There’s a reason I love cooking and eating so much – I come from a family who is great at both of those things! Holidays in our circle are filled with food, usually prepared mostly by the person hosting. Thanksgiving and Christmas are literally day-long events. We eat, sit around, eat some more, digest, make some home videos (I kid you not), eat again, watch the old home videos, eat a little more, than burn it all off in a heated game of Catch Phrase. Lately we’ve been saying that we really should get together more often, and my aunt Jane and I came up with the idea of hosting some sort of family cook-off. My cousin Jamie, a former professional chef, took the lead. We decided that we’d all meet up and go shopping for ingredients. My aunt would be in charge of salad, I would create the appetizer, and my Jamie would lead with the main meal. The rest of the gang joined us too for moral support, helping with prep, and of course, eating!
Jane chose to make a delicious autumn salad with romaine lettuce, pears, candied pecans, gorgonzola cheese and a homemade maple-cider vinaigrette. Taking the opportunity to learn something new from someone who could teach me, I wanted the appetizer to involve duck. For some reason, I’ve always been a bit nervous to cook duck breasts on my own, so having my cousin there was a plus. We made duck wontons with caramelized onions, manchego cheese, and a pomegranate-chili dipping sauce. My brother declared that these should be my new signature item – he liked them that much. Jamie and I did most of the cooking for the main dish together; he decided on a surf and turf meal of sliced strip steak with port wine demi glaze served over watercress salad with roasted beets, polenta croutons, and truffle oil, and pan-seared scallops over risotto with a mango-lime sauce.
Everything was fantastic and we all had a truly awesome time putting this together and as always we enjoyed each others’ company. On the way out, we were already discussing ingredients for our next family cook-off, to take place at my house sometime in February.
Here are some photos to document the day, captured mostly by my mother. Enjoy!
Grating manchego cheese as my brother watches on