This Week

Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 12-22-15

Wake up! Wake up! It's Christmas!

My favorite thing about Christmas is anticipation.  When I was a kid Christmas pretty much started today.  All us kids would start planning what we were going to get my mom and dad for Christmas, thinking it was going to be the greatest thing they had ever seen. My mom started making her Christmas candy and cookies which we couldn't have until she had made all the little packages to give to friends. Of course there was always 4 times more of this stuff than anybody could eat in a lifetime. It must have been 60 pounds of candy. We always went to get the tree about now, my mom was a late Christmas person = tree stayed up till after New Years. My wife is an early Christmas person = tree goes up first week in December and gone by noon on the 26th. And then there was Christmas Morning. The rule was nobody got up before 6am, at least mom & dad didn't. And nothing under the tree or in the fridge got touched till they got up. The bad part was that my and my brother's room was right next to my parents room....had to be quiet. My sister usually showed up around 4am.. "Have you looked under the tree? Did he come yet?" .. "Shhhhhhhhhhhh.. You go look, we'll wait here". She was the smallest and we figured she could sneak better than we could, plus she never got in trouble. "Well?".. "I don't know, it's too dark in there. Maybe he hasn't come yet!..I'm so excited!!" .. "He sure is late if he hasn't come yet, what's he waiting for? .. you go look!" ..and I would send my brother to go see... "I think he's come, it's hard to tell." "OK, I'll go!" ..  This was like a recon mission, had to stay low, not make a sound, never knew who you would scare off. The tree was always in a dark corner, lights were off, Christmas tree lights were off.. I would try to let my eyes adjust to the dark so I could see something, but I couldn't stay long. I could feel around but boxes felt like boxes.. "I don't know, maybe we better wait and go again later." .. Later was about every 15 minutes, different results, no conclusions. Then at 5:58am it was more than we could stand, the lights were going on no matter what. My sister ran and jumped in my parents bed.. "Wake up! Wake up! It's Christmas! It's Christmas!"  Pure Joy was everywhere, laughter, the smell of my dad cooking bacon, fresh coffee.. sleepy faces. By 10am it was all over, a whole year before it happened again, a whole year!!!!! Why couldn't we just start over again next week like it was the week before Christmas? If I was the President, I would make every Sunday Christmas morning and then it would start over again every Monday. Every Monday would be the last day of school!!! Every Tuesday you would put up the tree. Every Friday would be a Christmas Party. And best of all every Saturday would be Christmas Eve... Would that be fun or what???

God's like that: He wants us to wake up with great expectations of what will happen today. Who will we meet, who's life will change while you watch, what will he do to teach you something, where will you be when he decides to use you. Shhhhhhhhhhh, be quiet, adjust your eyes, look hard.. maybe it's right there..

I think I'll write a letter to the President today..

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:
I told you my christmas story. Here's meals for Christmas day. All easy, fun, and amazing.

Egg-In-A-Hole Sandwich With Bacon And Cheddar

4 slices thick-cut bacon
4 ¾-inch-thick slices sourdough or other country-style bread
4 large eggs
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 slices cheddar
Hot sauce

Special Equipment
2-inch-diameter cookie cutter

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning halfway through, until browned and crisp, 8–10 minutes.

Meanwhile, use cutter to punch out a circle in the center of each piece of bread (save for snacking, now or later). 

Transfer bacon to a cutting board; cut in half crosswise. Carefully pour half of bacon drippings into a small bowl. Place 2 slices of bread in skillet and cook over medium-high until bottom sides are golden brown, about 3 minutes. 

Crack an egg into each hole in bread (some of the white may pool on top of the bread). Season eggs with salt and pepper and cook until underside is set, about 2 minutes. Using a thin spatula (a fish spatula works best), carefully turn both pieces of bread to briefly cook second side (this helps set the whites, but the yolk should still be runny), about 1 minute. Add 1 Tbsp. butter to skillet and swirl skillet to distribute, encouraging some to get underneath. Carefully turn bread again. Top one slice with half of the cheese. Remove pan from heat and let sit about 1 minute to soften cheese. Top with half of bacon and some hot sauce. Close up sandwich and transfer to a plate. Repeat process with remaining bacon drippings, bread, eggs, butter, bacon, and cheese and more hot sauce to make another sandwich.


Pumpkin Lasagna with Ricotta and Swiss Chard


1 pound lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing
1 onion, finely chopped
2 pounds Swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Three 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 cups fresh ricotta (32 ounces)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 6 ounces)
2 cups shredded imported Fontina cheese (about 8 ounces)


Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until just starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Drain well and transfer the noodles to a baking sheet. Toss the noodles with olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.

In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until wilted and no more liquid remains, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season the chard with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, nutmeg and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, mix the ricotta with the eggs, 1 1/2 cups of the Parmigiano, 1 cup of the fontina and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.

In a well-buttered, 9-by-13-inch ceramic baking dish, spoon 1/2 cup of the pumpkin mixture in an even layer. Arrange 3 or 4 lasagna noodles in the dish, overlapping them slightly. Spread half of the remaining pumpkin mixture over the noodles in an even layer. Top with half of the Swiss chard and another layer of noodles. Cover with half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat the layering with lasagna noodles, pumpkin, Swiss chard, another layer of noodles and finish with the ricotta mixture.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for about 40 minutes, until heated through and slightly firm. Remove from the oven and uncover. Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmigiano and 1 cup of fontina on top of the lasagna and broil about 4 inches from the heat until golden brown and crisp on top, about 4 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

The unbaked lasagna can be refrigerated overnight. Let return to room temperature before baking.


Beef Tenderloin with Pickled Onions and Pink Peppercorns


1 cup raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Kosher salt
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 3/4 pounds center-cut beef tenderloin in one piece, tied
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 tablespoons pink peppercorns
One 750-milliliter bottle light-bodied rosé
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons of water


Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, stir the vinegar with 1/4 cup of the sugar and 1 tablespoon of salt until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the onions and let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 1 hour. Drain the onions, reserving the pickling liquid.

Meanwhile, rub the beef with the oil and set it in a small roasting pan. Season with salt and pat with 1 tablespoon of the peppercorns. Roast on the lowest rack of the oven for about 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125° for medium-rare.(Buy a meat thermometer!!!) Transfer the roast to a board and let rest for 30 minutes.

In a saucepan, combine the rosé with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and boil over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the pickling liquid and bring to a simmer. Add the cornstarch slurry and the remaining peppercorns and cook until thickened, about 1 minute.

Slice the meat, removing the strings. Transfer to plates and top with the onions. Drizzle with the sauce and serve.


Posted by Mack Oates at 11:00 AM