Tuesday, December 27, 2011


On the Friday before Christmas Eve, we were entertained royally by my sister and her husband at their home in Enola.

I enjoyed my first gin and tonic of 2011 and dates stuffed with goat cheese. Delicious! Who knew? I think Susanne may even have had a glass of champagne!

The meal featured Beef Wellington, pictured at right, served on Rachel's elegant Lenox Christmas china. How beautiful is that? Fit for a king. I wondered where the name came from and found the following information on the Internet:

"The origin of the name is unclear. There are theories that suggest that beef Wellington is named after Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington.

"Some theories go a step further and suggest this was due to his love of a dish of beef, truffles, mushrooms, Madeira wine, and pâté cooked in pastry, but there is a noted lack of evidence supporting this.

"In addition to the dearth of evidence attaching this dish to the famous Duke, the earliest recorded recipe to bear this name appeared in a 1966 cookbook. Other accounts simply credit the name to a patriotic chef wanting to give an English name to a variation on the French filet de bœuf en croûte during the Napoleonic Wars. Still another theory is that the dish is not named after the Duke himself, but rather that the finished dish was thought to resemble one of the brown shiny military boots which were named after him."

Believe me, this dish bore no relation to a boot. It was a delicious piece of meat and a crisp pastry. It was so large, in fact, that I ate only half and enjoyed the rest the following day. Other dishes were a pineapple casserole from Jack's mother; baked corn from our mother; green beans; and small white potatoes. Rachel and Jack's friends Bob and Carol were there, too, and we not only enjoyed their company but a delicious salad of greens that Bob had made.

After dinner, we enjoyed dessert that I had made earlier in the day. It's a concoction I call Madame Albert's (Al-bairz) Cream Puff Pie, after our friend M.A., who introduced it to us. It has a puff pastry base, which I baked in our new all metal 12-inch skillet (from Ollie's, of course). The pastry is then spread with a mixture of cream cheese and vanilla pudding, then whipped topping. For the holiday, I added colorful cherry pie filling.  You can use fat-free and sugar-free pudding and whipped topping, skim milk, and low-fat cream cheese, so it is not as deadly as it looks!

After some sparkling conversation, we took our leave and headed home to bed so we could get up in the morning and go to our friend David's house for his annual Christmas/birthday brunch. We look forward to seeing old friends from our teaching days and meeting new friends of David's.

We started with a mimosa, then chowed down on all sorts of goodies. A stand-out for me this year was Lee S.'s noodle kugel, a wonderful dish of Jewish origin. Lee "forced" me to top it with cherry pie filling. Yum. There were so many great things to eat, we could have stayed all day and not tried everything.

David's a great host, and we enjoyed conversation with him and his best friend, Ernie.

Wishing David a happy birthday, we headed home, no doubt to enjoy a nap!