It isn’t easy to be a Christmas baby. It’s a lifetime of competition with much of the world’s very favorite holiday when your birthday falls on December 23 or thereabouts. When my daughter was tiny, we had half-birthday parties for her in June, after school was out. In adulthood, she’s mostly enjoyed her own celebrations with her friends.
This year, however, we were together for her birthday brunch. I may have mentioned that she holds a professional chef’s certification from the Culinary Institute of America. When we’re together, she does a lot of the menu planning and a fair amount of the cooking. Control of the kitchen was hard for me to yield at first, but over the years, I’ve adjusted and am happy to serve as her sous-chef.
This time, however, I got to do it all. When you’ve been cooking as long as I have, you get bored, so I’m always poking around in search of something new. For the main course, I went right to Louisa Clement’s website, Living Lou. I don’t remember how I found Louisa, out there in the ether among a bazillion food blogs and cooking sites, but I do know that her website is a definite go-to for a huge range of recipes, both current and traditional, to cater to every taste or craving.
It was love at first sight when I spotted the smoked cheddar, bacon, and mushroom strata recipe. I can’t begin to tell you how delicious it was. And easy. I made no changes to the recipe, and it went together in a flash.
My choice for dessert—not easy given the endless succession of cookies and nut roll and other holiday-specific treats—was a throwback to fall: King Arthur Flour’s apple cider donuts, using the boiled cider I’d bought when we were on our fall trip to the KAF store in Norwich VT (AKA My Happy Place). The key to delicious baked donuts is definitely the KAF donut pan. Buy two for a full batch.