Christmas in the Country

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We spent Christmas day in the country at my folks’ house. They live a few hours from Boston, in a warm house that’s nestled on the edge of a pine forest. It was a quiet and lovely holiday.

And man, I’m still stuffed.

After such a crazy year, we couldn’t have asked for a nicer celebration. My mother is the best cook I know. She always makes too much for the holidays. Everything she makes is delicious—and made from scratch.

Here are a few highlights from our Christmas dinner.

Mom always makes a giant roast beast for Christmas, and this year was no exception. This year, it was a 4-rib standing rib roast. Here it is getting ready to go into the oven.

And cooking.

Here it is hot out of the oven. We tented a little foil over it to let it rest for maybe 20 minutes.

Now, this was a tough choice, but I think that the highlight of the evening for me was the duck pate.

I love duck, but almost never make it for a handful of reasons.

This pate is made with duck breast, pork shoulder, chicken livers, fat back, and eggs—and flavored with garlic, cognac, olive oil, thyme, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, smoked paprika, pistachios, and green peppercorns. It’s topped with bacon and bay leaves.

We spread it on crackers and little pieces of baguette while we were waiting for everything to cook.

My folks love bandol wines as much as I do. We normally drink Domaine Tempier Bandol, but they recently discovered a pretty good (and less pricey!) alternative in Terre d’Ombre’s vin de pays du mont caume. If you like wine from the south of France, definitely check this bottle out.

While the beast was roasting and we were nibbling, Mom made buttermilk biscuits, which are a favorite of The Angry Chef’s.

When dinner was finally ready, Dad carved the roast beast and we set out the rest of the food.

There was stuffing.

And roasted potatoes with a glorious cheese crust.

There was even a salad with a lemon-y vinaigrette. (See…I eat green things!)

There was also some super-yummy baked shrimp that was just bursting with crab stuffing.

And of course, because I’m still an eight-year-old at heart, there were mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows.

Dad and I make this together every year. (There’s always great, precise discussion about the proper ratio of marshmallow to sweet potato.)

Here’s what the table looked like, before we sat down, had a toast, and attacked the feast.

There were waaaay too many choices for dessert.

There was an apple gallette.

There was a creme brulee tarte, which Mom caramelized with a blowtorch.

She served it with heavenly sauce made from fresh raspberries and spiked with a goodly amount of raspberry jam.

There was a German chocolate layer cake.

And Hungarian poppyseed and nut rolls.

A dear old friend of mine also sent some of her homemade gingerbread men back with my parents after their Christmas Eve visit.

As if that weren’t enough, there were 3 different kinds of fresh, local ice cream: vanilla, toasted almond, and chocolate gelato.

We had a wonderful holiday, and hope you all did, too.

Even Dexter, The Barking Sous Chef, had a fabulous time.

We’ll return with our normal recipe lineup tomorrow.


+Jessie & The Angry Chef

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Wow wow i was just browsing your site when i saw the hungarian poppyseed an nut rools....they're called beigli in hungarian..i havent seen them anywhere before on the come you make them at xmas?!