Country Kitchen Package

H-O-L-I-D-A-Y-S ! ! ! ! !

C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S ! ! ! ! !

At 7:22 PM EST, this evening marks the Winter Solstice. There are 5 days until Christmas and I have 3 days to finish wrapping holiday gifts.

Wine Country Shine . . .

My Dad loved this time of year. He was the biggest kid of all of us. Of course, as in only my Dad’s annual holiday tradition, he would wait until December 24th to do any kind of gift shopping. One Christmas Eve, a few years ago, he gathered my four siblings and I to the living room. The Christmas tree was up and chock full of ornaments collected through the years. The ceramic Christmas tree my mother painstakingly hand painted took its place on the side table. It had light bulbs that lit up and played “O’ Tannenbaum” when the music box was wound up. There were numerous stuffed dolls of Mr. and Mrs. Santa, Elves, Christmas mice and Angels that surrounded us on the sofa, loveseat and Dad’s rocking chair.

We were all anxious to be sitting before our beloved father, as he only gathered us together for a “family meeting” which entailed a serious discussion. However, this particular Christmas Eve, he wanted to let us know how happy he was that we all came home for the holiday and to share the celebration together. He then handed each of us, youngest to oldest, a crisp $100 dollar bill. Dad was always generous that way. He didn't want us to worry about finances and encouraged us to be generous in our gift giving. It was understood that he only gave my mother a gift. It was always a beautiful bottle of "Joy de Patou" Eau de Parfum.

"Christmas Ribbon . . ."

It was still early evening and we still had a few hours left for Christmas shopping at the nearest mall. Christmas Eve was Dad’s night. The girls would be in the back bedrooms wrapping last minute gifts. I don’t recall my brother wrapping presents as usually my sisters and I would volunteer to wrap them up for him, trying to guess which gift he had chosen for us. My dear Mother would be in the kitchen making preparations for ”Noche Buena”. We would get ready for Midnight Mass, that started at 9:00PM, which meant, as in my mother’s wont, we leave the house at 8:00PM in order to get seating for all of us to be together. By the time my sisters and I married and our spouses joined the family, we had taken up a whole pew. After mass and the Christmas pageant, we would scurry home in the clear, mild and chilly Southern California night. Since we were still dressed-up, we would gather together and take our annual Christmas photo in front of the tree. I always loved how my family would indulge me and my manual camera set up with tripod. As the years went by, their patience would grow short. Let me just say, thank goodness for the “Digital” technology. LOL! (I still enjoy my manual camera, however.) After rubbing the bright flash bulb blind spot from our eyes, we would all dash down the hallway to our rooms to change out of our church attire into comfy sweats or PJ’s. We would find a seat at the dining table and fill our bowls with the traditional “Arroz Caldo” with chopped scallions (green onions) for garnish. There would also be other items on the table, such as, Lechon (My parents honored the first Christmas Ander spent with us with a whole suckling pig with “apple in its mouth” presentation.), tri-tip roast, afritada and an array of side dishes. Naturally, there was always a multitude of sweets typically arranged on free countertops, tabletops and someone’s empty lap.

After we fed our tummies to the fullest, we would flock at the foot of the Christmas tree pulling gifts from underneath and begin distributing the festive packages among each other. Dad would like to open gifts one at a time, so that we could see what everyone got. Through the years, after Dad had passed, the enjoyable part is to watch the kids exclaim "Oohs and Ahhhs", with eyes wide open, in pure delight of the gifts they would receive. Of course, I especially enjoy the look of happiness and contentment on my dear Mother’s face to see everyone have a wonderful time together.

"Christmas Cat . . ."

Imagine someone’s joy to see a gift package from Maison Kase Wine Country Kitchen. I am putting the finishing touches on the assortment of award-winning jams, chutneys, tapenades and pickles. The generous prizewinner will have a splendid time creating their own “wine country” pleasure.

The Feijoa (Guava) Chutney features an exotic essence of Indian spices collected from my travels. I have created a quick and simple appetizer that you can whip up at any short given notice. My darling hubby, Ander, loves to accompany a nice pork roast with this delectable chutney. The flavors are a mingling of sweet, sour, spicy and zing!

Tonight marks the first of several holiday open-house parties we have been invited to attend. I’ve been asked to bring an appetizer for the potluck. The Roasted Sweet Gypsy Red Pepper Tapenade will dress a chevre-herbed dome surrounded by handmade cheese-herbed crackers.

You still have until tomorrow to DONATE and BID on PRIZE CODE UW20. This wine country kitchen package will not disappoint you. There is something for everyone to enjoy. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, take one and share with a dear family member or friend. They’ll be delighted to know your generosity has helped in the campaign for reducing hunger in the world. Come on! For each US$10 bid, it is an opportunity to make a difference and to win a fabulous array of “palate pleasures”.

Brie en croûte avec le chutney de Feijoa (Brie in Pastry with Feijoa Chutney)


1 – 8 oz. jar of Maison Kase Feijoa (Guava) Chutney
1 wheel of Rouge de Noir Soft Brie Cheese
1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough
½ cup slivered almonds
1 egg
1 T. water


THAW pastry sheet at room temperature for 30 min. Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix egg and water. Set aside.

UNFOLD pastry sheet on lightly floured surface. Roll into 14" square. Cut off corners to make a circle. Spread generous amount of Maison Kase Feijoa Chutney to within 1" of pastry edge. Sprinkle almonds over chutney. Top with Brie cheese. Brush edge of circle with egg mixture. Fold two opposite sides over cheese. Trim remaining two sides to 2" from edge of cheese. Fold these two sides onto the round. Press edges to seal. Place seam-side down on baking sheet. Decorate top with pastry scraps if desired. Brush with egg mixture.

BAKE 20 min. or until golden. Let stand 1 hr. Serve with crackers.

Life is a banquet, my friends.


Anonymous Sean said...

What a sweet and charming story. Merry Christmas to you, Anni. I hope it's filled with joy, and your new year with hope and promise. mu-WAH!

12:13 PM, December 21, 2006  

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