We’re not even at the major December holidays yet, and already I’m pretty exhausted. I blame this on the fact that we’ve been busy either going to hang out with friends or visiting family, and while it’s been fun…the introvert in me is definitely yearning for a battery recharge. Thankfully I’ve managed to get most of my holiday shopping done, with a few more gifts necessary to make it fully complete, but we have a lot of planning yet to do for our New Year’s Eve party (menu to finalize, shopping lists written, and cleaning to do!) and as a result I haven’t been this thankful to have multiple days off at the end of the year in ages. We’re scheduled to entertain my siblings-in-law this weekend, but I’m not sure if the weather will make us postpone those plans to another date or not yet. I hope they can come, but I also understand i they don’t want to deal with driving in crappy conditions to get here.
In the midst of all this merriment, I’ve been relying a lot on pantry items for dinners during the week when I need to cook. Not long after we came back from New York I was naturally flipping through all of my various Tom Colicchio cookbooks and found one for lemon confit. (Well, first I found a really good looking fish crudo, and that led me to the lemon confit recipe.) Intrigued by the possibilities it could offer and the fact that it could merely sit in my fridge with minimal effort required once assembled, I bought a half-dozen lemons one Sunday along with some shallots and garlic and got to work on it. I was very pleased with the results initially, but then really went gaga over them when I followed Tom’s advice and whirred up a bunch of the lemons, shallots, and garlic with some olive oil and made it a vinaigrette over grilled chicken thighs. I ended up taking the last of it to my in-laws for Thanksgiving as an alternative to gravy, and now I really need to make some more so I can keep it in my fridge for simple meals in the future.
If the weather does conspire to keep us inside on Saturday, that might be the perfect time to make more of this. At the very least, I can brainstorm more ideas for our fête, and while I really want to make some sort of infusion to serve a custom cocktail, I also think I’ll take a page from Ina Garten and have a cava cocktail bar with various mix-ins to make everything from the classic brandy-and-sugar special to Kir Royales* and vermut-cava fizzes.
I feel like party prep needs a full post given the scope of what we’re doing, so I guess there will be more on that front soon. In the meantime, take advantage of better prices on citrus and make this, post-haste.
Lightly adapted from The Craft of Cooking
- 6 lemons
- 2 1/2 shallots, peeled and minced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Extra-virgin olive oil, to top
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and plunge the lemons in it; remove them after a few seconds and rinse them, wipe clean, and then very very thinly slice them with a sharp knife, discarding all seeds and ends. Combine the minced shallot and garlic in a bowl, and then in a separate bowl combine the salt and sugar. Take a non-reactive container (I like glass), start the layering: start with lemon slices, then, the shallot/garlic mixture, and finally some of the salt/sugar mixture, and then repeat until the container is full with the last lemon slices. Cover and refrigerate for at least three days before using, and either use immediately or cover with olive oil and store in the fridge for up to a month.
*Does creme de cassis have an expiration date? I got mine back in 2010 and I think I might need to get more.