And How Was Your Christmas?

0431I’m going to use Christmas as an excuse to get back into the blogging pool.  San and I spent our Christmas as we do most other days -by ourselves- and we had a most delightful day!  Hoping not to bore you, I’ll give a short report on our experiences.

As expected, the day was food-centric, and if you share my love of food, you know that a holiday is simply an opportunity to ramp up our efforts a notch or two, and to put out some memorable dishes and items – and we did that yesterday in spades.

We started the day by making some Gibissier for our Christmas morning kickoff – Joanna seemed to like them a lot, and I trust her taste, so I followed her lead – and glad I did!  They are very festive, done with a brioche like dough, interestingly with olive oil as well as butter – and a goodly suggestion of orange – the texture is reminiscent of panettone, which adds to its holiday personality.


But as usual, I felt compelled to make a few changes to the instructions which Jo had so kindly sent me – instead of starting the preferment at night, which is the rational thing to do, I suddenly realized on Christmas eve morning that I had not yet started them – so I quickly put the preferment ingredients together and let it sit out all day before putting the final dough together.  In the normal Gibissier process, this is the point where the bulk ferment of 2 hours takes place – but I was ready for bed – so I simply slipped the dough into the fridge to await an early morning resumption of the process.  Not a good thing!  I think doing this impedes the final rise of the buns – and I shall not do this again.

Sorry Tup - No Butter Shot - They're Already Dripping Butter

Sorry Tup – No Butter Shot – They’re Already Dripping Butter

The second instruction I failed to follow was to use cold butter, and to beat it into submission – I assumed (wrongly) that my room temperature (about 60 degrees F in my kitchen) butter would work fine – no.  I got the same ‘greasy’  dough as Jo describes in her blog – and I yielded to temptation and sprinkled a bit more flour over all whenever I saw the dough ‘sweating’.  This of course simply changes the nature of the dough and tightens the final texture.  I add these notes as a caution for any bakers who may be considering trying these delicious goodies for themselves.

For us, Christmas is most often an opportunity to add or replace some vital household essential, and less frequently as a time to surprise each other with a toy, or something personal.  This year, Sandee’s big Christmas wish was for a new kitchen sink – a black granite composite job, with 10″ deep bowls.  It goes beautifully in our kitchen, which is styled in black and stainless steel.

My wish was for a new computer, since my old one had developed so many ailments that it was becoming a daily torture ritual to try to use it.  I consider it a gracious loving action on Sandee’s part that she would agree on the equality of our gifts, even though her’s was a household necessity, and mine actually a toy, and a personal one at that.  But then, these things have a way of leveling out over time.

My afternoon was used up in the preparation of a Christmas leg of lamb.  This seems one of the few times of the year when lamb gets priced at a reasonable level, but then I don’t really check at other times either – so, who knows.  I did this one differently than I have previously, using an herb rub (fresh garlic and rosemary, and salt) on the outside, and slow roasting it at 250 F for 5 hours – but the time is insignificant, as I used a temperature probe set to go off at 130 F (which is pretty damn rare!) – but I then pulled the roast from the oven for a half hour rest, while I let the oven come to 500 degrees F – then the roast is put back in for about 15/20 minutes to quickly develop a beautiful dark crust!


Frankly, this is a simply amazing way to do a lamb roast, especially if you like rare lamb -as we do.  Not only does this method produce a beautiful consistent rare roast throughout the entire piece of meat – not simply in the middle, the meat is as juicy as I ever remember a fine roast to be.  I fully intend to use this method with our upcoming New Year’s prime rib – in fact, I may also give it a try on a pork loin or fresh ham as well – it just won’t be quite as rare as the lamb or beef!

I did some roasted root veggies (rutabaga, carrot, and potato) and roasted broccoli to go along with the lamb.  I know most would not consider roasted root vegetables to be uncommon, but may think the roasted broccoli to be a bit unusual – actually all vegetables can be successfully roasted, which often changes the vegetable’s personality quite a bit!

We paired our meal with a very modest Spanish champagne (Freixenet, Extra Dry), always a pleasant companion to whatever it is you’re dining upon.  And later, we finished up the meal and the day with some apple pie and vanilla ice cream.

Later, as I slipped into a warm bed, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d just experienced one of the most satisfying Christmases of my memory – how was yours?


About drfugawe

I'm a guy with enough time to do as I please, and that my resources allow. The problem(s) are: I have 100s of interests; I have a short attention span; I have instant expectations; I'm lazy; and I'm broke. But I'm OK with all that, 'cause otherwise I'd be so busy, I'd be dead in a year.
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11 Responses to And How Was Your Christmas?

  1. Glenda says:

    Wow, you really did have a big one!! How is your new computer, is it up and running? I usually have 2-4 weeks of hassles every time I get a new one.
    The week before Christmas was pretty hectic. We had dinners with Maus’ family (which is modest), my family (which is massive) and with friends and then, on Christmas Eve, we drove down to Bridgetown.
    We usually have turkey at Christmas but because it was just Maus and me this year I bought the biggest free range chicken I could find. We had 4 meals from it. It was huge. Our neighbours came to visit and then invited us to their place (with all the other neighbours) in the late afternoon for drinks. It was very nice.
    I got a big jam pot for Christmas as well as lots of cook books (just what I like) and other books and some things for the kitchen:). So pretty happy!!

    • drfugawe says:

      For many years now, I’ve only bought ‘refurbished’ tech stuff – so I knew getting a Christmas computer was going to be a very competitive thing – so I’ve had it since before Thanksgiving – it amazes me how intuitive these things are getting – my new unit is not even state of the art (I always wait a year or two for prices to drop), and it literally set itself up all by itself, the minute I turned it on! And we have a home wireless network in place, which usually gives anything new a workout to set up properly. I was quite surprised.

      Do you mean by ‘jam pot’ a heavy pot to make jam in? Sounds like a lovely time for all – well worth all the hassle.

  2. Joanna says:

    Hey Doc, sounds like you had a lovely Christmas Day!

    Thanks for having a go at the Gibassier, I have a couple of Twitter friends who are quite obsessed with them. Carla, who is an Italian chef, very sensibly makes several quantities of preferment all in one go and freezes them which she says works perfectly, I made the most awful panetonne ever, and it all ended up on the bird table, which hurt (believe me). Your lamb looks magnificent and a new temperature probe is on my list of things to get though I don’t think Brian would eat it as rare as that, something we tend to disagree about. Our Christmas plans changed day by day, but we had a fine roast duck crown one day, fantastic Italian roast chestnuts, an English Christmas Pudding (a couple of days before Christmas as it is incredibly heavy and rich) and the flower sprouts and a little bulb fennel that survived in the garden. Yesterday we cooked a piece of free range pork with crackling on it which had been meant for someone else who couldn’t come to us. There was a day of sitting on the freeways in traffic and rain going to visit my family, but it was all fine in the end. On to the New Year! All best wishes to you and Sandee.

    • drfugawe says:

      I thank you for bringing them to our attention! I love making some kind of labor intensive goodie for holidays, the more obscure the better! It’s always a great cocktail conversation topic – and I love being the creator of these things. Usually, when I try one of these for the first time, it’s quite flawed, and it takes a few tries before I feel good about it – but this one was quite impressive right out of the box – I froze what we didn’t eat on Christmas, and I plan to take them to our New Year’s football party – have you ever brought them back from a deep freeze?

      For years, I’ve looked at those pictures of roast beef and lamb where the entire piece of meat was the same consistent color – usually beautifully rare – and I’d think, ‘I bet that’s a fake picture.’ No! This slow roast process is the answer – and it works to give the perfect roast (for us, at least) – very moist meat, crunchy dark brown on the outside, and with a beautiful internal color that extends right out to the edge of the meat. I’ll never use another process again.

      Glad you guys had such a nice Christmas too – may the new year go as well.

      • Joanna says:

        Yes I have frozen and restored. In fact I underbaked one lot, by mistake and froze them and put them in a hottish oven direct from the freezer, then almost forgot them (ahem) and they developed a lovely fine brown crust and were perfectly fine, still soft in the middle, but maybe because they were underbaked in the first place? Enjoy your football party! Jo

  3. So glad you had a great Christmas! Your food always looks so inviting. I got a new computer 2 years ago after struggling with an old one a friend gave me that had been used. I hope you are enjoying your new “toy” though I’m sure it’s more than just that. Having better technology has got to make your writing easier, save time, and make the effort more pleasurable. Looking forward to reading more from you in the new year!

  4. bidness44 says:

    Waaah can’t access link to the recipe on…have requested access but no word yet. Would you put in a good word for us Drfugawe readers? (or post elsewhere?) please please? thank you !

    • drfugawe says:

      Hi bidness,
      I tested both my link above and Jo’s search on Zeb Bakes, and they both work – here’s a fresh one – If none of those work on your computer today (do a restart of your machine before retrying), the problem may be on your end, ie, a browser issue, or your cookies and/or history may need clearing – I have had it happen many times. Computers are strange animals!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      • bidness44 says:

        Ok whew, I’m able to access now, thank you. PS I posted a comment there with a link to another great baker’s webpage. Thanks again!

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