Sunday, December 21, 2008


There's snow this December, unlike last year, when global warming's effects were directly in our faces and on our consciences. Perhaps this is why this season seems more promising than last year. Christmas is full of promises, many not kept. We feel betrayed by the outcome of all the build-up to December 25th. We get a little bewildered, like the red border collie I saw outside the grocery store today. Worriedly anticipating his owner's return, he sat, alert, as the large snowflakes came down. Within seconds a mound of snow had collected on his head. I reassured him with a rub of his scruffy neck, making sure not to upset the funny, snowy hill he was wearing.

I made a Christmas meal this month, but improvised it, avoiding the expectation of greatness a recipe bears. The Atwater Market provided me with all the flavours I had in mind.

Zattar and I also threw together a little mix with a Christmas theme.
You'll see it at the end of this post.

We started it off with small New Brunswick oysters
and very cold, very light white wine.
I made a dressing for the oysters with white wine vinegar,
lemon juice, red chili paste, horseradish and red shallots.

Shucking them was ridiculously hard.
The effort made them taste amazing.

Sweet and savoury make merry in this meal...
Cornish hens with cranberry, sausage and quinoa stuffing
cooked in ruby porto.

The salad was warm and bright, Christmas on a plate:
Baby spinach, pomegranate, grilled eggplant and clementine.
I added a hint of cinnamon to the white wine vinaigrette.

Despite the fact that this creation was like a jazz song,
felt out and improvised, I have a rough recording of it...

Ruby's Christmas Dinner for Two:

2 large cornish hens
¼ cup ruby porto
¼ cup chicken broth
2 good quality sausages (veal or pork)
¼ cup quinoa
¼ cup water
¼ cup fresh thyme (just the leaves)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
¼ cup celery, diced finely
4 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
Zest of 1 lemon
4 red shallots, diced finely
Handful of dried cranberries
Handful of roasted, unsalted almonds, chopped coarsely
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. Rince the quinoa well.
Bring 1/4 cup of water to boil in a saucepan, add the quinoa, cover
and let simmer until the water is absorbed (10-15 minutes)

2. In a frying pan, sautee the celery, garlic and shallots until slightly tender. Take the sausages out of their casings and break them up into small chunks as you add them to the pan. Saute that until the sausage is no longer pink.
Add the thyme leaves, lemon zest, almonds, and cranberries
and sauté for 2 minutes. Add quinoa.
Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Rinse and season the hens inside and out with salt and pepper.

5. Stuff the hens with the stuffing. Close up the cavity with toothpicks.
You can be devilish and take their legs and make them do a little jig
before tying them together with cooking string.

6. Put the porto and chicken broth in the roasting pan and rub the liquid all over the hens. Throw in some sprigs of thyme. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast the hens for 1 hour, basting them every 10 minutes and turning them over after 30 minutes.

7. Take the foil off and broil the hens for 5-10 minutes or until they're nice and crispy golden all over, turning them over and basting them every few minutes to avoid drying them out.

Tastes amazing with white wine.

Our desert was a beautiful Québecois ice cider and some cheese.
It found its long lost brother in the old cheddar.

click the image to learn about the "hidden side of the apple"

Taking advantage of the bottle of porto bought for the hens,
a glass of the ruby sweetness came last.

Heartfelt wishes to all the amazing people who are in my life
as well as those yet to come.

Relax, be creative and surely this season's festivities
will be warm, bright and soulful.

"Stuffin' the Bird" A RubyJane/Zattar Christmas mix:
click the Christmas tree!

1. Intro
2. Stone Soul Christmas - Binky Griptite
3. Tired of Fighting - Menahan Street Band
3. The Telephone Song - Charles Bradley+Menahan Street Band
4. In the Raw - The Whitefield Brothers
5. One Beer - MF Doom
6. Soulful Christmas - James Brown
7. Gumbo - MF Doom
8. Stuffin' the Bird - The Lockers
9. Christmas is Coming - James Brown


Scramblelock said...

Great mix! I made this recipe for a Christmas dinner and it was AMAZING!

That lockers track is hella dope!

Anonymous said...

Hey Julie (or should I say Ruby?), how's it going? Just thinking of dropping you a line, so I got the link to your blog from Eric R.
Man that Christmas meal looks some good! I'm into food and do a lot of cooking myself - just made a Carribean red bean and pork stew (from Joy of Cooking), which was yummy and very warming. It's Adrian here, by the way, Eric's friend from Newfoundland who you met at Timecode in December.
It was fun meeting you and chatting, brief though it was. Great tunes, too! Look me up if you're ever in St. John's. Otherwise drop me a line anytime at Take care, all the best for 2009,