17 November 2011

Christmas in Brooklyn

Creative genius by Chip and Katie Rich, of Katiedid.  
They wowed us with the hand-cut garlands of Christmas carols, hanging from bakers' twine.

I am the biggest sucker for traditions.  I just love them.
About 9 or 10 years ago I started a Christmas Progressive Dinner in Brooklyn for all the Brooklyn friends.  We've done it almost every year since and it has become one of the great highlights of Christmas in Brooklyn.

About 4 hosts are chosen and they prepare each course of the meal.  Then all the couples walk from house to house, drinking cider, chatting, and awaiting our next stuffing.  It is fantastic.  And my friends are amazing cooks, not to mention the best Christmas decorators I have EVER seen.  And can you believe this invitation, designed by our friend, Abby, of Hi + Low?  One year she drew out the entrances (in perfect detail) to each home.  That woman wows us over and over and over.

That particular Christmas happened to be soon after my first husband left.  It was especially meaningful for me to plan this dinner, because it was a miracle to me that I was doing sooo well that I would even want to do it at all!  But I did.  I'll never forget how I felt that night....I felt particularly alive and particularly well & in love with Brooklyn.  Didn't matter that I was solo!  I was at peace either way. 

Here are some archived photos from over the years (most taken by Stephanie Marston & the Riches)...and a recipe, by Danny...

I can't tell you how happy I was to have Danny by my side the following Christmas.  He had lots of duties that weekend in Boston, but flew into NY for one night so he could attend the party.  Plus, you can't imagine what a passionate cook he is.  Here he is making one of his specialties... lemon souffles.   26 of them!!  

Here is his recipe....

Lemon Souffle 

Makes 4-5 servings (depending on the size of the ramekin)

1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest *
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs, separated
2 Tbs. flour
1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

1 cup milk

*Note - if the souffle develops a bitter after taste, you probably grated into the lemon too deeply.  Try to not to get too far into the lemon rind.
Preheat oven to 350 F, with the rack in the center.  Heat a kettle of water to boiling.  Generously butter four 5 ounce ramekins and arrange them in glass cookware. 

Combine the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolks, flour and butter (butter shouldn't be too hot or it will cook the egg) in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add the milk and stir to blend.  Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture.  Pour the batter into the ramekins. Carefully add the boiling water into the glass cookware until the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. 

Bake until the souffle is lightly browned and set on top, about 30-33 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the souffles cool in the water bath until the cups can be comfortably removed, about 20-30 minutes.  Place in the refrigerator and serve cold.

Is there anything better (ok, sexier) than a man in the kitchen? 

Here we are getting ready to head to the party.

Some of the group stopping along the way for a photo at Grand Army Plaza...  
This was the year I was solo.  

Here are the dinner plates we used over the years, also designed by Abby (designed for Kate Spade).  I adore these.  [And in case you didn't know, Kate Spade always has amazing dinnerware designs.] 

Some of the wonderful Brooklyn women....

I adore these women.

One year, Chip just picked up some sticks from Prospect Park 
and tacked them to the wall with red ribbon.  Genius.

Do you guys have any fun Christmas traditions you'd like to share?  Danny & I are forming a few more, which I LOVE.  But I look forward to adding even more!


  1. Everybody in our family gets new p.j.'s (preferably flannel)on Christmas eve. I love the Nick and Nora pj's from target. They get softer and better the longer you have them, and they have some online that they may not have in the store. They are not only comfy/cozy, they are also modest enough that you can walk around the house and still be decent if somebody shows up.

    We also like to open a puzzle Christmas Eve and we work on it that night, and throughout Christmas day and beyond, if it's super hard!!

  2. Mara, I never really knew that "knows how to cook" should be high on the husband list when I married Ryan, but it is a great bonus. I am definitely the sous chef in our family and people find it funny that Ryan gets kitchen tools for Christmas.

    It's taken some time to come to grips that if I spend time making something for a function and people ask, "Oh, did Ryan make this?" that is okay. My worth isn't determined by my cooking skills :) I'm just glad my husband can come home from work and whip up dinner in no time.

  3. Where' Sara in these pics?

    One of my favorite Christmas' was in Brooklyn.

    1. I see my apartment! I remember cooking my butt off and avoiding the cameras :)

  4. Oh man! The decorations are amazing!

  5. I love my man, and he can do a lot of things, but he sure does not cook. That would be really cool if he did, however he can fix anything, so I guess there's trade offs. I love traditions! I truly believe traditions hold families together!

  6. Lisa - LOVE the pj tradition. We used to do that, too. So fun. Thx for the Target suggestion. I'll ck them out. And yep, my family (The Papa's) are all about puzzles..that's one of the major activities over the holidays.

  7. Kathryn - I hear you on having to get used to not being the main cook. It can be strange to be on the sidelines in the kitchen. But man, wouldn't trade it. Danny is such a pro (he was a chef for a family for 2 years, actually)....He makes the most delicious meals - and loves every minute of it. It's a pretty good trade since I just load the dishwasher.

  8. Natalie - oh, Sara was there! Yes she was. She was a host nearly every year. She must have been back at home preparing for the next course or something. They always made the BEST things - or had the most amazing spread of fancy cheese. But my favorite thing was their fireplace on DVD. Haha. I think they tapped into something super cool with that one.

    1. Some of the best memories of my life.

  9. Bri - oh, handy men are the best, aren't they? When I was single (after the divorce) I'm telling you...it was a major loss to not have a guy around here fixing things. It was soooo nice when I met Danny and had a man around here again.

  10. Those garlands in the first pics are amazing!!!! And I love the progressive dinners. The doorway map ---> incredible!!!!!!!

  11. I'm not much of a party planner. For some reason, I have a hard time having people show up. But this makes me want to do something! Our student campus housing apartments might be as small as Brooklyn ones! Those gardlands are amazing. I may start this week to cut out letters for christmas!


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