A few years ago my wife and I decided cooking a huge Christmas dinner was a drain on family time and took away from the spirit of the day. We started going with opening presents at a leisurely pace about mid-morning with a light brunch and then a movie. Soup and homemade bread closed out the day. We all seemed to enjoy this relaxed approach. But, this year Christmas was on a Sunday so no movies for us. So, this year dinner became my responsibility.
I wanted something simple, yet special. After writing the post on “Pork On The Holiday Table” along with the pork recipes developed by Jill Hough Silverman. It appeared I had found a dinner approach right up my alley. When Jill created the recipes she had simplicity in mind, “People, at the holidays, especially with food, get themselves all worked up into a tizzy,” she told me recently in an interview. “Is it going to be right? Is it going to be okay? We forget that what’s important is bringing people together and enjoying each other. Everything else be darned,” she explained.
This is exactly what I wanted for Christmas dinner. I chose the “Crown Roast of Pork” recipe, but because I only had a few people I decided to just go with a couple racks of pork. The herb seasoning on the roasted pork was a flavor that everyone enjoyed. It was fantastic.
Brussels Sprouts could possibly be the most maligned vegetables on the planet. There isn’t any middle of the road, you either love them or you don’t. Jill’s recipe for Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts and Frizzled Ham may actually turn Brussels Sprouts haters into Brussels Sprouts lovers. You’ve got to try this recipe. The Brussels Sprouts developed a nice delicate flavor that you don’t get when eating them whole. Adding the balsamic vinegar gave them a nice little tang that went well with the pork.
“When I teach cooking classes and when I introduce myself to new people I say I love to eat, eating is really great. Cooking is alright, but it’s the means to the ends. Cooking shouldn’t be hard,” Jill told me about her food philosophy. “My style of recipe is what I call simple, yet special. I want to feel special and indulged when I’m eating. And I want my guests to feel the same way, but I don’t want to work hard to do it. I like recipes that are simple but have just a little twist to make them special.”
Jill’s recipes were simple enough that I didn’t spend the whole day in the kitchen, yet had enough “twist” that everyone was anxious to actually sit down and eat dinner. Next year, we’ll probably be back to movies and soup but on other special occasions I’m sure we’ll be using some of Jill’s recipes.