And another Christmas in the bag – the 14th with my hubby – we counted it a couple of days ago on our drive to Burger King; this was a first for me, eating a Whopper on Christmas eve Where most other folks would stay away from fast food on a holiday and prepare something elaborate for the festive occasion, Mike and my biggest desire was a Whopper – I should provide you with the detail that we are on a diet for the last 2 months and for Christmas we allowed ourselves to be “off the leash” and eat what our heart desires and that was a Whopper. It was pretty “epic” – clearly – otherwise I wouldn’t spend an entire paragraph on this.
December was quite the busy month with a business trip to Las Vegas, shopping for Christmas, making the house look festive and shopping for a Christmas tree.
Even though I don’t like Vegas all that much, the hotel decorations are always amazing and worth seeing.
At one of the evening events we even had a bacon tree and a salad bar that looked like a sandbox. Very inventive chefs in Las Vegas!
Mike did a bang up job with the lights on the outside and I took care of the decorations on the inside.
Instead of shopping at one of the big outlet malls we thought we drive to beautiful La Conner, enjoy the drive and buy some more unique gifts. I have already written about La Conner a couple of times, we like to spend girls weekends there and I also took my parents there.
La Conner is only 45 minutes away from Seattle and is a very relaxing quaint town on the water, exactly what you need when you want to escape the holiday hustle and bustle and still find everything you are looking for.
On the way we stopped at a little country store in Camano island who had the most amazing pastries (well they looked amazing…and don’t go well with a diet – but come January girls weekend, we will have to stop there and stock up for the weekend) and a very Christmas spirited owner:
We also got SUPER lucky and our wish for a white Christmas came through and so we spent some time in the yard playing with the dog in the snow and admiring the white and quiet surroundings:
Now to the title of the post and a true epic meal: “Raclette” which I prepared for us for the 25th.
Raclette was mentioned in medieval writings in texts from Swiss-German convents dating from as early as 1291,. The cheese makes a particularly nutritious meal and was originally consumed by peasants in the mountainous Alpine regions of Valais (Switzerland), Savoie and Haute-Savoie (France). It was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or “roasted cheese”. Traditionally, cow herders carried cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evening, the cheese would be placed next to a campfire for softening and scraped onto bread.
Raclette is also a dish indigenous to parts of Switzerland. The raclette cheese round is heated, either in front of a fire or by a special machine, then scraped onto diners’ plates; the term raclette derives from the French word racler, meaning “to scrape”, a reference to the fact that the melted cheese must be scraped from the unmelted part of the cheese onto the plate.
Traditionally the melting happens in front of an open fire with the big piece of cheese facing the heat. One then regularly scrapes off the melting side. It is accompanied by small firm potatoes (Bintje, Charlotte or Raclette varieties), gherkins, pickled onions, and dried meat, such as jambon cru/cuit, salami, and viande des Grisons, and to drink, Kirsch, herbal tea or Fendant (wine from the Chasselas grape).
A modern way of serving raclette involves an electric table-top grill with small pans, known as coupelles, in which to melt slices of raclette cheese. Generally the grill is surmounted by a hot plate or griddle. The cheese is brought to the table sliced, accompanied by platters of boiled or steamed potatoes, other vegetables and charcuterie. These are then mixed with potatoes and topped with cheese in the small, wedge-shaped coupelles that are placed under the grill to melt and brown the cheese. Alternatively, slices of cheese may be melted and simply poured over food on the plate. The emphasis in raclette dining is on relaxed and sociable eating and drinking, the meal often running to several hours
Its an awesome dish I have taken to new “heights” by not just serving cold meats and potato’s and creating “little meals” for your “pans” that you then top with the Raclette cheese. So in the end you can have an unlimited amount of entrees depending on how you combine all the ingredients.
This takes a good amount of time to prep but you as the hostess will be able to dine with your guest and if you have left overs you can combine most of them into a casserole, freeze and bake it up for New Years. Like with everything you can order a Raclette grill at Amazon and also some local well stocked kitchen supply stores might also carry it. Trader Joe carries Raclette cheese in winter but you can get it year around at Wholefoods.
I scribbled on a board some ideas on how to put the ingredients together for a small entrée or side dishThese pictures give you an idea how the process goes down..You can marinate some meats and then put them on top of the grill, as well as anything else you like to grill, like steak, chicken, pork, shrimp, Gnocchi, potatoes, sausages or even baguette. Then you can eat the food from the grill, or you can then put it into one of the pans and combine it with vegetables and add the cheese on top and let your little dish broil for 5 minutes. Sauces are also important, I like the sweet and spicy chili sauce from Trader Joes for my shrimp and marinated chicken. I marinated the chicken in a mixture of stir fry and Umami marinade, garlic and ginger. For the steak (I use Filet Mignon) I love my home made Aioli (combine 2 cups of Miracle Whip with 3/4 cup sour cream, add 4-6 garlic cloves (pressed through a garlic press), 2 egg yolks, salt and pepper. Beat the egg whites very stiff and add them last). You can take the same recipe with maybe a little bit less garlic and then add in chives and parsley to make it a green goddess sauce. Here the list of items I usually offer for the Raclette (I know its a loooong list, you really don’t need everything, I just like to go overboard ;-))
- Marinated Chicken
- Andouille Sausage
- Taco Meat (ground beef cooked with Taco Seasoning)
- Shrimp (Jumbo size)
- Bacon (chopped in small pieces and cooked crispy)
- Diced Ham
- Potatoes (peeled, pre-cooked, cooled and sliced)
- Small sweet peppers (chopped and panfried with oil/butter for 10 minutes)
- Onions (cut in rings and also pan fried in butter)
- Mushrooms (chopped in slices and pan fried with butter and garlic salt and pepper)
- Pickled Jalapenos
- Herbs such as chive, parsley, oregano
- Raclette Cheese (4-8 slices per person)
- grated Mexi cheese
- Pineapple rings (these are really good topped with a slice of Raclette cheese and broiled
- Baguette bread cut into thin slices
- Tortilla chips
- Tortellini (I like the small fresh Tortellini in the cooler section)
- Sweet Chili Sauce
- Miracle whip/Sour Cream, Garlic, Chive, Parsley – for the Aioli and Green Goddess Sauce
- A1 for the hard core steak sauce lover
- Nuts such as walnuts or pistachios
This is a meal that usually lasts a couple of hours and it takes a while before everyone really knows what they are supposed to do and how to combine things. Its best to have some appetizers at hand so that people don’t get frustrated not having a full plate immediately in front of them.
I made this super awesome Garlic/Parmesan Baguette, as wells as a beet/arugula/goat cheese and pistachio salad (just drizzle it with really good balsamic and olive oil and sprinkle with fresh grated pepper and salt.
For the Garlic Parmesan Baguette I cook one head of Garlic with 1 stick of butter over medium heat for 10 – 15 minutes until the garlic has slightly browned, then take it off the heat and add 1 cup of grated parmesan, 1/2 a teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano and mash everything into a paste. Let the paste cool down. Cut baguette bread into medium sized pieces and top it with the garlic/parmesan paste and broil for 2 minutes…watch the bread while broiling, it can burn really fast.