Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Spirited Skoal to You!

Aye -- the Winter Solstice Celebration at Merry Mount was lovely as always (was this the 16th or 17th annual?), and Patrick's theme this year was "Bold Spirits: Revelry at Merry Mount." There were 9 of us kindred spirits repeatedly cheering "Skoal" throughout the evening, what with an amazing dinner (as always Rett), a song sung by the incredible tenor Pat, smooth vodka shots on ice, and upbeat readings he carefully chose for all of us.

This possibly sums up the night; an excerpt of the song Pat belted out at the dinner table: "Ho, a song by the fire; Pass the pipes, pass the bowl. Ho, a song by the fire, with a skoal, with a skoal. Ho, a song by the fire; Pass the bowl, Pass the pipes with a skoal."

 Oh, dang, I have to include this verse too because it sums up our LONG friendship with each other -- "So, here by the fire, we defy frost and storm; Ha, ha, we are warm, and we have our heart's desire. For here we're good fellows, and the beechwood and the bellows. And the cup is at the lip in the pledge of fellowship. Of fellowship."

Makes me smile as I write this and remember that fellowship. You just don't always get lucky enough to have warm friendships like this -- and decades long.

But I digress.

The dinner was amazing. Here's a look at the menu:

Champagne with assorted liqueurs and berrries
Hors d'oeuvres
Baby lettuce salad with dates and pomegranate seeds & honey mustard vinaigrette
Roast beef tenderloin crusted with rosemary and garlic
Yogurt horseradish sauce
Sauteed mushrooms with red wine
Potatoes au gratin
Roasted brussels sprouts with toasted hazelnuts
Macadamia almond cake and homemade vanilla bean ice cream

Could that get any better????

Well, yeah, it got even better, as Pat brought out the smooth vodka shots

And the amazing readings he chose for all of us. I won't publish all of them here, but a sampling's below (from the evening's printed program!):

A Poem for Rett: (excerpt)
While the milder fates consent
Let's enjoy our merriment
Drink, and and dance, and pipe and play
Kiss our dollies night and day
Crowned with cluster of the vine,
Let us sit and quaff our wine...

A Limerick for Stu:
It's Winter Solstice today
The merriest of days, one might say
Cuz your options are fluid
Any spirit will do it
Drink away; you need not a bouquet


 And, A Limerick for Jim:
Chosen spirits, they're called the Porch Crew
Bring liquor, wine and a corkscrew
Each year they do meet
To drink and to eat
Their spirits are high, I assure you.

Many more superb readings (and many more "skoals") dotted that winter's eve. And here, reader, are a couple of the recipes we enjoyed:

Vivi's Winter Salad:

2 heads of butter lettuce or baby lettuce
1 cup glazed spicy pecans
¼ cup slivered dates
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup diced celery
½ cup feta
14 cup sliced green onions

2 T cider vinegar
1 T honey
2 t Dijon mustard
1 T orange juice
dash water
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Mary Anne's Nut Tart:
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
3 1/2 ounces almond flour (1 cup)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted unsweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 8-inch round cake pan with baking spray. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, and turn pan to coat bottom and sides.

Process flour, nuts, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Combine egg yolks, vanilla, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl. Stir in flour mixture until fully combined. (Mixture will be stiff.)

Beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Stir one-third of the egg whites into flour mixture to loosen it up. Gently fold remaining two-thirds egg whites into flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350°F until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Invert onto a plate. While cake is still warm, very gently press coconut evenly into top of cake. Cool completely.