The holidays are here, which means it's time to bloat the twenty extra pounds I normally carry around with me to a seasonally appropriate thirty. It also means massive quantities of food must be prepared in order to provide at least five pounds per plateload, regardless of whether we're talking about a salad plate, a dinner plate, or a dessert plate.
Yesterday (Christmas Eve-Eve) was primary cooking day for our Christmas day celebrations. In two days, we will feed a total of eight people -- the five who live under our roof, plus my parents and Brother Tom. Naturally, then, we browned three pounds of sausage, rolled eight pounds of beef and pork into meatballs and browned them, then tossed all of that browned meaty goodness into a vat of homemade sauce.
Next came cookies. Simplicity was the motto of the day, so we kept it to one kind of cookie -- the ubiquitous peanut butter Kiss cookie -- that could be easily thrown together and baked without distracting too much from the browning of the meatballs and sausage. Fresh from their morning meat-rolling calisthenics, the kids helped roll out four trays of peanut buttery deliciousness, in addition to shucking several dozen Hershey's Kisses.
After a brief break to clean a pan, or seven, it was time to experiment with something new -- cinnamon pumpkin roll with chocolate mascarpone ganache.
I've baked many things, but never a finished cake that had to be rolled. It seemed like an awful lot of work to go through just to create a delivery method for getting pumpkin cake and chocolate ganache to my mouth, but I was game. Besides, Giada de Laurentis and the Food Network wouldn't steer me wrong.
To Giada's credit, both the cake and the ganache are amazingly delectable, however rolling the pumpkin spice cake might not have been my finest culinary hour. I passed the first test, flipping the pan and dropping the cake onto a towel dusted with powdered sugar. Trouble is, my definition of dusting is slightly more aggressive than Giada's. The cake landed with a satisfying plop and shot powdered sugar up and out like a Christmas-tinged mushroom cloud full of elf fairies and pumpkiny aromas. The next bit, actually rolling the cake without breaking, mangling, tearing, shearing, or otherwise causing traumatic damage to said cake, was less messy but much more sketchy. In the end, I manhandled it into something that roughly resembles a rolled cake.
Oh, did I mention the cannoli? Yeah, I bought twenty pre-made cannoli shells (half of them covered in chocolate, because they were there) and prepped two pounds of filling so we can stuff them on Christmas day short before we sit down to eat our six-and-a-half pounds of meat, sauce, pasta and bread each. That way, the cannoli can set up in the fridge without getting the shells all soggy. You have to plan ahead for these things, you know.
The end result is that, by the time we tuck the kids into bed tomorrow night, I should have gained almost the entire extra ten pounds. I'll leave a tiny bit of space for that last cookie before bed.
© 2014 Mark Feggeler