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I’ve been working a lot of days lately so that I can be around to cook for family and friends. Christmas Day found my wife and our son, up visiting from LA, off to our daughter’s home in San Francisco’s mission district, there to make dinner for the immediate family, one of her roommates, and a couple of friends.

I was mildly concerned because of the measure of courses I was planning, as well as doing it all in a strange kitchen, how might it all come out? I got things started with a variety of olives, French bread, and a very lovely forestiere terrine from varied mushrooms. Of course, there was a lot of wine being poured, as well.

Once all arrived and we sat at the table, I found a few minutes to actually socialize a bit and shoot the shit for awhile, but duty called and I started work on the cheese soufflés,. Doing these concerned me because I was doing them as appetizers so they were in ramekins perhaps only about 4 ounces capacity, but they rose nicely and had a nice texture.

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Next it was time to start off cold and prep the parsnip purée; while the 30 minutes passed for them to cook and soften. Despite double checking my list of kitchen tools I felt I needed to bring (including my Kitchenaid stand mixer, cooking skillets, etc.) I did fail to remember to bring my immersion blender…so blending and puréeing were two knives. Putting that aside, I started heating up my two cast iron skillets for the duck confit.

As one of the guests admitted to being a fairly strict vegetarian, there was one less duck leg necessary so the two skillets were adequate for the six I needed to prepare. While the duck legs seared, I grabbed my daughter and had her prep the salad greens, and my son sliced the pears. With all the help, the plates were all ready and dinner was served. With one guest’s additional vegetarian dishes of roasted beets and brussel sprouts, our plates were deliciously full.

Here be the table, nicely laid out by our daughter.

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All in all, with my son and daughter happily kicking in to help me with the preparations of the salad, my wife dutifully peeling the parsnips and doing some dishes, the Christmas meal came out very nicely. For all that, a reward was necessary and the Baci Tart was brought out–a chocolate press-in dough with toasted hazelnuts embedded in a sweet caramel, then cross-crossed with a fully chocolatized drizzle for a final touch. All left happy and full.

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Finally, one of the dinner folks decided to get a pic of the entire spread from above, staying true to her Filipina heritage of taking as many pictures of the food on display as of the people themselves. Good on ya!

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